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Art and architecture highlights from Coachella

2016’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicked off this weekend in typical fashion: hit and under-sung musical acts playing late into the night, torturous sunshine interrupted by shade-giving monumental art. Amid the raucous tumult of teenagers and festival bros were a collection of large artworks commissioned specifically for the festival, running two weekends in a row. The seven monumental works by seven invited artists create interactive structures meant to complement the festival’s musical offerings and run the gamut from dank man caves to an ever-changing array of colorful balloons floating in the wind.

The Tower of Twelve Stories 📷: @robstok + @alliemtaylor

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Takin a break from my normal thing(s) to shoot @coachella ! @goldenvoice @instagram Art = @0super A photo posted by Jeff Frost (@frostjeff) on
Jimenez Lai brings his The Tower of Twelve Stories to Coachella, a 52-foot-tall sectional model made up of a mess of stacked platonic bubbles. Inspired by the Lenoard Cohen song, “Tower of Song,” Lai’s work also takes inspiration from theories on the American skyscraper, from Rem Koolhaas’s notions of its genericism to Louis Sullivan’s prescriptions of classical proportioning for the type. The structure contains embedded lights and glows from within at night. Cuban artist Alexandre Arrechea’s Katrina Chairs utilize steel frames clad in plywood to create a sextet of bright yellow lawn chairs topped with stacks of Soviet-era, prefabricated apartment blocks. The monumental work takes its name from the disastrous storm that hit New Orleans in 2005 that gives the work resonant symbolism: it asks in surreal irony if one chair can hold an entire community above water. Phillp L. Smith’s Portals uses mirrored members to create a 85-foot-wide circular room around a large tree. This room is punctuated by fluorescently lit Space and Light era-inspired geometric niche sculptures. A planter containing the tree comes with incorporated seating. Wife and husband team Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis from Latvia repurpose scrapped wood and other building materials to create their two-storied The Armpit, an homage to the Latvian equivalent of the “man cave.” The installation fetishizes Latvian male’s tendency to crave time alone in the garage and upends a traditionally masculine space by allowing the view to peer into the cave and observe scenes of male solitude and domestic intimacy. Architecture-trained Argentine artists Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt take inspiration from the Mexican bolero song, ¡Bésame Mucho!, for their silk flower-clad monumental text sculpture of the same name. Coachella-based artists Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez, collaborating as The Date Farmers, evoke the Mexican migrant farm worker with their work, Sneaking into the Show, a Chicano Art-inspired totem showcasing a duo of migrant workers and their plow.

#goldenhour 📷: @erubes1

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  Lastly, Robert Bose’s Balloon Chain utilizes variously colored balloons strung together with attached LED lights to create a responsive amorphous sculpture that billows along with the hot desert winds.  
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White Dove or White Elephant?
On March 3, Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center 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. “Gliding through the bleached and sanitized carcass of Santiago Calatrava’s new transit hub is an uncanny experience. Its gleaming white halls are luxury conduits connecting the PATH and subways to several key consumption-and-speculation nodes of Lower Manhattan: The offices of Condé Nast, the WTC observatory at One World Trade Center, the shops at Brookfield Place, and a new shopping center in Calatrava’s above-ground “Oculus.” All of this is held up by rough-surfaced, exposed, bone-like structural supports. In other words, it is a cross between an Apple Store and the Dinosaur Hall at the Museum of Natural History. A generous observer of the space might imagine that the hub’s skeletal uncanniness has a critical quality, that it might lay bare the surrealism of inequality in today’s Manhattan; that even our most fervently styled immersions in consumption, connectivity, and convenience can’t forestall death in the form of slow digestion by an alien animal. (We could even imagine this as the inverse of what once happened at the site: Before the first World Trade Center was built, the district housed the meat and vegetable vendors of the Washington Market. We digested them, now they digest us?) I suspect that might be too generous though. You would have to set aside the pretentiousness and poor scale of the Oculus above ground. And then there’s the unavoidable symbolic misfire of such casual and surreal reminders of death on a site of recent carnage. Perhaps this might have made a decent upgrade for Penn Station (and its slimness could work on that site, wedged on a closed 33rd Street). But, at the site of the former WTC, the symbolism of a skeletal building is astoundingly