Search results for "zoning"

Barnes Launches Architect Search

Last month—opening the latest chapter in the idiosyncratic institution’s litigious recent history—the Barnes Foundation issued a request for qualifications, beginning the search for an architect to build a new facility in Philadelphia’s Center City. The institution hopes to break ground on the project by the end of the year.

According to foundation executive director and president Derek Gillman, the recipients of the RFQ—an undisclosed group of architecture firms from around the world—“span a wide range of ways of working and range from household names to emerging practitioners.” The same announcement named Martha Thorne, executive director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, as an advisor to the design selection process. The foundation’s collection will be relocated from suburban Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, to the new downtown location.

Albert C. Barnes established his foundation as a place for education in and appreciation of the fine arts. Sited in a 12-acre arboretum, the 1925 gallery, designed by French architect Paul Philippe Cret, houses an extensive roster of paintings by impressionist and early modern masters, including Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Renoir, and Modigliani. Barnes’ singular vision is apparent in the arrangement of the picture galleries: Works are grouped together aesthetically rather than historically, and periods, cultures, and media are mixed. Over the years two factors have conspired to maintain the intimate, cloister-like setting: Barnes’ original directive required that the collection remain in Lower Merion, while the township’s zoning laws have limited the number of visitors to 400 a day, three days per week. In 2002 the foundation lobbied the Montgomery County Orphans’ Court to allow the gallery to relocate to a site on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, arguing that potential funders would be more generous if the institution were more open to the public. “The move to Parkway is a means for the Barnes to survive,” explained Gillman. “People will give philanthropically when it is in Philadelphia, as opposed to being constrained in Merion.” Despite cries of protest from former students and neighbors, the court approved the move in 2004.

The City of Philadelphia provided the high profile Benjamin Franklin Parkway address; the foundation’s new 120,000-square-foot structure will occupy a site currently home to the Youth Studies Center, a juvenile detention facility scheduled to move to a new building in West Philadelphia. While the court order requires the architects to replicate the quirky galleries of Merion in the new location, the move will mean more than opening the doors to more visitors and making the collection accessible to a demographic unable to score a reservation or make the 8-mile trip to Merion. The Barnes plans also to broaden its educational scope, becoming more like a traditional museum in the process. According to Gillman, the move is in line with the institution’s founding principles. “I am not thinking about the new building in the sense of the urban landscape, but I am thinking about the experience of the collection,” he said. “I am less concerned about the downtown and more concerned about the people. While I am interested in the urban condition, the mission of the foundation is to make people think about the art.” 

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Dialogue: Shaun Donovan & Gwendolyn Wright

In March, the Department of Housing Development and Preservation announced that it had reached the one-third mark in its initiative to develop and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing. To mark the occasion, AN asked housing historian and Columbia professor Gwendolyn Wright to sit down with HPD commissioner Shaun Donovan.

Gwendolyn Wright: What surprises you about working in city government?
Shaun Donovan: One of the most pleasant surprises has been that in a city so famous for politics, how un-political this administration has been. I think Rolling Stone did a profile of the mayor that said New Yorkers have an opportunity to see what government can be without politics, and it actually feels that way inside. It’s amazing how much support we have from the mayor and City Hall to stand up and say this is why we do what we’re doing. 

GW: Having lived in New York for the last 25 years, I can tell you it wasn’t always that way. What does that actually mean in terms of the way things work downtown?
SD: It has a broad set of implications, but there’s a piece of it that’s all about leadership. For example, Iris Weinshall [the recently-departed transportation commissioner] called me the other day and said, “You know what, we’re going to give you these seven parking lots.” For her to make that decision is actually a remarkable thing inside government, because what’s the upside for the transportation commissioner? Not a lot. Even though a given lot is only 25 percent full most of the time, she’s going to get yelled at by the local merchants because the people who use it can’t get to their shops as easily. To me, that says there’s a clear message from City Hall that affordable housing is a priority for the mayor.

GW: What is the role of the private market in the New Housing Marketplace initiative?
SD: That has been the single biggest challenge and opportunity here. When I arrived, the mayor had already started to shift the strategies towards recreating a market in places where there wasn’t one, such as the South Bronx and lots of Harlem. He did this through the New Housing Marketplace plan. I think the real shift that I’ve tried to make is to figure out how to harness the market, rather than recreate it. In affordable housing, a $5 million condo can actually be your friend: It can be as simple as building a few market rate units for the cross-subsidy they create for affordable ones. I think it has also meant that we have a broader opportunity to create mixed-income communities across the city than we did before. One of the great failures of housing policy has been to think about low-income housing as something dangerous that has to be separated out. We try to blur the lines as much as possible, and leveraging the market is really important in doing that. 

Donovan (top) and Wright.  
Aaron Seward

GW: It is interesting that the mayor and your agency speak about a marketplace, which is different from the market. When people invoke the market they tend to mean the upper tier of it, and how to keep those guys happy—and they’re pretty happy right now! But the marketplace is a circumstance where you have the realities of economics: many different prices, many different groups, and many different kinds of markets. You’re allowing New York to function like a city as opposed to a place defined by the market aspirations of a few major developers.

SD: Housing advocates often focus on how much money government is putting into something, but the levers that we hold in government are often much more powerful than the money. Inclusionary zoning is a perfect example of that. We’ve got million-dollar condos going up on the waterfront in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, but we could never have thrown enough money at those projects to end up with what we’re getting, which is that 20 to 30 percent of these buildings are affordable. This is some of the most prime real estate available. The only reason it will be a truly integrated community is because we used the powers of zoning to say that there is a benefit to the marketplace, and we want the marketplace to flourish there. We’ll allow you to build taller, but if you do, you’ve got to give something back for that density.

GW: You seem quite interested in design innovations of various sorts. What are the possibilities for architects?
SD: At the simplest level, it’s about increasing our engagement in design and opening up the process to architects. I think [commissioner] David Burney has really done that for public work through the Department of Design and Construction, and I hope that we’re following that example. Look at all the entries for the New Housing New York competition we just held. I think it is the best example to date of a process that integrates architecture in a way that was not just about design, but about creating a sustainable community. We’re going to do more design competitions like that, but we can’t do it on every single project. It was an enormous effort and expense, but there are a lot of principles that we can integrate into our smaller projects. 

GW: One of the things that you’re doing, which is unusual and wonderful, is challenging architects to imagine and innovate in new ways.
SD: I think there has been a mutual fear within affordable housing and the architecture community about the failure of design in public housing. I strongly believe that design gets a bad rap for lots of other failures, most of them around the social makeup of a project or its financing, all of which have fed into the disintegration of many public housing communities. There’s disillusionment about the possibilities of architecture. I worry about the retreat into traditionalism and contextualism as a way of repairing that. In this competition, we had a long discussion about whether the city was ready for a tower in the park that wasn’t the traditional model. 

GW: I think you’re absolutely right. A lot of architects have felt that housing in general, beyond very expensive luxury housing, tied their hands; there was a demand that it be traditional because then it would seem familiar and somehow ease over all the social problems. It’s almost modernism in reverse. How do you think we can open up a definition of housing beyond the accretion of units in some kind of block or bar?
SD: I think a lot of that is thinking about urban design as part of the work that we do. If you look at Arverne [Arverne Urban Renewal Area, Far Rockaway, Queens] we’re essentially creating new towns there. Our relationship with City Planning is so much stronger than it once was.  

GW: Let me shift a little and ask you about homeownership. It’s emphasized in a lot of the literature put out by the Bloomberg administration. It’s also becoming more controversial due to the problem of subprime mortgages. Homeownership is not the right thing for everyone. What do you see as the advantage of homeownership?
SD: We just reached a record high of homeownership in New York City: 33.3 percent, though it’s the lowest rate of any metropolitan area in the country. We’ve created close to 20,000 low-income homeowners through the limited-equity properties we created through cooperative programs. These were city-owned buildings that we took in foreclosure, renovated, and sold for $250 a unit to the residents. That’s an incredible amount of equity that’s been created for low-income people, and has built a stable financial existence for them. In that sense, I think it’s an increasingly important tool that works within the marketplace. It will never be our primary strategy, but is an important piece of the overall strategy. 

GW: There are several exhibitions on Robert Moses in the city right now. He’s a controversial example of someone not elected to office who exercised enormous political power over the environment, social services, transportation, and housing. What does he teach political figures today?
SD: This goes back to my earliest experiences in government, when I realized the importance of balancing public consensus with moving ahead consistently. That balance is probably the single most important thing that a public servant can achieve, but it is extremely difficult to do. I think it’s very clear that Moses was too far on one side of the spectrum. There was no respect for the importance of building consensus. On the other hand, I think this administration has tried to move toward big things again. Look at Williamsburg: It’s two miles of waterfront. It’s not about small plans. A lot of it is about setting a framework for growth that has an organic quality. The city is a living organism and we have to think of it in that dynamic way. We can’t freeze New York at any time. We have to be ready for change.

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He’ll Take Manhattan

Seong Kwon / COURTESY Mechoshade

The soon-to-open IAC/InterActiveCorp headquarters in New York is primarily being hailed as Frank Gehryys first building in the city, but it is so much more. Sited on the Far West Side in Chelsea, the ten-story billowing glass structure, which resembles a crystalline snow globe by day and a Creamsicle by night, is a flagship building for the booming Internet company.Yet it is also a catalyst to further development in the area that will sooner rather than later transform the neighborhood it was designed to complement. Right now, that neighborhood includes truck garages and storage warehouses, a womenns prison, and, lately, a few chic galleries. But they serve the IAC building well as a gritty brick backdrop against which its milky white slopes can swell and stand out.

The setting that shows this dynamic gem off to best advantage is changing fast. Across narrow 19th Street, excavation is underway for Jean Nouvells 20- story condo that, in renderings, appears to be encrusted in giant mirrored Post-it notes. Immediately behind the Gehry building, 520 West Chelsea, an 11-story condo by Annabelle Selldorf, is rising with just enough space between the two, purportedly, to squeeze in a condo-cumgallery in the near future by Shigeru Ban. Other apartments by Robert A. M. Stern and Neil Denari are also in the works well within visual encroachment range. Such an embarrassment of riches makes one wonder if a new zoning rule stipulating only one icon per block ought to be put into effect.

