Search results for "train stations"

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Bridge and Tunnel

Port Authority approves $32 billion capital plan with funding for new tunnels and terminals
After months of planning, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has approved a $32.2 billion capital plan, the largest in the agency's history. The 10-year plan is bullish on public-private partnerships to support the costs of its projects at the region's airports, bridges, tunnels, and terminals. Although some big-ticket items, like the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, are new construction, much of the budget goes towards repairing or upgrading existing infrastructure. See the highlights from the plan, below:
Planes This $11.6 billion segment allocates $4 billion for a LaGuardia Terminal B replacement and puts funds toward the revitalization of John F. Kennedy International Airport. In New Jersey, work will move forward at Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport. Trains The agency is putting $2.7 billion towards debt service on to-be-borrowed money for a new and sorely needed trans-Hudson rail line between New York and New Jersey. In Jersey, the PATH's older stations will be rebuilt, as well, and new infrastructure will enable PATH trains to run from Newark Penn Station (the current terminus) to Newark Liberty's AirLink station. Additional dollars will support an AirTrain to LaGuardia, a sister link to the line that already serves JFK. Automobiles Another $10 billion will go towards the Goethals Bridge replacement, the rebuilding of the Bayonne Bridge, renovations to the George Washington Bridge, and the planning and construction for the new Port Authority Bus Terminal. The capital plan puts $3.5 billion towards this item, but stakeholders are still discussing where, exactly, the new terminal should go. Proposals from a September design competition pegged the cost of a new terminal at $3 billion to $15 billion, so the agency's allocation may be too low. “This region needs state-of-the-art airports, new mass transit infrastructure and bridges designed to handle 21st-century traffic levels if we are to meet growth projections,” said Port Authority executive director Pat Foye, in a statement. “This 10-year plan provides a record level of investment in all of these areas that will meet and support the region’s growth and serve as a major job creator for the next decade.”
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Trains & Planes

Express rail to Chicago O'Hare airport once again floated by Mayor Emanuel
Speaking to a crowd of union workers last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reiterated his intentions to have a high-speed express rail built between O’Hare International Airport and the city’s downtown. Details, however, remain unclear. It was almost exactly one year ago that Emanuel announced that the city would be spending $2 million to investigate new and existing proposals for the rail, which would carry passengers 17 miles in under 30 minutes. Currently, there already is a train, the CTA’s Blue Line L train, that travels from the airport to Chicago's downtown in about 50 minutes. Critics of the proposed express train argue that the costs of building a new rail system far outweigh the benefits of cutting that trip's time in half. The mayor argued for the need by pointing out the success of express airport rails in other cities, such as London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Toronto. While the latest announcement did not include an idea of the cost, earlier studies into the rail have estimated the price at anywhere between $750 million and $1.5 billion. Those numbers come from a 2006 report commissioned by Emanuel’s predecessor, Mayor Richard M. Daley. Daley also made multiple attempts to kick start the express rail project, but with little success. The wide price range for the project is based on the major options for the path of the train. The more affordable option would see the train sharing space with the existing Blue Line, possibly running on an elevated level above the slower local train. The more expensive route would follow an expressway and existing freight rail lines that run west out of the downtown. While that 2006 report estimated passenger tickets at $10, twice the current price to take the Blue Line, many believe tickets would have to be much higher. Similar rails around the world charge anywhere from $30 to $60. This latest mention of the proposed express train came packaged in a speech celebrating the 5th year anniversary of Emanuel’s “Building A New Chicago” initiative to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure. In those five years, the city has been busy. According to the mayor’s speech, renovations have happened at 40 CTA L stations, 108 miles of protected or widened bike lanes have been added, 1,600 miles of city streets have been repaved, 500 miles of water mains have been replaced, and over 300 neighborhood parks have been renovated. O’Hare itself is also set to receive $3.5 billion in city bonds to build a new runway and make other improvements in the coming years.
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Second Ave but First-Rate

