Posts tagged with "Brooklyn":

Placeholder Alt Text

Back to the Future: New York City explores streetcar transit route linking outer boroughs

Remember the New York City streetcar? Unless you're a New Yorker of a certain age, you definitely don't. Advances in transportation technology (what die-hard conspiracy theorists refer to as Great American Streetcar Scandal) drove streetcars all over the U.S. straight to the last stop. Yet, it's now very possible that two neighboring boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, will be reunited once again via a new streetcar line of their very own. The streetcar plans legitimate what transportation planners (and Michael Kimmelman) have known for years: commuting patterns in the city have changed, and the hub-and-spoke model no longer serves diffuse, inter- outer-borough commuting patterns. In his State of the City address last week, Mayor de Blasio proposed a 16-mile waterside streetcar route, the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), that would run through 14 neighborhoods, from Brooklyn's Sunset Park through Astoria, Queens. These areas have seen swift transitions from their industrial origins and rapid population growth as the waterfront settles comfortably into its post-industrial future. Renderings are credited to a nonprofit called the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector. According to The Daily News, members include "transit experts, community leaders and business giants like Doug Steiner of Steiner Studios, investor Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Helena Durst of the Durst Organization real estate firm." When the plan was announced in January, AN reached out the the nonprofit repeatedly for comment to confirm stakeholders and received no response. With backers like these, concerns about gentrification and potentially developer-driven policy have been raised. Some see the streetcar idea as a way to spur already-high land values along the waterfront, although the streetcar could also provide the more than 40,000 residents of waterfront NYCHA complexes with better access to public transportation. Others have raised concerns about locating the line in a flood zone. Still others have questioned why the city needs to spend billions on a new form of transportation, one that moves at a pokey 12 miles-per-hour, when bus service could be offered along a similar route. There is time to debate: Although energy around the plan is high, the groundbreaking is a long way off. The plan's timeline states that construction is expected to begin in 2019, and service could begin in 2024. The city pegs the cost at around $2.5 billion, although earlier estimates ran $800 million lower.
Placeholder Alt Text

In gentrifying Brooklyn, illicit luxury housing is sprouting from community gardens

Larceny and deed fraud are on the rise, and those with a mind for leaving confusing trails of paperwork are profiting from illegitimate purchases of land. A classic case of this can be found on Maple Street in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn. https://vimeo.com/6258261 According to a report by The Nation, the area became a tranquil community space in the summer of 2013. Using a lot no bigger than one-eighth of an acre, local residents constructed vegetable patches and seating areas that successfully brought people together to make use of a shared space. The residents' retreat however, was short-lived. The owners,  Joseph (Joe) and Kamran (Mike) Makhani, apparently have a history of using illegitimate signatures to gain property and have even been to prison in the past for selling homes they did not own. Their company name, H.P.D., LLC, is quite similar to the government agency, NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). When questioned in the video above, Joe Makhani said, "if the client is stupid, that's not my problem." Cut to 2014 and the Makhanis show up and start destroying the lot that the residents had carefully made. Ignoring calls to stop, they only do so when the police turn up demanding a court order to prove ownership. The Makhanis promptly left after no document was produced. So what of the significance of this debacle? The sad truth is that these ordeals are cropping up more and more with cases being becoming increasingly complex with name irregularities making documented selling and purchasing of land harder to find. "No one is talking about it, but we're seeing this every day," said Sonia Alleyne told The Nation on behalf of the Department of Finance. "I don't think anyone realizes how big this story is." The ordeal features all the tell-tale signs of larceny and deed fraud. The initial purchase of land from the nephews of the deceased owners for $5,000 (an incredible and questionably low price); Social Security numbers failing to match up; spelling "mistakes" (McKany rather than Makhani); illegible notary names and the fact that the license number isn't even present; traits that, in the City of New York Sheriff Joseph Fucito's eyes, scream fraud. Anyone attempting to investigate ownership/sale history of the land, it seems, is lead down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. Sheriff Fucito stated that 15 deed-fraud arrests were made in in the last year, and that (as of August 2015) his office was on the trail of over 1,000 cases. Gardens in Bushwick and Crown Heights have likewise found themselves embroiled in similar conflicts. Fucido believes that many fraudulent cases go undetected and that the real number of cases is much higher. Why the sudden rise in deed fraud? Gentrification may be partly to blame. Brooklyn residential prices are increasing at an alarming rate, and land with debatable ownership is the perfect target for fraudsters. Experts such as Christie Peale, executive director of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, say that paperwork is deemed legitimate all too easily. "The problem is this open process that allows people to just walk in and file false instruments," said Peale.
Placeholder Alt Text