Seong Kwon / COURTESY Mechoshade

The IAC headquarters has a compact, dynamic scale that more than holds its own against the behemoth Chelsea Piers that stretches for blocks just across the West Side Highway. The tall-shipsat- full-sail metaphorran incredibly romantic conceit for jaded Manhattann that inspired the buildinggs form is experienced most immediately and effectively by the cars whizzing by on the adjacent highway, making the IAC the cityys first LA building. The pedestrian experience is less welcoming: sheer featureless walls on all three street sides with a slight bulge and no signage to speak, not even an easily discernible entrance. Apparently, Barry Diller, IACCs chairman and chief executive officer, was adamant that no signs should mar the structurees monolithic It-ness. Bruce Mau, hired to handle graphics throughout, has complied with an exceedingly diffident aluminum bar protuberanceea kind of anti-marqueeeover the main entrance, on 18th Street.

Seong Kwon / COURTESY Mechoshade

In a January 11, 2006 article in The Wall Street Journal, Diller was quoted as saying he wanted a building that was a wondrous environmentt of its own. And so it comes as a surprise that the interiorssapart from a few very glitzy gesturesshave such a scattered look. The flashiest feature is the 118-footlong video wall in the lobby (one of two envisioned by Gehry and Mau and produced by McCann Systems, Trollbbck + Company, and Warren Z Productions) powered by 18 12,000-lumen projectors and streaming a collage of images of flowers, client product endorsements, and art projects. The video screen will be somewhere between advertising and art,, said Eric Levin, an associate director in the companyys real estate department, on a recent tour that included a stop behind the video wall to see a sound-andlight setup worthy of a Madonna tour.

The treatment of the glass curtain wall makes for a more contemplative but no less technologically daring display. Much has been written about how the curvature in the glass was achieved by coldbending the glass on-site. Less familiar is the fascinating fact that it was not the flexibility of the glass but the tensile strength of the silicone adhesive anchoring the fourth corner of each sheet of glass to the frame that determined a maximum torque (up to 4 inches). Oddly, the best place to see the effect is on the back side, where the building rotates up to 150 degrees as it rises unbroken from the ground up. (A zoning- mandated sixth-floor setback breaks up the volume on the front and sides.)

Up close, the glass surface has a busy, pulsating pattern. Clear across each middle section (at a point where people of average height might stand to look out), the glass then shades gradually to opaque white due to miniscule ceramic frit dots arranged in irregular waves that collect at their densest at top and bottom. This irregular wave patterning creates a striated look recalling a Xerox machine thatts running out of toner ink. The glass, like the building itself, seems intended for viewing from a distance.

Studios Architecture designed the interiors on all the floors except the sixth, where the executive offices are located. The partnership with Gehry (who was responsible for the interior of the lobby and the sixth floor) is a compatible one, marked with a predilection for bright colors, lots of patterns, and shiny surfaces. The glass partitions and doors leading to the private offices on nonexecutive floors are the color of Tropical Fruit Lifesavers. Austin Powersorange seating pods dot the floor, and supergraphics by Mau cover the elevator landing walls. Gehry installed a rug with a tiger-striped pattern in Dillerrs executive suite. It all screams Youth! Creativity! Energy!! which could become tiresome in the long run.

Courtesy DIRTT

Seong Kwon / COURTESY Mechoshade

Attempts at unifying the interior space fall flat. Each floor has a constant 8-foot wall that serves as a datum line to counteract ceiling heights that are the 91⁄2 feet on lower floors and the 101⁄2 feet on upper floors. A plenum below each floor slab is recessed from the angled facade, creating space for a constant 4-foot-deep perimeter cove light, which accounts for the buildinggs nighttime glow. A problem arises, however, at the messy juncture of cove edge, private office clerestory, and tilted facade.

At the Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT in Boston, which opened in 2004, Gehry was allowed more latitude in plugging things together with an ad-hoc haphazardness that comes across as vigorous and dynamic. Here, attempts to tame irregularities merely look slipshod and fussy. For instance, columns along the perimeter are planted parallel to the glass, meaning they tilt, some as much as 20 degrees. Meanwhile, interior columns are straight but not arranged in any particular rhythm. They align instead with the columns above and below on floor plates that are themselves rotated. Trying to impose visual order is a losing proposition here, and aesthetically counterproductive. Let creative impulses reign.

If only the approach to the interiors had been executed with the same spirit of derring-do as the building itself, the IAC would be the wondrous object Diller intended. As is, passers-byybe they on foot or in a car, without much time to pick out detailssare the ones who can best enjoy its considerable thrill.


IAC Headquarters In Detail

Courtesy Permasteelisa

Frank Gehryys designs have often challenged manufacturers and contractors to develop new systems. In the case of the IAC/ InterActiveCorp headquarterss curtain wall, Gehry Partners and building envelope engineer/manufacturer Permasteelisa collaborated using a centralized 3D computer model to accomplish everything from the design and fabrication of its panel shapes to the positioning of its anchoring system.

Unlike a rectilinear building whose curtain wall units are by and large identical, skinning IAC required a variety of panel shapes to form a tight wrapper for the designns billowing sail-like forms. The designers determined the shape of each panel on the model and then fed this data directly into an automated fabrication process that cut the aluminum and glass. Of the 1,450 curtain wall units, 1,150 are unique.

Permasteelisa manufactured the panels flat, but once on site, bent them into place, in a process called cold warping. Installers connected three corners of each unit first then manually forced the fourth into place, literally contorting the glass and metal and giving IAC itts curvy looks. This puts enormous stress on each panells perimeter seal, so to prepare the units for cold warping, Permasteelisa specially designed each silicon seal with the glass fabricator.

This created an extremely rigid cladding system that required construction tolerances much smaller than most contractors are used to working within. According to Alberto Gobbi, president of Permasteelisa, the curtain wall had only 1⁄8 inch of flub room, whereas the concrete frame could be expected to vary an inch in any direction from the idealize model. To address this issue, Permasteelisa designed a special anchoring system that could absorb tolerances between frame and curtain wall. Composed of horizontal and vertical aluminum brackets, the anchors bolt to the slab edge and can slide three dimensionally until the connection point is reached. To find the connection point, Permasteelisaas survey team used the 3D model in conjunction with a GPS system and lasers to triangulate the exact location.

Courtesy Mechoshade


This is Frank Gehryys first major glass building, and as it turns out, titanium and stainless steel are a lot easier to make conform to his signature curves than glass panels. Although the solar shading company MechoShade had worked with Gehry Partners before on projects like Bard College Performing Arts Center in the Hudson Valley and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, The IAC building literally presented us with a new twist,, said company vice president Glen Berman.

More than three-quarters of the unitized glass panels that make up the IACCs cladding have a compound curve, so standard roller shades would never match both the window head and sill. In order to conform to the buildinggs irregular geometry, MechoShade (with the support of Studios Architecture) created more than one thousand customtwisted shades, all individually motorized. By modifying the systemms hardware, we were able to twist the shades up to 30 degrees, matching and exceeding the slight twist of IAC glass panels,, said Berman. We developed an innovative technology for these types of structures.. Berman hopes that the new system will be ready for market very shortly, because the IAC is clearly not the last building that will use twisted and torqued forms.

Courtesy Dirtt


Designing interiors to match a building by Frank Gehry can be a daunting task. When DIRTT (Do It Right This Time) heard that much of the budget for the IAC building was devoted to the facade, and that the custom scheme by STUDIOS architecture (the firm in charge of the interiors) was prohibitively expensive, the 2-year-old Canadian company pitched its Stick-built modular wall system to the construction manager. The Stick Built walls not only conform to the irregular shapes dictated by Gehryys design and maintain STUDIOOs vibrant color scheme but they also fit the budget. It saved them a ton of money,, said Akua Lesesne. The savings stem from the modular nature of the walls, which are essentially a lattice of steel frames into which DIRTTTs or locally-sourced glass can be installed. Lesesne said that unlike custom work, the Stick-Built Walls eliminate the waste and time of cutting and disposing of glass on-site, or shipping it from the factory, both of which save time, money, and the environment.


Corporate art is so passs: These days, video screens often adorn a businesss walls instead. IAC/InterActiveCorp has even gone so far as to make video an integral part of the design of its new headquarters. Motorists on the West Side Highway will catch an eyeful of the 118-foot-long video wall displayed in the buildinggs lobby like a huge indoor billboard. At night, the bright projections will be visible through the buildinggs glass facade. Prominent design firm Trollbbck + Company has created advertising for IAC brands such as and for the wall, but this is just the beginning. By June, the programming will include a mix of projects from video artists, students, and even community organizations.

While its sheer size and visibility make the west video wall the flashiest display in the building, itts far from the only one. On the east side of the lobby, a finely detailed image of Earth will shine on a 20-by-11-foot display surface. Using handheld touch screens, lobby visitors will be able to spin the high-res virtual globe to find the companyys offices around the world, get real-time statistics on Web traffic for IACCs many businesses, and launch live TV feeds from a company network. Warren Z and Tank Design helped to create the content for the interactive installation.

Elsewhere around the building, staffers will use video for virtual collaboration.The headquarters is designed to be a gathering point for employees from around the world, and when people cannt make it to New York, video is the next best thing. The buildinggs eight office floors feature more than 20 meeting facilities outfitted with highdefinition videoconferencing equipment and large plasma smartboards devoted to video or the Web.

Not surprisingly, the IAC had to enlist a full-time AV engineer to oversee the buildinggs videoconference equipment, video walls and other audiovisual systems, said Eric Levin, an associate director in IACCs real estate department. But the payoff is clear: For a company whose mission to promote interactive technologies, a high-tech ddcor is more than a luxury.

Affordable Manufacturing
The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC) has been restoring vacant factories in North Brooklyn for their intended uses since 1992, with the aim of sustaining the boroughhs vibrant manufacturing sector. After a few years of inactivity, the center has a new project underway near the Montrose L stop in Williamsburg as the result of financial support from various city agencies. The New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) announced on March 13 that it will extend tax benefits to the not-for-profit organization to help it acquire and renovate the 72,000-square-foot facility. In addition to $4.5 million pledged by the IDA, City Council has contributed $3.5 million, and the Brooklyn borough presidentts office will furnish another $500,000.

