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The Port Authority declines to celebrate the grand opening of the world's most expensive train station
I tried from the very beginning to do that whole network of connections extending from the oculus as a single unit. So the character of the structural members you can see with the ribs, and a certain character in the paving, and a certain character in the front of the shops is already delivering a character that a person will see all the way through. So if you are in the oculus or the mezzanine, or in the other corridors to Liberty Street or the other internal streets towards Liberty Plaza, or towards Wall Street or towards Fulton, all these areas are marked with the same character. My goal is to create a space where as soon as I arrive in the transportation hub I know I am in the transportation hub, no matter what corner I enter from. Also, something that the corridor delivers is a sense of quality of spaces. I have built seven of the major transportation hubs in Europe, in Lisbon, in Lyon, in Zurich, in Italy, and so on. Getting out of this experience, it’s very important to create places of quality, because people behave according to that. You see after all the enormous effort to bring all the subways and the trains to this place and see to maintain the service through all the construction—why shouldn’t these places have a certain material and structural quality that you can enjoy in a day-to-day way, not just commuters but visitors who arrive in this place. I think the station will match with the tradition in New York of great infrastructural works, as you see today in Grand Central and in the former Penn Station. If it had not been demolished it would be recognized as one of the greatest stations worldwide. I hope people can see some of these material qualities in the East/West corridor.On the eve of the opening, New York architecture critics are divided on the aesthetic and functional value of the Hub. AN toured the Hub this afternoon, so check back here for our assessment. In the meantime, picture Calatrava riding a Zamboni, polishing the smooth white Italian marble floors world's most expensive train station.
New York’s Finest will soon have BIG digs in the Bronx. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is designing a three-story, 59-foot-tall, 43,500-square-foot station house for the 40th Precinct in the Bronx’s Melrose neighborhood.
The 40th Precinct includes three South Bronx neighborhoods: Mott Haven, Port Morris, and Melrose. The squad will move out of its current location, a 1922 three-story Renaissance Revival station house, and into a new home on a city-owned lot bounded by East 149th Street, Saint Ann’s, Westchester, and Brook avenues.
The Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) set strict standards for police station design that provided the parameters. “Where the station houses of the early 1900s reflect an architectural language of fortification and stronghold, the design of the later 20th century clearly aims to express a sense of civic engagement,” explained Ingels. “Independent of era, all precinct designs reflect a sense of solidity and durability, and we tried to evoke this same robustness in the 40th.” Formally, this resulted in stacked boxes, or “bricks,” that reference New York’s classic redbrick police stations, and each programmatic element is meted out into its own rectangular space. There are four different-sized rectangular volumes per floor (except for the basement level) stacked irregularly with gaps in-between to create circulation spaces. According to Ingels, the team spent much of the schematic design phase working out the relationship between these volumes: “The building is essentially a physical manifestation of programmatic relationships.” Segregation of function is intrinsic to the plan, but potentially detrimental to the overall harmony of the building. A three-story atrium is a central organizing principle that diffuses this compartmentalization by visually connecting programs, allowing total surveillance from the main desk, and channeling light into the building’s core.
For security purposes, “glazing occurs only when the volumes are pushed back from the perimeter facades, affording protected views of the street below.” At street level, setbacks created by the layered volumes make entrances and exits legible. On the upper floors, the setbacks allow for large windows, removed from the street.
The building is sensitive to its context and the awkward site provided additional design constraints. Flush with St. Ann’s Avenue to the east, an abandoned, below-grade freight line swoops in from the north to bisect the parcel, turning what should be a roughly rectangular site into a right triangle fused to a hexagon. The station house sits within the hexagon, at the corner of St. Ann’s Avenue and East 149th Street, while the rest of the site is devoted to parking.
Looking to its neighborhood, the design communicates a desire to improve community-police relations. A multipurpose community meeting room sits adjacent to the main lobby. Nestled into the building but accessed through a separate entrance, the space is the first of its kind for the NYPD. Ingels noted that the facade communicates the department’s desire for openness. “We’ve detailed the precast such that small glazed openings read as a perforation of the larger panelized system. The perforation here calls attention to the special function of this particular building block, but also allows for a transparency that is essential to the way NYPD and the City of New York are conceiving of this new type of public space.”