Cheerful art in the Second Avenue Subway will enliven the daily slog
Today Governor Andrew Cuomo, as part of his state infrastructure PR sweep, presided over the unveiling of new artwork in the Second Avenue Subway.
The artwork at four stations together comprise the largest permanent public installation in the state. At 96th Street, straphangers can soak in Sarah Sze's “Blueprint for a Landscape," a 4,300-tile mosaic that depicts animals and everyday objects caught in a fierce wind. Further downtown, face master Chuck Close created “Subway Portraits,” 12 massive likenesses of himself, Philip Glass, Zhang Huan, Kara Walker, Alex Katz, and others at 86th Street in the artist's signature style. Vik Muniz’s “Perfect Strangers” at 72nd Street features tiled New Yorkers from all walks of life, while Jean Shin’s 63rd Street “Elevated” revives the steel-beam infrastructure from archival photos of the 2nd and 3rd Avenue Elevated train in ceramic and glass. "The Second Avenue subway provides New Yorkers with a museum underground and honors our legacy of building engineering marvels that elevate the human experience," Governor Cuomo said, in a statement. "Public works projects are not just about function—they’re an expression of who we are and what we believe. Any child who has never walked into a museum or an art gallery can walk the streets of New York and be exposed to art and education simply by being a New Yorker. That is where we came from and that is what makes New York special." Phase One of the Second Avenue Subway should, Cuomo assured, open on January 1. The newest leg of the New York City subway system will serve more than 200,000 passengers per day. Until then, check out the gallery above for more images of the city's newest art.
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A Long Line Coming

Governor Cuomo says Second Avenue Subway will open January 1, 2017
It's beginning to look a lot like an on-time opening for the Second Avenue Subway. Despite pictures of tunnels shrouded in scaffolding, and multiple missed project deadlines, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) assured a skeptical public this fall that phase one of the system’s newest line would be open by New Year’s Day. Should New York expect a new east side subway in the new year, or is the new line still a pipe dream? First there were reports in October that the new tunnels, which would add stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets, were too narrow to accommodate trains; workers had to file concrete passages to size. Now, it appears the odds and ends of bringing the $4.5-billion project to fruition are holding up opening day. When The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) reached out to the MTA about a media tour of the line at press time in mid-December, a spokesperson said that no tours were planned at the time, but the paper should attend the opening event at a to-be-announced future date. The line, in the works since the 1920s, has been delayed by the Great Depression, a world war, and good old-fashioned politicking, so its latest temporal setback is hardly a surprise, according to transit advocates. The most recent deadline for the subway, which includes a Q train extension from 57th Street–7th Avenue to the new 96th Street station, was set seven years ago. After recent mistakes, the MTA is taking extra precautions to ensure every component is functioning adequately: When it opened in 2015, the 7 train extension to Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s Far West Side was plagued with structural deficiencies—most notably leaky ceilings that turned busy walkways into perilous butt-to-floor encounters. Despite the obstacles, Governor Andrew Cuomo is confident the line will be open right as Times Square revelers usher in 2017. On Twitter, he urged New Yorkers not to drink the hater-ade: “Right now, there is a lot of cynicism and skepticism about our projects. We’re going to restore credibility. #2ndAveSubway will open Jan 1.” He is allegedly pressuring the MTA to finish up quickly, but as we usher in 2017 there’s still no opening to look forward to—and this is only phase one. When complete, (most likely after everyone reading this has died), the whole 8.5-mile line should carry straphangers from East 125th Street to Hanover Street in the Financial District.
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Double Booking

Airbnb opens an international HQ in Dublin (again)
Airbnb has officially opened its new headquarters in Dublin, located on Hanover Quay, in the "Silicon Docks" area of Ireland’s capital city. The 40,000-square-foot project, dubbed The Warehouse, will house more than 400 employees and emerges out of another collaboration with Dublin-based heneghan peng architects, the firm behind the company’s previous Dublin office (which will remain in operation). The new Dublin HQ’s three stories are designed around an atrium and amphitheater in the center of the building and features a grand central staircase, named the ‘Agora.’ The staircase can serve as a large conference or community event space for up to 400 people, or a lounge-style working environment for employees throughout the normal workday. The new Airbnb international headquarters inherits a rich history, having been home to Dublin Trawling Ice & Cold Storage since 1865, and the Raleigh Bicycle Company since 1954. When the bike manufacturer left in 1980, the warehouse was but a shell for a completely open floor plan, falling into disrepair after enduring not one, but two fires. Airbnb is said to have had direct architectural input in renovating the empty space, optimizing chances for “unplanned encounters that open avenues of creative exploration,” that “only the physical work space can activate,” according to Aaron Harvey, head of the environments team at Airbnb. “Our ambition has often been moderated by constraints of an existing structure that can’t be altered,” Harvey said.  “It was with the Dublin Warehouse that we finally had the opportunity to provoke the level of interaction and crosstalk that we’ve always imagined.” Each of the 29 primary working spaces, or ‘neighborhoods,’ come with its own large communal table instead of individual desks, shared storage space for employees, one or two sit stands, and a designated lounge spot, while secondary work spaces exist in kitchen areas or meeting spaces scattered throughout the warehouse, such as on the landings between floors. With more workstations than staff, the architects have designed enough space for everyone to sit where they like, according to News Four. Of course, in keeping with tradition, The Warehouse offers meeting rooms designed as replicas of the hottest listings on the Airbnb platform, drawing inspiration from destinations such as Mykonos, Lisbon, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco in Mexico, and Montpellier in France. The Warehouse is also Airbnb’s first urban campus model, which is expected to become more prevalent in the company’s office spaces moving forward.
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South Bound

