At a January 16 public hearing, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) urged Foster + Partners to modify the designs for the proposed addition to 980 Madison Avenue in order to win approval for the project. The firm presented a scheme for a 30-story glass tower to stand atop a five-floor mixed-use building, originally known as the Parke-Bernet Galleries, a gallery and art auction building completed in 1950. The idea of planting a modern tower on top of a historic building echoes Fosterrs recently completed Hearst headquarters.
The projectts developer, Aby Rosenns RFR Holdings, and Foster plan to modify the design and present to the LPC yet again. Cheri Fein, spokesperson for Rosen and Foster, stated that the twomenwereepleased that a vote was not taken and that there is now the opportunity to redesign.. A followup presentation to the LPC has not yet been scheduled.
The January hearing was a continuation of the public hearing held on October 24, 2006, where a large public contingency voiced both opposition and support for the design. Among the opponents was the Municipal Arts Society, which testified that the design of the addition was inappropriate in terms of height, massing, design, and materials in relationship to the Parke-Bernet Building and the historic district..
LPC chair Robert Tierney called the January 16 hearing a good exchange of views and ideas.. Many comments centered on the height of the tower, which LPC vice chairperson Pablo E. Vengoechea deemed overwhelming. Others took issue with the materials and the way the glass tower would contrast with nearby buildings. One member of the commission, architect Jan Hird Pokorny, supported the project.
The second hearing again drew many Upper East Side residents who have been vocal about their opposition to the proposal, including writer Tom Wolfe. No limit was set for what height the committee would deem appropriate, although it is clear that the majority of the LPC board and neighbors think that 30 stories is too tall. Rosen said in a statement,, We appreciate the thoughtfully considered comments at the LPC meeting, and have returned to the drawing board to come up with a design that responds to these comments yet remains viable.. For approval, the design must win six of the 11 LPC member votes.
A. Stewart Walker and Alfred Easton Poor designed the 980 Madison building with a simple limestone facade. Fosterrs proposal includes restoration, which Tierney praised as an impressive return to the buildinggs historical origins.. The plan would have refurbished the building, including removing more than 50 windows cut into the building over time, removing the fifth floor added in 1957, reintroducing the original roof garden, and adding 25,000 square feet of public gallery space.
When asked if he felt thatmodernconstruction could fit in with the historic character of the Upper East Side, Tierney pointed out, Renzo Pianoos expansion of the Whitney was quite striking, modern, and contemporary, and was approved.. Despite winning the LPCCs approval, however, the Piano project was ultimately scrapped, after the Whitney decided to build an expansion in the Meatpacking District rather than engage in a prolonged battle with neighbors.
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At a January 16 public hearing, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) urged Foster + Partners to modify the designs for the proposed addition to 980 Madison Avenue in order to win approval for the project. The firm presented a scheme for a 30-story glass tower to stand atop a five-floor mixed-use building, originally known as the Parke-Bernet Galleries, a gallery and art auction building completed in 1950. The idea of planting a modern tower on top of a historic building echoes Fosterrs recently completed Hearst headquarters.
Courtesy WEISS / MANFREDI
Weiss/Manfrediis concept design for Park Row introduces a landscaped, terraced pedestrain connection to the elevated Police Plaza.
The mandate of the LMDC, formed by Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the aftermath of 9/11, was not only to oversee the rebuilding of the WTC site but to spearhead the comprehensive, integrated urban renewal of all of Lower Manhattan. To that end, it commissioned several major urban studies in areas below Canal Street by top-tier design firms, and encouraged them to truly think big-picture about rebuilding downtown. Weiss/ Manfredi, H3 Hardy Collaborative Architects, Robert A. M. Stern, and Smith-Miller + Hawkinson were all awarded contracts, amounting to over $2 million in fees, according to research compiled by AN at the time of these particular planss completion in 2004 (see World Trade Windfall,, AN 19_11.16.2004). When the LMDC announced last July that it would dissolve in the months to come, it maintained that its primary responsibilitiess selecting a masterplan and memorial design for the WTC site and allocating more than $2.78 billion in federal grants toward fostering business, residential, and cultural growth downtownnhad been fulfilled. Construction of the memorial and development of urban design guidelines for the site has been since delegated to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, but the fate of the urban studies the LMDC initiated has been more difficult to assess.
The LMDC was never intended to be the agency that implemented such plans. Moreover, there is never a guarantee that any commission will translate into a realized work. But the fact that so little has been publicly discussed with respect to urban design at the WTC site or its surrounding neighborhoods since 9/11 merits a closer look at these plans, and at how or whether the ideas they propose might be expressed in built form.
According to LMDC spokesperson John DeLibero, all of the above-mentioned plans have been transferred to the Department of City Planning (DCP). Rachaele Raynoff, DCP press secretary, confirmed that the DCP is in possession of them but could not specify how the plans are being prioritized. At present, the DCPPs biggest initiative in Lower Manhattan is the East River Waterfront Study by SHoP Architects and the Richard Rogers Partnership.
One piece of news that gives reason to be optimistic that the plans wonnt end up in a drawer is Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patakiis announcement in May 2005 of a comprehensive allocation plann for the LMDCCs unspent $800 million. The plan earmarked $110 million to implement certain elements of the LMDCCs urban plans, including the studies conducted by Weiss/ Manfredi, H3, and Stern. For some of the designers, the announcement was the last concrete news they received regarding their projects.
Raynoff confirmed that the DCP, together with the Department of Transportation (DOT), is currently studying one aspect of Weiss/ Manfrediis larger plan, which looked at the area surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage (see A View from the Bridge,, AN 10_6.08.2005). The plan envisions connecting Chinatown to the seaport through streetscaping, and makes specific recommendations for reinvigorating the closed-off area under the Brooklyn Bridge and replacing the concrete retaining wall behind Police Plaza on Park Row with a grassy, stepped pedestrian path to connect the elevated plaza with the street.
After the architects presented the plan to the LMDC in 2005, the LMDC and other consulting city agencies focused on their recommendations for Park Row as a feasible project. Shortly after, as part of Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patakiis allocation plan, $32 million was granted to fund components of their study and a related Chinatown study, including Park Row. As of yet, however, the DCP and DOT have not announced any concrete plans or schedule for the project.
Courtesy H3 HARDY COLLABORATION ARCHITECTURE
H33s design for Greenwich Street South proposed roofing over the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to create a park along with new residential and commerical space.
Aspects of the Greenwich Street South Study, developed by a team of seven design and consulting firms headed by H3 Hardy Collaborative Architects, also appear to have a promising future. This study proposes decking over the existing entry to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (owned by the MTA), which currently separates Battery Park City South from the financial district south of the WTC site. The plan suggests that the new surface area of the deck would create valuable buildable space in an area where opportunities for largescale development no longer exist. In that new space, it recommends the creation of a 2-acre park surrounded by residential and commercial developments, as well as a bus garage south of Morris Street that would decrease current street-level congestion and house buses that might be displaced by potential developments on the East River Waterfront and Pier 40.
At H33s last meeting with the LMDC in September, attending city officials agreed that if the engineering required to build the deck could be coordinated, the MTA would revisit the proposals. The DCP anticipates working with the Governor Eliot Spitzerrs administration to realize this plan. Though the prospects for the plan seem positive, principal designer Hugh Hardy still worried, With the fading of the LMDC, [the plan] doesnnt have a champion.. Senior associate John Fontillas added, The unfortunate thing is that [the LMDCCs former vice president of planning and development] Alex Garvin intended for all of these parts to knit together. With personnel changing, therees little institutional memory.. Though the designers have not received any updates on the status of the plan, it has been allotted $40 million under the 2005 Bloomberg-Pataki initiative.
By comparison, aspects of Sternns Fulton Street Revitalization seem to be moving forward. With $38 million (again, part of Bloomberg and Patakiis 2005 initiative) approved by the LMDC board of directors in February 2006, the parts of the plan that have been retained for implementation, according to the DCP, include: enhancing the 35,000-square-foot Titanic Memorial Park and Pearl Street Playground, both set for completion in 2008; improving retail, facades, and streetscape elements along Fulton toward the East River; and creating a new open space at corner of Fulton and Gold streets. It is difficult to know, however, how close these elements are to the original design recommendations of Stern and partner on the study, Gensler. A public presentation of the study in 2005 was cancelled at the last minute, and even then, the plan was reportedly only in draft form (see Fulton Street Plan Chugs Along,, AN 12_7.13.05). Moreover, both then and now, the designers have declined to comment, barred by the LMDC from speaking about the plan.
COURTESY SMITH-MILLER+HAWKINSON ARCHITECTS
Louise Nevelson Plaza is the result of a larger study by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects to identify open-space possibilities in the blocks east of the WTC site. View west toward William Street.
The most tangible results from any of the studies are from Smith-Miller + Hawkinsonns comprehensive urban study Strategic Open Space: Public Realm Improvement Strategy for Lower Manhattan. The study, which won a P/A Award in 2003, canvassed 500 acres of Lower Manhattan in the area roughly bound by Fulton, Church, and Water streets to identify possibilities for creating new public spaces and bolstering existing ones. One site, Louise Nevelson Plaza, a run-down traffic island at the corner of William and Liberty, stood out as a feasible location to move forward on right away. The architects worked with the LMDC and other consulting city agencies to draft construction documents, and had successfully gone through the majority of the approval process well before the LMDC began to phase out. Since the LMDCCs dissolution, the Department of Design and Construction has taken over execution of the project, and has folded it in among its general infrastructure improvements on Liberty Street.
The design for the plaza involves a series of changes meant to create, in principal Laurie Hawkinsonns words, a 24/7 open spacee in an emerging mixed-use neighborhood. The park will feature benches of cast glass, new lighting and planting, and seven restored Nevelson sculptures that the artist herself donated to the park in the 1970s. The project will break ground this summer, and is expected to be completed in 2009.
The LMDC has never been forthcoming about its undertakings, despite the fact that these compelling urban design studies are nothing to hide. Even now, no one from the LMDCC including Kevin Rampe, chair of the LMDC boarddwill comment on the planss respective fates. The arrival of Governor Spitzer, who has been critical of the way the LMDC has been operating, may bring a change in direction. A. J. Carter, spokesperson for Empire State Development Corporation, the LMDCCs parent body, offered, We are taking a fresh look at everything and re-evaluating whatts been done and what needs to be done as we get started with the [Spitzer] Administration..
SAMANTHA TOPOL IS AN EDITOR AT AN.
New York City may not be the greenest American city, but a new law, a new building code, and new department in the Mayorrs Office aim to change that.
The first large-scale changes began last year when Local Law 86 was passed on October 3, 2005. (See sidebar.) For many city-funded projects, the law, which established green building practices for municipal construction, will take effect on January 1, 2007. Its impact, however, is already apparent, according to John Krieble, the director of Sustainable Design at the Department of Design and Construction (DDC). The DDC serves as the managing agency for the construction projects of dozens of city agencies, from the Fire Department to the Department of Transportation, Libraries to Parks and Recreation; of its 400 active projects, which represent $2.4 billion, nearly 30 are expected to receive LEED certification. In the next year alone, the DDC will be kicking off 15 new LEED projectssequivalent to the total number of DDC-managed LEED projects completed in the last eight years.
BKSK Architectss design of the Queens Botanical Garden administration building, a DDC project, is on track to achieve the first LEED Platinum rating in New York state. The drive to go for
the highest LEED rating comes from client support. The reward
is in the bragging rights,, said Krieble. Though the rating does
not offer any monetary award, the public relations opportunities
can be significant..
Local Law 86 was not an easy victory for environmentalists; nor
is it as stringent as it could be. During its formation, for example, it met with resistance from the Carpenterss Union. The bill originally included a requirement for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)) certified wood products, which promote sustainable forestry; the union raised opposition because members felt it would diminish their work, so the stipulation was removed before the bill passed.
Still, the city is making a concerted effort to include environmental concerns in its future development. On September 21, Mayor Bloomberg announced the creation of the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability within his Office of Oper-ations. The new office, led by former McKinsey consultant Rohit T. Aggarwala, is charged with helping to develop a plan for the cityys long-term growth with sustainability in mind, and to make New York City a green operation,, according to a press release. Given its incipience, the office has yet to detail specific initiatives and would not comment for this article.
The Mayor has also convened a Sustainability Advisory Board, which met for the first time on September 27. Chaired by Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, the 17-member board includes architect Robert Fox, partner of Cook + Fox Architects, whose firm designed the Durst Corporation and Bank of Americaas One
Bryant Park, which is the first highrise in New York to seek LEED Platinum certification. The board also includes Ashok Gupta of
the Natural Resources Defense Council and Robert Yaro of the Regional Plan Association. The Mayorrs Office will also benefit
from a partnership with the Earth Institute of Columbia University, which will provide pro bono academic and scientific expertise.
In order for the city to prioritize its goals, it must first assess its current environmental impacts. With the looming threat of global warming, the city has taken first steps toward developing a greenhouse gas inventory, by measuring the carbon emissions
of all municipal operations, from the electricity consumption of
city buildings to the exhaust of city vehicles. The Mayor also announced an effort to measure the carbon emissions of the
entire city by March 2007.
Krieble would like to see this inventory used to develop baselines for carbon emissions against which reasonable targets for reduction can be established. He suggests helping city agencies
to work toward lowering their emissions by providing incentives
or access to revolving funds to enact necessary changes.
Raising the bar for municipal buildings and operations is
perhaps an obvious first step for any city with sustainability
goals. However, in a city like New York, where development is
dominated by private builders, itts almost more crucial to
establish policies that regulate or encourage green building practices. For the past few years, the Department of Buildings (DOB) has been working to revise the cityys building code, consistent with the efforts of many cities and states to adhere
to the International Code Councills (ICC) construction codes.
The state of New York adopted a version of the ICC codes in
2002; New York City stayed exempt from the process because
of its size and complexity. The current city building code, though often amended, was last overhauled in 1968. The DOB hopes
that the new codeeits first part was signed in December 2005,
and its second part will be submitted for approval in early 20077will reflect the density and high-rise capacity of New York.
As they currently stand, the ICC and NYCCs building codes do
little to promote green building practices. But Deborah Taylor,
AIA, LEED AP, who serves as the DOBBs executive director for special projects and MEA (Materials and Equipment Acceptance Unit), expects that we will see two major changes that will be unique to the New York City code. First, fee rebates may be offered for seven different types of achievement: energy conservation, renewable energy, water conservation, use of brownfield sites, construction and demolition waste-recycling, bicycle facilities, and achievement of LEED. The commissioner
will be able to draft specific standards to initiate the rebates,
which may apply to new construction, renovations, and existing buildings.
Second, the plumbing code could permit a water conservation
plan that, if approved, will make it possible to use graywater systems and waterless urinals, which are not permitted by the current code without special permission from the DOB. Provisions in the code could also establish green roof standards, to ease
their approval process. The new electrical code, passed into
law in 2001 and with an amendment before City Council, makes
it easier to build with photovoltaics by providing parameters that
were missing prior to the electrical codees own overhaul.
While our current code is not particularly green, we look
forward to passage of the proposed code and further greening
in the future,, Taylor acknowledged. New York, like all cities, is constantly looking at other cities for examples of good green practices. For example Houston is already using the ICC code.
Although the city lacks any formal green building incentive programs, New York became the first state to start a tax
incentive program in May 2000 through the New York State
Green Building Tax Credit (NYSGBTC), in collaboration with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Both offer multiple programs to offset energy modeling and other protocols like commissioning and
incorporating green strategies. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which administers the tax credits, began accepting applications for the first period of funds on September 30, 2002, and disbursed $25 million in seven credit component certificates,, which allow recipients to claim credits over five
. In 2005, new legislation was passed to provide another $25
million for tax credits; the DEC has until 2009 to accept
applications for the second period of funds that will be distributed from 2006 through 2014.
Asked if the city should consider mirroring the state policy, architect Chris Garvin, co-chair of the New York AIA Committee
the Environment, stated, Financial incentives are appropriate sometimes, but private industry can make money by saving energy and there is no need for the citizens to subsidize that. [Building green is] a smart way to do business.. However, in
cases where the ownerrs additional expense does not result in savings, incentives could help. For example, owners of buildings that hold water from the cityys overly burdened sewer system
do not typically receive a financial payback. Retaining water
in holding tanks on site burdens owner and helps the city, by reducing combined sewer outflows (CSOs) to our rivers.
Incentive should encourage this type of practice.
Though New York is clearly planning for the future now, in other parts of the country, city initiatives have already had a great
impact on their development. On February 22, 2000, the Seattle City Council approved the Sustainable Building Policy, part of the cityys Environmental Management Program. Under the policy,
new city-funded projects and renovations with over 5,000 square feet of occupied space must achieve a LEED Silver rating. According to the cityys 2005 five-year report, 38 projects were either completed, under construction, or designed to achieve a LEED rating. In the fall of 2001, Seattlees LEED incentive Program began offering $15,000 for LEED-certified buildings and $20,000
for a certification of Silver or above. A year later, the city released strategies for creating more sustainable affordable housing projects in a document entitle seaGreen: Greening Seattlees Affordable Housing. The initiative is part of the cityys Office of Housing and has resulted in the construction of 18 SeaGreen multifamily housing projects as of 2005. Seattle also encourages green roofs via financial incentives. By 2005, the city had
provided over $300,000 for design and consulting fees for LEED projects.
