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The Walt Disney Family Museum has no amusement park rides. Instead, the museum, which opens tomorrow, is devoted to the life and times of the man synonymous with so many of those rides, and the approach is appropriately more academic. From the design standpoint, the $110 million project is a chance to see what architects and designers can get away with inside the historic sanctum that is San Francisco’s Presidio—it is the largest preservation project in the park to date—especially in light of recent setbacks.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is the product of the Walt Disney Family Foundation, hence the name—it is not meant to be a place expressly for families. The museum is in an 1890s barracks building right off the main parade ground. Behind it, the old Post gymnasium houses the museum offices, extra exhibition space, and the archives. The front façade of the barracks has been meticulously preserved: Per the Presidio Trust’s decree, original windows and glass are in place, with a secondary pane installed behind to block noise.
In back, a two-story glass curtain wall catapults the building into the modern age. Created by walling off the courtyard that separates the barrack’s two wings, it houses the largest gallery, adding an additional 15,000 square feet of space. The move shows that even if Don Fisher’s vision of a glass box on the Main Post was not to be, the Presidio is still open to some architectural creativity.
“It was very tricky to make everyone happy,” said Jay Turnbull of Page & Turnbull, the firm that renovated of the building. Among the challenges, the exhibit designers wanted the new addition to be a blank slate inside, but the Trust wanted the old exterior walls to be visible. In the end, the brick walls of the wings are exposed within the glassed-in gallery.
The building is also notable for being the Rockwell Group’s first go at an entire museum. The New York design firm is known for creating slick interiors for hotels and restaurants, and some of that razzle-dazzle shows up here and there. The elevator is designed to look like a vintage train car, with pull-down shades and red velvet curtain; the bathrooms forgo historical context with brightly colored sinks set in white curved Corian countertops; and the lower level is exuberantly tiled with a pattern based on an Disney illustration. The showpiece gallery, inside the addition, has a long walkway that curves around a scale model of Disneyland as Walt originally envisioned it. Suspended above is an immense “video ball.”
For the most part, though, the museum is a fairly straightforward recount of Disney’s past. (For those wondering why the Walt Disney Family Museum is here in San Francisco instead of LA, Orlando, or Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri, it’s largely because his surviving daughter, Diane Disney Miller, has lived here for the last 20 years.) The displays, alas, do not include animatronics a la Country Bear Jamboree. The most newfangled element at the museum is the “touch tables,” which allow visitors to navigate video and images by touching icons projected onto wide tables.
After all the display cases set in rooms with exposed brick, one of the last galleries provides a welcome dose of Tomorrowland. Interior and exterior design come together in a narrow space with a sculptural white wall on one side and all glass on the other—a sky box with a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. On the wall, the nature documentaries that Disney produced are playing. But the real star in this gallery is the architecture of San Francisco, past and present.
A slew of new hotels have debuted in California over the last year, riding what will likely be the last big wave of development for some time due to a slowing economy and dismal travel forecasts. They’re the lucky ones: The results from the November 2008 STR/TWR/Dodge Construction Pipeline show that 93,219 hotel rooms nationally have been abandoned in various stages of development, from preplanning to in-construction. That’s a 75 percent increase in such abandonments since 2007. Other data from the Pipeline also point to a slowdown: Through November 2008, 1,565 hotels nationally were in construction, down from November 2007, when there were 1,609 hotels in construction.
In California, most new properties were a long-time-coming response to hotel room deﬁcits in many tourist-heavy areas. In Beverly Hills, for example, a luxury hotel had not been built from the ground up since the early 1990s, while in San Francisco, the 32-story InterContinental is the largest hotel to open in the city in two decades. Two major California cities saw massive and much-needed room additions adjacent to their convention centers: the 420-room Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, and the aforementioned 550-room InterContinental San Francisco, located near the Moscone Center in SOMA. (Los Angeles will have to wait until 2010 for its 54-story Ritz Carlton, part of the downtown development LA Live.) Across the U.S., this seems to be the case as well: The country has seen an exceptionally slow growth of only ﬁve percent in new rooms since 2001, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
This cautious expansion led to an age of conservative design for California hotels. Even the most anxiously anticipated debut in the state, the SLS Hotel—the ﬁrst venture into the hotel niche from nightlife wunderkinds SBE Entertainment (famous for their Philippe Starck-designed LA bars and restaurants like Katsuya, S Bar, and XIV)—went for wit and whimsy rather than over-the-top, cutting-edge design. It’s a huge departure from the sleek, cold modernism of the recent past—think the Standard or Mondrian of the late 1990s.
“Instead of a very sparse, modern design, the approach we took is multi-layered in color and texture and decor and accessories,” said Theresa Fatino, chief creative officer for SBE. “Guests can come back over and over and feel that same sense of discovery, these feelings of rejuvenation and delight and wonderment and surprise.” This sensation—that they’ll discover another Starck design pun, or find a new favorite dish on José Andrés’ menu—aims at bestowing upon guests a feeling of belonging to some perpetual in-crowd.
While the boutique concept is alive and well—Thompson Beverly Hills and London West Hollywood both nod aesthetically to their New York predecessors—these properties have seen the same style evolution, towards warm, sumptuous luxury and a sprinkling of nostalgia.“In the LA area, there’s a trend of capturing the glamour of old Hollywood and incorporating it into a design relevant to today’s lifestyle,” said Bryan Oakes of Gensler, project architect for the Hotel Palomar in the Westwood neighborhood of LA. The Montage Beverly Hills is modeled after the Mediterranean-inﬂuenced estates that sprang up in the city during the Golden Age of Hollywood, while Hotel Palomar and the London West Hollywood reference the same period with dramatic, sparkly interiors and Hollywood-referencing art. The Thompson Beverly Hills indulges a noire-ish theme, with deep, dark interiors that are signature of the designer Dodd Mitchell. Here, black leather upholstery, black lacquered wall panels, and glossy black wood ﬂoors convey Chinatown chic.
California continues to capitalize on the renovation of its older hotels by elevating former discount motel-like properties to luxury status, said Oakes. “One of the successes of Palomar is that we took a dated 1970s building, originally built as a Holiday Inn, and elevated it to a chic four-star hotel.” This seemed to work best for new boutique operations like the Thompson Beverly Hills, which inhabits a crisp white modernist box that was once a 1960s Best Western, and the London West Hollywood, a revitalization of a tired, nondescript Wyndham Bel-Age. For the green-aspirational, a renovation could also be spun as a huge sustainable selling point: The Good Hotel in San Francisco combined two aging hotels into one eco-friendly property, complete with room appointments made from reclaimed materials and the option to contribute to a carbon offset program upon check-in.
While the hotel pool has traditionally been the place for designers to show off, a growing emphasis is focused on creative public spaces that are twists on the hotel bar. Whether these are seamlessly melded indoor/outdoor lounges or multi-functional lobbies, designers are giving guests more reasons to come out of their rooms and hang out. “Trends ebb and flow, but I think that one area that should always be emphasized is that of the social gathering space,” said David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, who calls for public spaces that are “open, transformable, and comfortable.” He outﬁtted the ﬁrst W’s for the Starwood chain and designed the Aloft (scheduled to roll out 500 locations worldwide over the next ﬁve years) with three major areas that encourage congregation and socialization: a communal lobby area with gaming and pool tables, the wxyz bar, and a 24-hour snack bar. The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel is broaching yet another approach: a warren of spaces blending bar, lounge, restaurant, and boutique for design retailer Moss, allowing guests to nibble and sip (and shop) in a variety of environments throughout an evening.
One trend perfectly timed with the sagging economy is that of the discount design chain, which has swept into Southern California with the opening of two new ventures: Andaz is Hyatt’s ﬁrst design hotel, and Starwood’s Aloft designed to deliver W-level accommodations at Holiday Inn prices. “One major trend in the last few years has been the recognition that the everyday traveler also appreciates a high level of design,” said Rockwell. (Aloft’s ﬁrst California location is in Rancho Cucamonga). “We transformed this type of otherwise nondescript hotel into a chic oasis by using materials and amenities that are state-of-the-art, but simple and affordable.” The 257-room Andaz was designed by New York–based Janson Goldstein to give personality to the former “Riot House” Hyatt on the Sunset Strip in LA, with a variety of colorful appointments from local retailers that add high-end flavor to simple, modern rooms. (Of note to music fans: The hotel’s famous balconies, once launching pads for televisions and other after-party detritus during the hard rocking years, have been replaced with glassed-in sunrooms.)
According to trend-tracking site HotelNewsNow.com, 2009 national occupancy is only predicted to dip slightly, down 3.9 percent, but that’s where the discount design trend might win over guests: In a December 2008 survey of business travelers by Orbitz for Business and Business Traveler, only half of the respondents expected to travel less in 2009, but 79 percent of travelers said they have been pressured to cut costs. For those hitting the road, there still might be a few new places to write home about.
The theme was “Out There” but the experience was over the top as the leading lights of the profession plus a smattering of young up-and-comers from around the world produced a heroically-scaled display of performance architecture.
By Julie V. Iovine
To make sharp critical observers out of his audiences, German playwright Bertolt Brecht inserted blackout moments into scenes. The 11th International Architecture Biennale offered its own alienation effect in a dark-as-pitch room—a forecourt to the vast two-mile long Arsenale exhibition space—featuring an installation by Rockwell Group with Jones/Kroloff involving towering interactive screens where scenes from architecture’s favorite movies (Cleopatra,The Fountainhead, A Clockwork Orange, etc.) as complex XY-axis projections leapt up in response to the crowd moving through. This Hall of Fragments set a seductive stage for the subsequent installations commissioned from 24 architecture practices by Biennale director Aaron Betsky. The brief was to show architecture “beyond building,” that is “revelatory, utopian, and critical.” Visitors marched past a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of gargantuan works: elegantly embalmed prototyped extrusions by Asymptote; Coop Himmelb(l)au’s Oz-like Feed Back Space first envisioned in 1969; and Zaha Hadid’s brand-perfect acid green furniture/architecture. Most breathtaking in this sequence was Frank Gehry’s Ungapatchket, a three-story timber model of a Moscow hotel that the architect is designing, slabbed over with clay in the spirit of Cai Guo Qiang’s ephemeral Rent Collection Courtyard figurines shown in New York last winter, but originally exhibited in the Arsenale in 1999.
