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NYC Design Focus

Sitting Pretty
Frank Gehry: Emeco and Heller

 

Taking some time off from titanium, Frank Gehry has been dabbling with some new materials. Collaborating simultaneously with two notable furniture manufacturers, the blockbuster architect has created distinctly different designs. For Emeco, he has designed the all-aluminum Superlight Chair, which is super-strong, super-flexible, and super-comfortable. Inspired by Gio Ponti's Superleggera Chair, Gehry's simple design, a bent sheet draped on tubular frame, weighs in at 6.5 pounds. Since both skin and frame are light and slight, there is no way around his straightforward intent that "the sitter activate the chair." Productions experts at Emeco, best known for its indestructible aluminum Navy Chair, enjoyed the challenge of making the material as light and flexible as possible while maintaining its strengthhthree times that of steel. For those interested in collecting a set, the Superlight is stackable in an unconventional sense: the skin/seat unclips from the frame and can be piled, like Pringles potato chips. The chair will retail for about $350.

 

 

Gehry's line of furniture for Heller, meanwhile, is almost the inverse of Superlight in appearance. Ultra-sculptural and monolithic, the seven-piece collection follows both the heft and curving fluidity of his recent buildings, while referencing their materials. Heller's founder and CEO Alan Heller touts the line as architecture as furniture,, pointing to the recognizable shapes and lines carried over from projects like Bilbao and the Disney Concert Hall. Made of metallic silver resin, the roto-molded sofa, easy chair, bench, coffee table and three different sized cubes are designed to be used either indoors or out. The sleek surface of the hollow forms has been formulated so that the sofa and the easy chair will have more give than the twisted cube units. Heller explained that both the company and the architect were very interested in process and working with the newest technology to determine what you can invent, just as Frank does with his buildings..

Both Emeco and Heller displayed prototypes of Gehry's designs at Milan's 2004 Salone Internazionale del Mobile, and will present them at ICFF. The real articles will be available to design-hungry consumers this summer.

A documentary on the design process of the Superlight Chair, Ping Pong by Eames Demetrios, will be shown on Friday, May 14th, at 8:30 p.m. at the Center for Architecture, 536 La Guardia Place.
Tracey Hummer is a New Yorkkbased writer and editor.


Show Pieces
Harry Allen, Sergei Hasegawa, and Magne Magler Wiggen:
ICFF Commissions

 

For the past several years, the organizers of ICFF have commissioned hot designers to spruce up the 110,000 square feet of the Javits Center during the four-day event. This year, in addition to displays by 450 exhibitors, visitors will see a newsstand designed by New York industrial and interior designer Harry Allen; a bar by industrial designer Sergei Hasegawa of Brooklyn-based pure-kitchen; and the ICFF Connector,, a passageway linking showroom floors, designed by multidisciplinary design firm Magne Magler Wiggen (MMW) of Oslo. Allen's newsstand, a bulbous 16-foot-tall, 18.5-foot-wide heptagonal pavilionndubbed the iglooo by his studioowill be constructed out of expanded polystyrene foam panels Allen spotted at Home Depot. He picked the panels for their high strength-to-weight ratio as well as their humble origins as wall insulation. The form followed the material and the function,, he said. The structure needed to have six stations for magazine sales reps to interact with the public and a door to get inside, hence the seven sides.. Allen's construction methods were also straightforward. The panels are light enough to be hand-carried through the front entrance and structural enough to require a minimum of joineryyonly tape and biscuit joints will be needed for its assembly.

Meanwhile, Hasegawa has designed a bar with a countertop made of Richlite, a paper-composite board with a high recycled material content. The board is sturdy enough to be used in boats and skateboard ramps. Hasegawa's design incorporates a curved surface, echoing a skater's beloved halfpipe. MMW took a jet-set prefab approach in its design for the ICFF Connector. The firm created a white wormlike form made of fabric and ringed with orange pneu-matic pipes. Shaped by air pressure, the three-piece structure knocks down easilyyso easily, in fact, that the designers report that they will transport the structure's three pieces from Norway in their personal luggage. The special textiles workshop of outdoor clothing manufacturer Helly Hansen provided the materiall a watertight canvas typically used for offshore diving suitssand will fabricate the structure's sections. The project's concept derives from Per Gynt, Henrik Ibsen's play about travel,, said Hallstein Guthu of MMW. Each of the structure's three sections has a sound and lighting theme inspired by the play.
DEBORAH GROSSBERG IS AN ASSITANT EDITOR AT AN.


