Search results for "432 Park Avenue"

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Mastering the Metropolis

Two new exhibitions at MCNY dive into the soul of New York
Two new exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) excavate the past and future of New York with a historian's eye for patterns and an urbanist's love of variety. The permanent exhibition, which tries to present New York's entire 400-year history, adheres to the platonic ideal of the 19th-century museum with forward-thinking updates that open up the urban encyclopedia for perspectives on the city of the future. New York at Its Core occupies three galleries—the whole first floor—divided chronologically and organized around the themes of money, density, diversity, and creativity to reveal the city's essential qualities and explain its changes. Although featured artifacts anchor the historical galleries—Port City, 1609-1898 and World City, 1898-2012—the exhibition, part of MCNY's ten-year, $100 million renovation, is a multimedia bonanza that uses digital representation to both immerse visitors in the past and visualize the Gotham to come. Your correspondent is wall text's #1 fan and one of the world's slowest museum-goers. Via immersive visuals like a colorized floor-to-ceiling projection of Mulberry Street around 1900 and touch-screen "learn more" graphics that highlight New Yorkers famous and obscure, Port City and World City gratify a pendant's desire to learn as much as possible about New York's development, but the cheerfully packed graphics and 400-plus artifacts will provide a quick review for the less patient. The exhibition was designed by New York–based Studio Joseph while Local Projects executed the media and playful UX design. Pentagram was responsible for the graphic design throughout. A spatial thread, Mapping New York, links changes in the city's land use to cultural and political changes through the three galleries. That element gets its biggest expression in the third and thrilling Future City Lab, a suite of interactive virtual-reality installations that open up questions around the challenges of an ever-growing city. Facing the entrance, the digital map overlays almost 100 maps to document the present and peer into the future (up until 2050). "Our philosophy past and present is that New Yorkers' actions shape the city," said Jake Barton, founding principal of Local Projects. Actions on a screen count, too: Visitors are invited to explore the intersectional problems of housing, transportation, outdoor space, living together, and getting by in New York through SimCity-like games that amuse and edify. In the housing section, visitors can construct an apartment building from one of the five boroughs to create a structure based on context, budget impact, and sustainability—the very real factors architects and developers consider when building in the city. Your corresponded saw a visitor create an eight-story Morris Adjmi–esque condo in East Harlem with large units, subtract volume to make a ziggurat, add trees to the terraces, and put a seniors' disco (programming) all along the third floor. Aside from housing, the outdoorsy can redesign a street or create a park. This reporter made a Manhattan waterfront recreation area that scored major points on biodiversity and flood mitigation for its oyster beds and native grasses, but went over-budget with a floating pool, public art, windmills, and a skatepark. A video of the final product (below) is projected onto a wall-sized screen in the museum for all to admire or make fun of: Each of the five themes is complemented by street photography from Joseph Michael Lopez. For metadata nerds who desire transparency, the curators set up the Data Nook, a cozy display that offers insight into how and why the exhibition's statistics were chosen and represented. After the joy of the lab, it would be a mistake to stop exploring. Upstairs, a second and thematically compatible exhibition, Mastering the Metropolis: New York City and Zoning, 1916-2016, delves into the city's zoning code on its centennial. The show injects brio and vitality into the rules—which, in today's iteration, fill three thick binders—that both govern building in New York and shed light on how ideas for the "ideal metropolis" have evolved. New York is New York because of tightly packed millions that generate wealth and art as well as explosive tensions over light and air that major code revisions in 1961 and this year have addressed. New York–based Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) built models that visualize urban planners' favorite acronym, Floor-Area Ratio (FAR), and show how the FAR allowance from nine lots, for example, was used to assemble air rights for Rafael Viñoly's cloudbusting 432 Park Avenue. while the exhibition explains a just-added suite of requirements on height and setbacks, plus affordable the new housing legislation.
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Total Basket Base

New renderings revealed for CetraRuddy’s basket-inspired Manhattan tower
New renderings confirm that CetraRuddy's new tower, at the border of Manhattan's Upper East Side and Midtown East, is a total basket case. The images of 200 East 59th Street released in November featured the latticed main entrance, and the wraparound roof decks with spiral staircases, but these are the first images to depict the full tower. 200 East 59th Street is developed by Macklowe Properties, the same entity behind Viñoly's 432 Park Avenue, but this tower is downright diminutive compared to its nearby cousin. It's set to rise 490 feet (35 stories), with 67 units over 99,848 square feet, YIMBY reports. The ceilings will be 14 feet tall, on average, although renderings seem to show the ceilings becoming progressively higher as the floors rise. The base of the tower will host almost 15,000 square feet of retail, and is clad in a shiny facade that takes inspiration from a woven basket. The ground floor looks awfully similar to Shigeru Ban Architects' Aspen Art Museum, a contemporary art space for the ritzy Colorado ski town that was completed in 2014 (and reviewed by AN here). The woven wood panel facade encircles 33,000 square feet of galleries; art sits cozily inside like a hatchlings in an artificial nest. The video below gives a full tour of the museum, for further comparison: https://vimeo.com/165649176 But, since CetraRuddy is a homegrown firm, maybe the luxury tower's true inspiration was the "Big Basket" out in Newark, Ohio that's now threatened with demolition? Regardless of inspiration, CetraRuddy's new Manhattan structure will cost approximately $278 million to build (think of how many crafty woven baskets you could buy for that!). Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
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Breaking Ground

COOKFOX–designed Bronx affordable housing with social mission—and stellar views—tops off
High on a hill in the West Bronx, the view from the top of COOKFOX's latest building plays tricks on the Manhattan skyline: One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and 432 Park Avenue seem to stand next to each other. Next year, thanks to a nonprofit developer, hundreds of lucky residents will get to take in the view. On Tuesday, the Bronx's latest affordable housing development for low-income and formerly homeless individuals and families topped off. The homeless services organization Breaking Ground (formerly Common Ground) partnered with New York City–based COOKFOX to design Park House and Webster Residence, twin structures that provide supportive housing with on-site social services and community space that complement the residences. Citywide, Breaking Ground operates two transitional houses (390 units) and 2,899 units of permanent supportive housing. The new Bronx apartments offer "a sense of permanence, a sense of belonging to the streetscape," explained Rick Cook, founding principal. Both buildings in this latest development, set between wide Park and Webster avenues, incorporate biophilic design, one of COOKFOX's guiding practices. The approximately 102,000- (Webster) and 247,000-square-foot (Park) structures are arranged around a residents-only courtyard; common areas are oriented towards green space. The warm brick and stone facade references the neighborhood's grand turn-of-the-century apartment homes. Recessed brickwork adds visual interest to the streetwall; up top, residents can access a green roof on the Webster Residence. The building, Cook noted, qualifies for Zone Green benefits, which allows additional floor area to be used for affordable housing. All interior treatments are low- or non-VOC, while  large windows take allow for ample natural light. The housing, Brenda Rosen, president and CEO of Breaking Ground, responds to community needs for two and three bedroom apartments. The most frequent questions she fields about the project are "How do I apply, and when?"
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Penthouse Plans