The facility will support small and medium industrial companies, providing an estimated 125 jobssas many as are supported in all of GMDCCs five other projects, which together cover 770,000 square feet at sites in Greenpoint and East Williamsburg. Tenants have included architects, woodworkers, and apparel manufacturers, among others. Since restructuring in summer 2005, GMDC has expanded its focus beyond North Brooklyn; its first project to develop a factory for a company in the Bronx fell through, however, because it was less expensive to move to New Jersey.

Itts been a difficult market for a not-for-profit group,, GMDC CEO Brian Coleman said. Real estate speculation and the Greenpoint/Williamsburg rezoning contributed to the absence of new GMDC projects, he said. Its last project was completed in 2001. It has persevered with the latest project, which Coleman said cost almost twice as much to acquire as its earlier ones.

Jamaica gets Rezoned

Though much has changed in Jamaica, Queens, since 1961, one thing that has not is the zoning map. For the past five years, the Department of City Planning (DCP) has been hard at work on a new zoning plan to balance economic growth downtown while protecting the surrounding suburban streets from overdevelopment, while also emphasizing mass transit, sustainability, and affordability. The draft plan,which was released on January 29, will be the second largest rezoning in city history, encompassing 368 blocks.

“We call this strategy fine-grained zoning,” DCP commissioner Amanda Burden said in an interview.“We looked at every street and lot and block to find the existing use and look at what is appropriate for the strength of the neighborhood.”

The greatest strength in Jamaica, according to planners, is its transportation assets. The area is served by the F train along Hillside Avenue, and the E, J, and Z trains along Archer Avenue. The Long Island Railroad’s Jamaica Station serves 10 of the 11 LIRR lines and adjoins the new AirTrain Station,which combined serve more than 100,000 riders a day.DCP hopes that by increasing density around these transit hubs, it can encourage development without exacerbating Jamaica’s congestion problem.

Under the new plan, a high-density commercial and mixed-use zone will replace the industrial zone surrounding Jamaica Station. One-story repair shops and warehouses create a barrier between it and downtown Jamaica.Any displaced businesses will relocate to industrial zones in eastern and southern Jamaica,which will increase in density so as not to threaten business investment in the rezoned areas.

City planners also hope Jamaica’s access to John F.Kennedy Airport will attract corporations.“It will facilitate business centers from all over the world,”Burden said. “Travel-related, shipping-related—it can be anything that has to do with global business.” She added that the downtown area has potential for four million square feet of office space along with hotels and apartments.

The suburban streets that are so quintessentially Queens will be down-zoned to protect their character. The current zoning allows multistory apartments,which John Young, director of the DCP Queens office, described as backwards.“It actually encourages tear-down and build-up instead of preservation.”The new zoning will lower the densities to protect the detached and semidetached one- and two-family houses typical in the area.

To offset the loss of housing potential in these down-zoned neighborhoods, and again emphasize mass transit, densities have been increased as high as 12 stories along the major thoroughfares of Jamaica and Hillside avenues and Sutphin and Merrick boulevards. Limits have been placed on the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) along these corridors to encourage affordable housing for those who might be priced out the new development. Developers can only build out to the maximum FAR if they make 20 percent of units affordable or subsidize equivalent housing within a half-mile.

Planners have also tried to address the increased activity generated by new houses and businesses. In addition to the masstransit focus, some streets and sidewalks will be widened, new interchanges will be created, and below-grade parking will be required in the densest areas.

Local politicians familiar with the plan expressed a range of opinions on it. Councilor Leroy Comrie said,“We have to ensure that whatever plan is final protects whatever residential community it abuts.” He also raised concerns about flooding, given a high water table, but expressed general optimism toward the project.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall was more skeptical.When asked what concerned her most about the plan, she said three things: “Traffic, traffic, and traffic.Not to mention parking.”

“We’re concerned about the little guy,” she added.“I’m not opposed to it, I’m just worried about overdevelopment. People come to Queens for the serenity and the backyards, for its calm nature.” 

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Dia’s Moving Plan D.O.A.

Dia's Moving Plan D.O.A.
Whitney now eyeing Meatpacking District site 

Dia's now-defunct design by SOM 

When the Dia Art Foundation’s galleries at 548 West 22 Street closed in January 2004, it left a temporary void in New York’s cultural landscape, filled later that year with the promise of a new location connected to the proposed High Line Park. But on October 24, as reported in the New York Times, Kate Levin, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) received a letter from Dia’s new board chair, Nathalie de Gunzburg, announcing that the institution would not occupy the city-owned building at 820 Washington Street as intended. The announcement was followed by the surprising news that the Whitney Museum of American Art is considering the site as an alternative to expanding its Marcel Breuer–designed home on Madison Avenue.

The Dia’s Gansevoort proposal matched the pioneering spirit the foundation embodied. Just as the museum settled in the then-burgeoning West Chelsea area in 1987, spurring its rise as an arts district, Dia would have created a stronghold for art in the transitioning Meatpacking District, and become a crucial part in the transformation of the High Line from an aging elevated railway into a dramatically landscaped public space.

In February of this year, Dia’s director Michael Govan was hired away after a 12-year tenure to become director and CEO of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Shortly thereafter, Leonardo Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, stepped down from Dia’s board after serving for eight years, thrusting the institution into a state of instability as both men were key leaders in Dia’s growth.

Sources close to the situation suggest that between time pressure from the city, which aims to open the building by 2009, and the Whitney Museum’s expressed interest in the location as an alternative to their much-contested uptown expansion plans, Dia was forced to make a decision before they had a new director in place. Laura Raicovich, Dia’s deputy director, conceded that timing was a factor. She stated that going forward with the Meatpacking District plan did not make sense until the foundation had a director in place and the “New York City program is developed.” 

While construction on the Meatpacking site had yet to begin, Dia had been working with Roger Duffy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on the design of the 92,600-square-foot location. “It would have been a perfect project for the city,” Duffy said. “We worked closely with Ricardo Scofidio and James Corner [the masterplanners of the High Line] to make sure that the projects would interface well. I am a huge fan of Dia, and anyone who thinks highly of them is disappointed by the news.

“The site wasn’t entirely easy,” he continued. “There are meat lockers close by, and the maintenance and administration areas for the High Line—and public bathrooms—had to be in the building. But we managed an elegant solution. Maybe a wiser person would have seen the writing on the wall when Michael left.” 

Joshua David, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, maintains that despite Dia’s decision, the emphasis of the High Line continues to be on its cultural and artistic value, but added, “That site is unusual because it’s owned by the city of New York, so the city has the ability to shape how it is used.”

Despite the disappointment, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden seemed sure that another cultural institution will take over the space. “A cultural use at 820 Washington is ideal for the southern terminus and principal entry to the High Line. The city will be actively seeking another cultural use,” Burden wrote by email.

Whitney spokesperson Jan Rothschild declined to comment about the museum’s intentions at 820 Washington Street other than to reiterate that the Whitney is “keeping its expansion options open.” But, she added, “No matter what we do, we are committed to working with Renzo Piano, and he is committed to us.” In an interview with Newsweek on November 2, Piano said that in September the museum asked him to consider the notion of designing a new building on a downtown site, and brought him to 820 Washington Street.

The Whitney’s attempts to expand its facilities spans 20 years, during which time it has hired and fired two architects—Michael Graves in 1985 and Rem Koolhaas in 2003—before hiring Renzo Piano to draw up plans in 2005. Piano’s initial plan met with stiff resistance from the community and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) but ultimately won all the necessary approvals and was granted several zoning variances in July from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals. A new hurdle took shape when a coalition of Upper East Side neighbors filled suit against the museum in late August to contest the variances.

Meanwhile, Dia remains committed to finding another location in New York. “The Gansevoort site is a great location, but New York has other great locations,” Raicovich said. “Dia’s top priority is looking for the site that will best accommodate its programs.” 

A Brawl in Brooklyn

On August 23, a public hearing on Forest City Ratner's 22-acre Atlantic Yards proposal lasted over seven hours, and in its bitter tone, showed that positions for and against the project have hardened.

Technically, the hearing disposed of the Empire State Development Corporation's obligation to consider the project's effect on local life. If New York City had assembled the land in question, as it did for rezoning Williamsburg/Greenpoint and rebuilding Yankee Stadium, four public hearings and a 120-day review would have preceded a vote by the City Council. But the state used eminent domain to speed developer Bruce Ratner's project. Under the state's streamlined review, the public got 66 days to review a 2,000-page draft statement, which was released on July 18th, and one chance to comment on it. Opponents asked for a longer review period, saying it could generate consensus on a plan that would create jobs without distorting neighborhood scale.

Consensus seemed remote at the hearing. Project opponents chastised the ESDC's draft environmental impact statement for counting a glass room with ticket windows as open space, and proposing a limousine drop-off lane instead of pushing for rapid-transit buses. They also claimed the process was unfair because many Brooklynites are enjoying the last gasp of summer vacationn in August. Go to the Hamptons!! someone yelled. You don't have to live near it!! opponents called when supporters praised the project at the microphone.

But many supporters do live near the project. The Reverend Herbert Daughtry, who heads a national group called House of the Lord Churches, negotiated the community benefits agreementt with Forest City Ratner, and said his parishioners had played a role in the designn by securing commitments for the social-service sites.

Politicians called for moderation. Borough President Marty Markowitz, who supports Ratner, urged ESDC to keep buildings smaller than the Williamsburg Savings Bank tower. Council-member David Yassky, over boos, urged the state agency to reduce the scale,, include a traffic plan, and enforce the social-services agreement. Otherwise, Yassky warned, the state runs an unacceptable riskk of spoiling a chance to bring jobs because pressure will buildd to oppose the entire project.

Pratt Institute for Community Development director Brad Lander regretted the scarcity of constructive discussion. If you're listening above the din, you could hear an interesting laundry list of changes,, he said before the hearing. But this will be totally lost in the pro-con histrionics..

Indeed, architect Frank Gehry and landscaper Laurie Olin never came up in testimony: the two sides focused on the project's ancillary effect rather than its design. Standing on Jay Street after his testimony, Reverend Daughtry considered whether he would endorse shorter buildings and a smaller footprint so long as the community benefits agreement stayed. I don't know,, he told AN. I would have to look at it and see what that means.. But the state has no obligation to heed anything from the hearing. When asked what the meeting would yield, local Tri-State Transportation Council coordinator Teresa Toro answered: Nothing..

