The NYCHA Red Hook West Urban Farm 6 Wolcott Street, Brooklyn thread collective A gaggle of green-thumbed Archtober enthusiasts joined thread collective’s Elliott Maltby and Gita Nandan to learn about the NYCHA Red Hook West Urban Farm. Situated in Brooklyn, the one acre plot has served as a model for other farms being developed on New York Housing Authority properties, including at Howard Houses in Brownsville and in Coney Island. While the lessons learned in the past three years have eased the way for these projects, each community has its own set of needs and will come up with unique solutions. In its pre-farm days, the site served as an open space that was largely unkempt, although a “tree zoo”—a small gated area with trees—had been put in place to make the lot more welcoming. While no planned walkways crossed the field, desire lines, eroded paths created by people moving along their daily lives, helped guide the design. Rather than planting rectangular beds parallel to the street, thread collective worked on a diagonal to recreate the paths that had developed naturally over time. Americorps team members, all of whom come from the community, talk with residents regularly—people are still learning about the farm every day. Green City Force and thread collective worked to keep the space accessible to all to encourage community ownership and involvement. When asked if they have ever had a problem with people coming in and picking vegetables for their own use, John Cannizzo of Green City Force explained that while he doesn’t count every tomato, the nobody takes advantage. And if someone really can’t put food on the table, he hopes that they will come and take what they need. None of the produce is sold. Instead, the weekly farmers market is run as an exchange program in which residents volunteer their time or trade compost for freshly-picked vegetables at a pound-for-pound rate. Cooking demonstrations inspire experimentation in the kitchen, and Americorps team members check in with residents to ensure that they are growing the produce that the community wants. We turned the tour into a double feature, heading next to the nearby Red Hook Community Farm. This three acre plot, which is run by Added Value with the support of Green City Force and a coterie of interns and volunteers, processes compost and runs a CSA and farmers’ market. Nefratia Coleman, a CSA intern whose interest in food began at the NYCHA Red Hook West Farm, took us through the process of composting. Neatly arranged piles maximize airflow and capture heat to decompose the product without attracting vermin or smelling up the farm, which is teeming with interns and volunteers throughout the year. The farm and CSA program took a huge hit in 2012 when Sandy ravaged the land; water from both the East River and the Gowanus Canal rendered that year’s crop unusable. The sanitation department cleaned it up, and the farm was replanted, this time a few feet above its original level. Corey, a staff member of Green City Force explained that the farm serves as a “vehicle to educate, empower, and train young people.” While the interns won’t necessary use their composting skills in future jobs, the leadership abilities they cultivate here will carry them forward in the future. Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.
Posts tagged with "Brooklyn":
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Entry Building, Arch, and Steinberg Visitor Center 990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn WEISS/MANFREDI, Architecture Research Office With blue skies overhead and abundant sunshine, it was the perfect day to funnel from Brooklyn's clamorous urban streetscape into the transportative, protected landscapes of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. On this double-header Building of Day tour, Archtober-ites explored the threshold from the city grid into the meandering, arboreal pathways at the garden, as experienced in two new entrance pavilions designed by WEISS/MANFREDI and ARO. The tour began at the northern entrance of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where WEISS/MANFREDI’s Steinberg Visitor Center pulls visitors in off of the busy Washington Avenue. Bound on one end by a gently curving glass wall that suggests the S-shape of the building, WEISS/MANFREDI’s visitor center at once announces itself as an architectural presence on the street, but also diminishes its imposition on the landscape in deference to the gardens that lay behind it. Guides Paul Duston-Munoz and Evelyn Rosado from WEISS/MANFREDI described this delicate balance between presence and deference that dictated the siting and form of the visitor center. The building, which houses a ticket counter, visitor information services, gift shop, offices, and an event space, is clad in a glass curtain wall with an exterior glass trellis. As you walk through the space, natural light falls in a rhythmic pattern through the trellis, echoing the experience of light filtering through an arbor of trees. The architects conceived of an S-shape for the building, emulating the existing meandering pathways of the gardens and allowing for a separation between the public entry portal in front and the event space in back. The event space—the largest two-walled room in New York—is encased by the trellised-glass curtain wall on one end, overlooking the Japanese Garden, opposite a wood-paneled wall, partially constructed from the three Gingko trees that had to be removed from the site. The S-shape of the building also means that the entire structure would not be visible from any one vantage point, so as not to overwhelm the garden setting. Atop the visitor center, a