Streetscaping around the lot’s perimeter will further integrate the site into the community. A sawtooth oak at the site’s southeastern corner, for example, will be the basis for a street planting scheme of the same trees. Two existing cottonwoods will provide ample shade for the larger lot. New York–based Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects led the site design.
The DDC, New York City’s primary capital construction project manager, often commissions high-profile firms for civic projects. The department chose to implement a modified version of BIG’s 2014 stormwater protection plan for Manhattan as the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (which Starr Whitehouse also collaborated on). It tapped Steven Holl Architects to design a library in Hunter’s Point, Queens, that broke ground last May, while Snøhetta was commissioned for the recently completed construction of new public spaces in Times Square. The DDC also picked Dattner Architects and WXY to design the Department of Sanitation garage and adjacent crystal-shaped salt storage shed that opened late last year.
With the recent opening of Ross Barney Architects’ public Riverwalk, Chicago is taking a much harder look at its “second shoreline.” Unlike the Lake Michigan public shoreline however, improvements to the riverbanks rely on developers, as most of the land is private. Unfortunately, since the city laid out its “Chicago River Corridor Design Guidelines and Standards” in 2005, there has been so little development along the river that only now is the city is getting a glimpse of its possible benefits. With the last two major projects along the rivers edge being the Trump Tower and 300 N. LaSalle, both finished in 2009, the city anxiously watches as private development along the river once again picks up. Now with three riverfront towers well under construction, and two more planned all around the convergence of the north, south, and main branches, the river is looking to be a much different place one year from now.
Already in full form is bKL Architecture’s Wolf Point West tower. The 500-foot-tall, 48-story residential tower is the smallest structure in the master plan by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and includes two taller towers and an improved public river walk. With 510 units, ranging from studios to three bedroom apartments, the balcony-laden tower is destined to become highly sought-after housing stock. Positioned on a small piece of land jutting out into the river, views to and from the tower are uninterrupted from almost all directions. Substantial completion is planned for years end, and it is already becoming hard to remember, or believe, that there was once a flat parking lot on the site.
Courtesy Goettsch Partners
Also occupying a former riverfront parking lot is the quickly rising Pickard Chilton-designed River Point tower at 444 W. Lake Street. Across the river from Wolf Point, the 730-foot-tall office tower sits on axis with the main branch of the river looking east. Bucking the recent trend of concrete towers in the city, River Point is a steel structure that finds its form in intersecting parabolic curves. “The curves are a response to the river and the train tracks that run below the building, as well as the building’s relationship to 333 Wacker across the river,” Pickard Chilton design principal and Chicago native, Anthony Markese said. With both Ogilvie and Union train stations directly to the south, the site sees some of the busiest train traffic in the city. Now thanks to the building’s new plinth covering the tracks, the public will soon be able to access the river in front of the building on the recently finished 1.5-acre riverfront plaza. Markese described the project as something of a “tower in a park, in the middle of the city.” The west side of the building, along Canal Street, will also have public programing, including a triple-height glazed lobby, retail space, and the entrance to a two story restaurant that will extend through the plinth to the river-side of the building. The city will not have to wait long see the final form of the building, as it is scheduled to top out before years end.
Courtesy Goettsch Partners
At 732 feet tall, the tallest of the three towers is the 150 N. Riverside Tower by Goettsch Partners, just to the south of River Point along the South branch of the river. Also a mostly-steel tower, Riverside comes down to the ground on an extremely slender site. Taken up mostly by the same rail tracks that traverse the River Point tower site, the lot has been vacant for nearly 50 years. Continuing with the theme of enhancing the river’s edge, a large green-roofed plinth will cap the tracks and hold a restaurant and public plaza. For the majority of the 51 stories, floor plates are cantilevered off of both sides of the elevator core to the east and west. In what will be possibly the largest of its kind, a 110-foot-tall glass fin wall will enclose the lobby on the west side of the building, sheltered under the cantilevering floorplates above. Besides the public outdoor space along the river and at the base of the tower, setbacks allow for private outdoor terraces at its upper levels.