Rafael Viñoly gears up redesign of office space on Manhattan’s Auto Row
Rafael Viñoly Architects will lead the redesign of—and two-floor addition to—an office building at 787 11th Avenue on Manhattan's "Auto Row." Viñoly's $100 million renovation will add 86,000 square feet of office space over two floors to the 10-story building, owned by the Georgetown Company. The additions will bring the structure's size to over half a million square feet. The work space, recessed from the building's original footprint, will have wide open floor plates and oversize windows to flood the space with natural light. Renovations will include a two-story penthouse and a 12,000-square-foot roof deck, accessible only to office tenants. Currently, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, and Infiniti have showrooms and offices in the space; post-renovation, BNF Automotive Group and Nissan North America will lease 265,000 square feet for their flagships on the building's lower floors. Viñoly, whose recent New York projects include the Rockefeller University Campus Master Plan and supertall 432 Park Avenue, offered unvarnished praise for the developers in a statement. He added: “The opportunity to combine the building’s historic architecture with a sleek and modern design is one I could not pass up.” The building is one of many new projects outside of Hudson Yards to blossom on Manhattan's Far West Side. A block away from Hudson River Park and the West Side Highway, tenants will have access to a private subway shuttle service, and a CitiBike station across the street. Work is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
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In Conversation: Alternative Developers
Sumaida + Khurana's 152 Elizabeth St. in Nolita by Tadao Ando Associates + Gabellini Sheppard Associates.
Courtesy Noe & Associates and The Boundary

As part of the AN developers feature, Matt Shaw interviewed representatives from four developers who are innovating in New York and elsewhere using alternative models for development. These perspectives offer new ways forward as the architecture and business communities work together to find new design, housing, and community-oriented solutions to our 21st century urban issues.

Sumaida + Khurana

Up-and-coming developer Sumaida + Khurana is bringing high-profile international architects to do its first buildings in New York, including NoLita condos by Tadao Ando and a forthcoming 400-foot midtown tower by Alvaro Siza. Amit Khurana has more than two decades of experience in the real estate industry, while Saif Sumaida holds an architecture degree from the Cooper Union. Together, they are changing how New York development is designed.

Matt Shaw: How did you end up working together as developers?

Saif Sumaida: I graduated from Cooper Union with a degree in architecture, and the education was very rich in discourse and concepts. Just by accident, I actually ended up in construction, and over the last 23 years, I’ve been building in New York. I like working as a developer because you have control of authorship both from a construction and architecture perspective, but also as the developer when you put the vision together.

Amit Khurana: Saif is tremendously experienced and when we met it was an interesting fit just because I love architecture and design. I have to give Saif such credit for this but when we are in a room with an architect and we sit down, his knowledge is so fantastic, to not only think of just construction but to think of how architecture relates to construction. And I think that it was a unique situation because there was a shared vision and very complementary sets of skills.

Courtesy Sumaida + Khurana
 

What do you feel these projects bring to New York as a city, not just for the residents of the buildings?

AK: We see ourselves as developer/custodians of the built environment and ultimately we have a responsibility because we play a very important role that really changes the city. Small or large—it doesn’t matter. It’s about uplifting people, and fulfilling the dream of the city too, right? I think if you ask anyone, at the end of the day people appreciate excellence. It’s not about the asset type, it’s not necessarily about who is going to live there or rent there or work there. It has something to do with a kind of purity of design and the impact it has on people.

SS: I think the problem is a lot of developers are really looking at buildings as commodities to monetize. But I think there is a legacy to be made in selecting the architect and making something that has meaning and has a place in the fabric of the city and that is something that you’ll ultimately be proud of. We want to create places. We feel that we have some sort of a social responsibility to do that.

Why bring in these architects?

AK: New York is a melting pot with a lot of influence from outside. We also came from different countries although we spent so much time here. We wanted to just focus on, in a very pure fashion, this idea of bringing master architects to New York to design their very first buildings here. Especially in New York where as-of-right sites are such a tremendous opportunity to work in a specific way and to push the envelope a little bit. looking at it and finding a site, we’re actually looking for a site for Ando or for Siza. This inverted process allows us to think about things a little bit differently.

SS: A lot of developers rely on marketing people to tell them what has worked. They’re following formulas because they believe that these are the formulas that will get them the profit. People find a proof of concept and just follow it. You don’t have to think too much. When you bring somebody else from abroad or somebody who hasn’t built anything in New York, they actually bring a certain amount of freshness. What’s amazing about New York is that it allows for this diversity. You can still be visionary and make it successful.

Courtesy Noe & Associates and The Boundary
 

Do you think that your experience as an architect lets you work with these architects in a different way rather than other developers?

SS: I think the one thing is, I’m very respectful of the process. I’m always able to talk to architects in their language. Instead of looking at it, again, as a commodity, I can engage them in their concepts and be able to enter that dialogue and be able to discuss it with them as opposed to always looking for an end product. I can enter the process and into a discourse with them so that once I understand what they’re trying to do we can then figure how best to get there.

You mentioned affordable housing a little bit. Do you see that as a project that could be interesting to take on?

SS: Very much so. I think there’s a responsibility for developers to be able to bring to the city various projects. It can’t just be building for the wealthy, you have to be able to do it for all. Otherwise, you’re not really making an impact in the city as you think you are. To make an impact on the city you have to touch on the various fabrics.

AK: Well I think that it’s also responding to the realities of where you are in a market cycle. Currently we’re in a market where land is insanely expensive. So we have to respond to that. It’s always allowing yourself to be flexible with different opportunities. I mean, imagine bringing in a famous Spanish architect to New York to build a wonderful, affordable housing project or something like that. It isn’t about how many dollars per foot you spend on a construction; it’s about thoughtfulness. We have the ability and skillset that allows us to also control costs and control some of these variables that can get out of control.


 

Proposal for a pool at the Shore Club in Miami by Isay Weinfeld.
Courtesy HFZ Capital Group
 

Thorsten Kiefer, HFZ

Thorsten Kiefer is Director of Design and Development for HFZ Capital Group. In this role, he has helped initiate collaborations with architects such as David Chipperfield, BIG, Moshe Safdie, and Isay Weinfeld on projects at various scales in New York and Miami. He talked with AN about his background at OMA, SOM, and SHoP, and what someone in his position can bring to the firm and ultimately the city.

As an architect at OMA in Rotterdam, his job included working in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro on a master plan for Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2001. This experience at OMA also led to HFZ bringing in OMA to develop an entire empty city block in New York between Tenth and Washington streets along the High Line. However, OMA wasn’t able to continue because of previous contractual commitments, so HFZ turned to another OMA alumni, Bjarke Ingels of BIG, who had worked with Thorsten 15 years ago.

 
Thorsten Kiefer.
Courtesy HFZ
 

Matt Shaw: You have an interesting background. How did you end up in this role as an experienced architect working directly for a developer?

