Search results for "Hudson Yards"

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A Big Cover Up

City seeks firm to build, Hudson Yards–style, over Queens rail yard
New York City is searching for the right developer to build green space, housing, and retail over a Queens rail yard. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in collaboration with the MTA, put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the project today. Developers would have the opportunity to transform a 58,000-square-foot property in Long Island City into mixed-income housing development that includes commercial space, community facilities, and public open space. The city owns the air rights to the site, which sits close to public transit and MoMA PS1. The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) currently uses the site, which is bounded by Jackson Avenue, 49th Avenue, and 21st Street, for storage. Like Manhattan's Hudson Yards, the development would need to be built over the yard, DNAinfo reports. Per the RFP, submissions are due April 21. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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Stadia Acadia

ACADIA 2016 showcased the diversity of cutting-edge computational design

This year’s meeting of the Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) was hosted at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. It was the 36th meeting of ACADIA, and was regarded to be an incredibly successful showing. The theme of the conference, Posthuman Frontiers: Data, Designers, and Cognitive Machines, was paired with the Posthuman Frontiers exhibition, featuring jury-selected projects submitted to the conference, as well as the advanced work of Taubman College faculty. The events of the conference were held at multiple venues around Ann Arbor, and were preceded by several workshops that made use of Taubman College’s digital fabrication and instruction facilities.

For those of us on the outside looking in (in our lesser moments, perhaps), the ACADIA community might easily be misconstrued as a group of architects obsessed with robots, or possessing an interest in complicated shapes made in Grasshopper for their own sake. However, the three days this author spent among their ranks at this year’s conference were some of the most inspiring in recent memory. Yes, there were moments of geometric fetishism, and yes, there were a considerable number of time-lapse videos of robot arms in progress. But when taken in aggregate, these projects, papers, and talks reframed and made vibrant the essential ingredients of what we work on as architects: the arrangement of solid and void, the cultural effects of form, and the possibilities of what we might craft in the built environment.

It must be said that the range of work presented was dramatic. Even within the more immediately applicable papers and projects were sober arguments for parametric design in space planning, a smart device for lowering cooling costs in office spaces, newly designed plugins to optimize the unfolding of 3-D meshes, and progress-in-training robots to lay tile in order to relieve the strain on human bodies.

Caress of the Gaze from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

Reaching into more radical territory, we saw prototyped near-body architectures operating on the politics of the posthuman in Behnaz Farahi’s “Caress of the Gaze,” an actuated garment which tracks—and responds to—the eye movement of those regarding the wearer. We saw installations that build intimacy and a sense of cooperative play between humans and digital entities. There was work which adopted uncommon material alliances of “programmable matter,” such as in Jane Scott’s intertwining of hydrophobic fibers that writhe and retract when exposed to water vapor (one of several fabric-oriented works), and too many others of note to mention them all.

But some of the most memorable moments from this conference were the keynote addresses, as they punctuated the proceedings with disparate tones and positions that illuminated the diversity of this community. Theodore Spyropoulos led the charge on Thursday with a talk entitled All Is Behavior (a play on Hans Hollein’s claim that “All are architects. Everything is architecture.”) It quickly became clear that Spyropoulos sees the future of cities, and indeed, that of humanity, in a technologically positivist light. He envisions self-organizing and aggregating structures which allow for adaptivity in the face of changing climatic or social conditions, and seeks to bring us into more sympathetic forms of interaction with robotic and digital entities.

The evening of the same day found the participants exposed to other visionary work, in a dreamy—and at times titillating—conversation between Philip Beesley and Iris Van Herpen, whose ongoing collaborations are advancing both Van Herpen’s work at the forefront of couture, and Beesley’s at, perhaps, the architectural equivalent. Lucidly expressive, Beesley’s tone was one of wonderment—of proposed, barely imaginable relationships between humans and matter. In fact, Beesley’s role is most easily understood, and his work is most easily appreciated, when it is placed in the context of couture, the goal of which is to push the bounds of what is possible in clothing.

Mario Carpo’s discussion of the cultural implications of searchability was a thoughtful meditation and provocation that ultimately concluded the conference Saturday evening, but the real climax of ACADIA 2016 was a keynote lecture Friday evening by Elizabeth Diller, as she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Despite a playful hesitance to engage with the foreboding finality of “Lifetime Achievement,” Diller generously outlined some of the more seminal works of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), one of the most influential practices in the world over the past 25 years. Early in the talk, Diller emphasized her interest in the fields adjacent to architecture, a propensity for smaller scale works, and a persistent fascination with “the encounter.” By the end, however, she was in a mode of pure architectural shoptalk, sharing in-progress photos of the recently manufactured steel struts and enormous wheels that will comprise The Shed, currently in construction in New York’s Hudson Yards development. Diller concluded her remarks with some reflections upon the way culture has shifted since some of DS+R’s early work. In the present day, she claims:

“...the speed of obsolescence makes technology a liability. Dumber is better than smarter and the best thing to do for culture in the future is to secure real estate. It’s as basic as that.

