Search results for "NYC Parks"

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Past and Present

Saving our heritage: top historic preservation stories from across the U.S.
Historic preservation stories always stir up a conversation: What parts of American architectural history should be preserved? What doesn't need saving? Since our last coverage of 2016's top historic preservation articles, many new buildings have become imperiled or found respite from demolition.As we celebrate America on July 4, here's an updated list that includes a unique Brutalist building in Southern Florida under threat, a recently-saved Frank Lloyd Wright home, and As we celebrate America on July 4, here's an updated list that includes a unique Brutalist building in Southern Florida under threat, a recently-saved Frank Lloyd Wright home, and many more. Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture's latest addition Without homebuilding entrepreneur Zach Rawlings, this 2,500-square-foot Frank Lloyd Wright–designed concrete home would have succumbed to developers who wanted to bulldoze it and replace it with more profitable housing. But Rawlings, along with architect Wallace Cunningham, saved the David and Gladys Wright home. Now it's being transferred to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; students will have the opportunity to engage with the building and its renovation process in a design studio specifically designed for the site. New York's landmarked Citicorp Center Plaza demolished Designed by Sasaki Associates in 1973, the Citicorp Center’s plaza and fountain were just recently demolished, despite their landmarked status. The opaque and irregular approvals process deprived the public of the opportunity to weigh in on highly visible changes to the iconic plaza. It was eventually revealed to The Architect's Newspaper that Boston Properties, the owner proposing the changes, had received permits from the Department of Building (DOB) just four days before the site was landmarked, which technically allowed the changes to be made. Fate of iconic Kenneth Treister-designed Miami tower unclear  A building that heralds back to Miami's "Tropical Brutalism" era, this Brutalist tower known as "Office in the Grove" is threatened with demolition if it is not saved and landmarked. Designed by Florida's modernist architect Kenneth Treister in 1973, it is among the first buildings to be constructed of post-tensioned concrete slabs and a completely prefabricated concrete facade. While Brutalism may be hard for the public to appreciate, the concrete style intended to create openness in public buildings while responding architecturally to the climate. According to Docomomo US/Florida, “this was Miami’s first office building to give the community an eye-level, landscaped grass berm as its facade.” The hearing for the building's landmark status will be held on September 5. New master plan proposal for The Alamo in San Antonio raises debate A $450 million plan for The Alamo Mission, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, wants to declutter its plaza, which involves relocating an historic cenotaph. Architects have expressed tentative approval of the plan, but have also voiced concerns that the current proposal—which includes glass walls separating the Alamo grounds from the rest of the city—inhibits the use of space for the public. The public was also skeptical of the glass walls, raising questions about a modern design in San Antonio's historic downtown. Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion revamp A modernist icon, the New York State Pavilion was originally designed by architect Philip Johnson for the 1964 World's Fair. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but years of neglect have left the structure in abandoned, despite a new coat of paint in 2015. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, preservation group People for the Pavilion, and New York City government began soliciting ideas for a bold new take on the structure, ultimately selecting the design "Hanging Meadows" last August. Meanwhile, a separate $14.25 million renovation is underway to re-open the Pavilion to the public in the fall of 2019. America's first glass house, a National Treasure, will be restored  It's often referred to as "America's First Glass House." Now, the House of Tomorrow (a remnant from the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress World's Fair) by Chicago architect George Fred Keck is set to receive an update from a team of Chicago firms. There was a $2.5 million campaign to restore the house last year led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Indiana Landmarks. The building's design features glass curtain walls for passive solar heating (coming well before Philip Johnson's 1949 Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s 1951 Farnsworth House), an "iceless" refrigerator, and the first-ever General Electric dishwasher. The restoration plan includes removing deteriorated surfaces, replacing the current glass walls with modern glass, and the revealing cantilevered steel girders that give the house its open floor plan. Gordon Bunshaft–designed addition to Albright-Knox Art Gallery threatened While he was at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Buffalo native Gordon Bunshaft created this addition to the original 1905 Albright-Knox museum; it included an auditorium with jet-black windows (seen above), galleries, and a courtyard that extends between the addition and the original building. Now, as part of a plan put forth by OMA's New York office, its courtyard and galleries would be demolished while the auditorium would remain. OMA contends that the courtyard divides the park in which the museum sits; removing it and the galleries will restore circulation to the site while making way for bigger exhibition spaces. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery still needs $20 million for the expansion, though groundbreaking is planned for April 2019. The City of New York wants to raze Wagner Park One of the best places to see Lady Liberty is Wagner Park, a small green slice of Battery Park City on the lower edge of Manhattan. Two decades ago Boston-based Machado Silvetti, in collaboration with landscape architects at OLIN, unveiled the park, an open space that ushers people towards the water’s edge with sweeping views of New York Harbor and that famous freedom statue. Now, in response to the specter of Hurricane Sandy and the threat of rising seas, the agency that oversees the area is planning a total park overhaul. The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) is set to replace the existing landscape that architects and residents love with a park it says will align better with new resiliency measures that are reshaping the Manhattan waterfront. Illinois Governor ransoms Thompson Center for public school money In an act of political wrangling that typifies the relationship between the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced that if the city would allow the sale of the Helmut Jahn–designed James R. Thompson Center, he would provide the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with additional funding. Last week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he would block the sale of the postmodern building out of fear of having to replace the large CTA subway station beneath it.
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Common Grounds