Thorsten Kiefer:  My time at SHoP was truly formative. At SHoP I worked on competitions in London and New York as well as the redevelopment of the South Street Seaport, initially with General Growth and then followed by Howard Hughes. I formed a number of connections with the development side of the business and after a couple of years at SHoP I began looking for the next career challenge. This opportunity seemed interesting for myself.

What is your role at HFZ?

As Director of Design and Development, I work closely with the marketing team and our executives on the overall conceptual and programmatic framework. The team establishes a list of architects, which we believe would be a great fit for the project. In high-end residential development, the branding aspect of an interior designer or design architect can make a difference in sales.

The global desire for design is higher now than it was 20 years ago. There is money from many countries. Different cultures have different attitudes toward design, and the global market is reacting to that. A lot of global people invest in the city. HFZ tries to offer a high quality product. We do high-end residential, and without design, we wouldn’t get the margins. The value added from the architecture is necessary to get the numbers. 432 Park Avenue by Viñoly has a tremendous location, so people would buy there anyway. But 432 is getting astronomical numbers. Would you get the same price per square foot without the good design? Would the Russians, Chinese, Europeans, and South Americans still choose it?

This position is more common than maybe known in the architectural community. Large developers like Related or Extell have in house design teams. I do believe that this role is valuable. There are very different mindsets in design, construction, and development. The architect is best suited to mediate in between all of them. I also work with zoning lawyers to see if our massing is possible, and also with the construction team to make sure quality is good.

20 West 40th Street.
 

How do you see your role impacting the designs and ultimately the city?

Ziel Feldman, founder and chairman of HFZ as well as Nir Meir, Principal partner at HFZ are very keen on design and quality. Good design simply distinguishes our product within a very competitive market, and we understand this well. I’m also really interested in finding smart solutions to making the city a nice, vibrant place to be.

We are working with David Chipperfield on the last empty lot at Bryant Park and those units will come on the market in the next couple of months. I truly believe that it will not just be a beautiful piece of architecture completing an important urban space in New York, but also a very successful development.

What can this position bring to a company?

I believe an architect is best suited to communicate between all the different groups involved within the development process. We all know that the motivations of construction, marketing, development, or design are not always necessarily aligned, so the role we have with the position is to bring the different mindsets a little closer and hope that the end result is good design.

Do you ever push for different types of projects, like affordable housing?

I certainly have my personal opinion on “affordability” in New York and I do think that affordable housing will be a challenging component in any future residential development in this city.


Common Ground’s Schermerhorn supportive housing in Downtown Brooklyn by Susan Rodriguez/Ennead Architects.
David Sundberg/Etso
 

Brenda Rosen, Common Ground

Common Ground is the largest supportive housing developer and operator in New York. The organization offers formerly homeless people quality environments and services to recover, and also works to develop more traditional affordable housing. Its non-profit status makes its work different from many other developers in the city. Brenda Rosen is the president and CEO, and she gave us some insight on how Common Ground supports its tenants and navigates the non-profit development process.

 
Brenda Rosen.
Courtesy Common Ground
 

Matt Shaw: What is the mission of Common Ground?

Brenda Rosen: Supportive housing is affordable housing with onsite services so that’s what is different from your cookie-cutter affordable or market rate operation. There is a percentage of the tenants that come through the lottery process like any other affordable low-income tenant. And the other part of the building is filled with formerly homeless people who oftentimes are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse issues or medical issues and often times all of the above.

So there’s 50 percent or 60 percent of the building that is set aside for people coming from those circumstances and that is why we have onsite support to make sure that all of our tenants—low-income, regular working people, and those who are formerly homeless and who are coming with a lot of challenges and a lot of issues—have the support that they need to do that and to be as successful in housing as anybody else. With the exception of a few projects, one in Rochester and two in Connecticut, we are the property managers for all of our projects so we never leave the project.

We are about to break ground on our first stand-alone conventional affordable project which will be 248 units of affordable housing and that will not have a supportive housing component at all. Because our buildings are tax-credit buildings, your income has to be at 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income. We do the same marketing, advertising, and lottery like any other developer in the city for the affordable housing.

Webster Avenue by COOKFOX.
Courtesy COOKFOX
 

What are some of the challenges of being a non-profit? What does it mean to be a non-profit developer?

What it means is that the financing of the projects can be incredibly complicated compared to for-profits. When we finance a project we have multiple streams of support coming in for capital and for operating. We’ll use bonds, we’ll use tax credits, we’ll use state and city subsidies. And sometimes borough presidents or city council funds will fill a gap that we might have on the capital side. We also have government contracts that are providing operating support so we have regulatory agreements and government contracts, which means we are under intense scrutiny at all times regarding the services that we’re providing and the quality of the housing.

Can you talk more about what it means to be non-profit and specifically do affordable housing?

Fortunately or unfortunately we are not in this business to make a ton of money as we develop. Any non-profit developer that builds housing—for whatever population—will be collecting a developer fee. I think that the thing that really sets a non-profit apart from a for-profit developer is that all of the development fees that we collect, all of the net proceeds of whatever we’re doing, goes right back into the services and the housing that we’re providing. At the end of the day, again, we’re here to have a sound investment for investors that will buy our tax credits and finance a building. But we aren’t here to come out with this monstrous surplus in our budget. I think that because we are a mission-driven organization, our goal is ultimately to develop and operate housing for vulnerable people in New York.

2010 Brook by Gorlin Architects.
Courtesy Common Ground
 

What role does design play in your mission and in your projects?

Design in all of our projects is a top priority for us. We believe that a pride in home and surroundings helps recovering people to gain stability and to really end up succeeding. Ennead [Architects] did Schermerhorn in downtown Brooklyn for us. It has a ton of green elements, is cantilevered over a subway, and it’s incredibly beautiful. We have worked with COOKFOX who designed a building for us in Brownsville and is designing our next two buildings up on Webster Avenue in the Bronx—both a supportive building and an affordable building. The apartments and hallways are really flooded with natural light.

COOKFOX and Robert A.M. Stern are normally known for high-end buildings and yet they come back and work with us again and again, and bring those same design elements into an affordable project. Not many non-profits get to say that Robert A.M. Stern is going to be doing their next project and build in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn. We also develop mini studios, where the average apartment is between 225 to 300 square feet. We have to be really thoughtful about the design of the interior of each apartment. I’ve joked that we were doing micro units long before micro units were popular.

What are some of the challenges that you face when choosing sites?

Years ago when we were looking for land, we would site projects in Manhattan and in Brooklyn and in other places. Over the last several years we’ve done new construction in downtown Brooklyn, Brownsville, the South Bronx, and the Lower East Side, in addition to our older Manhattan sites in Midtown. But now primarily the only affordable land for us at this point is in the Bronx.

Common Ground tends to build large. Our smallest building has 72 units and our largest has 640. We prefer to have a building with 200 or more units. So you need a lot of buildable square feet for that, because in addition to the apartments we have a lot of community space in our buildings for our tenants—so we can have computer labs, a multi-purpose room, a gym, outdoor spaces, and offices for the onsite support staff.


