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Blast of Personal Truth from Port Authority’s Chris Ward
Far from the expected pablum that these events usually generate, Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority, gave a speech opening the New York Building Congress yesterday loaded to bear with fight, a lot of Good Fight, demanding continued federal funding for infrastructure. Along the way, he recalls his own version of the tortured path from Ground Zero grind to the Memorial Moment of meditation to come. It's quite a version and well worth a close read as he "recalls" Libeskind's master plan as "gardens in the sky" and how that was "replaced with another vision, as realities of the site, the market" set in. Then he talks about "Breaking Away from Monumentalism" and "The Assessment" thanks to the Port Authority, which may or may not be the stinking months of pissing match between PA and Silverstein as they wrangled about responsibility for building the first then the other towers. Sit back—but fasten your seat belt—You'll be amazed to read what you went through: Welcome I want to start by thanking Dick Anderson and the New York Building Congress for the invitation to speak here today. For over 90 years, the New York Building Congress has championed infrastructure investments and supported the Port Authority in its mission. Their most recent report “Building Infrastructure Pays Dividends” quantifies just how important this type of investment is. Introduction In twelve days, the world will gather Downtown to remember and commemorate the nearly 3,000 people who were lost on September 11th, 2001. It will be ten years. When the family members gather alongside President Obama, Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie and Mayor Bloomberg on that day, they will place their hands on the bronze parapets etched with the names of those we lost. They will see the fountains flowing into the voids of the original World Trade Center. They will walk among the hundreds of Swamp Oak trees planted on the plaza. This, frankly, is a remarkable achievement. It is a testament to the discipline and hard work of Port Authority engineers, our partners and the construction workers toiling on site. For many who lost their loved ones, this event may not bring closure. The attacks of September 11th were so devastating that closure may never be the appropriate word to describe how we come to terms with that terrible day. But I believe that the tenth anniversary does represent a significant inflection point. Dates are important. And on this anniversary, I believe the opening of the Memorial Plaza represents the end of the World Trade Center site’s past and the beginning of its future. For the first time, the public will be able to walk among the trees and fountains and in so doing, begin the important process of weaving this Memorial at the heart of the site into the fabric of New York City. Today, I want to talk about how the Port Authority stepped back from a difficult conversation about what the World Trade Center should be, stripped the site of what I call monumentalism, and focused on construction, of what it could be. I will then talk about how the challenges that we have faced at the site are unfortunately part of what I would call the deterioration of the social contract. And I will argue that in order to build the next generation of critical infrastructure projects, we need to restore a critical constituency – the pragmatic center. If we are again to become a nation, a City, of builders, current politics cannot endure; we will not only lose the public works that made us great, we will lose our democratic center that has bound us as a nation. A New Downtown On the 10th anniversary, the public will get its first real look at the New Downtown. They will see the Memorial Plaza, a place of profound tranquility for those who lost a loved one and wish to honor their memory. To read a name. But the Memorial Plaza, with 8 acres of unique green space, four times the size of Bryant Park, will also be the heart of a New Downtown. It will be a shaded park for office workers to grab a sandwich; a place for a couple to meet in the early evening before a date; or, a shortcut on a rainy day. It will be New York. The Port Authority’s investments will yield the magnificent Calatrava Transportation Hub, which will redefine the commuter experience, connecting 13 subway lines, 33 bus routes, the PATH system and our Ferry Terminal – the most mass transit connections anywhere in New York City. With our new partners from Westfield, this new site will house world-class retail and restaurants throughout nearly 500,000 square feet in total. With more retail space than the Time Warner Center, this – together with a collection of new public parks – will make Downtown the 24/7 community that Mayor Bloomberg, Shelly Silver and the community have long envisioned. And finally, with One World Trade Center, New York will have a new exclamation point in the sky. One World Trade Center will be Downtown’s counterpoint to the Empire State Building in Midtown, restoring that balance to the skyline. New Yorkers take pride in their skyscrapers, and as the building reaches its towering apex, it will become a vital part of daily life in this City. The site will be open, it will be democratic, it will be a clear demonstration of the City’s energy and vitality. It will be the New Downtown. Monumentalism at the World Trade Center But this reality was not always a foregone conclusion. For many years after the attacks, the World Trade Center site was bogged down by what I call “monumentalism.” The tension between the visions of monumentalism and the recurring reality of failure, of visions and plans unrealized, is not unique to the World Trade Center. It has been present throughout the City’s history. Think of the colossal vision for a huge East Side development for the United Nations – what was then dubbed “X-City” – a plan to build six skyscrapers, three housing complexes, one hotel, an opera hall, a yacht landing and a heliport. That monumental vision was ultimately reduced to the more practical size we see today. Even the original plan for the World Trade Center was not the 16-acre site on the west side, but a huge low-slung complex taking up most of the East Side highway. But think also of those visions that were realized. That today define New York. I think it is fair to say that Olmstead’s monumental vision for Central Park defines New York perhaps more than any other project. But what would New York City’s urbanism be without Rockefeller Center? Think about the transformation still underway at Battery Park City. So we have seen monumentalism succeed triumphantly and we have seen it fail spectacularly. Through the early years, the World Trade Center straddled this divide between success and failure. Think of the early days after the attack, the City itself launched into a collective exercise to fill the void. Seeking the visions of world-class architects, eight plans were put forth. Some so out of context, in terms of shape or form, they went well beyond reimagining the City. Think about how Downtown was described at the time, the very language that was used to describe the vision. There was the rhetoric of patriotism, of national pride, of sending a message – that New York must be number one again. Leaders and elected officials spoke time and again of the monumental need to build a new downtown. And so, in 2003, the Libeskind Master Plan was adopted. Soaring glass towers, glinting sunlight, gardens in the sky, sunken highways, and a vast memorial space. But soon that plan was replaced with another vision, as the realities of the site, the market, and what it might actually look like began to set in. I would argue that what filled out that Master Plan became even more monumental, as the City poured its whole civic heart into the site. And so came the tallest skyscraper in America, 10 million square feet of office space, a museum and memorial of such breadth and power, a new street grid, the third-largest transportation hub in the city, and a performing arts center. It was all to be there, on sixteen acres, linked together in one monumental project. And it was all to rise at once. Breaking Away From Monumentalism [PS! You know who you are!] By time I became Executive Director, the monumentalism of the World Trade Center Site Plan – the tension between its soaring vision and the realities of construction – had reached a breaking point. At that point, what we had was a beautiful set of renderings, but very few blueprints. So the Port Authority undertook a comprehensive assessment of the World Trade Center project. [PS! Some might say The Assessment was May 2006 when Guv Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg brought in Frank Sciame to figure out how to keep Memorial in line with promised $500 million budget.] As we undertook the Assessment, there was a desire in some corners to reverse the trajectory of the seven years since 9/11, to wipe the slate clean and start again. But, as we quickly realized, there was no rewind button to undo the billions of dollars already committed. What we could do, however, was level with the public about the circumstances on the ground and be forthright about cost, schedule and risks. We were candid about the difficult challenges facing the site. Then we went out began attacking each one. Before the Assessment, the 9/11 Memorial was not scheduled to open until 2013. This was simply unacceptable. But by setting a clear priority – to actually open on the ten year anniversary – the Port Authority engineers did what engineers do best. They solved the problem, seeing a whole new way to approach the job. Instead of building the Transportation Hub from the bottom up, we switched the design to build it from the top down. This way, the Hub’s roof, which doubles as the