Search results for "New York City Department of Transportation"

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SOFTlab’s “Nova” pavilion brightens cold New York nights with psychadelic light
Suburban folk mark the change of seasons with spring peepers, the sound of leaf blowers, and first frosts. City dwellers rely on other environmental cures: pumpkin spice lattes, heat season, and festive public art installations. Last week, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) and the Van Alen Institute welcomed crowds to SOFTlab's Nova, the 2015 winner of the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition. Perched inside North Flatiron Public Plaza at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street, Nova invites passersby into a kaleidoscopic interior to view area landmarks—the Empire State Building, the Flatiron, and the Met Life Tower—on its mirrored surfaces and through its many exposures. When activated by sound, LEDs pulse to intensify the psychedelic visuals. The design has definite antecedents in SOFTlab's pavilion at this year's SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. Here too, the firm partnered with 3M to create a multicolored neon canopy that showcased the company's products. Van Alen and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership invited New York–based architecture and design firms Bureau V, Method Design, Sage and Coombe, Studio KCA, and SOFTlab to submit proposals for the competition. Competition jurors included Van Alen and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership directors and board members; Michael Bierut, partner, Pentagram; Aleksey Lukyanov, partner, Situ Studio; and Wendy Feuer, NYC Department of Transportation's Assistant Commissioner of Design + Art + Wayfinding. "The installation illustrates how interactive public art can change the perception of an environment thereby allowing people to experience it in a new way," Feuer explained in a statement. "We count on organizations like the Partnership to commission these exciting installations making NYC streets ever more inviting." This is the holiday design competition's second year. Last year, INABA won the competition with their installation, New York Light. See the gallery below for more images of Nova.  
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Planning East Harlem
Brian Godfrey / Flickr

In the coming years, wide swaths of New York will land on the city’s drawing board for comprehensive rezoning. In September 2015, the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) released the East New York Community Plan. The plan, now in its public comment period, calls for increased density and affordable housing via mandatory inclusionary zoning in a largely low-income Brooklyn neighborhood. A city initiative, the planning process was organized by the DCP with input from local groups.

In East Harlem, however, residents, community groups, and facilitators flipped the script. Stakeholders are collecting residents’ feedback on their neighborhood for the DCP’s input. The group’s project, the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, began in May 2015 and targets the area governed by Community Board 11 (CB 11). The project’s meticulous approach to community-based planning has the potential to impact neighborhood planning citywide.

The project partners are city council speaker (and area representative) Melissa Mark-Viverito, CB 11, the Manhattan borough president’s office, and social justice advocacy group Community Voices Heard. New York’s WXY Studio and Hester Street Collaborative are facilitating the development of a draft of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan. Other participating organizations include a charter school, labor unions, a tenants’ association, the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), and El Museo del Barrio. These groups lead steering committees that help draft and approve recommendations.

To all parties, planning goes beyond zoning to encompass the individual and social context. Adam Lubinsky, WXY’s managing principal, emphasizes that the planning is entirely community driven, and is not about showcasing the vision of a particular designer or firm. So far, hundreds of residents have participated in the process. Ultimately, Lubinsky hopes that East Harlemites “put together key principles and ideas so city planning will look at that and understand that” for the official zoning ultimately adopted by the DCP.

The process starts with a series of community visioning workshops for residents to voice what they love and what they would change in East Harlem. Workshops include a discussion of policies that affect the neighborhood. A session on zoning and land use, for example, uses participatory visioning strategies that “get people thinking about the nature of the area,” said Lubinsky.

Ideas from the workshops are taken up by 11 subgroups, each facilitated by a different stakeholder. Topics include open space and environment, culture, education, childcare, housing preservation, affordable housing, NYCHA, economic and workforce development, senior citizens, health and safety, and transportation. A proposal from a committee headed by the NYRP, for example, suggests that “developers [should] provide green infrastructure within and/or adjacent to new developments” to fortify East Harlem against “threats from climate change.”

The subgroups create proposals that are refined in a public comment period. The final plan will be presented in early 2016 to the DCP to inform the final neighborhood rezoning.

Will WXY and Hester Street be involved in the design? Hopefully, Lubinsky states, the “capacity-building process is self-perpetuating. I don’t know if they’ll need us.”

