After winning the 2016 Socrates Sculpture Park Folly Competition, New York–based studio Hou de Sousa has seen their structure, Sticks, realized at the park in Long Island City, Queens. The opening of the space coincides with the park's 30th anniversary. Hou de Sousa—comprised of Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa—designed a folly that uses simple timber trusses to form a sloping roof and cut-away entrance. This year, the competition brief referenced the literal meaning of folly: A blend of architecture and sculpture that doesn’t really serve a useful purpose. When Hou de Sousa was announced as winners, The Architect's Newspaper noted that these structures were once popular in 18th century England and French patrician gardens. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa said that the structure should stay standing until December 30 of this year, though its primary use is for the warmer seasons. The structure is capable of holding various items of scrap materials, something Hou de Sousa hopes will allow the space come to life. "The original design intention was that this can be a structure than can change over time," de Sousa explained, adding that the "scraps" could be used as a form of shading device, diffusing natural light. "After building the primary structure we let it out of our hands," said de Sousa, though he and Hou confessed to being "tempted" to add their own materials. A relatively simple build, the duo said the structure was erected swiftly, though readying the site took "longer than expected." At 18-inches thick, the timber frame uses shelving to accommodate the scraps, most of which will be from the work of former artists-in-residence. When they won the competition in April, Hou de Sousa's mentioned the possibility of photovoltaic panels being deployed onto the roof of the structure. Today, however, de Sousa told AN that this would be "unlikely." Socrates Sculpture Park hopes Sticks becomes “a hub for Socrates Sculpture Park’s Education Studio, which hosts over 10,000 students annually.”
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To honor its 30th birthday, Socrates Sculpture Park, the former dump-turned-art park on the banks of the East River, is presenting LANDMARK, a summer series of land art installations by eight artists, including a new earthwork, Concave Room for Bees, by New York–based Meg Webster. The series is a reflection on the changing neighborhood surrounding Socrates; the works engage gentrified Long Island City's cultural shifts and interrogate its economic transition. Webster's 70-foot-wide earthwork, which incorporates 300 cubic yards of dirt, attracts the flora and fauna of New York with a sculptural display of various soil compositions, and native flowering vegetation that attract pollinators. Nature-starved visitors can walk through the Concave Room for Bees on loamy paths to get a closer look at ecology in action. Since the 1970s, Webster has created indoor and outdoor work that features elements like water, salt, or moss, all arranged into geometric forms. When this piece is dismantled, the earth will be distributed across the park to give the topsoil a jolt of nutrients. Other works include a new piece, Half Moon, by artist Abigail DeVille, that uses found materials to explore the site's former role as a ferry slip and landfill. DeVille's scraggly shipwreck is a meditation on decay, public neglect, and contemporary issues of migration in Long Island City. Jonathan Odom's Open Seating is a series of 50 open-source chairs crafted from CNC-cut plywood and held together by ratchet straps (Odom created the designs and has released them online for others to replicate, gratis). The chairs, painted in languid pastels by volunteers, give visitors an opportunity to socialize, relax, and enjoy giant installations framed by the Manhattan skyline. LANDMARK is on view through August 28.
Queens looks to be in line for it's first supertall skyscraper, situated on 23-15 44th Drive in Long Island City. Rising to 984 feet, the building will house 774 luxury apartment units inside 78 stories, as well as just under 20,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 225 parking spots, located between the basement and second floor. New York practice Goldstein, Hill & West Architects are behind the project, which totals 969,000 square feet. With Midtown Manhattan less than five minutes away (by car/subway), the tower, known by its official name as "City View Tower," is in a prime location. Neighboring upmarket restaurants, the building is also joined by nearby Gantry State Park (which features a riverside esplanade, a fishing pier, and a playgrounds), and a host of art galleries, notably the MoMA PS1 and Sculpture Center. Other transportation links include walkable access to the East River Ferry and the Long Island Rail Road. Originally, development firm United Construction and Development had planned for a 963-foot tower, however, a 21 foot increase allows the skyscraper to be classified as a "supertall" due it being 300 meters (984 feet) or over. Due to a site elevation of 16 feet, the building will reach a height of 1,000 feet above sea level, and the project has to submit a request to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval to build. According to New York Yimby, plans are also progressing through the Department of Buildings with few alterations being made over the past couple of months. That said, they report a supposed increase of 114 from the planned 660 housing units listed on the developer's page. Ground is set to break on the project at some point next year with completion penned for 2019. Goldstein, Hill & West Architects also have another luxury tower in the making for the area. Located on 42-12 on 28th Street in Long Island City, the tower will be smaller than their "City View Tower" accommodating only 477 units, reaching 634 foot. Amenities are set to include a resident lounge, pool house, full spa and observation deck.