Jeanne Gang’s fire station brings civic design to deep Brooklyn neighborhood

Chicago-based Studio Gang is designing a modern fire station for the Brownsville community in Brooklyn. The two-story, precast concrete structure, to be built on a vacant lot at 1815 Sterling Place, includes bright red accents as the facade pulls away from the street plane. The so-called Fire Rescue 2 facility "is intended to become a tool for training, enabling FDNY Company 2, an elite force of firefighters and specialized rescue workers serving the people of New York for nearly a century, to stage and simulate a wide range of emergency conditions in, on, and around the building," according to a project description from Studio Gang. This training program inspired Jeanne Gang, the firm's principal, in designing the building. "During emergencies, the Company must often utilize voids in buildings," the firm stated, "whether creating them to let heat and smoke out of a structure or locating them as a means of escape." The structure's design responds with its own voids demarcated in red that reveal windows, staircases, and a second-floor terrace. The facade of the 19,000-square-foot structure will be built of precast concrete and red glazed terracotta tiles. The 46-foot-tall structure is meant to respond to the scale of neighborhood buildings. Gang organized the fire house around a central interior that "enables the team to practice rescue scenarios that mimic conditions common to the city." The space is a sort of modern recreation of balconies, bridges, doorways, ladders, and stairs that the firefighters might encounter in the city. The void dually allows air and light to penetrate deep into the structure, enhancing the living quarters for the firefighters. While the facade's jagged geometry and bright color conveys the structure's purpose and sense of urgency, the interiors are designed to help firefighters cool off. Inside, a kitchen forms the hub of social life for the firefighters, adding another layer of heat to the project's design. Plenty of green space, including a backyard and open-air porches, allows the firefighters to cool off when not on duty. Studio Gang is working with SCAPE / Landscape Architecture on the project. The building also includes several sustainable gestures such as a green roof, geothermal HVAC system, and a solar hot-water system. Fire Rescue 2 is programmed to include office space, dormitories for firefighters, a kitchen, exercise rooms, training space, and storage. "With its adaptable spaces, environmental approach, and civic scale, the new Rescue 2 firehouse is both a neighborhood fixture and important piece of infrastructure, supporting a highly trained corps who safeguard those who call New York home," Studio Gang stated. Permits for the project were filed in October 2015, according to real estate watch-blog New York YIMBY. The project is estimated to be complete in 2017. In July 2015, the design was honored with an Award for Excellence in Design from the New York City Public Design Commission. Elsewhere in New York, Studio Gang is working on a major expansion to the American Museum of National History and an embattled condo tower along the High Line called the Solar Carve. The firm has opened a New York office to handle the increased workload. Also, don't miss AN's exclusive interview with Jeanne Gang while kayaking the Chicago River here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Woody and The Donald

Here is a story to file under the Republican presidential primary, celebrity, radical American politics, and affordable housing policies in New York City. The Conversation writer Will Kaufman reports that the "This Land is Your Land" folk singer Woody Guthrie lived in Federal Housing Authority–financed housing in Coney Island's Beach Haven. Those residences were constructed by non other than Fred Trump, Donald’s father. Guthrie despised his landlord, the elder Trump, and wrote several ditties (a reprise of his "I Ain’t Got No Home") about him:

Beach Haven ain’t my home! 
I just cain’t pay this rent! 
My money’s down the drain! 
And my soul is badly bent! 
Beach Haven looks like heaven 
Where no black ones come to roam! 
No, no, no! Old Man Trump! 
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home! Trump’s involvement with and creation of (racially exclusive) affordable Beach Haven housing for the hundreds of thousands of returning servicemen to New York after World War II is a sordid tale. Kaufman unearthed the story after going through the Guthrie archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He reports that “when the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) finally stepped in to issue federal loans and subsidies for urban apartment blocks, one of the first developers in line, with his eye on the main chance, was Fred Trump. He made a fortune not only through the construction of public housing projects but also through collecting the rents on them." Its a fascinating story of housing policy in New York that becomes more pointed “in the wake of Donald Trump, who says, 'My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.'” (via Gawker)