Then: Systems theory, game theory, cybernetic control systems were tools to democratize culture.

Now: Digital technologies allow culture to be open source, dispersed, and on-demand. However, with democracy comes the ubiquitous condition of being monitored, so it’s a different time.…

Then: Kit of parts and kinetic systems produce flexibility.

Now: Flexibility is a paradox. The more flexibility is built in, the more predetermined, leaving nothing but empty space (this is related to ‘dumb is a virtue’).

Then: Disciplinary borders had to be broken.

Now: Despite academia’s parsing and classification, the richly indeterminate contours of interdisciplinarity, intradisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity—we actually have to push to make these things happen, because somehow, the real world divides everything up again. Because that’s where money comes from—different places. And it’s going to take a long time to change the system.

Then: Government support for culture was assumed.

Now: To avoid the vicissitudes of the economy, the cultural institutions must produce their own financial security.

Then: The architect was a generalist that gathers research from subcommittees.

Now: Professionalization turns the architect into a director/producer that relies on a rolling cadre of subconsultants who bring an ever-widening depth of expertise to ever-more adventurous problems. So, then and now, the architect gets to push the agency of the profession to invent a cultural and civic project on both scores.”

These sage thoughts carried the conference into its final day, which held perhaps the most poignant moment of the proceedings, as Chuck Eastman, one of the original founders of ACADIA in 1981, received the Society Award of Excellence. Hearing Eastman describe the early days of computational design, the work that went into tasks as simple as Boolean operations, put the tools we now take for granted in perspective. It is amazing how far computational design has advanced in just a few decades, and this community shows no sign of slowing. No doubt, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab will rise to the occasion and show us the next chapter a year from now, as they are slated to host ACADIA 2017.

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Shaping the Discourse

The best book and exhibition reviews of 2016
While not architecture, exhibitions and books are essential to informing, challenging, critiquing, and encouraging designers of all stripes. Here we've gathered some of our best reviews of 2016. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston By Christine Cipriani AN Lions: 20 must-see things at the 2016 Venice Biennale Venice Architecture Biennale By William Menking, Matt Shaw, Matthew Messner Detroit in Venice: The U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Venice Architecture Biennale By Matthew Messner Transitional Object (Psychobarn) Metropolitan Museum of Art By Jimmy Stamp Playboy Architecture, 1953–1979 Elmhurst Art Museum By Andrew Santa Lucia No more weird architecture in Philadelphia: a retroactive manifesto for the AIA National Convention AIA National Convention By Fred Scharmen Ost Und oder West [East and West] P! Gallery By Jesse Seegers Free Roses Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) By Ryan John King Palladio Virtuel Yale University Press By Nancy Goldring A Genealogy of Modern Architecture: Comparative Critical Analysis of Built Form Lars Müller Publishers By Carlos Brillembourg Superstudio 50 MAXXI By Peter Lang Early Women of Architecture in Maryland AIA Maryland Gallery By Fred Scharmen The Architecture and Cities of Northern Mexico from Independence to the Present Acanthus Press By Ben Koush What do New Yorkers get when privately-funded public art goes big? By Audrey Wachs Dream of Venice Architecture Bella Figura Publications By Robert Landon Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary Princeton Architectural Press By Ariel Rosenstock Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter MoMA By Zach Edelson Vertical Urban Factory Actar Publishing By Owen Hatherley Mind Your Mannerisms Jai & Jai Gallery By Antonio Pacheco Slow Manifesto: Lebbeus Woods Blog Princeton Architectural Press By Charles Holland
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Critical Thinking