With no building allowed on the lakeshore, developers have finally seemed to realize that if they want to be near water, then the river is their best bet. With remediation underway to clean up the polluted water and extensive city-funded shore improvements, the river is quickly becoming the focus of the downtown. No longer are buildings turning their backs on the water, and more and more the public is being given easement across private plazas to get to its banks. With so much attention on the river, it is only a matter of time before people remember that the old symbol of Chicago, the circle inscribed Y found on so many public buildings and bridges, represents the branches of the river that were once so integral to the city.
Oakland is in the middle of an economic boom and major new developments have reignited old debates about who benefits from the city’s increasing prosperity. The dialogue recalls conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. In every chapter, the explorer describes a different, fantastic city, 55 in all. In time, it becomes apparent that Polo is describing different facets of the same city: Venice. Collectively, these individual interpretations come to define the city as a whole.
Developers see Oakland as a cheaper alternative to San Francisco. Last month, local 11WestPartners purchased Old Oakland, a ten-building, 225,000-square-foot office and retail complex between Broadway and 8th Street in the eponymous downtown neighborhood for $45.5 million. The 150-year-old set of buildings spans two city blocks. It’s unclear who the tenants will be.
In 2014, Oakland initiated a (contentious) selection process for a developer to take ownership of the Beaux-Arts landmark Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, a city-owned property that’s been vacant since 2005. Competing interests used the convention center to anchor different visions of the city. Oakland-based Creative Development Partners proposed adding a 7,500-seat arena, theater, job training center, and a 15-story, 280-room hotel to the property. Residents feared that the hotel would block views of adjacent Lake Merritt. Emeryville-based Orton Development proposed converting the formerly public space into a commercial venue.
In July, the Oakland City Council picked Orton Development to spearhead a $52 million redevelopment of the center. Heller Manus Architects and landscape architects Hood Studio will lead the design teams. The upper floors of the 212,000-square-foot building will be converted into offices, while the ground floor tenant may be a manufacturer or brewery.
Meanwhile, apparently not satisfied with its 423,000-square-foot SHoP-designed space in Mission Bay, rideshare company Uber is expanding into Oakland’s old Sears building. For an estimated $40 million, Gensler will renovate the 380,000-square-foot department store off of the 19th Street BART Station, and rebrand the site as Uptown Station. By 2017, between two and three thousand employees will work out of this location. If all goes planned, Uber will be Oakland’s largest employer (aside from the government and area hospitals).
Though 20 percent of the company’s workforce lives in the East Bay, on Twitter, Oaklanders’ reactions to the Uber move were mostly negative. Susie Cagle (@susie_c) wryly tied together convergent social histories. “Oakland’s Uptown was the site of America’s last General Strike in 1946. Now it will host arguably one of America’s worst labor abusers.” User Gabe Wachob (@gwachob) had a suggestion to ease housing demand: “In the two years before Uber lands in Oakland, maybe it should build 1000 housing units within 30 min commute. Just an idea. #TooManyPeople.”
Anecdotal concerns around gentrification and displacement are borne out by neighborhood-level data. Analyzing home values and level of educational attainment as a proxy for gentrification, researchers from policy magazine Governing concluded that, of the 113 census tracts in Oakland, 24 tracts (29 percent of the total) were considered gentrifying between 2000 and 2010. In order to be considered gentrifying, median home values and household income had to fall in the bottom 40 percent within a metro area, and see an increase in the top third percentile for home values and proportion of adults with four year college degrees.
Longtime Oakland residents worry that newcomers are homogenizing what Mayor Libby Schaaf calls Oakland’s “secret sauce.” The secret sauce, Oakland’s Oaklandness, eludes precise description or categorization. Nevertheless, the city has a vision of itself that it will enact with the tools at its disposal: zoning, policy, and land use. In late August, the City of Oakland announced plans to revision its downtown, specifically along the 12th and 19th Street BART stations. The area is bounded by 27th Street to the east, Interstate 980 to the north, and the Oakland estuary to the south and east. A primary objective of this plan is to spur new development in the area.
To many residents’ dismay, the plan skirts the affordable housing issue. In response to critics, Schaaf pointed to a parallel city-backed study on the feasibility of impact fees that would offset the cost of building affordable housing.