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With help from a TIGER grant, the Bronx River Greenway is one mile closer to completion
As of October 27th, the Bronx River Greenway is one mile closer to completion. The United States Department of Transportation awarded a $10 million TIGER grant to the city to build three bridges and a three-quarter mile path connecting the South Bronx's Concrete Plant Park with nearby Starlight Park. Though modest in scale, the grant adds momentum to the decades-long movement to green one of the most industrial areas in the borough. Two of the bridges will be built over the Bronx River—one near Westchester Avenues and the other adjacent to 172nd Street. The third bridge will be laid over Amtrak rail lines at East 172nd Street. When this critical link is complete, cyclists and pedestrians will be able to enjoy 1.8 miles of trails along the river, from East 177th Street to Bruckner Boulevard. Currently, recreation-seeking Bronxites who wish to travel between the two parks face a daunting and dangerous trek across a Sheridan Expressway access ramp. The New York State Department of Transportation committed funds to the project in 2008, but the DOT had to negotiate usage rights with Amtrak. The Acela runs adjacent to the Bronx River, in between the two parks. In total, the project is estimated to cost between $29 and $32 million. Federal, state, and local governments, as well as nonprofits, have pledged $12 million towards the project, in addition to the TIGER grant. Still, there is  $7 to $10 million dollar funding gap for the project. Construction will begin June 2016 and be complete by 2020.
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This tangle of highways in Providence, Rhode Island, could give way to a green boulevard
According to Moving Together Providence has the potential to be a "world model for urban design." That is of course, if the city decides to go ahead with their ambitious proposal of tearing up the 6/10 connector which joins Routes 6 and 10 between Olneyville and the interchange with Interstate 95, replacing it with a bicycle- and bus-friendly green boulevard. Currently, the connector makes use of eleven bridges, nine of which are over 50 years old and are in need of repair. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation estimates that such restoration would cost upwards of $400 million. Moving Together argues that instead of using those funds to fix infrastructure that will inevitably have be repaired again, the money should be used to transform the connector into a green boulevard with special bus and protected bike lanes. That's something, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has said she would like to see take place. Today, the connector heavily prioritizes private and commercial vehicle access into, out of, and through the city center. This has been the case for so long now, that the system has since become deeply embedded into Providence's urban fabric. However, these outdated priorities may have to make way for the contemporary demand of more efficient transportation connections that address communal, environmental, and economic needs—the triple bottom line. Naturally, there is a popular concern that removing such a widely used highway will only increase traffic. Nevertheless, urban planner Alex Krogh-Grabbe dispels these fears, saying that traffic is only increased as capacity is added, a concept known as "included demand" whereby people only use a service (in this case the highway) due to its presence. In taking away a travel option, routes into the city are actually diversified, with drivers taking many different journeys via local streets. An example of this can be seen in New York City. In 1973, the West Side Highway was removed due to a partial collapse. At the time, some 80,000 vehicles used the highway daily. Officials were baffled when traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods didn't increase with the elevated highway's closure. Now that highway is a wide boulevard running alongside the Hudson River Greenway with a much used bike route. Another dramatic transformation can be seen with the Cheonggyecheon Highway in South Korea. Here the removal of the much used highway saw a 600percent increase in biodiversity, a 35 percent drop in particulate pollution, and up to a 50 percent increase in land values within the vicinity. Aside from the obvious health benefits, protected bike lanes bring economic reward, too. In New York City, local businesses on the 9th Avenue protected bike lane witnessed a 49 percent increase in retail sales (compared to the borough average of 3 percent). In terms of safety, studies have shown that such lanes can contribute to a 90 percent reduction in injuries per mile and as for reducing emissions, choosing to cycle to work can reduce household emissions by 6 percent—a viable options for half of the United States who live within 5 miles of their workplace. Buses, too, can aid in this area. Dedicated lanes separate buses from general traffic allowing them a faster journey into the city unclogged with traffic, allowing them to carry many more people. All in all, the scheme offers a progressive and viable alternative to the highway that now slices through the city. Whether Providence's residents will take to the idea though, remains to be seen.  
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A Prescription for Place
Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen.
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects

In the early part of the 20th century, design for illness was a grim affair. Driven by the dread of infectious disease—especially tuberculosis and other contagions found in dense, dank cities—doctors and architects turned to the transparent, hygienic values associated with modernism. Cures included moving patients to specialized, isolated environments with unornamented white or glass walls and ample sunlight that were elevated on pilotis and off the unsanitary earth.

Today, we talk about design for health, not illness. Rather than segregate the ill from the well, design strategies now aim to make environments conducive to healthier habits. Contemporary healthcare institutions—recognizing that waiting until acute diseases need high-tech attention is an inefficient form of care—are reaching further into public space and emphasizing prevention, nutrition, primary care, and triage. This more porous relationship between healthcare and communities comes with design implications at the civic, neighborhood, and residential scale. It even affects the personal level, as home care, smartphone health-monitoring apps like the FitBit, and telemedicine reflect and amplify two intertwined trends: the medicalization of everyday life and the deinstitutionalization of medicine.

Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen employs circular plans to organize the hospital as a “small city.”
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects
 

Health at City Scale

In 2010, New York City’s Active Design Guidelines codified what many architects, planners, and public health officials already knew: that built environments could exert pathogenic effects—circulation patterns encouraging sedentariness and elevator overuse, poor lighting and air quality, food deserts, and streets subordinating self-powered movement to motorism. The Active Design Guidelines, however, recognized the need for a different approach and set forth a design philosophy in which existing environments could be redesigned as salutogenic, incorporating exercise and healthier nutrition into spaces and daily routines. From low-hanging fruit like stair prompts and wayfinding signage to the more complex redesign of streetscapes, office buildings, affordable-housing complexes, and entire communities, Active Design has become a globally recognized movement over the ten years of its Fit City/Fit Nation/Fit World conference series, yielding seven supplements to the original Guidelines and assuming institutional form with the 2013 founding of the Center for Active Design.