Our 12 top building reviews of 2016
The Architect's Newspaper strives to bring you candid and insightful takes on top projects from across the U.S. Here we've gathered some of our best reviews, which range from critical to commending and everything in between. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) World Trade Center Transit Hub by Santiago Calatrava Architects & Engineers Santiago Calatrava’s WTC Transit Hub opened with much anticipation and mixed reviews. AN reached out to New York’s architects, designers, and engineers to hear their thoughts on the structure. One Santa Fe by Michael Maltzan Architecture Architect Michael Maltzan describes his One Santa Fe as an example of “anticipatory architecture”—exercises in form making that endow architecture with the power to productively shape urban policy, planning, and the city at large. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) by Diller Scofidio + Renfro It is impossible to visit the new BAMPFA without inducing comparisons to DS+R's The Broad, even though the two museums—one budget-minded, one blockbuster—share few common approaches and features. 3595 Broadway by Magnusson Architecture and Planning 3595 Broadway’s non-confrontational formal language visualizes critical conditions about how Columbia University positions itself when speaking to their ivy-league-educated audience in their Manhattanville and Medical Center buildings in comparison to the public around their 3595 Broadway building at 148th street. The Salt Shed by Dattner Architects and WXY There's a collection of buildings in a city that always strike one as other, as something not easily reduced to the events of inhabitation. One example in downtown Manhattan that testifies to this quality is lower west side’s new Salt Shed. The Whitney by Renzo Piano Building Workshop A year after the initial “wait and see,” it is time to call the Renzo Piano–designed Whitney building what it really is: An architectural tourist trap. Pico Branch Library by Koning Eizenberg Architecture (KEA) The Pico library branch doesn't privilege one side of its park over the other, and its experiment in neighborhood connectivity is most significant in this spirit of quiet assertion—that a building can possess a multitude of functions, but is only successful in doing so if it remains a place of enjoyment and discovery for everyone. Gordon Parks Arts Hall by Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA) The University of Chicago features an impressive collection of buildings by notable architects: Holabird & Root, Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, César Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Jeanne Gang, and more. In October 2015, Chicago–based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA) joined these prestigious ranks with their Gordon Parks Arts Hall, the latest addition to the University of Chicago Laboratory School. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) by J. Max Bond of Davis Brody Bond, Phil Freelon, David Adjaye, and SmithGroupJJR The NMAAHC truly delivers something that few pieces of architecture can: It is a cascade of metaphors for collectivity, but is also in harmony with its content and program. Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center of Columbia University Medical Center by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) Nearly four decades since Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio began the collaboration that today is DS+R, with the Vagelos Center they have completed their most perfectly resolved building, an amalgam of their interests and the lessons learned from earlier projects. Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick When Thomas Heatherwick unveiled his design for a new public landmark called Vessel at Hudson Yards, questions abounded. What is it? What will it do to the neighborhood? And what does it say that Stephen Ross, the president and CEO of Related Companies, the primary developer of Hudson Yards, is financing the entire $250 million piece by himself? Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) at the Air Force Academy by SOM Sited next to Walter Netsch's virtuosic 1963 Cadet Chapel, the CCLD is an artful study in conflict avoidance, restraint, and strategic power projection.
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Top Opinion Pieces

AN’s hottest critical takes of 2016
This year gave us plenty to complain about, and plenty of debates to weigh in on. Writers from all over the country and many disciplines—from curators to economists—have contributed their knowledge to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), whether in writing or as a precursor to editorials. Here are some of the best editorials and opinion pieces we have published in 2016. You might not agree with all of it, but we hope they are thought-provoking and you enjoy reading them! (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) AIA pledges to work with Donald Trump, membership recoils Upon the election of President-Elect Trump, AIA CEO Robert Ivy issued a statement of solidarity with the newly-minted PEOTUS, mainly in support of his infrastructure spending. Our editorial staff responded with a statement questioning this move, and we solicited reactions from architects within and outside of the AIA. The hybrid article helped elicit a pair of apologies from Ivy, and we kept up on the outpouring of reactions as they came in. How Donald Trump transformed New York without any regard for design quality When The Donald was still one of a cadre of GOP candidates, Editor-in-Chief William Menking took a historical look at the architecture of Trump and the critical reactions it has garnered. Designing the Border Wall? When outrage erupted from the online competition "Building the Border Wall?" and many were discussing the ethics of building such a wall, architect and educator Ronald Rael took a closer look at the nuances of the conditions at the border. Why the Met Breuer Matters When the newly-refurbished Met Breuer opened, Senior Editor Matt Shaw visited the building with Associate Professor and Director of Historic Preservation at Columbia GSAPP Jorge Otero-Pailos to take a look at how it shaped up and what it means for New York. What happened to the MAS? Why has the Municipal Art Society—a once-proud organization with a century and half of history—been handed over to the real estate industry? Female-ness, Corb, and Contraband Architect Andreas Angelidakis and artist Juliana Huxtable's contribution was the first in a series of partnerships between AN and Façadomy, a contemporary journal that reflects on issues of identity through the lenses of art and architecture. Is the U.S.’s Biennale Pavilion actually the Quicken Loans Pavilion? Editor-in-Chief William Menking was less than enthused about the proposals put forth by the curators of the 2016 U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Renzo Piano’s Whitney is an architectural “tourist trap” One year after its opening, Senior Editor Matt Shaw reflected on what the new Whitney Museum of American Art brings to the city of New York and its architecture heritage. Architectural education is broken—here’s how to fix it Los Angeles architect Peter Zellner wonders what can be better in architecture education today, and posits a new direction for the academy. Todd Gannon, cultural studies coordinator at SCI-Arc, issued a response to the following article that can be found here. Zellner subsequently launched a school. Respecting the SITE An odd design by an odd choice of architect at SITE Santa Fe raises questions about what the Southwest is really about, says Senior Editor Matt Shaw. Are micro-apartments a revolutionary trend? Or are developers exploiting an out-of-control market? The recent trend of smaller units with more amenities could be part of a solution to the housing crisis, but it has the potential to be a territorial concession for the renting class, says Web Editor Zachary Edelson. How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute details the history of state-sponsored segregation, focusing on housing policy in the postwar era to today. After Oakland, here’s how architects can help make DIY spaces safer Princeton, New Jersey–based Melissa J. Frost and Seattle-based Susan Surface are initiating a discussion to educate the operators of DIY venues about safety measures to prevent injuries at their spaces. Joel Sanders on the past and future of gender issues in architecture Alessandro Bava of London-based collective åyr sits down with STUD author Joel Sanders to discuss the 20th anniversary of the book and what it means today. What do New Yorkers get when privately-funded public art goes big? Associate Editor Audrey Wachs wonders what the $200 million geegaw at Hudson Yards will offer the city of New York. Hudson River Park/Pier 40 deal reveals the tangled web of calculated collusion that shapes NYC Michael Sorkin "follows the money" to expose a decades-long history of a controversial site on New York's west side.
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A Long Line Coming