Six of America's newest and grandest public spaces
From a highly anticipated river revitalization project in Chicago to a completely repurposed mall site in a tiny Connecticut town, projects revolving around public spaces are always feel-good stories. Who doesn’t enjoy a new, clean space to people-watch? Or better yet, catch some July 4 fireworks? The Architect's Newspaper picked six completed projects that exemplify what a good public space entails. Chicago's redeveloped Navy Pier  The first phase of Chicago’s popular tourist destination, Navy Pier, is now complete. James Corner Field Operations is the lead designer on this multi-year project, along with collaborators nArchitects, Gensler, Thornton Tomasetti, Fluidity Design Consultants, Buro Happold, and graphic designers Pentagram. The design includes an extensive renovation of the exterior public promenade, and this first phase includes a Wave Wall, a glass info tower, a new plaza near the base of the pier, and new Lake Pavilions that act as boat ticket kiosks and shaded rest areas. Phase III for the Chicago River: Chicago Riverwalk  The recent completion of Phase III of Chicago’s downtown riverfront redevelopment featured a new mile-and-a-half public park, the Riverwalk. Led by Chicago-based Ross Barney Architects and Watertown, Massachusetts–based Sasaki Associates, the Riverwalk is divided into separate “rooms” between the bascule bridges and has a large interactive water plaza. Previous phases led to new development along the water, including restaurants, bars, and the River Theater, a staircase-ramp bridging upper Wacker Drive and the river. This latest development is part of an overall goal to completely overhaul the Chicago River, with an aim of a clean, swimmable river by 2040. The long-delayed Los Angeles State Historic Park finally opens to the public The completion of the Los Angeles State Historic Park caps off a two-decade-long saga for local and state officials and residents. The current iteration of the park has been in development since 2005 and is the first California State Park in the City of Los Angeles. It is located on a multi-layered historical site that originally housed an indigenous settlement home to Los Angeles’s Tongva indigenous community. The park sits along a broad, gently-sloping plane that connected the Tongva’s main settlement in the vicinity of today’s Union Station with the Los Angeles River, roughly one mile away. Cleveland's latest 10-acre downtown park  As a part of an effort to connect Cleveland’s public spaces to Lake Erie, the city’s downtown now has a new civic space—a 10-acre park designed by James Corner Field Operations, the team behind the wildly successful High Line Park in New York City. It also includes a café designed by New York–based nARCHITECTS. The design sees four smaller traffic islands in between the wide lanes of Superior Avenue (now restricted to public transportation) and Ontario Street (pedestrian-only now). Astor Place improvements—complete with the Astor Cube  The much-beloved spinning Astor Cube (formally known as The Alamo) is back at Astor Place, a plaza that has also undergone a redesign from New York-based WXY and the city’s departments of Design and Construction (DDC), Transportation (DOT), and Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks). The plaza now features a 42,000-square-foot pedestrian-oriented streetscape, a reconstruction that was completed as part of an effort to upgrade infrastructure in the city and provide city dwellers with more public space as the city becomes denser. “We have now made the plaza space more welcoming for pedestrians and we have brought back distinctive elements—like the iconic Cube—that have long made this such a special gathering place and gateway to the East Village,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg at the ribbon cutting ceremony. From derelict mall to community-centered green space in Connecticut  Cities looking to repurpose defunct mall sites can take a pointer or two from a city in Connecticut. In Meriden, a town halfway between New Haven and Hartford, city leaders transformed a former mall and brownfield site into a resilient 14.4-acre park complete with pedestrian bridges, an amphitheater, a remediated landscape with a flood-control pond, and drivable turf for food trucks and farmers markets. It was an expensive ($14 million) and extensive overhaul, but is one that has brought back green space to the community.
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Make American Green Again

From sea to shining sea: six projects restoring the U.S.'s ecosystems
As the threat of climate change and sea level rise becomes more pressing, projects looking to save our country’s ecosystems have never been more important. The relationship between water and a city’s landscape has become especially critical for all urbanists (see our water issue, which explored this in-depth). The six projects and proposals listed below aim to repair America's ecosystems and bring us closer to the environment. Unearthing a unique geological ecosystem back to Lexington, Kentucky  After winning a competition to revitalize downtown Lexington, New York–based SCAPE Landscape Architecture decided to celebrate the long-buried limestone landscape that forms the identity of Lexingtonians. With $14.1 million in funding from the U.S Department of Transportation, the project will carve pedestrian and bike paths to create new green spaces and link regional trails. There will also be new freshwater pools—“karst windows,” in reference to naturally occurring formations—to bring Lexington’s water into the open. “Here it’s all about finding a unique identity framed around a cultural and geological history of a place,” said Gena Wirth, SCAPE design principal. “What’s replicable is the multipurpose infrastructure that unites the city, its story, and its systems.” Transforming the Chicago River A clean Chicago River: a dream too good to be true? Ross Barney Architects disagrees, and may well be bringing that vision to life. The firm has dedicated extensive studies on how to transform the South Side neighborhood’s currently polluted river into an urban natural space with amenities that residents need. They even envision a water-taxi stop at the site to provide a direct connection to downtown. Bringing the people back to L.A River  A several-mile segment of the Los Angeles River that runs through Downtown Los Angeles could be getting a makeover soon, with preliminary proposals from AECOM, Gruen Associates, Chee Salette, WSP,  CH2M, Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA), and Tetra Tech. Each of the seven teams was given a specific segment of the river to reconfigure while keeping in mind future planning approaches, like the potential extension of the Red Line subway to the Arts District. The proposals focus on increasing pedestrian connectivity to the river while also “embracing bold, world-class design,” according to a project website. Rethinking urban waterfronts with Studio Gang's research-based approach Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects’ water ecology projects are programmatically ambitious, but are backed by the firm's extensive research and collaborations with experts often outside of architecture. A study with Milwaukee-based Applied Ecological Services and Edgewater Resources presented a master plan for Milwaukee’s waterfront development. “We’re interested in the intersection between built and natural environments,” said Claire Cahan, design director at Studio Gang. “We seek to understand the natural, cultural, economic conditions far beyond a property line.” Access to Willamette Falls restored The Willamette Falls near Portland, Oregon, is the second-largest waterfall by volume in the United States and has been cut off from nearby downtown Oregon City for over a century. But Snøhetta’s latest proposal aims to restore public access by building a long, sinuous path through the site that culminates in a broad promenade with 360-degree-views. The pathway has also been designed to accommodate for cyclical and historic flood levels and is seismically resilient. Construction is expected to begin in June 2018. Cleaning up Gowanus Canal Plans to transform the long-polluted, abandoned Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York, have been unveiled by non-profit Gowanus Canal Conservancy and SCAPE Landscape Architecture. The Gowanus Lowlands: A Blueprint for NYC’s Next Great Park project outlines a possible park along the waterway, which runs through Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, and Gowanus. Performance venues, cafes, and other attractions in between are included, as are mitigation basins, bioswales, and sponge gardens for filtration and wildlife habitation.
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Fake News

Does architecture have a crisis of ideas?