Some healthcare organizations have long promoted community health alongside hospital-centered interventions: Kaiser Permanente, for example, launched the first of its hospital-based farmers’ markets in Oakland in 2003, anticipating public programs like the New York City Department of Health’s Stellar Farmers’ Markets and Health Bucks coupon program. Civic-scale changes, from smoking bans to pedestrian-friendly street designs such as the wide medians and car-free plazas that began appearing under Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, transform public spaces so that healthy choices become intuitive norms, not exceptions.

Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen.
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects
 

“At their heart the Design Guidelines are built around the idea that we need to get out of the clinic or the hospital setting as the only place that influences health,” said California-based designer and scholar Elizabeth Ogbu. “I’m seeing shades of this all around the country.” Ogbu, a veteran of Public Architecture and IDEO.org, is now founder and principal of Studio O and teaches at Stanford and UC Berkeley. Her aim is to use the power of design to defend principally underserved communities and try to deliver social impact. In London, Nairobi, New Orleans, San Francisco, and elsewhere, her work integrates healthcare and health education into projects that combine spatial and programmatic design, an approach she calls “architecture plus,”and added that “rarely is it about just the object of the building itself.”

Ogbu’s ReFresh project—which opened in New Orleans in October and is spearheaded by Broad Community Connections—is an adaptive reuse of a long-defunct grocery store along a major mid-city thoroughfare. A Whole Foods serves as the anchor tenant for the multifunctional health hub, along with eight other partners onsite, including a community teaching farm, a Boystown center, the nonprofit cafe and youth training program Liberty’s Kitchen, and Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine.

According to Ogbu, health starts in the ReFresh lobby where there’s a station for health education, staffed by 50 percent neighborhood residents, who serve as greeters, information providers, and shopper guides. A trip for groceries might also include financial-management advice and other services. “The beauty of co-location,” she added, “is that here’s a partner you can potentially work [with] so that Boystown may be identifying at-risk kids during its program but can then plug in Liberty’s Kitchen, and those kids could also be bringing in their parents to take classes at Tulane’s community kitchen.”

Ogbu believes this “Trojan horse” works where more direct approaches fail. “Our clients can do a good job of anticipating the needs, but they don’t always have a full understanding of desires,” she said. “The desire is actually the thing that is emotional and that actually binds people to a place and creates behavior change.”

In Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, Francis Cauffman designed these detached, house-like units to give residents a community that is intended to be more like home.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

Local Connections and Flexibility

“A more diffuse, integrated, and almost retail approach to healthcare is becoming much more prevalent,” observed James Crispino, president and design principal at healthcare specialist firm Francis Cauffman. “The institutions are starting to realize that isolating themselves in these campuses and enclaves makes them a little difficult to access.”

Bottom-up attention to individual experience can also reconfigure dedicated medical institutions. Long wait times in hospital emergency departments (EDs) are one indicator that medical needs and resources are often misaligned, and not solely because of the health insurance system’s inadequacies.

Crispino described the patient mix at many institutions as a rough 80/20 rule, meaning 80 percent of challenging cases come from 20 percent of the patients. Decentralization of emergency services can help match the acuity of clinical conditions with appropriate facilities.

Respiratory infections or minor injuries can be better suited to community-based walk-in urgent-care centers, bypassing private physician appointment delays or expensive care in EDs; ambulatory centers can occupy retail spaces under 5,000 square feet—the size of a “big Starbucks,” Crispino noted. Many older buildings in New York and other cities have floor-to-floor heights that readily accommodate imaging and surgical equipment, facilitating adaptive reuse in chains like CityMD or the branded branch clinics of major hospitals like NewYork–Presbyterian and NYU. A new typology, the freestanding ED, has arisen at two of the city’s former hospital sites, the North Shore/Long Island Jewish system’s Lenox Hill HealthPlex in the former St. Vincent’s and Montefiore Westchester Square, formerly the Bronx’s Westchester Square Medical Center.

The ambulatory center for the Hotel Trades Council will include a health center with tech offices above.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

A new ambulatory center that Crispino and colleagues have designed in Brooklyn’s Cultural District for the Hotel Trades Council dispenses with waiting rooms entirely. Opening in 2016, the 12-story, 165,000-square-foot HTC Brooklyn will be a mixed-use building with ground-level restaurants and retail, 65,000 square feet of medical facilities from the second through fifth floors, offices above, and a public park. Information technology obviates queuing: patients call in advance, check in at kiosks or by smartphone, and receive printed directions to examination rooms, aligned in staggered positions along corridors to make wayfinding signage visible at a distance with minimal supervision.

In Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, Francis Cauffman designed these detached, house-like units to give residents a community that is intended to be more like home.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

In Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia (population 9,513 in 2013), Francis Cauffman is engaged in replacing an underused, over-scaled 500-bed hospital with a better-sized 100- to 120-bed facility, freeing up the 200-acre site for other uses, including a cinema, barbershop, bowling alley, parks, a few retail healthcare establishments, and about 1,500 residents in single and multifamily row houses. The senior-oriented plan calls for a pedestrian main street that links to the rest of Fort Oglethorpe and brings the elements of small-town life within a comfortable five-minute walk from any point for residents in their seventies.