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

What do New Yorkers get when privately-funded public art goes big?

When Thomas Heatherwick—the nimble London-based designer known for work that defies easy categorization—unveiled his design for a new public landmark called Vessel at Hudson Yards to a crowd of reporters and New York City power players in September, questions abounded. What is it? What will it do to the neighborhood? And what does it say that Stephen Ross, the president and CEO of Related Companies, the primary developer of Hudson Yards, is financing the entire $250 million piece by himself?

It’s natural that Ross chose Heatherwick Studio to design his centerpiece, because the office’s creations stun. For the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, it extruded 60,000 clear acrylic tubes from a center space to create a fuzzy, crystalline object whose apparent fragility is as mesmerizing as it is clever. As the studio moves toward ever-larger and ever-more-public commissions, the people who will live with its work will need to seriously consider what it will mean for their neighborhoods and cities.

Interactive public art is plentiful, but there are no pieces with the built-in interactivity of Vessel. In Chicago, tourists snap selfies with Anish Kapoor’s parabolic Cloud Gate (the Bean), while at New York’s Astor Place visitors can now once again give Bernard Rosenthal’s Alamo (the Cube) a spin. Vessel is supposed to be to Hudson Yards what the Christmas tree is to Rockefeller Center, but on display all year round. Related said it’s a “new kind of public landmark,” while The New York Times called it “a stairway to nowhere.” Heatherwick referred to it as a “device.” Critics have been unable, or unwilling, to name it. There’s power in naming, so let’s call Vessel what it is—it is architecture. It fulfills the most basic criteria for the category: The piece serves a purpose and acts as an apparatus for the reorientation of the body in relationship to both the ground and the city.

Vessel’s 2,400 steps will anchor the largest private development in the U.S., lifting visitors above Hudson Yards’ 14 acres of parks and plazas. The elevations will give New Yorkers and tourists—siphoned off a to-be-constructed High Line spur—a place to view each other and all the stalagmitic towers of Hudson Yards. When complete, the 16-story structure will be the tallest freestanding observation platform in the city, at least until Staten Island’s New York Wheel starts rolling.

Formally, the piece is inspired by Indian stepwells, but according to Heatherwick, it’s a monument “to us.” Like Pier 55, the architect’s park on mushroom stilts on the lower west side, Vessel has instant visual currency—critics have compared it to a snakeskin teacup, honeycombs, bedbugs, and a döner kebab. For its creator, it’s a bespoke response to the globalized taste that plants boring glass curtain-wall towers in Shanghai and London and plops blue chip art on corporate plazas in Los Angeles and Chicago. Vessel is the antidote that nurtures a spirit of togetherness: “Buildings are getting bigger and bigger—that mega-scale, it’s something new,” Heatherwick told AN at the unveiling. “But 2,000 years ago, humans were mostly the same size we are now. The human scale stays true.” Like its creator, who the press has affectionately compared to Willy Wonka, Vessel is so earnest: Its intricate symmetry and aesthetics divorce the grand stair from a signal of power and prestige, while its ostensibly public nature decouples the ordinary stair from its floor-to-floor workaday obligation.