Placeholder Alt Text

It’s now too expensive to build local for New York’s modular construction industry

Thanks to high rents, New York City is losing one of its longtime modular construction companies at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And the news could send ripples through the city's prefab construction scene. Capsys, a pre-fab builder founded in 1996, was paying $4 per square foot for its space in the Navy Yard, far below what other tenants were paying. The going rent, $20 per square foot, for manufacturing space at the Navy Yard is already set below market to retain firms that would otherwise not be able to afford to do business in the city. Upon learning in 2010 that their longterm lease was not being renewed, Capsys went hunting for new space. The advantage of local prefab construction is cost and quality control. Building are constructed at the factory by (usually) nonunion workers. Architects can check in on the projects, correcting any flaws before the pieces are shipped. Although rents are lower in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, being based locally cuts down on expensive overland shipping costs. Recently, though, new regulations require modular units to have an (expensive) police escort when the units are ferried to construction sites. For almost ten years, Capsys was the only modular builder in the Navy Yard until Forest City Ratner moved its operations there. With new owners of Forest City's Pacific Park, it looks like Forest City's modular building operations may close, though this could be due less to rising rents and more to design issues that incur costs. The shortcomings of Pacific Park's B2, the SHoP Architects–designed world's tallest modular tower, have been widely documented. Capsys has designed 55 micro-apartments for Carmel Place (the building formerly known as adAPT NYC), and Alexander Gorlin's Nehemiah townhouses, among other projects. When the company closes shop, Capsys will sell its intellectual property to a Pennsylvania company.
Placeholder Alt Text

TEN Arquitectos’ mixed-use downtown Brooklyn building tops out

TEN Arquitectos' 286 Ashland Place, a 384-unit, 32-story mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn, has topped out. The building's 45,148 square feet of community space will host 651 ARTS, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and the Brooklyn Public Library. The New York– and Mexico City–based firm has a number of major projects in design and under construction. Their campus for Centro, a technology, design, and business university in their home city, opened in September 2015, while plans for the Mexican Museum and residential building at 706 Mission Street in San Francisco are moving forward. Last month, TEN Arquitectos revealed renderings of a luxury resort in the Cayman Islands. At 286 Ashland Place, 20 percent of the units in the building are set aside for affordable housing. The building will host 21,928 square feet of retail. Construction is expected to be complete this summer, YIMBY reports. The project is located within the Brooklyn Cultural District, a Fort Greene development plan anchored by BAM. The triangular lot, across the street from BAM and a block from Atlantic Terminal, fronts high-traffic areas on all sides. On the Flatbush Avenue side, ground-floor retail and a stepped plaza break up what could have been a monotonous street wall. The facade is reminiscent of the firm's Mercedes House, in Midtown West. There too, the facade is broken up by a nonstandard arrangement of windows and built-in air treatment units. Mercedes House's outstanding features are terraced cubes and snaking profile respond to the site's steep elevation. 286 Ashland Place has a more standard site, and relies on an origami-ed facade for visual interest from afar. Though it obscures a previously unobstructed view of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building the articulations of the facade draw the eye outward, towards the surrounding streetscape.
Placeholder Alt Text

With the go-ahead from City Planning, this office building may close the book on the transformation of Williamsburg’s waterfront

Office space is in short supply in Brooklyn. A 2004 rezoning of downtown Brooklyn was intended to facilitate the development of 4.5 million square feet of Class A office space. Since then, the local development corporation Downtown Brooklyn Partnership estimates that only 250,000 square feet of office space has been built. The space crunch also spreads north, to Williamsburg. This week, the Department of City Planning is expected to approve developer Toby Moskovits' (of Heritage Equity Partners) application to alter manufacturing-only zoning for a nine-story, 480,000-square-foot office building at 25 Kent Avenue. AN first reported on the Moskovits' office plans last April. The building's design by New York–based HWKN appears similar in both the original and updated renderings. Ziggurat-style terracing reduces the structure's mass. At street level, the brickwork and arched floor-to-ceiling windows reference the warehouse it may replace. Currently, the lot, between North 12th and North 13th streets, lies in a M1-2 zone. In this area, zoning requires a non-manufacturing facility build in a manufacturing zone to devote more than half its space to medical, school, religious, or non-profit facilities. Moskovits would like the building to be offices, only, thought a portion of the project may be reserved for light-manufacturing use. Certifying the application triggers the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), a process that can take months. The ULURP gathers opinions on the project's request from Brooklyn's Community Board 1; the borough president, Eric Adams; City Planning; and the City Council. So far, signs are good: area Councilman Steve Levin is in favor of the project, Crain's reports. If approved, Moskovits' application could have profound influence on others looking to subvert current zoning in manufacturing areas. Due to the current restrictions, developers shy away from building non-manufacturing in manufacturing zones; creating community space is less profitable than creating office space. Go figure.
Placeholder Alt Text