Chicago, too, has enacted several policies to encourage green building strategies. In November 2005, the city announced a new grant program for green roofs. Owners of residential and small commercial buildings may apply for a $5,000 grant to help with
the planning and installation of a green roof. In January 2006,
20 grants were awarded.
While New York is prioritizing green construction, for now, the current trends in green building are driven more by enlightened clients and architects than lawmakers. Though the Mayorrs Office may be feeling the pressure to catch up, the drive to change the building industry continues to come from the private sector.
Sarah Cox is a New Yorkkbased writer who has
worked Previously for Dwell and Architectural Record.
Local Law 86
Dia's Moving Plan D.O.A.
Whitney now eyeing Meatpacking District site
Dia's now-defunct design by SOM
When the Dia Art Foundation’s galleries at 548 West 22 Street closed in January 2004, it left a temporary void in New York’s cultural landscape, filled later that year with the promise of a new location connected to the proposed High Line Park. But on October 24, as reported in the New York Times, Kate Levin, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) received a letter from Dia’s new board chair, Nathalie de Gunzburg, announcing that the institution would not occupy the city-owned building at 820 Washington Street as intended. The announcement was followed by the surprising news that the Whitney Museum of American Art is considering the site as an alternative to expanding its Marcel Breuer–designed home on Madison Avenue.
The Dia’s Gansevoort proposal matched the pioneering spirit the foundation embodied. Just as the museum settled in the then-burgeoning West Chelsea area in 1987, spurring its rise as an arts district, Dia would have created a stronghold for art in the transitioning Meatpacking District, and become a crucial part in the transformation of the High Line from an aging elevated railway into a dramatically landscaped public space.
In February of this year, Dia’s director Michael Govan was hired away after a 12-year tenure to become director and CEO of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Shortly thereafter, Leonardo Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, stepped down from Dia’s board after serving for eight years, thrusting the institution into a state of instability as both men were key leaders in Dia’s growth.
Sources close to the situation suggest that between time pressure from the city, which aims to open the building by 2009, and the Whitney Museum’s expressed interest in the location as an alternative to their much-contested uptown expansion plans, Dia was forced to make a decision before they had a new director in place. Laura Raicovich, Dia’s deputy director, conceded that timing was a factor. She stated that going forward with the Meatpacking District plan did not make sense until the foundation had a director in place and the “New York City program is developed.”
While construction on the Meatpacking site had yet to begin, Dia had been working with Roger Duffy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on the design of the 92,600-square-foot location. “It would have been a perfect project for the city,” Duffy said. “We worked closely with Ricardo Scofidio and James Corner [the masterplanners of the High Line] to make sure that the projects would interface well. I am a huge fan of Dia, and anyone who thinks highly of them is disappointed by the news.
“The site wasn’t entirely easy,” he continued. “There are meat lockers close by, and the maintenance and administration areas for the High Line—and public bathrooms—had to be in the building. But we managed an elegant solution. Maybe a wiser person would have seen the writing on the wall when Michael left.”
Joshua David, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, maintains that despite Dia’s decision, the emphasis of the High Line continues to be on its cultural and artistic value, but added, “That site is unusual because it’s owned by the city of New York, so the city has the ability to shape how it is used.”
Despite the disappointment, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden seemed sure that another cultural institution will take over the space. “A cultural use at 820 Washington is ideal for the southern terminus and principal entry to the High Line. The city will be actively seeking another cultural use,” Burden wrote by email.
Whitney spokesperson Jan Rothschild declined to comment about the museum’s intentions at 820 Washington Street other than to reiterate that the Whitney is “keeping its expansion options open.” But, she added, “No matter what we do, we are committed to working with Renzo Piano, and he is committed to us.” In an interview with Newsweek on November 2, Piano said that in September the museum asked him to consider the notion of designing a new building on a downtown site, and brought him to 820 Washington Street.
The Whitney’s attempts to expand its facilities spans 20 years, during which time it has hired and fired two architects—Michael Graves in 1985 and Rem Koolhaas in 2003—before hiring Renzo Piano to draw up plans in 2005. Piano’s initial plan met with stiff resistance from the community and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) but ultimately won all the necessary approvals and was granted several zoning variances in July from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals. A new hurdle took shape when a coalition of Upper East Side neighbors filled suit against the museum in late August to contest the variances.
Meanwhile, Dia remains committed to finding another location in New York. “The Gansevoort site is a great location, but New York has other great locations,” Raicovich said. “Dia’s top priority is looking for the site that will best accommodate its programs.”
Demographers say that New York will grow by a million residents within the next 25 years, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants to plan for them. An as-yet unreleased report commissioned by Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff makes some interesting recommendations—like decking over the Sunnyside yards and parts of the Brooklyn-Queens expressway—but doesn't get into the nitty gritty of who might actually pay for them. Is the report, Visions for New York City, really that, or is it a map for the next generation of developers? By William Menking and Anne Guiney. Photography by M. E. Smith.
In his 2006 State of the City address, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg promised to deliver a strategic land-use plan that would encompass housing, transportation, and infrastructure for all five boroughs, and would be closely tied to redevelopment initiatives already underway. For a city whose planning process has historically been decentralized, it was welcome news. Word of the report began circulating several months later, and this August, a copy appeared on the website Streetsblog.com. Visions for New York City: Housing in the Public Realm (which has not been officially released yet, and is therefore presumably still in draft form) covers much of what the mayor suggested it would, but comes from a different quarter than many expected: It was commissioned by Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff and prepared by Alex Garvin & Associates for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). (The two worked very closely together on NYC2012, the bid to bring the Olympics to New York.) As it makes explicitly clear, Visions for New York City is not official policy, but when it is ultimately released, will nonetheless likely provide the framework for coming discussions about what New York will look like in 25 years, and how the city will get there.
The introduction to Visions for New York City cites a projection from the Department of City Planning (DCP) that by 2030, New York City's existing population of over 8 million will exceed 9 million, if not sooner. It makes the reasonable argument that while the city's current economy is strong and has a well-planned infrastructure and a high quality of life, this cannot be ensured if growth happens in an unplanned fashion. The report thus makes a series of recommendations on where the city might house this population and how to improve its infrastructure.
Visions for New York City is divided into two sections: Increasing the Housing Supply and Improving the Public Realm. The first, and more comprehensive, section essentially looks at what developers call soft sitess in all five boroughs, i.e., areas that are now either underutilized, such as neighborhoods zoned for industrial uses where little industry still occurs, or rail yards or highways which could be decked over and turned into blank development sites. Some of the many sites Garvin & Associates studied are the Sunnyside Yards in Queens, portions of the Bronx and Harlem Rivers in the Bronx, Staten Island's north shore, and the sunken section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Cobble Hill. The report further suggests that increasing mass transit into underserved areas will stimulate development. It also acknowledges the unlikelihood of securing major public investments to extend existing subway lines, and concedes that the creation of light rail or bus rapid transit systems is far more feasible.
Sunnyside Yards, 2001
Red Hook, 2003
These potential building sites would allow for the creation of between 160,000
to 325,000 new residential units with virtually no residential displacement,, depending on how densely each site is zoned. Such a significant amount of new housing without any displacement is politically appealing, but of course there is a catch: The largest and most promising site is the Sunnyside Rail Yards in Queens, which would need to be decked over before it could be developed as housing. It is close to Manhattan, and if developed, would reconnect Astoria to Sunnyside Gardens, which, from an urban planning standpoint, would be an additional benefit. But at 166 acres, the very aspect that makes it so appealing —its size—is likely to make it politically and economically difficult to pull off. The site has been coveted for development since the Regional Plan Association's 1929 Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs proposed it as a place for an intermodal train station to relieve overcrowding in Manhattan. And while the Metropolitan Transit Authority owns the majority of the site, this summer, real estate attorney Michael Bailkin purchased a development option on part of it, which raises the financial stakes for anything that happens on the site. Without massive city subsidies, the cost of building such a large deck—the relatively diminutive 13-acre deck planned for Manhattan's Hudson Yards is estimated to cost $350 million—is likely to discourage anything but extremely high-density or luxury housing. According to Vishaan Chakrabarti, a senior vice president at The Related Companies who served for two years as the Manhattan director for the DCP, making some of that new housing affordable will be difficult. "The implication of the report is that all of the housing will be market-rate, but when you are talking about building housing on platforms, there are economic drivers that make [building any of it as affordable] difficult," Chakrabarti said. "We have not yet perfected the mechanism to harness market forces to build affordable housing, though it is not for a lack of trying." He added, "I was hoping to see something about this in the report."
The Sunnyside Yards are not the only familiar item on the list of suggestions: as D. Grahame Shane, a professor of urban design at Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (and a contributor to AN) said, "The list of development opportunities reads like a record of every university urban design studio for the last 15 years." That said, the report does represent an effort on the part of Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Doctoroff to think spatially about the future of the city. This is something architects and planners have long hoped would be true of city politicians. But Ronald Shiffman, a former City Planning Commissioner himself under Mayor David Dinkins and director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, nonetheless had reservations about Visions. "These same politicians are afraid to engage the public in a discussion to flesh out its finer points," said Shiffman. "They have come up with a proposal but don't discuss the social infrastructure: They don't say how this million new people will make a living. I'm glad that they are looking at it, but they also need to engage the broader community on other levels. This whole new population won't work in offices."
Sunset Park, 2005
Sunset Park, 2005
This oversight on the part of the report has serious drawbacks, according to other observers. Laura Wolf-Powers, chair of Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment at the Pratt Institute, believes that Visions uses a narrow and shallow definition of the public realm, since it only discusses housing and to a lesser account some transportation issues. "There are many important quality of life issues that are not acknowledged in this report, like sanitation and waste water remediation facilities. Not only that," she added, "these uses are often located in the very manufacturing zones like those along the Bronx and Harlem Rivers that the report would give over entirely to housing." While these sites might be better used as housing, these functions must go somewhere. It's not news that manufacturers and industrial businesses that want to remain in the city are having trouble finding affordable space. The East Williamsburg Industrial Park, for example, which is home to over 2,500 small businesses, is facing residential encroachment from gentrifying sections of Williamsburg and Bushwick. One of the areas cited in the report as worthy of future study is the Sunset Park waterfront, which is mostly industrial today and has been recently designated as an area that the city has committed to keeping that way. While Visions acknowledges the value of the area's current character and only recommends converting 90 acres of surface parking (operated by the Department of Small Businesses) into sites for development, it still proposes 27,400 new units of housing, which would undoubtedly put pressure on the area's industrial functions.
Infrastructural capacity is a looming issue, said Chakrabarti, and one that cannot be ignored. Nor should it preclude the kinds of conversation that Visions will surely raise: "Energy capacity and wastewater treatment are real problems. We have capacity now, but not for another million people. Still, I don't think you can say, 'We don't have the infrastructure, so we can't fulfill the demand for housing.' It just means that housing will get more expensive."
The very fact that the report was commissioned from a private planning firm
and did not come out of DCP is telling about the nature of its recommendations. There is an underlying assumption that public investment will allow for private sector development; the ultimate feasibility of finding these public monies is skated over. In the past, the city's planning reports have come out of the DCP, or people engaged with the Planning Commission—like Robert Wagner, Jr.'s 1984 New York Ascendant under Mayor Ed Koch—but Visions rarely mentions the DCP and any role it might play in planning for the future. (Doctoroff's office and the DCP both declined to comment for this article.) In fact, the report details a list of government agencies that must coordinate to make such far-reaching new policies work, like the EDC, the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD), the Department of Transportation, but goes on to suggest, "The Mayor's Office must delegate management for these projects, as doing so is integral to their execution and ultimate success." While some might see this as a cession of public authority, Chakrabarti points out that sometimes, outsiders can say things that City Hall cannot. "There are often conflicting goals in terms of what is good for the city as a whole and what an individual neighborhood may want, especially in regards to density," he said. "An outside consultant can make important suggestions that are politically difficult."
One wonders if the secretive nature of the process, and its stress on the primacy of the private sector, is a product of Doctoroff's recent trouble with getting the West Side Stadium built, which was the sine qua non for bringing the Olympics to New York City. Several of the larger sites mentioned in Visions for New York City are on land that is at least partially owned by the state, not the city, which means that they are exempt from the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and thus due much less public review. But the controversy and public acrimony surrounding Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal—which also involves decking over infrastructure, public subsidy, and no ULURP—the now-defunct West Side Stadium project, and the World Trade Center site should suggest that proposals with only a nominal amount of involvement are no less immune to trouble than those which involve public input. When Visions is released, no doubt in a modified form, we hope that it is treated not as an identification of development sites across the city, but the starting point for a comprehensive and very public conversation about New York City's long-term needs.
William Menking and Anne Guiney are editors at AN.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS: When photographer M. E. Smith noticed one day about 10 years ago that the subway station at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn had been torn down, he decided to start documenting the changes in the city around him. As the pace of development picks up and once-desolate areas fill with commerce and people, his photographs have inevitably taken on a documentary quality. A show of his work in and around New York was recently on view at Cooke Contemporary in Jersey City (see Functional Shift, AN 16_10.06.2006).
Although journalists will go to jail before they give up their sources, as a broker, I can't pass go and Collect $2000 without an educated client. Nine times out of ten, a broker manages to close a deal as a result of relationships with architects, expeditors, lawyers, planning experts, and community board members, or knowledge about what's going on with the Landmarks Commission, school districts, and so on. Every little bit of information helps. Here's my annotated rolodex of go-to development sources.
Real Estate Forum
A real estate trade journal with 60 years experience covering the national trends and themes, Real Estate Forum targets institutional investors, attorneys, housing industry experts, lenders, and other big players. It's a great resource to get a sense of what's going on outside of our little world of New York.
Real Estate Weekly
The New York Times of the real estate business, Real Estate Weekly (REW) focuses on the New York tri-state area and covers everything from local residential sales to the bank financing of the office tower down the street to construction trends in the Hamptons. REW also announces formations of new companies, promotions, and new hires within the industry. For those in the real estate business, it's the absolute bible.
Real Estate Board of New York
The member site for the Real Estate Board of New York links to the websites of some of the most reputable companies in the industry. Listings are organized by residential and commercial brokerage companies, so if you're wondering how to find commercial properties, this might be the place to start. Or anytime I forget the name of a company, I go to its listing of member sitessit's huge!
Crain's New York Business
The online real estate section of Crain's concentrates on commercial real estate more than residential. It's one of the best sites in terms of links to government agencies, appraisers, and other industry-related organizations.
The Slatin Report
Peter Slatin has earned a reputation for being among the few to integrate discussions of design and urban planning into his real estate reporting. His website offers insightful, critical reports on developmentssmostly large-scale and commerciallacross the country.
This is the blog of Jonathan Miller, the head honcho of Miller Samuel, the city's top real estate appraisal firm. Miller is to real estate what Lew Wasserman was to the film industry. A great blog that never talks down to the user.
The Real Deal
Just a couple of years old, this monthly is a bright bold Variety-format glossy tabloid that targets newcomers and the old guard alike. Easy to read, The Real Deal attemps to build a community online with its website and has organized conferences with heavy-hitters in the industry. Its website even has podcast interviews with boldfaced names like Pam Lieberman of Corcoran or Jonathan Miller.
In the old days, one had to go down to the Department of Buildings and deal with surly city workers to find out anything about a building or vacant lot. With Propertyshark, a subscription-based database, anyone can get property informationnthe identity of owners, whether or not they've filed for building permits to build higher or turn property into condos, et cetera. It includes information on zoning, prices, foreclosures, and pictures of every single property in New York City. The highest level of membership allows you to access preforeclosure information and owner contact with one click.
The first site I check everyday is the one for the company I work for, Warburg. Then I go to other companies' websites—Corocoran, Elliman, Brown Harris Stevens, et cetera—and check new listings. Keeping up with new listings and actually going to see the properties are keys to staying informed.
No, it's not a blog about brownstones: it's a blog about Brooklyn. This site covers all real estate happenings in Brooklyn. It concentrates on all the hot locales like Park Slope and Red Hook.
The blog Curbed began in May 2004, with an article that I recall made fun of the Hotel on Rivington. The site has since ballooned into the go-to website for independent, unfiltered commentary on the field. Curbed breaks down information by neighborhoods, understanding that each is a mini-city in itself. It also does what the Internet does best: brings together divergent people and opinions and makes them a community. Understanding that restaurants play a huge role in the development of a particular block or area, the site now links to restaurant blogs and articles on openings, closings, and reviews. With a wise-cracking sense of humor, it balances coverage of what we pay attention to and what's just ridiculous. Like many early blogs, it started being on the outside looking in, and now finds itself an industry standard, with new sites dedicated to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
As a broker, I have access to up-to-the-minute information on any property via a MLS (multiple-listing service) called Rolex. A new site, Streeteasy, helps buyers as well as sellers find this kind of specialized information without a broker. This well-organized site is divided into search areas of not only price and location but school district, development type, and more. Searches come with a useful map andmortgage calculator. There's a discussion page, statistical information on neighborhoods, and more. I am a big fan of search sites such as these, which help brokers by educating clients.