Like everything, architectural history and theory have been radically realigned by the internet and digital culture. Now, ideas are passed through relatively unfiltered media, such as 140-character tweets that have turned writers’ attention from writing to spewing fragments of criticism that float off into the ether. Curation today is often merely a manic production of online content driven by clicks, which come from posting more (and more, and more) content. This makes young writers who are feeding this content beast truly starved for new things to write about. It is a dramatic shift from the days when magazines like Architectural Forum and Progressive Architecture were the curatorial gatekeepers that held the conversation at a high level.

The result is that bad ideas can come to be front and center in the architectural discussion very easily due to metrics and algorithms. What passes for “radical,” “idea,” “theory,” and “concept” today is becoming eroded as quickly as our political discourse.

For example, a recent headline on a popular architecture-oriented website proclaimed: “Designer Dror Benshetrit releases three conceptual proposals for residential skyscrapers in New York.” The article showed a series of towers as rudimentary as a student project before a first crit. While it makes business sense to do speculative projects on sites in New York that could attract luxury development, the media has a responsibility to question whether these are actually conceptual, or just a bad unbuilt project. What purpose these serve is unclear, although one claims it is a new, efficient structural system. As far as ideas go, this leaves much to be desired.

In a similar pointless exercise in mediocre conceptual architecture that looks good on the internet and keeps content producers busy, oiio—which also made a clever proposal to add onto the Guggenheim by extending its spiral upward—has proposed one of the least likely and most useless pieces of architectural speculation in history. According to the Huffington Post, this speculation was “The Big Bend, A U-Shaped Skyscraper, Could Become The Longest In The World.” But it almost certainly couldn’t. The conflation of possibility and wild speculation harms the media’s credibility and creates the architectural equivalent of fake news. And the project, essentially two 432 Parks that bend to meet at the top, isn’t even a compelling idea. It barely even qualifies as formalism, let alone conceptual architecture.

That would be the silliest architectural concept ever, except that an article on Forbes, “New York Architects Plan Enormous Skyscraper Hanging From An Asteroid In Space,” wins that prize. This bizarre fantasy is based on some actual scientific research, but when translated sloppily to architecture, it becomes simply childlike: Why would we want to “hang” a skyscraper from an asteroid, and why are we taking this proposal seriously? It would be hard to find something more useless for architectural discourse than the hanging-asteroid skyscraper.

Where are the relevant ideas in architecture? While taking the latest philosophy or digital technology and applying it to architecture is at least a stab in the right direction, what happened to innovative formal ideas, or cultural innovations in architectural form? Where are the radical ideas that might spark our imagination and make us think differently about the discipline and the world in which it exists?

Where are the good ideas, and how can we help to get them into the discussion?

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On the Fence About It?