Underneath its sincerity, though, Vessel harbors serious contradictions. Heatherwick said it “has no commercial objective,” which is hard to buy when the structure is the ultimate native advertising: It will sit smack in the middle of a five-acre park in the eastern yard designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz, a jewel in a glittery crown. It puts Ross’s taste and design acumen on display for public admiration. As a gathering space, it’s intended to integrate the raw development—which sits on a crust of artificial land over its namesake rail yards—into the rich fabric of New York City.

A proper design narrative, rolled out by the mayor and a multiracial dance troupe from Alvin Ailey, paves the way for public acceptance and mental integration before the idea is built out. Who could argue with Heatherwick’s kumbaya, a campaign for one New York?

In a city where even the ultra-rich hustle in and out of the subway, Vessel elevates the time-honored art of the schlep to civic priority—sort of. Heatherwick said it has no prescribed meaning, and that it is up to the public to decide—a vote for radical spatial practice if there ever was one. There’s tremendous satisfaction, too, in hauling up a long set of set of stairs, our urban mountainsides. The whole-body high from ascending a tough trail, or emerging from the Lexington Avenue–63rd Street subway station, humbles screaming quads before God, gravity, and smart engineers. Heatherwick’s gift to the city of New York, defines a citizen-subject as one who can walk—a lot. In a promotional video for Hudson Yards, Heatherwick says “it’s extremely interactive, but properly,” slapping his torso and thighs, “using your physicality.”

On the surface, there’s a positive correlation between the healthy metropolis—a public ideal that New York embraces—and the fit citizen—a personal ideal. But we’re still far from health equity. 

Sure, the piece will be ADA-compliant; curving elevators will sweep the wheelchair users, arthritic citizens, moms and dads with strollers, tired people, the very unathletic, and the time-crunched up to the top. For those of us fit enough to make it up even some of those steps, the terraces will form a bronzed steel beehive with neat new perspectives on the city. Flânerie never goes out of style, and in 2018 when Vessel opens, people will be watching other people on screens, too, documenting the fun on Instagram in a flurry of #Heatherwicks. Millennial employees of VaynerMedia, a Hudson Yards tenant, might use the thing as a StairMaster, and I predict there will be a Buzzfeed article on how to keep in shape with the new outdoor fitness structure. For his part, Heatherwick hopes that Vessel can be used for live performance, a dynamic and ostensibly more public forum than a Broadway theater or DS+R’s slick corporate Shed adjacent to Heatherwick’s piece. (So corporate, in fact, that “Culture” was removed from the name.)

However, even though initial renderings usually oversell the final product, Heatherwick’s visions are particularly egregious. Although the structure is being assembled right now, the renderings raise troubling questions about the gap between the not-architecture-but-still-architecture’s intended and probable uses.

As his Shanghai Expo pavilion, his redesigned Routemaster bus for London, and his 2012 Olympic cauldron demonstrate, Heatherwick is a master detailer and global designer adept at translating compelling human themes to local contexts. The Vessel model, which Ross reportedly kept under lock and key in his office, has been ready for months. Why then, at the public unveiling in September, were so many details missing?

Consider the crowds. Heatherwick’s piece is supposed to take the success of the High Line and spin it vertically. Though pioneering, the High Line has received justified criticism for its crowding and lack of surprises, but at least it gets you, slowly, from place to place (and, as art critic Jerry Saltz observed, it keeps tourists out of Chelsea’s galleries). If on nice days the High Line backs up, how will crowds be managed on a structure that only has egresses at its base? Heatherwick insists Vessel will be free to visit, but how besides timed and ticketed entry will the structure accommodate everyone?

If it’s as popular as its creators believe, Vessel will attract not only people but also those other New Yorkers: The pigeons. The structure seems ready-made for roosting, and I can’t imagine how hard it will be to properly enjoy Vessel while dodging dove turds. And in cold weather, I hope Ross will be more sedulous about de-icing the platforms than the neighbors on every block who make pedestrian booby traps out of sidewalks in front of their buildings.

As one climbs up Vessel, the railings stay just above waist height all the way up to the structure’s top, but when you build high, folks will jump. After a student leapt into the soaring central atrium of NYU’s Bobst Library seven years ago, the school installed metal fencing—on top of the Plexiglas barriers it had put in years earlier in response to other suicides. Philip Johnson and Richard Foster didn’t see the death in the design that the public’s morbid ideation uncovered, but Ross and Heatherwick seem not to have learned from Bobst, or from the city’s bridges and iconic tall buildings. If barriers are installed, how will they affect the views, Vessel’s main selling point?