Replacing its scandal-ridden predecessor, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles brings dignity and health services back to the neighborhood.
David Wakely / Courtesy HMC Architects
 

In a drastically different environment, South Los Angeles, the decline and resurrection of a major healthcare center is inseparable from a community’s fortunes. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital, a 461-bed facility opened in 1972 as a response to severe local needs highlighted by the 1965 Watts riots, grew so mismanaged and mishap-prone that neighbors called it “Killer King.” Patient deaths became national scandals, and MLK lost its Joint Commission certification and closed in 2007. The facility reopened this August as Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, just days before the 50th anniversary of the riots. The reinvented MLK is “one of the first and most important steps in the reconfiguration of the Watts area,” said architect George Vangelatos, principal and healthcare practice leader of HMC Architects, designers of the renovated and “future-ready” hospital.

A new, glazed entrance lobby, reoriented on the building’s north side, bridges multiple elements (inpatient and outpatient services, elevator cores, and the cafeteria, overlooking a healing courtyard) as a “one-stop shop.” The 131-bed MLK is a full-service hospital in all respects but one, lacking a Level One trauma unit but including a 35-station ED that can fast-track large numbers of uninsured and primary-care patients, many of whom will arrive through a new bus stop or, soon, the expanded multimodal Rosa Parks Station three blocks away. Rapid triage takes place either at the ED’s dedicated entrance or at a station appended to the main entrance, sorting “bellyache and booboo” cases to a nearby outpatient center, low-acuity cases to an urgent-care component, and higher-acuity cases to the ED, said HMC’s Kirk Rose. (Ambulance drivers take trauma patients to St. Francis or County General, as they have since 2007.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles.
David Wakely / Courtesy HMC Architects
 

MLK’s lighting, landscaping, and other visible upgrades give patients an implicit message of respect. Upper floors, once dedicated to offices, were converted to well daylit patient areas, and the $1 million public art program, the largest funded by Los Angeles County, recognizes the relation between aesthetics and healing, a staple of evidence-based design. Yet the most consequential changes may be the features promoting operational flexibility in a fast-changing profession.

“We have a fraction of the EDs we had twenty-five years ago in all of Southern California,” said Rose, citing local activist Sweet Alice Harris’ description of “kids with asthma needing to go twenty miles, and some of them not making it, [and] women giving birth in their house before the ambulance could arrive.” He suggested that the strain of using high-intensity facilities to provide primary care to starkly underserved communities is a reason EDs have been shutting down. “They are a huge financial drains on hospitals, sometimes dragging entire hospitals down with them,” he cautioned.

Denmark’s health policy took the opposite direction in 2008 with a national plan to centralize functions, particularly emergency care, in a few highly efficient “super hospitals” located outside the cities, reported Lars Steffensen, partner for healthcare projects at Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen. “We’re not especially fond of that idea,” he said. “The issue is how to design a very large hospital, a complex functionality in the outskirts of a large city, and our point of view was, we have to deal with this as a small town or small city in itself.”

Emphasizing the continuities rather than distinctions between a healing environment and a fully functional community, Henning Larsen’s medical projects draw from the firm’s extensive sustainability research and its experience with a competition in the center of Milan, where Filarete’s Ca’ Granda (Ospedale Maggiore), one of Europe’s oldest hospitals (founded in 1450, now part of the University of Milan), inspired their thinking about hospitals’ relation to urban density and outdoor space as well as their internal design: “the hospital in the city” and “the hospital as a city.”

Herlev Hospital, Denmark’s tallest building at 28 stories, is undergoing expansion, adding an ED and maternity/pediatrics center (among other components), with an estimated completion date of 2017. Henning Larsen’s design for the 560,000-square-foot extension combines a minimalist geometry with a biophilic philosophy recognizing the value of proximity to nature and sick patients’ high sensitivity to all forms of stimuli. Three discrete circular buildings sit atop rectangular bases, two comprising bed wards and all enclosed courtyards with carefully programmed landscaping and roof gardens. Water features are prominent throughout the scheme and patient rooms have large windows that look out onto rich, seasonally varied foliage. “These outdoor spaces are at least as important as all the indoor spaces,” Steffensen said. He described a spectrum of green spaces: “[The hierarchy goes] from a completely public park-like area, where actually the public from the rest of the city can pass through, to the extremely private garden for the most vulnerable patients in the pediatric department.”

Nationwide, numbers of inpatient beds are slowly dropping as specialty outpatients rise rapidly. “Statistics show that a patient stays in a bed for an average [of] three to three and a half days,” observed Steffensen, pointing out that the design also considers the wellbeing of the staff, who spend every day there. Triage and patient flow are pivotal: they direct 20–25 percent of patients to EDs and 70–80 percent elsewhere. Psychiatric conditions, he noted, account for significant proportions of cases initially believed to be acute somatic disorders, and Henning Larsen’s EDs thus include a common entrance for both types of patients.