green roof planted with tall, flowering grasses in varying heights and shades of green provides a harmonious bridge between the architectural threshold and the verdant landscape beyond. On the southern end of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, ARO designed a new ticketing and bathroom facility to reactivate an underutilized access point to the gardens. Kai Pedersen of ARO, explained how the siting of the new pavilion was meant to act as both a barrier between the noisy intersection just beyond the garden, and as a welcoming invitation to the community to enter the gardens. The slender brick building topped with a geometric zinc roof and a cantilevered awning is in dialogue with a historic Beaux-Arts archway entrance designed by McKim, Mead, & White from the 1920s, which ARO is in the process of restoring. ARO’s new entrance building has bold architectural elements, while maintaining deference to both the botanic setting and the historic context. The new building uses brick patterning inspired by McKim, Mead, & White’s arch. Pedersen described the infrared film inserted into the layered glass that partially visible to the human eye, but clearly visible to birds, intended to protect avian visitors to the gardens. The two new entryways to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden provided seamless transitions between the urban context and the calming respite of the diverse flora housed in the gardens. Alex Tell is the committee's coordinator for the AIANY | Center for Architecture.
Review> Paul Gunther on preservation and the ongoing exhibit, Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks
Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks An exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York and Catalog edited by Donald Albrecht, Andrew Dolkart, and Seri Worden Through January 3, 2016 Since the first trace of the species homo sapiens, human evolution only represents four one hundred thousandths of one percent of the earth's age. In proportion to an 80-year life span, that means just 31 hours—less than a day and a half of the 701,280 hours lived. With the existential threat of climate change and ecological ruination gaining traction in collective consciousness—combined with the outsized expectations of breath-holding fundamentalists for whom earth’s rapturous end can’t come soon enough—our sense of what permanence means has begun to shift. If all human culture to date is just four-dozen millennia and we’ve wreaked so much havoc already, “forever” strikes a dubious chord. This temporal dynamic is one prism through which Saving Place and the anniversary it examines can be seen. Another is the end of the post-World War II order and with it a sense that history hasn’t ended after all, including the survival of world monuments (especially amidst the tribal strife in the Middle East) that a united (albeit Western-centric) world had deemed essentially imperishable. It turns out historic places of exceptional human accomplishment can disappear as readily as an endangered species can; the risk of disorientation resulting from the obliteration of common orthodoxies is always high. Such sobering reflection informs this worthy stock-taking anniversary enterprise, which focuses more on the role of the preservation movement as part of the plodding, existential course of civic engagement, rather than some celebratory juggernaut tied only to the singular examples of past excellence like Grand Central Terminal or the Guggenheim Museum. Among the most valued places saved are those of daily routine that most identify as the common bonds of a vibrant community. Only with such coherence can change occur in ways that succeed—and that hold value. Fifty years ago, New York City Mayor Robert Wagner signed into law the first landmarks designation statute in the nation with the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. With its advent came new public authority and civic duty to adjudge the aesthetic and historic value of elements of the built environment, including privately owned or nonprofit properties, whose future disposition affects the commonwealth of all citizens. It was as controversial then as it continues today, whether held as the basis for NIMBY battles by the privileged few or the evergreen bane to developer dreams clipped by what they sometimes assert are its onerous and subjective restrictions blocking the growth and change endemic to sustained livability. That is not an easy distinction for a metropolitan region. Since first launched by the colonizing Dutch, the bonanza of real estate development has been the golden egg of the regional economy. It is the essential cornerstone of New York commerce and the obsession of dwellers from those born and bred to those beckoned by its promise of opportunity and fresh beginnings. This relatively recent chapter of local land use policy and its record of impact are the inspirations for Saving Place, delivered with a welcome sobriety of tone and presentation calmly sharing its results along with the means and personalities that made it happen. An underlying intent born of civic pride stays in lively focus. Like any thorough history show, gray wins out over black and white: The movement started far before the generally shared crucible of the 1963 demolition of McKim, Mead & White’s uplifting Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Station (giving way to the peerless bathos of Penn Plaza by designer and businessman, Charles Luckman, whose clients took the train users of 1968 to be some dying breed of rodents) and has learned as much from its failures and occasional compromises as from its best known