Tom Fruin, kolonihavehus, in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Matthew Williams
 

Lisa Kim, Two Trees

Two Trees Management Company was founded in 1968 and has developed over 3 billion dollars in real estate. It is most famous for its redevelopment of the industrial neighborhood of Dumbo, Brooklyn. The company has remained committed to fostering artistic and cultural activity in the area through subsidized spaces for arts community tenants, and more broadly, supporting art as an urban issue. Lisa Kim is the Cultural Affairs Director for Two Trees. She formerly served as Private Collection Manager and Director of Exhibitions and Operations at Gagosian Gallery.

 
Lisa Kim.
Courtesy Two Trees
 

Matt Shaw: What initiatives does Two Trees have to support arts and culture?

Lisa Kim: Just having someone in my position is different. I am not a real estate person. My entire background comes from the art world. And so they brought me in to be the liaison to the art community and to think about this notion of organizing the company’s efforts of cultural philanthropy and making space for arts and artists in the neighborhood and how that integrates into our development. For Two Trees in Dumbo, it was really organic from the beginning. They own the majority of this neighborhood, and have seen it change.

It has become expensive for artists to work in Dumbo. The reason for the cultural space subsidy program is to find an organized way to create a level of support for the art community and open up space in our buildings for artists and non-profit groups. We thought an application process was the best way to do it. The space subsidy is rather dramatic. If you are granted a space subsidy here you’re given a lease of up to three years at basically a dollar a foot per month.

It’s tricky because there are a lot of people that certainly do want to bring artists in just to kind of spruce stuff up and then leave them when they don’t need them, but that’s not our case. We have 17 tenants—11 artists and six non-profit groups. With the cultural space subsidy tenants who’ve come in, we want to make sure that they’re also an active part of the community over there.

We want them to know who else is in the neighborhood. We had a little happy hour event last month where we brought in, not just the cultural space subsidy tenants, but our other artists and arts organizations tenants.

A mural in DUMBO.
Daniel Greenfeld
 

Who are some of the tenants?

We have New York’s first feminist cooperative gallery that was founded in 1972 and has been in Dumbo for eight years. On the 2nd floor of 20 Jay Street is a young theater group that goes to empower young women, to teach them how to write, direct, and perform plays about women’s issues. So here you have an A.I.R. gallery, a 40-year-old institution meeting Girl Be Heard, a six-year-institution with very-like minded initiatives talking about what they do.

We’ve been the go-to for arts groups that need a space once they’ve been booted from Tribeca, or Chelsea, or Soho. So we have arts support groups such as the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Faith Program. We also have the sculpture studio for the NY Studio School. Brooklyn Arts Council has their offices here. Arcadia is another arts funding organization that has its office here. We’ve been very supportive, for decades, to St. Ann’s Warehouse and to Smack Mellon. These are all tenants who had free to low rent. So it creates a very serious art community and a cluster in this neighborhood.

Do these cultural initiatives translate to added value for the developers? Or is this sort of a cultural, philanthropic project?

I think it’s cultural and philanthropic. A lot of people want to quantify what happens when you bring culture, but you can’t say when you put in X amount of dollars into arts support that you’re going to affect your bottom line by another number because you can raise property values or rents are higher or various other things. I mean I think it’s really anecdotal. I wish I could give you a metric. If you have cool shit for people to see they’re going to come see it. So who’s doing the cool shit, it’s the arts groups, right?
So how are these initiatives structured financially? Are they part of a separate non-profit? How does it relate to Two Trees?

Well, we’re a two-person part of the staff of Two Trees. The cultural space subsidy program is straight out of Two Trees. You get the same commercial space you would get if you were a market rate tenant. In Dumbo we have three commercial buildings—45 Main, 54 Washington, and 20 Jay Street—and our subsidy tenants are spread throughout all three buildings.

Then, separately, there is the non-profit Walentas Family Foundation with two programs as part of it. One is a neighborhood school program where grants are given for innovative school programs. The other half is the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program that offers 17 selected artists free studio space for one year in New York.
What does someone in your role bring to the development firm?

Because I’m naive to the world of development I can really be fresh about my approach in thinking about the art first. I go create it first and then there’s the reality check of is it possible to do this? On this site? Is it possible to do it in this budget? Does it make sense for this project or development?” And that’s when you start to put things together.

One of the buildings is a rather significant renovation and that’s the old Galapagos Art Space building at Water and Main streets. Four galleries will occupy that space. We spent the winter and spring months renovating that building from a cavernous, theater event space/bar to four beautiful sixteen-foot-ceiling white box gallery spaces.

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Eavesdrop> The Bell Rings In Silence: Gossip swirls over changes at AIANY
There was one question on everybody’s mind in New York this spring: What happened to Rick Bell? On March 27, without warning or explanation, the former executive director of AIANY and the Center for Architecture tendered his resignation, effective immediately, which AIANY’s board of directors promptly accepted. The unforthcoming announcement stirred up a steamy fountain of rumor and conjecture—very little of it fit for printing—over what could have precipitated Bell’s speedy departure, and AIANY’s continued reticence on the matter (there seems to be a gag order in place among its staff) hasn’t done anything to lessen the sheer salacious heights to which the gossip has climbed. Bell, for his part, doesn’t seem to be very phased by the upheaval. Eavesdrop spotted him at the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s annual benefit party—held this year in the unfinished lobby of the Rafael Viñoly–designed 432 Park Avenue—wearing a T-shirt that read “I Am Still Alive” and smiling like the cat that ate the canary. Also like a cat, Bell has landed on his feet. On May 8, New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora announced that the agency had hired him as its executive director of design and construction excellence. Meanwhile, in an interesting game of musical chairs, the AIANY appointed David Burney, who recently left his post as commissioner of the DDC, as its interim executive director.
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Another supertall tower to rise in Manhattan’s increasingly crowded supertall district
If you guessed that the newest luxury tower planned for Midtown, Manhattan would be very tall, skinny, and glassy then you, wise architectural observer, are correct. But don't be too proud of your guessing skills—predicting that a luxury New York City skyscraper will be a glass-wrapped giant is like guessing Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. It's too easy is what we're saying. Without further ado, we present to you 1 Park Lane, a 1,210-foot-tall glass condo tower revealed by New York YIMBY and designed by Handel Architects. The new building will replace Central Park South's Helmsley Park Lane Hotel which did not receive landmark status last year. "Windows will measure 10×14 feet, while ceilings on every floor will stand 15’5" tall," wrote YIMBY. "It appears the developers will maximize views by gutting the vast majority of the existing Helmsley Building and turning it into an enormous foyer, which will allow them to stack the extra floorspace up top." After a few massing setbacks, the building begins it rise. On the way up, there are four seemingly double height notches that are filled-in with plantings and get illuminated at night. The effect is similar to the passthroughs at Viñoly's 432 Park Avenue a few blocks away. The building is expected to be completed in 2020, so get those checkbooks ready, global elite!
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ODA reveals two new boxy New York City towers, each featuring an urban forest
ODA recently unveiled two major New York City projects, both of which are tall and expectedly boxy. The first is a 600-foot-tall, super-skinny tower near the United Nations. The Daily News reported that the building has “six 16-foot-high gaps in the facade—each filled with a full-floor, canopied green space that will wrap around the core of the tower.” The visual effect is a series of glass and, what appears to be, steel boxes that are suspended off the tower’s main spine. The extremely narrow structure has 2,600-square-foot floor plates, which the News points out are one-third the size of those in Vinoly’s supertall 432 Park Avenue. If the city approves the project, construction is expected to start in September and wrap up in late 2017. Just days after that project was revealed, NY YIMBY published a rendering of another ODA project in Lower Manhattan. This 229,000-square-foot tower also has a boxy aesthetic, but appears more sculptural due to the notched-out corner terraces. But most surprising about the design is the small forest that is planted on top of the building. Based on drawings, the trees would be planted behind a 12-foot parapet and grow to a height of about 40 feet. Executing this will be tricky, so we’ll just wait and see if the urban forest takes root.
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As the Camera Flies
Vincent Laforet/finest.laforetvisuals.com