The overriding consideration in hospital design, he said, is flexibility. “[Old hospitals] were built for one specific purpose, but they were built so generously, so they could easily transform for other functions.” The tendency toward hospital centralization, he finds, may ultimately be a pendulum that swings back: “We are never to believe that now we have the answer for the healthcare sector for the next century, because that’s not going to happen.”

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon is designed to be accessible for aging-in-place clients.

Courtesy Höweler + Yoon

 

Residential scale: reuniting generations

While Europe looks to a hospital as city model, what happens when home becomes hospital? Demographic trends favor the blurring of lines distinguishing fully independent living (an active “third age”), assisted living, and palliative care in nursing homes or hospice settings. Official estimates predict that by 2035 one in five Americans will be over 65, more than a third of UK residents will be over 60, and a quarter of China’s population will be over 60 (some 336 million people, more than the population of the U.S. today). Whatever medical advances lie ahead, they are unlikely to convince most of the elderly boomer generation that institutionalized life is widely desirable.

Naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs), along with more intentionally engineered age-friendly spaces, offer certain bulwarks against the debilitating isolation of a senior facility. However, in many locations aging in place poses challenges, particularly when elders living in auto-dependent sites reach a point where driving becomes hazardous, or when dementing disorders make familiar spaces strange.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.

Courtesy Höweler + Yoon

 

Cultures that emphasize filial care of elders may have valuable lessons for the age-phobic United States. Integrating built environments across generational lines can help people across broad spectra of ability and disability live in proximity with dignity and appropriate support. The Bridge House, located in McLean, Virginia, offers a strong example of design for multi-generational living. Designed by Höweler + Yoon and built in 2014, the residence appears as a single-family home when viewed from the front, while its rear elevation reveals three attached rectilinear volumes capable of housing three generations. Architect Eric Höweler describes Bridge House as a “post-nuclear-family house” and a potentially replicable model.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.
Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

The clients, first-generation Korean immigrants to the U.S. with adult children and grandchildren, occupy a suite in the smaller of two ground-floor volumes, minimizing use of stairs; the larger, more public volume holds shared programs: the kitchen, family room, dining room, and garage. An elongated upper volume cantilevers across the two ground-floor segments and houses the second and third generations along a single-loaded corridor, with master suites at each end, two central grandchildren’s rooms, and a rear roof terrace. Beneath the bridge, a central void with floor-to-ceiling glazing offers views into nearby woods, creating continuity between nature and domesticity while demarcating the first generation’s private zone. That gesture extends a strategy from another nearby Höweler + Yoon project for aging-in-place clients. The 10 Degree House, designed for the parents of architect Meejin Yoon, places a small courtyard on the narrow site while still observing local zoning’s setback requirements.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.
Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Clad in anodized aluminum panels, the facade treatment reflects the owners’ practical concerns. “They said, ‘We’re going to get old; we’re not going to have energy to get out there and paint the house, so we want a zero-maintenance cladding material,’” recalled Höweler. “You never have to paint it, you never have to stain it, you never have to worry about woodpeckers and other things.” Defying the upstairs-master-bedroom convention of normative American single-family houses, Höweler points out, eases access to essential spaces in the event of future disability. Barrier-free entry ramps and a wheelchair-accessible shower, he added, also make the 10 Degree House exemplary in this regard.

Höweler + Yoon’s Bridge House is a “post-nuclear-family” dwelling that gives each generation its own private zones.
Jeff Wolfram / Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Although Bridge House is already influential—three new clients have commissioned similar projects by the firm—its design required a complex dance with local codes. While courtyard houses inspired by East Asian traditions offer numerous advantages for extended families, they are difficult to reconcile with zoning that privileges the house as an object plopped in the middle of the lot with a large front lawn. “There is something about the zoning that institutionalizes certain kinds of land uses that don’t make a lot of sense,” Höweler noted. “[The courtyard typology] sounds progressive in this context, but it’s totally normal in a Korean context.”

Höweler + Yoon’s Bridge House.
Jeff Wolfram / Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Bridge House essentially integrates three common domestic spaces geared toward seniors into a single building: the granny flat, mother-in-law apartment, and Hawaiian ohana unit. U.S. suburban zoning was commonly enacted for health and safety reasons and more nebulously to protect property values by limiting rental units. Interdependence between seniors, neighbors, children, and health providers is integral to active aging, yet zoning codes arguably express an impulse toward maximal separation of individuals and generations from each other—very twentieth-century, and a far cry from sustainable aging in place design. One suspects that as knowledge accumulates about how different designs affect health, and about how people would really prefer to live, that particular pendulum could swing in the opposite direction.