victories. The movement’s roots took hold not so much against change, but against failed progress when the exchange of present conditions for some promised social gain fell short and urban well-being emerged impoverished. Like the l965 law, the 1978 majority ruling by the United Sates Supreme Court, written by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (upholding the City’s designation of Grand Central Terminal and thus laying to rest once and for all any lingering assertions that landmark designation was unconstitutional), is far more nuanced than its friends and foes would have New Yorkers believe. The preservation work done, like the battles to come, are perpetually a collective work in progress. The places and leading players presented in such a context emerge more as dynamic case studies than as fixed heroics. The commissioned photographs by Iwan Baan (whose work is characterized as usual by the vehicles, people, and quotidian activity of such places, so often absent in studies of planning and architectural design). Like the exhibit installation by Wendy Evans Joseph and her firm Studio Joseph, record individual designations are not just bright beacons of superior significance but indispensable, stabilizing place holders that bind community even when hidden in plain sight. Saving Place respects the value of landmarks by gently reminding its audience of what we take for granted and by offering (without insisting) on a greater depth of meaning for sites both individual and district-wide. And yet its overwhelmingly beneficial impact on all corners of today's five boroughs, not to mention the quality and measure of visitor appeal (like it or not, tourism means jobs), cannot be denied or scoffed away as a Luddite blockade to change. Whatever else New York may risk in 2015, a dearth or loss of dynamic change is not one of them. Saving Place shows instead how traces of the past can at best stand alongside the new for at least the relatively small measure of time that our present civilization can endure. Like the natural world, today we know that the built world also demands balance as a basis of sustenance. The exhibit’s iconic original architectural models and array of primary artifacts are brought to the fore as the landmark’s legacy of material sensuality in historic terms both material and artisanal. The society we keep is well served by some record of past beauty that for all kinds of reasons simply cannot be replicated, and how that should be done. These strands tie a knot of quiet reflection for the Saving Place initiative that bodes well for a landmarks movement pausing only briefly to recall the reasons its work will never end in the messy marketplace of a healthy city. Coexistence is the key; landmarking works best as one part of the overall planning process, not the bejeweled hobbyhorse of some nostalgic elite. In a world with a foreshortened sense of permanence, the longer we can maintain this democratic equilibrium the better off we all will be.
Landscape architect Diana Balmori has been planting floating gardens and launching them into the middle of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal only to have the plant life killed off by the Superfund site's toxic waters. "We've been working on this a year," she told AN today along the canal's edge looking at GrowOnUs, her latest floating landscape. "We did three test plantings, but they all died in the canal." The collection of tubes strung together around a pontoon-like structure of 55-gallon plastic drums and hundreds of recycled plastic bottles is an experiment to test the feasibility of growing plants—and eventually food—on larger synthetic islands to help provide local provisions for city dwellers. "Eventually, we would like to create a productive island to grow food and herbs and fruits for city residents," Balmori said. Her team will also monitor the site for its applicability in protecting shorelines, creating natural habitat and biodiversity, generating energy, and providing public space. Balmori, head of Balmori Associates, worked with Riverkeepers to pick hardier plants that could withstand the Gowanus' murky waters. "We used their research to choose plants that could take the pollution," Balmori said. The nonprofit group monitors what pollutants and chemicals are in the canal's waters and advocates for its cleanup. Balmori also looked to plants naturally lining the canal's banks for the island's plant life. "You can see Sumac there and there," Balmori said, pointing to patches of green. "Sumac can take quite a lot." Other plant life on the GrowOnUs island was chosen for its industrial use dying cloth. Balmori said this is a nod to the local industry in the Gowanus neighborhood. Plants on the island include Fringed Sedge, Seaside Goldenrod, and Smooth Cordgrass—selected for their water-cleansing properties—and Black-Eyed Susan, Wild Indigo, and Smooth Sumac—chosen for their production qualities. The plants interact with the canal in a variety of ways. Some of the hardier plants draw their water directly from the waterway, with roots growing down through a structure of mesh and plastic bottles. Other plants use collected rainwater and some use water distilled with solar-powered equipment housed beneath small plastic domes within the island. At night, lights beneath colored filters will glow softly, announcing its presence on the canal. Several birdhouses have also been included—the island is also meant to create habitat for birds and insects. GrowOnUs was unveiled today along a promenade by the greenhouse-topped Gowanus Whole Foods, but will move to its final location this evening at the Seventh Street Basin of the canal.