Even if you had not already been over to the Giardini, the other part of the Biennale dedicated to national pavilions and their individually curated exhibits, and seen the Estonian’s big yellow “pipeline” providentially and ominously running down a gravel slope to the steps of the Russian pavilion, you might have questioned the relevance of the Arsenale’s fabulously blousy installations. The European press has already come down hard, especially on the nudes brought in by French architect Philippe Rahm in an effort to demonstrate space-making through convection air currents instead of walls. The concept was certainly clever, and might have been enough for an art installation, but it cannot pass muster at an architecture fair if it doesn’t actually work. Betsky tried to make an end-run around buildings that “just stand there” in favor of architecture that inspires and “transforms one’s perception of one’s world.” And while there was plenty of food for thought about the latest way to turn data into structure, from artist Matthew Ritchie & Aranda/Lasch’s scale-less, fractal-turned-structural-doily to M-A-D’s AirXY, which replicated the technology of Hall of Fragments with LED lights instead of movies, many of the installations looked as if they could too easily end up as catalog fodder for the amusement of galleristas.
The urban problems that preoccupied some architects—the lives of singletons for the Dutch collective Droog; the pile-up of unrecyclable and ghastly plastic toys for Greg Lynn—didn’t seem global enough. Pros at performance architecture like Diller Scofidio + Renfro did not disappoint with a video installation that mashed up interviews with gondoliers in three different Venices—Italy, Las Vegas, and Macau—along with anyone’s belief in authenticity of place. UNStudio, too, satisfied with a slitheringly stunning rendition of a villa fit for Zoolander that served as a screen for footage from an Alexander McQueen fashion show.
But as one continued down the vast Arsenale where in the 12th century, entire battleships could be built in a week, the impression that today powerful minds were bent to far less mighty tasks was hard to ignore. Ten months ago when Betsky set to work, presidents and vice presidents had not been nominated, Georgian borders had not been crossed, and hurricanes both natural and financial had not rocked our foundations. Now that they have, architects working in high concepts rather than hard realities seem somehow passé.
By Anne Guiney
After the machined perfection of so many of the Arsenale’s massive installations, the drawings of Roma Interrota provided the show’s first real jolt. The recreation of a 1978 exhibition of the same name was inspired by the 1748 Nolli Map of Rome. The drawings show the eternal city reimagined by 12 architects, including Aldo Rossi (pictured), Paolo Portoghesi, Robert Venturi, Leon and Robert Krier, and Colin Rowe, who were themselves monumental practitioners in the 1970s. The reinstallation was an eye-opener for a new generation, including Casey Jones and Reed Kroloff, who collaborated with David Rockwell on the video installation Hall of Fragments. For them, the juxtaposition provided a revealing contrast in the ways architects look at cities. “It has the stillness of a time capsule,” said Kroloff, “and it’s amazing to see how radically the tools of expression have changed.”
The original Roma Interrota was organized by then-mayor of Rome Giulio Carlo Argan, and took as its premise the idea that since the publication of Giovanni Battista Nolli’s famous New Plan for Rome, planning in the city had been stymied and destructive. Argan asked architects to start where the 230-year-old plan left off and dream of what the city could be. Revisiting the new reinstallation at the Arsenale, Argan wrote, “It is comprised not of proposals for urban planning, naturally, but of a series of gymnastic exercises for the imagination whose course runs parallel to that of memory… [Here] are hypotheses for the Rome which would have resulted had man continued to imagine it and not to plan it (badly.)”
At the mouth of the Grand Canal, the city’s largest public garden is dotted with 35 national pavilions and a series of outdoor installations. Inside, a few curators showed how architecture can indeed be pushed “beyond building,” with results ranging from poetic to pragmatic.
By Anne Guiney
By taking the Biennale’s theme “Out There—Architecture Beyond Building” as more guideline than directive, curators of more than 30 national exhibitions in the Giardini found expansive and fertile ground for their ideas. Expansive enough, in fact, to encompass almost anything. Freed from the physical limitations of building, architecture could relate to everything.
The two most prevalent (and often intertwined) ideas curators explored were politics and the environment, but the work ranged from the poetic approach of Japan’s Junya Ishigumi, who created a dreamland of flower-structures, to Russia, whose installation of a competitive architectural chess game could be read as a mirror held up to contemporary politics.
Perhaps the most immediately satisfying project was not in a pavilion, but running between two. Estonia put a real-scale gas pipe on the ground between the German and Russian pavilions to represent a Gazprom proposal to build the Nord Stream pipeline connecting the two countries through the Baltic Sea. It was wonderfully concise in its ability to make a political argument physically manifest, and to raise questions about issues from regional power dynamics to environmental damage.
Poland’s curators took the seldom-sexy idea of recycling and gave it some style by repurposing their pavilion as the Hotel Polonia, complete with beds. Inside, there were a series of photographic triptychs showing a building as it looks today and then one that Photoshops it into the future. A 2004 basilica becomes a fantastic water park, since after a while the only people attending church would be tourists anyway, so why not? Likewise, a university library is rebranded as a mall, and cheekily, a Foster-designed building became a convincingly ominous jail. The mixture of solid ideas and a light touch led the jurors to award it the Golden Lion.
Germany, too, drew attention to the use and abuse of nature, though without the humor of its neighbor. To highlight the way we often squander our resources, the curators did some squandering of their own: The neoclassical German pavilion’s portico was lit with 32 massive spotlights, which gave it an unfortunate eerie glow, and each visitor passing underneath felt their heat. The physical sensation made an effective point, and while there was a notice inside that team members were reducing energy consumption to offset the 50,000 kilowatts of electricity the piece will ultimately consume, the choice seemed dubious. A second inadvertently funny moment was an indoor grove of apple trees under Gro-lights, fed by an IV-like sack of radioactively bright liquid that suggested nothing more than Soylent Green.
Japan’s curator Junya Ishigumi took a very different stance on the issue of our relationship to nature, and imagined a world where architecture was not set in a landscape but inextricably a part of it. The seemingly blank white walls of the pavilion were covered with dozens of drawings of greenery-clad structures in different scenarios, and outside were a series of delicate glass greenhouses filled with flowers. Its dreamy beauty made it a favorite, but the ideas it raised were really no more far-fetched than much of the more ecologically-minded work in the Italian Pavilion.
By William Menking
When word first went out that the theme of this year’s architecture biennale was “Out There: Beyond Building,” I suspected that Aaron Betsky would take a more formalist approach and not include the kind of social activism that has recently engaged an increasing number of architects frustrated by a sense of impotence in the face of the country’s crumbling infrastructure and frayed social fabric. I turned to Teddy Cruz, whose housing proposals for Hudson, NY, we’ve covered in AN, and he started a conversation with Pratt Institute’s Deborah Gans. Soon the team also included Andy Sturm of the PARC Foundation and Aaron Levy of the Slought Foundation, two non-profits often involved with architects pursuing alternative practices. There seemed to be an opportunity to provide a counterpoint to the main exhibition with something that focused more on new approaches to engaging with communities and shaping local infrastructure.
Time was not on our side: We had only four months to conceive, develop, design, ship, and install everything down to the guestbook to Venice. Right at the start, Leanne Mella, with years of experience as a biennale coordinator and with the State Department, warned me, “I’ve done exhibits in Africa, and it can be a difficult place to mount an exhibition, but Venice is tougher!” and then she joined our team, an unbeatable vote of confidence.
Our goal was not modest: We were basically trying to develop and encourage an architecture culture that doesn’t yet exist in the United States. And while we included efforts like The Heidelberg Project, where abandoned houses in Detroit have been encrusted by recycled refuse collected in the neighborhood, or Kyong Park’s New Silk Road video montage, the impulse was to provoke new thinking about architecture, not to feature art projects.
While some of the work we decided to include (and that you may have read about in the last issue of AN) was very critical about aspects of American culture and the built environment, some of it was equally proactive about our problems, because they are in fact hard to believe. The reality is that in the last 25 years, this country hasn’t really invested in our infrastructure, and so a lot of the projects in the pavilion looked at that rather than at buildings in order to make a connection between an architectural sensibility and a larger social infrastructure. Finally, I believe that architects are by and large urbanists who love cities and want to make them function better, and the projects we chose to include represented a range of ways to do just that.
Inside the Italian Pavilion, 56 exhibits showed the range of experiment across the spectrum, from Lebbeus Woods’ drawings to architecture’s future as seen through the I Ching. With a tone set by the early, ground-breaking work of masters like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Coop Himmelb(l)au, the work suggests that the spirit of the new is alive and engaged.
By Anne Guiney
The Italian Pavilion in the Giardini promises an overview on the state of progressive practice in architecture, and while it certainly delivers, it does so in a way that is alternately provocative, satisfying, and dispiriting. Curator Aaron Betsky chose to devote the building that once housed the host country’s installation (now relocated to the Arsenale) with the work of 55 experimental firms, many of whom are younger, like MOS, NL Architects, and LOT-EK, and seven of the avant-garde’s old school, most now prolific builders, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Morphosis. Most of the masters pulled work from their archives—Zaha Hadid’s drawings were particularly spectacular, and a reminder of her extraordinary talent. A noteworthy exception was Herzog & de Meuron, who teamed up with Ai Wei Wei, their collaborator on the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, and made a simple but beautiful installation from the bamboo poles so prevalent on construction sites in China.
Almost all of the work on display is drawn from projects that were underway long before the Biennale, and Betsky has grouped like with like. Teddy Cruz’s cross-border work in Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego is catercorner to FAST’s planning and community organizing project in the Arab-Israeli town of Ein Hawd, while Field Operations’ large-scale and long-term efforts in landscape urbanism share a room with the Colombia-based Husos’ engaging Proyecto Cali, which wonderfully manages to include the restoration of a habitat for Monarch butterflies, an exhibitions building, and a soap opera called Butterflies and Passions.
One of the more striking things that emerges from the contrast Betsky sets up between the old-new and the new-new is the preoccupation with creating a more socially engaged practice over form-making, and the use of different means to tell a story. Along with Husos and its racy telenovela, AOC developed a Monopoly-based board game to help Venetians rethink their shrinking city, and J,P:A Jones Partners put together a Marvel-style comic book projecting 50 years into the future of Dubai. CUP’s intentionally crude Xeroxed posters diagram a link between sneakers and poverty, while Urban Think Tank’s colorful wall of posters from Caracas, Venezuela is as suggestive of a vibrant public realm as any in the show.