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Please be Seated: New York City expands its CityBench program and grows ‘Street Seat’ parklets in Brooklyn
If there's one thing New Yorker's won't stand for, it's a lack of benches. After unveiling the 1,500th addition to its CityBench program, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) has revealed that a federal award package of $1.5 million will be used to develop the CityBench scheme further. In addition to this The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has initiated a colorful "Street Seats" program as seating projects gain popularity in the city. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csrcLeTEZaM Over three years ago, an initial $3 million funded the CityBench initiative which pledged to place 1,000 new seats in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Now, according to NYC.gov, a further 600 benches have been promised by 2017. The program aims to bring seating to areas where there are few areas of rest aiding the elderly and disabled, with hot spots being around bus stops and areas with high concentrations of senior citizens. Since the scheme started in 2011, citizens have been able to request benches if they choose. Requests can be made via a website form here. So far over 110 senior citizens have made requests and the program has contributed significantly in aiding the pedestrianization of New York City's streets. As a result, distances that would once upon a time be deemed too far to walk by some residents are now possible with the aid of sufficient public seating. "DOT is proud to install our 1,500th CityBench and receive additional federal funding to continue serving our communities, particularly our children and seniors,” NYCDOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “Not only are CityBenches a valuable urban amenity in this dense city but they also add to the changing New York City streetscape. I’d like to thank our partners at the federal level for their continued support of this much needed project.” Behind the design aspect of the scheme is NYC-based Ignacio Ciocchini who is Director of Design for Chelsea Improvement Company. Focusing on durability and withdrawing the need for constant maintenance, backless and backed styles provide comfortable resting spaces. Made from domestic steel and manufactured in the USA, they are designed to meet the rigorous demands of New York City’s streets and are coordinated with the look of existing street furniture. Street Seats For the people of Brooklyn however, the notion of sidewalk seating is going a step further. The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a non-profit local development organization has begun working with designers Studio Fantástica to produce "Street Seats." These more colorful additions to Brooklyn's sidewalks began popping up in 2014 and have been a huge hit. So much so that NYC DOT has started working with the Studio Fantástica to establish a Street Seats design standard to be used throughout the city. The first example was officially unveiled by DOT on September 11 in East New York and further installments are planned in other boroughs.
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Collaborative Life Sciences Building
Jeremy Bitterman

Just under a year ago, a new medical and dental school facility opened just south of downtown Portland, Oregon. The 650,000-square-foot Collaborative Life Sciences Building and Skourtes Tower overlooks the Willamette River from the new South Waterfront neighborhood, a former industrial area that is undergoing redevelopment.

The field has markedly changed since the 19th century when artist Thomas Eakins painted The Gross Clinic and The Agnew Clinic, harrowing portraits showing a time when instruction took place in massive amphitheaters— students watching anesthetized patients undergo surgical procedures.

The new building, designed by Los Angeles-based CO Architects with Portland’s SERA Architects serving as executive architect, reflects that massive and rapid evolution of medical knowledge and the methods of teaching our future doctors, nurses, dentists, and other health care professionals. CO’s design unites medical departments from three universities under one roof: the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), Oregon University System (OUS), and Portland State University (PSU).

 

The facility is divided into two wings connected by a central atrium and stocked with the latest in medical education spaces and technology. There are the requisite lab spaces, two large lecture halls, and an information commons.

The exterior of the facility is ruggedly clad in standard corrugated anodized aluminum and wood veneer. “There’s an industrial feel,” said Fabian Kremkus, design principal at CO Architects. "There are no rich finishes. It’s pretty prosaic.”

 

Inside, new technologies lead to new types of programs, such as the simulation rooms, which Paul Zajfen, design principal at CO Architects, described as “specialized high-tech requirements that need to feel like an operating room, simulating how a patient reacts.” Exam rooms and areas for briefings and debriefings are equipped with technology to support recording and real-time feedback.

An electron microscopy lab contains one microscope so sensitive that it rests in a special underground foundation, said Kremkus. The foundation, which cost $5 million to build, is designed to block vibrations from the nearby ships moving through the Willamette River.

An open, light-filled atrium at the center connects the Life Sciences Building to Skourtes Tower, which includes a dental school, dental clinic, and labs. “The building relies on spatial dynamism,” said Zajfen. It’s a marked departure from the typical partitioned, fluorescent-lit medical buildings of yesteryear. An installation of multi-colored LED tubes designed by Los Angeles-based artist Pae White hangs from the white atrium soffits, helping to brighten Portland’s drizzly winter days. A large red sculpture resembling a DNA strand by Christian Moeller, another L.A. artist, sits outside at the building’s southeast corner.

 

Interconnecting ramps with seating areas crisscross the atrium, mimicking those diagonal paths found in many campus quadrangles. Zajfen likened the ramps to being on an active cafe-lined street in NYC or Paris. “We want to make buildings act like great cities.”

There are sensitive efforts to maximize daylight as well. Ceilings in the north wing are higher at the perimeter and angle down toward the center to increase the amount of natural light entering the lab spaces.

 

While it took years to develop the legal framework to bring the universities together, the design and building timeline was compressed. They started working on the $295 million building with just a permit for the foundation. The concept was accepted within four months and the project took just three years from conception to completion.

The building achieved LEED Platinum, yet the sustainable features are understated. There are three green roofs. There is a 60 percent potable water reduction compared to similar buildings. The designers took the typical 40,000-gallon tank for reserving fire-prevention water, and upped the storage space so rainwater could be used for flushing toilets. “It’s a five year payback,” said Lisa Petterson, associate principal at SERA Architects. “We really designed the building to solve functional issues.” Rather than focusing on the building envelope, they prioritized energy management, such as recovering heat from labs and the atrium.