off. Nonetheless it is difficult to discount the power of being in such a clean, well-lit transit space. For a moment I felt I was in Europe, in a place where infrastructure is taken seriously, and where public spaces receive real architectural attention. What if a New York subway platform had even a fifth of the gleam as the Hub’s PATH platform? What if the state funds directed to the Port Authority for this project had gone to the MTA instead? The hub’s [two billion] cost overruns may have scared off public officials who might otherwise push for bold architectural approaches to public space. But how could the Hub’s gleaming corridors make us hungry for more sophisticated infrastructural architecture? What if this was just one of many redesigned and renewed public spaces in New York, serving not just as bait for corporations and tourist attractions, but for all of us?” — Meredith TenHoor, associate professor of architecture, Pratt Institute “Though a favorite animal has always been the porcupine Though Jersey residents deserve a ceremonial Manhattan welcome Though prayers go up every trip through 1909 trans-Hudson tubes Though grateful that Rockefeller threw the PATH train a bone in exchange for building World Trade When we see people squeeze themselves on the escalator shelf Public space built to deny its public Like hired help at someone else’s white party Making way before incessant marble sweeping and recorded announcements: “Escalators are for passengers only, always hold children by the hand” Or maybe communal residents in St. Petersburg palaces You have easy targets for dismissing architecture’s potential for the universe Multibillion architectural Leviathans on Ground Zero stage Quasi-public funds spent quasi- democratically At least Calatrava’s dove got away” — Hector Design Service “Writing about Calatrava’s WTC PATH station as though it is new is odd. It is certainly not new to anyone who has lived or worked in lower Manhattan over the past four years. Point of fact: The spiky terminal is actually starting to feel familiar. When it was new to the block, the protruding ribs were steel gray and the multiple welded seams were easily visible to the naked eye. Now it’s white and seamless. We are getting used to its strangeness, a familiar fate for lengthy projects—culture changes faster than the construction schedule of an iconic public work. This familiar view aligns with the fact that the public’s experience of most iconic structures is focused on the outside. Here, the outside is the inside and there is a betting chance that the inside will exceed the impact of its exterior form.” — Claire Weisz, architect, WXY “No wound can be healed by a sugarcoated monument to excess that is disconnected from the trains below and pretends to fly. It is embarrassed by the intestinal complexity of our infrastructure and our lives, thinking of New York as a World’s Fair. The pain of losing the twins is only magnified. Yet this is not simply a big mistake by a big name in a big town. The mistake was the idea of inviting such a designer to this site, the idea that we need to be distracted, and the misdiagnosis that we needed an overwhelming visual anesthetic.” — Mark Wigley, professor, Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation “Most of today’s criticism regarding the very large budget of the World Trade Center PATH station is intrinsically related to 9/11, local political problems, and Hurricane Sandy. We can’t blame Santiago Calatrava for any of these events, but some of his design choices seem out of place. He demanded column-free spaces and well-crafted steel parts, which, while they did impact the budget, resulted in favor of a better public space. How the large interior will be used is not yet known, but its iconic value, as well as unique character will be cherished by New Yorkers soon. The fact that a third of the steel had to be manufactured in Italy simply shows us that North America’s construction industry is embarrassingly far behind technologically. However, Calatrava should have reconsidered the design of the Transit Hub after he knew that his operable roof would not be feasible. This is not the first time an architect or engineer has encountered such a situation and good designers ought to be nimble enough to alter the narrative or design strategy of a project when value engineering becomes a new reality. The visual metaphor of a pigeon taking off may well have significant symbolic value for the site, but once the kinetic aspect of the project disappears, one is reminded of Icarus and his unfortunate predicament. The cantilevering steel members appear far more gratuitous now that the structure is arrested in a non-dynamic state. There is no question that New York gained a high-end transportation terminal next to one of its most important memorials and is ready for increasing numbers of commuters to and from New Jersey. Whether its commuters really needed to be bathed in marble remains to be answered. It was an expensive endeavor with a complex history, but it also yielded an amazing new public space for the city.” — Duks Koschitz, associate professor of architecture, Pratt Institute “It’s a great space for future fascist rallies. I envision the room filled with dupes raising their right hands. Yet the aspiration to elevate the public sphere, elsewhere missing, is also here. Some might say, “The space is a little too slick for Trump I’m afraid.” But you could easily chintz it up with some gold leaf and little-fingered slogans.” — Stephen Zacks, urban critic and journalist