Alec Appelbaum

Read All About It

Although journalists will go to jail before they give up their sources, as a broker, I can't pass go and Collect $2000 without an educated client. Nine times out of ten, a broker manages to close a deal as a result of relationships with architects, expeditors, lawyers, planning experts, and community board members, or knowledge about what's going on with the Landmarks Commission, school districts, and so on. Every little bit of information helps. Here's my annotated rolodex of go-to development sources.


Real Estate Forum
A real estate trade journal with 60 years experience covering the national trends and themes, Real Estate Forum targets institutional investors, attorneys, housing industry experts, lenders, and other big players. It's a great resource to get a sense of what's going on outside of our little world of New York.

Real Estate Weekly
The New York Times of the real estate business, Real Estate Weekly (REW) focuses on the New York tri-state area and covers everything from local residential sales to the bank financing of the office tower down the street to construction trends in the Hamptons. REW also announces formations of new companies, promotions, and new hires within the industry. For those in the real estate business, it's the absolute bible.

Real Estate Board of New York
The member site for the Real Estate Board of New York links to the websites of some of the most reputable companies in the industry. Listings are organized by residential and commercial brokerage companies, so if you're wondering how to find commercial properties, this might be the place to start. Or anytime I forget the name of a company, I go to its listing of member sitessit's huge!

Crain's New York Business
The online real estate section of Crain's concentrates on commercial real estate more than residential. It's one of the best sites in terms of links to government agencies, appraisers, and other industry-related organizations.

The Slatin Report
Peter Slatin has earned a reputation for being among the few to integrate discussions of design and urban planning into his real estate reporting. His website offers insightful, critical reports on developmentssmostly large-scale and commerciallacross the country.

The Matrix
This is the blog of Jonathan Miller, the head honcho of Miller Samuel, the city's top real estate appraisal firm. Miller is to real estate what Lew Wasserman was to the film industry. A great blog that never talks down to the user.

The Real Deal
Just a couple of years old, this monthly is a bright bold Variety-format glossy tabloid that targets newcomers and the old guard alike. Easy to read, The Real Deal attemps to build a community online with its website and has organized conferences with heavy-hitters in the industry. Its website even has podcast interviews with boldfaced names like Pam Lieberman of Corcoran or Jonathan Miller.

In the old days, one had to go down to the Department of Buildings and deal with surly city workers to find out anything about a building or vacant lot. With Propertyshark, a subscription-based database, anyone can get property informationnthe identity of owners, whether or not they've filed for building permits to build higher or turn property into condos, et cetera. It includes information on zoning, prices, foreclosures, and pictures of every single property in New York City. The highest level of membership allows you to access preforeclosure information and owner contact with one click.


Brokers' Websites
The first site I check everyday is the one for the company I work for, Warburg. Then I go to other companies' websites—Corocoran, Elliman, Brown Harris Stevens, et cetera—and check new listings. Keeping up with new listings and actually going to see the properties are keys to staying informed.

No, it's not a blog about brownstones: it's a blog about Brooklyn. This site covers all real estate happenings in Brooklyn. It concentrates on all the hot locales like Park Slope and Red Hook.

The blog Curbed began in May 2004, with an article that I recall made fun of the Hotel on Rivington. The site has since ballooned into the go-to website for independent, unfiltered commentary on the field. Curbed breaks down information by neighborhoods, understanding that each is a mini-city in itself. It also does what the Internet does best: brings together divergent people and opinions and makes them a community. Understanding that restaurants play a huge role in the development of a particular block or area, the site now links to restaurant blogs and articles on openings, closings, and reviews. With a wise-cracking sense of humor, it balances coverage of what we pay attention to and what's just ridiculous. Like many early blogs, it started being on the outside looking in, and now finds itself an industry standard, with new sites dedicated to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
As a broker, I have access to up-to-the-minute information on any property via a MLS (multiple-listing service) called Rolex. A new site, Streeteasy, helps buyers as well as sellers find this kind of specialized information without a broker. This well-organized site is divided into search areas of not only price and location but school district, development type, and more. Searches come with a useful map andmortgage calculator. There's a discussion page, statistical information on neighborhoods, and more. I am a big fan of search sites such as these, which help brokers by educating clients.

Triple Mint
"Triple-mint" is a term used by real estate brokers to describe a property that's in pristine condition. The website with this name covers new developments primarily in New York city. It's loaded with bright pictures, witty and incisive commentary on the architects, developers, interior design, and even web designn in essence, what developers and sales team are communicating about their projects.

Trulia bills itself as the octopus of real estate search engines:
Its tentacles go to all corners of the web so you don't have to. It aggregates other real estate sites' listings, including pictures and prices, and even links with Google Maps' mash-ups so you can see exactly where the property is located. Unfortunately NRT Incorporated, the parent company of Corcoran and largest real estate company in the country, has forbidden Trulia to link to their site. And in the burbs, a fair amount of real estate is sold through print classifieds Pennysaver and local real estate offices that don't have websites. If anything, it's a good place to start your initial search, but you will have to dig deeper elsewhere once you get serious about buying.

Massey Knakal
I check this site once a week. Massey is the number-one commercial broker in New York City. Whenever I get calls from architects looking for new office spaceesomething they can design to show their chopssor artists who want to work or live in a commercial building, I send them here. Okay, now you know; no need to call me anymore.

New York Post
Real Estate Section

This gem of a section comes out every Thursday. Though often overlooked, it covers all of New York and consistently breaks down the intricacies of purchasing or selling real estate. It has a great question-and-answer section, quality pictures, and their topics really have something to do with typical New Yorkers' lives, unlike many other sources that obsess endlessly about which celebrity bought what multi-million dollar property.

The New York Times
The New York Times real estate section is the absolute first stop of serious buyers and sellers. Their online site is a resource I use three to four times a day. Updated constantly and easy to read, it's the best place on the web for searching New York City property. The site also aggregates many websites of major real estate companies so there is no need to go to each individual company website. Major tip: When you see a property listed over and over by many different companies, or there is no actual address, its signals that it is an open listing, not an exclusive, and you don't need a broker to see the property.

Neighborhood Newspapers
The Villager, Tribeca Tribune, Resident, Downtown Express, Brooklyn Papers, and other neighborhood newspapers are a great source of real estate news. Their highly localized focus means they are often filled with firsthand, first-to-the-scene reports about what's going on every parcel of land or bar or restaurant within their borders. And these publications tend often list Community Board agendassan invaluable resource.

The New York Sun

Definitely worth checking out. Informative, often overlooked stories which you will usually find written about weeks later in bigger newspapers and magazines.

This site bills itself as a consumer-awareness site where buyers and sellers can obtain more accurate real estate sales information than what brokers might offer. It's source of consternation for some real estate agents, but for me, let's just say I'm not shaking in my boots. If you think I'm being flippant, enter your own address and find out how incorrectly they value your apartment.

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Playing the links

As developmenttand property valueearound the High Line heats up, planners and advocates try to ensure that the new elevated park isn't annexed as a city-maintained backyard for new condos. Alec Appelbaum looks at how the city's most interesting new park is balancing public accessibility with private development.

high line renderings courtesy city of new york; building images courtesy respective firms

As a freight line, the High Line was designed to bring trains right up to the loading docks of the buildings it served; as a public park, it will bring people up to and even through those same buildings.

Much of the High Line's strange beauty stems from its stark contrasts: It is a massive steel industrial relic that shelters an improbably delicate and accidental landscape. For many years, the old railroad trestle running above and through the buildings along Tenth Avenue seemed to be hidden in plain sight, its obsolescence rendering its bulk almost invisible. But since work began to transform it into New York's most anticipated new public space, the High Line has come into sharp focus, especially for developers and architects who want to build near this new amenity.

There was not always consensus on the High Line's future, of courseeas recently as 2002, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ordered its demolitionnbut after the Department of City Planning (DCP) rezoned the surrounding area last year to allow condominium and hotel uses and the transfer of air rights within the new district, opposition faded. More than a dozen new residential projects are in the works, and others are sure to be announced as more parcels change hands. This mini-building boom has led to the latest of the High Line's contradictions: How can a public park seem open and accessible to all when it touches and even passes through privately held property? Everyone involved with the projecttits designers, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and landscape architecture firm Field Operations, champions Josh David and Robert Hammond of Friends of the High Line (FoHL), and not least of all, the DCPPis adamant that access is paramount. Another priority is to keep the High Line from feeling like a patio extension of adjacent buildings, which would destroy its appeal. To keep that from happening, the Parks Department has just released a set of guidelines to keep public and private in balance.

The standards, which augment bulk requirements embodied in the 2005 rezoning, enforce three main ideas: Connections from new developments should appear distinct (taking the form, for example, of bridges or vestibules); they must be usable by the public; and their materials must not distract from the High Line itself. David stresses how harmonious the new private access guidelines are with FoHL's initial vision. The fact that the High Line weaves through the center of city blocks and connects to buildings is integral to its identity,, he said. It's not a street, yet we want this to be well-used and well-loved at all times of day by all kinds of people.. Philosophically, David suggests, it's more vital to keep the High Line merging with buildings the way it did when it carried trains than it is to pretty up those buildings.

James Corner of Field Operations says the planners who wrote the guidelines share his reverence for the High Line's unique blend of industrial underpinnings and wild plants. Their co-presence is what makes the thing so powerful,, said Corner. And like David, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Corner guards against letting doors, awnings, and logos blunt the landscape's impact. The last thing we want is an elevated street with plazas,, he said. We want to avoid any permeable curtain wall that immediately joins the High Line; we want to retain the autonomous character of the High Line..

Part of what protects that character is its lack of access. Officials won't divulge any rules for spacing or capping connections, but they all stress plans to keep the links strategic,, in Corner's term. Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed staircases and lifts for the public every two blocks. Buildings will face strict scrutiny if they want to add a link on the path. We have to focus on how few access points can we get away with,, said Burden. Keeping [the original spacing of] 5.5 feet between the [vertical posts of the] rail fencing is essential,, she continued, and private space, caff or retail, has to be set back 15 feet.. Yet the flow into the park must feel active, Burden said. The worst thing would be blank doors..