New York City has been photographed from nearly every vantage point: sweeping panoramas, up close in detail, and from high above. But few images have captured the city’s density and sprawl, its tightly packed grid, its constellation of yellow and neon colored lights, and its changing skyline quite like Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Vincent Laforet’s recent aerial series, Night Over New York.

Commissioned by Men’s Health magazine for a piece on psychology, Laforet proposed chartering a helicopter and shooting the city from high altitude. “I always thought the streets of New York look like brain synapses,” said Laforet. As a native New Yorker, who grew up enthralled by the cityscape, this assignment also presented a unique opportunity to photograph his home from a different perspective, one that is “between a satellite view and street view.” Laforet, however, is not new to aerial photography. He has shot wildfires in California, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and beach scenes at Coney Island from high above.

   
Laforet took these aerial photographs on a clear winter’s night from a helicopter hovering at 7,500 feet. With the exception of some added saturation and highlights, the images are untouched.
 

Before soaring thousands of feet in the air, he needed clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and air traffic control towers. Once he received the green light, he flew up in an open-door helicopter, 7,500 feet above the city, balancing 20 pounds of camera equipment. The images, explained Laforet, are the culmination of a perfect storm: a perfectly clear winter night, today’s advanced technology, and an intuitive sense for a visually compelling picture.

“They are just photographs of the city but from a unique angle and it seems like the city takes on a different importance and you can almost feel the energy of the city,” said Laforet.

 
 

The 50-plus images provide a myriad of views that at once convey the expansive breadth of the city and the concentration and individual character of the buildings that populate Manhattan’s intricate network of streets and avenues. One of the more salient aspects of this series, from an architectural standpoint, is the shifting scale of the city, marked by new construction in the last few years. In one picture, as we look down from above Central Park toward downtown, we glimpse a cluster of new and old skyscrapers jutting up toward the sky between 57th Street and Herald Square; from there, the landscape flattens as the buildings and the streets get smaller and more compact, branching off from the grid in Lower Manhattan, and then narrowing at the very tip, punctuated by SOM’s towering One World Trade Center. Revealed in these photos is the tension between the transience of the city and our own illusive fixed image of the iconic skyline. Some new additions posed a challenge for Laforet, specifically Rafael Vinoly’s recently erected monolithic 432 Park Avenue. “It ruins the skyline and almost every aerial I shoot,” said Laforet.

   
 

This entire project was completed and posted in a short period, which didn’t allow time for retouching. Aside from sensors that pick up light, and adding some saturation and highlights, little was done to the photographs.

Working off the momentum of this series, Laforet is embarking on a multi-city tour from San Francisco to Tokyo, to capture these metropolises at night. “These pictures speak to how big the city is, how massive it is, and how connected and small we are,” said Laforet.

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In Detail Favorites
432 Park Avenue will be one of the few high-rises in New York in which structure and expression are one and the same.
Courtesy dbox

For our In Detail column, AN goes behind the curtain wall, if you will. Through a careful study of a project's many details, we can provide an in-depth look at some of the country's most impressive new works of architecture.


 

Fulton Center

Lower Manhattan gets a scrumptious taste of sexy British high-tech. 

 

[Continue reading.]

 
 

 

19 East Houston Street

S9, an affiliate of Perkins Eastman, serves up a contemporary interpretation of Soho's cast iron facades.

 
 

 

58 Kent Street

Scott Henson Architect preserves the marks of time on an industrial facade in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

 

 

150 2nd Street, Cambridge

Elkus Manfredi designs a cost-effective LEED Platinum spec lab building.

 
 

 

432 Park Avenue

How Rafael Vinoly Architects is building Manhattan's second-tallest tower.

 
 

 

837 Washington Street

Morris Adjmi adds a twisting topper to a meat packing landmark.

 

 

Atlanta Falcon's Stadium

360 Architecture and BuroHappold designed a stadium with a retractable, petal-like roof for the Atlanta Falcons.

 
 

 

Clark Art Institute Water System

Diving into a sophisticated water retention system by Tadao Ando and Reed Hilderbrand with Gensler.

 
 

 

BP Computing Center

HOK designs a data center and workspace in suburban Houston.

 

 

 

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AA Studio
11 North Moore, New York, New York.
Courtesy AA Studio

AA Studio works out of a converted mechanics garage in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It is the type of space you would expect for a firm that transforms old, industrial buildings into sleek, modern spaces. The 10-person firm was founded a year-and-a-half ago by Italian architect Aldo Andreoli and has a growing body of work that is clustered in two different New York City neighborhoods: Red Hook, Brooklyn, and Tribeca. AA Studio is currently working on multiple projects with Morris Adjmi Architects under the moniker Adjmi & Andreoli.

In Brooklyn, AA Studio is turning warehouses into lofts and cultural spaces, and designing ground-up townhouses. In Manhattan, alongside Adjmi, the firm is producing high-end residential projects and mixed-use cultural spaces. Andreoli’s Italian background is infused throughout his firm’s work. With a minimalist approach, and a muted color palette of whites, grays, and blacks, AA Studio showcases high-end, often-times Italian-made fixtures and finishes. It helps that Andreoli knows Italian fabricators and manufacturers, and that, given Italy’s economy, they are eager to work abroad.


 
 

11 North Moore
New York, New York

Working alongside Morris Adjmi, AA Studio designed 11 North Moore, a 10-story, loft-style building in Tribeca. The building, currently under construction, is clad primarily in brushed limestone and has expansive window panels. The result is a grid-like façade that has been compared to Vinoly’s super-tall 432 Park Avenue, albeit on a much smaller scale. Eleven North Moore’s exterior is broken up with a two-story base made of black steel beams and dark gray granite that runs up the building on its Varick Street side. A significant setback on the sixth floor creates spacious terraces for the apartments, which are fittingly decked out with high-end Italian finishes.