"Triple-mint" is a term used by real estate brokers to describe a property that's in pristine condition. The website with this name covers new developments primarily in New York city. It's loaded with bright pictures, witty and incisive commentary on the architects, developers, interior design, and even web designn in essence, what developers and sales team are communicating about their projects.
Trulia bills itself as the octopus of real estate search engines:
Its tentacles go to all corners of the web so you don't have to. It aggregates other real estate sites' listings, including pictures and prices, and even links with Google Maps' mash-ups so you can see exactly where the property is located. Unfortunately NRT Incorporated, the parent company of Corcoran and largest real estate company in the country, has forbidden Trulia to link to their site. And in the burbs, a fair amount of real estate is sold through print classifieds Pennysaver and local real estate offices that don't have websites. If anything, it's a good place to start your initial search, but you will have to dig deeper elsewhere once you get serious about buying.
I check this site once a week. Massey is the number-one commercial broker in New York City. Whenever I get calls from architects looking for new office spaceesomething they can design to show their chopssor artists who want to work or live in a commercial building, I send them here. Okay, now you know; no need to call me anymore.
New York Post
Real Estate Section
This gem of a section comes out every Thursday. Though often overlooked, it covers all of New York and consistently breaks down the intricacies of purchasing or selling real estate. It has a great question-and-answer section, quality pictures, and their topics really have something to do with typical New Yorkers' lives, unlike many other sources that obsess endlessly about which celebrity bought what multi-million dollar property.
The New York Times
The New York Times real estate section is the absolute first stop of serious buyers and sellers. Their online site is a resource I use three to four times a day. Updated constantly and easy to read, it's the best place on the web for searching New York City property. The site also aggregates many websites of major real estate companies so there is no need to go to each individual company website. Major tip: When you see a property listed over and over by many different companies, or there is no actual address, its signals that it is an open listing, not an exclusive, and you don't need a broker to see the property.
The Villager, Tribeca Tribune, Resident, Downtown Express, Brooklyn Papers, and other neighborhood newspapers are a great source of real estate news. Their highly localized focus means they are often filled with firsthand, first-to-the-scene reports about what's going on every parcel of land or bar or restaurant within their borders. And these publications tend often list Community Board agendassan invaluable resource.
The New York Sun
Definitely worth checking out. Informative, often overlooked stories which you will usually find written about weeks later in bigger newspapers and magazines.
This site bills itself as a consumer-awareness site where buyers and sellers can obtain more accurate real estate sales information than what brokers might offer. It's source of consternation for some real estate agents, but for me, let's just say I'm not shaking in my boots. If you think I'm being flippant, enter your own address and find out how incorrectly they value your apartment.
As developmenttand property valueearound the High Line heats up, planners and advocates try to ensure that the new elevated park isn't annexed as a city-maintained backyard for new condos. Alec Appelbaum looks at how the city's most interesting new park is balancing public accessibility with private development.
high line renderings courtesy city of new york; building images courtesy respective firms
As a freight line, the High Line was designed to bring trains right up to the loading docks of the buildings it served; as a public park, it will bring people up to and even through those same buildings.
Much of the High Line's strange beauty stems from its stark contrasts: It is a massive steel industrial relic that shelters an improbably delicate and accidental landscape. For many years, the old railroad trestle running above and through the buildings along Tenth Avenue seemed to be hidden in plain sight, its obsolescence rendering its bulk almost invisible. But since work began to transform it into New York's most anticipated new public space, the High Line has come into sharp focus, especially for developers and architects who want to build near this new amenity.
There was not always consensus on the High Line's future, of courseeas recently as 2002, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ordered its demolitionnbut after the Department of City Planning (DCP) rezoned the surrounding area last year to allow condominium and hotel uses and the transfer of air rights within the new district, opposition faded. More than a dozen new residential projects are in the works, and others are sure to be announced as more parcels change hands. This mini-building boom has led to the latest of the High Line's contradictions: How can a public park seem open and accessible to all when it touches and even passes through privately held property? Everyone involved with the projecttits designers, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and landscape architecture firm Field Operations, champions Josh David and Robert Hammond of Friends of the High Line (FoHL), and not least of all, the DCPPis adamant that access is paramount. Another priority is to keep the High Line from feeling like a patio extension of adjacent buildings, which would destroy its appeal. To keep that from happening, the Parks Department has just released a set of guidelines to keep public and private in balance.
The standards, which augment bulk requirements embodied in the 2005 rezoning, enforce three main ideas: Connections from new developments should appear distinct (taking the form, for example, of bridges or vestibules); they must be usable by the public; and their materials must not distract from the High Line itself. David stresses how harmonious the new private access guidelines are with FoHL's initial vision. The fact that the High Line weaves through the center of city blocks and connects to buildings is integral to its identity,, he said. It's not a street, yet we want this to be well-used and well-loved at all times of day by all kinds of people.. Philosophically, David suggests, it's more vital to keep the High Line merging with buildings the way it did when it carried trains than it is to pretty up those buildings.
James Corner of Field Operations says the planners who wrote the guidelines share his reverence for the High Line's unique blend of industrial underpinnings and wild plants. Their co-presence is what makes the thing so powerful,, said Corner. And like David, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Corner guards against letting doors, awnings, and logos blunt the landscape's impact. The last thing we want is an elevated street with plazas,, he said. We want to avoid any permeable curtain wall that immediately joins the High Line; we want to retain the autonomous character of the High Line..
Part of what protects that character is its lack of access. Officials won't divulge any rules for spacing or capping connections, but they all stress plans to keep the links strategic,, in Corner's term. Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed staircases and lifts for the public every two blocks. Buildings will face strict scrutiny if they want to add a link on the path. We have to focus on how few access points can we get away with,, said Burden. Keeping [the original spacing of] 5.5 feet between the [vertical posts of the] rail fencing is essential,, she continued, and private space, caff or retail, has to be set back 15 feet.. Yet the flow into the park must feel active, Burden said. The worst thing would be blank doors..
This is a delicate balance in a hot real estate market. Since 2001, according to Jonathan Miller of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, property values in Chelsea have started catching up to the borough-wide average. The Meatpacking District's menagerie of restaurants and hotels has conditioned developers to amp up the glitz just south of the High Line's terminus at Gansevoort Street. How can you expect discretion once they get to the park?
More easily than you might think. Miller guesses that proximity to the High Line alone makes buildings more valuable. You don't have to be an architecture enthusiast to appreciate that it's something different,, said Miller.
Morris Adjmi is designing a hotel for developers Charles Blaichman and Andrr Balazs at 450 West 14th Street, which bears the rare distinction of straddling the trestle. A diagonal moves through the building and we have two triangular spaces beside that,, said Adjmi. The idea is to feel like it's a seamless transition and the High Line informs the environment.. The plan involves a cube of glass over the structure to expose the park's changing colors. Later, Adjmi will decide whether a ramp or a staircase should reach the park. What's key, he says, is to make guests feel they have a head start on reaching a public destination. The High Line is such a unique space and [its] design taken to such a high level that accessibility to it will be like having a house on the beach..
The Caledonia, a condominium at 450 West 17th Street designed by Handel Architects (top), and a hotel at 450 West 14th Street designed by Morris Adjmi Architects (middle) for hoteliers Charles Blaichman and Andrr Balazs have direct access to the elevated trestle. Meanwhile, Deborah Berke and her client Marianne Boesky chose not to connect her new gallery at 509 West 24th Street to the structure (bottom).
Roger Duffy, a partner at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, is designing another key building: the new continued on page 20 playing the links continued from page 19 Dia Center for the Arts at the park's Gansevoort Street beginning. He aims to celebrate the High Line's role on the skyline rather than to offer users some exclusive vantage. His plan places a sculpture by Dan Grahammoriginally installed at the Dia's 22nd Street locationnon the center's roof so that it appears to float beside the park when you approach it from the Meatpacking District. Let's say you come up the slow stair. At that moment you turn left and there's an entrance there with a piece of great art hovering; it is inviting and welcoming but doesn't overwhelm the High Line.. His grammar for the roof also defers to the iron trestle borders. On the roof we have clerestory lights clad in metal. We thought the metal could come down to the horizontal datum of the High Line..
Laura Raicovich, the deputy director of Dia, describes the museum's connection as a transition point from the multi-input experience of walking the High Line to the contemplative experience of looking at art. She, like Corner, stresses practicality and quiet. The High Line is the facade of the building,, she said. You can design an ego-less buildinggif one existsshere because simplicity is very important.. She says key inspiration came from Dia: Beacon, where the founding architect had shown the kind of practicality Corner admires. A lot of the key design cues come from what we feel has been successful at Dia Beacon,, she said.
Robert A. M. Stern, who is designing a building with a connection point at 10th Avenue and 17th Street for Edison Properties, won't talk about his plans but does admit to a fondness for simplicity. He cited the former West Side Highway, which became an impromptu urban beach before it was demolished. Just being up above the city is wonderful,, said Stern. For him, the ideal connection would be restrained and the experience akin to the moment when a train emerges from Grand Central Terminallan awakening to daylight and industrial infrastructure, not a privileged view.
But deciding how to manage connections involves controlling traffic as well as providing views, and the city will review proposals on a case-by-case basis. Said Corner, whose firm is preparing principles to supplement the Parks Department's guidelines, The High Line was built by engineers who were only concerned with logistics. We've tried to stay true to that, toooto avoid anything too aestheticized and try to keep things tough and real. I would advocate the same thing for these sorts of connections..
Parks Commissioner Benepe oversees these connections because the Mayor's Office designated the High Line as a city park in order to gain site control. And Benepe approaches the access design as a practical concern in attracting users to a park unlike any other. We want it to be a place where you can go on a cloudy day and be alone or go on a summer day and be there with thousands of people. Our hope is that it will feel like a festival, minus the sausage vendors and tube socks..
Fortunately for Benepe, developers seem inclined to tie the value of connections to the High Line's foot traffic. The excitement of the High Line is that it's not managed,, said Michael Field, executive vice president of Edison Properties. Public spaces are always better when there are more people in them..
Negotiations over access from privately held property will remain trickyyCorner says he's seen some drawings that get a little too intimate for his comfort. Each developer must submit plans to the Art Commission. These negotiations, while sensitive, seem likely to remain as mysterious as the landscape they affect. One of the elements of keeping this process positive is not hashing out the day-to-day details,, said David. So it's not an area I'm going to go into.. David may not have that much cause for worry. Adjmi says his clients are considering a park-level screening room that would host public events. And Field is hardly alone in surmising that a popular High Line will feel much more special than a gated one. It seems the design guidelines for access resonate with architects who understand that a link to the High Line is a link to the beauty the city has when we enjoy it equally.
Alec Appelbaum writes about the urban environment.
A Bridge Too Far
The long-awaited Brooklyn Bridge Park's maintenance will be funded by commercial and housing developments within its boundaries, which has some locals worried whether the trend toward private funding of public spaces has gone too far. Alex Ulam reports.
courtesy michael van valkenburgh
Proposed new developments
1 Proposed building
2 Unprogrammed greenspace
4 Ball courts
5 Boat launch/marina
6 Existing building (360 Furman Street)
After defeating a 1984 plan by the Port Authority to sell off the piers along the East River waterfront below the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, neighborhood groups began to advocate for a new park along the same site. Twenty years later, their efforts have begun to pay off: A 1.3 mile-long stretch of the East River waterfront from Atlantic Avenue to just north of the Manhattan Bridge is about to be developed as Brooklyn Bridge Park. New York State and New York City have committed $150 million to design and build the 85-acre park; construction is expected to begin next year.
But for some Brooklyn residents, the current master plan, which was approved in January, looks more like a pastoral backdrop for luxury coops than an urban park: Almost 10 percent of the land has been set aside for commercial development within the site. The plan allows for five new buildings within the park's boundaries, the tallest of which could be 30 stories, and several preexisting structures will be converted into housing and commercial space. The bulk of this new development is clustered near the park's main entrances at Atlantic Avenue and at Fulton Street, where plans call for a 225-unit hotel and a residential complex.
Brooklyn Bridge Park marks the latest stage in the growing involvement of the private sector in the financing of public spaces, especially along the waterfront, where building and maintaining a landscape is more expensive than in upland areas. Hudson River Park, for example, which is still under construction along Manhattan's West Side, is the first public park in the state that depends solely upon commercial entities within its boundaries to pay for its maintenance and operation costs. These parks also represent a new paradigm in that they are not being developed by parks agencies but rather by quasi-public entities headed by political appointees; in this case, by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC). Brooklyn Bridge Park has expanded on this model by including housing. Through a financial arrangement called Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), the condo buildings slated for the park will, instead of paying property taxes to the city, directly pay for the park's maintenance and operations as well as capital maintenance, which in total is estimated will cost $15.2 million annually.
Developers have not been chosen for the new development parcels. According to Deborah Wetzel, a spokesperson for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the BBPDC's parent organization, Requests For Proposals will be issued this fall. In addition to the new developments, legislation passed in the State Assembly in June made it possible for an existing building within the site, at 360 Furman Street, to be removed from city tax rolls and incorporated into the park. The developer of 360 Furman Street is Robert Levine, who bought the former Jehovah's Witnesses book plant for a reported $205 million several years ago. Through a spokesperson, Levine refused requests to be interviewed for this article. But in a May 2006 article in The Real Deal, Levine was interviewed about the funding of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The municipality is no longer able to support these things,, he said. The only way it can work is with private funds..
Not everyone believes that it has to be that way: In May, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, a group formed to oppose the BBPDC's plan, filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court against the ESDC seeking to remove the approximately 1,200 units of luxury housing from the park. The lawsuit charges the ESDC with violating state laws, which they say prohibits public parkland from being used for non-park uses. The suit also claims that the plan violates a 2002 agreement between the city and the state, which restricts development of the park to activities consistent with an earlier masterplan developed at the behest of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Local Development Corporation (BBPLDC), comprised of representatives from community organizations and local elected officials, and formed in 1998.
For the Defense Fund, the planned residential development not only compromises the current design, but also has potential create conflicts between park users and residents. Our goal is to get a real park that people can use without privatizing it for housing,, said the president of the Defense Fund, Judi Francis.
Citing the litigation, Wetzel declined requests for interviews with ESDC officials. But in a written statement, she maintained that design guidelines for the new buildings, being developed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, will protect the park's public aspect. The guidelines will ensure that public benefit from development is maximized, including requiring high-quality architecture and buildings that contribute positively to the life and vibrancy of the adjacent parkland and the surrounding neighborhoods,, the statement reads.
Noting the park's relatively remote location from residential neighborhoods, the park's landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh says that the hotel and housing will enhance the quality of the park user's experience by establishing a critical mass of people in the park at all times. Who the hell would go to this park in the winter and at night if you didn't have activity down there?? he asked. From Atlantic Avenue the walk to the Brooklyn Bridge on Furman Street, which is very forlorn, is about 20 minutes. You go down there today and you won't pass a single personnwhere in New York can you walk for 20 minutes and not see anybody??
Opponents of the plan contend that the maintenance budget is unrealistic and that the park has been over-designed. They have jacked up the maintenance costs in order to justify building all of these buildings,, said Bronson Binger, a former assistant commissioner for the New York City Parks Department, who filed an affidavit on behalf of the Defense Fund's lawsuit. My main problem is the $15.2 million maintenance costs per year for about 85 acres of park,, he said. Compare that to $23 million for Central Park's 840 acres. Clearly, there are things in there that shouldn't be.. But Matthew Urbanski, a principal with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, counters that the complications of maintaining the piers and a waterfront landscape justify the relatively high maintenance costs. We have massive piers three times the size of the size of the ones in Hudson River Park built on wooden piles,, he said, adding, We have to jacket the piles with plastic or concrete and then maintain them from year to year..
At the root of the controversy over Brooklyn Bridge Park are two competing visions contained within two separate plans: one is the current Van Valkenburgh plan, the other is the 2000 masterplan, commissioned by the BBPLDC from Urban Strategies (Van Valkenburgh was a subcontractor on the plan). The BBPLDC held a year's worth of public meetings to develop the park's program. Several years later, the BBPDC was founded and conducted a financial analysis of the Urban Strategies plan. State officials determined it was not financially feasible, and hired Van Valkenburgh to devise a second masterplan. The Urban Strategies plan featured a hodgepodge design with recreational facilities interspersed throughout the whole park. Its maintenance and operations budget was to be financed primarily through recreationally oriented commercial development as well as stores within the park. In contrast, the later Van Valkenburgh plan concentrates most of the active recreational activities on the piers. The upland areas are reserved primarily for passive recreational activities, housing and retail.