Though it’s still in draft, stakeholders have come out in force for, and definitively against, this planned vision of Oakland. Like Marco Polo, Oaklanders define their shared city with contrasting likenesses and convergent possibilities.
Tech startups, like birds of a feather, tend to flock to specific areas—migrating to such hubs as Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach, and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. But, when the founders of Genius—an online platform that allows users to annotate lyrics texts—realized the company was outgrowing its warren of small offices in Williamsburg, they took a different route to find a more cohesive home for their expanding team of developers and editors. They did so by informally plotting the home location of their employees, and found that most of them were clustered around or near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, explained Russell Farhang, Genius’ director of operations. As they narrowed their search, they stumbled upon a fitting place for their own modern-day textual endeavor: an abandoned factory that was a printing press in a former life.
“We wanted to establish ourselves as an anchor in a community that isn’t known for anything such as tech. We chose our location more analytically than that,” explained Farhang. “It filled out the requirements we were looking for: great location, burgeoning in a good way, and the space itself is a lovely former industrial loft. And there is something very appropriate to our company—we are fascinated with texts so it is interesting to be in a former printing press.”
The company then tapped local firm Leeser Architecture to design the interiors of the new headquarters. Eschewing the popular open-office plan adopted by most startups, the founders asked for a mix of two- to three-person private offices and open workspace peppered with breakout areas and conference rooms. After experiencing the isolation and fragmentation of their prior offices, they wanted a more transparent and collaborative work environment, especially to facilitate dialogue between departments, while also providing “some privacy, and peace and quiet,” said Farhang. “We didn’t want an open plan office specifically for our developers, who need collaboration but also silence for creativity.”
The build-out not only had to include both private and shared workspace, it also needed to accommodate the projected growth of the company, which is expected to reach over 100 employees in the next few years.
“They needed flexibility and didn’t want everything set in stone,” added Thomas Leeser, principal of his eponymous firm. “As the company grows, the space will also be defined and grow with whatever the demands will be.”
Genius occupies four floors, totaling 43,000 square feet of the building. At the lower level (one beneath ground level), the company has a cafeteria and a large double-height performance space with a mezzanine—intended for hosting private and public events, exhibits, and concerts. “We also wanted a way to connect to the community. A place where we could actually build an assembly place for us and for the community,” said Farhang.
The L-shaped third and fourth floors contain private workstations on the periphery as well as several breakout areas outfitted with couches and coffee tables. Bookending one end of each floor is a large conference room, providing a more private place for board meetings or chatting with visiting artists. Fishbowl conference rooms and kitchen islands, made of polished chrome laminate, anchor the space and add a sleek counterpart to the lovely rough-hewn features of the building.
The renovation was an exercise in restraint: the ceiling, bricks, and wooden columns and beams were left exposed. “We want to keep the space as raw as possible. We didn’t want to lose that sort of rough old factory feeling,” said Leeser. “The idea was to change it as little as possible.”
3M Dichroic Glass Finishes
Event Space Wall:
Acoustic Design Board
MDF Italia Tense
Leeser and his team employed minimal yet strategic design elements to enhance the overall space and maintain the interior’s industrial aesthetic. One such standout component is a special dichroic glass used for the outside of the bathrooms and conference rooms, which produces an enticing, rainbow-like mirage effect. Depending on the angle and time of day, the glass changes color, reflecting different light and movement. (The glass has been popular among employees for taking selfies.) The firm placed this glass in “spaces that needed to be kind of discreetly made invisible. That is what is great about this film, it doesn’t look like a wall,” said Leeser. “There is a mysterious beauty to it.”
Oversized LED tube lighting is suspended from the ceiling and serves, Leeser explained, as a “tongue-in-cheek play” on the florescent tubes that were originally found in warehouse buildings and a “reference to the stark factory environment.”
It has only been a few months since the employees at Genius settled into their new digs, but already they’ve noticed some changes in the office culture and workflow.
“Now it is really interesting to walk around and see developers coding and building new things. It makes people more cognizant of what every teams’ priorities are,” said Nat Guevara, senior communications officer at Genius. “At a startup, things change everyday and so now we don’t have to wait until the company lunch on Friday [to find out what is happening]. We are able to see things in real time.”