Yogi Berra, as usual, had it right: The future ain’t what it used to be, and utopia as we know and love it is in fairly short supply in the pavilion. One of the more provocative pieces calls the very idea into question: Abitare editor Stefano Boeri and a student team took on the eco-enthusiasm so prevalent in the pavilion and beyond and ask what it would really be like if nature once again was deeply integrated into our cities. Boeri’s Sustainable Dystopias presents three scenarios—the city of energy devices, the city of vegetable surfaces, and the city of wild animals, each of which pushes the proposal to its logical conclusion and points out the pros and cons. As neat as it might sound, the piece argues, there’s also a downside to having elk and moose wandering through protected greenbelts in a city. NL Architects also presents cut-n’-paste what-if scenarios in Virtual Realities that are a little uncomfortable, in spite of their humor. The ice caps are melting? Let’s make one out of trash, since there’s plenty of that! The two projects stand in marked contrast to the visually appealing yet thin suggestion represented by ma0/emmeazero’s Footprints, whose vision for new types of public space seems more grounded in the possibilities of Photoshop than in a meaningful sense of how people use city streets and parks.
Las Vegas has become a barometer for architecture, though it’s usually a little bit behind the times. It was all glamorous modernism in the 1970s, but by the 1990s, local developers here were obsessed with postmodern fancies that brought the world close, and down to size: The Venetian had its own Grand Canal, and the Paris arrived with a scaled-down Eiffel Tower, while New York, New York went so far as to put maintenance staff in uniforms like those worn by Sanitation workers in the five boroughs. At the turn of the century, developers moved toward upscale, lifestyle-oriented resorts and boutique hotels like the Wynn and the Hotel at Mandalay Bay.
Now another shift is underway: The MGM CityCenter, still under construction, is creating iconic buildings in a dense, mixed-use environment. Believe it or not, Vegas is selling urbanism—or at least a local version of it—and taking a page from cities around the world by using big-name contemporary architects to generate interest.
The $7.8 billion, 18-million-square-foot CityCenter will be in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip (on the site of the former Boardwalk Hotel and Casino), and is set to open next year. Touted as the largest privately funded development in U.S. history, it will include hotel, casino, residential, cultural, retail, and entertainment uses connected via indoor and outdoor pedestrian passageways. The major buildings were designed by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, Foster + Partners, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Pelli Clarke Pelli, and the Rockwell Group, with Gensler as the executive architect, and Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn as master planner. The marquee names continue to the art program, which will include work by Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Frank Stella, and Henry Moore.
While CityCenter’s 76-acre site measures about the same as most of MGM Mirage’s properties, it will be about three times as dense, said Sven Van Assche, vice president of design for MGM Mirage Design Group. The push for density was first necessitated by economic conditions: The sharp rise in land prices in the city forced planners at MGM Mirage (which owns a number of Vegas casinos including the Bellagio, the MGM, and the Excalibur) to consider other revenue sources when they first conceived the project in 2004.
“We quickly realized we were getting ourselves into a very urban condition,” said Van Assche. Mixing uses, he pointed out, is not new in Vegas, and most developments now contain hotels, casinos, retail, and even condos. But nowhere is that mix so tightly packed, so large, and so full of programmatic variety.
Van Assche explained that in order to promote CityCenter’s variety, MGM looked for several architects, and asked each to design something contemporary. New projects in the city are typically designed by the same group of local firms, but Van Assche said they decided to go beyond the standard modus operandi and “look at the project with fresh eyes.” This jump, he added, meant putting architects not accustomed to the Vegas scene through “an intense learning process.”
The interaction of the architects, said J.F. Finn, managing director at Gensler Nevada, started out with very few guidelines, but once a vision began to emerge, planners started to rein things in. Working with so many designers helped spur what Finn termed “happy accidents,” like the plaza between the casino and the Crystal. That came about when designers decided that Pelli and Libeskind’s buildings should have some breathing room. Likewise, a charrette between Libeskind and Jahn helped change their respective projects from one unified, mixed-use building to two very distinct entities.
All seven buildings will be connected by a meandering network of walkways that meet at larger nodes, usually marked with public art or a water feature. “We wanted to create places where people could gather that weren’t near slot machines,” said Finn, in explaining the nature of these nodes. Because of Vegas’ temperature, he added, the majority of these passages will be indoors, although a few outdoor walkways and bridges, landscaped with varied greenery, will act as connectors.
Is this urbanism? Finn argues that it is, and points to the functionally indoor nature of projects in other extreme climates like Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Libeskind’s project was originally planned to be outdoors until the team realized it was not feasible. Still, having a retail project at the very front of a development in Vegas is rare. Inside it will resemble a small city with large public spaces, curving walkways, and changes in scale from small nooks to a 200-foot-high grand stair.
Van Assche and Finn both noted that other Vegas developers are looking at mixed-use and iconic buildings. Boyd Gaming’s Echelon will contain five separate hotels, 9,000 square feet of retail, and two large theaters. The newly-opened Planet Hollywood has a massive retail complex at its front door, and Harrah’s is reportedly considering a mixed-use, multi-building mega-development as well. “I think it’s the evolution of where the city is going to go,” said Van Assche.
Like anything in Vegas, CityCenter’s goal is to attract attention and stand out from the pack. And so it appears that like the flashing neon signs before them, the pyramids and Grand Canals will give way to Libeskind’s jagged steel forms and Jahn’s diagonal towers, the newest icons in a city full of them.
Sam Lubell is the California editor of AN.
Kohn Pedersen Fox
Unlike the majority of CityCenter, which attempts to introduce a new form of urbanism to Las Vegas through a pedestrian-friendly, open-access environment, Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Mandarin Oriental goes out of its way to create an isolated and exclusive world of luxury and tranquility, well-insulated from the crush of the city. Sited along the Strip, the 46-story, 1.2-million-square-foot hotel is separated from the development by its main access road, and is further delineated by a high-walled courtyard planted with bamboo trees. “The entry sequence was very important,” said KPF principal Paul Katz, “because this is a five-star hotel, guests will arrive from the airport in a limo and step right out into the world of the Mandarin.” From the courtyard, visitors take a shuttle elevator to the sky lobby, which is on the 26th floor; and from the sky lobby there is the option to ride down to the 400 hotel rooms, or up to the 215 full service condos. The building’s high-performance curtain wall combines insulated aluminum panels with ceramic-fritted, low-e coated glass in a 60/40 mix to create high levels of transparency while mitigating heat loading from the sun. AS
ARIA Hotel & Casino
Pelli Clarke Pelli
As the centerpiece of MGM’s development, Pelli Clarke Pelli’s 6.1-million-square-foot ARIA hotel and casino epitomizes the project’s spirit of interconnectivity, featuring easy or direct links to the buildings by Libeskind, Foster, Viñoly, and Jahn. It’s also permeable in other ways: In a revolutionary gesture for Vegas, the architects opened up the casino and convention center to daylight and views to the exterior. The facility also features a black box theater for the Cirque du Soleil, 4,000 hotel rooms, and a pool area arranged within a podium and tower. The podium’s plan of two interlocking circles helps to limit views down the long corridors to the tangent of the circles, creating more intimate environments within the massive enclosure. The tower also plays with views. The high-tech curtain wall combines fritted, low-e coated vision glass panels with shadow box panels of glass to achieve a shading coefficient appropriate for the desert sun while maintaining a consistent materiality. Also, the cladding over each room features an angle, or prow, which invites guests to look out at oblique angles, to take in more of the cityscape and mountains. AS
Rising above CityCenter’s retail and entertainment district, Helmut Jahn’s Veer Towers distinguish themselves with a seeming feat of engineering. Inclined in opposite directions at 85 and 95 degrees respectively, the towers appear attracted toward each other, conveying the distinct relationship between them. The off-kilter forms, however, reflect the pragmatic logic of unit layouts. “Structurally, it looks challenging, but it’s not so mysterious,” said Francisco González Pulido, principal architect with Murphy/Jahn. The structure is created from a three-floor module composed of repeating unit plans. The 37-story towers will include approximately 337 units made up of studios, one- and two-bedroom residences, and penthouses ranging from a modest 500 to over 3,000 square feet. The transparent reflective glass facade with perforated aluminum framing includes fins to promote energy-efficient climate control. Yellow ceramic frit encased in the glass modulates sunlight and provides residents with privacy, while creating a checkerboard pattern on the facade, boldly expressing the building’s program on its skin. DR
Studio Daniel Libeskind
Daniel Libeskind’s shopping and entertainment hub called the Crystal holds the center of the complex, not so much like the anchor of a mall, but organically, like a heart with main arteries and secondary conduits to enhance free-flowing circulation. “I am aiming for a new sense of orientation where people are not locked in a box with one way in and out,” said Libeskind. “It’s a shaped space with its own topography. There are many ways to come and go or move from level to level. It’s a work in the round.” The 650,000-square-foot structure is lapped in metal petals that break down into discrete volumes with large interstitial openings that Libeskind described (in terms of scale) as “beyond any skylights ever known.” Restaurant, entertainment, and retail interiors are being designed concurrently by the Rockwell Group and billed as a “natural and electronic landscape” for shopping and dining. Nesting between Foster’s Harmon and Jahn’s Veer, the Crystal aims to create the cosmopolitan urbanism of a European piazza within a highly climate-controlled environment. “This is no longer the signs-and-signals Vegas of Venturi,” said Libeskind. “It’s no longer just about surface. This is true urban growth.” JVI
Foster + Partners
If the strategy of CityCenter is to break out of the prejudices surrounding Las Vegas as a city of low-brow kitsch, then the Harmon Hotel, Spa and Residences, designed by Foster + Partners, is meant to be a defining structure that brings gravitas to glitter. Towering above Planet Hollywood across the Strip and diagonally across from the Paris’ faux Eiffel Tower, its walls are glass. Bear in mind that transparency has always been a taboo in this city of windowless casinos, where gamblers don’t know whether it’s day or night. Eschewing decadence, Foster has fashioned a column that borrows more from the Gherkin, his insurance headquarters in London, than from anything in Vegas. No surprise. In his film Casino, Martin Scorcese was telling us that the accountants were pushing aside the mobsters and cowboys, and the Harmon reads as a monument to the corporate domination of Sin City. There are no winks and no gambling in Foster’s austere column, but there’s something very Vegas all the same. Building higher and more expensively is another way of raising the ante, and Vegas gamblers love nothing more than a high-stakes game. DD
Vdara Condo Hotel
Rafael Viñoly Architects
In the Vdara Condo Hotel, a 57-story glass ascent of three overlapping curves, Rafael Viñoly echoes the message of the Foster tower at the nearby Harmon Hotel: There is no kitsch-theming here, beyond a cool corporate assurance that says, “Vegas, not ‘Vegas.’” Gambling won’t be among the offerings at this non-gaming facility, and owners of the more than 1,500 condominium units won’t share a lobby with retirees stampeding to the slots. Wedged into the dream-team ensemble, the Viñoly crescents stand in a corner—alone as any 57-story building can be, a block from the Vegas strip, at a distance from the Crystal, Daniel Libeskind’s retail and entertainment hub. And unlike the Crystal, the Vdara does not repeat forms that are signature elements in its architect’s style. The Viñoly design offers the promise of modernist, even minimalist elegance, once again echoing the larger ensemble’s ambition to refine—and perhaps redefine—Las Vegas. Yet the glass curves send a mixed message: It is part Miami hotel that opens to the sun and sand (the desert, rather than the beach), and part garden corporate headquarters (although the packed garden of highrises in CityCenter barely gives Vdara room to breathe). Its nostalgic simplicity gives off the welcoming feel of Brasília, rather than a hastily-built Dubai. But not too welcoming. The graceful curves form an enclosure as they turn their back to the street, which is marketed as exclusivity. And exclusive it is: 900 square feet in the Vdara starts at $1.3 million. DD
LEEDing Las Vegas
With all the blinking lights, splashing fountains, and blasting air-conditioners, Las Vegas is probably at the bottom of any list of places one would associate with sustainable design. But with rising energy costs and environmental awareness becoming increasingly mainstream, CityCenter hopes to be a model for green thinking in Sin City. Though all the buildings at CityCenter will seek LEED certification, most of their sustainable features are conventional and relatively modest: low-VOC paints, extensive use of daylighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and drip-irrigation for the landscaping.