Memorial Plaza’s floor, would be finished in time for the ten-year anniversary. From there, we re-engineered the Transportation Hub itself, simplifying the beautiful, yet extraordinarily complex Calatrava design [P.S.! Still costs over $3.2 billion dollars]. And we completely restructured our procurement process – the way we buy and implement the billions of dollars of construction contracts – going from a huge single package of work with no real milestones and little accountability to multiple smaller packages that we competitively bid to a hungry market. It is amazing what a little competition can do. I often compare the site to an enormous game of pickup sticks, where you can’t change anything without affecting the entire site. Over the past years, the Port Authority and our partners – the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, Silverstein Properties and the hundreds of contractors on site – have gotten very good at playing pickup sticks. I want to personally thank Joe Daniels and Larry Silverstein for their partnership in getting us to this point. It has truly been a team effort. Aside from the creative engineering solutions we implemented, we also made other, more symbolic decisions to reposition the site. Perhaps no other action speaks to this more than our renaming the Freedom Tower to One World Trade Center. The name Freedom Tower loomed over the site, carrying all the symbolism and monumentalism of those early years after the attack. From a real estate perspective, it loaded the site with a difficult image that experts said would make it hard to lease. So we replaced the name “Freedom Tower” and the building’s address, “One World Trade Center.” We were free before 9/11, and we are free today. Just like we had to start treating the World Trade Center site like a construction project, we had to start treating this building like a commercial office building. Making Progress at the World Trade Center Site On the heels of these important decisions, the Port Authority began to make striking progress at the World Trade Center. In 2008, the site was still defined by the family ramp down to the pit. Today, progress at the World Trade Center is advancing on every inch of the site, and you can see and feel the difference. At the Memorial, workers are putting the final touches on the plaza. 225 trees are planted. Grass has gone in and we are getting ready to welcome the world on September 11th. When we published the Assessment in October 2008, our schedule anticipated the completion of the Memorial’s Visitors Center by the second quarter of 2013. As you can see, we are well ahead of schedule. The Visitors Center, which will serve as the entrance to the 9/11 Museum, is nearly complete. At One World Trade Center, we are now at the 80th floor. One World Trade Center is now the tallest building in Lower Manhattan at more than 960 feet above street level, surpassing 40 Wall Street. Floor slabs for One World Trade Center are at the 71st floor and the glass curtain wall is up to the 52nd floor. We are accelerating work on the World Trade Center Transportation Hub's concourse area in the East Bathtub and have made tremendous progress in the Main Hall. Larry Silverstein’s Tower 4 is rising rapidly in the southeast corner of the site, and the curtain wall provides a beautiful reflection of the Memorial’s South Fountain. And all this work is being performed by 3,500 construction workers. At a time when unemployment in this country is at unacceptable levels, the World Trade Center is truly a job creation engine in the region. So we are finally seeing tangible progress. This progress is happening in part because we learned the lessons from the difficulties of the early years – that it is better to focus less on the monumentalism of a project and more on hard and fast decisions like pragmatic design, construction milestones and budgets. The Evolution and Deterioration of the Social Contract But having spoken of this bright future for Downtown, I must share that I do not have the same optimism for both the City and the Country going forward. Like the World Trade Center, we can reverse course, but it will require a major correction in how we talk about infrastructure and how people come to understand their role in shaping this new agenda. Change we must. At times, I worry that America’s dewy eyed nostalgia can blur our real history, but think back to that incredible time of building in America – the Progressive Era. Emerging out of the good government movement – which swept out corruption and the power of political machines – we launched a revolution in infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the New York Subway System, Water Tunnel Number One and Grand Central, the hallmarks of a modern New York, were all opened at that time. It was the Progressive Era because we wanted change; the Nation and City understood its future lay ahead, not in some fixed idealized political past. And, out of this Era, a social contract was formed, establishing an American pragmatism – a center – that said we will endorse a government that, in fact, builds that better world. For the decades that followed, this country continued to build great works of public infrastructure. But that center is quickly vanishing. Across the country and in this region, we have seen both leaders and voters reject that vision. For all his vaunted optimism after the Carter years, Reagan also launched a darker strain in American politics, that somehow government itself is the problem, and that you can always do more with less. No doubt, that strain ran through Gingrich’s Contract With America, Grover Norquist’s No Tax Pledge, and to the Tea Party of today. But the left is not without its responsibility; too often, we have seen rigid opposition to social and private sector market innovation. Today, we are truly seeing the consequences of that slow deterioration of that social contract. The recent debt ceiling debate in Washington is the most depressing reminder. Without action, 90 years of infrastructure investment will be left without a future. But I believe, in a small way, The World Trade Center Project provides somewhat of a model for how we might restore that pragmatic center. In turning the site from a monument into a construction project, setting realistic budgets and deadlines, we were candid and transparent about how much it would cost and when it would be completed. For the public’s support and endorsement, that must be the foundation of all large-scale projects moving forward. Whether it was the early years of the Trade Center, or more dramatically, the Big Dig in Boston, the public has grown increasingly cynical of what we do. But shaped by a different narrative, not one simply characterized by boondoggles for what was obvious cost underestimating, the Big Dig was a huge success for Boston. Think of it: Two Major Tunnels, a brand new bridge, a beautiful park built over the highway, all of it linking Boston back to its historic waterfront. I would say they got their monies worth; what they did not get was realistic schedules and budgets. That is government’s responsibility. Restoring the Pragmatic Center But the public and each one of you have a responsibility as well. We all need to be a part of restoring that pragmatic center and changing the political conversation. The Port Authority recently sought to significantly raise its tolls and fares, and inserted itself into that conversation. In an instant, we became subsumed in the political environment I have been describing – one with little capacity to support the investment our region’s economic backbone so desperately needs. By the end of it, we emerged with a ten-year capital plan that in some ways is all too modest – one that keeps our transportation network in a state of good repair to be sure, but not one that expands it in any transformative way. That agenda was unthinkable in this environment. But what have we lost when the standard is not whether you can get to your job efficiently, fly around the world, ship billions of tons of cargo, or even build a brand new City downtown? No, it has become the price of a pair of blue jeans, the cost of a new TV. Surely, this cannot be the standard by which we judge or govern a great City. Unfortunately, you cannot always do more with less. Sometimes you must simply do more. And until that reality becomes part of our political conversation, we will be playing catch up with the rest of the world. Change we can. But change has to come from both government and its people. I have known many of you for years. I know what you stand for. What is important to you. You are the pragmatic center. I believe we can build the next generation of critical infrastructure projects, and I believe we can restore that social contract. But we need your help to get there. Conclusion At the World Trade Center today, we have proven that by restoring the public’s confidence, we can build big. By focusing on the decisions that really count, by putting aside monumentalism, we are ready to open the Memorial in 12 days, a goal that seemed unthinkable three years ago. But we are not just building a Memorial, we are delivering a vibrant city within a city – a sprawling Transportation Hub, the tallest skyscraper in North America, and the critical infrastructure to support it all. And while it is the Port Authority’s job to translate the site’s monumental vision into concrete, steel and glass, the World Trade Center will not be what a politician or a cultural leader tells you it should be. It will be what you make it. It will be your Downtown. Thank you.
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Mapping Lower Manhattan
The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center's database includes 3-D models of projects now under way, shown here in their projected state of completion in 2018 (Click to zoom).
Map Courtesy LMCCC
 