ODA reimagines a 1900 Brooklyn factory as a modern apartment complex that nods to the area’s industrial past
The windows were broken and the steel trusses rusty by spring 2013 when architect Eran Chen got his first look inside the 1900 redbrick factory that had long stood vacant in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn. The concrete floors were dingy after decades during which the three-story structure had served as a manufacturing plant for heavy metalworking machines, household cutlery, and patterned plate glass.
Still, to Chen, founder of the New York City–based ODA (Office for Design & Architecture), which had just been tapped to help turn the 87,000-square-foot building at 51 Jay Street into a high-end residential condominium, there was a powerful authenticity to the early 20th-century structure. It spoke of a time when cargo ships still pulled up to the then-industrial enclave on the East River and railway cars rumbled about on tracks embedded in the cobblestone streets to and from factories.
The enormous skylight on the shed-like top floor called to mind the great, glorious train stations of that era, filtered with a light that Chen described as magical. He and his team of architects and designers sought to evoke the romance, if not the reality, of that bygone age in the 74-unit complex they were tasked with designing.
Figuring out how to tuck those residences into the shell of the historic structure took some finesse. ODA has considerable experience with adaptive reuse, and, as Chen knows first-hand, combining an old building and a new function is often “like mixing oil and water.” In this case the building falls within the Dumbo landmark district, so the brick perimeter walls had to be preserved, as did the large openings for the casement windows. Four new floors were built after the interior was hollowed out to accommodate an additional two stories. As a result, the floor plates were shifted, causing window heights and configurations to vary from floor to floor, and even from apartment to apartment on some floors. Nearly two thirds of the units will face the street through these windows. The rest will front a newly enlarged interior courtyard planted with a mini forest of birch trees. Atop the building will be a two-level addition, set back from the original brick structure and not visible from the street; it will contain seven penthouses, six of which are topped with large skylights inspired by the building’s original glass-paned roof.
All of the units—from a 3,000 odd square-foot penthouse, 664-square-foot studio, or the multiple sizes on offer in between—will have clean, modern layouts. Kitchens will open onto wide living rooms, some with double-height ceilings. The main living area in each apartment will have an expansive, loft-like feel.
The units’ airiness is balanced by a range of richly textured finishes and dark, substantial-looking cabinetry. To develop their materials palette, the designers researched what was considered luxury when the factory was built, and then came up with modern interpretations for 51 Jay.
Take the handsome herringbone-patterned oak floors in the living room, for example. The architects learned that herringbone floors were popular in high-end apartments at the turn of the 20th century. But instead of using four- to six-inch wood strips, as would have been done then, the architects opted for 8- and 24-inch oak strips, which, Chen explained, are more akin to the wide-plank floors found in old industrial warehouses; the wood was smoked and wire-brushed for an aged effect.
The architects also discovered that French cabinetmaking was fashionable in New York in the 1900s. The cabinets often received three coats of paint, and were then sanded at the corners to expose the underlying wood. The paneled cherry kitchen cabinets of 51 Jay will be similarly patinaed, the dark stain rubbed away at the corners to reveal the ruddiness of the wood underneath. Some of the cabinet doors will be faced with corrugated glass—more industrial-looking than traditional clear glass—a material that might well have been made in the building during the years it was a glass factory.
The same corrugated glass will appear in the master baths and will front the doors and dark-brown lacquered vanities. Copper trim will edge the vanities and medicine cabinets above—an unusual accent for a bath, but, like the corrugated glass, a material that appealed to the architects in part because it had once been produced in the building. Also unusual is the walnut-colored honed marble chosen for the floor, tub front, and vanity counter.
While many of the same materials will be used in the powder rooms, the so-called “secondary” bathrooms, which are to be found in the larger units, will have a decidedly lighter, more casual look, with whitewashed oak vanities and recessed medicine cabinets.
An avalanche of amenities are being added, including a rooftop terrace tricked out with a kitchen, fireplace, and outdoor shower. In the basement will be what has become the latest must-have for luxury residential developments: a pet washing and grooming station.