 

As is often the nature of an old industrial site, the building lies on contaminated soil. It was cheaper to cap the polluted soil than remove it, explained Zajfen. Building on the site without disturbing the soil was a challenge. “It was a brownfield site,” said Petterson. They devised a solution: repurpose a decommissioned oil rig for the pin piles. “We drove them through the soil to the bedrock without removing the soil,” said Petterson.

The South Waterfront area is growing and there are plans to establish an OHSU satellite campus. The Life Sciences Building is the second OHSU building in the neighborhood. Just under a decade ago, OHSU opened the Center for Health and Healing designed by GBD Architects.

The Portland Aerial Tram shuttles students, faculty, and staff between the two OHSU sites. It opened in 2006 and is the second commuter aerial tram built in the U.S. after the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City. “Other than architecture, our transportation is a bigger driver of our sustainable choices—how people get to the building,” said Petterson.

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Archtober Building of the Day 5> World Trade Center Transportation Hub
World Trade Center Transportation Hub World Trade Center, Manhattan Downtown Design Partnership; STV, AECOM, and Santiago Calatrava A team from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey wowed the crowd of lucky Archtober fans this morning with a full-length tour from the Hudson River to the beating heart of the new World Trade Center. Robert Eisenstat, the chief architect at the Port Authority Engineering Department, was joined by Thomas L. Grassi, a program manager on the World Trade Center construction, and a number of others along for the ride. These dedicated people, along with many others, have been working on the site since “the day.” Today was a little reminiscent of that day, over 14 years ago—a crisp sunny day with only wisps of clouds. It is hard to visit the site at all, for some of us. But now because of the sublime poetry of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub—they call it the “oculus”—a brighter future can be imagined. It is a futuristic creature born from the construction chaos that still defines the neighborhood, with white, spiked ribs rising up like the barbs of a chalky peace dove’s feather. Peace is not easy. I kept thinking, we have to tell the crowd how complicated this all was, how many levels, how many logistical nightmares, how many times its seemed like it could never be completed. I have to do my thing about how architects are problem solvers, which of course is true. But some problems are spiritual ones, hard to put in the brief for a nearly $4 billion transit integration project. This is where the architect’s special poetry comes in. Whatever you may say about this project, and there has been a lot of negative press with Santiago Calatrava certainly taking some knocks along the way, it is uplifting.  The spirit soars; the room has an ineffable majesty of great architecture that defies easy explanation. While the Port Authority was getting its “network cohesion” out of the tangle of subway lines and trans-Hudson modalities, it also got a cathedral that looks like the waiting room for heaven. wtc-trans-hub-04 Cynthia Phifer Kracauer is the managing director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture & Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989–2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. Tomorrow: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, Entry Building, and Arch.
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You Know I’d Bike 1,000 Miles: New York City celebrates milestone achievement in bike infrastructure
The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) announced this week that it has created 1,000 miles of bike lanes (map) across the five boroughs. The 1,000th mile, on which just opened along Clinton Street in Lower Manhattan, is one of twelve new miles planned for 2015. Unsurprisingly, Brooklyn has the greatest stretch of dedicated bike lanes (310.7 miles), though Manhattan has the most lanes (around 122 miles) entirely separate from car traffic. New York City's 1997 Bike Master Plan called for 1,800 miles of bike lanes across the five boroughs. Current projects focus on creating safer streets, maintaining continuity between existing bike lanes, and meeting demand where ridership is high. As part of the Vision Zero transportation safety initiative, Woodside, Queens, is getting protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard (a.k.a. the Boulevard of Death) between 73rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue. As part of a Complete Streets program, an east-west bike lane along 165th Street in the Bronx will connect north-south routes in the borough. This year, after some delay, upgraded bike lanes came to the Pulaski Bridge. The bridge is a key conduit between Brooklyn and Queens that has seen its ridership more than double since 2009. The full list of proposed and in progress bicycle route improvements in New York City can be found here.
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New York state unveils new pedestrian and cyclist bridge now under construction in Upper Manhattan
New York State Department of Transportation (NYDOT) Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll has revealed a $24.4 million bicycle and pedestrian bridge at 151st Street in Manhattan. Crossing the Henry Hudson Parkway and the adjacent Amtrak line, the new bridge will connect West Harlem with the Hudson River Greenway. For cyclists, the bridge will be a welcome addition to the area as it is set to provide stair-free access between the greenway and the intersection of 151st Street and Riverside Drive. The development is the second piece of positive news for bikers in the area. According to Streetsblog, earlier this year, New York City's DOT (NYC DOT) installed a "two-way bike lane on 158th Street as part of a larger package of bikeway improvements linking the Hudson River Greenway to the High Bridge." The historic High Bridge reopened to cyclists and pedestrians this past June. Spanning 270 feet, the new bridge will feature ADA-compliant ramps on both sides and a dramatic archway overhead. This is the second and final installment from the NYDOT within the 71st Assembly District to improve access to the Hudson River waterfront, the first of which came in 2006 with the $2 million ramp and stairway at 158th street. Driscoll in the announcement said the project will cost $24.4million of which some will also go toward new landscaping and lighting within the area.
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Milwaukee’s New Gateway
A proposal by James Corner Field Operations.
Courtesy James Corner Field Operations

As high-profile developments in downtown Milwaukee creep closer to the city's iconic, Santiago Calatrava–designed art museum, a $30 million design competition aims to unify the two with a new civic space. The so-called Lakefront Gateway Plaza project attracted 24 proposals, with four teams emerging as the finalists earlier this year: GRAEF, AECOM, Office of James Burnett, and James Corner Field Operations each lead a group of designers and consultants vying for the job.