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34 Nations to submit works for the Inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale
Despite having an established pedigree within the creative world, London has never had its own Biennal(e)—or even Triennale, for that matter. This year however, the city is opening the Inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale, showcasing work from 34 participating countries around the theme of Utopia by Design. Set to be hosted at Somerset House, a former royal palace on the Strand in central London, the Biennale will run from September 7 to 27 this year. On display will be installations curated by leading design institutions from around the world. Participating bodies include USA's Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, DAMnation (Belgium), German Design Council, Moscow Design Museum (Russia), Triennale Design Museum (Italy), India Design Forum, Southern Guild (South Africa), The Japan Foundation, and Victoria and Albert Museum (UK). Other participating nations will be: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Chile, Croatia, France, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Turkey. Judging the contributions will be an an international advisory committee and jury comprised of established figures within the industry who will "award medals to the Biennale’s most significant national contributions." “We are delighted to announce the first ever London Design Biennale to be held at Somerset House," said Dr. Christopher Turner, Director of the Biennale. "500 years after the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, we are inviting countries to interrogate the contentious theme, Utopia by Design. These responses will demonstrate the power design has not only to strike up and inform debate, but also as a catalyst: provoking real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures. Alongside the exhibition there will be an ambitious talks programme bringing together the very best international thinkers, and I hope that the Biennale will become a laboratory of ideas that might, in their way, contribute to making the world a better place.” London Mayor Boris Johnson also added: "Just as the London Olympic and Paralympic Games brought the world together through sport, they also inspired it through design, with Barber and Osgerby’s elegant torches and Heatherwick’s kinetic cauldron – a great unifying convergence of nations in fire and copper. In autumn 2016 the London Design Biennale will attract designers, as well as visitors, from all around the world for a vigorous exchange of ideas and ingenuity—the currency of London’s important and world-leading creative economy.”
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Hudson Yards Is Reshaping NYC’s Skyline and Streetscape
New York City's waterfront Hudson Yards development is a big deal—literally. The largest private real estate development in the history of the United States, the project comprises 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space and 14 acres of public open space. Hudson Yards is having "a catalytic effect in terms of kicking off an entire new neighborhood," said Related Companies' Michael Samuelian. (Related and Oxford Properties Group have partnered with a number of high-profile architecture firms to design and build the project.) "We don't just focus on a building, but on the relationships between buildings—the spaces between the buildings themselves are just as important." Samuelian and KPF's William Pedersen, whose firm is designing three skyscrapers for Hudson Yards, will deliver up-to-date information on the work in progress at next month's Facades+NYC conference. Hudson Yards promises to reshape the city on multiple scales. On the larger end, "the development of Hudson Yards fills a void in Manhattan's fabric which has prevented the city from having a dialogue with the Hudson River," explained Pedersen. Related commissioned a wide slate of architects "to purposely create variety and juxtaposition, which is the dominant characteristic of Manhattan's iconic skyline," he said. As important as Hudson Yards' impact on New York City's skyline, said Samuelian, is its capacity to create a welcoming streetscape. "We put considerable effort into ensuring we have warm, appropriate materials below 150 feet," he said. "Each building changes as it comes down to grade to give civility to the skyscrapers, to make them more humane participants in the street life of the city." Pedersen concurred. "The dominant characteristic of our buildings is their gestural capacity," he said. "They do not stand in isolation but rather seek an active relationship with every aspect of the context they engage, including the pedestrian on the street." Catch up with Samuelian, Pedersen, and other AEC industry leaders reshaping New York's built environment at Facades+NYC. Register today to secure your space at the symposium and in a lab or dialog workshop of your choice.