 

World Trade Center Site

1.   1 WORLD TRADE CENTER
Developer: Port Authority
Architect: SOM

2.   2 WORLD TRADE CENTER
Developer:
Silverstein Properties
Architect: Foster + Partners

3.   3 WORLD TRADE CENTER
Developer: Silverstein Properties
Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

4.   4 WORLD TRADE CENTER
Developer: Silverstein Properties
Architect: Maki and Associates

5.   5 WORLD TRADE CENTER
Developer: Port Authority
Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox

6.   WORLD TRADE CENTER TRANSPORTATION HUB
Developer: Port Authority
Architect: Santiago Calatrava

7.   NATIONAL SEPTEMBER 11 MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM
Developer: National September 11 Memorial & Museum Foundation
Architect: Michael Arad, Peter Walker, and Davis Brody Bond Aedas

8.   LIBERTY PARK
Developer: Port Authority
Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox


Transportation and Street Improvement

9.   WEST STREET PROMENADE SEGMENT 2
Address: West St. between West Thames and Chambers St.
Developer: New York State Dept. of Transportation
Architect: Stantec

10.   FULTON STREET CORRIDOR
Developer: NYC Department of Design and Construction
Architect: NYC Department of Design and Construction

11.   FULTON STREET TRANSIT CENTER
Address: 192 Broadway and 1–3 John St.
Developer: Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Architect: Grimshaw Architects/James Carpenter

12.   BROOKLYN BRIDGE REHABILITATION
Developer: NYC Department of Transportation
Architect/Engineer: URS


Park and Landscape

13.   HUDSON RIVER PARK TRIBECA SEGMENT
Address: Between North Moore and Hubert Sts.
Developer: Hudson River Park Trust
Masterplan: Sasaki Associates
Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen

14.   SEAGLASS CAROUSEL
Address: Battery Park
Developer: Battery Conservancy and NYC Parks Department
Architect: WXY Architecture + Urban Design with George Tsypin Opera Factory
Landscape Architect: Starr Whitehouse

15.   PLAYSPACE
Address: Battery Park
Developer: Battery Conservancy and NYC Parks Department
Architect: Gehry Partners
Landscape Architect: Starr Whitehouse

16.   PETER MINUIT PLAZA
Address: Whitehall Ferry Terminal
Developer: MTA, NYC DOT, NYC Parks Dept., and Battery Conservancy
Architect: NYC Parks Department

17.   COLLECT POND PARK
Address: Leonard St. between Centre and Lafayette
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: NYC Parks Department

18.   ALLEN AND PIKE STREET MALLS
Address: Houston St. to South St.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: AECOM

19.   RUTGERS SLIP PARK
Address: Cherry St., Rutgers Slip, and FDR Dr.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: Thomas Balsley Associates

20.   CATHERINE SLIP PARK
Address: Catherine Slip at Cherry St.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Landscape Architect: Thomas Balsley Associates

21.   JAMES MADISON PLAZA
Address: Pearl St., Madison St., and St. James Pl.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: NYC Parks Department

22.   DELURY SQUARE PARK
Address: Fulton St. at Gold St.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: NYC Parks Department

23.   LITTLE PEARL STREET PARK
Address: Pearl St. between Fulton and Beekman Sts.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: NYC Parks Department

24.   TITANIC PARK
Address: Pearl St., Fulton St., and Water St.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: NYC Parks Department

25.   PECK SLIP PARK
Address: Water St. to South St.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: NYC Parks Department with Quennell Rothschild

26.   BURLING SLIP PLAYGROUND
Address: John St. between South and Front Sts.
Developer: NYC Parks Department
Architect: Rockwell Group

27.   EAST RIVER WATERFRONT
Address: Battery to East River Park
Developer: Lower Manhattan Development Corporation/Economic Development Corporation of New York
Architect: SHoP Architects
Landscape Architect: Ken Smith Landscape Architect 

Residential and Hotel

28.   52 LAIGHT STREET
Developer: Laurel Capital
Architect: Suellen Defrancis Architecture

29.   5 FRANKLIN PLACE
Developer: Sleepy Hudson
Architect: UNStudio

30.   56 LEONARD STREET
Developer: Alexico Group
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron

31.   57 READE STREET
Developer: John Buck
Architect: SLCE Architects

32.   77 READE STREET
Developer: 77 Reade LLC
Architect: BKSK Architects

33.   LIBERY GREEN AND LIBERTY LUXE
Address: 200 and 300 North End Ave.
Developer: Milstein Properties
Architect: Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn with Goldstein, Hill & West and Costas Kondylis & Partners

34.   99 CHURCH STREET
Developer: Silverstein Properties
Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects

35.   BEEKMAN TOWER
Address: 16–38 Beekman St.
Developer: Forest City Ratner
Architect: Gehry Partners

36.   276 WATER STREET
Developer: Lynda Davey
Architect: Perkins Eastman

37.   254 FRONT STREET
Developer: Magnum Realty Group
Architect: Morris Adjmi Architects

38.   40 GOLD STREET
Developer: Zahav Properties
Architect: Meltzer/Mandl

39.   67 LIBERTY STREET
Developer: Ron Shoshany
Architect: Newman Design Architects

40.   W NEW YORK DOWNTOWN HOTEL & RESIDENCES
Address: 123 Washington St.
Developer: Moinian Group
Architect: Gwathmey Siegel & Associates

41.   50 WEST STREET
Developer: Time Equities
Architect: Murphy/Jahn Architects

42.   50 TRINITY PLACE
Developer: McSam Hotel Group
Architect: Gene Kaufman Architect

43.   70 PINE STREET
Developer: Youngwoo & Associates
Architect: TBA

44.   SETAI NEW YORK
Address: 40 Broad St.
Developer: Setai Group and Zamir Equities
Architect: Denniston International

45.   45 BROAD STREET
Developer: Swig Equities
Architect: Moed de Armas & Shannon and Rockwell Group

46.   DOUBLETREE HOTEL
Address: 8 Stone St.
Developer: Metro One Hotel
Architect: Gene Kaufman Architect

47.   BATTERY MARITIME BUILDING
Address: 10 South St.
Developer: Dermot Company
Architect: Rogers Marvel Architects


School

48.   FITERMAN HALL
Address: 30 West Broadway
Developer: Dormitory Authority of the State of New York
Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

49.   BEEKMAN STREET SCHOOL
Address: 16-38 Beekman St.
Developer: Forest City Ratner Companies
Architect: Swanke Hayden

50.   PS/IS 276
Address: 55 Battery Pl.
Developer: School Construction Authority
Architect: Dattner Architects

51.   URBAN ASSEMBLY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS FOR YOUNG WOMEN
Address: 26 Broadway
Developer: School Construction Authority
Architect: John Ciardullo Architects


Commercial

52.   GOLDMAN SACHS HEADQUARTERS
Address: 200 Murray St.
Developer: Goldman Sachs
Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

53.   20 MOTT STREET
Developer: Regal Investments
Architect: JHC Consulting

54.   72 WALL STREET
Developer: Youngwoo & Associates
Architect: TBA
 

 