Raising the Roof
Graftworks: West Village roof deck

Architecture morphs into furniture in a roof renovation by Graftworks Architecture and Design, a New York firm founded in 1999 by Lawrence Blough and John Henle. The architects skinned the 1,100-square-foot roof of this West Village brownstone with strips of cedar slatting that peel up to form a hint of a canopy and curvy chaise lounges. The same slats continue toward the roof's edge, twisting out to conceal planters and to offer a subtle safety barrier. Blough and Henle arrived at this strategy as a way to avoid cluttering the small terrace with traditional porch furniture. For Graftworks, the deck's ruled surfaces relate to the city's skyline typology, specifically to the slatted wooden water towers that perch upon roofs across Manhattan. The deck surfaces look like they've been unfurled from vertically sliced water towers,, said Blough. The contents of the towers also plays into the design: Water sprays through wood slats at various points, providing a cooling mist just in time for summer. DG


Feel the Burn
Maarten Baas: Smoke

In past years, furniture at ICFF has been available in a range of flavorsscotton candyycolored, crunchy granola, spicy and Brazilian, stark and Swedish. This year, add BBQ to the list. On May 16th, Moss in SoHo unveils the exhibition Where There's Smoke, a solo show of new works by 26-year-old Dutch designer Maarten Baas who takes modern classics and burns them to a crisp. The series at Moss will consist of furniture from several time periodssbaroque chairs from the 18th century to 20th-century chairs by Gerritt Rietveld, Charles and Ray Eames, and Isamu Noguchi. The chronological journey continues with a Memphis shelf from the 1980s by Ettore Sottsass, works by Droog Design from the 1990s, and the 2002 Favela Chair by Humberto and Fernando Campanaaall pieces Baas considers seminal in his education. Moss acquired each piece to to be subjected to Baas' hand-torching and epoxy-coating treatment. Sounding almost Loosian, the Eindoven-based designer explains that the burning is his way of stripping away ornament and returning an object to its original function. If I burn away the ornaments, the structure will still [function as a] chair,, says Baas. By rendering such perfect objects imperfect, he diminishes their hands-off preciousness and brings them closer to their true purpose, as common tables and chairs. When [these pieces are] thrown on the fire,, said Moss, they release energy and propel us forward.. While it remains to be seen whether Baas' blackened works are modernist interventions or pyromaniac obsessions, Smoke is sure to get people all fired up.  ANDREW YANG IS AN EDITOR AT PRINT AND WRITES ABOUT ART AND ARCHITECTURE.


Wonder Woman
Dune: 12 New Works

Dune, a contemporary furniture design collective founded in 1996 with a showroom in Manhattan and a manufacturing studio in Brooklyn, will introduce an all-female line-up for its 2004 collection, Wonder Women. The ensemble, on view during the ICFF at the Waterfront in Chelsea (formerly the nightclub the Tunnel), will feature furniture by a mix of 12 accomplished designers and architects.

Winka Dubbeldam contributed Cumulus, a smoky acrylic coffeetable with translucent storage compartments for everything from magazines to fruit to wine bottles. Laurinda Spear of Arquitectonica designed Hollow Bed, a light and airy molded fiberglass form. Architects Victoria Meyers and Emanuela Frattini Magnusson will also unveil pieces for the collection, along with industrial designers Eva Zeisel, Lauren Leon-Boym, and Matali Crasset.  DG

On the Waterfront

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Ikea in Red Hook

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Game Plan

The world's most glamorous cities are vying for the 2012 Olympic Games. Here's a look at New York's competition.

The 39 cities that have hosted the summer and winter Olympic Games for the past century have taken a mixed approach to the task, reflecting the issues of their times more than the particularities of place or the universality of the event. The famoussor infamoussBerlin Olympics of 1936, awarded to the German capital before the Nazis came to power, became an opportunity for Adolf Hitler to demonstrate to the world, in an Albert Speerrdesigned stadium, the efficiency of Nazi Germany. In 1984 Los Angeles reused many facilities built for its 1932 Olympics, dressing up the city in banners and public art projects, like an Archigram Instant City. With its real urban problems papered over for two weeks, L.A. pulled off an event that was considered a triumph of corporate sponsorship and patronage, reflecting the Reagan era as much as the movie Wall Street. The organizers of the L.A. games predicted theirs would become the model for future Olympics, since it made a profit of $223 million, but other cities haven't been as lucky. Atlanta barely survived its 1996 stint, reportedly losing hundreds of millions of dollars, though it did add over 5,000 units of low-cost housing to the city in the process.