Greenland Forest City Partners is building a new condominium tower at 615 Dean Street at the site of Pacific Park, a 22-acre, 15-building, mixed-use development in Park Slope and Prospect Heights, just south of Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, 615 Dean Street is a 26-story structure that will hold 245 residential units across almost 313,000 square feet. Stacked modules are fronted by a precast concrete facade, while the windows are irregularly spaced to add visual texture to the exterior. On the ground floor, there will be an additional 4,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.
There are big changes planned for Brooklyn's East New York. On Monday, September 21st, the Department of City Planning will unveil the full East New York Community Plan. The plan is part of Housing New York, Mayor de Blasio's ten year plan to stabilize existing affordable housing supply and build 80,000 new units. The plan's goal is to increase public investment and catalyze private development in select East Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Ocean Hill, Cypress Hills, and the eponymous East New York. Compared to other community plans, there's one key difference: the East New York Community Plan will be the first to apply mandatory inclusionary zoning. This designation requires the construction of permanent affordable housing. One of the affordable housing provisions approved by Albany in June 2015, mandatory inclusionary zoning requires developers to set aside at least one quarter of their units for low-income individuals, though there are some exceptions to the rule. It typically takes around one year to vet Community Plan proposals. After the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, a mandated public comment period), plans must be approved by each of the city's 59 community boards, all five borough presidents, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council.
SO-IL's design for this ambitious art gallery in Brooklyn responds to the neighborhood's industrial past
Brooklyn-based architecture firm SO-IL is adding to its portfolio of art galleries. Slated to open in 2017, Artes Amant will house 14,250 square feet of exhibition, storage, and studio spaces behind its confident concrete facade. Lit by windows strategically placed along the edges of the building, the interior spaces promise to play with the perception of light and shadow, plane and line. The gallery will be located in Brooklyn and its form is "visually and spatially marked by its industrial past," according to SO-IL's website. SO-IL continues:
The self-supporting geometry of these shells exists in tension with programming, light, and circulation. The constant calibration of these constraints inform the contours of the building. Apertures in the shells capture and carry natural light into a nearly edgeless interior, challenging the perception of a defined space. Across the building's exterior, edges and seams slip in and out of appearance. Throughout the building's suppleness and muted palette play with ambiguity and legibility; neither monumental nor prosaic, instead it entices.Judging from the section drawings, there will be some interesting volumes to explore on the top floor of the four-story building. The fluid form of the building bears some resemblance to the firm's earlier Kukje Art Center in Seoul, South Korea. [Via Clad.]