Chicago moves forward with plan to extend a train to its far South Side

It is better late than never for the South Side of Chicago. The Chicago Transit Authority is extending its Red Line to the city’s far south side, adding four new stops. Currently, the line runs to 95th Street; when completed it will run to 130th.

The extension will be the first addition to the L system since 1993, and is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Red Ahead” initiative, aiming to modernize the city’s busiest train line. So far $425 million has been spent on its southern branch, and $280 million on the total reconstruction of the 95th Street terminal. The design architects, Chicago-based Exp., recently released new renderings of the terminal showing a sweeping red station surrounded by improved bus stops. When completed in 2018, the 95th Street terminal will also include two new major public artworks by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates.

The extra 35 blocks of train line will serve a “transit desert” that severely lacks a public transportation connection to downtown and other parts of the city. The new stops will be at 103rd Street, 111th Street, South Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street, running through the neighborhoods of Roseland and West Pullman, ending in Altgeld Gardens. The new stations will also include improved bus stop facilities.

The exact path of the line is still being decided through a series of environmental studies, as well as public forums. Two options are being investigated, both of which will run parallel to an existing active freight line. In either case, the line will be a mix of elevated and at-grade tracks. The 5.3-mile extension will likely involve the city negotiating with approximately 250 property owners to make a wide enough path for the new tracks.

Though the project promises a new level of accessibility for a large swath of the city, it will be some time before it is complete. Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2022, with a completion goal of 2026. New legislation has recently been approved to allow for a transit tax-increment financing district, which could possibly help fund the project. A new amendment has also been proposed to the State of Illinois Constitution ensuring all money made through transportation taxes and fees will be directed to transportation projects and improvements. The estimated cost of the project is $2.3 billion.

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Raising the Bar

Goettsch Partners provides a refreshing jolt to the Chicago suburbs with Zurich Insurance Group's North American HQ

Chicago’s north suburbs are exactly as one might expect: sprawling malls, endless subdivisions, business parks, and miles of highways. In short, it’s not where one would expect to find notable architecture. Yet just across the highway from an imposing blue Ikea stands a new corporate headquarters unlike the surrounding tedium. The new Goettsch Partners–designed 784,000-square-foot Zurich Insurance Group North American headquarters is a formally ambitious exercise in large-office design.

For most, the Zurich headquarters will be experienced from a speeding car racing by on Interstate-90, which passes just west of the site. Others may have the pleasure of seeing it while stuck in gridlock traffic on that same stretch. In either case, the design team at Goettsch Partners was thinking about the project’s presentation to the car-bound masses. The form of the building is clear, even at high speeds. A massive bridging bar straddles two other large glassy bars. In many ways the project is reminiscent of what is often considered a Dutch style of diagram-driven design, rarely seen in Chicago. It was only a matter of time before one of Chicago’s larger offices would bring the technique to a major local project. The project’s bridging super-truss also brings to mind the work of offices like OMA and MVRDV, which have used the inhabitable structural system to great effect for decades. Yet the simple formal move is in some ways very Chicago—it recalls the modernist monoliths of Downtown. The project’s glossy curtain wall gives the project that blue glassy sheen so prevalent in many of the towers currently rising in the city. The company’s name is also carefully integrated into the facade in large letters, another aspect that seems to be a conversation surrounding so many Chicago projects, old and new.