Like the city’s privatized monorail, however, sometimes large-scale private development can yield green results through the creation of efficient infrastructure. Much of the development’s energy will be generated at an on-site cogeneration plant. The plant will recycle the heat generated by producing electricity for the hot water used throughout the complex.
Also, by striving to create a truly urban place with density and a diversity of uses, residents and visitors to CityCenter will be less reliant on cars and taxis, which, with gas prices continuing to climb, seems a very wise wager for the future. AGB
The story of New York development in recent years has been defined by mega-projects, the large-scale urban moves unleashed by a rip-roaring market, sweeping rezonings, and once-in-a-generation super-deals. But the current economic meltdown has made for a very different mood. Certainly not chastened—this is still New York, after all—but circumspect, even cautious. A number of ambitious projects we featured here in the past—the proliferating towers at Queens West, or the 14-acre Sky View Parc in Flushing—are still gallantly moving ahead. Yet other grand plans have been parceled out in phases, pared back, or quietly put on ice.
To take stock of this changing landscape, we’ve gathered a selection of new projects—large and small, flashy and unfussy—that are filling in the streetscape and skyline, from hotspots like Williamsburg to newly beckoning corners of the Bronx. Together they offer a portrait of a city shaped less by the bravado of master builders than the block-by-block business of architecture. And that might not be a bad thing at all.
Produced by Jeff Byles, Danielle Rago, and Olivia Chen.
Above 59th Street
37-41 HILLSIDE AVENUE
AMSTERDAM AVENUE SITE
180 EAST 93RD STREET
535 WEST END AVENUE
Between 14th Street
250 EAST 57TH STREET
250 WEST 55TH STREET
800 10TH AVENUE
55 WEST 46TH STREET
455 WEST 37TH STREET
450 HUDSON BOULEVARD
316 11TH AVENUE
15 UNION SQUARE WEST
57 IRVING PLACE
Below 14th Street
385 WEST 12TH STREET
350 WEST BROADWAY
FIVE FRANKLIN PLACE
99 CHURCH STREET/FOUR SEASONS HOTEL AND PRIVATE RESIDENCES
375 PEARL STREET
NOBU HOTEL AND RESIDENCES
166 MONTAGUE STREET
GOWANUS CANAL HOUSING
THE STAR TOWER
10 COURT SQUARE
EAST COAST 4
ARVERNE BY THE SEA TOWN CENTER
TIFFANY STREET APARTMENTS
ST. ANN'S TERRACE
AN: We’ve been thinking about restaurants and their role as public spaces, and the way they interact with and influence the life of a neighborhood. In different ways, both of you have worked to expand that role. Danny, this neighborhood has changed a lot [20th and Broadway] in the last 15 years, and must have seemed on the fringe when you decided to open. What brought you here?
DM: It’s hard to give language to what was a gut feeling. With Union Square Cafe in 1985, it was an infatuation with the Greenmarket. In 1993, this was still sort of a no-man’s-land, bizarre but true, but the architecture in the neighborhood wasn’t going to change dramatically. It is also a classic feature of New York to have pockets of industries, and here, they were on the wane: In Union Square, there was the men’s garment district, and literally you couldn’t get down the sidewalk on 16th Street without bumping into rolling garment racks; you knew that wasn’t going to last. In Madison Square, there were wholesale industries, like toys, tabletop, kitchens …
DR: How much of that was a conscious process?
DM: When I realized I’d dumbed into making it work at Union Square, I thought, ‘Well, this can work anywhere,’ and started looking for dying industries. In 1985, I walked around the Meatpacking District and thought it was one of the world’s great stage sets. Later on, it hit with a combustibility that made it completely unattractive for me.
DR: Now you’ll have to wait for its revival in 50 years! It’s like South Beach without the beach.
DM: It doesn’t have a natural balance of residences and businesses; it’s still a stage set. If you’re the kind of chef who likes Las Vegas, this is where you would do it in New York.
DR: Thinking back 15 years to when we designed Nobu, Tribeca had a lot of the characteristics you’re describing, like great architecture, but it also had residential pockets. I think part of the appeal for people going to restaurants is the exotic journey to a place where they didn’t live, the notion of a destination. The Meatpacking District is by-and-large design boutiques and restaurants, as opposed to being embedded in a fabric that’s kind of growing around it.
DM: I always felt that if the balance tipped either way too much, it would be less appealing. Why? Because I wanted to be busy at lunch and dinner. Midtown was never interesting to me because it was all business, and the Upper West Side, because it was all residential.
DR: There is also something about authenticity, in being the quintessential embodiment of the neighborhood. Think of the Theater District: I’m a huge theatergoer, and after all these years, I still go to Orso’s on 46th Street because it feels like an integrated part of the community. As a designer, that’s fascinating to me. Design has become a bigger discussion point in restaurants—which it wasn’t when we started 22 years ago—and what has become clear to me is that there has to be a leader—a restaurateur or a chef who has a vision that the design can relate to. If not, it becomes sort of an alien object. I was going to Union Square Cafe long before I knew Danny, and what I admired about it most is that you couldn’t put your finger on the single ingredient that made it work. That’s what we strive for in design: to have the design embedded in the concept of the owner and the operator in a way that it provides a back story; then design decisions aren’t arbitrary.
DM: The neighborhood is the frame that provides the context, and the restaurant has to belong in that frame. I wanted to pick neighborhoods that I felt comfortable in. One of the reasons you don’t see me in Las Vegas (so far) or you wouldn’t see me in the Meatpacking District, is that it’s not who I am.
DR: Another week, you never know!
DM: But it’s not going to ring true. I always thought that, like Union Square, I’m weird, but not too weird, and normal, but not too normal.
DR: You know it’s interesting you mentioned Vegas, which is nothing like this city. Just take the circulation in Vegas, for example, where it’s a one-way corral—there’s a way in, there’s a way out, and you’re largely directed like cattle. I think most people who look at restaurant design don’t understand that the biggest decisions really aren’t what things look like. The biggest decisions are about choreography, circulation, scale, a series of views that unfold, the ability to get the food to the tables, how the first 15 people feel—all of the basic decisions that break down the scale of the room. And all of those decisions have to be driven by a relationship with the restaurateur or chef.
AN: Those are all urban design issues, too.
DM: I think a good designer is like a really good shrink. The information is there, you just don’t know how to pull it out of your subconscious. This is what I’ve loved about the relationships I’ve had with architects. It was dumb luck that I met Larry Bogdanow, who designed Union Square Cafe. I didn’t know the first thing about architecture. I told him I wanted a place that looks like an architect was never in there, and that you’d never know it had been designed in 1985. But what I learned was that all these small episodes that happened because of that architecture are what people wanted. Here at Gramercy Tavern, I wanted to create episodes so that, as a diner, wherever you are, you’re in your own neighborhood. Another neat thing happened—David probably figured this out 30 years ago, but I hadn’t—when you create more small communities within the restaurant, you multiply the number of corner tables!
DR: Another fascinating thing is the collaboration that goes on in a restaurant. It’s a social place in which you are eating food that is handmade for you, so you have the ability to make links between all of these things and the texture of a place. I think more than ever, since we’re in this world of sameness and can replicate a design through CNC milling a million times, that the notion of craftsmanship and sense being touched by the human hand is increasingly important.
AN: We wanted to ask you both about private programming in public spaces, in particular the controversy over replacing the restaurant in the old bathhouse in Union Square. On the one hand, there’s been a seasonal restaurant there, Luna Park, for years, but many argue that it amounts to a privatization of public space.
DM: It’s a fascinating issue for me. Any question that begins with ‘What does the community want?’ always leads me to wonder, ‘Well, who is the community?’ Whether or not you ever went to Luna Park or ever believed it should have been put smack dab in the middle of Union Square, there were lines of people trying to get in every single night. There was clearly a community of people who loved having a place to go. To some degree, it made others feel safe because there were people in the park. These are people who may not go to community board meetings or get politically active. Then there are also preservationists, and people who think there shouldn’t be any money exchanged in a public space unless it’s for the public good. It’s kind of like religion—no one religion can be all right unless the rest are all wrong. All these constituencies need to be balanced: There is a playground constituency, a Greenmarket constituency, a food constituency, a dog-run constituency… I’m very comfortable, for example, with the model we have at Shake Shack, where we have a partnership with Madison Square Park Conservancy so that we can return money to that park.
DR: The opportunities for architects to work with public/private partnerships to create interesting new opportunities is going to grow exponentially—with tighter budgets, there’s just less and less public money. We’ve been thinking for three or four years about playgrounds, and wanted to establish a pro bono, not-for-profit group in New York. I realized early on that we had to build in parents as a constituency—the people who use playgrounds had to be comfortable with it. And so when we were making our presentation—it had to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Seaport, and Community Board 1—it was hard for them to understand at first that there was no reason for us to do this other than to contribute, and we volunteered to raise money to endow the organization. That’s when the light bulb went off for them. Now we’re approached by every community in New York that wants a playground. They’re all private groups for public places.
DM: People are okay with playgrounds because you don’t have to pay to use them.
DR: But the link that I’m making is about the programming of public spaces. And one of the things that we haven’t touched on, Danny, though it is an interesting point, is to look at the city inside-out. Look at the role of restaurants, and by extension hotel lobbies—New York’s inner spaces. During the 1920s, which was the golden age of hotels in this country, lobbies were an extension of the public realm; they’re private spaces but opened to the public. The city looks so neat and organized from the air, and then when you get down to the ground, it’s much messier and it’s much more vital—that’s what is fascinating.