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Mayor de Blasio’s $2.75-per-ride ferry service to begin summer 2017
Expanding on the East River Ferry system, Mayor de Blasio will see his $55 million plan for a five borough ferry network come to fruition summer 2017.  At $2.75-a-ride, the system will be managed and operated by a California company, Hornblower, that has a proven track record in the industry, having run services in New York for ten years. Currently, the ferry caters to Manhattan residents and those on the shoreline between DUMBO, Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens. The network will be expanded to escort people to Astoria, Queens; Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; and the Rockaways, Queens. Come 2018, Soundview will service the Upper and Lower East Side. Another proposal looks to extend the service further to Staten and Coney Island, though no completion date has yet been penned in. The cost of a ferry trip will align with the price of a single subway ride. Bicycles may be carried on for an extra dollar. This is less than half of what it costs for a standard weekend ferry fare at the moment. Such a pricing scheme is no accident, either, as de Blasio has his eyes on integrating the network with the rest of the MTA system. According to de Blasio, commuters will be able to enjoy the "fresh air, harbor views, and a fast ride on the open water" on the 20-minute journey between Astoria and Manhattan's East 34th Street, as well as being able to make the most of the ferry on the hour-long commute between the Rockaways and Wall Street. “Today I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his $55 million capital commitment to a 5-borough ferry system and declaring that New York City’s waterfront will be open for all. The ripple effect from this service will be felt throughout the entire city from Bay Ridge to Bayside; from Staten Island to Soundview,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile. “Access to a true 5-borough ferry system will be just another jewel to add to our crown here in southwest Brooklyn, one that will be a boon to small businesses and real estate alike.”
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Last stop! Subway cars dumped into the Atlantic to create artificial reef
At first glance, this may look like state-funded environmental pollution: New York's Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) regularly dumps unwanted subway cars into the Atlantic. However, these New York City subway cars are now a happy home for fish. The MTA aims to create artificial marine environments, similar to those created by sunken ships, that will foster aquatic life. While most of this activity has gone under the radar, the MTA has been dumping subway cars since the turn of the 21st century. To date, after ten years worth of dumping, 2,400 subway cars currently lie on the ocean floor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPzRibWesyo Man-made reefs are nothing new, either. U.S. fishermen have engaged in the practice since the 1830s using structures of logs joined together. Turning relics to reefs with other refuse quickly followed; now unwanted subway cars turn the barren stretches of the eastern Atlantic seaboard into thriving habitats. The subway car shells create surfaces upon which oysters, clams, barnacles, and vegetation can live and grow. They also provide useful hiding places for fish that would otherwise be easy prey in the open ocean, all of which is good news for local fishermen. The move from the MTA appears to be a stroke of financial genius, too. While dumping subway cars into the ocean is convenient, the nonprofit Ocean City Reef Foundation has also paid $600 per car to ship them 30-hours away from NYC and create the reef. So far, six states have jumped on the bandwagon, and Michael Zacchea, director of the MTA Artificial Reef Program, describes it as "the ultimate form of recycling." Additionally, Jeff Tinsman, Delaware's reef program coordinator, has stated that fishing activity has seen a 30,000 percent increase in the vicinity of the artificial reefs. Myrtle Beach is a hotspot for the subway cars: that's where the MTA unceremoniously dumps them off a barge with the help of a mechanical arm. Now at their final final stop, they'll lay there for approximately 40 years with some cars having been in service just 10 days prior. Despite the project's praise and apparent success, there has been skepticism, notably from the National Resources Defense Council. They say the scheme has "less to do with conserving fish than saving and making money. Sport fishers and divers have actively lobbied for artificial reefs for the fish and tourism dollars they can attract. And, by donating old equipment to the cause, private industries and governments save millions of dollars." "You can basically put anything in the ocean and call it a reef as long as it stays there," says scientist Kristin Milligan. It's also worth mentioning Osborne Reef catastrophe, which saw thousands of car tires dumped with good intentions, ultimately required cleanup by the U.S. military.