This is a delicate balance in a hot real estate market. Since 2001, according to Jonathan Miller of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, property values in Chelsea have started catching up to the borough-wide average. The Meatpacking District's menagerie of restaurants and hotels has conditioned developers to amp up the glitz just south of the High Line's terminus at Gansevoort Street. How can you expect discretion once they get to the park?

More easily than you might think. Miller guesses that proximity to the High Line alone makes buildings more valuable. You don't have to be an architecture enthusiast to appreciate that it's something different,, said Miller.

Morris Adjmi is designing a hotel for developers Charles Blaichman and Andrr Balazs at 450 West 14th Street, which bears the rare distinction of straddling the trestle. A diagonal moves through the building and we have two triangular spaces beside that,, said Adjmi. The idea is to feel like it's a seamless transition and the High Line informs the environment.. The plan involves a cube of glass over the structure to expose the park's changing colors. Later, Adjmi will decide whether a ramp or a staircase should reach the park. What's key, he says, is to make guests feel they have a head start on reaching a public destination. The High Line is such a unique space and [its] design taken to such a high level that accessibility to it will be like having a house on the beach..

The Caledonia, a condominium at 450 West 17th Street designed by Handel Architects (top), and a hotel at 450 West 14th Street designed by Morris Adjmi Architects (middle) for hoteliers Charles Blaichman and Andrr Balazs have direct access to the elevated trestle. Meanwhile, Deborah Berke and her client Marianne Boesky chose not to connect her new gallery at 509 West 24th Street to the structure (bottom).

Roger Duffy, a partner at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, is designing another key building: the new continued on page 20 playing the links continued from page 19 Dia Center for the Arts at the park's Gansevoort Street beginning. He aims to celebrate the High Line's role on the skyline rather than to offer users some exclusive vantage. His plan places a sculpture by Dan Grahammoriginally installed at the Dia's 22nd Street locationnon the center's roof so that it appears to float beside the park when you approach it from the Meatpacking District. Let's say you come up the slow stair. At that moment you turn left and there's an entrance there with a piece of great art hovering; it is inviting and welcoming but doesn't overwhelm the High Line.. His grammar for the roof also defers to the iron trestle borders. On the roof we have clerestory lights clad in metal. We thought the metal could come down to the horizontal datum of the High Line..

Laura Raicovich, the deputy director of Dia, describes the museum's connection as a transition point from the multi-input experience of walking the High Line to the contemplative experience of looking at art. She, like Corner, stresses practicality and quiet. The High Line is the facade of the building,, she said. You can design an ego-less buildinggif one existsshere because simplicity is very important.. She says key inspiration came from Dia: Beacon, where the founding architect had shown the kind of practicality Corner admires. A lot of the key design cues come from what we feel has been successful at Dia Beacon,, she said.

Robert A. M. Stern, who is designing a building with a connection point at 10th Avenue and 17th Street for Edison Properties, won't talk about his plans but does admit to a fondness for simplicity. He cited the former West Side Highway, which became an impromptu urban beach before it was demolished. Just being up above the city is wonderful,, said Stern. For him, the ideal connection would be restrained and the experience akin to the moment when a train emerges from Grand Central Terminallan awakening to daylight and industrial infrastructure, not a privileged view.

But deciding how to manage connections involves controlling traffic as well as providing views, and the city will review proposals on a case-by-case basis. Said Corner, whose firm is preparing principles to supplement the Parks Department's guidelines, The High Line was built by engineers who were only concerned with logistics. We've tried to stay true to that, toooto avoid anything too aestheticized and try to keep things tough and real. I would advocate the same thing for these sorts of connections..

Parks Commissioner Benepe oversees these connections because the Mayor's Office designated the High Line as a city park in order to gain site control. And Benepe approaches the access design as a practical concern in attracting users to a park unlike any other. We want it to be a place where you can go on a cloudy day and be alone or go on a summer day and be there with thousands of people. Our hope is that it will feel like a festival, minus the sausage vendors and tube socks..

Fortunately for Benepe, developers seem inclined to tie the value of connections to the High Line's foot traffic. The excitement of the High Line is that it's not managed,, said Michael Field, executive vice president of Edison Properties. Public spaces are always better when there are more people in them..

Negotiations over access from privately held property will remain trickyyCorner says he's seen some drawings that get a little too intimate for his comfort. Each developer must submit plans to the Art Commission. These negotiations, while sensitive, seem likely to remain as mysterious as the landscape they affect. One of the elements of keeping this process positive is not hashing out the day-to-day details,, said David. So it's not an area I'm going to go into.. David may not have that much cause for worry. Adjmi says his clients are considering a park-level screening room that would host public events. And Field is hardly alone in surmising that a popular High Line will feel much more special than a gated one. It seems the design guidelines for access resonate with architects who understand that a link to the High Line is a link to the beauty the city has when we enjoy it equally.

Alec Appelbaum writes about the urban environment.

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Zoned Out

Are New Yorkers prepared to let go of the city's gritty industrial past for a tamer futuree one in which glittering residential and office buildings rise over a sea of retail from one end of the island to the other? Midtown Manhattan's Far West Sideeparticularly the area between 30th and 59th streets, west of 8th Avenueeremains dominated by industrial uses. But after the 2004 rezoning of the Hudson Yards area (bound by 31st and 43rd streets, west of 8th Avenue), allowing developers to build mixed-use commercial and residential projects, the area's remaining light industry has been squeezed further north. Now it appears that even this district, one of the last zoned strictly as manufacturing in Manhattan, is being threatened by ambitious development as well as a general decline of these types of industries.

With New York's tight real estate, developers are accustomed to seeking empty lots in alternative areas. When New Yorkkbased Rockrose Development Corporation built a two-story 216,000-square-foot distribution warehouse for Federal Express at 660 12th Avenue, between 48th and 49th streets in 2001, it first petitioned the city to increase the Floor-to-Area Ratio (FAR) on the block, in order to ensure its ability to build up on the site in the future. The city agreed to increase the FAR in the manufacturing-zoned area from 2.0 to 5.0. So while the FedEx facility was built at the maximum height allowable under FAR 2.0, the project's architecture and engineering firm, New Yorkkbased Vollmer Associates, designed it to be able to accommodate additional stories by providing beefed-up structural support and an elevator core.

Top and middle: Developer Rockrose asked Dutch architecture firm MVRDV to design affordable housing to be planted on top of FedEx's facility. In their conceptual plan, the housing component floats above a landscaped park that buffers the noise and air pollution of the manufacturing district below.

Courtesy Rockrose Development Corporation
Above: More recently, Rockrose commissioned Arquitectonica to design a hotel, which also calls for transforming the FedEx building's roof into accessible outdoor space.

Rockrose began seeking out tenants for a rooftop addition, which is allowed to reach a height of eight stories. Using the guidelines of the Department of City Planning (DCP), Rockrose sought other types of tenantsssports, sanitary, and storage facilities; a tow-pound; even hotelsswith no luck. At this point, John McMillan, Rockrose's director of planning, conceived of using the space above FedEx for affordable housing, which is needed in all parts of the city. The DCP supported the intention, but encouraged McMillan to look elsewhere, wanting to preserve the manufacturing zone.

McMillan turned to Common Ground, a New Yorkkbased nonprofit established in 1990 to provide housing for the homeless, to help him develop his plan further. We thought that with Common Ground, we could convince City Planning that our situation was unique,, said McMillan. For Common Ground, the prospect was ideal: Their successful first project, a hotel that was converted into supportive housing called The Times Square, is nearby, at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. [Local] Community Board 4 was supportive of us in the past, and we hoped would help with this project,, said David Beer, director of housing development at Common Ground.

The development team agreed that a design-oriented proposal would help to win over the DCP. We've always been enamored with the work of [Dutch design firm] MVRDV, so we reached out to them and they were receptive,, said Beer. Founded in 1991 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, and Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV has completed a number of internationally lauded large-scale housing projects, including the Silodam in Amsterdam, completed in 2002, and the Mirador, finished in 2004 in Madrid.

By mid-2005, Common Ground and Rockrose were armed with several stunning concept models and went with the most practical and feasible design: a rectangular ring of housing supported over an open outdoor park landscaped on the roof of the existing FedEx building. The project would contain 500 housing units at 250 to 260 square feet each, all meant for single adults. Half of the units would be partially subsidized for people recently homeless. The other half would be reserved to those making less than 60 percent of New York's median yearly income, or roughly $26,000. Rents would be kept at $575 to $600 per month.

Rockrose and Common Ground presented the proposal to the DCP during a pre-application review discussion, which is common for projects that seek zoning changes. City Planning, while interested in the proposal, again suggested the team find another site.

We are trying to encourage certain uses at certain locations,, said Rachaele Raynoff, spokesperson for the DCP. She continued, It's the city's fervent hope to encourage housinggespecially affordable housinggbut it just isn't right for every site..

All of the surrounding buildings are dedicated to industry, including auto-shops, a Con-Edison substation, and a soon-to-be-completed seven-story Verizon garage and utility facility. The DCP argues that the site could be hazardous for future residents. Furthermore the district is ideally suited for industrial uses, especially shipping and distribution given the fact that it links the Hudson River and West Side Highway with Midtown. Introducing housing to the area has the potential to destabilize an active manufacturing district,, said Raynoff. Districts need to be looked at in a broader framework, in how they support one another.. Finally, the area lacks residence-oriented services, so life there would be difficult (though New Yorkers are willing to put up with almost anything for space and cheap rent).

The Department of City Planning is in the difficult position of having to defend dying industry in the city. While it may be important for cities to preserve manufacturing districts, as most community groups seem to agree, the market doesn't seem to support these districts. The problem is that there's no real manufacturing in these districts,, said McMillan. These areas increasingly serve distribution uses; they're all truck-related, and they only want the first couple of floors of a building.. Conversely, were the city to allow residential development in the area, yet another neighborhood could be lost in the tidal wave of residential development that's overtaking the city. Heavy industry might be disappearing, but contemporary citiessno matter how wired they becomeestill need service and distribution centers of the sort concentrated in Far West Midtown.