DM: I moved to New York for good because I had fallen in love with the Algonquin lobby.
DR: I moved to New York because when I was 11, we came into the city, went to lunch, and then went to the theater to see Fiddler on the Roof. And with both of those city experiences, a kind of light bulb went off and I knew that this is where I wanted to be. I got a sense of the relationship between communal spaces and storytelling, and it was a real eye-opening experience for me, to see the relationship between audience and performer.
DM: Well, that’s New York. In fact, it’s the dialogue between whoever is performing and whoever is the audience, everywhere. Those were my first experiences, too—it could have been theater, it could have been jazz, it could have been in a restaurant. There’s always someone who has something to say and someone who’s there listening. That’s what the whole city is about.
SWEETGREEN, WASHINGTON, D.C., CORE
Reuse was the motto in designing Sweetgreen, a grab-and-go yogurt and salad bar near Georgetown University. The owners procured a 500-square-foot burger franchise whose exteriors were inspired by Tudor cottages. CORE changed little on the outside except to turn the red roof green. On the interior, reclaimed hickory planks run from the door to the floor, walls, and ceiling; a custom stainless steel serving counter focuses attention on the nutritious offerings; and brightly-lit menu boards reinforce the fast-food motif.
Dutch artist Menno Schmitz designed Merkato 55, the latest Meatpacking District food palace, with the same panache he brought to his silk screens of famous American jazz musicians and not-so-famous Dutch rock bands. Here, Schmitz recasts African art and design in a contemporary American restaurant. From the massive silk-screened portraits of Africa’s many nations to the beaded chandeliers, the space has an unmistakable African character that artfully avoids pastiche.
Company is AvroKO’s second foray in Las Vegas. Located in the Luxor Hotel, the space is the result of creative thinking after the client asked for a lodge-look. Literal not being AvroKO’s style, they deconstructed various big-country motifs—think toboggan blades and wooden skis—and stacked them to create screens between the main dining area and a floor-to-ceiling wine wall. Over-scaled light wheels made of iron brackets and translucent fabric update the notion of saloon chandeliers, and a grid of aspen trunks greets guests at the entrance.
Located in the Palmer House Hilton, Lockwood is hard by Millennium Park, making it a good watering hole for architecturally inclined visitors. An island bar unites the historic lobby and contemporary restaurant, while square amber shades enclose original Tiffany chandeliers. “We wanted to create a hybrid, to be complementary without trying to replicate,” said Jennifer Johanson, principal of EDG. “We think Bertha Palmer [who first helped plan the interior] would have wanted to be on the leading edge.”
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY
RISCALA AGNESE DESIGN GROUP
A CNC-milled honeycomb forms the backdrop for this wine bar at New Brunswick’s Heldrich Hotel, its palette crafted to show off the beverage of honor. “For any material we chose, we tried to superimpose a glass of wine next to it to see if it would look good,” said principal Fadi Riscala. The bar itself, made of white quartz slabs from Kentucky-based supplier Rover, harmonizes with white-glass-tiled columns. Custom-designed chairs offer privacy without blocking views—of the wine rack, of course.
Bolts of crimson and cobalt lure patrons to this locale in a suburban mall: A red ceiling band and floors to match pull visitors toward a lacquer-red-tiled fireplace. Taking a detail from Skylab’s Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, sixty thousand linear feet of horizontal fir line the walls. In the restaurant, a backlit ceiling features pyramidal forms borrowed from Japanese screens, a motif with a witty twist in the stunning “blue room” and its wall of tiled sushi plates.
DALE DERRY PHOTOGRAPHY
COLAB ARCHITECTURE + URBAN DESIGN
Evoking the fall harvest season, this wine bar makes use of American white oak, stained concrete, leather, and copper in a tonal and textural homage to vintners, growers, and distillers. The sculptural, double-sided bar creates a social nexus with flexible seating options, defined by varied ceiling heights and color-coded nooks. The compact design also neatly meets the client’s request that the restaurant be operated by as few as two people—one in the kitchen and one tending bar.
MARTIN HEID DESIGN/BUILD
It is fitting that a slow food–as–fast food restaurant in the Mission District would find a former KFC for its home. Not only did KFC popularize the spoon-fork hybrid for which the restaurant is named, but Spork’s owners aim to reclaim hamburgers and fried chicken as wholesome food. Designer Eric Heid recycled many original KFC features for this “utilitarian diner.” The fryers’ stainless steel hood has been bolted to the ceiling as lighting, and the re-upholstered plywood booths are crisper versions of their predecessors.
JOHN FRIEDMAN ALICE KIMM ARCHITECTS
Located in a storefront space in Hollywood, Lucky Devils presents a quintessential LA vibe, right down to the wallpaper showing a time-lapse night-shot image of Highway 101. The 2,000-square-foot space presents a clean, well-lit room with banquettes and plastic chairs from the Italian manufacturer Kartell. The ceiling is more animated, with dropped white panels for subliminal way-finding. Regulation track lighting bounces off crumpled, red paper to toss “flames” that reinforce the restaurant’s inferno-based name.
OFFICE FOR DESIGN O4D
Housed in an old Pontiac dealer-ship, this 8,000-square-foot Gulf Coast seafood restaurant combined an existing building’s industrial vocabulary with polished accents. The architects then structured their palette around oysters: rough on the outside, shimmering on the inside. The exposed kitchen opens onto an expansive dining room of patched concrete floors and pearlescent tabletops lit by capiz shell chandeliers. Shades of sea green and a wavy plaster wall above the banquette complete the aquatic ambience.
Dueling proposals for Pier 40 on Manhattan’s West Village waterfront have whipped community groups into a frenzy, and, at a cacophonous public hearing on May 3, one scheme was blasted as a gaudy “Vegas on the Hudson,” while the other was deemed a lesser (but vastly preferred) evil. The brouhaha comes from the fact that the pier’s caretaker, the Hudson River Park Trust, solicited proposals from private developers in order to finance upgrades of the pier structure itself as well as the public spaces of the park. All of which means the Trust will have its hands full as it ponders the future of the site and tries to balance its own financial needs and the strong feelings of the surrounding community.
The 14-acre pier, at West Houston Street, is now home to a two-story parking garage and offices, wrapped around a courtyard with 3.5 acres of athletic fields. The fate of those fields is at the heart of the debate. At the hearing, soccer clubbers and political leaders alike lashed out at the specter of Jumbotrons on the Hudson.
Denouncing the “humongous development... destroying and disturbing this community,” Deborah Glick, state assembly member for the 66th District, vowed to oppose any retread of Robert Moses’ Westway proposal to tunnel a highway under Manhattan’s western shore . “We fought Westway so that we would have open recreational space,” she told the lively crowd of 1,500 at P.S. 41. “What we need is a direct connection to the waterfront.”
And so in one corner is the Related Companies, with its $626 million bid for a performing arts and recreational center, including an 1,800-seat home for Cirque du Soleil. The plan also calls for a 12-screen cinema for the Tribeca Film Festival, brasseries, galleries, dog runs, and more than 10 acres of public space and ball fields—most of which would be elevated to a rooftop, a move which angers local leagues.
In the other corner is the so-called People’s Pier, developed by summer camp operator CampGroup with Urban Dove, a youth service organization. The $145 million plan focuses on sports facilities, plus an educational complex housing a high school and college. CampGroup architect Richard Dattner cited his firm’s hugely popular Riverbank State Park, built atop a sewage treatment facility over the Hudson River, as a model. The plan would adapt most of the existing pier structure, add a glass entrance tower, and, crucially for ball field boosters, keep the fields at ground level. “I’ve never seen American Idol,” Dattner quipped as the crowd wildly cheered his team, “but this must be what it’s like.”
As the largest pier structure in Hudson River Park, Pier 40 hasn’t seen a major upgrade since it opened to the public in 1962 to serve the Holland America Line. Either proposal would need to fix severely deteriorated steel H-piles holding the structure up. Related’s team, which includes Arquitectonica, Elkus/Manfredi Architects, and Rockwell Group, along with landscape architect DIRT Studios, would also extend Houston Street through the pier as a central, pedestrian-only thoroughfare.
Further complicating matters, Pier 40 is one of only three designated revenue-generating piers in Hudson River Park (the others are Chelsea Piers and the World Yacht/ Circle Line piers), and a central question is what revenue sources should be included to fund the pier’s renovation and the overall park budget. Pier 40’s garage racks up $5 million per year for the park trust, and both proposals call for more than 2,000 parking spaces to keep that cash flowing.
But the hearing made clear that pier advocates had successfully framed the affair as a referendum on T-ball. “The People’s Pier ensures that no one will take these fields away,” declared Urban Dove founder Jai Nanda. For his part, Related Companies president Jeff T. Blau promised “bigger and better fields” and “complementary cultural and entertainment uses.”
For many in the audience, the Related team’s talk of LEED certification and high-performance turf was no match for Little Leaguers who lined up at the microphone. As one youngster dolefully explained, “I would be really disappointed if our field was turned into a mall.”
Below 14th Street
8 Union Square South
Location: 8 Union Square South
Developer: Claremont Group
Architect(s): Arpad Baksa Architects
Consultant(s): Severud Associates, Lazlo Bodak Engineers, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., D.T.M., Inc.
Size: 15 floors, 20 units, 52,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Summer 2007
This condominium will replace the Morris Lapidussdesigned Odd Lots store on the corner of University Place and Union Square South, which was recently demolished. The new building is made of white pre-cast concrete and has floor to ceiling aluminum windows wrapping its northeast side. this new amenity.
Location: 137 Wooster Street
Developer: Arun Bhatia Development Corporation
Architect(s): Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners
Consultant(s): Goldstein Associates, Ettinger Engineering Associates, M. Paul Friedberg and Partners
Size:6 floors, 10 units, 37,500 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): January 2007
In 2003, the zoning changed to allow residential development in the SoHo Historic District on a case-by-case basis, and this is one of the first projects to be approved. The building consists of two distinct masses, one on Wooster Street and one on West Broadway, each tailored to its specific street frontage.
Location:246 Spring Street
Developer: Bayrock Group and the Sapir Organization
Architect(s): Handel Architects, The Rockwell Group
Consultant(s): The Trump Organization
Size:42 floors, 386,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): 2009
Donald Trump has shifted his gaze downtown with a project on the corner of Spring and Varick streets. The mixed-use development will combine a hotel and condos in a 42-story tower set atop a base that will be open to the public. Some community groups are concerned that housing is being introduced into a mostly manufacturing district.
