Posts tagged with "Manhattan":
Since the June approval of the controversial Water Street Upgrades Text Amendment, which opened up 110,000 square feet of underused, privately owned public space (POPS) for commercial use in exchange for community benefits, a snag has emerged: This same area is now included in the 2016 New York City Flood Insurance RateMaps (FIRMs) and developers will be held responsible for making sure new structures comply with the updated building requirements.
The Water Street Upgrades Text amendment applied to 17 buildings in the area enclosed by Pearl, South William, Fulton, South, and Whitehall streets. While opponents to the amendment believed it favored developers overmuch—it turns these POPS into more than 2.5 million square feet of potentially rentable space—it’s now looking less that way. In early October, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released new requirements for areas affected by flooding, expanding the number of areas needing flood insurance and requiring additional building specifications.
It is important to note that there are many areas in New York City, and in numerous other cities, that will be affected by the updated FIRMs—which have been in the works since 2008. The previous FIRMs were issued in 1983, and, over the past 36 years, the elevations identified as being in flood hazard zones have shifted across the UnitedStates. After receiving the new FIRMs, Mayor Bill de Blasio looked to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which develops the standards for many of New York City’s building and construction rules. The society recommended that New York City adopt the flood regulations issued by FEMA.
“The need for flood-proofing has been long understood,” said Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “What people are waiting on is clarity as to what the approved standards might be. Property owners along Water Street will make their own decisions about whether to take advantage of the changes once the impact of the regulations is clear. We do not think the costs of even the most demanding resiliency standards will deter anyone who believes the fundamentals of the plan make sense for them in the long term.”
Currently, the most obvious issue is how property owners will reconcile the new building requirement that storefronts must withstand floods as high as 12 feet with a previous law that specifies storefronts must also be made largely of glass. An easy solution would be to use aquarium glass—but the material’s high cost may deter developers from building. Might we suggest a new downtown aquarium?
An ongoing fight over a storied Manhattan landmark proves that indeed, size does matter.
Fosun International, the Shanghai-based owner of lower Manhattan’s 28 Liberty Street (formerly One Chase Manhattan Plaza), has commissioned Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to revamp its own classic, 1960s International Style building and 2.5-acre plaza. Among its planned changes to the site, Fosun received Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approval to build three glass pavilions on the landmarked plaza to serve as entrances to below-ground retail.
Although the commission approved the scheme, implementing changes at 28 Liberty requires an additional—and contentious—next step.
Fosun is seeking a modification of 28 Liberty’s deed restriction that would allow the pavilions to rise 11 to 17 feet above the highest points of the plaza, heights that far exceed the deed restriction’s stipulation that structures on the plaza shouldn’t be more than six feet tall.
SOM is updating the tower’s office space and plaza by reintroducing original details lost in prior renovations while transforming approximately 290,000 square feet of basement space into retail.
The developers maintain that the glass pavilions are a key part of the renovations. Fosun argues that the three pavilions will improve handicap accessibility to the stepped plaza as well as protect shoppers entering and exiting the retail spaces from inclement weather. The pavilions, along with glass storefronts along Liberty and William streets, are intended to activate street frontage and encourage more fluidity between indoor and outdoor, below-grade and street-level spaces of the plaza, and sidewalk and tower.
Although some later modifications imitate original conditions, all of the plaza’s elements are non-original aside from the Isamu Noguchi sunken garden. (The black-and-white Jean Dubuffet sculpture, installed 1971, was not included in the landmark designation.) The space is not a privately owned public space (POPS), but remains open to the public nonetheless.
Not all New Yorkers are thrilled with the changes. Some members of Community Board 1 (CB1), one of the city’s 59 local representative bodies, say the design and the deed restriction, although technically unrelated, cannot be considered independently from each other. They point to the scale of the pavilions as proof: According to plans filed with the Department of Buildings, the three proposed pavilions include a 17-foot-tall, 46-foot-long, 1,473-square-foot structure at the corner of Nassau and Liberty streets; another 16-foot-tall, 43-foot-long, 1,132-square-foot structure facing Pine Street; and a third 11-foot-tall, 18-foot-long, and 418-square-foot structure at Cedar Street.
The cubes’ sizes are not the only points of contention. Some residents think the architects’ renderings suggest the cubes are being rendered too transparently (a common offense in renderings), and that the built structures will impede sightlines on to the plaza, especially to the Dubuffet and Noguchi pieces.
“Depending on light and structural angles, a glass cube can be quite reflective. At most angles, glass cubes are pretty transparent, but they are not like a window, they’re totally going to interrupt the view,” said Michael Ludvik, glass engineer and founding principal of M. Ludvik Engineering.
SOM’s glass pavilions have been compared to the Apple Cube, which is not entirely accurate, Ludvik said. The Apple Cube is not made of anti-reflective glass, so when viewed from an angle, it can look almost opaque. To make the proposed pavilions as transparent as possible, he suggested using the thinnest and clearest glass available, along with appropriate fins, to minimize impact on clarity.
SOM could not be reached for comment on the glass choice, but a spokesperson for the developer explained that it is not far enough along in the process to have made a materials choice.
Alice Blank, an architect and resident who also serves on CB1’s board, asked why the design can’t be done differently, without the large pavilions that trigger the deed restriction modification: “I need to know, have all alternatives been considered before pavilions were added on top of the plaza? I need to know why the existing street-level entrances to the underground cannot be adapted.”