The DCP's decision is by no means final, and the future of the neighborhood remains uncertain. This doesn't mean that someone can't make another proposal,, said Raynoff, We're willing to listen to anything.. The department is currently working with Common Ground to find another site for a similarly scaled housing project in the area. According to Beer, the DCP has been pivotal in helping the nonprofit isolate locations where zoning could be reconsidered. Rockrose, bound by the light-manufacturing district designation, is looking for hospitality tenants again, shopping around schematic diagrams for a hotel commissioned from Miami-based Arquitectonica.

JAFFER KOLB is an assistant editor at an.

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How the Other Half Lives

Sometimes architects shake their heads at the decisions developers make, but their ideas can be just as baffling to the folks calling the shots. Architect Alexander Gorlin reaches across the divide, speaking with leading figures in both professionssdeveloper Ian Schrager and architect Gary Handell to find out what makes the relationship work. Portraits by Dan Bibb

The Developer's Architect

Gary Handel launched his firm in 1994 after leaving Kohn Pedersen Fox, where he specialized in designing office towers. Handel Architects has since grown to 90 people, and now has offices in both New York and San Francisco. The bulk of the firm's work is developer-driven, large-scale commercial and residential work in cities including New York, Philadelphia, Austin, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Handel is also an active board member of Friends of the High Line, and since Michael Arad joined the firm as a partner in 2004, has been involved in the design of the World Trade Center Memorial.

Alexander Gorlin: You started your own office in 1994 with a project for a developer [the Sony Metreon in San Francisco] and have done many more since then. What's it like to work with large-scale developers?
Gary Handel: I think it is interesting to work with them. The core of our practice is an investigation into how cities evolve and how each building can be used as a catalyst to further positive change. If you look at who built 90 to 95 percent of most cities, it's always been the private sector. In the model of modern urbanism we are operating in, I think the best we can hope for is intelligent public policy that has been fleshed out by enlightened self-interesttthe best of both private and public sectors.

Do you see a difference between developers in New York and other cities?
I think the difference is mostly one of perception. Chicago has an outstanding building culture, but in New York there is much more of an emphasis on quality design today than there was as recently as a decade ago. Developers have learned the lesson that design can pay off, and they have upped the qualityythey are now in the forefront as far as offering well-designed buildings. Up until 10 years ago, there was conventional wisdom about what an apartment building was, and no sense in the market that you were rewarded for good design. That has changed.

For our first residential building [Lincoln Square in New York, 1994] we had a great client. Metropolitan Housing Partners said, Here is your budgettwe'll give you a little more than for a standard project; use the money wisely.. It allowed us to challenge a lot of rules. At the end of the day, we built the building for a slight premium over what a conventional building would have cost. The marketplace responded and the developer was rewarded.

Developers realize there is a risk in not taking any risks. If you stick with conventional wisdom, there is no way to differentiate yourself. There is a risk in providing something that is just a commodity with nothing special about it. Finding the right edge is the core of our practice and some clients embrace it more willingly than others.

Is that a curtain wall at your project 505 Greenwich Street? Some developers get nervous when you even mention it.
That is part of conventional wisdom. The two street faces [of the 14-story, 104-unit building] are curtain wall, and the two side party walls and interior court are precast windows. We were able to buy that curtain wall very economically, and knew what that company was capable of. That curtain wall was more expensive then brick and windows, but the precast was less. So the average cost of that faaade is not more than a standard exterior. The developers, Metropolitan Housing Partners and Apollo Real Estate, looked at it and understood it would give them something to sell.

The difference between your building on Greenwich Street and some others nearby is night and day. I also build, and I understand you have to know how things are built, that there is a process of give and take. Some architects obviously haven't built anything and make big gestures without knowing how to put the whole thing together.
Doing developer work, you make a bargain, and have to be very responsible. Part of the reason why you get to do these explorations and challenge conventional wisdom is that there is a trust where you are committed to developing the program, perhaps in way the clients have not anticipated. If the developer knew the answers before they came to you, they wouldn't need you quite as much. If you understand what they are trying to do, you can show them ways to do it better. You have to provide them with what they asked for, but also get to the heart of what they were trying to do.

How would you characterize the process of building in New York?
What's interesting about New York is that there is zoning as-of-right for every site in the city. So it is possible to build your program if you are willing to live within the rules. New York is actually a relatively straightforward place to build.

I also think that this is a wonderful moment in the history of the city: It has sloughed off the decline of the 1960s and 70s and people have realized the possibility of reclaiming the waterfront. We really have the potential to transform how the city will grow over the next 20 years. I am a huge fan of what the Bloomberg Administration has done with zoning. We are working on projects in the Hudson Yards area and the Brooklyn waterfront, and are involved in the creation of the West Chelsea Zoning through the Friends of the Highline. Each of those rezonings is an attempt to capture what is unique about each place and to enable what it could be in the future.

How can younger architects convince a developer to hire them if they haven't already done a building?
You need to find smaller, younger developers, and help them find a project. It is a tough world to break into you, so look for people whom you can help in the early stages.

The Architect's Developer


Ian Schrager founded his eponymous company last year when he decided to expand beyond the design hotel businesssa category he pioneereddand move into residential development. He currently has eight projects in development, five of them in New York (all joint ventures with RFR Holdings), including 40 Bond Street, a condominium designed by Basel-based Herzog & de Meuron with Handel Architects, and 50 Gramercy Park North, a condominium designed by British architect John Pawson, adjacent to the Gramercy Park Hotel, whose interiors are being renovating by artist Julian Schnabel.

Alexander Gorlin: I always loved the Palladium [a Schrager nightclub which opened in 1985]. Did hiring Arata Isozaki lead to your interest in architecture?
Ian Schrager: I always had an interest in architecture, but it was the ability to put anything in a nightclubbit's a stage settthat drew me deeper into the field. You've always encouraged people to push their own boundaries. Philippe Starck had never done interiors to the extent that he did at the Delano Hotel [Miami, 1995]. Now, you are working with Julian Schnabel at the Gramercy Park Hotel. I think I've taken the design hotel as far as it can go, and it really doesn't interest me anymore now that it has it's been adopted by the mainstream. It doesn't represent an alternative to the status quo, so [for the Gramercy Park Hotel] I wanted to come up with something else. The converted industrial loft artists have embraced has become a prototype for living, and it is a link with what they do and how they impact us. So I wanted to do a public place that was evocative of an artists' colony or studioonot an art hotel but something evocative of that kind of singular and personal expression that could just come from one person's brain.

Artist's studios have always had great allure, like Brancusi's studio in Paris.
Brancusi's studio is part of the inspiration. It looks haphazard but for some reason, the canvases on the walls and the water vases turned upside down all just sort of work. That was the inspiration for this new hotel.

With 40 Bond Street, you have what is actually not an extraordinary site, with views of a park, for example, but have nonetheless created a very powerful environment. What was your thinking?
We went to Herzog & de Meuron, with whom I had worked beforeewe hadn't completed the project, but had worked with them and Rem Koolhaas [on an unrealized hotel project for the Astor Place site where Gwathmey Siegel's curved tower now stands]. I think they are just brilliant in the way they put things together and their use of materials. They realized that there wasn't much opportunity [with the 40 Bond site] because it couldn't be a freestanding building and the zoning envelope is limited. The opportunity was in the apartment's function, the street facade, and the opening of the windows, so we just kept pushing the envelope. It was Jacques' [Herzog's] idea to take the cast-iron architecture of Louis Sullivan's Bayard-Condict Building around the corner on Bleecker StreettSullivan's only building in New York and a masterpieceeand redo it with modern technology and materials.

Do you regret that [the Astor Place project] didn't work out between Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron?
Yes, of course.

What happened? Did they not work well together?
No. I got frustrated working with Rem [Koolhaas]. And I wanted to continue on with Jacques and Pierre [de Meuron], but they couldn't. It was unfortunate, really, because I looked at that site as the gateway to downtown. Charles Gwathmey is a friend of mine; I like him very much. But people come down here to get away from buildings like that. It's in the wrong placeeand maybe its developer messed it up. If the building was transparent, it would have been okay, but I think they were concerned about people seeing in the windows.

There are so many missed opportunities in this city for great architecture.

What do you look for in an architect?
A sparkle in the eyeeI like architects who don't have a signature style, because you never know what you're going to get. I actually want the same thing architects want.

In all venues, your work has always been about changing the status quo, and I think that's also the definition of great art, because it changes the way we see things. It's very illuminating that you always see what you do as art.
Well, I don't see it as art, but I do see it as subverting the status quo. It is the same thing I was doing with my hotels. I couldn't compete with Marriott in terms of efficiency, or the Four Seasons in terms of service, so I had to come up with something innovative that would give me something to market. I looked for my little opportunity within the existing infrastructure. If it's not subverting the status quo, it really doesn't interest me. Then it's just about making money.

Why do you think New York is so conservative architecturally?
I have a weird theory about that: I think it goes back to when Robert Moses tried to build a highway up Hudson Street and Jane Jacobs was ableethank goddto stop it. It empowered the local community planning boards, and now you have amateurs commenting on professional's work. It made the process very arduous and difficult. That, combined with the pressure of interest rates, and the fact that the process itself doesn't encourage the latitude that a good architect really needs to design. But good architects aren't helping themselves, either, because they are not sensitive to those pressures, so they scare away developers. There has to be some meeting ground so you don't end up with banal boxes. What good architects need to do is to try to be a little more sensitive to that process, and then developers won't be put off by them.

Alexander Gorlin is the principal of Alexander Gorlin Architects, which has just completed a tower in Miami Beach, large homes in Houston and Southampton, and has just broken ground on 550 affordable town houses in Brooklyn. He is also the author of Creating the New American Townhouse (Rizzoli, 2005).

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Power Grid

Below 14th Street

8 Union Square South
Location: 8 Union Square South
Developer: Claremont Group
Architect(s): Arpad Baksa Architects
Consultant(s): Severud Associates, Lazlo Bodak Engineers, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., D.T.M., Inc.
Size: 15 floors, 20 units, 52,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Summer 2007

This condominium will replace the Morris Lapidussdesigned Odd Lots store on the corner of University Place and Union Square South, which was recently demolished. The new building is made of white pre-cast concrete and has floor to ceiling aluminum windows wrapping its northeast side. this new amenity.