4400442 West 14th Street
Location:4400442 West 14th Street
Developer: Diane von Furstenberg
Architect(s): WORK AC
Consultant(s): Goldstein Associates, Americon Contractors, Tillotson Lighting, Bellapart
Size:5 floors, 30,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):December 2006
Work AC gutted an existing red brick building abutting the High Line to make way for fashion giant Diane von Furstenberg's flagship store and studios. On top of the old building they added two floors: The first additional level is glass topped with aluminum fascia; the more sculptural second level is made of alternating clear and translucent glass.
Location:115 Norfolk Street
Developer: Zeyad Aly
Architect(s):Grzywinski Pons Architects
Size:7 floors, 22 units, 22,800 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Fall 2007
Grzywinski Pons is working on a seven-story condominium building near the Hotel on Rivington on the Lower East Side, the young firm's first major project. The glass facade reveals a large atrium which serves as a source of light and air for units not facing the street.
Thompson and Broome
Location:520 Broome Street
Developer:Donald Zucker Organization
Architect(s):The Stephen B. Jacobs Group
Size:9 floors, 51 units, 73,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Pending approval
A 2004 change in SoHo's zoning allowing the construction of residential buildings on parking lots paved the way for this condo building, which could soon replace a 1922 three-story parking structure. The area is zoned for commercial use, but the developer has applied for a variance. A decision will be announced this fall.
27 Wooster Street
Location:27 Wooster Street
Developer:Axel Strawski/Tony Leichter
Architect(s):Smith-Miller + Hawkinson
Consultant(s):Robert Sillman Associates, Jack Green & Associates, R.A. Heintges Architects
Size:8 floors, 22 units, 60,000 sq.ft.
This SoHo loft building, which is just west of Jean Nouvel's building at 40 Mercer Street, has eight floors and not a single common corridor. Elevators open to each individual unit. The architects kept the building thin to give each unit maximum street and courtyard exposure.
40 Bond Street
Location:Ian Schrager Company and RFR Holdings
Developer:Axel Strawski/Tony Leichter
Architect(s):Herzog & de Meuron Architekten, Handel Architects
Size:11 floors, 33 units
Herzog & de Meuron's much-lauded project just north of Houston Street is their first residential commission in the United States. According to developer Ian Schrager, the cast glass mullions of the facade are the architect's reinterpretation off and homage tooLouis Sullivan's 1899 Bayard-Condict Building on Bleecker Street.
123 Washington Street
Location:Ian Schrager Company and RFR Holdings
Developer:The Moinian Group
Architect(s):Gwathmey Siegel & Associates
Consultant(s):Cosentini Associates, Gilsanz Murray Steficek, Ravarini McGovern Construction
Size:53 floors, 220 hotel rooms, 180 condo units, 440,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2007
The Moinian Group recently received $50 million in Liberty Bond financing for this hotel and condominium tower next to the soon-to-be demolished Deutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan.
Above 59th Street
411 East 115th Street
Location:411 East 115th Street
Architect(s):Grzywinski Pons Architects
Size: 7 floors, 31 units, 31,400 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Fall 2007
Situated on a through-lot with exposures on 115th and 116th streets, this condominium's two street facades belong to two separate buildings, linked at the center of the lot with a skybridge. This enabled the two structures to share a circulation core with one elevator and one main lobby.
Location:40 West 116th Street
Developer:L& M Equity Participants, Full Spectrum
Architect(s):GF55, Schwartz Architects, Studio JTA
Size: 12 floors, 249 units, 54,184 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Fall 2007
The facade pattern on these two linked buildings derives from three sub-Saharan culturessthe Ndebele of South Africa, the Ashanti of Ghana, and the nomadic Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. According to its designers, the project's symbolism is a response to the need for an African-American awareness of and contribution to architecture and urban planning..
111 Central Park North
Location:111 Central Park North
Developer:The Athena Group
Architect(s):The Hillier Group
Consultant(s):SLCE Architects, Bovis Lend-Lease Construction
Size: 19 floors, 47 units, 87,500 sq. ft. residential, 8,700 sq. ft. retail
Completion (est.): Fall 2007
Hillier's architects took advantage of the fact that this building is the first residential highrise on Central Park North and made sure all 47 units, most with balconies, had unimpeded views of the park. An oversized second-floor outdoor garden and common terrace continues the arboreal theme.
Location:80 Riverside Boulevard
Developer:Extell Development Corporation
Architect(s):Costas Kondylis and Partners
Size: 41 floors, 289 units, 657,000 sq. ft
Completion (est.): 2008
Initially part of the massive Trump Place complex along Riverside Boulevard, the Rushmore was sold to Extell, which modified some of the floor plans to create larger units. Rising from a massive, block-long base, the Rushmore's twin towers echo a popular Upper West Side design motif, seen most recently at the Time Warner Center.
Location:100 Riverside Boulevard
Developer:Extell Development Corporation
Size:32 floors, 274 units
Completion (est.):Fall 2007
Using its name to establish a connection to the Avery Fisher Hall in nearby Lincoln Center, the Avery echoes the art deco towers that line Central Park West. The complex will feature cultural programming and provide residents special access to the performing arts center.
120 West 72nd Street
Location:120 West 72nd Street
Consultant(s):Goldstein Associates, Laszlo Bodak Engineer, Higgins & Quasebarth
Size:16 floors, 22 units, 60,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Fall 2007
Using its name to establish a connection to the Avery Fisher Hall in nearby Lincoln Center, the Avery echoes the art deco towers that line Central Park West. The complex will feature cultural programming and provide residents special access to the performing arts center.
Between 14th Street and 59th Street
310 East 53rd Street
Location:310 East 53rd Street
Architect(s):Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects; SLCE Architects
Consultant(s):Sota Glazing Inc.
Size:31 floors, 88 units
Perched on a three-story limestone pedestal, this residential buildinghas a 28-story glass curtain wall with balconies conceived as extensions of the interior. Its apartments are larger than the average in Midtown; the smallest measure 1,600 square feet.
405 West 53rd Street
Location:405 West 53rd Street
Architect(s):Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects
Consultant(s):Severud Associates, Montroy Andersen Demarco Design Group Inc., Sideris Engineers P.C., Engle Associates
Size:7 floors, 82 units, 201,000 sq. ft.
Henry Smith-Miller freely acknowledges this condominium's debt to Le Corbusier's Unitt de Habitation in Marseille. But its New York provenance shows: Maisonettes on the ground floor are shielded from the street by a curtain of steel, creating small courtyards like those that typically front brownstones.
325 Fifth Avenue
Location:325 Fifth Avenue
Developer:Douglaston Developer and Continental Properties
Architect(s):Stephen B. Jacobs Group
Consultant(s):Levine Builders, WSP Cantor Seinuk, Andi Pepper Interior Design, Thomas Balsley Associates, Israel Berger & Associates
Size:41 floors, 250 units, 390,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Late 2006
Directly across from the Empire State Building, this new condo-minium will have a limestone pedestal along the street, and a 41-story tower above. The glass faaade features voluntary, multiple set-backs; most of the units have balconies.
241 Fifth Avenue
Location:241 Fifth Avenue
Developer:241 Fifth Avenue, LLC
Size:20 floors, 60,000 sq. ft.
Since the Madison Square Park area was recently declared an historic district, Perkins Eastman had to meet strict guidelines in designing this 20-story highrise. Floors 1 to 15 will be flush with its neighbors on Fifth Avenue, while floors 16 to 20 will be set back from the street. The site is currently for sale, and includes the building plans.
Location:635 West 42nd Street
Developer:Moinian Group, MacFarlane Partners
Architect(s):Costas Kondylis and Partners
Size:46 floors, 478 units, 520,000 sq. ft.
Budget: $200 million
Atelier's 15,700 square feet of ground-floor retail space will be topped with a veritable city of studios and condos, featuring wraparound balconies and expansive views. Atelier recalls the bow of a great ship,, said architect Costas Kondylis, interpreted in glass..
610 Lexington Avenue
Location:610 Lexington Avenue
Architect(s):Foster and Partners
Size:(80 condos, 50 hotel rooms), 257,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Late 2008
RFR Parners' Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs transferred the air rights from their more famous neighbor (and property) on 53rd StreettMies van der Rohe's Seagram's Buildinggto allow Norman Foster's tower to take the form of a continuous, thin upright slab without setbacks. It will house condos and an upscale hotel.
548 West 29th Street
Location:548 West 29th Street
Consultant(s): GMS LLP, John Guth Engineering
Size:12 floors, 18 units
Completion (est.):Late 2007
This top-heavy building starts out narrow, rising on a 25-foot-by-100-foot Chelsea lot, but at the sixth floor, it starts to widen, cantilevering over its neighbors to the east and west. Caliper Design principal Stephen Lynch explained that the faaade is clad in a custom-designed metal panel system that provides an irregular texture to the building's surface.
Location:11 East 29th Street
Size:55 floors, 139 units, 580,000 sq. ft.
This highrise uses air rights from the 1849 Church of the Transfiguration next door, and sits atop a new glazed parish house. The lot's 50-foot street frontage and 100-foot depth determined the tower's slender profile, which allows only three units per floor. We didn't want the architecture to dominate the site,, said Kirstin Sibilia of FXFowle. Architects chose masonry cladding, Sibilia explained, for its timeless appeal.
459 West 18th Street
Location:459 West 18th Street
Developer:Level 6 Developments
Architect(s):Della Valle + Bernheimer Design
Consultant(s):Robert Silman Associates, Front
Size:11 floors, 13 units, 29,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):January 2008
Rather than look to the past as a reference, Della Valle + Bernheimer chose to respond to the design of an adjacent (and as-yet unbuilt) building by architect Audrey Matlock. [Matlock's] building is all delicate planes and irregular surfaces,, said partner Jared Della Valle. Ours is about mass, determined by the building's L-shaped plan and setbacks..
East River Science Park
Location:29th Street and First Avenue
Developer:Alexandria Real Estate Equities
Architect(s):The Hillier Group
Consultant(s):Stubbins, architect of record; Hargreaves, landscape architect; Tishman Construction, client rep; Turner Construction, construction manager
Size:870,000 gross sq. ft.
This city-supported development aims to foster New York's biotech industry by creating a campus in Kips Bay, already home to a high concentration of medical and research facilities. Zoned for bioscience facilities, the 3.7-acre site will accommodate both private companies and public institutions.
Location:500 West 23rd Street
Architect(s):Gerner, Kronick + Valcarcel Architects
Consultant(s):WSP Cantor Seinuk, Lilker Associates, Thornton Thomasetti Group
Size:12 floors, 113,000 sq. ft.
This mixed-use residential/ commercial building is made of exposed poured-in-place concrete with a dark red aluminum window wall. The glass is a combination of clear glass and insulated translucent glass used as side panels. Amenities include a public terrace overlooking the High Line.