In latest push to clear backlog, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designates nine new landmarks
Tasked with clearing its 95-item backlog, New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is moving swiftly to shape the future of historic structures in the Big Apple by clearing its docket. On Tuesday, the LPC voted to designate nine items—eight individual structures and one historic district—as New York City Landmarks.
Perhaps the most recognizable item on the list was the Pepsi Cola Sign, which has graced the shores of Long Island City, Queens, since 1936. The sign is not a typical landmark. It's an ad for a beverage conglomerate, albeit a charming, retro ad. A debate arose around the nuances of the designation at a meeting in February to present evidence in favor of preservation. Supporters' eyes ping-ponged anxiously as LPC members brought up possible obstacles objections: Would designation cover the metal scaffolding that the bottle and logo are attached to, or would designation encompass just the signs' iconic appendages, leaving a loophole to alter the sign's arrangement?
The LPC decided to landmark the Pepsi sign, noting in its recommendation that the sign was preserved once before, as the factory it flanked was sold in 1999. The LPC's decision recognizes the city's manufacturing heritage, and preserves the spirit of place that's otherwise the face of bland waterfront luxury condo development. The grassroots Historic Districts Council (HDC) recommends that the LPC "investigate additional preservation protections, such as an easement or some other form of legal contract to help ensure this landmark’s continued presence."
In all, there were ten items recommended for designation, including two whose eclecticism and allure rival the Pepsi sign (the commission delayed a vote on Immaculate Conception Church in the South Bronx.). One residence is a Gravesend landmark: The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House, a stone, 18th-century Dutch-American-style farmhouse, is a rare survivor from Brooklyn's agrarian past. Local lore holds that the house belonged to Lady Deborah Moody, one of the area's first European women landowners.
New Yorkers thrilled by the Neoclassical flourishes of the Fifth Avenue facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be delighted by the LPC's recognition of the Vanderbilt Mausoleum, a diminutive-by-comparison and little-known work by the same architect. École des Beaux Arts–trained Richard Morris Hunt designed the Romanesque Revival final resting place for the titans of industry, located in Staten Island's Frederick Law Olmsted–designed Moravian Cemetery. The Vanderbilts were so impressed by the meeting of minds that they hired Hunt and Olmstead to collaborate on the clan's low-key country house in North Carolina.
With that memento mori, the LPC voted to designate a few 19th-century structures within Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. Although the entire cemetery, a National Historic Landmark, was up for local designation, even ardent preservationists advocated against the designation, noting that landmark status could place onerous restrictions on the 478-acre cemetery's operations: The plots, headstones, and mausoleums are owned by individuals, with 1,200 new "permanent residents" added annually, potentially complicating the regulation process.
The largest rural cemetery in the U.S., Green-Wood was designed by David Bates Douglass under the guiding landscape principles of Andrew Jackson Downing. The Gothic Revival entrance on Fifth Avenue, designed by Richard Upjohn and home to a vigorous parakeet colony, was declared an Individual Landmark in 1966. A chapel in the same style by Warren & Wetmore (the same firm behind Grand Central Terminal) received designation this time around, as did the Gatehouse and Gatehouse Cottage at the Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance.
The Manhattan-based architecture firm, Hou de Sousa, is on a winning streak this spring. This past March, the firm won Re-Ball!, a competition to repurpose over 650,000 plastic balls from a previous design exhibit into an installation for an abandoned underground trolley station in Washington D.C. (Their playful and interactive wonderland, titled Raise/RAZE, is set to open April 30.) And now the firm has won this year’s Folly competition in New York, hosted by the Architectural League of New York and the Socrates Sculpture Park. The theme this year was “function,” a break from the themes of years past, that drew from the literal meaning of folly: a blend of architecture and sculpture that doesn’t really serve a useful purpose. (These structures were once popular in 18th century England and French patrician gardens.) While the Folly competition is based in New York, it is open to global emerging architects. Hou de Sousa’s proposal, Sticks, addresses the function theme through an adaptable concept. Using interconnected lumber held together with webbing, the design supports an array of repurposed on-site scrap materials that provide shade and 18 inch deep shelves for possible future art exhibits. Their project takes advantage of an adjacent shipping container to help support the structure. It will serve as "a hub for Socrates Sculpture Park’s Education Studio, which hosts over 10,000 students annually," says the Socrates Sculpture Park in a press release. Hou de Sousa will build their project on site this May and June for a July 9 opening in the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. IK Studio won the competition last year, with the plywood pavilion Torqueing Spheres. Hou de Sousa’s Folly entry last year, Mochi, garnered a Notable Entry for their colorful domed quilt of ravioli-like inflated plastic bags. The Folly competition is privately and publicly supported, with public funds coming in part from the New York State Council on the Arts.