137 Wooster
Location: 137 Wooster Street
Developer: Arun Bhatia Development Corporation
Architect(s): Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners
Consultant(s): Goldstein Associates, Ettinger Engineering Associates, M. Paul Friedberg and Partners
Size:6 floors, 10 units, 37,500 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): January 2007

In 2003, the zoning changed to allow residential development in the SoHo Historic District on a case-by-case basis, and this is one of the first projects to be approved. The building consists of two distinct masses, one on Wooster Street and one on West Broadway, each tailored to its specific street frontage.

Trump SoHo
Location:246 Spring Street
Developer: Bayrock Group and the Sapir Organization
Architect(s): Handel Architects, The Rockwell Group
Consultant(s): The Trump Organization
Size:42 floors, 386,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): 2009

Donald Trump has shifted his gaze downtown with a project on the corner of Spring and Varick streets. The mixed-use development will combine a hotel and condos in a 42-story tower set atop a base that will be open to the public. Some community groups are concerned that housing is being introduced into a mostly manufacturing district.

4400442 West 14th Street
Location:4400442 West 14th Street
Developer: Diane von Furstenberg
Architect(s): WORK AC
Consultant(s): Goldstein Associates, Americon Contractors, Tillotson Lighting, Bellapart
Size:5 floors, 30,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):December 2006

Work AC gutted an existing red brick building abutting the High Line to make way for fashion giant Diane von Furstenberg's flagship store and studios. On top of the old building they added two floors: The first additional level is glass topped with aluminum fascia; the more sculptural second level is made of alternating clear and translucent glass.

Norfolk Lofts
Location:115 Norfolk Street
Developer: Zeyad Aly
Architect(s):Grzywinski Pons Architects
Consultant(s): Unavailable
Size:7 floors, 22 units, 22,800 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Fall 2007

Grzywinski Pons is working on a seven-story condominium building near the Hotel on Rivington on the Lower East Side, the young firm's first major project. The glass facade reveals a large atrium which serves as a source of light and air for units not facing the street.

Thompson and Broome
Location:520 Broome Street
Developer:Donald Zucker Organization
Architect(s):The Stephen B. Jacobs Group
Consultant(s):Rosenwasser Grossman
Size:9 floors, 51 units, 73,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Pending approval

A 2004 change in SoHo's zoning allowing the construction of residential buildings on parking lots paved the way for this condo building, which could soon replace a 1922 three-story parking structure. The area is zoned for commercial use, but the developer has applied for a variance. A decision will be announced this fall.

27 Wooster Street
Location:27 Wooster Street
Developer:Axel Strawski/Tony Leichter
Architect(s):Smith-Miller + Hawkinson
Consultant(s):Robert Sillman Associates, Jack Green & Associates, R.A. Heintges Architects
Size:8 floors, 22 units, 60,000 sq.ft.
Completion (est.):2008

This SoHo loft building, which is just west of Jean Nouvel's building at 40 Mercer Street, has eight floors and not a single common corridor. Elevators open to each individual unit. The architects kept the building thin to give each unit maximum street and courtyard exposure.

40 Bond Street
Location:Ian Schrager Company and RFR Holdings
Developer:Axel Strawski/Tony Leichter
Architect(s):Herzog & de Meuron Architekten, Handel Architects
Size:11 floors, 33 units
Completion (est.):2007

Herzog & de Meuron's much-lauded project just north of Houston Street is their first residential commission in the United States. According to developer Ian Schrager, the cast glass mullions of the facade are the architect's reinterpretation off and homage tooLouis Sullivan's 1899 Bayard-Condict Building on Bleecker Street.

123 Washington Street
Location:Ian Schrager Company and RFR Holdings
Developer:The Moinian Group
Architect(s):Gwathmey Siegel & Associates
Consultant(s):Cosentini Associates, Gilsanz Murray Steficek, Ravarini McGovern Construction
Size:53 floors, 220 hotel rooms, 180 condo units, 440,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2007

The Moinian Group recently received $50 million in Liberty Bond financing for this hotel and condominium tower next to the soon-to-be demolished Deutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan.

Above 59th Street

411 East 115th Street
Location:411 East 115th Street
Developer:Jeffrey Berger
Architect(s):Grzywinski Pons Architects
Consultant(s): Unavailable
Size: 7 floors, 31 units, 31,400 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Fall 2007

Situated on a through-lot with exposures on 115th and 116th streets, this condominium's two street facades belong to two separate buildings, linked at the center of the lot with a skybridge. This enabled the two structures to share a circulation core with one elevator and one main lobby.

Kalahari Apartments
Location:40 West 116th Street
Developer:L& M Equity Participants, Full Spectrum
Architect(s):GF55, Schwartz Architects, Studio JTA
Consultant(s): Unavailable
Size: 12 floors, 249 units, 54,184 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Fall 2007

The facade pattern on these two linked buildings derives from three sub-Saharan culturessthe Ndebele of South Africa, the Ashanti of Ghana, and the nomadic Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. According to its designers, the project's symbolism is a response to the need for an African-American awareness of and contribution to architecture and urban planning..

111 Central Park North
Location:111 Central Park North
Developer:The Athena Group
Architect(s):The Hillier Group
Consultant(s):SLCE Architects, Bovis Lend-Lease Construction
Size: 19 floors, 47 units, 87,500 sq. ft. residential, 8,700 sq. ft. retail
Completion (est.): Fall 2007

Hillier's architects took advantage of the fact that this building is the first residential highrise on Central Park North and made sure all 47 units, most with balconies, had unimpeded views of the park. An oversized second-floor outdoor garden and common terrace continues the arboreal theme.

The Rushmore
Location:80 Riverside Boulevard
Developer:Extell Development Corporation
Architect(s):Costas Kondylis and Partners
Size: 41 floors, 289 units, 657,000 sq. ft
Completion (est.): 2008

Initially part of the massive Trump Place complex along Riverside Boulevard, the Rushmore was sold to Extell, which modified some of the floor plans to create larger units. Rising from a massive, block-long base, the Rushmore's twin towers echo a popular Upper West Side design motif, seen most recently at the Time Warner Center.

The Avery
Location:100 Riverside Boulevard
Developer:Extell Development Corporation
Architect(s):SLCE Architects
Size:32 floors, 274 units
Completion (est.):Fall 2007

Using its name to establish a connection to the Avery Fisher Hall in nearby Lincoln Center, the Avery echoes the art deco towers that line Central Park West. The complex will feature cultural programming and provide residents special access to the performing arts center.

120 West 72nd Street
Location:120 West 72nd Street
Developer:Anbau Enterprises
Architect(s):BKSK Architects
Consultant(s):Goldstein Associates, Laszlo Bodak Engineer, Higgins & Quasebarth
Size:16 floors, 22 units, 60,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Fall 2007

Using its name to establish a connection to the Avery Fisher Hall in nearby Lincoln Center, the Avery echoes the art deco towers that line Central Park West. The complex will feature cultural programming and provide residents special access to the performing arts center.

Between 14th Street and 59th Street

310 East 53rd Street
Location:310 East 53rd Street
Developer:Macklowe Properties
Architect(s):Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects; SLCE Architects
Consultant(s):Sota Glazing Inc.
Size:31 floors, 88 units
Completion (est.):2007

Perched on a three-story limestone pedestal, this residential buildinghas a 28-story glass curtain wall with balconies conceived as extensions of the interior. Its apartments are larger than the average in Midtown; the smallest measure 1,600 square feet.

405 West 53rd Street
Location:405 West 53rd Street
Developer:SDS Procida
Architect(s):Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects
Consultant(s):Severud Associates, Montroy Andersen Demarco Design Group Inc., Sideris Engineers P.C., Engle Associates
Size:7 floors, 82 units, 201,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2008

Henry Smith-Miller freely acknowledges this condominium's debt to Le Corbusier's Unitt de Habitation in Marseille. But its New York provenance shows: Maisonettes on the ground floor are shielded from the street by a curtain of steel, creating small courtyards like those that typically front brownstones.

325 Fifth Avenue
Location:325 Fifth Avenue
Developer:Douglaston Developer and Continental Properties
Architect(s):Stephen B. Jacobs Group
Consultant(s):Levine Builders, WSP Cantor Seinuk, Andi Pepper Interior Design, Thomas Balsley Associates, Israel Berger & Associates
Size:41 floors, 250 units, 390,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Late 2006

Directly across from the Empire State Building, this new condo-minium will have a limestone pedestal along the street, and a 41-story tower above. The glass faaade features voluntary, multiple set-backs; most of the units have balconies.

241 Fifth Avenue
Location:241 Fifth Avenue
Developer:241 Fifth Avenue, LLC
Architect(s):Perkins Eastman
Size:20 floors, 60,000 sq. ft.

Since the Madison Square Park area was recently declared an historic district, Perkins Eastman had to meet strict guidelines in designing this 20-story highrise. Floors 1 to 15 will be flush with its neighbors on Fifth Avenue, while floors 16 to 20 will be set back from the street. The site is currently for sale, and includes the building plans.

The Atelier
Location:635 West 42nd Street
Developer:Moinian Group, MacFarlane Partners
Architect(s):Costas Kondylis and Partners
Size:46 floors, 478 units, 520,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2007
Budget: $200 million

Atelier's 15,700 square feet of ground-floor retail space will be topped with a veritable city of studios and condos, featuring wraparound balconies and expansive views. Atelier recalls the bow of a great ship,, said architect Costas Kondylis, interpreted in glass..

610 Lexington Avenue
Location:610 Lexington Avenue
Developer:RFR Holdings
Architect(s):Foster and Partners
Size:(80 condos, 50 hotel rooms), 257,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Late 2008

RFR Parners' Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs transferred the air rights from their more famous neighbor (and property) on 53rd StreettMies van der Rohe's Seagram's Buildinggto allow Norman Foster's tower to take the form of a continuous, thin upright slab without setbacks. It will house condos and an upscale hotel.

548 West 29th Street
Location:548 West 29th Street
Developer:West LLC
Architect(s):Caliper Design
Consultant(s): GMS LLP, John Guth Engineering
Size:12 floors, 18 units
Completion (est.):Late 2007

This top-heavy building starts out narrow, rising on a 25-foot-by-100-foot Chelsea lot, but at the sixth floor, it starts to widen, cantilevering over its neighbors to the east and west. Caliper Design principal Stephen Lynch explained that the faaade is clad in a custom-designed metal panel system that provides an irregular texture to the building's surface.