Critics have compared Vessel to the Eiffel Tower, but Paris’s landmark is very much of its era, and meaning-making in our time has moved beyond tit-for-tat semiotics. New York has the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and any number of other symbols with which to broadcast its image. Plus, we’re on Instagram: Times Square is the world’s most-tagged location, more featured than the number-two tagged Eiffel Tower. There is already an essential New York space on a billion screens.

At this hour, there’s truly no point in reviving the perennial debate about the vacuousness of privately-owned-and-operated public space. The structure, surrounded on all sides by condos that start at $2 million, a Neiman Marcus, and a Thomas Keller restaurant, is a footnote in a city where politicians and developers plan expensive malls but call them transit hubs; where amateur urban planners like multimillionaire couple Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, patrons of Heatherwick’s Pier 55, shape public priorities; and impressive but empty fortresses for billionaires jostle each other for space in the sky. In its size and ambition, Vessel feels significant in some way, but in contrast to the High Line’s renegotiation of the urban park, Vessel feels like a Gilded Age geegaw foisted on the city by a “benevolent” rich guy.

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#50

Renderings revealed for Foster + Partners’ new tower at Hudson Yards

Today the developer of Hudson Yards has revealed designs for the Far West Side's newest tower.

Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group unveiled the icy cloudbuster for 50 Hudson Yards, designed by global firm Foster + Partners. The 985-foot, 58-story structure covers an entire city block.

“50 Hudson Yards is envisaged as a vertical campus in the heart of Manhattan that is eminently readable at city scale with three distinct blocks stacked one above the other,” said Nigel Dancey, Foster + Partners' head of studio, in a statement. “Crafted from a simple palette of white stone and glass, the building’s primary structure has been pushed to the edges to create large-span flexible floorplates. It aspires to define the workplace of the future, bringing to the fore the practice’s values of innovation and creativity by producing a positive work environment that seeks to fulfill the needs and expectations of a demanding workforce.”

When complete, the 2.9 million-square-foot building at 33rd Street and 10th Avenue will be the city's fourth largest office tower. When the building opens in 2022, principal tenants like the financial company BlackRock will enjoy outdoor terraces and private "sky lobbies," as well as access to 30 Hudson Yards' outdoor observation platform.

The New York Times reports that New York State is giving Blackrock, a company with more than $5 trillion in assets, a $25 million tax break to stay in the state and move into the shiny new tower.

Construction is expected to begin next year on the white stone– and glass-clad building. In the renderings, glass windows are framed by stone while dark-outlined floors peek out from behind the glazed facade. Column-free floorplates that span a minimum of 50,000 square feet per floor are able to accommodate 500-plus people, and workers on some floors will enjoy expansive outdoor spaces, the result of periodic setbacks.

“Covering a full city block, the building is highly permeable at ground level, allowing it to engage fully with its urban location," Norman Foster, founding principal of Foster + Partners, said in a statement. "Designed for a sustainable future, the building makes an important contribution to the regeneration of the far west side of Manhattan.”

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The Whole (13) Yards

Will the South Bronx be getting a Hudson Yards of its own?

New York State has announced it will cap a South Bronx railyard and build a large development on top to energize the borough's economy.

In late November, Empire State Development put out a Request For Expressions of Interest (RFEI) aimed at developers who could build, a lá Hudson Yards, a platform over a 12.8-acre strip of railyard without compromising the functionality of a critical regional juncture for commercial trains and trucks. The RFEI asks interested parties to present options for the lease or purchase of the land to construct a residential or mixed-use project with a public space component.

“It’s exciting, and very rare to offer the opportunity to develop more than a dozen acres of prime waterfront land in New York City,” said Empire State Development president, CEO, and commissioner Howard Zemsky, in a statement. “This South Bronx location offers easy access to the waterfront, multiple mass transit options, and a major highway and I’m certain that the Harlem River Yards central location and enormous potential will generate great interest from respondents looking to submit creative proposals.”

The land, north of the Willis Avenue Bridge along the Harlem River, is part of a 96-acre tract called Harlem River Yards. The industrial area is state-owned but managed through a general project plan—because of this designation, the state needs no city approvals to rezone and build on the land. In addition to housing and retail, the RFEI calls for parkland that allows access to the waterfront.

The state will continue to use the land as a transfer station even after the new development opens. Interested? Developers have until February 2 to submit a proposal.