ODA brings mallcore to Brooklyn with this stacked mixed-use development

Master box-stacking architecture firm ODA has unveiled its latest addition to the Brooklyn cityscape: an eight story, mixed-used development at 71 White Street in East Williamsburg. The approximately 80,700-square-foot hotel, retail, and semi-public space will rise from the skeleton of an existing one-story, graffiti-adorned 1930s warehouse. Calling 71 White Street a mall would undermine the grittiness it strives so hard to project. Yet, its circulation pattern and its relationship to the street speaks for itself. The complex's stacked and rotated layers recede from, yet tower over, the existing low-slung street wall to create a series of insular private and public spaces. The main entrance, on the corner of McKibben and White streets, is set deep into the lot, drawing visitors though indoor and outdoor corridors to access food, drink, and entertainment. The first two floors are programmed for restaurant and retail space. Ground-floor windows would punctuate the now window-deficient facade, and create visual interest on the street. The top five floors are given over to a 112 room hotel. That hotel will provide de facto amenities: gym, rooftop bar, and pool. In addition, renderings depict multiple, expansive shared terraces that afford views of Manhattan. For those interested in people-watching, the third floor will be an open-air public promenade. To access the third floor space from the main entrance, a set of stairs slopes gently upward and diverges, giving access to the east and west ends of the structure. The circulation pattern will accommodate a range of uses: on the west end, an amphitheater slopes down to the ground floor, while the east end appears to be reserved for more quiet activities, like eating at picnic tables.
Placeholder Alt Text

100 Fountains will revive New York City’s esteemed public drinking culture

Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Though New York has the some of the cleanest municipal tap water, New Yorkers now consume 1.25 billion bottles of water annually. A contributing factor to the rise in bottled water consumption is the decline in the number of public drinking fountains. New York–based Pilot Projects would like to revive the grand tradition of public bubblers through a novel design/build competition. Pilot Project's 100 Fountains competition, launched September of this year, will tap artists and designers to build 100 fountains citywide in 2016. Each participant receives $5,000 to develop his or her team's design. According to the project proposal, the competition area will be divided into 30–40 zones, with two or three fountains per zone. The public judging period starts June 2016 and runs through September 2016. The original fountains will be auctioned off for charity, and ten designs from the pool will be chosen and duplicated for permanent installation at to-be-determined locations citywide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFq8z96zbQQ In 2012, Pilot Projects hosted a campaign to raise awareness around the lack of drinking fountains. In the video above, passerbys in Union Square traipse over a red carpet to a (pre-existing, functioning) fountain operated by white-gloved servers. Per a 2007 zoning text amendment, the Department of City Planning (DCP) requires a fountain in every newly-built Privately Owned Public Space (POPS). The report suggests that, in lieu of vending machines offering sweetened beverages and bottled water, designers should incorporate public drinking fountains into the POPS. To justify their economic reason-for-being, 100 Fountains points to large-scale public art installations that overtook city streets in the late 1990s and 2000s: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, Olafur Eliasson's New York City Waterfalls, and CowParade. The economic impacts of these project were estimated in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. 100 Fountains also takes direct inspiration from the Minneapolis Arts Commission. The commission highlighted Minneapolis' connection to surrounding rivers and lakes by installing ten custom fountains to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary. Pilot Projects will partner with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department of Education, Office of the Arts and Special Projects, as well as Yale University’s Environmental Protection Clinic and Parsons The New School For Design to carry out the project. Expect to see fountains on the streets beginning June of next year.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Under budget pressures, WXY reveals new ideas for long shuttered Brooklyn War Memorial