   
 

Spring Studios at 50 Varick
New York, New York

Just a few feet from 11 North Moore is 50 Varick, another Adjmi & Andreoli project. The team transformed the upper floors of a Verizon telephone center into an event space worthy of a Fashion Week runway. The revamped 130,000-square-foot space has become the New York outpost of Spring Studios, a London-based design company. The project includes studios, greenrooms, a restaurant and café, a gallery, cinema, library, offices, post-production facilities, event space, and a green roof terrace. Many of these spaces are connected with a dramatic, jagged staircase that is intended to evoke M.C. Escher’s iconic “Relativity” print. The black steel structure was realized with a digital 3D model, fabricated in Italy, shipped over in pieces, and welded into place on site.

The focal point of Spring Studios is the multi-story, glass wall that is cut into the structure’s facade. From the street, the massive expanse of glass allows the public to peer inside, and from within Spring Studios, it provides dramatic views to the West.


 

160 Imlay
Brooklyn, New York

For decades, this massive, century-old warehouse has been a hulking, decaying shell on the Red Hook waterfront. But by 2016, the 230,000-square-foot structure, first known as the New York Dock Building, will be filled-in with million-dollar lofts. Set against floor-to-ceiling windows, these well-dressed spaces have exposed concrete ceilings and columns, and modern, Italian-made kitchens and baths. When starting on this project, Andreoli said he first decided to preserve and expose as much of the original structure as possible. Accordingly, there are no major design gestures added to the building’s exterior; instead, concrete is repaired and new windows are slotted into place. Andreoli said one of the main challenges with converting such a long building was dividing it up into homes that were both sellable and livable. The firm decided to separate the building into individual lofts that span the width of the building—offering views of Manhattan from the living rooms and of Brooklyn from the bedrooms.


 
 

AA Studio Offices
Brooklyn, New York

Behind a rolling glass and steel gate, framed by an elegant dark-brick facade, is the Italian-crafted, workspace of AA Studio. Completed in 2013, the 2,500-square-foot office is defined by gray, symmetric volumes that contain storage, bathrooms, and kitchen facilities. These forms are angled to create an illusion of added depth between the meeting area upfront and the workspace in the back. The office’s rectangular conference table was crafted by the Italian company Boffi and sits just feet from the sidewalk. Further back are the office’s workstations, which are separated into two rows and set against exposed brick walls. Running between those stations is a 24-foot-long table that was designed by AA studio and fabricated by Molteni & C, another Italian furniture company. Beyond the workstations, towards the back of the office, is a floor-to-ceiling oak bookshelf, and sliding glass doors by Lualdi that open up to another meeting room and office.

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Agencies of Change
Hunters Point South and Long Island City
Courtesy NYCEDC

The Bloomberg Administration is arguably one of the most pro-development governments in city history. Since he took office, the Mayor has used city agencies to unleash the forces of New York real estate while also steering those forces to meet goals for a cleaner, greener, and more equitable city. PlaNYC, the catch-all name for the Mayor’s bundle of 132 sustainability initiatives, creates a framework for over 25 city agencies to collaborate on a vast array of projects, from the new East River Ferry service to a $187 million investment in green infrastructure. While some programs such as MillionTreesNYC, are making streets leafier one tree at a time, many of the Mayor’s initiatives have reshaped the city in profound ways. As the administration counts down its remaining days in office, AN checks in with the individual agencies whose projects have had the most impact on development in the city.

By Alan G. Brake, Molly Heintz, Julie V. Iovine, Branden Klayko, Nicholas Miller, and Tom Stoelker.

Willets Point
Courtesy NYCEDC
 

New York City Economic Development Corporation

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is not a city agency at all but a non-profit with a mission to spur local development, but the Mayor appoints seven members of the organization’s board of directors, including the chairperson.

The NYCEDC, which has grown from a staff of 200 to over 400 during Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor, has its hand in hundreds of projects across the city. “Our goal has been to diversify development across five boroughs,” said NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky. And just because Bloomberg’s term is coming to a close, don’t think things are winding down. The Applied Sciences campus on Roosevelt Island is just getting underway and, as of June, the city had acquired 95 percent of the land required to move forward with Willets Point, a five million square foot development that includes the remediation of a contaminated site.

 
Hunter's Point South (left) and Seward Park (SPURA) (Right).
courtesy NYCEDC; HPD
 

Major Initiatives: According to NYCEDC, the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES) Initiative is a “sustainable blueprint for realizing New York as a premier waterfront city.” Under the umbrella of the initiative are 130 projects across more than 500 miles of city coastline. Twelve city agencies are involved along with investment of $3 billion over the next three years.

The City’s Coney Island Revitalization Plan calls for a mixed-use neighborhood with 5,000 new units of housing plus retail, an effort the city predicts will generate 25,000 construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs.

The South Bronx Initiative was launched by the Mayor in 2006 to create a strategic plan to support private investment, development, and infrastructure planning in that area. Working with HPD, NYCEDC developed retail corridors that would support new housing.

NYEDC has also increased outreach to communities impacted by its projects. The State says too much, recently citing EDC for playing “a behind-the-scenes role in the lobbying activities” on behalf of Willets Point and Coney Island developments.

Coney Island
Courtesy NYCEDC
 

Status: The statistics on WAVES initiatives are detailed: 34 projects completed; 71 projects on schedule; 14 projects with delays; 5 projects reconsidered; 1 project not yet started. Projects include New Stapleton Waterfront, a seven-acre development on the site of the former Navy Homeport in Staten Island, featuring 900 rental units, retail, and a waterfront esplanade. “The RFP was issued in late 2007, then the financial crisis hit causing us to lose all the original respondents. But we managed to persevere. We found a new developer, Ironstate Development of Hoboken, broke the projects into phases, and rejiggered some of the site uses,” said Pinsky.

At Coney Island, before construction can start, the proper infrastructure has to be in place—namely sewers. “A lot of the areas had never had substantial development, and in order to build housing and retail, you need to have adequate infrastructure,” said Pinsky. As part of the Coney Island plan, the City is putting $150 million into infrastructure alone.

Impact: “There used to be vacant lots in the South Bronx, and now there’s density, a hustle and bustle. I wish that EDC and HPD would work together more to do mixed-used projects—that’s the type of synergy we need.”
Magnus Magnusson, Magnusson Architects


Zoning initiatives adopted, 2002-2012.
Courtesy DCP
 

New York City Department of City Planning

Major Initiatives: Under the Bloomberg Administration, the Department of City Planning has been more active than at anytime since the days of the Lindsay Administration’s vaunted City Planning Commission. Since 2002, 40 percent of the city has been rezoned (115 rezonings covering more than 10,300 blocks). Under the direction of Commissioner Amanda Burden, the department has adapted for the 21st century many of the initiatives first conceived under Lindsay, including large-scale mixed-use developments such as Hudson Yards (with customized zoning and financing mechanisms for infrastructure improvements) and Willets Point while amplifying community involvement through intensive public-private collaborations—the High Line, South Street Seaport—and enabling coordinated efforts across agencies in order to address sustainability goals and open space and streetscape improvements. In Greenpoint/ Williamsburg, planning partnered with HPD to structure a new Inclusionary Housing Program along the waterfront, while collaborating with the Parks Department to ensure that the new two-mile waterfront esplanade would remain fully accessible to the public.