Today, the competition has become a war of battling trophy buildings by star architects, with New York City leading the way (see page 1 and Issue 2.3.2004). Historically, the Olympics have proven to be capable of spurring the creation of public amenities like parks, housing, and sports facilities. The latest strategy is the use of celebrity designs as a wedge to open neighborhoods to gentrification, for example, bringing spectacular housing by the likes of Zaha Hadid and MVRDV to Queens, one of the most mixed-income residential and manufacturing areas of the city. It's worth noting that all the 2012 bids (except Havana's, which has not been made public) call for 70 to 80 percent of their budgets to come from private investment and 20 to 30 percent from public resources.

Leipzig's bid includes an 80,000-seat stadium designed by Peter Eisenman that can break down and be downsized or carted away, leaving open space and parks more appropriate to the scale of the small Saxony village. Leipzig is the anti-Los Angeles of the Olympics, offering a pleasant, small town experienceea new approach that may prove that the Olympics does not have to be the great invasion feared by residents. Havana is also playing up the modest Olympics angle, carrying its anti-commercial, anti-big platform to the extreme by barely publicizing its bid. Every plan, in fact, is notably restrained, responding to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) call for quick commutes and sustainable development.

Module parts of Peter Eisenmann's Stadium for Leipzig Dominique Perrault's "the Magic Box"

On May 18th, the IOC will announce which of the nine bidding cities have been accepted as official candidates. The host city for the 2012 games will be named on July 6, 2005. The contenders:

Havana

Nowhere near able to match its rivals' investments in architectural or infrastructural projects (or even a website) to enhance its Olympic bid, Havana is, unsurprisingly, banking on high-minded social ideals to make the cut. The Cuban Olympic Committee (COC), headed by Jose Ramon Fernandez, who is also the vice-president of Cuba, points out that the Olympics have never been held in the Caribbean and only once before in Latin America (Mexico City, 1968). Many feel it's about time the games are awarded to a developing country.

Furthermore, Fernandez argues that the country deserves to be awarded the Olympics for its sporting achievements. Cuba consistently performs well at international sporting events (for example, winning 11 gold, 11 silver, and 7 bronze medals at the Sydney Olympics))far out of proportion to the size of the island's population of 11 million. The priority should be athletic merits, not a nation's wealth or sponsors or television,, he said in a press conference announcing the city's bid. Cuba is promising a modest, dignified, non-commercialized Olympics that restores emphasis on athletes.

Cuba uses sport, like the former Soviet bloc countries did, as a way to promote its socialist ideals. For this reason, the country actually has decent existing sports facilities. It even has an Olympic Stadium, built for the Pan American Games in 1991. Havana is the frequent host of conferences, is well experienced at organizing large-scale events, and has quality hotel accommodations as a result of its thriving tourist trade.

Havana's downfall will be its weak transportation system. The charm of the 1950s tail-finned Chevys, well-educated taxi drivers, and diverse buses (donated from countries around the world, still bearing original destination signs such as Oslo, Maastricht, Edmonton) will surely not be enough to convince the IOC to make the dream of Fidel Castro, an avid sportsman, come true.

Peter Eisenmann's Stadium for Leipzig

Istanbul

Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and its 2012 Olympic bid, themed The Meeting of Continents, plays up this unique condition. The city's bid argues that Istanbul's symbolic role as a bridge between Islamic and Judeo-Christian culture is especially appropriate given the current state of world affairs.

Istanbul yearns to reclaim its status as a superpower city. Its bid marks the city's fourth consecutive attempt at hosting the Olympics. An 89 percent approval rating further proves Turkey's determination, but the city's relatively weak infrastructure continues to place Istanbul as a long-shot contender. The city's chances have improved since its last bid, however, due to the 2002 completion of the 80,000-seat Ataturk Olympic Stadium and a brand new subway system that is still in the process of expanding.

The $120 million Ataturk was designed by Michel Macary and Aymeric Zublena, the same French architects responsible for the Stade de France, Paris' key Olympic stadium, in collaboration with local architect Doruk Pamir. The architects opted for an open top to the concrete brut design after the Stade faced serious humidity problems due to its closed-roof construction. Still, the stadium shelters 54,000 spectators, 36,000 of whom are protected on the west side by a monumental canopy in the shape of a crescent, the symbol of Turkey. The dramatic semi-circular roof is suspended between two 60-meter poles set over 200 meters apart, serving as yet another metaphor for Istanbul's role as the link between Europe and Asia.