What is happening to these landmarked fences in a Harlem park?
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) this week approved a Parks Department plan to renovate a historic park, but proposed replacement of tall art moderne fencing with a shorter new fence—in keeping with an initiative to make parks more welcoming—was vigorously debated by commissioners and members of the public. At Tuesday's hearing, the Parks Department presented an expansive proposal to spruce up Jackie Robinson Park in West Harlem. The 13-acre greensward, once called Colonial Park, hugs Bradhurst and Edgecombe avenues between West 145th Street and West 153rd streets. Its rolling hills host a swimming pool and bathhouse at its southern end, one of the city's 11 WPA-era pool complexes and the only one built in a minority neighborhood. Designed by Aymar Embury II and Henry Ahrens, architects who worked under then-Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, the Jackie Robinson Play Center, built between 1935 and 1937, is art moderne through-and-through, with its simple brick massing anticipating the work of Louis Kahn. The pool and park perimeter are encircled by fencing; the most distinctive barriers are thin steel posts set between brick piers that match the bathhouse facade. The Parks Department would like to replace those landmarked fences with shorter ones, in keeping with Parks Without Borders, a new program to make parks more open and visually appealing. That program launched in 2015 with eight parks in the five boroughs selected for improvement the following year: Communities nominated parks for facelifts that could include lowering tall perimeter fences or removing them entirely, opening up narrow entrances, and building curb appeal in park-adjacent spaces. At various points in her presentation to Landmarks, a Parks Department representative called the entrances "unwelcoming" and referred to the fences as "giant," "heavy," "fortress-like," and "harsh," but acknowledged that the piers' brickwork matches the bathhouse. The Parks Department wants to remove the eight-foot-high perimeter fence at the southern border, which is bent and broken in places, and replace it with a four-foot-high barrier whose decorative elements borrow from fences elsewhere in the park of an earlier vintage. The agency also raised the possibility, based on its own research, that the southern fences were added at a later date (though the LPC designation report ties their to the construction of the pool and bathhouse). This project would come out of the almost $5 million in capital funds the city has allocated to carry out planned repairs, but that funding is not yet secured. Manhattan Community Board 1o reviewed the plans and supports the proposed changes. The fences were the subject of intense debate at the hearing, with members of the public and some commissioners voicing concern that the proposed fencing just doesn't harmonize with the surroundings. "This would be like replacing moderne windows with Victorian windows in an art deco building," said Patrick Waldo, reading a statement from preservation group Historic Districts Council (HDC). Reducing the height of the piers without reducing their width, HDC argued, would look strange and not dialogue appropriately with the monumentality of the pool complex. The group's statement noted that the wrought iron fence, which borrows from another park fence of a different era, is "stylistically inappropriate," adding that the complex is akin to a total development like Rockefeller Center; changing the details by stretching or shrinking them would compromise the overall design. In his testimony, landscape architect and preservation consultant Michael Gotkin called the fence replacement an "empty gesture." Gotkin, a longtime resident of the Upper West Side and West Harlem, believes that instead of the Parks Department addressing issues like inequality and disinvestment that prevent access to parks, the fences are being lowered for symbolic reasons. By the same logic, his testimony doubted whether the agency would lower Central Park's imposing Vanderbilt Gate or the tall wrought iron fence around the East Village's Stuyvesant Square. "We deserve as much preservation as rich neighborhoods," he said. After the hearing, historian and Harlem resident Michael Henry Adams highlighted a subtext to the planned changes in a historically black and rapidly gentrifying neighborhood where the median annual income hovers around $36,000. "It's just nutty to be talking about these airy-fairy things of making the park more welcoming for affluent white people when to do that, you are diminishing and altering an individual landmark. I think that's wrong." Adams has chronicled Harlem in two books and to works to preserve its history with Save Harlem Now!, a group he co-founded. The Landmarks commissioners, too, had conflicting perspectives on the fence replacement plan. Like every other commissioner, Adi Shamir-Baron favored the removal of chain link fences but called the removal of the larger piers a "strange thing to do." Formally, they dialogue with the monumentality of the building, but for her raised larger questions about their contemporary perception. "There's another discussion here: our new understanding of the heroic language of public work. We are uncomfortable with it. The tension around that is important to think about: What means what to whom?" Commissioner Diane Chapin noted that ideas around how the perimeters of parks should look are always in flux, she was not convinced on the appropriateness of a more ornate fence. Her colleague Michael Goldblum asked if there were other options: Could the piers stay and the fences be lowered? Lower most of the pillars but leave the ones near the entrance intact? "It's within preservation ideology and philosophy to make some changes along the perimeter and not be [a] slave to every possible historic aspect," said LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, a statement with which Commissioner Frederick Bland agreed. Sybil Young, a Parks preservationist, requested approval from the Commission in light of the fact the project's funding remained undecided. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan assented and the commission agreed it could approve the work, among other requested changes. If and when the Parks Department has the capital funding for the new fences, it can go back to the LPC for discussion. An LPC spokesperson said that if there is significant new information the commission may hold an additional public meeting. A Parks Department spokesperson said that right now, except for work at the two southern entrances, the agency does not have funding or LPC approval for a new southern border fence or money to reduce the height of the piers. The agency is not actively seeking funding for the southern border portion of the project.
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Wagner Thereafter

Architects aren't happy with plans to remodel this Manhattan park
Despite new developments reshaping the city from ground to sky, the Statue of Liberty endures as one of New York's most iconic sights. Without getting on a boat, one of the best places to see Lady Liberty is Wagner Park, a small green slice of Battery Park City on the lower edge of Manhattan. Two decades ago Boston-based Machado Silvetti, in collaboration with landscape architects at OLIN, unveiled the park, an open space that ushers people towards the water’s edge with sweeping views of New York Harbor and that famous freedom statue. Now, in response to the specter of Hurricane Sandy and the threat of rising seas, the agency that oversees the area is planning a total park overhaul. The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) is set to replace the existing landscape that architects and residents love with a park it says will align better with new resiliency measures that are reshaping the Manhattan waterfront. Though Wagner Park comprises just ten percent of Battery Park City's green space, its design punches above its weight. According to Machado Silvetti, the park has three defining features, all in service of stellar water views. The main building—really two pavilions whose rooftops are joined by a wooden bridge—is reached by facing allées that funnel pedestrians from Battery Park and Battery Place. From there, the view beckons park-goers onto a grassy expanse, framed by benches and stone paths. At its opening in 1996, architecture critic Paul Goldberger declared Wagner Park's three-and-a-half acres "one of the finest public spaces New York has seen in at least a generation." That was written in a pre-Sandy time, when climate change was a glimmer only in scientists’ eyes. Now, the BPCA, the state agency in charge of Battery Park City, says Wagner Park needs a totally new design to protect itself, as well as inland areas. Though it didn't flood during Sandy, hurricane-related inundation along nearby West Street and the area's "excessive vulnerabilities" made the agency consider a storm barrier to align with the city's Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project, said Gwen Dawson, vice president of real property at BPCA. Right now, LMCR protections terminate right before Wagner Park’s southern boundary and the city’s Battery Park City resiliency initiatives end at the park's north side, near the Museum of Jewish Heritage. At the water's edge, preliminary plans call for extending an existing esplanade to connect with nearby Pier A. To flood-proof inland areas, a deployable barrier set between thick columns would roughly contour the existing building's footprint and the southern allée, while a larger lawn and ornamental gardens would replace the current configuration of wood benches and stonework. BPCA has commissioned Stan Eckstut of New York’s Perkins Eastman, the same architect behind the original Battery Park City master plan, to design the new building and park (in collaboration with W Architecture and Landscape Architecture). Besides the landscape's vulnerability, Machado Silvetti’s building, BPCA says, is too deteriorated and set too deep into the 100-year floodplain to withstand future Sandys. At 12 feet, the structure's first-floor elevation is four-and-a-half feet shy of new minimum first-floor flood zone elevations. Perkins Eastman's design would keep the same footprint as the old building, but, at 42 feet tall, it would more than double the amount of retail space and add room for maintenance operations. The restrooms, which are bigger than those in Bryant Park, would be halved in size to deter tour buses from stopping at the park. Not everyone, though, thinks the BPCA’s approach—or design vision—fits the site. "Design is an important component of resiliency work,” landscape architect Laura Starr said. “The design community is able to translate engineering concepts in a way that’s legible—and attractive—to lay people, so everyone can understand all the options. We all need to be on the same page.” Starr—whose firm worked on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a major initiative to build resiliency along the Manhattan side of the East River—contends that solutions to flooding should focus on Pier A’s plaza, where in 2012 seawater inundated main roads, the World Trade Center site, and the ballfields along West Street. She questioned whether the deployable barriers, which even at rest are very visible and do not go up automatically, would be the best solution. Instead, she believes built-in-place barriers that double as promenades, parks, bikeways, green space, and (in some cases) elevated roads are more effective from a holistic resiliency standpoint than deployable barriers that rely on an operations team to be effective and don’t contribute to the urban design.

