As we speak, Long Island City’s graffiti mecca, 5Pointz, is being demolished so two beige apartment towers can rise in its place. But lest we forget the history of the iconic institution, Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of 5Pointz, wants to trademark its name so he can spray it on the residential replacement he is developing. DNAInfo reported that Wolkoff’s company G&M Realty filed an application in March with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to do just that. That request was apparently denied in June, but Wolkoff has some time to respond. As the New York Times explained last year, the name was originally coined by graffiti artist Meres One back in 2002. Unsurprisingly, the attempt to trademark the name has been blasted by 5Pointz artists. But Wolkoff has defended his actions, saying that all is not lost with the new development as space will be reserved in his towers for artists' work. "I'm bringing the artists back," he told DNAinfo. "The building is going to be back and the artists are going to be back." Well clearly not everyone sees it that way. [h/t 6sqft]
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As the Rebuild By Design jury mulls over a winner of its resiliency-based design competition to re-imagine the East Coast in light of Hurricane Sandy, students in Harvard’s Graduate School of Design have been creating their own ways to protect against the Next Big Storm. While their studio, titled “Design and Politics,” was purely academic, it was modeled on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s official competition. The Dutchman in charge of Rebuild, Henk Ovink, oversaw the interdisciplinary teams of students, and representatives from half of Rebuild’s final ten teams served as jurors at the studio review. But where the Rebuild by Design teams re-imagined the East Coast with bold interventions and flashy renderings, the GSD students took a much more, well, academic approach. Their proposals were less flare, and a whole lot more wonk. “We actually asked the students to design nothing at the beginning,” Ovink told AN. “We divided them into groups and they had to research the [local] ecology, water systems, energy, and economy.” Needless to say, the presentations were pretty technical. Students Alison Tramba and Trevor Johnson, for example, laid out the shortfalls of the indebted National Flood Insurance Program and offered ways to get it back in the black. To do so, they plan to disincentivize waterfront living with higher insurance rates for those living along the coast, while providing subsidies to protect low-income residents from spiking rates. At the same time, they offer a host of incentives to increase the storm proofing of residences and businesses. It is not sexy stuff, but it is important. Similarly, there were tax credits for “green” infrastructure in Jersey City, a smart-grid for Long Island City, interventions to protect the drinking-water supply in Ocean County, and a wall to reduce runoff from a sewage plant in Newark. The review was at its most fascinating—and challenging—when students grappled with the issue of relocation in the face of climate change. To Chris Donohue, there is too much residential and economic vitality along the Jersey's coast to just force folks to pack it up and head inland. To protect them—at least in the short-term—he would create barrier islands to keep the storms back. Daniel Feldman took a different approach, opening development opportunities farther from the shore to move communities away from the sea. Both of these students, though, understand that neither of these proposals are adequate given the daunting reality of rising sea levels. Because within a matter of decades, the entire Eastern seaboard could be gone. And with it will go all the dunes, berms, and seawalls that fought back for as long as they could. The question of what to do in the interim, then, is an entirely unanswerable one. But it is one that hangs about above all architects, planners, politicians, and those living on the water’s edge. As for the official Rebuild By Design competition, Ovink told AN that an announcement about a winner, or winners, will be made in the next few weeks. “It could be that there’s a certain condition that asks for another year of research, study, and planning," he said. "And it could easily be that we jump forward to a site specific implementation."
As development along the Brooklyn and Queens’ waterfront has increased dramatically over the years, transportation options—for residents old and new—has not. The number of glass towers, startups, and parks along the East River has only been matched by style pieces on new “it” neighborhoods from Astoria to Red Hook. But, now, the New York Times' Michael Kimmelman has used his platform to launch a plan to change that equation, and give these neighborhoods the transportation system they deserve. Kimmelman is proposing a modern streetcar to better connect these waterfront neighborhoods. He explained that a streetcar system takes less time to build than a new subway line, needs less space on the road than light-rail, and is more romantic than a city bus. “By providing an alternative to cars, streetcars also dovetail with Mayor De Blasio’s vow to improve pedestrian safety,” Kimmelman said, adding that the mayor wouldn’t need Albany’s blessing for this plan. The streetcar would, of course, not run cheap, but Kimmelman said the upfront costs are more than worth it. “The city’s urban fabric can’t be an afterthought,” says Kimmelman. “The keys to improved city life—better health care, housing, schools, culture, business, tourism and recreation—all have spatial implications.” Read Kimmelman's full proposal at the NY Times.