Roy Sloane, a former board member of the BBPLDC, is concerned that the interests of many neighboring communities, which have been agitating for more recreational facilities, are not adequately served by the Van Valkenburgh plan. The state threw out the community-based plan,, said Sloane. The recreational center, which we needed, was removed and replaced with 1,200 units of housing..
Urbanski argues that the current plan actually includes more opportunities for active recreation, and cites a pier devoted to basketball and handball courts and large protected areas set aside for kayaking. Furthermore, in Urbanski's view, many elements of the 2000 plan, such as its siting of large buildings on the park's piers, would not have worked structurally. The old plan made assumptions that were terribly erroneous,, he said, adding that studies show that the 2000 master plan's maintenance budget was grossly inadequate.
Binger, however, maintains that the civic qualities of the park will inevitably be compromised by the current plan: When parkland abuts private land, conflicts inevitably happen.. Van Valkenburgh has responded that his design ensures that public aspect of the park will be preserved. The housing and hotel parcels back up to public streets that are not in the park,, he noted. We have used a series of devices like landforms to create discrete but precise limits between the development parcels and the park..
A case is scheduled for a court hearing on August 2.
Alex Ulam is a manhattan-based writer who focuses on environmentalism and urbanism.
Below 14th Street
8 Union Square South
Location: 8 Union Square South
Developer: Claremont Group
Architect(s): Arpad Baksa Architects
Consultant(s): Severud Associates, Lazlo Bodak Engineers, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., D.T.M., Inc.
Size: 15 floors, 20 units, 52,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Summer 2007
This condominium will replace the Morris Lapidussdesigned Odd Lots store on the corner of University Place and Union Square South, which was recently demolished. The new building is made of white pre-cast concrete and has floor to ceiling aluminum windows wrapping its northeast side. this new amenity.
Location: 137 Wooster Street
Developer: Arun Bhatia Development Corporation
Architect(s): Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners
Consultant(s): Goldstein Associates, Ettinger Engineering Associates, M. Paul Friedberg and Partners
Size:6 floors, 10 units, 37,500 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): January 2007
In 2003, the zoning changed to allow residential development in the SoHo Historic District on a case-by-case basis, and this is one of the first projects to be approved. The building consists of two distinct masses, one on Wooster Street and one on West Broadway, each tailored to its specific street frontage.
Location:246 Spring Street
Developer: Bayrock Group and the Sapir Organization
Architect(s): Handel Architects, The Rockwell Group
Consultant(s): The Trump Organization
Size:42 floors, 386,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): 2009
Donald Trump has shifted his gaze downtown with a project on the corner of Spring and Varick streets. The mixed-use development will combine a hotel and condos in a 42-story tower set atop a base that will be open to the public. Some community groups are concerned that housing is being introduced into a mostly manufacturing district.
4400442 West 14th Street
Location:4400442 West 14th Street
Developer: Diane von Furstenberg
Architect(s): WORK AC
Consultant(s): Goldstein Associates, Americon Contractors, Tillotson Lighting, Bellapart
Size:5 floors, 30,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):December 2006
Work AC gutted an existing red brick building abutting the High Line to make way for fashion giant Diane von Furstenberg's flagship store and studios. On top of the old building they added two floors: The first additional level is glass topped with aluminum fascia; the more sculptural second level is made of alternating clear and translucent glass.
Location:115 Norfolk Street
Developer: Zeyad Aly
Architect(s):Grzywinski Pons Architects
Size:7 floors, 22 units, 22,800 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Fall 2007
Grzywinski Pons is working on a seven-story condominium building near the Hotel on Rivington on the Lower East Side, the young firm's first major project. The glass facade reveals a large atrium which serves as a source of light and air for units not facing the street.
Thompson and Broome
Location:520 Broome Street
Developer:Donald Zucker Organization
Architect(s):The Stephen B. Jacobs Group
Size:9 floors, 51 units, 73,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Pending approval
A 2004 change in SoHo's zoning allowing the construction of residential buildings on parking lots paved the way for this condo building, which could soon replace a 1922 three-story parking structure. The area is zoned for commercial use, but the developer has applied for a variance. A decision will be announced this fall.
27 Wooster Street
Location:27 Wooster Street
Developer:Axel Strawski/Tony Leichter
Architect(s):Smith-Miller + Hawkinson
Consultant(s):Robert Sillman Associates, Jack Green & Associates, R.A. Heintges Architects
Size:8 floors, 22 units, 60,000 sq.ft.
This SoHo loft building, which is just west of Jean Nouvel's building at 40 Mercer Street, has eight floors and not a single common corridor. Elevators open to each individual unit. The architects kept the building thin to give each unit maximum street and courtyard exposure.
40 Bond Street
Location:Ian Schrager Company and RFR Holdings
Developer:Axel Strawski/Tony Leichter
Architect(s):Herzog & de Meuron Architekten, Handel Architects
Size:11 floors, 33 units
Herzog & de Meuron's much-lauded project just north of Houston Street is their first residential commission in the United States. According to developer Ian Schrager, the cast glass mullions of the facade are the architect's reinterpretation off and homage tooLouis Sullivan's 1899 Bayard-Condict Building on Bleecker Street.
123 Washington Street
Location:Ian Schrager Company and RFR Holdings
Developer:The Moinian Group
Architect(s):Gwathmey Siegel & Associates
Consultant(s):Cosentini Associates, Gilsanz Murray Steficek, Ravarini McGovern Construction
Size:53 floors, 220 hotel rooms, 180 condo units, 440,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2007
The Moinian Group recently received $50 million in Liberty Bond financing for this hotel and condominium tower next to the soon-to-be demolished Deutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan.
Above 59th Street
411 East 115th Street
Location:411 East 115th Street
Architect(s):Grzywinski Pons Architects
Size: 7 floors, 31 units, 31,400 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Fall 2007
Situated on a through-lot with exposures on 115th and 116th streets, this condominium's two street facades belong to two separate buildings, linked at the center of the lot with a skybridge. This enabled the two structures to share a circulation core with one elevator and one main lobby.
Location:40 West 116th Street
Developer:L& M Equity Participants, Full Spectrum
Architect(s):GF55, Schwartz Architects, Studio JTA
Size: 12 floors, 249 units, 54,184 sq. ft.
Completion (est.): Fall 2007
The facade pattern on these two linked buildings derives from three sub-Saharan culturessthe Ndebele of South Africa, the Ashanti of Ghana, and the nomadic Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. According to its designers, the project's symbolism is a response to the need for an African-American awareness of and contribution to architecture and urban planning..
111 Central Park North
Location:111 Central Park North
Developer:The Athena Group
Architect(s):The Hillier Group
Consultant(s):SLCE Architects, Bovis Lend-Lease Construction
Size: 19 floors, 47 units, 87,500 sq. ft. residential, 8,700 sq. ft. retail
Completion (est.): Fall 2007
Hillier's architects took advantage of the fact that this building is the first residential highrise on Central Park North and made sure all 47 units, most with balconies, had unimpeded views of the park. An oversized second-floor outdoor garden and common terrace continues the arboreal theme.
Location:80 Riverside Boulevard
Developer:Extell Development Corporation
Architect(s):Costas Kondylis and Partners
Size: 41 floors, 289 units, 657,000 sq. ft
Completion (est.): 2008
Initially part of the massive Trump Place complex along Riverside Boulevard, the Rushmore was sold to Extell, which modified some of the floor plans to create larger units. Rising from a massive, block-long base, the Rushmore's twin towers echo a popular Upper West Side design motif, seen most recently at the Time Warner Center.
Location:100 Riverside Boulevard
Developer:Extell Development Corporation
Size:32 floors, 274 units
Completion (est.):Fall 2007
Using its name to establish a connection to the Avery Fisher Hall in nearby Lincoln Center, the Avery echoes the art deco towers that line Central Park West. The complex will feature cultural programming and provide residents special access to the performing arts center.
120 West 72nd Street
Location:120 West 72nd Street
Consultant(s):Goldstein Associates, Laszlo Bodak Engineer, Higgins & Quasebarth
Size:16 floors, 22 units, 60,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Fall 2007
Using its name to establish a connection to the Avery Fisher Hall in nearby Lincoln Center, the Avery echoes the art deco towers that line Central Park West. The complex will feature cultural programming and provide residents special access to the performing arts center.
Between 14th Street and 59th Street
310 East 53rd Street
Location:310 East 53rd Street
Architect(s):Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects; SLCE Architects
Consultant(s):Sota Glazing Inc.
Size:31 floors, 88 units
Perched on a three-story limestone pedestal, this residential buildinghas a 28-story glass curtain wall with balconies conceived as extensions of the interior. Its apartments are larger than the average in Midtown; the smallest measure 1,600 square feet.
405 West 53rd Street
Location:405 West 53rd Street
Architect(s):Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects
Consultant(s):Severud Associates, Montroy Andersen Demarco Design Group Inc., Sideris Engineers P.C., Engle Associates
Size:7 floors, 82 units, 201,000 sq. ft.
Henry Smith-Miller freely acknowledges this condominium's debt to Le Corbusier's Unitt de Habitation in Marseille. But its New York provenance shows: Maisonettes on the ground floor are shielded from the street by a curtain of steel, creating small courtyards like those that typically front brownstones.
325 Fifth Avenue
Location:325 Fifth Avenue
Developer:Douglaston Developer and Continental Properties
Architect(s):Stephen B. Jacobs Group
Consultant(s):Levine Builders, WSP Cantor Seinuk, Andi Pepper Interior Design, Thomas Balsley Associates, Israel Berger & Associates
Size:41 floors, 250 units, 390,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Late 2006
Directly across from the Empire State Building, this new condo-minium will have a limestone pedestal along the street, and a 41-story tower above. The glass faaade features voluntary, multiple set-backs; most of the units have balconies.
241 Fifth Avenue
Location:241 Fifth Avenue
Developer:241 Fifth Avenue, LLC
Size:20 floors, 60,000 sq. ft.
Since the Madison Square Park area was recently declared an historic district, Perkins Eastman had to meet strict guidelines in designing this 20-story highrise. Floors 1 to 15 will be flush with its neighbors on Fifth Avenue, while floors 16 to 20 will be set back from the street. The site is currently for sale, and includes the building plans.
Location:635 West 42nd Street
Developer:Moinian Group, MacFarlane Partners
Architect(s):Costas Kondylis and Partners
Size:46 floors, 478 units, 520,000 sq. ft.
Budget: $200 million
Atelier's 15,700 square feet of ground-floor retail space will be topped with a veritable city of studios and condos, featuring wraparound balconies and expansive views. Atelier recalls the bow of a great ship,, said architect Costas Kondylis, interpreted in glass..
610 Lexington Avenue
Location:610 Lexington Avenue
Architect(s):Foster and Partners
Size:(80 condos, 50 hotel rooms), 257,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Late 2008
RFR Parners' Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs transferred the air rights from their more famous neighbor (and property) on 53rd StreettMies van der Rohe's Seagram's Buildinggto allow Norman Foster's tower to take the form of a continuous, thin upright slab without setbacks. It will house condos and an upscale hotel.
548 West 29th Street
Location:548 West 29th Street
Consultant(s): GMS LLP, John Guth Engineering
Size:12 floors, 18 units
Completion (est.):Late 2007
This top-heavy building starts out narrow, rising on a 25-foot-by-100-foot Chelsea lot, but at the sixth floor, it starts to widen, cantilevering over its neighbors to the east and west. Caliper Design principal Stephen Lynch explained that the faaade is clad in a custom-designed metal panel system that provides an irregular texture to the building's surface.
Location:11 East 29th Street
Size:55 floors, 139 units, 580,000 sq. ft.
This highrise uses air rights from the 1849 Church of the Transfiguration next door, and sits atop a new glazed parish house. The lot's 50-foot street frontage and 100-foot depth determined the tower's slender profile, which allows only three units per floor. We didn't want the architecture to dominate the site,, said Kirstin Sibilia of FXFowle. Architects chose masonry cladding, Sibilia explained, for its timeless appeal.
459 West 18th Street
Location:459 West 18th Street
Developer:Level 6 Developments
Architect(s):Della Valle + Bernheimer Design
Consultant(s):Robert Silman Associates, Front
Size:11 floors, 13 units, 29,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):January 2008
Rather than look to the past as a reference, Della Valle + Bernheimer chose to respond to the design of an adjacent (and as-yet unbuilt) building by architect Audrey Matlock. [Matlock's] building is all delicate planes and irregular surfaces,, said partner Jared Della Valle. Ours is about mass, determined by the building's L-shaped plan and setbacks..
East River Science Park
Location:29th Street and First Avenue
Developer:Alexandria Real Estate Equities
Architect(s):The Hillier Group
Consultant(s):Stubbins, architect of record; Hargreaves, landscape architect; Tishman Construction, client rep; Turner Construction, construction manager
Size:870,000 gross sq. ft.
This city-supported development aims to foster New York's biotech industry by creating a campus in Kips Bay, already home to a high concentration of medical and research facilities. Zoned for bioscience facilities, the 3.7-acre site will accommodate both private companies and public institutions.
Location:500 West 23rd Street
Architect(s):Gerner, Kronick + Valcarcel Architects
Consultant(s):WSP Cantor Seinuk, Lilker Associates, Thornton Thomasetti Group
Size:12 floors, 113,000 sq. ft.
This mixed-use residential/ commercial building is made of exposed poured-in-place concrete with a dark red aluminum window wall. The glass is a combination of clear glass and insulated translucent glass used as side panels. Amenities include a public terrace overlooking the High Line.
611 Sixth Avenue
Location:611 Sixth Avenuet
Developer:The Brauser Group
Architect(s):Garrett Gourlay Architect
Consultant(s):DeSimone Consulting Engineers, MGJ Associates, Frank Seta
Size:10 floors, 41 units, 3 retail units, 116,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):December 2007
Presently occupied by a three-level garage and a two commercial buildings, this site will soon be home to an eight-story condominium planted on two levels of retail. The black brick building is being being built as-of-right.
110 Livingston Street
Location:110 Livingston Street
Developer:Two Trees Management
Architect(s):Beyer Blinder Belle
Consultant(s): Severud Associates, Lazlo Bodak Engineers, Eric Cohler Design, Inc., D.T.M., Inc.
Size:7 floors, 300 units
Completion (est.):Fall 2006
This 1926 McKim, Mead, and White building was home to the New York City Board of Education for 75 years. Sold by the city in 2003 to Two Trees Management, it is undergoing a major interior renovation which will add four floors to its crown. The challenge was to design interiors that stand up to the magnificence of the facade,, said Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management.
3066313 Gold Street
Location:3066313 Gold Street
Developer:Ron Hershco and Dean Palin
Architect(s):Ismael Leyva Architects
Consultant(s): Rosenwasser Grossman, I.M. Robbins, Flack + Kurtz, Matthews Nielson Landscape
Size:40 floors, 303 units, 400,000 sq. ft.; 35 floors, 214 units, 250,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2008
As the tallest new residential development in all of Brooklyn, these two mixed-income residential towers will be pivotal in the downtown area's transformation from daytime-only business center to a 24/7 live-work neighborhood.
Size:55 floors, 1.2 million sq. ft.
Willoughby Square, a 1.5-acre plot of land in downtown Brooklyn long condemned by the city, will be the site of a new public park and underground parking garage. Thor Tower, a mixed-use skyscraper, will anchor the park's north side and looks to be the first of several towering projects in the vicinity to break ground.
Location:30 Bayard Street
Developer:The Developer's Group
Architect(s):Karl Fischer Architect
Size:13 floors, 53 units
The restoration of Williamsburg's McCarren Park, with new facilities and landscaping, as well as a conversion of a Robert Moses-era public pool into a performance space, will almost certainly encourage additional growth. The newest project is the Aurora, an apartment building which will feature an in-house grocery and delivery service.
North Side Piers
Location:164 Kent Avenue
Developer:Toll Brothers, RD Management, L&M Equity Participants
Size:29 floors, 290 units, 350,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Spring 2008
The Northside Piers is one of the first major waterfront developments in Greenpoint-Williamsburg since the area was rezoned last year. It is the first (and smallest) of three sister towers intended for the site, which was also masterplanned by FXFowle. This first tower will provide 180 units of market-rate and 110 units of affordable housing.
Location:East River between Greenpoint Avenue and Oak Street
Developer:John Guttman Real Estate Management
Size:13.7 acres, 2.6 million sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Pending approvals
After a massive fire destroyed a row of 19th-century warehouses in Mayyand thereby muted a looming preservation fighttthis 14-acre site along the East River is closer to being redeveloped into a retail, commercial, and residential complex. Perkins Eastman had been asked to plan the site before the fire.
North 8th Street
Location:49 North 8th Street
Consultant(s):MGJ, Neil Wexler Associates, Scorcia and Diana Associates
Size:6 floors, 40 units, 76,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2006
The second major collaboration in Williamsburg between the national homebuilding company Toll Brothers and Atlanta-based architecture firm GreenbergFarrow, this six-story building will have a single-loaded corridor so that all 40 units have quality views.