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State of the City
The fabric of New York—from shoreline to skyline—is getting a thread-count upgrade, much of it due to the success of ongoing projects like Vision Zero, coastal resiliency efforts, and a spate of new public ventures coming down the pike. In his annual State of the City address in early February, Mayor Bill de Blasio championed accomplishments from 2015 and shed light on what’s to come: New Yorkers will see projects and policies that could facilitate new commutes, provide civic and green spaces in the outer boroughs, and reshape neighborhood density via rezoning. Streets and Shores
Two large-scale, controversial rezoning proposals, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning For Quality and Affordability (ZQA), reached the City Council early February. Councilmembers heard public testimony for and against the measures, which are intended to increase the amount of affordable housing and create more interesting streetscapes in exchange for increased density in special districts. The full Council will vote on the proposals—the most sweeping zoning changes since 1961—in March.
Rezoning may change the look of the streets, and it’s almost guaranteed more pedestrians would be around to see it. Since the launch of Vision Zero three years ago, traffic fatalities have fallen annually, with a drop of almost nine percent between last year and 2014. (Although City Hall may not want readers to know that traffic-related injuries spiked by more than 2,000 incidents in the same period.)
The initiative is New York City’s version of an international campaign to end traffic-related deaths through better street design and harsher penalties for traffic offenders, and it has a record-setting $115 million budget for 2016. More than a quarter of that money (plus $8.8 million from the NYC Department of Transportation’s capital budget) will go to road improvements in Hunters Point in Long Island City, Queens, especially at busy nodes along main thoroughfares Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue.
The low-lying neighborhoods are some of many flood-prone areas that will benefit from the $20 billion in climate-change-resiliency measures that launched following Hurricane Sandy. Included in that figure is a massive project coming out of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild by Design competition to protect Manhattan from rising seas. The City has selected AECOM to lead the design and build of these coastal resiliency measures, formerly known as the Dryline (and before that, BIG U). The project team includes Dewberry, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and ONE Architecture. BIG and ONE provided the original vision for the 10-mile-long project, and are now working on Phase One, the $335 million East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. That phase, which should go into constriction next year, deploys a series of berms and floodwalls from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street on the island’s Lower East Side. Phase Two extends the project from Montgomery Street around the tip of Manhattan up to Harrison Street in Tribeca. Although those ten miles of coastline could be safer, the other 510 would still have a lot to fear from global warming. Fortunately, the Department of Design and Construction’s Build It Back RFP is having an immediate impact on those who lost homes to Sandy. By last October, the program, which rebuilds homes ravaged in the 2012 hurricane, broke ground on around 1,900 projects and finished construction on 1,200 others.
Targeted Reinvestment The recovery impetus extends beyond the property line and out into neighborhoods. In his speech, the mayor singled out three outer-borough neighborhoods—Ocean Hill–Brownsville, the South Bronx, and Far Rockaway—for targeted reinvestment. Civic architecture often heralds or spurs financial interest, and these neighborhoods happen to be the sites of three public projects by well-known architects in plan or under construction. Studio Gang is designing a 20,000-square-foot Fire Department of New York station and training facility in Ocean Hill–Brownsville in Brooklyn, while BIG is designing a new NYPD station house in Melrose in the Bronx. In Queens, far-out Far Rockaway, battered by Sandy and isolated from the rest of the city by a long ride on the A train, is anticipating both a $90.3 million, Snøhetta-designed public library and $91 million in capital funds for improvements in its downtown on main commercial roads like Beach 20th Street. On and Beyond the Waterfront In New York, a trip to the “city” is a trip to Manhattan. This idea, however, doesn’t reflect how New Yorkers traverse the city today: Older, Manhattan-centric commuting patterns at the hub are becoming outmoded as development intensifies in the outer boroughs. It’s estimated that this year