Employees and visitors drive through a lush landscape designed by Chicago-based Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, complete with walking and biking trails, water features, and rolling native savannas. Included in the landscape is a memorial to four employees lost in the September 11th terrorist attacks, and at its center is a large tree that was moved from the company’s former headquarters a mile away. Other more specifically landscaped areas include a sunken hardscape close to the building, where waterfalls seclude the area from the nearby traffic. A small pavilion in a Tuileries-inspired treescape gives employees another space to get out of the building for formal and informal events. What is missing from much of the landscape is an element that usually defines similar large corporate campuses: surface parking. Though there are a handful of spots near the building’s entrance, most of the parking is consolidated into a multilevel parking garage whose form echoes the building—two bars clad in screening conceal the employee parking.

The building’s entry sequence starts in this parking structure, with the understanding that it would be the main entry for the vast majority of workers. Leading from the parking into the building, a long, wide, bright corridor provides protection from the intense winter winds and snow. Working closely with Goettsch Partners, local office Cannon Design handled the interiors. Typifying a restrained palette, the interior feels appropriate for a major corporate office-scape, with a few twists.

Rather than completely relying on the latest trade journal theories about office culture or attempting to tap into popular, but possibly fleeting, trends, the design was based on extensive research done directly with Zurich employees. Zurich, a major insurance company, was intent on providing a productive yet comfortable space for the 3,000 employees who would be working in the building. In a series of fully functional workspaces, dozens of employees rotated through different layouts and work environments, spending weeks in each. The feedback from this study was integrated into the overall concepts behind the interior. A main finding was that workers wanted to have a variety of choices when it came to their individual workspaces. Every desk is sit-stand and other spaces throughout the building are set up to become impromptu work areas. Cafes, quiet alcoves, and larger common areas are all equipped with furniture and power to allow for work to happen away from the typical workspace. Desks are grouped into smaller “neighborhoods”of around 30 desks in separate areas, rather than an endless expanse of cubicles.

The bars that make up the building are only about 100 feet wide, and many areas include double height spaces, so access to natural light is never far away. Solar gain from all of that glass is mitigated by a discrete louver system on the exterior and operable shading on the interior. For the building’s largest space, a common area for large gatherings, a 300-foot-long double-skin glass wall was engineered by Thorton Thomasetti to passively vent warm air out of the building before overheating the interior. These natural lighting systems play an important role in helping the project achieve a LEED Platinum certification, making it one of the largest buildings in the world to achieve this designation. Water and energy reduction technologies were also integrated into the design. The landscape design contributes with over 635 trees being planted across nearly 30 acres of softscape.

The orientation of the top bar of the building is made strikingly clear when standing on the downtown-facing balcony on the top floor. This balcony, well above the suburban landscape before it, makes for a perfect summation of the project as a whole. While maintaining the openness allowed by its position out of the city, it still aspires to the quality and formal ambitions of those towers on the horizon. While the project would fit in well in the outskirts of a city like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where similar formally experimental buildings are becoming commonplace, in the Chicago suburbs it is honestly a bit shocking—in a good way. 

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Stairway to Heaven

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson transforms data center into open, flexible office for Square

Whether or not we’ve realized it, most of us have bought products through Square, a company that supplies small businesses with the now-ubiquitous square-shaped hardware and software that remotely processes credit card payments. Square’s new offices in San Francisco are meant to be as minimal, clear, and usable as its products.

Located in what was once a miserable, almost completely windowless Bank of America data center, the new 300,000-square-foot, fourth-floor office is just the opposite: an open, light-filled workspace organized by a central “boulevard,” lined with gathering spaces (including a library, gallery, and cafe), and a wide variety of working spaces, including bench-style work desks, tables, and semi-private, acoustically lined “work cabanas.”

To manage the space’s ridiculously big floor plates (100,000 square feet, four times the typical size), according to Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) principal Gregory Mottola, the firm studied urban precedents as varied as Dubrovnik and Milan, looking at everything from urban plazas to enclosed arcades. Unifying the office floors is a massive amphitheater stair that cuts through floors six, seven, and eight, and provides zones for individual work, group meetings, and large presentations. The stair is fitted with movable, lightweight powder-coated tables that snake their way down its length to create unique working and relaxing environments. Another office anchor is the eighth and ninth floor “Square Stair,” a floating switchback connecting the office floor to the main dining level.