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Calatrava Publicly Speaking
At the opening of the exhibition on his World Trade Center Transportation Hub, on view now at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute though August 31, Santiago Calatrava’s presentation was impeccably well mannered. He juggled questions with ease, balancing the answers on the tip of his nose, before finally pulling the “child releasing a dove” formal metaphor out of his sleeve. Like his work or not, he is a magician, charming the public with form, feats of engineering, impossibly white compositions, and notions of public service. The Great White Spiny station marks a watershed moment for New York City. Even without the site's recent history, the project's overriding formalism and object-like nature represents an important point for architecture in the city. Given Manhattan's density there is an overriding need to fit in snuggly with one's neighbors. But this time we are getting an object in a field. Before you smugly think Calatrava and his team have created a sculptural memorial to themselves, he freely admits the building will outlast its designer. Perhaps, this is his media savvy working in overdrive, but even with my overly jaded feelings about the profession of architecture, I found his take refreshing. Without being bombastic or self-serving he noted although he loves Grand Central Terminal he has no idea who designed the soaring space. Should Reed & Stem and Warren & Wetmore feel insulted by their forgotten contributions? No, according to Calatrava. He understands when White Spiny opens for use, his role, his name, and his fame will eventually be lost, but the building will remain. With true graciousness he understands the public will see the building and not recall the designers. When asked if he thought the recent whirling drop in the economy had changed architecture and/or the architect's roll Calatrava took the chance to clarify the meaning of economy. The etymology, he pointed out, means “the order of the house” and by reseting the definition was able to speak to the shift away from glamor projects towards more public work and the lowering role of the starchitect and rise of newer, younger designers. Of course much of Calatrava's career has been built on large scale public projects (even as his office has designed its share of ultra towers in Chicago and Copenhagen) and his discussion of the new glory of public work could be thought of as a celebrating his own work. No matter. The Transportation Hub will require a Metrocard to ride the rails, but otherwise is open to public at no charge. This a real public project. The hub represents the return of “A”rchitecture to the public project in New York. For far too long the United States has selected its public projects based on merits of low cost and speed of construction. But design is now seen to carry value, even in the public realm. Many factors have led to this moment, including Ed Feiner's reinvigoration of the General Services Administration and New York City's emulation of these efforts, the slip/trip/ fall of the idea as market as king, and a new administration recommitting the country to the concept of engaged citizenship. These things are stirring and bring hope. In the end, however, hope can fade and results count most. Whether you like the building or the man or not, is not the issue. What is important is that something of great design and real effort is being built, and that we as a nation again care about the public realm and we as architects are able to play a roll in this process. Santiago Calatrava: World Trade Center Transportation Hub is on view Queen Sofia Spanish Institute at 684 Park Avenue, New York City, through August, 31.
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Columntrava
This week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) and Santiago Calatrava released renderings of the scaled back World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Gone is the sweeping column-free span, originally envisioned by the Spanish architect known for his expressionistic structures. Tapered columns have been added, which the Port Authority and the architect argue will speed along construction and reduce the amount of steel needed to complete the project. The skylights, which were to bring natural light into the mezzanine, have also been eliminated. This is only the latest compromise at the WTC site. As Alec Appelbaum wrote on October 2, a new report from the PA laid out plans for a revised timeline and simplified construction, including at the hub. When the report was released, the PA pledged to open the memorial in time for the tenth anniversary of the attacks. By Tuesday, Christopher Ward, executive director of the PA, speaking at a City Council hearing, pushed back the schedule for the public opening of the memorial to 2012. Calatrava has often said the new hub would rival Grand Central Terminal as one of New York's grandest public spaces. As his vision has steadily been eroded, it's time to ask if the space will be closer to the underground interior of Pennsylvania Station.
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Slip ’n’ slide

The Port Authority is in denial about its leaking Oculus
Seen staff mopping inside the World Trade Transportation Hub recently? No, they're not mopping up vomit from puking patrons sick at the sight of the Oculus' horrific detailing. No, no, they're mopping up puddles from leaks. In May, rain resulted in water drizzling down to elevators and balconies in both wings of the Oculus. At $4 billion, the transportation hub's leaks may even be more costly than the Russian kind the U.S. is currently more accustomed to experiencing. In early May, officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (the agency that owns the transit hub) blamed construction work going on at the adjacent 3 World Trade Center. At the time, legislators did call for an investigation into the issue as well. That didn't appear to do much, though. Perhaps, one supposes, the investigation slipped on some marble as the agency in a prepared statement on Friday, May 26, denied that the Oculus was indeed leaking at all. "There were no leaks in the Oculus this week," spokesman Steve Coleman said, despite a reporter witnessing the leaks with their own eyes. "We soak it up and drain it. It’s a lot of work. It’s nonstop," an Oculus mopper told the New York Post recently. "People do have accidents. Like the last rainy day, somebody almost broke their neck here on the marble,” the maintenance worker continued. The victim in question, a woman, was apparently walking down a set of stairs when she slipped on a puddle. "They slipped and they really hurt themselves because, you know, these are marble floors." Construction workers adding the final touches to Santiago Calatrava's billion dollar transit and retail behemoth have said building work was rushed. "Everything is not done so you’ve have to come back and do it,” Shawn Cumberbatch also told the New York Post as he was caulking an unsealed seam in the main room. "They just wasted a lot of cash over here. This should have been done. If they just took their time and got it right the first time, we wouldn’t have this problem." In April this year, two men sustained injuries after an escalator malfunctioned. Earlier in the year, a woman was killed in February when she fell off an escalator after reaching too far for her hat.
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White Dove or White Elephant?
On March 3, Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transit Hub opened with much anticipation and mixed reviews. AN reached out to New York’s architects, designers, and engineers to hear their thoughts on the structure. “Gliding through the bleached and sanitized carcass of Santiago Calatrava’s new transit hub is an uncanny experience. Its gleaming white halls are luxury conduits connecting the PATH and subways to several key consumption-and-speculation nodes of Lower Manhattan: The offices of Condé Nast, the WTC observatory at One World Trade Center, the shops at Brookfield Place, and a new shopping center in Calatrava’s above-ground “Oculus.” All of this is held up by rough-surfaced, exposed, bone-like structural supports. In other words, it is a cross between an Apple Store and the Dinosaur Hall at the Museum of Natural History. A generous observer of the space might imagine that the hub’s skeletal uncanniness has a critical quality, that it might lay bare the surrealism of inequality in today’s Manhattan; that even our most fervently styled immersions in consumption, connectivity, and convenience can’t forestall death in the form of slow digestion by an alien animal. (We could even imagine this as the inverse of what once happened at the site: Before the first World Trade Center was built, the district housed the meat and vegetable vendors of the Washington Market. We digested them, now they digest us?) I suspect that might be too generous though. You would have to set aside the pretentiousness and poor scale of the Oculus above ground. And then there’s the unavoidable symbolic misfire of such casual and surreal reminders of death on a site of recent carnage. Perhaps this might have made a decent upgrade for Penn Station (and its slimness could work on that site, wedged on a closed 33rd Street). But, at the site of the former WTC, the symbolism of a skeletal building is astoundingly off. Nonetheless it is difficult to discount the power of being in such a clean, well-lit transit space. For a moment I felt I was in Europe, in a place where infrastructure is taken seriously, and where public spaces receive real architectural attention. What if a New York subway platform had even a fifth of the gleam as the Hub’s PATH platform? What if the state funds directed to the Port Authority for this project had gone to the MTA instead? The hub’s [two billion] cost overruns may have scared off public officials who might otherwise push for bold architectural approaches to public space. But how could the Hub’s gleaming corridors make us hungry for more sophisticated infrastructural architecture? What if this was just one of many redesigned and renewed public spaces in New York, serving not just as bait for corporations and tourist attractions, but for all of us?” — Meredith TenHoor, associate professor of architecture, Pratt Institute “Though a favorite animal has always been the porcupine Though Jersey residents deserve a ceremonial Manhattan welcome Though prayers go up every trip through 1909 trans-Hudson tubes Though grateful that Rockefeller threw the PATH train a bone in exchange for building World Trade When we see people squeeze themselves on the escalator shelf Public space built to deny its public Like hired help at someone else’s white party Making way before incessant marble sweeping and recorded announcements: “Escalators are for passengers only, always hold children by the hand” Or maybe communal residents in St. Petersburg palaces You have easy targets for dismissing architecture’s potential for the universe Multibillion architectural Leviathans on Ground Zero stage Quasi-public funds spent quasi- democratically At least Calatrava’s dove got away” — Hector Design Service “Writing about Calatrava’s WTC PATH station as though it is new is odd. It is certainly not new to anyone who has lived or worked in lower Manhattan over the past four years. Point of fact: The spiky terminal is actually starting to feel familiar. When it was new to the block, the protruding ribs were steel gray and the multiple welded seams were easily visible to the naked eye. Now it’s white and seamless. We are getting used to its strangeness, a familiar fate for lengthy projects—culture changes faster than the construction schedule of an iconic public work. This familiar view aligns with the fact that the public’s experience of most iconic structures is focused on the outside. Here, the outside is the inside and there is a betting chance that the inside will exceed the impact of its exterior form.” — Claire Weisz, architect, WXY “No wound can be healed by a sugarcoated monument to excess that is disconnected from the trains below and pretends to fly. It is embarrassed by the intestinal complexity of our infrastructure and our lives, thinking of New York as a World’s Fair. The pain of losing the twins is only magnified. Yet this is not simply a big mistake by a big name in a big town. The mistake was the idea of inviting such a designer to this site, the idea that we need to be distracted, and the misdiagnosis that we needed an overwhelming visual anesthetic.” — Mark Wigley, professor, Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation “Most of today’s criticism regarding the very large budget of the World Trade Center PATH station is intrinsically related to 9/11, local political problems, and Hurricane Sandy. We can’t blame Santiago Calatrava for any of these events, but some of his design choices seem out of place. He demanded column-free spaces and well-crafted steel parts, which, while they did impact the budget, resulted in favor of a better public space. How the large interior will be used is not yet known, but its iconic value, as well as unique character will be cherished by New Yorkers soon. The fact that a third of the steel had to be manufactured in Italy simply shows us that North America’s construction industry is embarrassingly far behind technologically. However, Calatrava should have reconsidered the design of the Transit Hub after he knew that his operable roof would not be feasible. This is not the first time an architect or engineer has encountered such a situation and good designers ought to be nimble enough to alter the narrative or design strategy of a project when value engineering becomes a new reality. The visual metaphor of a pigeon taking off may well have significant symbolic value for the site, but once the kinetic aspect of the project disappears, one is reminded of Icarus and his unfortunate predicament. The cantilevering steel members appear far more gratuitous now that the structure is arrested in a non-dynamic state. There is no question that New York gained a high-end transportation terminal next to one of its most important memorials and is ready for increasing numbers of commuters to and from New Jersey. Whether its commuters really needed to be bathed in marble remains to be answered. It was an expensive endeavor with a complex history, but it also yielded an amazing new public space for the city.” — Duks Koschitz, associate professor of architecture, Pratt Institute “It’s a great space for future fascist rallies. I envision the room filled with dupes raising their right hands. Yet the aspiration to elevate the public sphere, elsewhere missing, is also here. Some might say, “The space is a little too slick for Trump I’m afraid.” But you could easily chintz it up with some gold leaf and little-fingered slogans.” — Stephen Zacks, urban critic and journalist
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A Prescription for Place
Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen.
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects

In the early part of the 20th century, design for illness was a grim affair. Driven by the dread of infectious disease—especially tuberculosis and other contagions found in dense, dank cities—doctors and architects turned to the transparent, hygienic values associated with modernism. Cures included moving patients to specialized, isolated environments with unornamented white or glass walls and ample sunlight that were elevated on pilotis and off the unsanitary earth.

Today, we talk about design for health, not illness. Rather than segregate the ill from the well, design strategies now aim to make environments conducive to healthier habits. Contemporary healthcare institutions—recognizing that waiting until acute diseases need high-tech attention is an inefficient form of care—are reaching further into public space and emphasizing prevention, nutrition, primary care, and triage. This more porous relationship between healthcare and communities comes with design implications at the civic, neighborhood, and residential scale. It even affects the personal level, as home care, smartphone health-monitoring apps like the FitBit, and telemedicine reflect and amplify two intertwined trends: the medicalization of everyday life and the deinstitutionalization of medicine.

Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen employs circular plans to organize the hospital as a “small city.”
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects
 

Health at City Scale

In 2010, New York City’s Active Design Guidelines codified what many architects, planners, and public health officials already knew: that built environments could exert pathogenic effects—circulation patterns encouraging sedentariness and elevator overuse, poor lighting and air quality, food deserts, and streets subordinating self-powered movement to motorism. The Active Design Guidelines, however, recognized the need for a different approach and set forth a design philosophy in which existing environments could be redesigned as salutogenic, incorporating exercise and healthier nutrition into spaces and daily routines. From low-hanging fruit like stair prompts and wayfinding signage to the more complex redesign of streetscapes, office buildings, affordable-housing complexes, and entire communities, Active Design has become a globally recognized movement over the ten years of its Fit City/Fit Nation/Fit World conference series, yielding seven supplements to the original Guidelines and assuming institutional form with the 2013 founding of the Center for Active Design.

Some healthcare organizations have long promoted community health alongside hospital-centered interventions: Kaiser Permanente, for example, launched the first of its hospital-based farmers’ markets in Oakland in 2003, anticipating public programs like the New York City Department of Health’s Stellar Farmers’ Markets and Health Bucks coupon program. Civic-scale changes, from smoking bans to pedestrian-friendly street designs such as the wide medians and car-free plazas that began appearing under Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, transform public spaces so that healthy choices become intuitive norms, not exceptions.

Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen.
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects
 

“At their heart the Design Guidelines are built around the idea that we need to get out of the clinic or the hospital setting as the only place that influences health,” said California-based designer and scholar Elizabeth Ogbu. “I’m seeing shades of this all around the country.” Ogbu, a veteran of Public Architecture and IDEO.org, is now founder and principal of Studio O and teaches at Stanford and UC Berkeley. Her aim is to use the power of design to defend principally underserved communities and try to deliver social impact. In London, Nairobi, New Orleans, San Francisco, and elsewhere, her work integrates healthcare and health education into projects that combine spatial and programmatic design, an approach she calls “architecture plus,”and added that “rarely is it about just the object of the building itself.”

Ogbu’s ReFresh project—which opened in New Orleans in October and is spearheaded by Broad Community Connections—is an adaptive reuse of a long-defunct grocery store along a major mid-city thoroughfare. A Whole Foods serves as the anchor tenant for the multifunctional health hub, along with eight other partners onsite, including a community teaching farm, a Boystown center, the nonprofit cafe and youth training program Liberty’s Kitchen, and Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine.

According to Ogbu, health starts in the ReFresh lobby where there’s a station for health education, staffed by 50 percent neighborhood residents, who serve as greeters, information providers, and shopper guides. A trip for groceries might also include financial-management advice and other services. “The beauty of co-location,” she added, “is that here’s a partner you can potentially work [with] so that Boystown may be identifying at-risk kids during its program but can then plug in Liberty’s Kitchen, and those kids could also be bringing in their parents to take classes at Tulane’s community kitchen.”

Ogbu believes this “Trojan horse” works where more direct approaches fail. “Our clients can do a good job of anticipating the needs, but they don’t always have a full understanding of desires,” she said. “The desire is actually the thing that is emotional and that actually binds people to a place and creates behavior change.”

In Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, Francis Cauffman designed these detached, house-like units to give residents a community that is intended to be more like home.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

Local Connections and Flexibility

“A more diffuse, integrated, and almost retail approach to healthcare is becoming much more prevalent,” observed James Crispino, president and design principal at healthcare specialist firm Francis Cauffman. “The institutions are starting to realize that isolating themselves in these campuses and enclaves makes them a little difficult to access.”

Bottom-up attention to individual experience can also reconfigure dedicated medical institutions. Long wait times in hospital emergency departments (EDs) are one indicator that medical needs and resources are often misaligned, and not solely because of the health insurance system’s inadequacies.

Crispino described the patient mix at many institutions as a rough 80/20 rule, meaning 80 percent of challenging cases come from 20 percent of the patients. Decentralization of emergency services can help match the acuity of clinical conditions with appropriate facilities.

Respiratory infections or minor injuries can be better suited to community-based walk-in urgent-care centers, bypassing private physician appointment delays or expensive care in EDs; ambulatory centers can occupy retail spaces under 5,000 square feet—the size of a “big Starbucks,” Crispino noted. Many older buildings in New York and other cities have floor-to-floor heights that readily accommodate imaging and surgical equipment, facilitating adaptive reuse in chains like CityMD or the branded branch clinics of major hospitals like NewYork–Presbyterian and NYU. A new typology, the freestanding ED, has arisen at two of the city’s former hospital sites, the North Shore/Long Island Jewish system’s Lenox Hill HealthPlex in the former St. Vincent’s and Montefiore Westchester Square, formerly the Bronx’s Westchester Square Medical Center.