As Dumbo has become one of New York City’s most desirable and upscale neighborhoods, the hulking Empire Stores complex has been a persistent reminder of the neighborhood's industrial past—before the boutiques, multimillion-dollar apartments, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The complex—a series of seven buildings—dates back to the 19th century and was originally used to store dry goods, primarily coffee. For decades, it has been positioned in Dumbo like an impenetrable fortress—a barrier between the cobblestone streets and the landscaped waterfront. But that's about to change. https://youtu.be/Bzhb1WBUNps In 2013, after many failed attempts to revive the Empire Stores, Midtown Equities (with Rockwood Capital and HK Organization) was selected by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, to transform the warehouses into a mixed-use facility. (To fund the park’s upkeep, development sites along the park are being leased to developers.) Plans for the transformation were originally drawn up by STUDIO V which proposed exposing much of the buildings’ original details, creating a rooftop addition, and cutting an open-air courtyard through the complex. In Spring 2014, S9 Architecture, a Perkins Eastman affiliate, was brought onto the project as well. While the architectural plans have changed throughout the process, the signature moves like the central courtyard and rooftop addition (with some tweaks) have been preserved. "I'm especially excited how closely the soon to be finished building remains true to our design from the original competition to the final details: the dramatic vertical slice of the courtyard with its bridges and suspended stairs, sharp profiles of glass and steel at the courtyard and addition, to the explosion of space and views of the rooftop park overlooking the Manhattan skyline," said Jay Valgora, founder and principal of STUDIO V, in an email to AN. The restored Empire Stores will include restaurants, offices, retail, a food hall, event spaces, and a rooftop beer garden. The full complex is scheduled to be completed in the spring. As construction continues at the Empire Stores, The Architect’s Newspaper got a look inside the site with Navid Maqami, a design principal at S9.
Downtown Brooklyn's ever-growing, not-all-that-inspiring, skyline could soon see a 57th Street–style addition. That's right, Brooklyn might be getting its first supertall tower. It was only a matter of time, really. Crain's reported that Michael Stern of JDS Development, which is behind SHoP's very tall 111 West 57th Street, has partnered with Joe Chetrit of the Chetrit Group to build a Brooklyn tower so tall it could rival, or eclipse, the Empire State Building. To do so, the two developers have reportedly purchased the landmarked Dime Savings Bank (and its 300,000 square feet of development rights) at 9 Dekalb Avenue for $90 million from JPMorgan Chase. Stern would use these rights to build a supertall next door at 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension, a site he co-owns with Chetrit. With the combined air rights of that site, the developer duo would have almost 600,000 square feet to work with. Crain's noted that the historic bank could be used as a lobby for the new tower or as a stand-alone retail space. An architect for the project has not yet been named. For those wondering, the iconic Junior's restaurant next to the site isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
As part of Mayor de Blasio’s mission to eliminate traffic deaths in New York City, his administration has committed $250 million toward its “Great Streets” initiative to redesign four of the city’s most dangerous arterial roadways: 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens, Queens Boulevard, and Grand Concourse in the Bronx. On 4th Avenue in Brooklyn—which is known as “the canyon of mediocrity” for its lackluster architecture—the Department of Transportation is making permanent a temporary road diet it put in place in recent years. Street adjustments like wider medians and banning left turns at certain intersections have paid huge dividends: On a 15-block stretch of the remade roadway, pedestrian injuries decreased 61 percent. The DOT did not include bike lanes in its road diet, instead opting for 13-foot-wide parking lanes. Construction has also just begun on the DOT's "Great Streets" remake of Queens Boulevard, a harrowing roadway dubbed the “Boulevard of Death." This transformation has been widely lauded in transportation circles for its inclusion of pedestrian pathways and protected bike lanes. But now the DOT has unveiled its $60 million plan to remake two miles of Atlantic Avenue, and like many recent street-calming measures undertaken by the department (Queens Boulevard excluded) it does little—if anything—to protect the city’s cyclists. On the dangerous section of Atlantic, most of which is in East New York—a neighborhood de Blasio wants to rezone to create affordable housing—the DOT plans to replace existing medians with longer and raised medians that have space for plantings and benches. The design would also implement left turn bays, high-visibility crosswalks, ban left turns at some intersections, and create mid-block crossings. The DOT says these strategies will calm traffic and reduce speeding. “The design proposed by DOT will make Atlantic look nicer and probably yield a marginal improvement in safety,” wrote StreetsBlog, “but it does not fundamentally alter the geometry of the street.” As part of its Vision Zero rollout, the DOT had previously re-timed traffic lights on Atlantic Avenue, and stepped-up traffic enforcement. It was also one of the first streets to have its speed limit dropped from 30 miles per hour to 25. The absence of any bike infrastructure in this “Great Streets” project is especially notable given the fatal bicycle crash that recently occurred just off Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. After the cyclist was killed, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held a press conference at the intersection calling on the city to fast-track a redesign of the dangerous intersection. Adams also brought reporters on a bike ride along Flatbush Avenue to underscore the harrowing conditions cyclists have to contend with on many city streets. Last year, pedestrian fatalities in New York City fell to their lowest level in over a century, but cyclists' deaths rose from 12 in 2013 to 20. The DOT says it will finalize this plan with the Department of Design an Construction by August 2016 and start construction the following spring. It remains to be seen what the department has planned for the Grand Concourse.