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AN Exclusive

NYC Public Design Commission announces Excellence in Design award winners
Today Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Public Design Commission (PDC) announced this year's winners of the commission's annual Awards for Excellence in Design. “These thoughtful and innovative designs support the de Blasio administration’s commitment to providing quality, equitable, and resilient public spaces to all New Yorkers. By utilizing good design principles, these projects will provide the public with increased access to the waterfront, open spaces and parks; improved places for play and community gatherings; and inspiring artworks,” said PDC president Signe Nielsen, co-founding principal of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, in a statement. Justin Garrett Moore, adjunct associate professor of architecture at Columbia University and the commission's executive director, added: "Part of what makes our city great is the quality of our public realm and the creativity and ingenuity found in our design community and city agencies. These award-winning projects range from new technologies to improved neighborhood parks and public artwork. They show that design excellence is an important part of New York's leadership in promoting innovation, sustainability, and equity in cities." For the past 34 years, the PDC, New York's review board for public architecture and design, honors well-designed projects at all scales across the city. This year, honorees include James Corner Field Operations' and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's (DS+R) High Line spur, which will connect the celebrated park to Hudson Yards, as well as Bjarke Ingels Group's (BIG) police station in the Bronx, which The Architect's Newspaper (AN), revealed earlier this year. On the smaller side, the commission honored LinkNYC, the public information kiosks that until recently helped New Yorkers watch porn, and the FDNY's anti-idling ambulance pedals, devices that help reduce emissions from emergency vehicles out on call. See the ten winning projects (and two specially recognized) below. All quotes courtesy the NYC Mayor's Office: 2016 WINNERS: 40th Police Precinct BIG and Starr Whitehouse East 149th Street and St. Ann’s Avenue, Bronx Agencies: the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), and the New York City Police Department See AN's exclusive coverage of the 40th Precinct here. Waterfront Nature Walk by George Trakas George Trakas and Quennell Rothschild & Partners Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant, 329 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn Agencies: Department of Cultural Affairs’ (DCA) Percent for Art Program, DDC, and the Department of Environmental Protection "The Waterfront Nature Walk revives a long-inaccessible industrial shoreline for public use as a waterfront promenade and kayak launch. This project expands the artist’s conceptual focus from the local histories to ruminations on a broader history of ecology and human existence." Van Name Van Pelt Plaza/Richmond Terrace Wetlands Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) (in-house design) Richmond Terrace between Van Pelt Street and Van Name Street, Staten Island Agencies: NYC Parks and the Department of Transportation (DOT) "The Van Name Van Pelt Plaza/Richmond Terrace Wetlands a gathering space that can be programmed for educational use and features engraved maps that describe the evolution of the island in relation to the waterway. Woody understory and herbaceous planting in the wetland park increase shoreline resilience. The design prioritizes public access to the waterfront while preserving the wetlands and enhancing avian habitat." Luminescence by Nobuho Nagasawa Nobuho Nagasawa, Thomas Balsley Associates, Weiss/Manfredi Architects The Peninsula, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, 54th Avenue, Center Boulevard, 55th Avenue, and the East River, Queens Agencies: New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and NYC Parks "Luminescence consists of seven sculptures, all of which are both beautiful and educational. A phosphorescent material integrated into the surface of each domed shape absorbs sunlight during the day and illuminates the phases of the moon at night with a soft blue glow. Additionally, the concrete and aggregate sculptures are etched with the moon’s pattern of craters, mountains, and valleys." Dock 72 S9 Architecture and MPFP Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Agencies and firms: Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, the Boston Properties, Rudin Development, and WeWork See AN's coverage of Dock 72 here. The High Line Park Passage and Spur JCFO, DS+R, and Piet Oudolf West 30th Street between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue, Manhattan Agencies and nonprofits: NYC Parks, NYCEDC, and Friends of the High Line "The Spur is envisioned as a piazza with amphitheater-like seating steps that surround a central plinth for a rotating art program. The Passage and Spur will offer expansive views, dense woodland plantings, ample public seating, and a large open space for public programming, as well as public bathrooms for High Line visitors." Snug Harbor Cultural Center Music Hall Addition Studio Joseph and SCAPE/Landscape Architecture 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island Agencies and nonprofits: DDC, NYC Parks, DCA, and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center "Outside the public entrance of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center Music Hall Addition, a landscaped courtyard and lawn provides flexible space for the Music Hall and Snug Harbor campus. This project will reinvigorate the historic theater, enhancing programmatic opportunities and operational efficiency that enable this cultural gem to put on its distinctive performances." SoHo Square Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects Sixth Avenue between Spring Street and Broome Street, Manhattan Agencies and BID: DOT, NYC Parks, and the Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District "The renovation of SoHo Square, an under-utilized open space, will establish a distinct gateway to the thriving hub of Hudson Square. A central focal point at the mid-block crossing will be anchored by the relocated statue of General José Artigas (1987) by José Luis Zorrilla de San Martín, which will be conserved as part of the project." Anti-idling Ambulance Pedestals Ignacio Ciocchini and MOVE Systems Citywide Agency: Fire Department of the City of New York "The anti-idling ambulance pedestals will reduce ambulance vehicle emissions without disrupting the Fire Department’s critical emergency operations. By plugging into these curbside pedestals, EMTs can safely shut off their engines while keeping their communication systems live and temperature-sensitive medicines refrigerated. This smart industrial design improves neighborhood air quality and ensures that the City’s ambulances are ready to respond to emergencies at a moment’s notice." LinkNYC CityBridge (Antenna Design, Intersection, Qualcomm, and CIVIQ Smartscapes) Citywide Agency: Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications See AN's coverage of LinkNYC here. SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR COMPLETED PROJECTS: Parks Without Borders NYC Parks (in-house) Citywide Agency: NYC Parks See AN's coverage of Parks Without Borders here and here. Community Parks Initiative NYC Parks (in-house); dlandstudio; Hargreaves Associates; Mathews Nielsen; MKW Landscape Architecture; Nancy Owens Studio; Prospect Park Alliance; Quennell Rothschild & Partners; Sage and Coombe Architects Citywide Agency: NYC Parks See AN's coverage of the Community Parks Initiative here.
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Critical Halloween