Park Slope Apartments
Location:391 Fourth Avenue
Consultant(s):Severud Associates, Mehandes Engineering
Size:11 floors, 49 units, 53,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Summer 2007
Contextual districts assume a low floor-to-floor height, roughly 8 feet, TEN principal Tim Dumbleton noted, "but the market demands higher ceilings, so it's a challenge to fit more volume within the zoning envelope." TEN achieved 10-foot ceiling heights in this 11-story condo, preserving the monlithic character they desired and meeting setback requirements with a composition of two stacked volumes.
Location:199 State Street
Size:11 floors, 46 units, 54,000 sq. ft.
Budget: $16 million
This 11-story residential project bridges the low-scale residential buildings in Boerum Hill to the south and the taller, mixed-use buildings in downtown Brooklyn to the north. The brick-and-metal-panel facade varies in depth, reducing the building's mass and giving some rhythm to the street wall.
Location:Bronx Terminal Market
Developer:BTM Development Partners
Size:1,000,000 sq. ft.
The Bronx Terminal Market, a major wholesale food market, has long been in need of restoration. In 2004, the Related Companies purchased the property and hired Greenberg-Farrow to masterplan the site and design two three-story retail centers connected by a six-story garage, along with a riverfront park and esplanade.
Henry Hudson Parkway
Location:3260 Henry Hudson Parkway
Developer:Hudson Arlington Associates
Size:9 floors, 127 units, 240,000 sq. ft.
Completion (est.):Winter 2007
Handel Architects' Riverdale project will add over 100 housing units to the neighborhood while preserving its relatively low scale with a nine-story profile. By creating a facade of windows looking to the east and a 60-foot-by-80-foot landscaped courtyard, the architects are hoping to draw attention away from the adjacent freeway and toward the neighborhood.
Location:640 West 237th Street
Developer:Arc Development, LLC
Size:20 floors, 56 Units
The Solaria's marketing scheme is that it is the star-lover's dream, with New York's only telescope and observatory on the roof. On a common star-gazing deck, building-dwellers will have access to a celestial map as well as educational sessions from the Amateur Astronomer's Association of New York.
Queens Street Apartments
Location:43317 Dutch Kills Street
Consultant(s):Mehandes Engineering, D.V.A.
Size:600 units, 500,000 sq. ft.
The Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company owned eight buildings in Long Island City, including the six-story cast-in-place concrete warehouse that will serve as a base for TEN Arquitectos' 600-foot-tall slab. The residential project, still in concept phase, is in the recently upzoned area along Jackson Avenue near the Sunnyside Yards.
Queens Family Courthouse
Location:89914 Parsons Boulevard
Developer:The Dermot Company
Consultant(s):Kajima Construction Services, Marinos Gerazounis & Jaffe, DeSimone Engineers
Size:12 floors, 380 units, 290,000 sq. ft. residential, 44,000 sq. ft. retail; 19,5000 sq. ft. community
To comply with HPD specifications, theconversion of the Queens Family Courthouse into housing includes many affordable units and space for community use. The latter will be housed in the historic building, built in 1927 as a library, while housing will occupy the new glazed addition.
5505 48th Avenue
Location:5505 48th Avenue
Architect(s):H. Thomas O'Hara Architects
Consultant(s):Ettinger Associates, Axis Design Group
Size:8 floors, 142,000 sq. ft.; 5 floors, 19,000 sq.ft.; 118 units
Toll Brothers called on H. Thomas O'Hara to design a low-rise, high-end condominium in the heart of Queen's most industrial neighborhood. The architects responded with not one but two buildings. The base of both structures will be granite and channel glass, while the upper floors will be built out of pre-cast concrete.
Architecture in Japan
Architecture in the Netherlands
Architecture in Switzerland
Architecture in the United Kingdom
Taschen, $24.95 each
Following the success of the first three titles of its Architecture Now! series, Taschen is introducing a fourth installment this summer, as well as a new collection of books that survey contemporary architecture organized by country. The new series, written by the publishing house's go-to architectural historian Philip Jodidio (who, besides authoring the Architecture Now! books, has written several monographs for Taschen), is kicking off with books on Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Each volume opens with a brief essay summarizing the national architecture culture (all texts are offered in English, French, and German), followed by presentations of recent work by 15 to 20 architects, organized alphabetically by firm. Though the selection of firms and projects might seem obvious to those who follow the international design scene closely, they accurately reflect the mixture of regional and international influences that pervade architecture today. While Jodidio looks to an international array of architects working in each countryyArchitecture in Switzerland in particular has a number of non-native architectssin general, he privileges local talent. For example, the Japan volume includes stores in Tokyo by Toyo Ito and Jun Aoki, while the famous Prada Store by Herzog & de Meuron is left out. This focus allows the character of each country to emerge and makes the idea of national surveys feel worthwhile.
jaffer kolb is an editor at AN.
EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Here is Tiajuana!
Fiamma Montezemolo, Rene Peralta, Heriberto Yepez
Black Dog Publishing, $29.95
In the days following 9/11, a spontaneous, self-curated show called Here Is New York appeared in a SoHo storefront. A collection of photographs related to the World Trade Center tragedy taken by anyone who wanted to submit their work, the show was included in its entirety in the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Life of the City, nine months later. The show borrowed its name from E. B. White's essay, a title that has levitated over Manhattan's literary world since the original was published in 1949. It is the perpetual present tense of White's title that the exhibition revised and that captured the instant change in life in New York at 9/11. The most startling thing about the exhibition was how it cast a state of crisis as a continual present tense.
Here Is Tijuana! offers another perpetual present-tense emergency, though one that has persisted for a far longer period of time. Written and edited by anthropologist Fiamma Montezemolo, architect Rene Peralta, and philosopher Heriberto Yepez, who all teach and practice in Tijuana and San Diego, Here Is Tijuana! fits in the genre of books that in the last 20 years have embarked on a urban reconnaissance mission. Mixing images, texts, data, and interviews from a range of sources, the book maps everyday life in Tijuana against a broad backdrop of social and economic data. As a form of urban theory, its referent is most clearly Mike Davis' City of Quartz (Vintage, 1992) and Albert Pope's Ladders (Princeton Architectural Press, 1997), but its graphic design and visual content place it closer to The Contemporary City (Zone Books, 1987) and The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping (Taschen, 2002).
All these books invented new forms of urban research but are by and large set in a somber lull, unable to harness indignation or fear to overcome outright predation. Here is Tijuana! is not as carefully constructed as any of these books, though its urgency is more vivid, documenting a daily reality that's of direct concern to the book's authors. After emergingg for the last 50 years, Tijuana is still perceived as what the authors describe as a transaction without another transaction,, a place that operates on the continual verge of something. But this is not the same Tijuana of 30 years agoothen understood as a kind of urban dam of people pressed against the U.S. border. Tijuana is inequity, defined to a large degree by its proximity to the U.S., but it is also now a teaming and centerless milieu that expands east and south, as much as it presses north.
Here Is Tijuana! captures the city's present but also shows its future potentials. It is no longer defined as a failed transaction with San Diego; it is also the largest zone of electronics-assembly plants in Mexico, for example, and has many self-sustaining industries.
Here Is Tijuana! presents a place and a condition, both begging to be understood. The book is filled with latent questions: How do we constitute the depiction of social emergencies today? How do we see them and respond to them, and what is the recourse for those who live under crisis conditions when the processes that would allow change are perpetually out of reach? It's obvious the book's authors love the city, and are not demonstrating social need as much as human potential.
Michael Bell is a New Yorkkbased architect and associate professor at Columbia University's GSAPP.
Get Off My Cloud: Wolf D. Prix,
Coop Himmelb(l)au, Texts 196882005
Edited by Martina Kandelerf-Fritsch
and Thomas Kramer Hatje Cantz, $50.00
Courtesy hatje cantz
A rendering of the BMW Welt, the automaker's distribution center by Coop Himmelb(l)au, which began construction in 2004.
Wolf Prix, who cofounded Coop Himmelb(l)au with Helmut Swiczinsky in 1968, is one of the few to come out of the experimental architecture groups of the 1960s still designing at a very high level. In fact, unlike other radicall survivors of the 1960s (Peter Cook of Archigram is another), Prix has moved from paper architecture to important built works. Get Off My Cloud, a compilation of Prix's writings, spans his career, from 1968 to 2005. In the book's foreword, Christian Reder, an author and art professor, notes that Prix confronts an almost compulsively paralyzed public and its leading exponents with a staccato tempo of model-like solutions, only his are expanded by the freedom of no longer having to believe in a revolution.. His writings show that he is still a believer.
Over the 26 years covered in the book, Prix's writings have gone from poetic manifesto to drier, academic-speak, but he remains critical of consumerism, ephemeral e-commerce, conceptual minimalism, and media hyped renderings.. To his credit, he maintains that architects must confront background contexts, programs, and new technologiess and recognize that architecture is a social portrait..
Prix argues, Only star architects, who have developed a potential for resistance, are able to influence what's happening in building..Coop Himmelb(l)au's recent commissions like the BMW project in Munich have moved Prix into the celebrity stratosphere, but can he translate his visionary thoughts into visionary construction? It will take more than words, but he appears to be well on his way.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Cedric Price: Retriever: Annotations 7
Edited by Eleanor Bron and Samantha Hardingham
Institute of International Visual Arts Publishers, 9.99
Cedric Price was a wonderfully iconoclastic public figure, a left-wing radical until he died in 2003. Though many famous anecdotes about his antics are in circulationnlike the time he refused to give a lecture at the Architectural Association until Alvin Boyarksy, then head of the school, brought a snifter of cognac to the lecternnstill very little is known about him. A definitive biography of Price has yet to be written. But this loose-leaf catalogue offers a beginning toward understanding the man, by providing a look into his private library.
The publication is a list of every book, magazine, newspaper, bulletin, and map in Price's library, along with a key describing the personal inscriptions and enigmatic markings littered throughout them. Samantha Hardingham, a research fellow at the University of Westminster, and Price's long-time partner, actress Eleanor Bron, began cataloguing his library in 2004.
One example of something that appears in the key is an ink stamp of a pig with hoofs draped over the edge of a page, which shows up repeatedly. In one instance, it comes with Price's obscure note, Bath chaps + cooked pig cheeks.. The editors add the helpful annotation, reference to Bath, Somerset. CP loathed the place, like the chaps..
Price's books range from childhood mementos to scholarly tomes on architecture and city planning. A 1943 book Narrow Streets was given to him as a school prize and the editors remark, At the age of 9 CP was invited to choose his own prize. He chose this book. Having spotted it in the window of the local bookshop, he assumed it had to do with town planning. Are you sure this is what you want?' his teacher asked. It turned out to be a novel about a blue-blooded East End girl adopted by a wealthy society woman, set during the war in London.. We also learn that in 1960 Buckminister Fuller gave Price a copy of his unpublished text How Little I Know and it is inscribed with uncharacteristic modesty to Cedric & Liz who is well aware of how little I know. With affectionate regard Bucky Fuller..
The catalogue is a quick read and a cryptic introduction to Price. It also reminds us how much more we want to know about him. WM
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
Nearest Thing to Heaven:
The Empire State Building and American Dreams,
Yale University Press, $26.00
For architects, the Empire State Building seems somewhat beyond the pale, its very perfection or essential embodiment of a categoryy the skyscraperrmakes it, strangely, uninteresting. As the Mona Lisa must be to art historians, or Casablanca to cinnastes, there's something vaguely embarrassing about the topic, despite or because of its popular acclaim. Compounding the matter for a provincial architectural profession enamored with narratives about the power of individual architects and the grace of individual clients, the Empire State Building, like Casablanca, was a strange and deeply fortuitous convergence: a perfect storm of narrow talents and experienced hacks who together made the best thing any of them ever did. They aimed for pic- turesque and got sublime. Even Rem Koolhaas, expert in recycling local color into pedigreed architectural rhetoric, focuses in Delirious New York not on the Empire State but on the building it replaced when it began construction in 1929, the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
But architects aren't the only ones with this blind spot. The Empire State Building's uncanny visible invisiblity is the main and best theme developed in Nearest Thing to Heaven by Mark Kingwell, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. One dramatic feature of the Empire State Building,, he observes, is its tendency to disappearrthat is, as Wittgenstein said of language, to lie hidden in its obviousness.'' Elsewhere, Kingwell aptly applies Hegel's comment, The known, just because it is known, is the unknown.. At their best, Kingwell's diverse musings about movies, landscapes, and keepsakes accumulate into a new way of knowing and unknowing the familiar building. These culminate in an entertaining episode of visibility, mechanical reproduction, and anxiety in which the author is detained, lining up to visit the Empire State observation deck, because x-rays of his bag reveal the weapon-like profile of a miniature souvenir of the building itself. Much of the book is similarly sharp, only occasionally veering into the anodyne assertions ((Though we long to scrape it, the sky always retreats from our touchh) we might fear from an author whose other titles include Catch and Release Trout Fishing and the Meaning of Life (Penguin, 2005).
More alarming is to see an accredited philosopher so easily bamboozled by the quasi-philosophizing of architects. This is not theoretical fancy,, Kingwell solemnly concludes after a long quote from Koolhaas, which was of course just that. This crudeness of his architectural understanding begins to seem willful when Kingwell blurs Antonio Sant'Elia with Le Corbusier, Mies with Loos, and Walter Gropius with Bruno Taut, in ways that serve his argument but not the historical record. The latter's name is spelled Tout,, perhaps to better rhyme with trout..
It's tempting to excuse Kingwell as he excuses the muddle-headed scholarship in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: Rand's concern wasn't really with architecture, of course. It was a practice she did not really understand.. But the stakes are too high. Any new book about a New York skyscraper is tacitly about those other disappearing skyscrapers, the late, great Twin Towers. Kingwell doesn't flinch from the reference: Since the last days of 2001, the [Empire State] building has assumed a new brightness, a more resonant luster. [I]f such a thing is possible, it has somehow become more visible than before. That mysterious dynamic between longing and visibility is the subject of this book,, throughout which we get sideways glances downtown, sentences like the one that begins Skyscrapers, like airplaness? and continuous retroactive foreshadowing.
But Kingwell's trivial treatment of the World Trade Center's architecture diminishes, or is diminished by, his rhetorical use of its destruction. In contrast to his polymorphous readings of Empire State, his interpretation of the Trade Center is direly narrow. He writes, The aesthetics of the World Trade Centerrrather, the lack of themmare again significant here. Yamasaki was afraid of heights, and perhaps as a result the twin towers exhibited none of the soaring quality found even in the earliest skyscrapers.. Forgiving the odd use of soaring,, that breezy clause between the dashes requires an entire book. Elsewhere, Kingwell describes its absolute refusal not only of decoration [ but of any suggestion of grace or style.. And yet what Yamasaki brought to International Style modernism with the Twin Towers was precisely a stylish new interest in decoration and the fussily graceful detail, all the way down to those gothic arches decorating their base. Kingwell's assertion that New York without the Empire State Building is unimaginable, far more so than without the World Trade Centerr suggests an alarming relativism of unimaginabilities, and prompts one to wonder whose New York he's imagining.
At best, Kingwell is merely mistaking his own impressions for architectural intentions, and in philosophical terms, hypothetical imperatives for categorical ones. At worst, one worries that he's looking to find in the World Trade Center the solemnity that would give some grounding to this otherwise pleasantly airy book. But because all the spooky hints and feints don't add up with the same care Kingwell elsewhere applies, he veers into the bathetic. An early description of Empire State concludes, There was, inevitably, another facet, or shard of meaning [: a thought of fatal conjunction, airplane and skyscraper surfaces touching farther downtown, destruction of the still missing towers.. The problem is that word inevitably.. The destruction of the Twin Towers is an easy point of reference, reliably adding depth or resonance or borrowed poignancy to arguments that haven't necessarily earned it. The very ease with which 9/11 can, and has been, deployed in critical and political discourse, demands that it be engaged with ever more precision and accuracyylest that day's own causes and consequences suffer the same fate Kingwell suggests has befallen the Empire State Building: knownn and thus unknown, invisible behind apparent visibility.
Thomas de Monchaux is a New Yorkkbased writer and architect.
Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America
Giles Slade, Harvard University Press, $27.95
With the Al Goreenarrated An Inconvenient Truth in movie theaters and Brad Pittt voice-overed series Design:e22The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious now airing on PBS, the specter of environmental disaster is on everybody's mind (as if you needed to be reminded). But despite the rise in public consciousness, there appears to be a growing, even frenzied, consumer interest in the next new thinggthe new cell phone, computer, car, and iPoddall destined for an ever-shortening product life and the inevitable landfill.
In Made to Break, Giles Slade, an independent scholar, charts the history of this essentially American phenomenon and, some might say, the country's greatest cultural export. Architects and designers concerned about their own contributions to this trend should pay attention to the story he tells, if only to see what they're up against.
Slade's highly readable book is not an academic history but a collection of revealing and deftly organized anecdotes. For instance, we learn in the span of just a few pages how single men and women, recently transplanted to the country's growing metropolises, first spurred the demand for disposable products in the late 19th century. Without the time (or mothers nearby) to do laundry regularly, single men, Slade tells us, began to buy throw-away paper collars and cuffs en masse. Soon after, disposable razors were invented and then cheaply made wristwatches and so on. For women, the invention of a new absorbent material made from celluloiddoriginally used in military bandages in World War IIled to the creation of sanitary napkinss in 1920; this was followed by disposable kerchiefss (named Kleenex) and, later, nylon tights.