The ambulatory center for the Hotel Trades Council will include a health center with tech offices above.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

A new ambulatory center that Crispino and colleagues have designed in Brooklyn’s Cultural District for the Hotel Trades Council dispenses with waiting rooms entirely. Opening in 2016, the 12-story, 165,000-square-foot HTC Brooklyn will be a mixed-use building with ground-level restaurants and retail, 65,000 square feet of medical facilities from the second through fifth floors, offices above, and a public park. Information technology obviates queuing: patients call in advance, check in at kiosks or by smartphone, and receive printed directions to examination rooms, aligned in staggered positions along corridors to make wayfinding signage visible at a distance with minimal supervision.

In Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, Francis Cauffman designed these detached, house-like units to give residents a community that is intended to be more like home.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

In Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia (population 9,513 in 2013), Francis Cauffman is engaged in replacing an underused, over-scaled 500-bed hospital with a better-sized 100- to 120-bed facility, freeing up the 200-acre site for other uses, including a cinema, barbershop, bowling alley, parks, a few retail healthcare establishments, and about 1,500 residents in single and multifamily row houses. The senior-oriented plan calls for a pedestrian main street that links to the rest of Fort Oglethorpe and brings the elements of small-town life within a comfortable five-minute walk from any point for residents in their seventies.

Replacing its scandal-ridden predecessor, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles brings dignity and health services back to the neighborhood.
David Wakely / Courtesy HMC Architects
 

In a drastically different environment, South Los Angeles, the decline and resurrection of a major healthcare center is inseparable from a community’s fortunes. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital, a 461-bed facility opened in 1972 as a response to severe local needs highlighted by the 1965 Watts riots, grew so mismanaged and mishap-prone that neighbors called it “Killer King.” Patient deaths became national scandals, and MLK lost its Joint Commission certification and closed in 2007. The facility reopened this August as Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, just days before the 50th anniversary of the riots. The reinvented MLK is “one of the first and most important steps in the reconfiguration of the Watts area,” said architect George Vangelatos, principal and healthcare practice leader of HMC Architects, designers of the renovated and “future-ready” hospital.

A new, glazed entrance lobby, reoriented on the building’s north side, bridges multiple elements (inpatient and outpatient services, elevator cores, and the cafeteria, overlooking a healing courtyard) as a “one-stop shop.” The 131-bed MLK is a full-service hospital in all respects but one, lacking a Level One trauma unit but including a 35-station ED that can fast-track large numbers of uninsured and primary-care patients, many of whom will arrive through a new bus stop or, soon, the expanded multimodal Rosa Parks Station three blocks away. Rapid triage takes place either at the ED’s dedicated entrance or at a station appended to the main entrance, sorting “bellyache and booboo” cases to a nearby outpatient center, low-acuity cases to an urgent-care component, and higher-acuity cases to the ED, said HMC’s Kirk Rose. (Ambulance drivers take trauma patients to St. Francis or County General, as they have since 2007.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles.
David Wakely / Courtesy HMC Architects
 

MLK’s lighting, landscaping, and other visible upgrades give patients an implicit message of respect. Upper floors, once dedicated to offices, were converted to well daylit patient areas, and the $1 million public art program, the largest funded by Los Angeles County, recognizes the relation between aesthetics and healing, a staple of evidence-based design. Yet the most consequential changes may be the features promoting operational flexibility in a fast-changing profession.

“We have a fraction of the EDs we had twenty-five years ago in all of Southern California,” said Rose, citing local activist Sweet Alice Harris’ description of “kids with asthma needing to go twenty miles, and some of them not making it, [and] women giving birth in their house before the ambulance could arrive.” He suggested that the strain of using high-intensity facilities to provide primary care to starkly underserved communities is a reason EDs have been shutting down. “They are a huge financial drains on hospitals, sometimes dragging entire hospitals down with them,” he cautioned.

Denmark’s health policy took the opposite direction in 2008 with a national plan to centralize functions, particularly emergency care, in a few highly efficient “super hospitals” located outside the cities, reported Lars Steffensen, partner for healthcare projects at Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen. “We’re not especially fond of that idea,” he said. “The issue is how to design a very large hospital, a complex functionality in the outskirts of a large city, and our point of view was, we have to deal with this as a small town or small city in itself.”

Emphasizing the continuities rather than distinctions between a healing environment and a fully functional community, Henning Larsen’s medical projects draw from the firm’s extensive sustainability research and its experience with a competition in the center of Milan, where Filarete’s Ca’ Granda (Ospedale Maggiore), one of Europe’s oldest hospitals (founded in 1450, now part of the University of Milan), inspired their thinking about hospitals’ relation to urban density and outdoor space as well as their internal design: “the hospital in the city” and “the hospital as a city.”

Herlev Hospital, Denmark’s tallest building at 28 stories, is undergoing expansion, adding an ED and maternity/pediatrics center (among other components), with an estimated completion date of 2017. Henning Larsen’s design for the 560,000-square-foot extension combines a minimalist geometry with a biophilic philosophy recognizing the value of proximity to nature and sick patients’ high sensitivity to all forms of stimuli. Three discrete circular buildings sit atop rectangular bases, two comprising bed wards and all enclosed courtyards with carefully programmed landscaping and roof gardens. Water features are prominent throughout the scheme and patient rooms have large windows that look out onto rich, seasonally varied foliage. “These outdoor spaces are at least as important as all the indoor spaces,” Steffensen said. He described a spectrum of green spaces: “[The hierarchy goes] from a completely public park-like area, where actually the public from the rest of the city can pass through, to the extremely private garden for the most vulnerable patients in the pediatric department.”

Nationwide, numbers of inpatient beds are slowly dropping as specialty outpatients rise rapidly. “Statistics show that a patient stays in a bed for an average [of] three to three and a half days,” observed Steffensen, pointing out that the design also considers the wellbeing of the staff, who spend every day there. Triage and patient flow are pivotal: they direct 20–25 percent of patients to EDs and 70–80 percent elsewhere. Psychiatric conditions, he noted, account for significant proportions of cases initially believed to be acute somatic disorders, and Henning Larsen’s EDs thus include a common entrance for both types of patients.

The overriding consideration in hospital design, he said, is flexibility. “[Old hospitals] were built for one specific purpose, but they were built so generously, so they could easily transform for other functions.” The tendency toward hospital centralization, he finds, may ultimately be a pendulum that swings back: “We are never to believe that now we have the answer for the healthcare sector for the next century, because that’s not going to happen.”

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon is designed to be accessible for aging-in-place clients.

Courtesy Höweler + Yoon

 

Residential scale: reuniting generations

While Europe looks to a hospital as city model, what happens when home becomes hospital? Demographic trends favor the blurring of lines distinguishing fully independent living (an active “third age”), assisted living, and palliative care in nursing homes or hospice settings. Official estimates predict that by 2035 one in five Americans will be over 65, more than a third of UK residents will be over 60, and a quarter of China’s population will be over 60 (some 336 million people, more than the population of the U.S. today). Whatever medical advances lie ahead, they are unlikely to convince most of the elderly boomer generation that institutionalized life is widely desirable.

Naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs), along with more intentionally engineered age-friendly spaces, offer certain bulwarks against the debilitating isolation of a senior facility. However, in many locations aging in place poses challenges, particularly when elders living in auto-dependent sites reach a point where driving becomes hazardous, or when dementing disorders make familiar spaces strange.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.