Sky House
Location:11 East 29th Street
Developer:Clarett Group
Architect(s):FXFowle Architects
Consultant(s):ABR Construction
Size:55 floors, 139 units, 580,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2007

This highrise uses air rights from the 1849 Church of the Transfiguration next door, and sits atop a new glazed parish house. The lot's 50-foot street frontage and 100-foot depth determined the tower's slender profile, which allows only three units per floor. We didn't want the architecture to dominate the site,, said Kirstin Sibilia of FXFowle. Architects chose masonry cladding, Sibilia explained, for its timeless appeal.

459 West 18th Street
Location:459 West 18th Street
Developer:Level 6 Developments
Architect(s):Della Valle + Bernheimer Design
Consultant(s):Robert Silman Associates, Front
Size:11 floors, 13 units, 29,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):January 2008

Rather than look to the past as a reference, Della Valle + Bernheimer chose to respond to the design of an adjacent (and as-yet unbuilt) building by architect Audrey Matlock. [Matlock's] building is all delicate planes and irregular surfaces,, said partner Jared Della Valle. Ours is about mass, determined by the building's L-shaped plan and setbacks..

East River Science Park
Location:29th Street and First Avenue
Developer:Alexandria Real Estate Equities
Architect(s):The Hillier Group
Consultant(s):Stubbins, architect of record; Hargreaves, landscape architect; Tishman Construction, client rep; Turner Construction, construction manager
Size:870,000 gross sq. ft.
Completion (est.):N/A

This city-supported development aims to foster New York's biotech industry by creating a campus in Kips Bay, already home to a high concentration of medical and research facilities. Zoned for bioscience facilities, the 3.7-acre site will accommodate both private companies and public institutions.

10 Chelsea
Location:500 West 23rd Street
Developer:Leviev Boymelgreen
Architect(s):Gerner, Kronick + Valcarcel Architects
Consultant(s):WSP Cantor Seinuk, Lilker Associates, Thornton Thomasetti Group
Size:12 floors, 113,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2007

This mixed-use residential/ commercial building is made of exposed poured-in-place concrete with a dark red aluminum window wall. The glass is a combination of clear glass and insulated translucent glass used as side panels. Amenities include a public terrace overlooking the High Line.

611 Sixth Avenue
Location:611 Sixth Avenuet
Developer:The Brauser Group
Architect(s):Garrett Gourlay Architect
Consultant(s):DeSimone Consulting Engineers, MGJ Associates, Frank Seta
Size:10 floors, 41 units, 3 retail units, 116,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):December 2007

Presently occupied by a three-level garage and a two commercial buildings, this site will soon be home to an eight-story condominium planted on two levels of retail. The black brick building is being being built as-of-right.


110 Livingston Street
Location:110 Livingston Street
Developer:Two Trees Management
Architect(s):Beyer Blinder Belle
Consultant(s): Severud Associates, Lazlo Bodak Engineers, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., D.T.M., Inc.
Size:7 floors, 300 units
Completion (est.):Fall 2006

This 1926 McKim, Mead, and White building was home to the New York City Board of Education for 75 years. Sold by the city in 2003 to Two Trees Management, it is undergoing a major interior renovation which will add four floors to its crown. The challenge was to design interiors that stand up to the magnificence of the facade,, said Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management.

3066313 Gold Street
Location:3066313 Gold Street
Developer:Ron Hershco and Dean Palin
Architect(s):Ismael Leyva Architects
Consultant(s): Rosenwasser Grossman, I.M. Robbins, Flack + Kurtz, Matthews Nielson Landscape
Size:40 floors, 303 units, 400,000 sq. ft.; 35 floors, 214 units, 250,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2008
Budget:$400 million

As the tallest new residential development in all of Brooklyn, these two mixed-income residential towers will be pivotal in the downtown area's transformation from daytime-only business center to a 24/7 live-work neighborhood.

Thor Tower
Location:Willoughby Square
Developer:Thor Equities
Architect(s):Perkins Eastman
Size:55 floors, 1.2 million sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2008
Budget:$360 million

Willoughby Square, a 1.5-acre plot of land in downtown Brooklyn long condemned by the city, will be the site of a new public park and underground parking garage. Thor Tower, a mixed-use skyscraper, will anchor the park's north side and looks to be the first of several towering projects in the vicinity to break ground.


The Aurora
Location:30 Bayard Street
Developer:The Developer's Group
Architect(s):Karl Fischer Architect
Consultant(s): Unavailable
Size:13 floors, 53 units
Completion (est.):2007

The restoration of Williamsburg's McCarren Park, with new facilities and landscaping, as well as a conversion of a Robert Moses-era public pool into a performance space, will almost certainly encourage additional growth. The newest project is the Aurora, an apartment building which will feature an in-house grocery and delivery service.

North Side Piers
Location:164 Kent Avenue
Developer:Toll Brothers, RD Management, L&M Equity Participants
Architect(s):FXFowle Architects
Size:29 floors, 290 units, 350,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Spring 2008

The Northside Piers is one of the first major waterfront developments in Greenpoint-Williamsburg since the area was rezoned last year. It is the first (and smallest) of three sister towers intended for the site, which was also masterplanned by FXFowle. This first tower will provide 180 units of market-rate and 110 units of affordable housing.

Greenpoint Terminal
Location:East River between Greenpoint Avenue and Oak Street
Developer:John Guttman Real Estate Management
Architect(s):Perkins Eastman
Size:13.7 acres, 2.6 million sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Pending approvals

After a massive fire destroyed a row of 19th-century warehouses in Mayyand thereby muted a looming preservation fighttthis 14-acre site along the East River is closer to being redeveloped into a retail, commercial, and residential complex. Perkins Eastman had been asked to plan the site before the fire.

North 8th Street
Location:49 North 8th Street
Developer:Toll Brothers
Consultant(s):MGJ, Neil Wexler Associates, Scorcia and Diana Associates
Size:6 floors, 40 units, 76,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2006

The second major collaboration in Williamsburg between the national homebuilding company Toll Brothers and Atlanta-based architecture firm GreenbergFarrow, this six-story building will have a single-loaded corridor so that all 40 units have quality views.


Park Slope Apartments
Location:391 Fourth Avenue
Developer:ROSMA Development
Architect(s):TEN Arquitectos
Consultant(s):Severud Associates, Mehandes Engineering
Size:11 floors, 49 units, 53,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Summer 2007

Contextual districts assume a low floor-to-floor height, roughly 8 feet, TEN principal Tim Dumbleton noted, "but the market demands higher ceilings, so it's a challenge to fit more volume within the zoning envelope." TEN achieved 10-foot ceiling heights in this 11-story condo, preserving the monlithic character they desired and meeting setback requirements with a composition of two stacked volumes.

Lookout Hill
Location:199 State Street
Developer:Alchemy Property
Architect(s):FXFowle Architects
Size:11 floors, 46 units, 54,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):2007
Budget: $16 million

This 11-story residential project bridges the low-scale residential buildings in Boerum Hill to the south and the taller, mixed-use buildings in downtown Brooklyn to the north. The brick-and-metal-panel facade varies in depth, reducing the building's mass and giving some rhythm to the street wall.


Gateway Center
Location:Bronx Terminal Market
Developer:BTM Development Partners
Architect(s):GreenbergFarrow Architects
Size:1,000,000 sq. ft.
Budget:$3500$400 million

The Bronx Terminal Market, a major wholesale food market, has long been in need of restoration. In 2004, the Related Companies purchased the property and hired Greenberg-Farrow to masterplan the site and design two three-story retail centers connected by a six-story garage, along with a riverfront park and esplanade.

Henry Hudson Parkway
Location:3260 Henry Hudson Parkway
Developer:Hudson Arlington Associates
Architect(s):Handel Architects
Size:9 floors, 127 units, 240,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2007
Budget:$90 million

Handel Architects' Riverdale project will add over 100 housing units to the neighborhood while preserving its relatively low scale with a nine-story profile. By creating a facade of windows looking to the east and a 60-foot-by-80-foot landscaped courtyard, the architects are hoping to draw attention away from the adjacent freeway and toward the neighborhood.

The Solaria
Location:640 West 237th Street
Developer:Arc Development, LLC
Architect(s):SLCE Architects
Size:20 floors, 56 Units
Completion (est.):2007

The Solaria's marketing scheme is that it is the star-lover's dream, with New York's only telescope and observatory on the roof. On a common star-gazing deck, building-dwellers will have access to a celestial map as well as educational sessions from the Amateur Astronomer's Association of New York.


Queens Street Apartments
Location:43317 Dutch Kills Street
Developer:ROSMA Development
Architect(s):TEN Arquitectos
Consultant(s):Mehandes Engineering, D.V.A.
Size:600 units, 500,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Unavailable

The Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company owned eight buildings in Long Island City, including the six-story cast-in-place concrete warehouse that will serve as a base for TEN Arquitectos' 600-foot-tall slab. The residential project, still in concept phase, is in the recently upzoned area along Jackson Avenue near the Sunnyside Yards.

Queens Family Courthouse
Location:89914 Parsons Boulevard
Developer:The Dermot Company
Architect(s):FXFowle Architects
Consultant(s):Kajima Construction Services, Marinos Gerazounis & Jaffe, DeSimone Engineers
Size:12 floors, 380 units, 290,000 sq. ft. residential, 44,000 sq. ft. retail; 19,5000 sq. ft. community
Completion (est.):2007
Budget:$130 million

To comply with HPD specifications, theconversion of the Queens Family Courthouse into housing includes many affordable units and space for community use. The latter will be housed in the historic building, built in 1927 as a library, while housing will occupy the new glazed addition.

5505 48th Avenue
Location:5505 48th Avenue
Developer:Toll Brothers
Architect(s):H. Thomas O'Hara Architects
Consultant(s):Ettinger Associates, Axis Design Group
Size:8 floors, 142,000 sq. ft.; 5 floors, 19,000 sq.ft.; 118 units
Completion (est.):2007

Toll Brothers called on H. Thomas O'Hara to design a low-rise, high-end condominium in the heart of Queen's most industrial neighborhood. The architects responded with not one but two buildings. The base of both structures will be granite and channel glass, while the upper floors will be built out of pre-cast concrete.