A controversial plan to boost the coffers of the financially-strapped Brooklyn Public Library system with the revenue from a new condo tower is moving forward. Last fall, library trustees approved the $52 million sale of the system's Brooklyn Heights branch to the Hudson Companies which planned to build a new market-rate condo tower on the coveted site. As part of the deal, the developer would also include a new library within the tower and commit to building 114 units of affordable housing off-site. The local community board has now signed-off on the plan, which sends it to the Brooklyn Borough President's office and then onto the City Planning Commission, reported the New York Times. The Hudson Companies has tapped Marvel Architects to design all aspects of the project including the condo tower, new library branch, and the two affordable housing buildings that will rise in Clinton Hill a couple of miles away. (During construction, the developer will also set up an interim library near the existing branch.) The triangular-shaped, 36-story condo tower is clad in limestone and has dark spandrels bands that cut across its skin. The new public library is housed in the building's base, facing Borough Hall and the stately court buildings across the street. On the structure's Clinton Street–facing side, there is space for a lobby, two retail outlets, and a connection to the below-grade community space. The two affordable buildings included in this project have a notably more austere presence, both with boxy brick facades and significant setbacks. The units in these buildings will be available to those making between 60 and 165 percent of the Area Median Income. Brooklyn Public Library president and CEO Linda E. Johnson told the New York Times that $40 million from the sale will go toward four other struggling branches in the borough. It's a significant figure, especially for the system which has $300 million in unmet capital needs. The project could break ground in 2016.
Last August, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) unveiled 14 proposed designs for a pair of controversial towers it planned to build near the park's southern-most pier. Under a Bloomberg-era development plan, sites along the park would be leased to private developers to finance the upkeep of Michael Van Valkenburgh's 85-acre green space. These two towers near Pier 6 represented the last piece of the development puzzle. Proposals for the two sites came from some of architecture's heavy hitters like Bjarke Ingels, Morris Adjmi, Pelli Clarke Pelli, and Selldorf Architects. But now, nearly a year later, the BBPC has picked a design for the project by a firm not included in that original group: ODA Architecture. Unsurprisingly, the firm is sticking with its boxy aesthetic for its Pier 6 design. The taller of the two structures, containing 192 market-rate condos, rises to 285 feet. It features factory-style windows and triple-height cutouts punched into its facade. The smaller building tops out at 125 feet and has a mix of market-rate and affordable units, as well as a 75-seat pre-kindergarten. The height of both buildings has been lowered by 30 feet in response to public outcry over their size. Their size, though, has been just one of the controversies surrounding this development. A local group called People for Green Space sued to stop the plan after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed to increase the percentage of affordable units within the project to 30 percent. The group argued that the inclusion of affordable housing went against the original funding scheme, and thus required an additional environmental review an amendment to the decade-old General Park Plan. People for Green Space and the BBPC settled this spring. At the time, the New York Times reported "the group was denied the environmental review, but it prevailed in its demand that the park corporation formally amend its plan." The agreement cleared the path for the project to move forward. It is being developed by RAL Development Services (RAL) and Oliver’s Realty Group. When asked why none of the original 14 designs, or architects, were selected for this project, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation told AN in an email: “The RAL/Oliver’s plan was determined to be the best proposal by the selection committee based on the strength of its financial offer, the affordable housing component, the inclusion of generous public amenities, and a design that demonstrates excellence and creativity in architecture and recognition of the surrounding context that inspires a welcoming entrance to the Park.” If the plan is approved by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Board of Directors, construction would start next spring and wrap up in Fall 2017.