Courtesy Höweler + Yoon

 

Cultures that emphasize filial care of elders may have valuable lessons for the age-phobic United States. Integrating built environments across generational lines can help people across broad spectra of ability and disability live in proximity with dignity and appropriate support. The Bridge House, located in McLean, Virginia, offers a strong example of design for multi-generational living. Designed by Höweler + Yoon and built in 2014, the residence appears as a single-family home when viewed from the front, while its rear elevation reveals three attached rectilinear volumes capable of housing three generations. Architect Eric Höweler describes Bridge House as a “post-nuclear-family house” and a potentially replicable model.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.
Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

The clients, first-generation Korean immigrants to the U.S. with adult children and grandchildren, occupy a suite in the smaller of two ground-floor volumes, minimizing use of stairs; the larger, more public volume holds shared programs: the kitchen, family room, dining room, and garage. An elongated upper volume cantilevers across the two ground-floor segments and houses the second and third generations along a single-loaded corridor, with master suites at each end, two central grandchildren’s rooms, and a rear roof terrace. Beneath the bridge, a central void with floor-to-ceiling glazing offers views into nearby woods, creating continuity between nature and domesticity while demarcating the first generation’s private zone. That gesture extends a strategy from another nearby Höweler + Yoon project for aging-in-place clients. The 10 Degree House, designed for the parents of architect Meejin Yoon, places a small courtyard on the narrow site while still observing local zoning’s setback requirements.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.
Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Clad in anodized aluminum panels, the facade treatment reflects the owners’ practical concerns. “They said, ‘We’re going to get old; we’re not going to have energy to get out there and paint the house, so we want a zero-maintenance cladding material,’” recalled Höweler. “You never have to paint it, you never have to stain it, you never have to worry about woodpeckers and other things.” Defying the upstairs-master-bedroom convention of normative American single-family houses, Höweler points out, eases access to essential spaces in the event of future disability. Barrier-free entry ramps and a wheelchair-accessible shower, he added, also make the 10 Degree House exemplary in this regard.

Höweler + Yoon’s Bridge House is a “post-nuclear-family” dwelling that gives each generation its own private zones.
Jeff Wolfram / Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Although Bridge House is already influential—three new clients have commissioned similar projects by the firm—its design required a complex dance with local codes. While courtyard houses inspired by East Asian traditions offer numerous advantages for extended families, they are difficult to reconcile with zoning that privileges the house as an object plopped in the middle of the lot with a large front lawn. “There is something about the zoning that institutionalizes certain kinds of land uses that don’t make a lot of sense,” Höweler noted. “[The courtyard typology] sounds progressive in this context, but it’s totally normal in a Korean context.”

Höweler + Yoon’s Bridge House.
Jeff Wolfram / Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Bridge House essentially integrates three common domestic spaces geared toward seniors into a single building: the granny flat, mother-in-law apartment, and Hawaiian ohana unit. U.S. suburban zoning was commonly enacted for health and safety reasons and more nebulously to protect property values by limiting rental units. Interdependence between seniors, neighbors, children, and health providers is integral to active aging, yet zoning codes arguably express an impulse toward maximal separation of individuals and generations from each other—very twentieth-century, and a far cry from sustainable aging in place design. One suspects that as knowledge accumulates about how different designs affect health, and about how people would really prefer to live, that particular pendulum could swing in the opposite direction.

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Archtober Building of the Day #12> The Pavilion at Brookfield Place
Archtober Building of the Day #12 The Pavilion at Brookfield Place 100 West Street Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects It is impossible not to notice The Pavilion at Brookfield Place from almost any viewpoint near it’s location on 100 West Street. A glass curtain wall seems barely to contain the steel trees that emerge from its floor. While our Archtober tour was conducted under the noonday sun, one can easily imagine the building’s brilliance after nightfall. Our tour leader was Craig Copeland, an Associate Partner in the New York studio of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, and the Design Team Leader of the Pavilion at Brookfield Place. He explained that after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center and World Financial Center (now the Pavilion at Brookfield Place) were left disconnected. The Pavilion now reconnects Battery Park City’s Winter Garden, the newly completed World Trade Center Concourse, and both MTA and PATH transportation hubs. And, as the complex’s front door, the Pavilion will create a welcoming pedestrian space out of a former vehicular-only zone. But, let’s get back to those incredible steel trees. In order to create them, the firm looked to “nature and trees in particular,” and as a result, created two 54-foot-tall basket-like woven steel beams which take up very little space on the ground but slowly spread as they reach for, and eventually encompass, most of the ceiling. These beautiful and unique columns solve both an aesthetic and structural solution. Precariously positioned at the edge of the Hudson River, an initial building design of four columns was deemed structurally unsound. The team was forced to envision ways in which the building’s support could be focused upon two points. While two ordinary columns would have left them with a heavy roof, the Pavilion’s “trees spiral inside and outside creating enough tension to hold the basket together” and allow for an “expressive and light” look that hides their true strength. “From there,” Copeland pointed to the ceiling, “a glass curtain wall hangs from the roof- no weight falls to the ground.” A feat that he said, “could not have been accomplished without the efforts of engineering firm, Thornton Tomasetti.” As for the whole concept of the building, Craig explained that “instead of taking the stone from around the base of the building, we took cues from the Winter Garden’s Hudson River facing view.” The result is a building that “demonstrates resiliency as a culture and promotes a feeling of transparency instead of creating another stone fortress.” Rochelle Thomas received an M.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and is the Membership Assistant at the AIA New York Chapter.
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Boston’s Green Line Extension Sending Real Estate Prices North
Boston’s subway system—the "T"—is currently undergoing its first expansion in nearly three decades, pushing the city's Green Line into the hip enclave of Somerville. And while the first stations in neighboring Somerville won’t open until 2017 (at the earliest), the promise of new transit is already transforming the city’s real estate market. The streetscape is coming next. Lisa Drapkin, a realtor in the city, told the Boston Globe, “If someone asks me how the market is doing in Somerville, I say you could put a cardboard outhouse near a [planned] Green Line stop and there’d be a bidding war.” With the first station still years away, prospective buyers and investors are snatching up property before prices spike. According to a report by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, cited by the Globe, property values near new stations could increase 16 to 25 percent over the next 20 years. Over the same time, average rent could jump 67 percent. This, of course, has many residents and politicians worrying that new Green Line stations will mean rampant gentrification. To that end, the city plans to build 1,200 affordable housing units by 2030, or 20 percent of their new stock. Of course, that could do very little to keep rent down overall. But Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone is optimistic that new transit options will help lower-income citizens connect to jobs, education and healthcare opportunities. “We don’t want to lose our soul," he told the paper. "We want that creative, original, diverse, that sort of funky, freaky mix of who we are.” When the new Somerville stations open, 85 percent of residents will be able to walk to the train, up from just 15 percent today. And the extension is expected to increase ridership by 45,000, and take 25,000 cars off the road. The Green Line Extension will also lay down a string of new architecture through the city as each new street-level station has a unique style and form. While none are as distinct as, say, Calatrava's New York City stegosaurus, they incorporate much more design than the standard-issue American transit depot. A little farther south in the Boston area, New Balance is building a commuter rail station as part of their new $500 million complex. A look at some of the new stations via Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership.
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Jersey More
Urban-Ready Living Harborside by Concrete sits adjacent the Exchange Place PATH Station.
Courtesy Concrete

Sited on the west bank of the Hudson River, Jersey City is connected to Manhattan by a web of transit lines that are making it an increasingly desirable location for new residents priced out of New York City. Developers have taken note of this trend, as evidenced by a pair of high-rise residential complexes that recently broke ground in the satellite city. When complete, the two projects—one designed by HWKN with Handel Architects, the other by Dutch firm Concrete—will be among the tallest buildings in New Jersey.

“As Brooklyn becomes more and more inconvenient due to affordability and transportation, people are warming up to New Jersey’s convenience,” said Matthias Hollwich, partner at HWKN. He noted that many of the amenities that draw people to Brooklyn already exist in Jersey City, from a vibrant dining scene to tech incubation hubs. “It’s really unknown to many people.” His firm is building a triad of towers at Journal Square, the tallest of which is 74 floors and 740 feet. “I was really amazed at the accessibility that’s completely underutilized,” he continued. “It’s only 10 minutes to the World Trade Center and 15 to Midtown Manhattan.”