Starr serves on Manhattan Community Board 1 (CB1), which met earlier this month to discuss the proposal, the latest in a series of public meetings that commenced in April 2016. (According to a BPCA spokesperson, her firm, Starr Whitehouse bid unsuccessfully on the Wagner Park redesign.)*

CB1, for its part, wants more information. Although it affirmed its pledge to work with BPCA on the plans, CB 1’s Battery Park City Committee believed the expansive character of Wagner Park should be preserved. It expressed concern over the expanded commercial space, especially given the abundant retail options on Pier A. Its resolution states that "it has not been made clear to members of the Committee why the existing structure, which was built in 1994, must be replaced by a new building or why the new building is necessary." The original architect, too, is less than thrilled with the proposal. “The design premise is an insult to the Statue of Liberty,” said Rodolfo Machado, founding principal of Machado Silvetti. “This project seems totally non-site-specific; the symbolic content of the park is completely lost. It’s very banal.” He had not heard about the BPCA proposal until AN reached out for comment last week. Perkins Eastman principal Stan Eckstut maintained that Machado Silvetti’s design is sound, but added that the pavilion was not constructed for the restaurant that today occupies its ground floor. Water, though, has seeped through the bricks and built up inside the walls, causing deterioration. There’s also not enough space for maintenance operations, so the BPCA wants to add 1,800 square feet of space for maintenance, bringing the total to 4,300 square feet. The project's budget has yet to be finalized, but it's estimated it will cost tens of millions of dollars. The next step, BPCA officials said, is engineering and design, which includes the development of an RFP for a more detailed program that is set to come out within the next 90 days. Though this plan affects only a sliver of New York’s 520 miles of coastline, the rebuild-and-replace approach raises larger questions about the future of climate change design in New York City. At Machado’s suggestion, AN reached out to architects for comment on the proposed changes to Wagner Park and the future of resilient landscapes in New York. We’ll update readers as more comments come online. Nader Tehrani, founding principal of NADAAA and dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union:
[It’s] unfortunate that there is a move to demolish these pavilions and replace them with structures that do not acknowledge the colossal scale at which pavilions would need to operate in relation to the NYC skyline, nor acknowledge the critical urbanistic connections to the Statue of Liberty…or the other more nuanced connections within Battery Park City. It might be that these pavilions, like many other structures and landscapes on the edge of Manhattan, would need to be revisited in terms of resilience, and their ability to absorb the cyclical fluctuations of a piece of infrastructure. But to deny them of the critical urbanistic function they offer is to deny NYC some of its paradigmatic qualities. At the end, rising tides will become a consistent challenge in the coming years. If at every turn, the alibi of impending doom is adopted as the basis for the demolition of critical values that make up the discipline of urbanism, then we will end up with a series of barriers (both physical and cultural) that deny us of engaging the very reasons we build urban cultures.
Toshiko Mori, founding principal, Toshiko Mori Architect:
I think the park has become a type of fixture in our downtown life. The design is a bit idiosyncratic but it is very well-detailed and there is something very endearing about the structure which takes into account multiple scales of elements occurring on the site from high rises downtown to the view of the harbor to the experience of park at human scale. In particular, the front esplanade is an excellent design, it makes for a beautiful transition from the building to the lawn. Its gentle arc and steps and stone details help negotiate this important edge in a very graceful manner. Isn't it possible to leave it as is and let it flood like they do in Venice? Or take care of flooding issue in a less obtrusive manner?
Zack McKown, founding principal of Tsao & McKown:
I would like to know more, especially regarding alternative ways of dealing with sea level rise that could preserve the Wagner Park structure by Machado Silvetti. Their design enhances an urban place that offers uniquely strong visual connections to the Statue of Liberty. They employed a powerful and erudite architectural vocabulary that elevates one's appreciation for an appropriately monumental civic celebration and at the same time delightfully challenges one to ponder its mysterious formal origins.
The project that is being proposed has no comparable ennobling or engaging qualities that I can see from these drawings.
*Starr Whitehouse is currently working with Perkins Eastman on another project and the partners worked with the BPCA at a previous firm
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Excellence in Design Awards