The Ataturk Olympc Stadium designed by Michel Macary and Aymeric Zublena

Leipzig

Leipzig, a city in Saxony known for its Renaissance and Baroque buildings and classical music venues, is an unusual Olympic contender. Its compact historical center and quiet residential suburbs could be a plus for the 2012 bid, though. The IOC wants simple and compact games and we are perfectly suited for that,, said bid manager Peter Zuehlsdorff.

The Leipzig proposal, which is based on a 2001 feasibility study by Albert Speer, Jr., features flexible designs by a number of big-name architects, including Peter Eisenman, Dresden-based Peter Kulka, and Berlin-based Barkow Leibinger Architects. Kulka's project connects various sports arenas with transparent, cloudlike structures and numerous bridges crossing Leipzig's river basin. After the games, Kulka's stadium will be melted down,, leaving a smaller arena. Eisenman's stadium is also designed to be downsized after the games, leaving an arena more appropriate for Leipzig's population of 500,000. Assembled out of movable modules, the stadium will provide seats for 80,000 during the Olympics, and can be downsized to a stadium for 20,000 once the games are over. Or the whole thing can be taken apart and relocated after the games.

The Olympia Pavilion, designed by Barkow Leibinger, will function as a signn and traffic knot,, according to the architects, a highly visible marker located on an important thoroughfare leading to the main Olympic grounds. The pavilion, which will house exhibitions during the games and later serve as a sports museum, has a dynamic, irregular faaade, wrapped with textile ribbons.. If Leipzig wins the Olympic bid, the facility could be built as early as 2006, to act as a media center for the FIFA World Cup.

Barkow Leibinger's information center, Leipzig (above) Foreign Office Architects, EDAW, HOK Sport, and Allies and Morrison's master plan for London 2012 >

London

London's 2012 bid follows the Barcelona model of Olympic development. The bid proposes a scheme in which the games serve as an engine to spur city improvements, leaving behind a sustainable legacy after the games. Keith Mills, chief executive of the bid, was quoted in the Telegraph as saying, There will be no white elephants at the London games. We'll build what we need and no more..

Though London's planned new venues have not yet reached the design stage, Foreign Office Architects completed the master plan for the project, situating 70 percent of all venues within a 500-acre park 13 kilometers outside central London in the Lower Lea Valley, a river flood plain and run-down light industrial area. The park, designed by EDAW, an international urban design and planning firm, will restore the flood plain by removing existing river walls. London-based Allies and Morrison Architects and HOK Sport are also involved with the London bid.

An Olympic stadium, velodrome, aquatic center, and media center will be built along the valley in a plan that takes into account Richard Rogers' Millennium Dome, situated 5 kilometers away, which will be recruited to serve as an Olympic venue. Norman Foster's new Wembley Stadium, dubbed The Church of Footballl with its curved, partially retractable roof, will be completed in late 2005 and will serve the 2012 games.

The key to the success of London's plan will be a reorganized transport system capable of shuttling visitors from central London out to the valley. Rail infrastructure already exists but new stations will be needed. The city's bid hopes that 90 percent of visitors to the Olympics will be able to commute by train, given London's congestion problems and corresponding steep tolls for motor transport. Athletes will be housed within walking distance from most venues in the valley, though commutes to distant venues like Wembley could be daunting.

Cruz & Ortiz's design for the enlargement of La Peineta stadium in Madrid

Madrid

Madrid's bid for the Olympic Games of 2012 comes at a time when the city is already immersed in an extensive process of urban transformation, spurred by economic prosperity and heavily dependent on designs by signature architects. Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners, Foster and Partners, Rubio & lvarez Sala, and CCsar Pelli are building new office towers. The city's cultural institutions are being enriched by Herzog & de Meuron's Caixa Forum, Jean Nouvel's addition to the Reina Soffa Museum, and Rafael Moneo's extension of the Prado Museum. And more projects are working toward fortifying Madrid's historic urban center, such as the reconstitution of the Prado axis by lvaro Siza and the expansion of open space with new parks such as La Gavia by Toyo Ito. Finally, Madrid is seeing its residential panorama enlivened with new dynamic proposals by international architectural studios like MVRDV, David Chipperfield Architects, and Morphosis, in collaboration with local Spanish teams.