611 Sixth Avenue
Location:611 Sixth Avenuet
Developer:The Brauser Group
Architect(s):Garrett Gourlay Architect
Consultant(s):DeSimone Consulting Engineers, MGJ Associates, Frank Seta
Size:10 floors, 41 units, 3 retail units, 116,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):December 2007
Presently occupied by a three-level garage and a two commercial buildings, this site will soon be home to an eight-story condominium planted on two levels of retail. The black brick building is being being built as-of-right.
110 Livingston Street
Location:110 Livingston Street
Developer:Two Trees Management
Architect(s):Beyer Blinder Belle
Consultant(s): Severud Associates, Lazlo Bodak Engineers, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., D.T.M., Inc.
Size:7 floors, 300 units
Completion (est.):Fall 2006
This 1926 McKim, Mead, and White building was home to the New York City Board of Education for 75 years. Sold by the city in 2003 to Two Trees Management, it is undergoing a major interior renovation which will add four floors to its crown. The challenge was to design interiors that stand up to the magnificence of the facade,, said Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management.
3066313 Gold Street
Location:3066313 Gold Street
Developer:Ron Hershco and Dean Palin
Architect(s):Ismael Leyva Architects
Consultant(s): Rosenwasser Grossman, I.M. Robbins, Flack + Kurtz, Matthews Nielson Landscape
Size:40 floors, 303 units, 400,000 sq. ft.; 35 floors, 214 units, 250,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2008
As the tallest new residential development in all of Brooklyn, these two mixed-income residential towers will be pivotal in the downtown area's transformation from daytime-only business center to a 24/7 live-work neighborhood.
Size:55 floors, 1.2 million sq. ft.
Willoughby Square, a 1.5-acre plot of land in downtown Brooklyn long condemned by the city, will be the site of a new public park and underground parking garage. Thor Tower, a mixed-use skyscraper, will anchor the park's north side and looks to be the first of several towering projects in the vicinity to break ground.
Location:30 Bayard Street
Developer:The Developer's Group
Architect(s):Karl Fischer Architect
Size:13 floors, 53 units
The restoration of Williamsburg's McCarren Park, with new facilities and landscaping, as well as a conversion of a Robert Moses-era public pool into a performance space, will almost certainly encourage additional growth. The newest project is the Aurora, an apartment building which will feature an in-house grocery and delivery service.
North Side Piers
Location:164 Kent Avenue
Developer:Toll Brothers, RD Management, L&M Equity Participants
Size:29 floors, 290 units, 350,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Spring 2008
The Northside Piers is one of the first major waterfront developments in Greenpoint-Williamsburg since the area was rezoned last year. It is the first (and smallest) of three sister towers intended for the site, which was also masterplanned by FXFowle. This first tower will provide 180 units of market-rate and 110 units of affordable housing.
Location:East River between Greenpoint Avenue and Oak Street
Developer:John Guttman Real Estate Management
Size:13.7 acres, 2.6 million sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Pending approvals
After a massive fire destroyed a row of 19th-century warehouses in Mayyand thereby muted a looming preservation fighttthis 14-acre site along the East River is closer to being redeveloped into a retail, commercial, and residential complex. Perkins Eastman had been asked to plan the site before the fire.
North 8th Street
Location:49 North 8th Street
Consultant(s):MGJ, Neil Wexler Associates, Scorcia and Diana Associates
Size:6 floors, 40 units, 76,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2006
The second major collaboration in Williamsburg between the national homebuilding company Toll Brothers and Atlanta-based architecture firm GreenbergFarrow, this six-story building will have a single-loaded corridor so that all 40 units have quality views.
Park Slope Apartments
Location:391 Fourth Avenue
Consultant(s):Severud Associates, Mehandes Engineering
Size:11 floors, 49 units, 53,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Summer 2007
Contextual districts assume a low floor-to-floor height, roughly 8 feet, TEN principal Tim Dumbleton noted, "but the market demands higher ceilings, so it's a challenge to fit more volume within the zoning envelope." TEN achieved 10-foot ceiling heights in this 11-story condo, preserving the monlithic character they desired and meeting setback requirements with a composition of two stacked volumes.
Location:199 State Street
Size:11 floors, 46 units, 54,000 sq. ft.
Budget: $16 million
This 11-story residential project bridges the low-scale residential buildings in Boerum Hill to the south and the taller, mixed-use buildings in downtown Brooklyn to the north. The brick-and-metal-panel facade varies in depth, reducing the building's mass and giving some rhythm to the street wall.
Location:Bronx Terminal Market
Developer:BTM Development Partners
Size:1,000,000 sq. ft.
The Bronx Terminal Market, a major wholesale food market, has long been in need of restoration. In 2004, the Related Companies purchased the property and hired Greenberg-Farrow to masterplan the site and design two three-story retail centers connected by a six-story garage, along with a riverfront park and esplanade.
Henry Hudson Parkway
Location:3260 Henry Hudson Parkway
Developer:Hudson Arlington Associates
Size:9 floors, 127 units, 240,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2007
Handel Architects' Riverdale project will add over 100 housing units to the neighborhood while preserving its relatively low scale with a nine-story profile. By creating a facade of windows looking to the east and a 60-foot-by-80-foot landscaped courtyard, the architects are hoping to draw attention away from the adjacent freeway and toward the neighborhood.
Location:640 West 237th Street
Developer:Arc Development, LLC
Size:20 floors, 56 Units
The Solaria's marketing scheme is that it is the star-lover's dream, with New York's only telescope and observatory on the roof. On a common star-gazing deck, building-dwellers will have access to a celestial map as well as educational sessions from the Amateur Astronomer's Association of New York.
Queens Street Apartments
Location:43317 Dutch Kills Street
Consultant(s):Mehandes Engineering, D.V.A.
Size:600 units, 500,000 sq. ft.
The Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company owned eight buildings in Long Island City, including the six-story cast-in-place concrete warehouse that will serve as a base for TEN Arquitectos' 600-foot-tall slab. The residential project, still in concept phase, is in the recently upzoned area along Jackson Avenue near the Sunnyside Yards.
Queens Family Courthouse
Location:89914 Parsons Boulevard
Developer:The Dermot Company
Consultant(s):Kajima Construction Services, Marinos Gerazounis & Jaffe, DeSimone Engineers
Size:12 floors, 380 units, 290,000 sq. ft. residential, 44,000 sq. ft. retail; 19,5000 sq. ft. community
To comply with HPD specifications, theconversion of the Queens Family Courthouse into housing includes many affordable units and space for community use. The latter will be housed in the historic building, built in 1927 as a library, while housing will occupy the new glazed addition.
5505 48th Avenue
Location:5505 48th Avenue
Architect(s):H. Thomas O'Hara Architects
Consultant(s):Ettinger Associates, Axis Design Group
Size:8 floors, 142,000 sq. ft.; 5 floors, 19,000 sq.ft.; 118 units
Toll Brothers called on H. Thomas O'Hara to design a low-rise, high-end condominium in the heart of Queen's most industrial neighborhood. The architects responded with not one but two buildings. The base of both structures will be granite and channel glass, while the upper floors will be built out of pre-cast concrete.
Center for Global Conservation
673 Bronx Zoo
From the Bronx Zoo to the New york Aquarium, the Wildlife Conservation Society is embarking on major expansion projects.
Courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society
While the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is known as a major nonprofit dedicated to saving wildlife all over the worldd its preservation efforts are now taking place in 53 countriessthe organization actually originated with the New York City zoo system. Initially called the New York Zoological Society, the WCS started with the creation of the Bronx Zoo, in 1895. Currently, the WCS oversees zoos on city-owned land in Central Park, Prospect Park, Queens, and the Bronx, as well as the aquarium at Coney Island.
The WCS is embarking on an expansion and renovation effort at its facilities throughout the boroughs. FXFowle Architects is in the process of renovating the Lion House, a 1903 building by Heins and La Farge that has been empty since the 1970s. Since receiving the commission in 2001, FXFowle has also been hired to design the Center for Global Conservation (CGC), a new stand-alone building not too far from the Lion House.
This year, the WCS also announced that it selected Slade Architecture to design a building that will house the shark tank at the New York Aquarium, near Coney Island, and has issued an RFQ for a redesign of the aquarium's perimeter, including a section that faces the boardwalk and the ocean.
All of these projects were done in consultation or collaboration with a range of city entities, including the Mayor's Office, the Department of City Planning, and the Department of Design and Construction; the latter recommended architects from its General Excellence Program, including Slade.
The WCS projects reflect the nonprofit's values about environmental conservation and preservation. When the Lion House buildinggwhich is part of an original Beaux Arts complexxis completed in the late spring of next year, it will be the first landmarked building in New York City to achieve a LEED rating. In retrofitting the structure, the architects had to reevaluate its HVAC systems, skylights, and other energy-related features to bring the building to present-day efficiency standards. The approach for the CGC building, which began shortly after the Lion House, was similar.
I like to think of these two projects together,, said Sylvia Smith, partner of FXFowle. For Lion House, we worked from the inside out. The exterior landscape was shaped by the building form itself. For the CGC, we worked from the outside in. We really took our design cues for the interiors from the elements of the landscape..
The mantra is always respect the nature we're in,, said Susan Chin, of the Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department of the WCS, which oversees these building projects.
While the design for the New York Aquarium's new shark tank will not be presented until July, the building's approach will have a similar respect for the environment and public education. The shark building will be architecture with a capital A,, said Chin, noting that the building will be much more of a design statement than the WCS buildings completed to date. You'll definitely notice it..
The uniqueness of the WCS's building campaign is intimately tied to its mission. The WCS understands that sustainable buildings are holistic systems,, said Smith. And it realizes that its buildings and their stories can be part of its message..
The Pier at Ceasar's
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Elkus/Manfredi Architects with Rockwell Group
The Pier at Ceasar's updates a beloved 19thhcentury type, now that shopping had replaced vaudeville as the entertainment of choice.
Courtesy Elkus/Manfredi Architects and Gordon group Holdings
Though only three remain today, Atlantic City's piers used to be as central to the city's identity as its beloved boardwalk, the Miss America Pageant, and Monopoly property. They were built in the late 19th-century as sideshow-lined entertainment venues and featured everything from vaudeville acts and dance halls to a famous series of diving horses. David Manfredi, principal of Elkus/ Manfredi Architects, remembers visiting Steel Pier as a small boy and being mesmerized by the act, which took its last plunge in 1978. He recalled, With a great deal of fanfare, the horse walked off the platform and leapt into the pool,, about 40 feet below.