Bomb squad building, verdant library, and others score NYC design awards
Today officials revealed winners of New York's annual Awards for Excellence in Design, a recognition of the city's best civic projects. Timed to NYCxDESIGN, the city's annual celebration of all things design and architecture, the projects being recognized contribute to the city's public life, preserve its history, and exemplify sustainable approaches to buildings and landscapes. The awards, now in their 35th year, are presented by the Public Design Commission, an 11-member group of designers and representatives from New York's cultural institutions that reviews art, architecture, and landscape architecture on city property. "The best public projects are purposeful and use design to build a sense of community and civic pride," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a prepared statement. "We commend the teams behind these critical and creative projects that will help build a stronger, more equitable city and improve services and recreational activities for every New Yorker." Tonight, the mayor, along with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Public Design Commission President Signe Nielsen and Executive Director Justin Moore, will present awards to this year's and last year's honorees at a City Hall ceremony. Get a sneak peek at the eight winners below (unless otherwise noted, all images and project descriptions in quotes are from the Mayor's Office): AWARD WINNERS Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center Marble Fairbanks; SCAPE Landscape Architecture Greenpoint, Brooklyn Brooklyn Public Library "Exceeding LEED Silver goals, the center will become a demonstration project for innovative approaches to sustainable design, and an environmental learning tool for the community." Double Sun Mary Temple Williamsburg, Brooklyn Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program and Department of Parks & Recreation "Gracing the interior of McCarren Park Pool’s dramatic archway entrance, Mary Temple’s paintings create a subtle and elegant visual disturbance." Downtown Far Rockaway Streetscape  W Architecture and Landscape Architecture Far Rockaway, Queens Department of Design and Construction, Department of Transportation, and Department of Parks & Recreation "Incorporating Vision Zero strategies, this comprehensive streetscape design will foster a safer, more inviting, pedestrian experience in this central business district and transportation hub." Bomb Squad Building Rice + Lipka Architects; Liz Farrell Landscape Architecture Pelham Bay Park, Bronx Department of Design and Construction and New York Police Department "The simple and smart design of this resilient office and training facility elevates critical program elements above the floodplain and allows flood waters to flow through without damaging the building." Treetop Adventure Zipline and Nature Trek  Tree-Mendous The Bronx Zoo Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of Parks & Recreation, and Wildlife Conservation Society "Two new adventures provide unique perspectives at the zoo—visitors can zip across the Bronx River and navigate a series of bridges with narrow beams, obstacles, and climbing wiggling surfaces." FIT New Academic Building SHoP Architects; Mathews Nielsen Fashion Institute of Technology Agency: Department of Education and the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York "The first newly-constructed building on the FIT campus in nearly 50 years has an NEA award-winning design that reflects FIT’s commitment to openness, community engagement, and the robust exchange of ideas across many platforms." Woodside Office, Garage, and Inspection Facility TEN Arquitectos; W Architecture and Landscape Architecture Woodside, Queens Agency: Department of Design and Construction and Taxi and Limousine Commission "Serving as the central inspection location for over 13,500 taxis, this facility will provide a welcoming and dignified experience for drivers, reduce queuing times, and increase inspection capacity by more than 200 cars per day." The Cubes Administration and Education Building LOT-EK Astoria, Queens Agency: Department of Parks & Recreation and Socrates Sculpture Park "Constructed of 18 shipping containers, the Cubes will be Socrates Sculpture Park’s first permanent structure in its thirty-year history and a manifestation of the organization’s emphasis on reclamation and adaptive re-use, as well as a reference to the neighborhood’s industrial roots." SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS: The Department of Environmental Protection, for the agency’s thoughtful design of green infrastructure in the watershed to help protect the city’s water supply. "DEP’s use of green infrastructure in its upstate properties not only results in resilient and innovative designs, but is a critical component of the agency’s ability to maintain the high quality of New York City’s drinking water supply." Conservation and Relocation of three WPA-era murals EverGreene Architectural Arts; Fine Art Conservation Group; Morphosis; Weiss/Manfredi Roosevelt Island, New York Economic Development Corporation and Cornell Tech "Commissioned in the 1940s by the Work Projects Administration (WPA), these murals were painted over and forgotten for decades. As part of the new Cornell Tech campus, the murals were uncovered and conserved and will be integrated into new campus buildings for public enjoyment." Tottenville Shoreline Protection Stantec; RACE Coastal Engineering Staten Island Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Department of Transportation, and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York "In tandem with ReBuild by Design’s Living Breakwaters Project, this shoreline initiative will increase public access by creating an interconnected and seamless waterfront trail, incorporating wetland enhancement, eco-revetments, hardened dune systems, shoreline plantings, maritime forest restorations, and earthen berms."
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Tent of Today?

Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion all set for $14 million revamp
The famous—and famously neglected—New York State Pavilion in Queens is poised for a major revamp. The city last week announced it is giving the pavilion, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a $14.25 million redesign. Originally conceived by Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin for the 1964 World's Fair, the pavilion is a far cry from Johnson's Glass House but became a New York City icon nonetheless. Now, though, the National Register–listed item is largely abandoned, looming over other World's Fair infrastructure that has been successfully incorporated into the park.

The work, however, depends on a successful bid for the project. If all goes well, construction is scheduled to start next spring and wrap in fall 2019.

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Final Puzzle Piece

NYC acquires last parcel needed for new Bushwick Inlet Park
8Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio announced that New York City had acquired, for $160 million, a large parcel needed to create the new Bushwick Inlet Park, located on the East River shoreline of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The parcel in question is the 11-acre CitiStorage storage facility, which was ravaged by a seven-alarm fire back in 2015. The site's owner had been demanding up to $250 million for the land, and there were rumors the city would use eminent domain, though that appears to not have happened. “Today’s acquisition is proof positive that we keep our promises,” said Mayor de Blasio in a press release. “We are one step closer to realizing the vision of the completed Bushwick Inlet Park North Brooklyn deserves.” “On a per capita basis, Brooklyn Community Board 1 has one of the city’s lowest ratios of open space," said Brooklyn Community Board 1 Chair Dealice Fuller, also in a press release. "Since the 2005 rezoning our community has added tens of thousands of new residents, but the creation of new open space has not kept pace with the influx of new people. We are highly pleased that the Administration finally lived up to its promises and acquired the parcels that comprised the CitiStorage site. With the NYC Parks now leading the charge, we can begin moving forward to make this park a true reality.” This final parcel is just one of six that will go into the new 27-acre park; 3.5 acres are already finished and open to the public. The already-completed section, designed by Brooklyn-based Kiss + Cathcart, features a multi-purpose sports field, viewing platform, and community activities building, in addition to other amenities. Many ideas have been floated for the new park's design, including a "Maker Park" that would make sure of derelict industrial facilities near the inlet, though the City and NYC Parks have not released final plans. Four other parcels are currently in various stages of environmental remediation and development; the CitiStorage site must also go through a similar evaluation and remediation process. Once such an evaluation is complete, the City said in a press release, it will formulate a timeline for development. (The article's first image was taken from a 2005 Greenpoint – Williamsburg master plan created by Mayor Bloomberg's administration.)
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Cities and Climate Action