“You’re giving up rentable floor area, but the payoff is you have these incredible group amenities,” said Mottola. “The key was this idea of creating a really collaborative, transparent company. You don’t want to have one place feel disconnected from the rest.”

Clean lines and lots of white (on steel panels, stretch-fabric ceiling panels, and drywalls) reflect the brand’s identity and lightens the mood, while salvaged wood elements, like the eucalyptus amphitheater stair, Plyboo cabanas, and end-grain woodblock flooring in the lobby, provide warmth and visual interest. Splashes of color demarcate important spaces, provide needed accents, and reflect the locale: Bright orange, for instance, recalls the Golden Gate Bridge, while blue shades evoke the nearby San Francisco Bay. The company installed new windows along the perimeters of the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors, drawing in natural light where there once had been none. Another big aspect of the design within a limited budget was lighting. BCJ employed a variety of techniques, from spear-shaped “light saber” LEDs above the boulevard to indirect lighting in the workstations and sculptural accent pendants in the lounge spaces.

“We tried to make the most of those dramatic moments when we could,” said Mottola, who noted that Square was drawn to BCJ’s clean work for Apple’s stores, but not its purely monochrome palette. As the company grows at an exponential rate, the airy, collaborative, and flexible spaces will no doubt come in handy. “We want them to be able to grow and shift over time,” he added.

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Regional Hub-Bub

Penn Station proposals fail to recognize unique opportunity to improve regional transit

The redesign of Penn Station offers not just a chance to raise the building’s roof, but is also a unique opportunity to unify the region’s disparate rail networks in a way that has not been possible in over a century. Unfortunately, the recent proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) don’t think broadly enough about the underlying transportation problems afflicting the station and, worse yet, they solidify its already dysfunctional setup.

Most of Penn’s issues are founded in its overloaded capacity. When the station opened in 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad was one of eight railroads providing service into New York City. While other railroads terminated at waterfront stations, the Pennsylvania Railroad was the first railroad to cross the Hudson and East Rivers. Its Midtown Manhattan station provided through service for long-distance trains and terminal service for commuter rail from New Jersey and Long Island.

This is how the station still operates today, with one crucial difference: Over the past century, all the waterfront terminals except Hoboken have been closed, and the trains that served them have been largely rerouted into Penn. The resulting congestion has been exacerbated since the 1990s by a shift in preference toward Midtown’s office district and New Jersey Transit’s decision to reroute as many lines as possible into Penn.

Today, Penn Station serves 650,000 commuters each day. That is more than twice as many at its peak in the 1940s, and three times what its initial design accommodated. Furthermore, both New Jersey Transit and Metro-North would like to bring even more trains into Penn—both from existing and proposed routes. Expanded service into Penn Station will not be possible without significantly increasing its capacity—a need that Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals ignore in lieu of retail space and glass ceilings.

Understanding Penn’s capacity limitations (and how to solve them) is critical to a good design. They exist in three forms: passenger crowding, train traffic, and systematic connectivity issues to the rest of the region. On a passenger level, overcrowding is mitigated through staged boarding, or letting passengers onto the tracks only after trains arrive and unload. This produces chaotic lines and rushed transfers, especially in the area of the station that NJ Transit uses. Images of Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals suggest that the platform width and vertical access would both remain unchanged in the new Penn Station. Preserving existing stairs to the platform level, as PAU proposes, is not enough; Penn needs more vertical access. Rather than working to preserve inadequate stairwells to the platform level, we should be fighting for more stairs and escalators.

On a track level, the station is also hopelessly congested. Incoming trains often have to wait in tunnels for ten minutes or more as other trains exit the station. This is because the station is operated primarily as a terminal rather than a through station. Trains must cross each other as they enter and leave the station. Through-running avoids this problem by scheduling eastbound traffic on southern tracks and westbound traffic on northern tracks. Each train could enter the station, unload and load passengers, and continue on without ever crossing oncoming traffic.

Penn’s present configuration makes through-running impossible because only two tracks connect to Penn from New Jersey, while four tracks connect to the station from Queens. Amtrak’s current Gateway proposal would remedy this by building two additional tracks between Penn and New Jersey.

Unfortunately, none of the schemes put forward thus far recognize this unprecedented opportunity to expand the station’s capacity.