Slade's ability to tell an entertaining story, however, does not prevent him from supporting it with meaningful analysis. For instance, it's not lost on him that these early, revolutionary products mostly had to do with hygiene. Personal hygiene has always had deep moral associations, so it should come as no surprise that advertisers and social progressives alike began to vilify what they called thriftt and economyy as miserly and morally dirty.. These campaigns were decisive, Slade argues, in shaping early consumer habits and value judgments, acclimating the public to a culture of repetitive consumption and paving the way for the manufacturing practice known as planned obsolescence.
This brings us to the focus of the book. Slade carefully distinguishes between different categories of obsolescence and builds up to a powerful critique of the practice by, among other things, recounting the many dubious arguments made on its behalf. An early proponent was the mid-century industrial designer Brooks Stevens, famous for his Edmilton Petipoint clothes iron and car designs for Alfa Romeo. We make good products,, he wrote in 1958, induce people to buy them, and then next year deliberately introduce something that will make those products old-fashioned, out of date, obsolete. We do that for the soundest reason: to make money.. What Stevens is really describing is psychological obsolescence, or the feeling that what one owns is hopelessly old-fashioneddnot broken, mind you, or even inefficient, just out of date. Psychological obsolescence is one kind of planned obsolescence; another is sometimes called death-datingg and is usually achieved through product manipulation. General Electric has been accused of doing the latter with their light bulbs, and General Motors, according to Slade, pioneered the former in 1927 when it began to introduce new models on a yearly basis. It would surprise more than a few to discover that Henry Ford was an early champion of products that will last foreverr and that it was he, not those he dominated in the market, who lost this fight.
It is harder these days to get away with death-dating but clearly, psychological obsolescence through annual (even biannual) design modification is ubiquitous. Many in the 1950s, like industrial designer George Nelson, saw it as a prodigious tool for social betterment,, stimulating economic growth, generating new technologies, and steadily reducing prices to the advantage of the less fortunate. This is still a deeply engrained way of thinking, but most of us today are aware of its limitations. We are less likely now than we once were to take the increasing number of households with large screen TVs (to pick a common example in the economic literature) as evidence of social progress, as if it implied that such people were benefiting meaningfully from an apparent increase in purchasing power. These days we're careful to weigh more heavily the value of the environment, healthcare, and education.
The book that Made to Break brings most immediately to mind is Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation (Houghton Mifflin, 2001). Like that book, Slade's is a page-turner with a purpose, but it is also less a revelation than a mine of useful information. Like all good histories, it makes the obvious facts seem a little less pre-determined, like they might just be something we have the power to change. David Giles is an editorial intern at AN.
Ecological Architecture: A Critical History
James Steele, Thames & Hudson, $55.00
Ten Shades of Green:
Architecture and the Natural World
Architectural League of New York (distributed by W.W. Norton), $24.95
christian richters / courtesy architectural league
Renzo Piano's Fondation Beyeler (Riehen, 1997) combines stone walls and steel panels to achieve low-cost heating and cooling and to fit in with its surroundings.
With an oilman in the White House who only reluctantly acknowledges that global warming is a threat, the environmental movement clearly needs all the protagonists it can get. Two lavishly illustrated new books offer architects tips for building a more sustainable future. Peter Buchanan's Ten Shades of Green, based on an exhibition he curated at the Architectural League of New York in 2000, identifies ten green principles or attributes from a range of contemporary work that, according to the author, any design can embody. Meanwhile, James Steele's Ecological Architecture: A Critical History showcases two centuries of exemplary green architecture from around the world. While Steele guides us through evolving ecological thought, Buchanan provides a vocabulary for scoring a design's greenness. Both books show how insightful design has always respected local tradition and responded to its settings, taking advantage of natural light and wind.
Of the two books, Steele's offers a clearer prescription for dealing with future challenges. Steele presents capsule portraits of influential architects, from Ebenezer Howard through Buckminster Fuller to Paolo Soleri and Tadao Ando, and maintains an intellectual thread that thematically links chapters on subjects from new urbanism to digital design. With carefully chosen drawings and photos, and a dose of purple prose, he captures the heady ambition that propels innovation. In addressing postmodernism's interest in history, Steele writes that designers like Robert Venturi and Michael Graves began to suggest that all platonic solids had subliminal linguistic meaning.. Steele's portraits remind us that great green architecture can be transporting as well as comfortable.
London-based author and architect Buchanan relies on categories, or shades,, that make design sustainable, followed by concise analyses of nine large-scale projects and four houses. One shade is Embedded in Place,, which acknowledges the need for continuity with local conditions and traditions. He cites Clare Design's Cotton Tree Pilot Housing in South Queensland, Australia, as an example that preserves local trees and taps into local vernacular for forms that will enhance energy efficiency. Another category, Health and Happiness,, addresses not only physical issues (like the threat of exposure to toxic materials) but psychological ones as well: Providing access to natural light and air and bringing nature indoors is not just good for the planet, he argues, but also beneficial to people's emotional health.
The categories are comprehensive and offer a generous framework to consider green strategies. Still, the terms' grammatical awkwardness sometimes makes their application seem off or stretched. We can admire Sir Norman Foster's Commerzbank for wrapping around a vertical garden that keeps tenants cool. But do we appreciate its lessons more because it matches five of ten shades,, compared to projects that meet only one or two? Architects might come away from the book still fuzzy about the materials and technologies that would earn similar results in different context. Moreover, he uses terms we would never hear in conversation, making projects hard to latch onto. Foster's Commerzbank, he argues, achieves a whole hierarchy of foci.. What to do with this knowledge? Reject a partial hierarchy of foci?
Steele, who teaches in Los Angeles, also succumbs to hyperbole. He closes with a look at a masterplan of a two-square mile patch of open space along the Los Angeles River called Baldwin Hills. Designed by Mia Lehrer, Conservancy International, and Hood Design, the project earns Steele's praise for delivering natural amenity to all ethnic groups,, thus relating ecological benefits to social justice. The designers' choices changed the entire concept of an urban park.. Big words and claims gain credence when we see their individual components as well as their intellectual heritage.
Alec Appelbaum is a New Yorkkbased writer specializing in urban issues.
NEW DESIGN CITIES
Edited by Marie-Josse Lacroix
Editions Infopresse, $32.00
This book is the result of a colloquium that took place during the 2002 International Design Biennial in Saint-Etienne, France, which debated cities' different strategies for positioning and growth through design.. While the book does not actually engage in any debate regarding strategies, the authors describe various design projects that contribute to the competitiveness of cities..
The book considers seven different cities: Antwerp, Glasgow, Lisbon, Montreal, Saint-Etienne, Stockholm, and New York. The New York case study focuses on Times Square and there is nothing new here for New York readers. The Glasgow section, on the other hand, has a great deal to offer. Stuart Macdonald, director the city's famous Lighthouse Center for Architecture, Design and the City, offers a concise telling of Glasgow's postindustrial transformation out of the gloom of its industrial pastt through design and cultural regeneration starting in 1990 when it was a European City of Culture. But he is able to sift hype from reality: He notes that the City of Culture design initiatives in fact had little effectt on the city, generating only temporary work and attention for the city; more influential in his mind is the raised consciousness and participation of designers and artists in an increasingly open urban regeneration process.
Many of the essayists, including Stockholm's Claes Britton and American sociologist Saskia Sassen, emphasizes the importance of integrating design initiatives in urban policy. In many respects, this book should be read by politicians more than designers. William Menking
BLUEPRINT OF AN EDEN
Michele Oka Doner
and Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.
Feierabend Unique Books, $95.00
Past times on Miami Beach are for me vague images at best. How little I recognize, how much I want to revisit it all. Sometimes I hardly feel I was really there,, writes Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., founder of the Wolfsonian Museum, in a letter to his old friend, artist Michele Oka Doner. The letter opens this sumptuous book and is the first of many to appear, along with photographs, blueprints, maps, news clippings, and other ephemera, all drawn from each's family archives. Wolfson's and Oka Doner's archives are unique, however; most people don't have snapshots of their parents with Ava Gardner and Madame Chiang Kai-shek. The two are Miami blueblooddhis father was the city's mayor in the 1930s and hers in the 1950s and 60s. Their memoir of Miami Beach is intensely personal while offering unique perspectives on the place's cultural formation.
Cathy Lang ho
ARCHITECTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Oliver Herwig and Florian Holzherr
Prestel Verlag, $60.00
In Dream Worlds, Munich-based journalist Oliver Herwig examines theme parks, shopping malls, housing developments, and other highly controlled environments that use architecture in the service of mass entertainment. Herwig sees these removed fantasy spaces as the heirs of ideal cities and ancient coliseums. From the Mall of America to the island developments of Dubai, he argues that each reflects the fantasies and desires of their respective societies. The author's critical voice is strong throughout; the book reads not as a history or social study but as highly personal observation. With a case like the Munich Oktoberfest, the effect is comparable to having a family road trip ruined by the sarcastic teenager in the backseat. However, in locations like Las Vegas and Disneyworld, Herwig's commentary transcends cynicism and provides meaningful insight into the cultural forces that created these artificial environments. Herwig is conscious of previous analyses of his case studies, and his comparison between the Las Vegas of today with the one studied by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is particularly enlightening. The accompanying photographs by Florian Holzherr capture the uncanny atmosphere of these dream worlds.
Le Corbusier's Hands
MIT Press, $14.95
Published in France in the 1980s but only recently translated, this short volume is a Proustian remembrance of Le Corbusier written by Andrr Wogenscky, who had a close relationship with Corb for 30 years as his draftsman, assistant, and later, colleague and friend. The book is a collection of brief observations, statements, and anecdotes that together reveal an intimate picture of the modernist master. No matter how close a friendship he had with anyone, even during the course of a conversation or at a work meeting, Corbusier seemed to leave,, writes Wogenscky. He would retreat into his inner life, more populated than the world of men.. The author touchingly captures Corbusier's solitary nature, politesse, candidness, literary taste, and more, and in doing so, illuminates the many sources of influence on his works. Andrew Yang
The Stirling Prize
Ten Years of Architecture and Innovation
Merrell/RIBA Trust, $59.95
When the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) conceived of the Stirling Prize in 1996, the U.K. was in the middle of what author Tony Chapman calls architectural dark ages.. He and the other contributors to the bookka monograph commemorating the 10th anniversary of the prize, which recognizes the building that has contributed most to British architectureeargue that it has encouraged the creation of good architecture in the U.K. and beyond. Organized chronologically, the book presents each year's winner, runners-up, and an accompanying essay by critics including Hugh Pearman, Deyan Sudjic, and Tom Dyckhoff.Jaffer kolb
Source Books On
Michael Van Valkenburgh
Associates: Allegheny Park
Ken Smith Landscape
Architecture: URBAN PROJECTS
Edited by Jane Amidon,
Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95 each
Princeton Architectural Press' new Source Book in Landscape Architecture Series is meant to parallel the publisher's architectural series edited by Jeffrey Kipnis and Robert Livesey. According to the new series' editor Jane Amidon, its goal is to provide a glimpse into the processes of emerging and established designers as they mature from tentative trial to definitive technique..
The first volume focuses on Michael van Valkenburgh's designs for Pittsburgh's Allegheny Riverfront Park. Detailed images are complemented by an interview and various essays that probe van Valkenburgh's design process for this specific project and his overall design philosophy.
Volume two, on Ken Smith, is identical in format, but includes several projects, including his design of MoMA's roof garden, East River Landing, and P.S. 19 in Queens. Like the first volume, the compact paperback includes an interview, critical essay, chronology of projects, as well as exhaustive project documentation, including photographs, plans, sections, and models.
A third volume, due out later this summer, will focus on Peter Walker's plans for the Nasher Sculpture Garden in Dallas, Texas. Future books planned for the series will be devoted to the work of Grant Jones and Paoli Burgess. DG
The Donnell and Eckbo Gardens: Modern California Masterworks
William Stout Publishers, $45.00
Modernism reached its apogee in landscape architecture in California, emblematized by two works: Thomas Church's Donnell Garden (Sonoma County, 1948) and Garrett Eckbo's Alcoa Forecast Garden (Los Angeles, 1959). Historian and U.C. Berkeley professor Marc Treib offers a deep analyses of these iconic projects, sharing almost every piece of documentation that exists (Church's and Eckbo's archives are housed at Berkeley). He places the gardens in the context of their designers' broader careers, detailing their collaboration with clients and colleagues, and painting a picture of cultural life in mid-century California. CLH
Landscape Urbanism Reader
Edited by Charles Waldheim
Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95
New York's High Line is hard to categorizeeit will be a landscaped park but it is also a highly programmed architectural space, while its origins as infrastructure are still a huge part of its appeal. The emerging field of landscape urbanism is one way to define such a project and the growing numbers of likeminded proposals around the country. After a 1997 conference of the same name held at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the school formally launched the discipline with a degree program, which in this book has its its first theorists. Contributors including James Corner, Alan Berger, and Linda Pollak argue that we should understand landscape as a crucial part of urban infrastructure.Anne Guiney
Lexicon of Landscape Architecture
Meto J. Vroom
Birkhauser (distributed by
Princeton Architectural Press), $50.00
One of the great pleasures of dictionaries is getting distracted by a strange new word while looking up another. For those curious about the history of gardens and landscapes, Lexicon will prove full of interesting diversions. The landscape architect Meto Vroom defines more than 250 words, from abstractt to wind,, as it figures in landscape history and practice. Each entry begins with a traditional dictionary definition, and then turns into a short essay full of examples and citations for further reading. Vroom is catholic in his tastes, and sources range from Simon Schama to Richard Neutra and Charles Darwin.AG
Norman Foster: Reflections
Louis I Kahn
Kevin Kennon: Architecture Tailored
DAMDI Design Document Series, $67.95
Koning Eizenberg Architecture:
Architecture Isn't Just for Special Occasions
Monacelli Press, $50.00
Fresh Morphosis 199882004
Essays by Peter Cook, Steven Holl,
Jeffrey Kipnis, Sylvia Lavin, et al. Rizzoli, $75.00
KM3: Excursions on Capacities
Essay by Kenneth Frampton
Monacelli Press, $50.00
Complete Works Volume 3
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa SANAA
Electa Architecture, $69.95
Center for Global Conservation
673 Bronx Zoo
From the Bronx Zoo to the New york Aquarium, the Wildlife Conservation Society is embarking on major expansion projects.
Courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society
While the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is known as a major nonprofit dedicated to saving wildlife all over the worldd its preservation efforts are now taking place in 53 countriessthe organization actually originated with the New York City zoo system. Initially called the New York Zoological Society, the WCS started with the creation of the Bronx Zoo, in 1895. Currently, the WCS oversees zoos on city-owned land in Central Park, Prospect Park, Queens, and the Bronx, as well as the aquarium at Coney Island.
The WCS is embarking on an expansion and renovation effort at its facilities throughout the boroughs. FXFowle Architects is in the process of renovating the Lion House, a 1903 building by Heins and La Farge that has been empty since the 1970s. Since receiving the commission in 2001, FXFowle has also been hired to design the Center for Global Conservation (CGC), a new stand-alone building not too far from the Lion House.
This year, the WCS also announced that it selected Slade Architecture to design a building that will house the shark tank at the New York Aquarium, near Coney Island, and has issued an RFQ for a redesign of the aquarium's perimeter, including a section that faces the boardwalk and the ocean.
All of these projects were done in consultation or collaboration with a range of city entities, including the Mayor's Office, the Department of City Planning, and the Department of Design and Construction; the latter recommended architects from its General Excellence Program, including Slade.
The WCS projects reflect the nonprofit's values about environmental conservation and preservation. When the Lion House buildinggwhich is part of an original Beaux Arts complexxis completed in the late spring of next year, it will be the first landmarked building in New York City to achieve a LEED rating. In retrofitting the structure, the architects had to reevaluate its HVAC systems, skylights, and other energy-related features to bring the building to present-day efficiency standards. The approach for the CGC building, which began shortly after the Lion House, was similar.
I like to think of these two projects together,, said Sylvia Smith, partner of FXFowle. For Lion House, we worked from the inside out. The exterior landscape was shaped by the building form itself. For the CGC, we worked from the outside in. We really took our design cues for the interiors from the elements of the landscape..
The mantra is always respect the nature we're in,, said Susan Chin, of the Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department of the WCS, which oversees these building projects.
While the design for the New York Aquarium's new shark tank will not be presented until July, the building's approach will have a similar respect for the environment and public education. The shark building will be architecture with a capital A,, said Chin, noting that the building will be much more of a design statement than the WCS buildings completed to date. You'll definitely notice it..
The uniqueness of the WCS's building campaign is intimately tied to its mission. The WCS understands that sustainable buildings are holistic systems,, said Smith. And it realizes that its buildings and their stories can be part of its message..