How can cities double down on the climate change fight? Three experts share ideas
It's widely accepted that climate change affects us all, and cities in particular. So what are some of the most vulnerable cities doing to adapt to rising seas and extreme weather events? Three experts from three cities—all of whom are current or former government officials—zeroed in on cities' responses to climate change in their respective regions at a mini Columbia GSAPP conference titled Cities and Climate Action. They were: Jeffrey Hebert, from New Orleans; Adam Freed, from New York; and Rodrigo Rosa of Rio de Janeiro, a visiting scholar at Columbia University and a legislative consultant in the Brazil Federal Senate. Climate change, the experts agreed, is addressed not just through the environment—destructive hurricanes or deadly heat waves—but through a city's culture, economy, and landscape. In New Orleans, starting around 2007, post-Katrina planning responded both to hurricane damage but also looked realistically at the profound impact of climate change on the urban fabric, explained Hebert, the city's deputy mayor & chief resilience officer. Southern Louisiana, Hebert said, has the highest rate of relative sea level rise (coastal subsidence) in the world. New Orleans, consequently, has spent $14 billion in storm surge prevention, part of a $50 billion coastal master plan that covers the whole region.  Despite the destruction wrought by Katrina—over 1,800 residents died—the water in today's resilience planning is very present, in part to keep climate change adaptation at the forefront of people's consciousness. "The water will be visible," said Hebert. "We have to do that in order to remain the city we’ve always wanted to be.” A tight network of interventions supports this goal: The 25-acre Mirabeau Water Garden is parkland that controls flooding, while rain gardens in medians, disaster preparedness strategies for buildings and neighborhoods, and a pumping system (second largest only to the Netherlands) keeps the city from being inundated. Climate change planning, though, goes beyond big-ticket water management. New Orleans residents are still recovering from Katrina trauma, and a new program addresses the barriers people face when trying to rebuild after life-altering events; after all, neighborhoods are nothing without their people. Hebert said a new city program, Connect to Opportunity, aims to reduce barriers to employment, build social cohesion, promote public heath, expand access to safe and affordable housing, redesign regional transit, and improve the reliability of energy infrastructure. That program is part of the city's overall resilience plan that was adopted in 2015. Up north, New York City's infrastructure is being upgraded to accommodate a growing population—a projected one million new residents between now and 2030. According to Freed, former deputy director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the infrastructure boost “had absolutely nothing to do with climate change" but it was a collateral benefit from the city's projected growth. To build resilience, “every facet of our built environment needs to change,” said Freed, who is now a principal at Bloomberg Associates. He noted that when he worked under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, just two percent of buildings were responsible for half of energy use in buildings. To combat this, the administration launched the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, which phased out things like heavy heating oil, one step in the city's plan to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Recent projects include CitiBike, which had more than 10 million rides last year, microgrids for local energy production, flood protection in public housing, and turning rooftops into green roofs. In a post-talk discussion, moderator and New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman was joined by Columbia's Kate Orff, founding principal of SCAPE and director of GSAPP's urban design program, and Weiping Wu, director of the urban planning program. A few key points emerged: regional collaboration, meaningfully extending resilience to include local culture, and getting people to consistently care about climate change. While cities are crucial nodes in climate change response, the commentators agreed that it's prime time to build connections between cities and regions. Even though the U.S. Department of Defense was one of the first agencies to recognize climate change as a security threat, it can be hard to get different levels of governments agree on a climate change agenda. But fighting factionalism is crucial: “To scale up what we do," Rosa said, "we have to be involved in regions.” There are surprising connections between the cities: Hebert noted that in NOLA and in Rio, carnival organizations provide deep connections for social cohesion. After all, big storms and rising seas are only the “spark in the tinder” that exposes existing problems, said Kimmelman. In the Netherlands, he added, people feel that water is "taken care of" and some fear that their fellow citizens have become complacent to the threat of climate change. Although it's true that climate change is hard to see, people care about its effects—extreme weather, compromised air and water quality. That's why, Orff said, projects that sport parks and green space but are also heavy-duty flood protection measures are a good strategy for public buy-in.
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ROSSETTI