As is the case with other bidding cities, staging the Olympics will give Madrid the chance to develop new sporting facilities and upgrade existing ones. Won by an international competition in 2002, the new Olympic Tennis Center by Dominique Perrault is conceived as a multipurpose magic boxx with dozens of indoor and outdoor courts, and cultural spaces. Seville-based Cruz & Ortiz is expanding La Peineta stadium, which they designed in 1994. The stadium's new neighbor will be an aquatic center by Juan Joss Medina, also won by competition.

The proposed projects are supported by Madrid's highly developed transportation networks, soon to be enhanced by the new terminal of the Madrid-Barajas Airport by Richard Rogers and Estudio Lamela. Though the airport is just 12 minutes from the city center via the underground metro, the airport expansion includes plans to link it to all the Olympic venues, as well as the commuter train system and the regional High-Speed Train (AVE).

Dominique Perrault's design of the Olympic Tennis Center in Madrid has been nicknamed "the Magic Box" >

Moscow

The year 2012 would mark the 100th anniversary of Russia's participation in the Olympics. According to the Moscow bid, the city hopes to use the opportunity to introduce a new and democratic Russiaa to the world. The city last hosted the games during the Communist era (1980). The city's previous experience could benefit its bid by proving it is capable of hosting the games, but it could also be damaging if the IOC considers the 32-year interlude as too short to merit a double-play.

Moscow's bid concept, Olympic River, builds on the social and cultural importance of the city's river by situating many of its developments along its waterfront. Most of the city's venues served as Olympic facilities in 1980, like the Luzhniki, Krylatskoe, and Olympiskiy complexes, but some new projects are planned as well, including a new 200-acre Olympic Village and a 17,000-suite residential-style Media Village. Moscow also boasts a strong transportation infrastructure, starring an excellent subway system that meets 90 percent of the city's commuting needs, carrying six to eight million passengers daily. The city also plans to create a fourth ring road and a number of new expressways before 2012.

The Stade de France built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup anchor's the Paris proposal. Designed by French Architect's Michel Macary and Aymeric Zublena, who also designed The Ataturk Olympic Stadium
 

Paris

With its compact plan, high-quality transportation facilities, and substantial experience with hosting world-class sporting events, Paris is the bookmakers' favorite for the 2012 Olympics, even though public approval for the project is low (compared to other cities), at 75 percent. The Parisian plan situates the majority of its Olympic venues in two clusters, one to the north of Paris, centered on the Stade de France in St. Denis, built for the 1998 World Cup; and the other in the 16th Arrondissement, home to the Roland-Garros Stadium, built in 1928 and upgraded in 2000. The Olympic Village, to be designed by French architect Frannois Grether, is situated in Batignolles, on a 50-hectare site that is 6 kilometers from each cluster. It includes a 10-hectare park, which will be constructed regardless of the success of the city's bid.

Most of the sports venues Paris plans to use for the Olympics already exist, though the city is planning to start construction on five new stadiums in 2009. Three of them will be located within the two clusters: the Dome, for volleyball, the SuperDome, for artistic gymnastics and basketball, and the Aquatics Centre. The other two will be outside the city: the Velodrome, in St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, and the Shooting Centre in Versailles. The plan also makes clever use of historic landmarks. The Eiffel Tower's foundation is slated to be transformed into a beach volleyball court, the Chhteau de Versailles' grounds will become a cycling track, and the historic Longchamp racecourse, built in 1857 and upgraded in 1966, will house equestrian events. According to the Paris 2012 bid, the rest of its new construction will be for temporary use only.

Rio de Janiero

Rio's bid claims passionn is the most abundant resource the city can offer the Olympic Committee: Passion for nature, the environment, life, sport, excellence, and the future.. Indeed, Rio 2012 is playing up the city's festive reputation, emphasizing music, dancing, street performancess[and the] spirit of celebrationn on its website.

Rio's Olympic theme, One Village, One City, One World, alludes to the city's planning strategy which fits all of its venues within the city limits, not more than 20 kilometers apart, in four separate zones: Barra, Sugar Loaf, Maracann, and Deodoro.