The Pier at Ceasar's
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Elkus/Manfredi Architects with Rockwell Group
The Pier at Ceasar's updates a beloved 19thhcentury type, now that shopping had replaced vaudeville as the entertainment of choice.
Courtesy Elkus/Manfredi Architects and Gordon group Holdings
Though only three remain today, Atlantic City's piers used to be as central to the city's identity as its beloved boardwalk, the Miss America Pageant, and Monopoly property. They were built in the late 19th-century as sideshow-lined entertainment venues and featured everything from vaudeville acts and dance halls to a famous series of diving horses. David Manfredi, principal of Elkus/ Manfredi Architects, remembers visiting Steel Pier as a small boy and being mesmerized by the act, which took its last plunge in 1978. He recalled, With a great deal of fanfare, the horse walked off the platform and leapt into the pool,, about 40 feet below.
Though his firm was undoubtedly chosen to design the Pier at Caesar's for experience more relevant than his early trips to the boardwalk, Manfredi's affection for the old Atlantic City made him a particularly good choice to create a complex sited on the old Million Dollar Pier. When opened at the end of the summer, the three-level structure will combine a contemporary high-end mall with some of the old entertainments of its original incarnation. The project represents the transformation of this building type over its 100-odd year existenceein short, the switch from horses to Hermms.
As Atlantic City declined, many of the piers were torn down, and others repurposed. Million Dollar Pier became a traditional shopping mall, despite its awkward 900-foot-by-200-foot footprint. Perhaps to block out the decaying city outside, the mall was entirely enclosed; shoppers had no sense that they were literally hundreds of feet out into the Atlantic. When you were inside it, you could have been in a mall anywhere in the country,, said Manfredi. When we saw it, we thought, What a missed opportunity!''
The existing pier platform was left intact, but the building on top has been entirely rebuilt. According to Manfredi, the architects were careful to provide vantage points from which to see the ocean and the beach. We wanted it to be specific to Atlantic Cityyyou'll know you are there, and you'll know you are on the water,, he said. And if nature in its raw state is not enough, at the end of the pier there balconies from which shoppers can watch a water, light, and fire show that will run every hour.
The spectacle continues outside: The pier is largely clad in electronic billboards. Another throwback, explained Manfredi: The old piers were just covered in graphics and signage, which was aimed at the people strolling down the boardwalk. That's one more thing we are bringing back.. AG
Randall's Island Sports Foundation
From bird-watching to water-sliding, New York's Randall's Island will offer a host of new outdoor activities.
Aquatic development group/courtesy randall's island sprots foundation
When Robert Moses first envisioned a Randall's Island filled with baseball diamonds and football fields, few believed that what was essentially a large garbage dump could become New York's center of recreation and one its largest public parks. While Moses successfully implemented his plans, attendance was dismal and his dream soon deteriorated. Over 70 years later, the idea is being revived with an assortment of new facilities, including the recently opened Icahn Stadium, extensive plans for landscape restoration, and a soon-to-be-built waterpark.
In replacing the deteriorating Downing Stadium in April of 2005, the $42 million Icahn Stadium marked the first major step toward the island's revival as a recreation destination. Hillier Architecture's stadium design is simple and innovative, with light towers doubling as tension cable-bearing roof supports. The project, which includes track and field facilities, was organized by the Randall's Island Sports Foundation (RISF), a development group founded in 1992 to oversee new construction on the island.
Each summer since 2003, Randall's Island has hosted the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil in a series of temporary tents. In order to accommodate crowds and create a more inviting atmosphere, the RISF has overseen renovations and reconstruction of much of the area's infrastructure, including boardwalks and trails throughout the island, and a new waterfront pathway designed by Roesch Architects. The pathway will trace the full 5-mile circumference of the island. Unlike Icahn Stadium and many other RISF programs, the $4 million pathway will be funded exclusively by the city and state.
Another state-funded initiative will restore a 5-acre section of salt marsh and freshwater wetlands at the Little Hell Gate Inlet along the island's west coast. Indigenous plants and wildlife, including red-winged blackbirds and green herons, will be reintroduced to the landscape. The area will also serve the Randall's Island Kids Nature Program, which is organized by the RISF to provide activities, classes, and events for children.
The biggest and flashiest new addition to Randall's Island, however, is a 26-acre new waterpark (shown at the lower right corner of the plan, at left) that should be completed by summer of 2008. Located on the northwestern tip of the island, the park will be comprised of two partssone a year-round indoor facility, the other a summer-only outdoor portionnand will cost $168 million, entirely funded through private sources. The waterpark will be designed, built, and operated by the central New Yorkkbased Aquatic Development Group, and its grand scale should ensure Randall's Island's role as the recreational hotspot for both the city and the region.
Village of Greenport, New York
SHoP Architects/Sharples Holden Pasquarelli
seong kwon courtesy shop
seong kwon courtesy SHoP
seong kwon courtesy SHoP
Like many old whaling towns along Long Island's Peconic Bay, the village of Greenport is more dependent on summer tourism today than its historic industries of fishing and boatbuilding. In the late 1970s, a fire along the waterfront burned a 5-acre section of town that had included a car dealership, a gas station, various marine boat and engine repair facilities, and an oyster company. The remaining vacant land was left seriously polluted: Nine underground storage tanks remained on the site, which was also contaminated by petroleum and arsenic.
Many Greenporters argued that the waterfront site should be redeveloped into tax-generating shops, but Mayor David Kapell argued that even the existing stores in the village could not stay open in the winter because of a lack of customers. It would be better to create a public facility to bring people to Greenport who would then patronize existing stores. In 1996 Greenport held a design competition to transform the waterfront site into a series of public amenities that would be called Mitchell Park. The jury selected James Corner as the winner, but when the Philadelphia-based landscape architect could not reach an agreement with the town, the jury gave the commission to the third-place runner-up SHoP Architects, bypassing the second-place scheme, which they considered unbuildable.
The $12 million Mitchell Park was completed late last summer, and has already made its impact on the local merchants who cater to the town's visitors. The park creates a link between a bus and railroad station, the Shelter Island ferry terminal, and the town's main drag and new public marina. A hardwood boardwalk and bluestone-and-gravel path crosses along the waterfront and connects a landscaped amphitheater, open-air ice-skating rink (which becomes a mist plazaa in the summer), and various follies. These include a roundhouse for the town's historic carousel, shade arbors, a small mechanical building, a camera obscura, and a harbormaster's building.
The park and its architecture are an anomaly in Greenport, where nearly every new structure is built in some ersatz historical style. SHoP's convincing mix of local vernacular industrial architecture and a modernist sensibility has given the village a brilliant new center.
Sebago Canoe Club
Leroy Street Studio
courtesy leroy street studio
This summer, the Sebago Canoe Club will be launching boats from a new dock, marking the first stage in a major upgrade to the 73-year-old organization's Canarsie facility. The club represents an eclectic group of people in Brooklyn,, according to architect Shawn Watts of Leroy Street Studio, which agreed to upgrade the facility on a pro-bono basis. Right now, competitive paddlers and urban adventurers use a Parks Departmenttowned facility, and store roughly 300 kayaks and canoes in a collection of brightly- painted used shipping containers. Watts, who got to know a Sebago member through his wife's attendance at an arts class, has also applied for and received grants from the state and the J. M. Kaplan Fund to begin improving the facility.
Watts' design includes three new structures that link up with the existing shipping containers, which will still be used for storage. Each one is a simple steel frame clad in clear polycarbonate panels that can be opened as weather permits. One of the structures will be is an activity space (pictured above) in which the club plans to offer classes such as boatbuilding. The other two house bathrooms and meeting rooms.
Watts explained that the new structures will act as a porch in summer and light-heated underpass in winter.. The facility will also stand in egalitarian counterpoint to the many private marinas and yacht clubs that line Paedergat Basin. With its mix of materials and textures, Watts said, the updated Sebago still feels like Brooklyn..
Union Square Park Pavilion and Comfort Station
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and ARO
With protests to watch, skateboarders to dodge, and produce to ogle, it is little wonder that the stone pavilion at Union Square's northern edge goes unnoticed by most of the people who walk by it. The 1932 bandstand's two wings currently flank the summertime restaurant Luna Park, and it also houses a public restroom which is used by the staunch of heart, weak of bladder, and very few others. Recently, however, it has fallen into disrepair. In 2003, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation hired Michael van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), the Boston-based landscape architects, to develop a plan for the northern end of the park. MVVA soon brought local architects Architecture Research Office (ARO) to restore and expand the pavilion.
According to ARO principal Stephen Cassell, the firm is expanding the basement level to make offices for parks employees. The architects will relocate the restaurant's kitchens, currently in a series of shacks leaned up against the pavilion, below ground. The most visible part of the scheme is a new comfort station. The 600-square-foot glass and metal mesh structure (above, at left) will have a bathroom for the playground and another opening onto the plaza. Though the design was approved by the Fine Arts Commission in May, it hasn't been a speedy process, and a start date for construction has not been assigned. It is a little project, and fun,, said Cassell, But it has also been a very process-heavy job. There is so little park space in the city, and so many competing interests..
Beacon, New York
Meta Brunzema Architect
courtesy Meta Brunzema Architect
While most New yorkers would raise an eyebrow at the idea of swimming in the waters of the Hudson next to Manhattan, In 2005, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEP), along with private supporters like musician Pete Seeger, proposed to build a flow throughh pool set at the river's edge in Beacon, New York, in which water would pass freely through the mesh structure. The DEP hired the Manhattan-based architect Meta Brunzema to develop a design; construction began on June 2.
Since the ability for water flow is central to the pool's functioning, the materials that Brunzema chose were crucial. She specified woven nylon belts for the pool's flooring and a thin structural mesh called Dyneema for its siding. The mesh's gaps are small enough keep all hands and feet safely inside, but large enough to allow small fish to swim through. Sunbathers and swimmers can relax on a ring of floating fiberglass seats around its perimeter, and a splinter-free dock connects the shore to the seating.
The structure will be anchored to the riverbed with cables (section, above), and flotation tubes will be embedded within the fiberglass seating to keep the pool and sunbathers afloat. With an entry fee of less than a dollar and seating for only 20 people, a line should build up, but that's okay: Brunzema hopes that eventually these pools will be scattered in rivers all throughout the state..
Battery Park City
Weisz + Yoes Architecture
courtesy weisz + yoes architecture
Perhaps the most exciting of a series of projects launched by the Battery Park Conservancy is an ocean-themed carousel (above) designed by Weisz + Yoes Architects. When it is completed at the end of 2007, it will join the Garden of Remembrance (dedicated to the victims of September 11) and the Battery Labyrinth. Later years will see the addition of a newly landscaped Town Green and Lawn and a refurbished Castle Clinton.
The details of the design are still being refined, but as it stands, its framework will be made of stainless steel, and the roof and walls of either plaster or fiberglass. According to principal Claire Weisz, the spiral roof is intended to evoke the dramatic quality of a cathedral while also making it more visible to passersby.
What makes the carousel distinct from its type is that it is employs two projection technologies, one that dates to the 1600s, and a second that is decidedly more contemporary. At the carousel's hub, there is a magic lantern, or a dimmable glass cylinder that moves up and down and spins, much like a child's top. It will be lit up from the inside and project shadows of fish on the roof.
But in Weisz's words, this analogg experience of spinning shadows will be overlaid with another digitall experience of projectors showing images of the city at night. The whole series of images,, said Weisz, is supposed to compose a narrative of travel from the city to underwater..
Olivo barbieri / courtesy yancey richardson gallery
Italian photographer Olivio Barbien`s site specific_LOS ANGELES (2005)
Downtown Los Angeles is misunderstood. To most observers, there is no there there. Like the rest of the great metropolis, downtown is amorphous, indecipherable, a suburb in reverse that is occupied by day and empty by night. Yes, we`ve got the Frank Gehryydesigned Walt Disney Concert Hallla crown jewel to rival any city`s crown jewel. (And, don`t forget, ours was designed first, before Bilbao!) But the concert hall stands in singular aloneness, surrounded by parking lots, drab government behemoths, and piles of granite and glass tombstones occupied by elite bankers and law firms. What L.A. needs now is some big-time infill.
To an extent, this is underway. The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimated in February that there has been $12.2 billion worth of built and planned construction in the downtown area since 1999. Lofts and condos are hot. More than 26,000 new residential units have been added since 2000. Thanks to an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance that eased the city`s regulations for restoring older buildings, historic properties are being converted at an unprecedented rate. The city has a new cathedral by Rafael Moneo and a new state transit building by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, while an arts school by Wolf Prix is the works. Meanwhile, local firm Rios Clemente Hale is designing a 40,000-square-foot plaza to anchor a 3.8-million-square-foot hotel-cum-mall-cum-residential-complex, known as L.A. Live!, adjoining the Staples Center, home court of the Lakers. The arena, which follows the nationwide trend of stadiums returning to cities` downtowns, is credited with a spurt of big-box growth at the south end of downtown since its opening in 1999.
Still, the view of a neglected and empty downtown persists because the city`s civic leaders, their developer patrons, and their acolytes in the press remain committed to transforming the admittedly grim but prominent civic center, which sits relatively removed from the rest of downtown, at the top of Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill has suffered more from the misguided attention of city bigwigs and planners than perhaps any neighborhood in Los Angeles. In 1961, bulldozers began clearing hundreds of flophouses, SROs, fine Victorian homes, and small shopssthe very things that made it a genuine, lively community. More than 10,000 residents were displaced. In one way or another, the city has been trying to get them back ever since, but 50 years of urban renewal has produced an eyesore and an international embarrassment. This is the downtownn that gets all the attention, and is frequently mistaken for the city`s real, other, downtown.
olivio barbieri/coutesy yancey richardson gallery
Italian photographer Olivio Barbieri`s site specific_LOS ANGELES (2005)
Unfortunately, this predicament is perpetuated by relentless efforts to pour more capital into Bunker Hill. The latest, a $1.8 billion scheme, was given the official seal of approval in late April when, after nearly two years of anticipation, Gehry unveiled a design for what is called the Grand Avenue Project. The private-public development, headed by New Yorkkbased The Related Companies, aims to transform Grand Avenue into a destination not only for downtown but for the entire region,, in the words of one leading public official. When it`s all completed, we`re going to have Gehry in stereo,, he boasted.
Whether Gehry in stereo can convert a 9-to-5 bureaucratic stronghold into a 24/7 boomtown is anyone`s guess. Still, the mistake is one of interpretation. Downtown Los Angeles has several centers. Bunker Hill, which is cut off from the rest of downtown by geography and freeways, is a hilltop governmental-cultural ghetto. The action, as a more sober Frank Gehry used to admit, is elsewhere. (Gehry once famously said that if the choice had been his own, he would have built Disney Hall somewhere along Wilshire Boulevard. That street, which connects downtown to the beaches in Santa Monica, is, as Gehry said, our true downtown, only it`s vertical..)
Downslope from Bunker Hill is Broadway, L.A.`s oldest main street. You can`t find a stronger contrast to the arid altiplano rising several blocks to the west. Broadway is teeming. You can get your shoes shined on the street. You can pop into the Grand Central Market and stand at a counter to snack on marinated cabbage and gorditas. You can stroll the wide, bustling sidewalks, in search of a fedora or a wedding gown. You can get married on Broadway, and pick-pocketed, too. You can buy bootlegged Mexican movies and tiny packets of Chiclets chewing gum.
Broadway bustles because it has hundreds of ground-floor shops, tightly spaceddlike any good main drag. And as John Kamp, a local city planner points out, Broadway is also successful because it has so many bus stops. People come to Broadway because it is part of their everyday trajectory through the city, not a special trip to an unlikely destination.. The crowds justify high rents, which in some cases are higher per square foot than on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
A bit further south and east is another area on the rise, the Fashion District, which borders Skid Row. In the past several years, the neighborhood has sprung to life with none of the fanfare or money heaped on Grand Avenue. The district has, in fact, benefited by being overlooked. A vestigial industrial zone where building owners are not required to have front yards, rear yards, or other setbacks, it contains a large stock of urban-friendly buildings. Buildings typically have multiple entrances. One, on the 800 block of South Main Street, has 14. Others might have a dozen small storefronts in the span of 150 feet of sidewalk frontage. The pedestrian-friendly scale allowed wholesalers to open their doors to retail. While garment workers sew upstairs, fashionistas ply the streets below, hunting for cheap knock-offs and bargain trendy buys. Here, too, rents rival those on Broadway. Buildings are selling for as much as $570 a square foot.
These are but two examples of other downtowns. There are still others, such as Little Tokyo and the nearby Arts District, Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, and Boyle Heights. These parts are thriving not because someone has managed to give them a theme but because visually interesting, authentic, aurally stimulating businesses are pressed hard against the sidewalks. These are the parts of downtown Los Angeles that have never been relieved of the compression that brings urban life to the surface. Check them out, and you will see that Los Angeles has a downtown. It`s just not where you`re told to find it.
Greg Goldin is the architecture critic at Los Angeles Magazine and a regular contributor to the L.A. Weekly. He guest-edited this issue of AN.