Though his firm was undoubtedly chosen to design the Pier at Caesar's for experience more relevant than his early trips to the boardwalk, Manfredi's affection for the old Atlantic City made him a particularly good choice to create a complex sited on the old Million Dollar Pier. When opened at the end of the summer, the three-level structure will combine a contemporary high-end mall with some of the old entertainments of its original incarnation. The project represents the transformation of this building type over its 100-odd year existenceein short, the switch from horses to Hermms.
As Atlantic City declined, many of the piers were torn down, and others repurposed. Million Dollar Pier became a traditional shopping mall, despite its awkward 900-foot-by-200-foot footprint. Perhaps to block out the decaying city outside, the mall was entirely enclosed; shoppers had no sense that they were literally hundreds of feet out into the Atlantic. When you were inside it, you could have been in a mall anywhere in the country,, said Manfredi. When we saw it, we thought, What a missed opportunity!''
The existing pier platform was left intact, but the building on top has been entirely rebuilt. According to Manfredi, the architects were careful to provide vantage points from which to see the ocean and the beach. We wanted it to be specific to Atlantic Cityyyou'll know you are there, and you'll know you are on the water,, he said. And if nature in its raw state is not enough, at the end of the pier there balconies from which shoppers can watch a water, light, and fire show that will run every hour.
The spectacle continues outside: The pier is largely clad in electronic billboards. Another throwback, explained Manfredi: The old piers were just covered in graphics and signage, which was aimed at the people strolling down the boardwalk. That's one more thing we are bringing back.. AG
Randall's Island Sports Foundation
From bird-watching to water-sliding, New York's Randall's Island will offer a host of new outdoor activities.
Aquatic development group/courtesy randall's island sprots foundation
When Robert Moses first envisioned a Randall's Island filled with baseball diamonds and football fields, few believed that what was essentially a large garbage dump could become New York's center of recreation and one its largest public parks. While Moses successfully implemented his plans, attendance was dismal and his dream soon deteriorated. Over 70 years later, the idea is being revived with an assortment of new facilities, including the recently opened Icahn Stadium, extensive plans for landscape restoration, and a soon-to-be-built waterpark.
In replacing the deteriorating Downing Stadium in April of 2005, the $42 million Icahn Stadium marked the first major step toward the island's revival as a recreation destination. Hillier Architecture's stadium design is simple and innovative, with light towers doubling as tension cable-bearing roof supports. The project, which includes track and field facilities, was organized by the Randall's Island Sports Foundation (RISF), a development group founded in 1992 to oversee new construction on the island.
Each summer since 2003, Randall's Island has hosted the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil in a series of temporary tents. In order to accommodate crowds and create a more inviting atmosphere, the RISF has overseen renovations and reconstruction of much of the area's infrastructure, including boardwalks and trails throughout the island, and a new waterfront pathway designed by Roesch Architects. The pathway will trace the full 5-mile circumference of the island. Unlike Icahn Stadium and many other RISF programs, the $4 million pathway will be funded exclusively by the city and state.
Another state-funded initiative will restore a 5-acre section of salt marsh and freshwater wetlands at the Little Hell Gate Inlet along the island's west coast. Indigenous plants and wildlife, including red-winged blackbirds and green herons, will be reintroduced to the landscape. The area will also serve the Randall's Island Kids Nature Program, which is organized by the RISF to provide activities, classes, and events for children.
The biggest and flashiest new addition to Randall's Island, however, is a 26-acre new waterpark (shown at the lower right corner of the plan, at left) that should be completed by summer of 2008. Located on the northwestern tip of the island, the park will be comprised of two partssone a year-round indoor facility, the other a summer-only outdoor portionnand will cost $168 million, entirely funded through private sources. The waterpark will be designed, built, and operated by the central New Yorkkbased Aquatic Development Group, and its grand scale should ensure Randall's Island's role as the recreational hotspot for both the city and the region.
Village of Greenport, New York
SHoP Architects/Sharples Holden Pasquarelli
seong kwon courtesy shop
seong kwon courtesy SHoP
seong kwon courtesy SHoP
Like many old whaling towns along Long Island's Peconic Bay, the village of Greenport is more dependent on summer tourism today than its historic industries of fishing and boatbuilding. In the late 1970s, a fire along the waterfront burned a 5-acre section of town that had included a car dealership, a gas station, various marine boat and engine repair facilities, and an oyster company. The remaining vacant land was left seriously polluted: Nine underground storage tanks remained on the site, which was also contaminated by petroleum and arsenic.
Many Greenporters argued that the waterfront site should be redeveloped into tax-generating shops, but Mayor David Kapell argued that even the existing stores in the village could not stay open in the winter because of a lack of customers. It would be better to create a public facility to bring people to Greenport who would then patronize existing stores. In 1996 Greenport held a design competition to transform the waterfront site into a series of public amenities that would be called Mitchell Park. The jury selected James Corner as the winner, but when the Philadelphia-based landscape architect could not reach an agreement with the town, the jury gave the commission to the third-place runner-up SHoP Architects, bypassing the second-place scheme, which they considered unbuildable.
The $12 million Mitchell Park was completed late last summer, and has already made its impact on the local merchants who cater to the town's visitors. The park creates a link between a bus and railroad station, the Shelter Island ferry terminal, and the town's main drag and new public marina. A hardwood boardwalk and bluestone-and-gravel path crosses along the waterfront and connects a landscaped amphitheater, open-air ice-skating rink (which becomes a mist plazaa in the summer), and various follies. These include a roundhouse for the town's historic carousel, shade arbors, a small mechanical building, a camera obscura, and a harbormaster's building.
The park and its architecture are an anomaly in Greenport, where nearly every new structure is built in some ersatz historical style. SHoP's convincing mix of local vernacular industrial architecture and a modernist sensibility has given the village a brilliant new center.
Sebago Canoe Club
Leroy Street Studio
courtesy leroy street studio
This summer, the Sebago Canoe Club will be launching boats from a new dock, marking the first stage in a major upgrade to the 73-year-old organization's Canarsie facility. The club represents an eclectic group of people in Brooklyn,, according to architect Shawn Watts of Leroy Street Studio, which agreed to upgrade the facility on a pro-bono basis. Right now, competitive paddlers and urban adventurers use a Parks Departmenttowned facility, and store roughly 300 kayaks and canoes in a collection of brightly- painted used shipping containers. Watts, who got to know a Sebago member through his wife's attendance at an arts class, has also applied for and received grants from the state and the J. M. Kaplan Fund to begin improving the facility.
Watts' design includes three new structures that link up with the existing shipping containers, which will still be used for storage. Each one is a simple steel frame clad in clear polycarbonate panels that can be opened as weather permits. One of the structures will be is an activity space (pictured above) in which the club plans to offer classes such as boatbuilding. The other two house bathrooms and meeting rooms.
Watts explained that the new structures will act as a porch in summer and light-heated underpass in winter.. The facility will also stand in egalitarian counterpoint to the many private marinas and yacht clubs that line Paedergat Basin. With its mix of materials and textures, Watts said, the updated Sebago still feels like Brooklyn..
Union Square Park Pavilion and Comfort Station
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and ARO
With protests to watch, skateboarders to dodge, and produce to ogle, it is little wonder that the stone pavilion at Union Square's northern edge goes unnoticed by most of the people who walk by it. The 1932 bandstand's two wings currently flank the summertime restaurant Luna Park, and it also houses a public restroom which is used by the staunch of heart, weak of bladder, and very few others. Recently, however, it has fallen into disrepair. In 2003, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation hired Michael van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), the Boston-based landscape architects, to develop a plan for the northern end of the park. MVVA soon brought local architects Architecture Research Office (ARO) to restore and expand the pavilion.
According to ARO principal Stephen Cassell, the firm is expanding the basement level to make offices for parks employees. The architects will relocate the restaurant's kitchens, currently in a series of shacks leaned up against the pavilion, below ground. The most visible part of the scheme is a new comfort station. The 600-square-foot glass and metal mesh structure (above, at left) will have a bathroom for the playground and another opening onto the plaza. Though the design was approved by the Fine Arts Commission in May, it hasn't been a speedy process, and a start date for construction has not been assigned. It is a little project, and fun,, said Cassell, But it has also been a very process-heavy job. There is so little park space in the city, and so many competing interests..
Beacon, New York
Meta Brunzema Architect
courtesy Meta Brunzema Architect
While most New yorkers would raise an eyebrow at the idea of swimming in the waters of the Hudson next to Manhattan, In 2005, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEP), along with private supporters like musician Pete Seeger, proposed to build a flow throughh pool set at the river's edge in Beacon, New York, in which water would pass freely through the mesh structure. The DEP hired the Manhattan-based architect Meta Brunzema to develop a design; construction began on June 2.
Since the ability for water flow is central to the pool's functioning, the materials that Brunzema chose were crucial. She specified woven nylon belts for the pool's flooring and a thin structural mesh called Dyneema for its siding. The mesh's gaps are small enough keep all hands and feet safely inside, but large enough to allow small fish to swim through. Sunbathers and swimmers can relax on a ring of floating fiberglass seats around its perimeter, and a splinter-free dock connects the shore to the seating.
The structure will be anchored to the riverbed with cables (section, above), and flotation tubes will be embedded within the fiberglass seating to keep the pool and sunbathers afloat. With an entry fee of less than a dollar and seating for only 20 people, a line should build up, but that's okay: Brunzema hopes that eventually these pools will be scattered in rivers all throughout the state..
Battery Park City
Weisz + Yoes Architecture
courtesy weisz + yoes architecture
Perhaps the most exciting of a series of projects launched by the Battery Park Conservancy is an ocean-themed carousel (above) designed by Weisz + Yoes Architects. When it is completed at the end of 2007, it will join the Garden of Remembrance (dedicated to the victims of September 11) and the Battery Labyrinth. Later years will see the addition of a newly landscaped Town Green and Lawn and a refurbished Castle Clinton.
The details of the design are still being refined, but as it stands, its framework will be made of stainless steel, and the roof and walls of either plaster or fiberglass. According to principal Claire Weisz, the spiral roof is intended to evoke the dramatic quality of a cathedral while also making it more visible to passersby.
What makes the carousel distinct from its type is that it is employs two projection technologies, one that dates to the 1600s, and a second that is decidedly more contemporary. At the carousel's hub, there is a magic lantern, or a dimmable glass cylinder that moves up and down and spins, much like a child's top. It will be lit up from the inside and project shadows of fish on the roof.
But in Weisz's words, this analogg experience of spinning shadows will be overlaid with another digitall experience of projectors showing images of the city at night. The whole series of images,, said Weisz, is supposed to compose a narrative of travel from the city to underwater..