bike-sharing service Citi Bike will have 10 million rides. The system is adding 2,500 bikes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens to accommodate the increased ridership. The East River ferry service will begin this year, knitting the Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan waterfronts together in patterns not seen since the 1800s. Along the same waterway, the project that’s raised the most wonder (and ire) is the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), a streetcar line that would link 12 waterfront neighborhoods from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to Astoria, Queens. The project proposal comes from a new nonprofit, Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (FBQX), which first surfaced in January of this year. Its founders include the heads of transportation advocacy and policy groups Regional Plan Association and Transportation Alternatives; directors of neighborhood development groups; and real estate professionals like venture capitalist Fred Wilson and Helena Durst of the Durst Organization. The full plan, commissioned by FBQX and put together by consultants at New York–based engineering and transportation firm Sam Schwartz, is not available to the public, although the company’s eponymous president and CEO shed some light on the plan with AN. “Within an area that has so many [transit] connections, what we are addressing is transit that goes north–south,” explained Schwartz. His firm’s plan calls for a 17-mile route that roughly parallels the coastline, dipping inland to link up to hubs like Atlantic Terminal and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. At a projected cost of $1.7 billion, why not choose the bus, or bus rapid transit (BRT)? The team considered five other options before deciding on the streetcar, Schwartz explained. “The projected ridership is over 50,000 [passengers] per day, while ridership for the bus and BRT maxes out at 35,000 to 40,000 per day.” Streetcars, Schwartz elaborated, can make fine turns on narrow streets, reducing the risk for accidents. They will travel at 12 miles per hour in lanes separate from other traffic, and, to minimize aesthetic offense and flood-damage risk, overhead catenaries will not be used.
Although sources tell AN that the city has a copy of the plan, City Hall spokesperson Wiley Norvell denied any relationship between de Blasio’s streetcar proposal and the plan commissioned by FBQX. (Although it’s not unusual for the city to consider the recommendations put forth by outside groups: In 2014, the city adopted many of the Vision Zero recommendations created by Transportation Alternatives.)
Norvell stated that the city’s plan calls for a $2.5 billion, 16-mile corridor that will be financed outside of the auspices of the (state-funded and perpetually cash-strapped) Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) using a value-capture model. The streetcar line’s success, essentially, is predicated on its ability to raise surrounding property values. The increased tax revenues, he explained, could be plowed back into a local development corporation, which would then use the funds to capitalize the project. Critics wonder why the streetcar is being privileged over other initiatives, such as the Triboro RX proposal, a Utica Avenue subway extension, and the not-completely-funded Second Avenue subway, that would serve more straphangers. Though a fare-sharing system could be brokered with the MTA to enhance multimodal connectivity, critics point out that the streetcar line’s proposed stops are up to a half mile from subway stations, bypassing vital connections between the J/M/Z and L. The Hills on Governors Island Are Alive and Ahead of Schedule With a growing population and growing need for more parks, the city is looking to develop underutilized green space within its borders. The Hills, a landscape on Governors Island designed by West 8 and Mathews Nielsen, is set to finish nearly one year ahead of schedule. The news coincided with the mayor’s announcement that the island, a former military base and U.S. Coast Guard station, will now be open to the public year-round. The city has invested $307 million in capital improvements to ready 150 acres of the island for its full public debut. Forty-eight new acres of parkland (including the Hills) will open this year. The Innovation Cluster, a 33-acre business incubator and educational facility that builds on the example of Cornell University’s campus extension on Roosevelt Island, will bring several million new square feet of educational, commercial, cultural, research, and retail space to the island’s south side. The Trust for Governors Island, a nonprofit dedicated to stewarding and capitalizing on the island’s assets, will release an RFP to develop the vacant land and historic district by the end of this year, and construction could begin as early as 2019.