Socrates Sculpture Park and the Architectural League have selected Jason Austin and Aleksandr Mergold as the winners of their Folly 2014 competition. Commenced in earlier this year and launched in 2012, the contest's name and theme derive from the 18th and 19th century Romantic practice of architectural follies, or structures with little discernible function that are typically sited within a garden or landscape. Austin and Mergold's SuralArk was deemed the most deserving contemporary interpretation of the tradition, and will be erected within the park's Long Island City confines by early May. The winning submission takes equal parts inspiration from an upturned ship hull and a suburban home to arrive at its final form. Measuring 50 feet long and 16 feet tall, the design and its context are meant to speak to the increasingly ambiguous distinctions between city, suburban environments, and rural living. In a nod to its greater surroundings, the structure will be coated in the same vinyl sidings frequently found coating the walls of Queens residences. Such paneling will allow light to filter through the building's exterior, an effect that becomes more dramatic with night fall. The resonance of the ark form grows when one considers the East River's uninvited entry to and eventual submergence of the Park during 2012's Hurricane Sandy. A jury of Chris Doyle, Artist; John Hatfield, Socrates Sculpture Park; Enrique Norten, TEN Arquitectos; Lisa Switkin, James Corner Field Operations; and Ada Tolla, LOT-EK judged 171 entries from 17 countries before choosing the Austin and Mergold design. The pair currently work at a Philadelphia-based architecture and landscape firm that bears their name. They will be granted unfettered access to the Sculpture Park's studios and facilities throughout April in order to oversee the execution of SuralArk which should be open to the public on May 11th and remain on the grounds through August 3rd.
Now that Citi Bikes are taking over the streets of New York City, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) is getting ready to pave the way for a new bike path. The Daily News reported that the NYCDOT plans on creating a new dedicated bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge, the connection between Greenpoint and Long Island City, by 2014. Currently pedestrians and cyclists share a crowded path, but soon a single traffic lane will be turned into a bike path. An engineering study of the bridge will include this addition and be unveiled to the Community Boards in Queens and Brooklyn in the next few months. (Photo: Courtesy Newyorkshitty)
It is the end of an era. The New York City Council voted in a favor of a plan to demolish the iconic 5Pointz, the former manufacturing building-turned-graffiti-mecca, in Long Island City, Queens, to make way for a $400 million residential development. The New York Times reported that the Wolkoff family, the owner and developer of the property, will build two residential towers—one of which will climb up to 47 stories—consisting all together of 1,000 units. But first, the Wolkoffs needed the approval of City Council to build beyond the current zoning regulations. Before today's decision, the developer negotiated a deal with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and the community board to bump up the number of affordable apartments to 210 and accommodate 12,000 square of artist studio space. The $400 million project will also provide wall space for aerosol artists to exhibit their work. The graffiti artists, however, are disappointed with this offer and the final outcome. Jonathan Cohen, curator of 5Pointz, told the New York Times, that this development will “just destroy more of what made New York what it is. Now it is just boring, full of bland boring towers of boxes of glass."
The former record needle and clothing manufacturing building, 5 Pointz, in Long Island City, Queens, is one of the few remaining refuges for graffiti art in New York City. For the last two decades, aerosol artists have flocked to this 200,000-square-foot warehouse to exhibit their work. But now the graffiti art mecca is one step closer to being demolished and replaced by two 47 and 41 story residential towers. In spite of Queens Community Board 2's opposition to the plan, the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a special permit that would allow developer G&M Realty to build a larger structure than permitted by the existing zoning. DNAinfo reported that Queens Borough President Helen Marshall also came out in favor of the plan with the stipulation that the development include 75 affordable housing units and studio space for artists. The plans, not surprisingly, have been controversial and elicited protests from local residents and aerosol artists. Next up, City Council will vote on the permit. But regardless of the outcome, the developer will still have the right to demolish the existing structure and build something new, but to a size that the current zoning permits.
Astoria may soon rival its neighbor, Long Island City, as the next major residential waterfront community in Queens. In a unanimous vote, the City Planning Commission has given developer Lincoln Equities Group the green light to move forward with a $1 billion residential housing development on Hallets Point peninsula. DNAinfo reported that the project would include 2,161 market-rate and 483 affordable apartments as well as a public esplanade along the East River, retail, supermarket, and possibly a public school in NYCHA's adjacent Astoria Houses campus. According to the Daily News, some government officials have voiced concerns that the infrastructure cannot support the surge in population that will come with this seven-building project. Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is worried about the strain this development will put on the local transportation. “There’s going to be thousands of people moving into this development and future developments,” Vallone (D-Astoria) told the Daily News. The proposal still has to win the support of City Council before the developers can proceed with construction. The project is anticipated to be completed by 2022.