In conceptual renderings recently made public, the design teams presenting visions of serpentine pedestrian bridges, illuminated sculptures, and globular dollops of lush public lawn. Public officials will pick a winner later this year. They are currently soliciting public feedback through community meetings and a website.

Courtesy City of Milwaukee
 

The project is a collaboration between the city of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and the state of Wisconsin, but it is seeking private funds for construction (each of the four finalists received a $20,000 stipend from the city to complete their designs). Project briefs asked designers to stay within a budget of $25 million to $35 million, but at publication city officials could not say who would pick up the tab.

“I have not heard any limitations on where we will seek funds,” said Jeff Fleming, spokesman for the Milwaukee Department of City Development. “So, foundations, government grants, individual philanthropy, and even fundraisers are all possible.”

 

Courtesy Graef
 

GRAEF, Milwaukee-based engineering, planning and design firm, has in their corner PFS Studio, Dan Euser Water Architects, Rinka Chung Architecture, and Newaukee. Their proposal frames the 1.5 acre space as an "urban confluence," and tucks a curvilinear pavilion beneath the descent of a wending footbridge lined with tall grass. Towards Lincoln Memorial Drive it presents a sheltered glass facade, while towards Lake Michigan it cradles a water feature and ice rink. A snake-like sculpture lifts off the ground, and is shown glowing purple in one firework-splashed rendering.

 

Courtesy James Corner Field Operations
 

James Corner Field Operations, most famous for their work on New York City's High Line, leads a team that includes LaDallman Architects, Robert Silman and Associates, Kapur & Associates, Mailu Knode, Dan Euser Water Architecture, HLB Lighting, and Applied Ecological Services. Their plan emphasizes green features such as stormwater retention, and presents a series of spaces in a "procession to the lake." Two oval mounds of green space cleave off the lakefront terminus of the bridge, which gradually meanders toward ground-level after reaching the site.

 

Courtesy Office of James Burnett
 

Houston-based Office of James Burnett is a landscape architecture firm responsible for Chicago's Riverfront Plaza, and has on their side Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Buro Happold Engineering, Focus Lighting, Shore Art Advisory, K. Singh & Associates, and Fountain Source. They cite Frederick Law Olmsted's nearby Lake Park as historic inspiration, as well as modernist Dan Kiley’s Kiley Gardens. Melding the two influences, they hope to create “a playful, continuously evolving dialogue between natural systems and the built environment,” according to the proposal. Renderings show a year-round caravan of food trucks and clusters of drumlin “play mounds.”

 

Courtesy AECOM
 

Global design giant AECOM's team is URS, Tillotson Design Associates, Cynthia Reeves, and Delta Fountains. Dubbed “The Hanging Gardens of Milwaukee,” their concept winds its pedestrian bridge over the site, spiraling around landscaped areas and a terraced amphitheater.

The plaza project is part of a larger infrastructure program that includes improvements to lakefront streets and highways, as well as bike infrastructure and private development. Its planning follows a controversial widening of Lincoln Memorial Drive by Wisconsin's Department of Transportation last year.

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Growing Tall and Going Big: San Francisco studied density bonuses to generate affordable housing
This Fall, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal made by the city's Planning Department concerning the possibility of "relaxing" height and density limits for many of San Francisco's western neighborhoods. If enacted, the program expects to transform some of San Francisco's uninhabited residences and unused space into affordable housing units for newcomers. The city is exploring a density bonus program, which allows developers to gain building height among other incentives. The proposal, according to the San Francisco Business Times, would allow developers to build two-stories taller than normally allowed. Most parts of San Francisco restrict heights to four or six stories. Other provisions would allow parking minimum waivers and reduced setback and side yard requirements. That's all in exchange for building affordable housing. San Francisco hopes the plan could spur 7,000 new units of housing, 3,000 of those affordable. The proposal has been met with strong opposition from some neighborhood groups, the Business Times reported. Some San Francisco residents – in particular the Sunset and Richmond districts – are reluctant to expose themselves to neighborhood change. Western neighborhoods claim rezoning would render the community vulnerable to conflict, citing dense construction, parking concerns, and impacts on the transportation system. “Building density just for the sake of density isn’t the answer," Planning Department Chief John Rahaim said in a statement earlier this year. "We need to be concerned about quality of life and living space.” He acknowledged, however, that the city is in need of new affordable housing.