The band Barenaked Ladies famously speculated on what a million dollars could buy: a little tiny fridge filled with pre-wrapped sausages, K-cars, a woman's eternal, undying love, or fancy ketchups.  Well, this isn't the nineties anymore, and, as community leaders in Brooklyn are learning, seven figures will not be nearly enough to renovate and preserve the Brooklyn War Memorial. New York's WXY, lead consultants on the 2014's Brooklyn Strand and 2013's Brooklyn Tech Triangle master plan, led the design team and facilitated community visioning sessions for the memorial. The memorial renovation is a component of the "Brooklyn Strand," a project to unify the patchwork of parks, plazas, and green spaces between Brooklyn Bridge Park and Borough Hall. This month, the Mayor's Office released The Brooklyn War Memorial Feasibility Study to delineate proposed changes to the area. Spearheaded by the Cadman Park Conservancy, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and the Borough President Eric Adams, community leaders are looking to raise $11.8 million by 2019 for the renovation. Adams has allocated $1 million to the project, but other politicians, businesses, and foundations will need to come forward with the difference. Though the memorial, in Cadman Plaza Park, sits near eight subway lines, is proximate to a year-round farmer's market, and is often surrounded by lunching office workers, its prime location has not helped with fundraising. So far, the conservancy has received a paltry $4,060 through a May crowdfunding campaign. WXY facilitated workshops with residents and community groups to generate ideas for the memorial and surrounding park space. Designed by New York's Eggers and Higgins and dedicated in 1951, the memorial honors the 300,000 Brooklynites who served in World War II. Due to lack of maintenance funds, the site has been closed to the public for the past quarter century. Currently, the memorial building contains offices and storage on the lower level, while the primary attraction, a Wall of Honor that displays the names of more than 11,500 borough residents killed in battle, occupies the main floor. The renovation of the 33,660-square-foot space would add a visitor's center, exhibition hall, and cafe to the lower level, and a rooftop terrace that can be rented out for events. Gentle slopes will flank the entrance, inviting Strand strollers to linger around the memorial. An ADA compliant entrance ramp at the main level and elevator are planned, as well.
Placeholder Alt Text

Ocean Liner S.S. United States may dock in Red Hook after ship-shape conversion

New York City has 520 miles of coastline. The city's coastline-to-swanky-offshore-vessel ratio, however, is seriously skewed. Although New Yorkers may enjoy drinks on the Frying Pan, at Chelsea Piers, or visit the oil tanker cultural center aboard the Mary A. Whalen, in Red Hook, there is certainly room for another moldering boat-turned-modern-recreation-and-entertainment-space. The Brooklyn Paper reports that John Quadrozzi Jr., owner of the Gowanus Bay Terminal in Red Hook, beamed an SOS to investors willing to put up between $50 and $200 million to convert the 63-year-old, 990-foot-long S.S. United States into retail, offices, and cultural facilities. Before air travel, the S.S. United States was a grande dame among ocean liners. The ship has half-a-million square feet of floor space and 13 decks. Quadrozzi would offer space to startups, a maritime school and museum, a swimming pool, gym, and restaurants. The vessel would be self-sustaining, retrofitted to produce and consume solar, waste, and wind energy. For almost 20 years, the S.S. United States has sat in a Philadelphia ship yard. Currently, it costs its owners, the S.S. United States Conservancy, $60,000 each month to maintain. The Conservancy will decide by November whether it wants to partner with Quadrozzi, or another (unnamed) Manhattan partner. If the conversion plan is ultimately deemed nonviable, the conservancy will haul the historic ship to the scrapyard.
Placeholder Alt Text

On View> Rachel Whiteread: Looking Out at Luhring Augustine Bushwick

Looking Out Luhring Augustine Bushwick 25 Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn, NY Through December 20, 2015 Rachel Whiteread is a thoroughly architectural artist. Her sculpture exposes the spatial relationships between common objects, or whole buildings, and their environments. Detached III, a concrete and steel cast of a garden shed, transforms the humble structure into a monument. Her works on paper respond to specific sculptures but are considered a body of work on their own. Whiteread uses unconventional media—graph paper, correction fluid, varnish—to mark present and absent spaces between forms. To complement the Bushwick show, there will be a parallel exhibition of Whiteread’s work at Luhring Augustine Chelsea from November 7–December 19.