The Barra region constitutes the jewel in Rio's Olympic crown,, according to the Rio 2012 website. Situated on one of Rio's lagoon beaches, the area is one of the city's fastest growing, which means developers will have no trouble marketing its residential and commercial real estate after the games are over. Barra will house a number of new venues which are already under construction for the 2007 Pan American Games, including a new Olympic stadium with an 80,000-seat capacity. A linear park, the Olympic Boulevard, will extend along Barra's beachfront, linking the new Olympic Village with the ring road to Sugar Loaf and Maracann. Sugar Loaf, another white sand, clear water paradise 20 kilometers away from Barra, will house mostly outdoor events like beach volleyball, canoeing, cycling, and sailing in mostly existing or temporary facilities.

Deodoro and Maracann are both inland sites in need of the type of economic rejuvenation the Olympics can ignite. Deodoro offers 5 million square meters of green rolling hills, which will be used for equestrian and shooting. Maracann Stadium, the largest in the world and the soul of Brazilian football,, according to Rio's bid, will play a significant role in the region's plans, along with two new arenas. One of them, the $166 million Jooo Havelange Stadium designed by architect Carlos Porto, is currently under construction, also for the Pan American Games, and is scheduled for completion in 2005. The developers of the Havelange hired Minneapolis-based Ellerbe Becket as engineering consultants. The 45,000-seat enclosed structure will focus on environmental friendliness, with a roof designed to capture rainfall with which to water the grass field.
PRODUCED BY DEBORAH GROSSBERG, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ALEXANDER EISENSCHMIDT, CATHY LANG HO, WILLIAM MENKING, LAURA MULAS, KESTER RATTENBURY, BBKE URAS, AND JAMES WAY.

Whetting the Olympic Dream

New York City's Olympic bid committee, NYC 2012, has made some great design decisions including the choosing of finalists for its Olympic Village. However, as the very powerful private organization prepares to make its final push, Andrew Yang asks, How much does the city really need the Olympics?

While the International Olympic Committee won't be announcing the host city for the 2012 Olympics until July 2005, NYC 2012, the non-profit private organization funded by large corporations and private donors that is initiating New York's bid, is commissioning enough work to build a small city. In fact, a small city is what NYC 2012 has most recently announced.

After an initial round of RFQs, NYC 2012 selected five architects to submit designs for an Olympic village in Queens West, near Long Island City: Henning Larsens Tegnestue, Zaha Hadid, Morphosis, MVRDV, and a mostly hometown team consisting of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson, Ralph Lerner, Shigeru Ban, Julie Bargmann and others.

The plans, which will be presented publicly this March, will be both a building and an urban plan. The architects will be concerned with fulfilling the Olympic program, but also creating market-rate (read: non- dormmstyle) housing on a site near Long Island City. While the village will house 16,000 athletes and coaches during the Olympics, it could house nearly 18,000 residents after the Olympics are over. They appropriately put a very high premium on design,, said Ralph Lerner. The Olympic (and post-Olympic) Village would be the first residential complexes for many of the designers. Because New York City is competing to host the Olympics, the architects are not guaranteed a commissionn yet. However, the quality of proposals and designs will be contributed into New York's candidature file, from which the ultimate decision will be made.

From the start, NYC 2012, founded by Daniel Doctoroff, now the deputy mayor for economic development, has been courting good design. It has already commissioned biggies like Hardy, Holzman and Pfieffer, Deborah Berke, and Rafael Viioly for speculative designs into the all-important candidature file. I'd like to think that the tide is turning [for good design in New York],, said Laurie Hawkinson.

Beyond the Olympic Village, there are much heralded infrastructure improvements including the Olympic XX plan, which extends east-west from Queens to Midtown to the Meadowlands, and north-south along the East river. The main elements of the Olympic proposal consist of fortifying existing sporting sites in all five boroughs, building new venues in key places like the Queens and Brooklyn waterfronts, and developing the west side of midtown Manhattan.

The linchpin of the plan is, and has been from the beginning, the development of a stadium for the New York Jets to be used as the official Olympic stadium, along with an anticipated extension of the number 7 subway line from 8th Avenue to 12th Avenue along 42nd Street. NYC 2012's estimate is a cost of $3 billion, not including West Side development, a city priority. In all, the Olympics may cost $6 billion.

Such a staggering sum and a complicated and nuanced vision has required cooperated planning between the private NYC 2012 and many city departmentssa difficult feat, or so one would think. While NYC 2012, the mayor's office, and the Department of City Planning are discreet entitites, the players involveddDoctoroff and Alexander Garvin, NYC's director of planning and a city planning commissionerr give every impression that the Olympics and the city's priorities are in tandem.