In an effort to secure financial backing for the city's cultural institutions, New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is the chair of the city council’s Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, has locked in $3 million of city budget funds to expand MoMA PS1. The funds will be used for the museum to specifically acquire the small apartment building at the rear of its current Romanesque Revival school building at 22-25 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens. Van Bramer has revealed that the purchase will allow the museum to expand its exhibition space. The museum is deciding if it will shift its offices from the main building to the apartment structure. The funding has been apportioned to the museum in capital funds as part of the city’s 2014 budget, which was confirmed last month. Councilman Van Bramer also allotted budget funds for some other arts organizations in his Queens district including The Noguchi Museum, which will receive $600,000 in capital funds for a new generator to replace one damaged by Hurricane Sandy flooding, and SculptureCenter, which will receive $300,000 in funding. According to DNA Info, the councilman said “It’s a real imperative to expand our cultural institutions, expand their foot prints, increase funding for them and allow them to do more of what they already do well—produce art that brings lots of people to the neighborhood, who then spend money in the neighborhood.”
While it certainly won't be as terrifying as a Godzilla or King Kong tearing through city streets, what you might call Kitty Kong will be pawing through a model of an imagined ideal city at the Flux Factory in Long Island City, Queens, beginning Saturday. Developed by a team of children, artists, and city planners, the Flux Factory's Kitty City project is an intergenerational experiment in collaborative urbanism, designed to teach kids the way cities get built, encourage democratic decision making, and challenge the opacity of urban planning processes. Throughout the past month, a group of children, ages 7-12, participated in a series of workshops in which they designed the many components of their meowtropolis, including buildings and parks, water, transportation, and sanitation systems, housing, commercial, and cultural districts, and even a Museum of Natural Cat History. Their proposal then had to pass through a rigorous approval process before the kids could begin construction. Tomorrow their 1,7000 square foot city, equipped with waist-high condos, cat-houses perched upon giant mushrooms, cardboard residential towers, and kitty-hammocks will open up to 30 eager kittyzens. Aside from introducing children to participatory urbanism, civic engagement, and urban design, the project will also provide homes for dozens of orphaned cats. For tomorrow’s ribbon cutting, Flux Factory has partnered with For Animals, Inc., a South Ozone Park-based, no-kill animal shelter that will provide the city with its first residents. Once the cats get the chance to explore their custom-made urban environment, you can adopt them on-site free of charge. Stop by between Flux Factory in Long Island City noon and six tomorrow to see the Kitty City in action and maybe bring home a feline friend of your own.
In just one short year the Folly competition, co-sponsored by the Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park, has become vastly popular among members of the architecture and design community, receiving 40 percent more submissions than last year. This year a jury examined 150 innovative submissions but selected only one winning entry. The prize? The winner, with the help of a $5,000 grant, gets to see the proposed design come to life in the Socrates Sculpture Park. Toshiro Oki, Jen Wood, and Jared Diganci of Toshiro Oki Architects were selected as the winners of this year’s competition for their design called tree wood. Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City first established the competition in 2012, asking emerging architects and designers to submit their ideas for a “folly,” a traditional architectural structure or pavilion, typically found in 18th and 19th century gardens. At first glance the folly may seem fanciful, it’s existence nonsensical, but careful observation reveals that the structure was intentionally built and precisely positioned to frame a particular view. This decorative installation not only embellishes an outdoor space, but also shrewdly allows the occupant to enter into a dialogue with his natural surroundings. Toshiro Oki Architects' contemporary interpretation of the traditional architectural folly consists of a simple geometric wooden-framed structure placed in the midst of a verdant thicket of trees. The minimalist man-made structure, made completely of wooden beams held together by 2x4 nails, will be built around the trees and flourishing branches occupying the site, therefore coexisting with, but never disturbing nature. The most enchanting design element of tree wood is the elaborate chandelier that will elegantly dangle from the center of the structure and exist in harmony with the leaves around it. Passersby may occasionally hear the serene musical chiming of the chandelier as the wind softly whistles through the trees, lending a very poetic nature to the folly. In addition to a winner four finalists were selected as well: Pier by Keefe Butler, Elenchus by Julien Leyssene, Curtain Spolia by Georg Rafailidis & Stephanie Davidson, Guesthouse Belvédère by Marc Maurer and Nicole Maurer-Lemmens.
Thursday night at the Center for Architecture, AN's executive editor and editor of the forthcoming Civic Action publication Julie V. Iovine will moderate a panel on Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City, a site-study and exhibition featuring innovative design proposals for the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. The panel will include Lyn Rice, Elliott Maltby, and Claire Weisz speaking about involving the arts in civic planning. See you there!