Vote for your favorite Storefront Critical Halloween party costume!
As a gold toilet-owning billionaire vies for the Presidency, a development corporation builds its own $150 million sculpture at Hudson Yards, and a $1.25 billion man-made pleasure island rises off China, the theme of this year's Storefront for Art and Architecture Critical Halloween party—Luxury—couldn't be more on the money. Storefront asked attendees to critique old ideas of excess in art, architecture, and design, reimagining what luxury means in the process. Hosted within the ornate United Palace, the party offered up an excess of excellent costumes: a shimmering Frank Gehry-inspired dress (complete with headgear), money guarded by LLCs, and even a riff on artist Yayoi Kusama and her polka dot pumpkins. Who did it best? Scroll through the candidates, click any thumbnail for a closer look, and select an option from the survey below. Then, click "Done" to cast your vote for the “People’s Choice” costume! Voting runs until Monday, November 7th, 11:59 pm EDT. (All images are courtesy Storefront and photographer Yuko Torihara; they appear in the chronological order that guests registered.) This survey has concluded, stay tuned for results!
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Yard Bird's Eye View

Building of the Day: Hudson Yards
This is the twenty-fifth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! When approaching Hudson Yards from Pennsylvania Station, seeing parked buses and queues of travelers along 31st Street, it’s difficult to imagine that this 28-acre campus could shed its transitory reputation to become a final destination point for more than just Long Island Railroad cars. But by reclaiming square-footage currently lost to train exhaust, the architects and developers believe Hudson Yards will quickly emerge as a major retail and cultural hub in Manhattan. Today’s tour started on the 41st floor of 10 Hudson Yards (also known as the Coach Building for its primary tenant) and was led by Mark Boekenheide, AIA, and Sherry Tobak of Related Companies, Marianne Kwok of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), and Serena Nelson of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. Designed by KPF, the 895 foot-tall reinforced concrete tower boasts 1.8 million square feet of office and retail space and is currently home to a number of high-profile tenants. According to Boekenheide, concrete was an unusual material to use for a project of this size in New York City, but was chosen in order to meet Coach’s timeline for move-in. He also noted that many tenants in the building are now opting to keep the material exposed to add a loft-like atmosphere their offices. 10 Hudson Yards and its twin still under construction across the way carry the tradition of twin office towers that stretch down Manhattan avenues ending at the World Trade Center. Although the towers are not identical, Kwok said, both are oriented in such a way to direct energy down to the 14-acres of public space below, reinforcing the complex’s relationship to the city as a whole. Once 30 Hudson Yards is completed in 2018, visitors will be able to take in views of Manhattan from the tallest open air observatory deck. Half of the Hudson Yards’ acreage will remain open space, and will support the creation of interlocking green spaces intended to draw tenants and visitors into the campus. When designing the elliptical gardens, Nelson said, accounting for the heat generated by the trains parked below on the west campus was a unique challenge; on a summer day, when the trains are stalled with their ACs running, temperatures could rise up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and would effectively scorch much of the existing plant life. However, gardens will soon grow at Hudson Yards thanks to the design of a glycol cooling system suspended within concrete beneath the soil. As confirmed by a 360-virtual reality rendering of the five orbital gardens, the Trafalgar Square-like space will serve as an exceptional northern terminus to the High Line once completed. About the author: Kelly Felsberg is the Program Committees Coordinator at AIA New York.