Doctoroff currently maintains no official association with NYC 2012, and Garvin has voluntarily submitted his positions for review to the city's very active and very pedantic Conflicts of Interest Board, which has very publicly given its permission. In fact, while there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that Garvin or Doctoroff's public and private roles are in conflict, The priorities between NYC 2012 and the city are completely aligned,, says Marcos Diaz Gonzalez, director of events for NYC 2012. (Incidentally, one of the private companies sponsoring NYC 2012 is Bloomberg, LLP.) However, the very massive and private efforts of NYC 2012, and the very public and civic-minded roles occupied by these two officials necessarily make the private and public boundary a delicate one.

Currently, several of the city's planning efforts, including Doctoroff's exploration into financing options for the West Side, are not being pursued solely for the sake of economic development, but are tailored to be especially accommodating should the Olympics happen. The Mayor's office recently opposed a power-plant proposal in Williamsburg, on the grounds that it was improperly situated in a residential area, anddmany speculatee that it interfered with the administration's plan to use the site as an Olympic sporting venue.

The Olympic Village site, Queens West, currently a four-phase development initiated by the Empire State Development Corporation, and involving such players as the Rockrose group, Kohn Pedersen and Fox, and Arquitectonica, would be significantly altered if NYC 2012 has their way. Even after borough president Helen Marshall told the Gotham Gazette last year that she thought the Olympics might delay Queens West development, which could potentially be completed before 2012, her office is now maintaining a careful stance. We have no problem with the [Olympic] village as long as it's done right,, said spokesman Dan Andrews.

Even if the convergence of city priorities and Olympic-planning priorities weren't an issue, what, exactly, would the Olympics bring that would be of long-term value to New Yorkers? NYC 2012 is heavy on talk of Olympic legacyy?the long- term effects of frenzied, multi-year preparation for a two-week eventt and what it will contribute to the city of New York. Since the West Side and Queens West are under-utilized areas that are transportation-rich and in attractive locations, their development would be beneficial for the city, and many of these projects have been on track and would be happening anyway, sans Olympics. The best and most original part of the proposal would be the acres of parks that it would add to the city (including the greening of Staten Island's Brookfield landfill). However, the importance of a state-of-the-art equestrian center is questionable for a city that prides itself on industries like finance, media, nightlife, and entertainment.

There can be a case made for the transit system, which has been engineered to link sporting venues. Those hubs will ostensibly link neighborhoods in the boroughs, despite the fact that neighborhoods aren't traditionally anchored by sporting venues. Organizations such as the Regional Plan Association are not studying the impact of the Olympics because, according to a spokesman, the Olympic proposal really isn't adding any kind of infrastructure, except for the extension of the number 7 [subway] line..

Additionally, the economic benefits of the Olympic Games have never been quite clear. The 1976 games left Montreal in long-term debt, while Barcelona thrived after the 1992 games. Athens is using the 2004 games to build a much-needed transit system, while Beijing is giving itself a total overhaullcomplete with a city master plan and a new skyline for 2008. Many of those cities will no doubt benefit from being in the purview of the rest of the world. However, does New Yorkkcurrently competing with London, Paris, Moscow, Madrid, Istanbul, and Rio de Janeirooreally need to be in the world spotlight more than it already is?

Beyond economics and value, then, the Olympics may just be a clever way of getting all of New York's improvements under one plan, and getting it done by a certain date. [The Olympic bid] is deadline-driven,, says Diaz Gonzalez. Financing, designing, and construction will have to follow a definite scheduleewhich would be an achievement. And that's difficult to achieve, especially in New York.. It's reasonable to assume that without a deadline of 2012, many of these capital improvements might take longer than necessary.While many organizations may be willing to help make the big push for the Olympics, there is one non-New York resident who makes a strong case against pouring the time and energy into such a massive undertaking. Last spring as a visiting professor in Geneva, Smith College economics professor and sports journalist Andrew Zimbalist spent some time talking to the IOC in Lausanne. Good bid cities, he said, are places that could benefit the most from improved public infrastructure, and are located in countries and continents that have not hosted it recently before. (North America will have been host five times since 1980, which is a huge strike.) Considering those factors, compounded by the global hostility towards the U.S. over the war in Iraq, his odds: 1 to 50.
Andrew Yang is an editor at PRINT and writes about art and architecture.