PAU’s analysis of Penn’s lack of connectivity at the neighborhood scale only tells half of the story. As a transit hub, the most important function of Penn Station is not on foot at street level, but underground at a track level. Furthermore, as one of the two regional rail hubs in New York, a redesign of Penn Station offers a uniquely valuable position to solve numerous problems at just as many scales. The schemes put forward thus far fail to look beyond the neighboring blocks of Midtown Manhattan.

Our ReThinkNYC proposal does. By understanding the regional importance of Penn Station, we are able to use infrastructural opportunities to not just solve present day problems within the station, but to improve connectivity on a regional scale.

We would reduce passenger crowding by extending all platforms to pass below neighboring Moynihan Station, currently the Farley Post Office. Some platforms already extend under Moynihan and other platforms should be extended as well. This would increase stair and escalator access to platforms for every carrier. We would widen the platforms, reducing the current 21 tracks to 12. This potentially counterintuitive move has significant benefits: Wider platforms allow passengers to board safely and quickly at track level, much like New York’s subway service, and this would decrease the amount of time each train would need to sit at its platform. By staging this work, it would be possible to extend and widen the platforms without interrupting service. We would use the new Gateway tunnels to implement through-running at Penn, allowing trains to enter and leave the station efficiently, without crossing each other’s paths. By permitting carriers to bring more trains through the station, Penn will be able to serve a growing New York City for years to come.

Not only will these track-level changes increase passenger and train capacity, but by bringing more trains through the station, we can dramatically improve the city’s connectivity as a whole. This includes NJ Transit trains that currently only go to Hoboken, LIRR lines that need more service but have no track space at Penn, and some Metro-North cars, that would be diverted from Grand Central. Furthermore, bringing Metro-North into Penn would have the added benefit of unifying the region’s three commuter rail lines into one station.

Redesigning Penn Station is about understanding its role within the New York region as a whole. The Gateway tunnels and Moynihan Station present a once-in-a-century opportunity to make Penn a transportation hub that both serves and stimulates the entire New York region. Proposals for vaulted ceilings and inspiring spaces would certainly make the station more beautiful, but are incomplete gestures if they fail to also address the more serious issues on a track and capacity level. In Penn Station, we have a rare opportunity to create a world-class station with the capacity and connectivity that New York needs. To give the city anything less would be a detriment not just to the station, but the region as a whole.

For more on ReThinkNYC, visit their website.

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Sea for Yourself

AECOM invites community input for their massive proposed Red Hook development
As first reported by Crain's, the multinational engineering firm AECOM has put forth a plan to build as many as 45,000 units of new housing on “underutilized Brooklyn sites owned by the Port Authority.” The Crain's story accurately portrayed AECOM as proposing the following arrangement:
...proceeds from the sale or long-term lease of the land to developers, as well as other funds generated from revenue streams such as real estate taxes, would go toward upgrading the neighborhood's infrastructure, which includes extending the No. 1 train from lower Manhattan via a new tunnel under the harbor to the Brooklyn area. AECOM's plan also involves creating three new subway stations, one at Atlantic Basin next to the container terminal, another at the Red Hook Houses, one of Brooklyn's largest public-housing complexes, and a No. 1 train station that would connect to the F and G subway lines at Fourth Avenue.
But a press conference on September 12 at the Rudin Center for Transportation flatly contradicted that. Chris Ward, AECOM senior vice president and leader of the team that created the proposal, claimed at the start of his presentation “This is not a plan.” (Ward is also the former Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey). Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, Jill Eisenhard, executive director of the Red Hook Initiative, who were in the audience, claimed they were prepared to respond to Red Hook and Sunset community requests for something to be done about housing, jobs, etc. in the community.It is then a sort of ‘vision’ proposal that asks the community and other interested parties to weigh in on the idea. It may be that the word ‘plan’ has become a dirty word associated with top-down city proposals that end up benefiting everyone one but those who live in the affected communities. The proposal offers several scenarios that go from one that would bring 45 million square feet to the market to more modest schemes. If you want to see the non-plan and weigh in, visit AECOM's website for the project.
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Buckhead Park Over GA400