But it will most likely be the attention to detail that will be remembered most about Burden’s reign, from the creative zoning encouraging cultural uses on 125th Street to the bar-style balustrades along the East River Waterfront Esplanade.

East River Esplanade.
Tom Stoelker / AN
 

Status: Subject to major rezonings, some neighborhoods are already reaping the hoped–for rewards although not always as originally envisioned. A 2004 rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn to transform it into a major business hub has been slow to take off, even as it has triggered a residential boom—26 new buildings; 5,200 units. This summer, the emergence of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress campus, and MakerBot’s move to MetroTech are adding some momentum. The 2005 rezoning of the Greenpoint /Williamsburg waterfronts has added fuel to the ascendance of the Brooklyn waterfront, while rezonings of Bedford Stuyvesant North, West Harlem and the South Bronx will inevitably take much longer to catch on.

Attention is currently focused on a big final push to rezone East Midtown and redirect development towards the East Side triggering changes with potentially more impact on the core skyline than anything along the waterfronts.

Impact: “Mayor Bloomberg restructured city government by having agencies responsible for land use and economic development report to a single Deputy Mayor. Strong leadership at City Hall has coordinated multiple Mayoral agencies, not just those concerned with economic development, to help shape and realize our ambitious rezoning initiatives. It has been through the coordinated and directed efforts of multiple agencies that we have been able to achieve adoption and ensure implementation of our ambitious plans.”
Commissioner Amanda Burden, Department of City Planning


In Williamsburg, developers of the Edge (Below, left) and Northside Piers (below, right) were required to build waterfront esplanades (above) as public amenities.
Jesper Norgaard
 

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Major Initiatives: New York City comprises 29,000 acres of parkland. Over the past decade, the Bloomberg Administration has added more than 730 acres. While Central Park has long been a major economic generator of funds ($656 million in increased tax revenues in 2007 generated by adjacent properties increasing in value by proximity to the park), increasing riverside accessibility at Greenpoint and Williamsburg’s former industrial sites, Hunters Point South, Hunts Point and along the city’s 520 miles of waterfront have become key initiatives of the administration, and the progress is notable. Commissioner Adrian Benepe has made no secret that the administration’s definition of success lies in creative financing with a bedrock of public-private partnerships. The commissioner pointed to the Central Park Conservancy as the great “friends of” model, but hand-in-glove cooperation with City Planning and the Department of Transportation has reshaped waterfront parks and their upland streetscapes by courting development.

 
Jesper Norgaard; Courtesy Toll Brother
 

Status: There are 160 active capital projects in the parks department. Of several near-term priorities, three waterfront projects are engaging in public-private developer involvement. In Greenpoint/Williamsburg the city is cobbling together parcels to create public parks linked with privately owned pubic spaces (POPS). A 2005 rezoning required developers to build the POPS at the river’s edge in return for substantial floor area ratio increases. The zoning encouraged Toll Brothers to build Northside Piers, Douglaston to create Williamsburg Edge, and JMH to restore 184 Kent. The 30-acre Hunter’s Point South allowed for park designs by Balsley/Weiss/ Manfredi with Arup and residential towers developed in part by Related and designed by SHoP. In the Bronx, a grass roots riverside cleanup eventually led the Department of Environmental Protection to supply land for Barretto Park.

The city is building parks at Hunter’s Point South to facilitate development compatible with an urban waterfront.
Courtesy NYCEDC
 

Impact: “The difference between now and 1979 is that you didn’t have the dozen or so major nonprofits involved, so that I think that will insure that whoever takes over at Parks, maintenance will not be an afterthought.”
Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Department of Parks and Recreation

“Before we bought the Banknote Building we were certainly aware of what had been accomplished at Beretto Point and Hunts Point and saw that as a tangible sign of the city’s commitment to the peninsula. It was a strong symbol that things were happening here.”
Jonathan Denham, co-president of Denham Wolf


 
LPC has approved both contextual such as St. Vincent’s (left) and contemporary designs like One Jackson Square (right).
Courtesy FXFowle; KPF
 

New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission


Though Landmarks has added 31 new historic districts, landmarked structures represent a tiny fraction of the city’s buildings; Click to enlarge.
Courtesy LPC
 
 

Major Initiatives: Though landmark districts encompass a mere three percent of the city’s landmass, their effects can stretch beyond landmark borders. Developers argue that the districts inhibit growth and preservationists believe they spur it. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the Lamdmarks Commission has been known to allow huge projects within districts, such as the Rudin Managment’s St. Vincent plan, especially when highly contextual. At other times, new buildings are allowed to challenge the status quo, as in Hines’s One Jackson Square, which sits just up the street from St. Vincent’s. To make for a more transparent process, Commissioner Robert Tierney said that new rules will be introduced next year to codify procedures and allow online permitting. But this has not mollified concerns from developers. Two Trees owns more that 2 million square feet within the DUMBO historic district. “People like to live in DUMBO before it was a landmark district,” said Two Trees’ Jed Walentas. “The fact that it’s landmarked just makes it more expensive.”

Status: Pre-Bloomberg, there were 77 historic districts and 9 historic district extensions, encompassing approximately 22,400 properties.

Currently there are 108 historic districts  and 18 historic district extensions, encompassing approximately 28,500 properties.

There are 30,000 landmarked sites throughout the city, including 1,316 individual landmarks, 10 scenic landmark sites, and 114 interior landmarks.

 
Protected buildings in DUMBO (left) and the new DUMBO historic district (right).
Courtesy Two Trees; LPC
 

Impact: “Yes, it’s a process that requires significant resources and time, but maybe for the developers who are able to work through our process, it’s worth it.”
Chair Robert Tierney, Landmarks Preservation Commission

“There’s a time and a place for landmarking; where it becomes scary is when it becomes an anti-development tool during a hot real estate market.”
Brooklyn developer Jed Walentas


   
Left to right: Madison Square Plaza; Dutch Kills Green; Broadway leading to Columbus Circle.
Courtesy DOT; Linda Pollack; Courtesy DOT
 

New York City Department of Transportation

Major Initiative: Pedestrian Plazas

Status: Recognizing that streets in New York account for 25 percent of the city’s area yet pedestrian amenities were scarce, DOT created Sustainable Streets, a multimodal transportation policy for the city, calling in part for improving streetscapes for pedestrians and cyclists and creating new public spaces from underused roadways in targeted locations such as Times Square, Herald Square, the Flatiron District, and now Vanderbilt Avenue. Also in 2008 and 2009, DOT undertook the Green Light for Midtown program to improve the streetscape along Broadway, created new plazas at Madison Square’s iconic Flatiron Building, and built a ribbon of new public space along a new Broadway Boulevard connecting Herald and Times squares.