Expanding on the East River Ferry system, Mayor de Blasio will see his $55 million plan for a five borough ferry network come to fruition summer 2017. At $2.75-a-ride, the system will be managed and operated by a California company, Hornblower, that has a proven track record in the industry, having run services in New York for ten years. Currently, the ferry caters to Manhattan residents and those on the shoreline between DUMBO, Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens. The network will be expanded to escort people to Astoria, Queens; Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; and the Rockaways, Queens. Come 2018, Soundview will service the Upper and Lower East Side. Another proposal looks to extend the service further to Staten and Coney Island, though no completion date has yet been penned in. The cost of a ferry trip will align with the price of a single subway ride. Bicycles may be carried on for an extra dollar. This is less than half of what it costs for a standard weekend ferry fare at the moment. Such a pricing scheme is no accident, either, as de Blasio has his eyes on integrating the network with the rest of the MTA system. According to de Blasio, commuters will be able to enjoy the "fresh air, harbor views, and a fast ride on the open water" on the 20-minute journey between Astoria and Manhattan's East 34th Street, as well as being able to make the most of the ferry on the hour-long commute between the Rockaways and Wall Street. “Today I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his $55 million capital commitment to a 5-borough ferry system and declaring that New York City’s waterfront will be open for all. The ripple effect from this service will be felt throughout the entire city from Bay Ridge to Bayside; from Staten Island to Soundview,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile. “Access to a true 5-borough ferry system will be just another jewel to add to our crown here in southwest Brooklyn, one that will be a boon to small businesses and real estate alike.”
Goldstein, Hill & West Architects (GHWA), in partnership with developer Chris Xu, just unleashed a 79-story residential tower on Long Island City, Queens. At 963 feet tall, the tower will be 305 feet taller than its neighbor, CitiGroup's 50-story One Court Square, already one of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood. The ground floor will sport 19,721 square feet of retail, while 774 apartments will be spread over 759,412 square feet of residential space. Xu bought the 79,000-square-foot site for $143 million from Citigroup in July 2015, YIMBY reports. This is not the New York–based firm's first high rise: GHWA is behind Long Island City's 42–12 28th Street, a 57-story residential tower, as well as 605 West 42nd Street, a glassy 60-story residential tower "detailed in a clean modernist idiom." Walking down Jackson Avenue, it's hard not to notice all the new high rises going up in the neighborhood. Walking down Jackson Avenue in the late afternoon, though, and it's hard not to be blinded by the sunlight that reflects from all those new buildings. The so-called Court Square City View Tower is a mere four blocks from MoMA PS1, and, although there's no word yet on when construction will begin, visitors to PS1 this summer will be thankful for the central feature of Escobedo Solíz Studio's Young Architects Program installation. The colorful rope canopy promises to shade visitors from skyscraper sunburns, giving a whole new meaning to Warm Up.
While everyone was distracted by Monday's BIG news on the High Line, SHoP unveiled a three-tower complex on the waterfront in Long Island City, Queens. The tallest tower, at 45-40 Vernon Boulevard, will be 28 stories, with 296 residential units. The three towers will ring the Anable Basin, a human-made inlet off of the East river. The towers will sit ten blocks northeast of SHoP's Hunters Point South, a two-building, 900-unit development with 20,000 square feet of retail, where tenants love Airbnb-ing their taxpayer-subsidized pads. The development is part of a master plan to revive the Anable Basin (also known at the Eleventh Street Basin), site of the former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant, with public waterfront access and a refurbished pier. The towers, real estate blog 6sqft reports, will mostly replace the current building on site, 69,550 square foot Paragon Paint Factory, now defunct. The site, currently zoned for manufacturing, will require a zoning variance to build residential. There will also need to be environmental remediation performed on the land. The tallest, central tower partially cannibalizes the rear of the factory, rising into a decidedly non-industrial 300-foot-tall glass wall. Future residents will have expansive views of Manhattan and the East River. The two smaller towers, at 45-24 Vernon Boulevard and along 45th Road, will be copper clad at the base with angled windows on the upper stories to maximize views of the cityscape. The towers will rise 14 stories and eight stories, respectively. No word yet on the project's groundbreaking or expected completion date.