FRANK GEHRY, KING OF THE HILL
In 1980, Frank Gehry was one of the more modest members of the "L.A. Dream Team" assembled to develop a visionary, but ultimately unrealized scheme to redevelop what remained of Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, whose decaying Victorian mansions had been bulldozed 20 years before in the name of urban renewal. He was still regarded as an outsider seven years later when he won the competition to design Walt Disney Concert Hall in the same Grand Avenue area. Now he`s back as king of this particular hill, with schematic designs for the site he tried to reshape two decades ago.
Gehry Partners` proposal for Grand Avenue.
The popular and critical success of Disney Hall has endeared Gehry to the suits who run downtown, and their new bad boy is Thom Mayne, whose Caltrans building and iconoclastic approach to urban planning they consider dangerously radical. It`s their loss, and they`ll probably catch up, even if it takes 20 yearssjust as they did with Gehry, who has finally gained acceptance in his hometown.
The current iteration of the Grand Avenue Project attempts the same lively mix of uses and attractions as proposed by the original developer, the Maguire Partners and their Dream Team in 1980. Defying all the conventions of urban development, they wove together contributions by different architects, including a plaza by Gehry, a highrise residential tower by Barton Myer, an office tower by Cesar Pelli, a hotel-condo block by Ricardo Legorreta, fanciful pavilions by Charles Moore, a modern art museum by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer, and landscaping by Lawrence Halprin. The plan included contrasting buildings surrounded by walkways, fountains, and greenery.
The proposal was widely acclaimed by the public and in the architecture press, but the Community Redevelopment Agency, a hapless band of amateurs, preferred Arthur Erickson`s sleek office towers. His scheme was a series of isolated objects with no connective tissue, and which failed to engage the street. The featured public amenity was Arata Isozaki`s Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), but this was pushed below the street so as not to block the view of a shopping center on the site beyonddan element that was never built.
Twenty-five years later, Gehry is back, and has released a preliminary design that includes two L-plan towerssone of offices, the other for a hotel and condossthat act as frames for Disney Hall and a 250,000-square-foot retail-restaurant complex. This is the first of three phases in the $1.8 billion project, which will eventually comprise eight towers and a 16-acre park, to be designed by a team including the firms Rios Clementi Hale Studios and Levin & Associates. (Mayne was part of that team but was dropped by the developer, New Yorkkbased The Related Companies, in April 2005 for artistic differences. He was later replaced by Gehry, one of the initial competitors.)
Gehry`s May presentation at Disney Hall consisted of little more than a massing diagram. As it stands, there are no expressive gestures, and he offered few hints of how the scheme would be fleshed out. Skeptics wondered how great an influence The Related Companies would have on the design, and the extent to which it would be driven by retail imperatives. The ongoing fiasco at Ground Zero has undoubtedly reinforced a widespread cynicism about the contest between architecture and profit. (Gehry famously refused to submit a proposal for the original planning competition for the World Trade Center site, a decision that now looks incredibly prescient.) There is also the issue of whether one architect, however brilliant, can achieve unity and diversity through such an ambitious development, or whether parts should be delegated to other designers as in the old Maguire scheme.
The largest question, and one that will not be answered for at least a decade, is whether the Grand Avenue Project will animate the neighborhood as most downtown improvements have failed to do. In the wake of its loss on Bunker Hill, the developer, now called Maguire-Thomas Partners, spurred a redesign of Pershing Square, which had become as blighted as New York`s Tompkins Square Park. Legorreta understood how Mexican plazas work and landscape designer Laurie Olin drew on Rittenhouse Square, a lively oasis in his native Philadelphia. The block-sized park was opened to the street, colorful structures beckon pedestrians, but few enter except to retrieve their cars from the underground garage. As Robert Venturi once observed, Americans are reluctant to sit in outdoor public places except to eat and be entertained, and the city authorities failed to provide concession stands or programming. Even the crowds of shoppers a block east on Broadway ignored this one patch of greenery in east-central L.A. What does that say for the chances of the new park included in Gehry`s scheme?
Grand Avenue links some of the city`s most cherished public buildings, including the classic Central Library, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Disney Hall, as well as the Colburn Music School and the aloof citadels of the Music Center and Rafael Moneo`s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Even Disney Hall, everyone`s favorite new civic icon, hasn`t noticeably boosted foot traffic on the street, and most concertgoers arrive by escalator from the underground parking garage. The residential population of downtown has boomed over the last decade, and there has been a flurry of loft conversions and new apartment blocks. Urban homesteaders need shopping and services, but will they find those in the new retail center? For the newly crowned Gehry, this may be the toughest challenge of his 50-year career.
Michael Webb is a Los Angeles-based architecture critic whose most recent book is Adventurous Wine Architecture (Images Publishing, 2005).
IF YOU ADAPT IT, WILL THEY COME?
For more than 20 years, downtown Los Angeles has been the exclusive playground of bohemian artist-types who perferred cheap rents to Trauslen refrigerators and anonymity to swank eateries. not anymore. Downtown L.A. is slowly evolving into a collection of distinct neighborhoods each touting new high-end condominium and apartment conversion projects complete with rooftop swimming pools and fitness centers. You can even find an occassional cup of concrete-floored, skylit loft to your glass-enclosed office tower.
Newly minted lawyers, businessmen, and accountants, raking in mega starting salaries, think downtown will be a hot real estate market for years to come. Maybe it`s a chicken-and-egg situation, but they`re signing on to long waiting lists or pre-purchasing units before construction has even started. When the historic Douglas Building Lofts, renovated by Rockefeller Partners Architects, went on the market in 20044nearly 18 months before the Spring Street property was completeddall 50 units sold within a week. At the Flower Street Lofts, one of the first residential developments in the South Park district, several of the original buyers took advantage of the appreciating market and flipped their units within a year of purchase.
Emboldened by what appears to be an insatiable appetite for urban living, developers continue to increase unit prices, even as the rest of the L.A. market begins to flatten out. According to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District (DCBID), in the first quarter of 2006 the average cost per square foot was $547.80, an astonishing 18.8 percent increase from last year at the same time. The market, in other words, is booming. Since 1999 nearly 7,000 new condominiums and apartments have been created in downtown Los Angeles. If all goes as projected by the DCBID, there will be nearly 20,000 more by 2015.
But, as the residents and workers in downtown Vancouver have learned, a thriving community won`t necessarily emerge just because you`ve built and occupied thousands of new units. Although one is in the works, up to now, there hasn`t been a grocery store downtown for decadessand Citarella or Whole Foods are far from the drawing boards. And no such thing as Sarabeth`s Kitchen or Frette is even imagined. Add to this a lack of community and no green space and downtown had little more to offer than lofty spaces with skyline views. Developers have worked to remedy this by enticing cafes and small businesses to open in the ground floors of residential developments, while others are creating courtyards and rooftop recreation areas. The uncertain promise is that there`s more to comeeenough to lure buyers out of the suburbs and into the core.
Clearly, an influx of new homeowners and businesses in downtown will be an economic boon for the city, but for the thousands of poor and homeless living in the area`s shelters and low-cost residential hotels, gentrification means one thing: eviction. Already, developers have converted several of the 240 hotels (many of them functioning as SROs) into market-rate apartments and condominiums. Fearful that more of the downtown poor will be displaced, the Los Angeles City Council recently approved a one-year moratorium on the conversion or demolition of low-cost hotels citywide, with the option for an extension. In an effort to further help the transient poor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed a $1 billion bond measure to pay for subsidized apartments. The funds would cover housing as well as social services. And other plans to bring improvements downtown are in the works. In March, L.A. County officials unveiled a $100 million campaign that would house the estimated 14,000 homeless concentrated on downtown`s Skid Row by expanding much needed countywide programs and providing more emergency and transitional housing, and health services. The campaign is part of a $12 billion investment plan to build 50,000 housing units countywide over a ten-year span.
Ten years ago nobody would have believed any of this was possible. And had it not been for the new public icons, Disney Concert Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and Staples Center, it might not have been. And while major cultural and entertainment projects are no doubt paramount in a successful urban environment, the most important ingredient of all is the local population, be they new condo owners, low-income transients, factory workers, or artists. Finding a way for all income levels to thrive in the new downtown will be the challenge of city officials and developers.
Allison Milionis is a freelance writer living and working in Downtown Los Angeles.
mill street lofts
1820 Industrial Street
The Los Angeles office of German firm Behnisch Architects has designed one of the first ground-up, loft-style buildings in an area filled with adaptive re-use projects. We realized early on that because of the low scale of the surrounding buildings, if you built up you could offer amazing views of downtown,, said project architect Christof Jantzen. The building, developed by local firm LinearCity, stands 16 stories high and contains what Jantzen describes as eight different unit types,, ranging from 650 to 2,100 square feet and including single-, double-, and triple-story condos, some following the inverted L-shaped configurations that Le Corbusier used in his L`Unitt d`habitation in Marseilles.
In keeping with the spirit of the industrial loft conversions that surround the project, the project has a concrete structure with exposed concrete floors, tall ceilings, and large windows. The materials and fixtures used throughout will be sheet metal, fiber cement, and pre-cast concrete panelssall sustainable materials. In addition, operable windows, indirect sun-orientation, a gray-water treatment system, and a passive-cooling ventilation system might just earn the developer the LEED-rating it seeks. Adjacent to the 16-story highrise, a smaller set of townhousess shares the same material vocabulary as the loft building, though with more privacy.
I think the developers need to be highly praised for what they`re doing,, said Jantzen. They have a vision for the area that will transform it into a great neighborhood.. In 2004, LinearCity also developed and sold lofts in an adjacent building, the ToY Factory, and is engaged in another adaptive reuse project across the street, the Biscuit Company Lofts by Aleks Istanbullu Architects.
Biscuit company lofts
673 Mateo Street
When Paul Solomon, founder of the development group LinearCity, called Los Angeles- based Aleks Istanbullu Architects to transform a pre-existing factory into residential condos, the architect knew immediately that he wanted to do something different from a standard conversion. He wanted to design loft spaces that vary in size, plan, and character throughout the boxy building, a 1925 biscuit-baking factory formerly owned by the manufacturer Nabisco.
courtesy aleks istanbullu architects
The site comprises the 110,000 square-foot, seven-story main structure and a single-story annex; Istanbullu will add an additional floor to each, increasing the total square footage to 153,000 square feet. On the main building, Istanbullu created a large penthouse with extensive outdoor space. He transformed the existing annex into a set of three-story row houses by carving out a mezzanine and adding a floor.
According to Istanbullu, the architects decided to use the contrast approachh on the additions, by which he means making clear the distinction between old and new. The penthouse and the top floor of the annex are constructed out of steel, stone, and glass, though the colors were chosen to complement the brick building below. It will remain largely intact, though Istanbullu adjusted the circulation to create irregular interior spaces. I really wanted variety, to find and create unique units,, said Istanbullu. Although the building is a box, by shaping the hallways in an odd configuration, I could get a lot of plan varieties.. New structural walls in the core of the building were installed to bring it up to building code, while some pre-existing, non-load-bearing walls were removed to keep a feeling of openness.
The interiors will be minimally outfitteddmost won`t even include a refrigeratorrdominated by the pre-existing inch-thick maple floors, brick walls, and copper details. Like luxury loft-style condominiumns in New York City, prices will likely attract a wealthy clientele.
114 East 2nd Street
In 1996, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles initiated demolition of the 17,000-square-foot St. Vibiana Cathedral, its home since 1876, sparking a heated preservation battle that ultimately left it untouched and now the cornerstone of a major $120 million, 468,000 square-foot mixed-use development project by Los Angeles developer Tom Gilmore.
Courtesy Tom Gilmore
According to Gilmore, the Los Angeles Conservancy, a local preservation organization, approached him in 1997 and asked for assistance in purchasing the property, which includes a 2.5-acre lotta full city block. With money lent (somewhat ironically) by the Archdiocese itself, Gilmore bought the property for $4.6 million, pledging to restore the cathedral and ensure an active future for it.
Gilmore came to an agreement with the California State University to convert the cathedral into a performing arts space downtown, a plan that earned $4 million from the state toward the cost of restoration and seismic retrofitting.
I am an adamant urbanist,, said Gilmore, adding, I`m not a fan of little disconnected venues; I am all for density.. By transferring air rights from the cathedral and its connected refectory, Gilmore could plan a series of small mixed-use buildings and a 41-story residential highrise spread out throughout the site. We`re staggering the buildings and utilizing setbacks in order to create a pedestrian-friendly environment,, said Gilmore. Gilmore and his partner, Richard Weintraub, hired local architecture firm Nadel Architects to design the project, who began with massing diagrams to plan the site. The bottom line is that the skin and profile are less important than massing in a project of this scale,, Gilmore pointed out.
The $8 million restoration of the cathedral was completed last year, overseen by local preservation experts Levin & Associates Architects. The rest of the project is still in designnGilmore notes that the preliminary renderings are more flashy than I`d like to see themm?as the project goes through planning and zoning. Gilmore hopes the tower, which will have 2,200 square feet of ground-level retail fronting a parking garage, will break ground in the beginning of 2007 and be completed in 2009.
210 North San Fernando Road
One of the more notable adaptive-reuse conversions downtown is Santa Monicaabased Pugh + Scarpa Architects` restoration of the 1927 Fuller Pink Company, a former office building and a relic of L.A.`s art deco moment. Though not an official landmark, it sports stunning details, including pilasters, sculpted floral bas reliefs, and according to principal architect Gwen Pugh, a wonderfully preserved lobby..
courtesy pugh + scarpa architect
Pugh + Scarpa has restored the five-floor, 151,000-square-foot building and added two additional floors, creating a total of 102 units. The architects cored out the center of the concrete building in order to create a 40-foot-wide lightwell and room for a small interior courtyard. The rooftop addition has its own identity, clad in glass and corrugated metal. On the building`s north side, the metal cladding undulates in plan, contrasting with the cube on which it is perchedda gesture that, according to Pugh, is intended to divorce the skin from the boxx and make the original building`s undecorated north facade more interesting.. On all sides, irregularly placed balconies, resembling constructivist boxes, further disrupt the original building`s simple planarity.
The Lincoln Heights district is roughly 2 miles from downtown, in an area that`s still largely undeveloped (parking lots and empty plots far outnumber supermarkets). According to Pugh, the Fuller Lofts is the only project in the immediate vicinity that has been motivated by the city`s new Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, which the city adopted in 1999 (and greatly expanded in 2003) in order to lure businesses downtown.
Frank Gehry`s Walt Disney Concert Hall, Rafael Moneo`s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and Thom Mayne`s Caltrans headquarters have changed the way Angelenos understand their downtown. Spectacular, freewheeling, and deeply moving, these buildings have drawn crowds and made architecture relevant, and perhaps essential. So why haven`t more of the new public buildings followed suit? In the preceding decades, John Portman`s Bonaventure Hotel epitomized L.A.`s style, which typically meant being walled off from the street, virtually impenetrable, and wrapped in a one-way mirror. Now public buildings are increasingly incorporating plazas, street-level portals, and transparent facades. Though many public buildings still embrace the bunker mentality, it might reflect bad planning and site selection as much as architectural design: The city still has the habit of plopping security-conscious buildings cheek-by-jowl to public-conscious ones. Whole street elevations are permitted to go unarticulated and turn a barren carapace to neighbors. Several new public projects reveal how far L.A. has come, and how far it has to go.
central los angeles area
High School #9
450 North Grand Avenue
armin heiss / isochrom / courtesy coop himmelb(l)au
After the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Coop Himmelb(l)au`s High School for the Visual and Performing Arts may be one of the most dramatic structures to be completed in downtown L.A. The new structure, which began construction in March and is scheduled to openin 2008, will feature a dramatic glass and steel lobby and house 1,728 music, dance, visual and performing arts students. Estimated to cost $208 million, the signature feature of the school will be a 140-foot-tall tower that will give students a clear view of the adjacent Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
los angeles united states
First Street and Broadway
courtesy perkins and will
In 2001, Perkins + Will won a commission from the General Services Administration to design a 1,000,000-square-foot couthouse in downtown L.A. The 16-story building features approximately 40 courtrooms with floor-to-floor heights of 19 feet, along with some administrative office space and an expansive ground-floor atrium. Sustainability was crucial for the client and designers: Photovoltaic panels comprise about 50 percent of the large curving glass facade, under-floor circulation systems minimize heating and cooling costs, and clerestory windows throughout the courtrooms bring in natural daylight. The building is in still in design and construction should begin in mid to late 2007.
Los angeles police department headquarters
First and Main Streets
Filling most of the block across from City Hall, the L.A.P.D.`s new headquarters went through an extensive public review process while it was under design, and ultimately incorporated the lessons of over 30 community meetings. The architects, DMJM/Roth-Shepard Design, incorporated necessarily strong security requirements such as 75-foot setbacks to surround the building with public spaces. The 500,000-square-foot building`s two above-ground volumes form an L-shape around a large plaza along First Street. The budget is set for $303 million, and construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2008.