In June the study, “If You Build It: The Impact of Street Improvements on Commercial Office Space,” showed how improvements work together to create a backbone along Broadway. Hotels, in particular, are taking advantage of older building stock. In recent years, the Ace Hotel, the NoMad Hotel, and the Flatiron Hotel have all opened in previously overlooked blocks of Broadway; Marriott plans an Edition Hotel in Madison Square’s Clock Tower Building. Astor Place may be the next hot spot. With over eight acres of new pedestrian space planned there, it is the site for one of the first new spec buildings in the past 20 years.

 
Madison Square Plaza after DOT's pedestrian improvements (left) and the conditions before (right).
Courtesy DOT
 

Impact: “Once it was valuable to be right on the park, but now it’s also valuable to be near the park as the pedestrian improvements and bike lanes connect everything together. It’s not just Broadway, but areas around them forming a cohesive whole.”
Janet Liff, a commercial broker in Midtown South

“We have definitely seen vacancies decrease and rents increase. We’ve seen a massive amount of hotel development at the north side of the Flatiron District. In particular, large commercial tenants see these improvements as their front yard. It was the perfect storm of investment in the community.”
Jennifer Brown, Executive Director of the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership


Hunter's Point South.
Courtesy HPD
 

New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development


Via Verde.
Courtesy Dattner
 
 

Major Initiative: The New Housing Marketplace Plan calls for the creation and preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014.

Status: HPD counts more than 125,000 units towards this goal. By the end of fiscal year 2011, 35% of housing started under the plan was new construction, 65% preservation. The agency has been more successful at preservation of affordable housing than new construction, due in part to the real estate downturn. HPD is currently “getting started on and finishing out” many new construction projects and closing in on construction, according to Deputy Commissioner for Development RuthAnne Vishnauskas. “You will definitely see progress towards getting towards the marquee goal for new construction sites.” Seward Park (now in ULURP) on the Lower East Side and Hunter’s Point South (under construction) in Queens are major new developments that the agency hopes to complete by 2014, each of which will include more than 900 units of affordable housing.

Impact: “New York City is lucky and unique in that we have a very strong for-profit sector that builds affordable housing. That part of the sector never really wanes. There were for-profit developers doing affordable housing even when the economy was low.”
RuthAnne Vishnauskas, Deputy Commissioner for Development


 
Two examples of Blue Roofs.
Courtesy DEP
 

New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Major Initiative: DEP signed a consent agreement with the New York State Department of Environmental Protection (which enforces federal EPA standards) to comply with the federal Clean Water Act standards, improve the health of the city’s waterways, and dramatically reduce the number of combined sewage overflows.

Status: DEP is currently developing Long Term Compliance Plans (LTCP) for ten New York City Waterways as well as a citywide LTCP, the first of which will be completed in 2013 and all of which will be finished by 2017. DEP is also expanding gray and green infrastructure throughout the city—including bioswales, and green and blue roofs—moving from pilot projects to larger scale implementation.

On July 1, DEP mandated a ten-fold increase in the amount of stormwater that must be retained on site for all new construction projects, dramatically reducing stormwater flows. DEP worked with the real estate and development community to create flexible options for retention systems, including pervious surfaces, green and blue roofs, storage tanks, and recycling systems. Cleaning New York’s waterways, from the Gowanus Canal to New Town Creek to the Bronx River, will also open up desirable waterfront sites for redevelopment. Investing in green infrastructure will in general benefit the development community, according to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.

Impact: “We spent a lot of time doing outreach to stakeholders, including the real estate community. They wanted more options and more guidance for how to meet the new standards. Green infrastructure improves the social spaces of the block and makes them more desirable. It improves the triple bottom line.”
Commissioner Carter Strickland, Department of Environmental Protection


 
East River Ferry Route (left; click to enlarge) and a ferry navigating the East River (right).
Courtesy Billybey Company; Branden Klayko / AN
 

New York City Economic Development Corporation/ Department of Transportation/Private Operators

Major Initiative: East River Ferry Service

Status: A three-year pilot program for East River ferry service connecting rapidly developing sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens including Hunter’s Point South and the Williamsburg waterfront launched in June 2011. The public-private partnership is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES) calling for sustainable development along New York’s waterways. Initial projections estimating 409,000 annual trips were shattered as over one million rides were logged in just over a year of service. Responding to the popularity, private ferry operator, the BillyBey Ferry Company, began offering local food options on all of its 149-passenger ships and launched larger, 399-passenger boats on weekends.

Impact: “The East River Ferry Service is still in a trial period, but so far it’s exceeded all our expectations.”
EDC spokeswoman Jennifer Friedberg

“The early signs are remarkable in terms of economic vitality. The life that’s been embedded into the neighborhoods along the ferry service is remarkable. At the Edge development in Williamsburg, once ferry service was in place, marketing for the Edge worked much better. I have heard interest from developers in Long Island City on being near the ferry. It’s easy, frequent, steady transportation, especially when the only alternative is the overcrowded 7-line in Queens. Now, we’re looking for a permanent form of subsidy to keep the pilot going. The cost is one third of the subsidy of the average express bus service, so it’s a real bargain.”
Roland Lewis, President of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance


     
Left to right: One57; The Sheffield; The Willow; 50 West Street.
Courtesy Extell; UT Borrower; AKA Partners; Time Equities
 

Back To Building

MEANWHILE, private development is beginning to rally on its own, whether driven by an economic upswing or the irresistible momentum of the pendulum swinging back into action. Condominiums and tall towers are leading the way, more than a few on 57th Street, propelled apparently by that incomparable shaper of urban form, commercial competition:

Pyramid
12th Avenue & West 57th Street
35 stories
Durst

The Sheffield
322 West 57th
58 stories
UT Borrower

One57
157 West 57th Street
90 stories
Extell

The Willow
120 West 57th Street
29 stories
Ark Partners

105 West 57th Street
52 stories
JDS Development

432 Park Avenue
& 50 East 57th Street
89 stories
Maklowe

 

250 East 57th Street
59 Stories
World-Wide Group

250 West 55th Street
39 stories
Boston Properties

Tour Verre
53 West 53rd Street
78 stories
Hines

Baccarat Hotel
20 West 53rd Street
45 stories
Starwood Capital Group/Tribeca Associates

International Gem Tower
54 West 47th Street
34 stories
Extell

 

Gotham West
550 West 45th Street
31 Stories
Gotham Organization

Hyatt Times Square
135 West 45th Street
54 stories
Extell

GiraSole
555 West 34th Street
65 stories
Moinian Group

Manhattan West
West 31st – 33rd Streets
66 stories
Brookfield

One Hudson Yards
56 stories
Extell

 

99 Washington Street
50 stories
Holiday inn

111 Washington Street
57 Stories
Pink Stone Capital

56 Leonard Street
57 stories
Alexico Group/Hines

Courtyard & Residence Inn
1715 Broadway
68 stories
Granite Broadway Development

50 West Street
65 stories
Time Equities

Four Seasons
99 Church Street
80 stories
Silverstein Properties