Remember the Battery Park City wheatfield? Conceptual artist is back with a horticultural pyramid in Queens
[Editor's Note: Socrates Sculpture Park on the Queens waterfront installed The Living Pyramid, a public sculpture by Agnes Denes in May, when this article was originally published. They have just announced that they will extend the life of the sculpture through the end of October. The work is Denes’ first since her iconic Wheatfield – A Confrontation in 1982, sited on a waterfront landfill in what is now Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan. Do not miss this chance to see this important artwork before it comes down next month.] Monuments of pre-civilization feats in construction and engineering, pyramids are the latest muse of conceptual artist Agnes Denes who, in 1982, transformed what is now Battery Park City into a two-acre wheatfield. Titled Wheatfield - A Confrontation and featuring the backdrop of a construction site and jostling Manhattan skyscrapers, it’s not difficult to surmise Denes’ intentions. Likewise, her latest project, Living Pyramid resonates with a rebellious call to the wild. Made from soil and thousands of seeds, the pyramid will be erected in late April at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. On May 17, the public is invited to plant the seeds, which, by early June, will have bloomed into wildflowers and leafy plants. Living Pyramid itself will remain on view until August 30, when cooler weather begins to encroach once again. The sculptural exhibition is Denes’ first major exhibition in the city since Wheatfield, although her work has been displayed at New York City’s prime museums including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum. “What [pyramids] all convey is the human drama, our hopes and dreams against great odds,” Denes said in a press release. “Transformed into blossoms, the pyramid renews itself as evolution does to our species.” Long a fixture in Denes’ work, pyramids are also central to her exhibition In the Realm of Pyramids: The Visual Philosophy of Agnes Denes on view at the Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects from March 14–May 9.
A new tower designed by FXFowle will bring a touch of design to Long Island City’s ever-growing skyline of glassy and generic residential buildings. For starters, the 35-story luxury rental tower is differentiated by a rust-colored steel that encases the podium and runs up its sides, framing three glassy expanses. Yes, there is still a lot of glass on this one too, but FXFOWLE said the building is inspired by the area's “original industrial heritage and its new position as a fresh and modern NYC locale.” The profile of the building, with three stacked volumes, reminds us of Chad Oppenheim's Williamsburg Hotel project proposed a few years ago in Brooklyn. The designers and developers of the Purves Street Residential Development are also quick to point out the project's sustainable features. To hit LEED Silver certification, the tower's podium will be covered in an expansive green roof and common areas will be partially powered by solar and wind energy that is created on-site. In renderings, it is easy to spot a helix-shaped windmill on top of the building. But as the New York Times explained last year, the impact of these types of windmills that are now appearing across New York City can be pretty mixed. Inside the Long Island City building, the apartments and amenity spaces (of which there are many—in fact, there is a separate “amenity building”) are decked out with industrial materials like concrete and steel, alongside lots of wood. The building broke ground, not coincidentally, on Earth Day and is expected to be completed in two years.
The construction-watching site Field Condition recently toured phase one of the Hunters Point South development in Long Island City, Queens where a pair of SHoP-designed towers are wrapping up construction. The taller of the two buildings, Building A, stands 37 stories and has a primarily gray facade with pops of color from PTAC units that have been tinted orange. Building B has a much darker presence, with a primarily glassy black exterior. Field Condition noted that work is currently focused on finishing interior spaces before tenants start moving in this spring. In December, DNAinfo reported that 92,700 applicants had been received for the development's 924 affordable units. Check out the buildings—and their views—below.
Yet another tower could rise in Long Island City, Queens. Citigroup is expected to sell a prime development site next to its SOM-designed, 51-story turquoise office tower that dominates the neighborhood’s skyline. The New York Times reported that when Citi built the structure in 1989, the city expected Long Island City to blossom into a major commercial hub. That hope did not pan out. But the neighborhood has seen a boom in residential development in recent years and now Citi wants to take advantage of it. The bank will reportedly sell the development site for $150 million, likely giving way to an apartment or hotel high-rise.