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Governor Cuomo unveils ambitious plans to overhaul New York’s Penn Station
The lead-up to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address feels like a government-backed encore of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Instead of lords a-leaping and swans a-swimming, Cuomo brings infrastructure upgrades a-plenty in his 2016 Agenda. The governor promised funds to the Gateway and East Side Access tunnels, the Javits Center, new Metro-North stations in the Bronx, the MTA (wi-fi a-comin'!), and an airport on Long Island. Arguably the biggest proposal is the Empire State Complex, a $3 billion redevelopment of New York City's Penn Station and its surroundings. The plan seeks to make Penn Station, which sits beneath Madison Square Garden, less of a hellhole—nice, even. Built to accommodate 200,000 daily riders, the station now serves 650,000 people per day. Channeling public sentiment, the governor ripped on Penn Station in his announcement. "Penn station is un-New York. It is dark, constrained, ugly, a lost opportunity, a bleak warren of corridors. [It's] a miserable experience and a terrible first impression." The governor's plan calls for enhancing connectivity between the station and the street; providing wi-fi; and reducing congestion by widening existing corridors, creating better wayfinding, and improving ticketing areas. As hinted at in previous proposals, the massive, neoclassical James A. Farley Post Office, at Eighth Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets, could be converted into the "Moynihan Train Hall," a sun-drenched waiting area for Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and MTA passengers. A pedestrian tunnel underneath Eighth Avenue will connect the train hall with the main station. With this 210,000-square-foot addition, the size of the station will increase by 50 percent. The governor reviewed possible redesign scenarios. In one, Madison Square Garden Theater would be demolished to make way for a block-long entrance to Penn Station, facing the post office. In another, a glassy entrance, with skylights, would be constructed on 33rd Street. The street would be closed and converted into a pedestrian plaza. A third, more minimal scenario would add entrances at street corners and mid-block. In 2013, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) hosted a competition to rethink Penn Station. MAS highlighted designs four firms—Diller Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)—for an improved Penn Station. In addition to improved passenger flow, each proposal imagined the station as a civic hub and neighborhood anchor. The governor said that this would phase of the project would be completed first. The rest of the overhaul could be complete by 2019, an amazing feat in a city where infrastructure improvements can drag on for decades. The Empire State Development Corporation, the MTA, Amtrak and the LIRR will parter with private developers to spearhead the project. $2 billion will go towards the Empire State Complex, while $1 billion will go towards "retail development" on 7th and 9th avenues. $325 million is expected to come from state and federal governments. The rest of the project will be privately funded, in exchange of revenue generated by commercial and retail rents. Cuomo will be issuing invitations to private developers, with an April 2016 due date. Currently, Vornado Realty Trust manages land around Penn Station, though it's unclear whether this relationship will continue.
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Aarhus Bling: James Turrell working with Schmidt Hammer Lassen to design ARoS Art Museum Expansion
While the world has been discussing how much Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video borrowed from James Turrell’s installations (Hint: a lot*), ARoS Aarhus Art Museum in Denmark announced that the artist is collaborating with Danish architecture firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen on the museum’s new expansion. “The Next Level” expansion project will contain a 12,900-square-foot subterranean gallery and two semi-subterranean art installations, The Sphere and The Dome. Intended to “bring the museum into the elite world of modern art museums,” the extension will cost an estimated $32 million. Schmidt Hammer Lassen originally designed the space in the early 2003 and is working with the museum and the artist to retain the building’s original integrity so the expansion will feel seamless and natural. The firm also worked with Olafur Eliasson on Your Rainbow Panorama, which opened last year. “The Next Level project will develop the museum horizontally in contrast to the existing vertical movement and it is exciting to work with the great lines spanning from the river to the square of the Aarhus Music Hall. Our studio is not just designing a new room for a new artwork, we are co-creating the space and the installation simultaneously with James Turrell,” Morten Schmidt, founding partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen said in a press release. It seems that Turrell is having quite the week. In addition to the AroS expansion, it was also reported that Yvette Lee of the Guggenheim and Whitney Museum will be the new director of the Roden Crater in Arizona (The crater’s completion date has still not been released.) Responding to Drake's video set*, Turrell had a few select words. "While I am truly flattered to learn that Drake f*cks with me," wrote Turrell in a statement from his lawyer via Vice, "I nevertheless wish to make clear that neither I nor any of my woes was involved in any way in the making of the ‘Hotline Bling' video." If you want to decide for yourself, we recommend watching the music video below and then glancing at a few installations. (If you want to go further down the bizarre rabbit hole, AN has also previously reported rumors from CityLab that “Hotline Bling” is about poor city planning.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxpDa-c-4Mc