   
URL Harborside is comprised of three towers grouped around a new street and retail space.
Courtesy Concrete
 

HWKN broke ground at their so-called Journal Squared, or J2, project last November, according to developer Jonathan Kushner, brother of HWKN principal Marc Kushner. The 2.4 million-square-foot plan groups three towers around a PATH station that handles 5 million train passengers annually. The first tower will top out at 54 floors and features a pixelated facade of square windows accented by a dynamic lighting scheme. Hollwich declined to discuss design specifics of the project, but initial concepts call for a series of landscaped roof terraces with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline.

“We took special care in the crafting of urban qualities so not to abuse what’s already there,” said Hollwich, emphasizing that the project is a prime example of a transit-oriented development. “You can reduce the parking because its been demonstrated that you need less around transit,” he said. “Now we have a maximum of .5 cars per apartment, but it potentially could be zero, and that’s a good thing.” Jonathan Kushner told the New York Times the future phases of the project would likely take several more years.

 

   
HWKN and Handel Architects designed a series of towers dubbed J2 at the entrance to the Journal Square PATH Station.
Courtesy HWKN / Handel
 

Down the tracks toward Manhattan, developers Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Ironstate Development just broke ground on the first of three more towers grouped around the Exchange Place PATH Station. Concrete designed the three towers as a series of stacked glass boxes rising from parking podia covered in pixelated metal and wood screens. Occupiable landscaped roofs linked by pedestrian bridges connect the overall site. Standing 713 feet tall with 69 floors, the new tower, called URL Harborside, or Urban-Ready Living Harborside, takes the state’s second tallest title behind Cesar Pelli’s 42-story, 781-foot-tall 30 Hudson Street.

“We believe there is strong demand for a live-work-play environment that offers a true sense of community—all in an amenity-rich, transit-oriented location,” said Mitchell Hersh, Mack-Cali president and CEO, in a statement. Each of the planned 763 residences is designed to be energy-efficient with innovative layouts and communal amenities that appeal to flexible, urban lifestyles. When complete, the entire project will contain more than 2,300 units and retail space. The first phase of URL Harborside is expected to be complete in 2016.

Over 5,000 residential units are under construction in Jersey City and another 12,000 have been approved, according to developer Mack-Cali. Much of this development has centered around transit hubs in the city. Hollwich attributed much of this growth to the city’s decision to allow for increased density around transit hubs. “The planning department has pushed for many years now for density close to transportation,” said Hollwich. With prime land vacant around many stations in the city, he expects growth to continue.

Jersey More

Sited on the west bank of the Hudson River, Jersey City is connected to Manhattan by a web of transit lines that are making it an increasingly desirable location for new residents priced out of New York City. Developers have taken note of this trend, as evidenced by a pair of high-rise residential complexes that recently broke ground in the satellite city. When complete, the two projects—one designed by HWKN with Handel Architects, the other by Dutch firm Concrete—will be among the tallest buildings in New Jersey.

“As Brooklyn becomes more and more inconvenient due to affordability and transportation, people are warming up to New Jersey’s convenience,” said Matthias Hollwich, partner at HWKN. He noted that many of the amenities that draw people to Brooklyn already exist in Jersey City, from a vibrant dining scene to tech incubation hubs. “It’s really unknown to many people.” His firm is building a triad of towers at Journal Square, the tallest of which is 74 floors and 740 feet. “I was really amazed at the accessibility that’s completely underutilized,” he continued. “It’s only 10 minutes to the World Trade Center and 15 to Midtown Manhattan.”

HWKN broke ground at their so-called Journal Squared, or J2, project last November, according to developer Jonathan Kushner, brother of HWKN principal Marc Kushner. The 2.4 million-square-foot plan groups three towers around a PATH station that handles 5 million train passengers annually. The first tower will top out at 54 floors and features a pixelated facade of square windows accented by a dynamic lighting scheme. Hollwich declined to discuss design specifics of the project, but initial concepts call for a series of landscaped roof terraces with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline.

“We took special care in the crafting of urban qualities so not to abuse what’s already there,” said Hollwich, emphasizing that the project is a prime example of a transit-oriented development. “You can reduce the parking because its been demonstrated that you need less around transit,” he said. “Now we have a maximum of .5 cars per apartment, but it potentially could be zero, and that’s a good thing.” Jonathan Kushner told the New York Times the future phases of the project would likely take several more years.

Down the tracks toward Manhattan, developers Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Ironstate Development just broke ground on the first of three more towers grouped around the Exchange Place PATH Station. Concrete designed the three towers as a series of stacked glass boxes rising from parking podia covered in pixelated metal and wood screens. Occupiable landscaped roofs linked by pedestrian bridges connect the overall site. Standing 713 feet tall with 69 floors, the new tower, called URL Harborside, or Urban-Ready Living Harborside, takes the state’s second tallest title behind Cesar Pelli’s 42-story, 781-foot-tall 30 Hudson Street.

“We believe there is strong demand for a live-work-play environment that offers a true sense of community—all in an amenity-rich, transit-oriented location,” said Mitchell Hersh, Mack-Cali president and CEO, in a statement. Each of the planned 763 residences is designed to be energy-efficient with innovative layouts and communal amenities that appeal to flexible, urban lifestyles. When complete, the entire project will contain more than 2,300 units and retail space. The first phase of URL Harborside is expected to be complete in 2016.

Over 5,000 residential units are under construction in Jersey City and another 12,000 have been approved, according to developer Mack-Cali. Much of this development has centered around transit hubs in the city. Hollwich attributed much of this growth to the city’s decision to allow for increased density around transit hubs. “The planning department has pushed for many years now for density close to transportation,” said Hollwich. With prime land vacant around many stations in the city, he expects growth to continue.

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

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

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

Willets Point
Courtesy NYCEDC
 

New York City Economic Development Corporation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coney Island
Courtesy NYCEDC
 

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

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

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


Zoning initiatives adopted, 2002-2012.
Courtesy DCP
 

New York City Department of City Planning

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

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

East River Esplanade.
Tom Stoelker / AN
 

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

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

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


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

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

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

 
Jesper Norgaard; Courtesy Toll Brother
 

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

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

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

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


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

New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

New York City Department of Transportation

Major Initiative: Pedestrian Plazas

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

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

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

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

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


Hunter's Point South.
Courtesy HPD
 

New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development


Via Verde.
Courtesy Dattner
 
 

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

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

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


 
Two examples of Blue Roofs.
Courtesy DEP
 

New York City Department of Environmental Protection

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

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

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

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


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

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

Major Initiative: East River Ferry Service

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

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

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


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

Back To Building

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

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

The Sheffield
322 West 57th
58 stories
UT Borrower

One57
157 West 57th Street
90 stories
Extell

The Willow
120 West 57th Street
29 stories
Ark Partners

105 West 57th Street
52 stories
JDS Development

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

 

250 East 57th Street
59 Stories
World-Wide Group

250 West 55th Street
39 stories
Boston Properties

Tour Verre
53 West 53rd Street
78 stories
Hines

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

International Gem Tower
54 West 47th Street
34 stories
Extell

 

Gotham West
550 West 45th Street
31 Stories
Gotham Organization

Hyatt Times Square
135 West 45th Street
54 stories
Extell

GiraSole
555 West 34th Street
65 stories
Moinian Group

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

One Hudson Yards
56 stories
Extell

 

99 Washington Street
50 stories
Holiday inn

111 Washington Street
57 Stories
Pink Stone Capital

56 Leonard Street
57 stories
Alexico Group/Hines

Courtyard & Residence Inn
1715 Broadway
68 stories
Granite Broadway Development

50 West Street
65 stories
Time Equities

Four Seasons
99 Church Street
80 stories
Silverstein Properties