Fabric screen connects tennis stadium to surrounding park
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Located adjacent to the New York State Pavilion—the host of the 1964 World's Fair—the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center hosts the annual US Open Tournament, one of the oldest tennis championships in the world. In an effort to better utilize the sports campus, Detroit-based ROSSETTI developed a master plan to move the Grandstand Stadium to a far corner of the grounds. The relocation expanded USTA's leasable land into Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
  • Facade Manufacturer Birdair
  • Architects ROSSETTI
  • Facade Installer Birdair
  • Facade Consultants Birdair; WSP (structural engineer)
  • Location Queens, NY
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System steel frame with PTFE fabric
  • Products custom made PTFE fabric
To mediate between this historic park setting and the tennis campus, ROSSETTI designed a unique exterior skin pattern that metaphorically evokes the translucency of leafy tree canopies and the twisting dynamics of the tennis serve. The material selected, a Teflon-coated fiberglass membrane, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)­, is typically used for roofing applications but in this case, a woven version allows for a more translucent breathable effect. The facade assembly is composed of 486 panels, totaling over 26,000 square feet, that fasten to a cable structure with parametric geometry. The system was designed with computational solver software to streamline design and constructability, ultimately saving an enormous amount of time and money in the project. Matt Taylor, design lead at ROSSETTI, said that early on in the design process, the team tried to mimic the faceted geometry of the structure, by ultimately ended up with a curvilinear form: "Even though this was a very complex facade, we had to simplify it to a point where it was repeatable, structurally feasible, and that the detailing could be economic enough to stay within budget." Pierre Roberson, a technical designer at ROSSETTI, led the effort to optimize and simplify detailing of the system. He said the structure of the building was not symmetrical but rather based on spline geometry with an infinite number of radii, and that the key to optimizing the facade was about producing a series of modular components that approximated the perimeter shape. Roberson split the spline of the ring beams into 16 equal segments, finding optimal radii for each segment. After optimizing the beam geometry, Roberson used Galapagos, a parametric tool in Grasshopper3d, to find an ideal strut length from over 1,000 of the individual panel supports. This process standardized the length and angle of the facade strut geometry, which allowed the team to provide models for the shop fabricators, who were able to attach connection points to the ring beams at the same angle. Early on in the process, working with PTFE manufacturer Birdair, ROSSETTI mocked up details using PVC pipes and in-house 3d-printed connection components to test and resolve details in full scale. This became a transportable design, presentation, and technical tool that allowed the connection between the PTFE panel and the steel strut to evolve into an elegant functional expression. Taylor said the mockups led to design changes through a collaborative process between the architect and manufacturer. "Birdair was great to work with—they were up to the challenge of this design." The actual fabric shapes were directed by Birdair’s dimensional and formal requirements. For example, a doubly-curved surface geometry is easier to tension than a standard planar surface. Also, by maintaining a specific dimension of 5-by-10 feet avoided the visual clutter of seams running through the panels. "We could have specified a large panel size and worked a secondary seam pattern onto the panels, but we thought this was a much more elegant solution," said Taylor, adding, "there's something really nice about the pedestrian scale of the panels."
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Playground of My Mind

The unknown story of New York City's brutalist playgrounds, as told by artist Julia Jacquette
The idea of concrete being the dominant material for a children's play area seems bizarre today. What about the grazed elbows and knees and scratched palms? What if, God forbid, someone hits their head?! In 1970s New York, however, it worked: Artist Julia Jacquette recalls the concrete playscapes built during one of the city's most socially turbulent eras in her new book, Playground of My Mind. A combination of personal memoir, playground design guide, graphic novel, and story of New York's modernist architectural scene, laced with snippets of feminist ambition, Playground of My Mind is narrated retrospectively by Jacquette, who illustrated the book with her own distinctive graphic style. It starts by plunging you into the depths of Columbus Park Towers, a confusingly named, singular high-rise apartment block on West 94th Street. It's here, in the tower block's basement, where Jacquette's interested in playgrounds started. Described as a "city within a city," Jacquette uses the now-demolished play area, designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, as a springboard to illustrate the egalitarian principles found in modernist architecture and recount how such design influenced her. Another example is the Adventure Playground, found in Central Park and designed by architect Richard Dattner. Emphatically, Jacquette states: "Much of the Adventure Playground was made with poured concrete aggregate: CONCRETE WITH PEBBLES IN IT." Jacquette touches on more design details as she chronicles her experiences, which include playgrounds by Aldo van Eyck in Amsterdam, where her childhood is also rooted. She portrays these play areas as a reaction to the out-dated, one-dimensional curated fun prescribed by former NYC Parks Commissioner and Chairman, Robert Moses. In Moses's parks, objects encouraged limited means of interaction, and were, as critic Phineas Harper described, "modeled on Victorian notions of character-building gymnastic exertion." Swings were for swinging in, see-saws were essentially the same (just more wooden in every sense of the word), and you slid down slides. Jacquette's account of these play areas may be useful today as Harper described contemporary playgrounds as "totally prescriptive," citing researcher David Ball who found that the commonly deployed rubber "safety surfacing" has a negligible impact on children's' safety. Instead, Jacquette prefers playgrounds that encourage inventive ways of using and navigating them; places where fun is free to be had and above all interpretive: A hollowed, spiraling mound could be a mountain, volcano, castle or river, while at the same time referencing ancient architecture such as Roman amphitheaters and Egyptian pyramids. The author's illustrations complement this personal narrative, playing with scale in a similar fashion to the featured playgrounds. This is supplemented by text design and layout consultant, Cathleen Owens's meandering arrangement of text that weaves through the book, working its way around the axonometric, plan and graphic drawings that fill every page. Her father an architect and mother a stylish librarian, Jacquette ascribes the unified aesthetic vocabulary that played a big part in her childhood to her making today, drawing on memories such as: the clothing worn by her mother who confidently strode around gritty New York; Manhattan movie theaters; playgrounds in the Netherlands and parks designed by her father. Today, Columbus Park Tower sits atop a cleaners, cafe, boutique, cobblers, bar and two restaurants and is engulfed by residential high-rises lining Columbus avenue. It's cream colored (originally white) balconies which Jacquette mentions protrude out and contrast against its aged (but not damaged) brickwork. They amplify the linear orderliness of the facade—an aesthetic retained today. Look north and there are newer, modern, high-end apartments. The area is a far cry from the rough-and-tumble neighborhood that Jacquette grew up in, but the bold spirit of the place evidently lives on in her work. Playground of My Mind was published by Prestel in conjunction with the Wellin Museum of Art, where a mid-survey exhibition of Jacquette is currently on show, located on the campus of Hamilton College. Julia Jacquette: Unrequited and Acts of Play looks at the theme of identity through the nostalgic lens used in Playground of My Mind. The exhibition is on view through July 2, 2017, and an abridged version of the show will travel to the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, New Jersey, where it will be on view from September 24, 2017, through January 14, 2018. Playground of My Mind Prestel, $49.95