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New York City launches interactive maps that reveal the minutia of neighborhood-level data
Busybodies and neighborhood know-it-alls rejoice: today, New York City, in partnership with civic data managers Vizalytics, launched a beta version of neighborhood.nyc, a new website that maps street-level information derived from 311 calls and city agencies. While this information was and is available in the NYC Open Data Portal, it often required time and high-level sleuthing to sort through mounds of data. The city's new website, neighborhood.nyc, pulls from open data feeds to streamline and map information in the data portal, allowing residents to filter results by neighborhood, or categories, including: MTA, traffic, public health, and quality of life. A search of Tribeca (AN's home neighborhood) revealed markers for noise complaints, street closures, restaurant inspection reports, and contact information for police, fire, and elected officials. In the coming months, the city will invite community leaders to become page administrators, allowing them update their neighborhood's home page images, post community events, or promote local business. To ensure broad access, the site is available in 13 languages. Each neighborhood has its own searchable URL. The index lists over 400 districts famous and obscure, including the twee portmanteaus that are definitely not a thing.
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This Boston architecture firm believes virtual reality could create a revolution in architectural rendering and model making
Showing off buildings may be a task that is no longer constrained to simple two dimensional paper or the slick rendering. Virtual Reality is quickly approaching mainstream and architecture firm Tsoi/Kobus & Associates is already taking advantage of the emerging technology. The Cambridge, MA–based practice is implementing software used by virtual reality games to place clients into computer generated 3D renderings in order to deliver a more immersive feel of what the future space might look like. In practice, clients can walk round virtual buildings using Revizto, a cloud system, which architects can invite their clients to use. The experience is made possible thanks to a pair of Oculus virtual reality goggles which allow the user to interact with his or her virtual surroundings in real time as well as providing a first-person view.
"All of this can be done before a contract for a building is even awarded and could eliminate the need for creating life-size physical mock-ups out of plywood—making the whole process much more efficient," the Boston Globe's Katie Johnston wrote about the still-in-development concept. One would have to speculate, however, on how much time it would take to fully mock-up a CG building compared to making a 3D model or rendering. It's likely only a matter of time before new architectural rendering software that speeds up the process catches up with the technology. Luis Cetrangolo, the architect responsible for implementing the idea, told Johnston that the experience could become dizzying after about five minutes, and so far only one client has been subjected to the software.
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Not a car in the world: Nashville neighborhood abstains from use of cars for a whole week

While major cities in Europe and across the world are experimenting with the car-free lifestyle, the American South is not likely on anyone's radar as the next to embrace the trend. A neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, however, has promised to not use cars for an entire week, leaving them at home as part of the "Don't Car Campaign."

Having started on September 19, 30 participants will go carless until the 25th. “Parking has been a big issue here,” said Jamie Brown, a member of the Nations Neighborhood Association (NNA) board speaking to the Nashville Business Journal. “The residential density is getting higher. One [house] goes down and two or three go up,” she said. “Now we’re starting to see condominium and apartment units." Elaborating on the parking difficulties in the area Brown went on to say: “We’re worried about how [new development] is going to affect our overflow parking in the street. We don’t have sidewalks in our neighborhood. The developers keep telling us this is a walkable neighborhood, saying it’s close to downtown. … We wanted to test that concept.” The NNA campaign to go car-less highlights the outdated transit system currently in place, adjudged by the Nashville MTA as insufficient for the growing local population. The city, according to the Nashville Business Journal, is fortunate in that it is walkable and pedestrian-friendly with plenty of bike lanes. Abstaining from car usage then shouldn't be that much of an issue. “People in other neighborhoods have reached out and told us this is a great idea,” Brown said. “We hope the campaign could be done by other neighborhoods.” The team of 30 who will record and document their experiences seeks to be a leading example of how a population can get by without being dependent on cars. They also want people to start seeing how capable their transportation infrastructure really is.