New renderings revealed for ambitious, highway-capping park in Atlanta
Atlanta is planning a cap-and-trade of the best kind: Today, ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers (Rogers Partners) and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects released more details of a proposal to cover a stretch of highway in the city's Buckhead neighborhood and convert it to a lush nine-acre park. "Buckhead Park Over GA400 is a new park typology for the city. Most Atlanta parts are historic, or like Centennial Park, built for a special purpose [such as the Olympics]. This park will create quality public space where you already have density. Like most great public places, it's about creating a series of scaled experiences" for visitors, explained Rob Rogers, principal at Rogers Partners. Thomas Woltz, principal at Nelson Byrd Woltz, added that the park, which straddles an eight-lane highway, "is connected to existing infrastructure and is being built in found space, much like New York's Hudson Yards and Millennium Park in Chicago." The pair presented their design this morning for Buckhead Park Over GA400 to the board of the project's sponsors, the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID). Buckhead, an affluent neighborhood in northern Atlanta that's crisscrossed by interstate and local highways, is one of the city's primary commercial districts, with dense development clustered along its main corridor, Peachtree Road. As car-oriented Atlanta grows, the city is looking to enhance the quality of its green spaces and encourage walkable environments. Buckhead Park Over GA400 is born out of that ambition, and designed as a local park with regional pull, Rogers and Woltz agreed. A series of public spaces—the plaza, the commons, and the gardens—will be complemented by MARTA stations that bring commuters into the neighborhood and by connections to the Atlanta Beltline, and Path 400, a state-funded recreational trails initiative.
"When we started the project, one of the things we thought was most exciting was taking this void in the middle of the neighborhood, and turning that into the heart of Buckhead as a public space. When you're making this major public space, we thought, 'How do you ground that? How do you make this part of Atlanta?'" Woltz said. The design team looked to nature: the Appalachian foothills are one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, so he and Rogers decided to ground the design of the ab ovo park in the region's bio-heritage. The curving lawns, stepped seating, and sweeping overhead paths that will guide visitors over sunken lanes of traffic are manifestations of the region's ecology, abstracted through form, material choices, and horticulture, especially. The plaza's high canopies evoke the native savannah, while upland ecology is represented in the park's commons, which is scaled to host large events. The gardens off of Peachtree Road buffer visitors from that busy, car-oriented thoroughfare. Even at the conceptual level, the design choices reflect structural considerations, Woltz explained. A half-mile-long allée linking the plaza, the commons, and the gardens will be planted over the structure of the train tracks, so the designers know they will have enough stability to support mature trees. "This approach is the opposite of decorating the outdoors with plants," Woltz added. "We're selecting the most resilient plants that are still iconic for this ecology." Woltz and Rogers are hopeful that the next part of concept study, which includes community outreach and deeper financial analysis, will move forward soon.
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History Lessons

Society of Architectural Historians announces 2016 SAH Awards
The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) has named its 2016 SAH/Mellon Awards Recipients. This year’s winners are Peter Christensen, Itohan I. Osayimese, and Robin Schuldenfrei. The award is specifically designed to provide financial support for scholars in the process of publishing their first monographs related to the history of the built environment. Often scholars are responsible for paying for the rights and permissions for images, as well as commissioning new maps, charts, and line drawings. Peter Christensen’s forthcoming book, Germany and the Ottoman Railways: Art, Empire, and Infrastructure (Yale University Press) covers his research on the politics surrounding the construction of train stations, settlements, and other infrastructure in the context of the Ottoman railway network. Christensen is assistant professor of art history at the University of Rochester Itohan I. Osayimese’s Colonialism and the Archive of Modern Architecture in Germany (University of Pittsburgh Press) explores the relationship between colonialism and German modernist architecture from the 1850s to the 1930s. Osayimese’s ties the forms of German modernism to the country’s colonial endeavors in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Osayimese is an assistant professor of the history of art and architecture at Brown University. Luxury and Modernism: Architecture and the Object in Germany 1900–1933 (Princeton University Press) by Robin Schuldenfrei examines the divide between modernism’s democratic and utopian ideals and existing design and production structures. Schuldenfrei is the Katja and Nicolai Tangen Lecturer in 20th-century Modernism at The Courtauld Institute of Art. Founded in 1940 at Harvard University, the Society of Architectural Historians works with scholars and professionals. The SAH provides historical services and guidance to its 3,000 members and 800 institutional members in 56 countries. Architecture, urbanism, and landscape history are all covered by the SAH. The SAH also maintains the Archipedia online encyclopedia of American architecture.