In July, a spokesperson for the developer issued a statement on the deed restriction modification to assuage concerns about the modification: “CB1 is voting on a MINOR MODIFICATION which would ONLY PERMIT THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE GLASS PAVILLIONS [sic] AS APPROVED BY THE LANDMARKS AND PRESERVATION COMMISSION [sic], AND NO OTHER CHANGES. THERE IS NO CREATION OF ADDITIONAL RETAIL SPACE, AND NO CHANGE OF USE.”
Blank questioned the impact of the changes and the legacy they could set. “Development is important, but [a] violation of commitments to preserve open space for the public in perpetuity ought to be reviewed with extraordinary care in light of the compromise of the public interest. What would be next—Seagram, Lever House?”
Blank’s concerns mirror public outcry over the recent Rivington House scandal, in which the city lifted a deed restriction that mandated the property be used as a healthcare nonprofit, a move that allowed the owner to profit handsomely from the sale of the property. In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a series of reforms to the deed modification process that could impact the dealings at 28 Liberty in the near future. Faulting “a process that has failed to protect and preserve significant community assets, like Rivington House,” councilmember Margaret Chin, whose district includes 28 Liberty, along with Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer, favor a process that would make deed restriction changes subject to a rigorous public land use review.
Judgment day for the plaza is near if the city can agree on how, exactly, to process deed change requests. Right now, the mayor’s office is forging ahead with rules for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) that would provide clear guidelines for changes to deeds.In parallel to the mayor’s office, sources tell AN the city council could vote soon on legislation that would create a more rigorous public review than the mayor’s rules. Although the board’s decision is purely advisory, in October CB1 voted in favor of council-led deed change reform.
Except for the rarified homes of the rich and famous (or just plain rich), “spacious” is a relative term in New York real estate. Finding enough space for a growing family can be a challenge, so many choose to stay in place and maximize the square footage they have, any way they can.
For a loft on Jane Street, on a prime West Village corner, one family commissioned Architecture in Formation (AiF) to design a space that was warm, refined, and practical, and that took advantage of the 13-foot ceilings to compensate for comparatively little floor space.
”Before our renovation, the space was this classic hodgepodge 1970s artist’s studio that featured all the horrible tropes from that period,” said principal Matthew Bremer. The family needed room for more members, and once the ’70s touches were removed, the pre-war, former manufacturing building offered plenty of flexibility for a mutable layout with ample storage.
“The space is a celebration of storage and display, and articulates the positive relationship between the two—it’s 95 percent storage, five percent display,” Bremer said. The overall design stems from the white-accented arched living room window, which floods common areas with sunlight. Steel columns and beams are accented by raw brick and semi-industrial touches, like the dining room light switches, while teal counter-height chairs and a dark blue island add a subtle warmth that complements the lacquered cabinets. The family actually cooks (“unlike some of my Manhattan clients”) and entertains, so kitchen appliances and fixtures are top-of-the-line functionally, not just showpieces.
Taking advantage of the soaring ceilings, the architects were able to create a lofted mezzanine space—for sleeping, storage, or studying—above the bathrooms and closets that is accessed from a ship’s ladder in the master bedroom. The transition from public to private space is grounded by a pocket door between the master bedroom that allows the space to merge with the main living areas, if desired. At the ground level, the apartment is scaled to children, as well as four-legged family members—there are dog bowls built into the kitchen island. From every angle, the 1,500-square-foot home expresses coolness and subtle contrast in an extraordinary volume.
Receiving light from all four sides of a Manhattan dwelling is a chance that seldom comes along. So Bryan Young, principal-in-charge of New York studio Young Projects, took full advantage with the Gerken Residence. Occupying the 13th and 14th floors of a historic cast-iron Tribeca building, the apartment’s 1,500-square-foot rooftop offers downtown views—notably of Frank Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street—while its roughly 6,000 interior square feet host a lush cutout courtyard and a collection of private, yet fluidly connected spaces.
Inside, the most eye-catching element is a polished stainless-steel screen found on the main floor. Divided into segments, it can be moved from one side of the building to the other, creating a partition across the space. Cuts made in the twisted, shimmering steel create a visually semipermeable membrane. Subsequently, guests can have restricted or open views depending on the position of the screen: It provides more privacy and opacity when viewed from the elevator entry, while it is more open and transparent when viewed from the living room.
This divider, Young explained, is one of four key spatial elements that organize the program on the 14th floor residence. Three of these—the fireplace, the courtyard, and the screen—can be found arranged around the fourth element, described by Young as the “plaster core,” a sensuously textured volume that houses the back-of-house programmatic elements and allows the rest of the apartment to be more open.
The defining feature of the core, however, is its surface. At first glance it appears to be draped in a frozen, CNC-milled curtain, but upon closer inspection it becomes clear that the material is handmade plaster. With no indication of joinery, the surface’s exquisite hand-detailing of serrated and curvaceous forms, augmented by light and shadow, produce a slightly strange effect, one Young describes as “tectonically unclear.”
Like many research projects in the office, the concept was born from a series of questions about the possibilities of new materials and the process of making.
Young emphasized that the final product is not pulled plaster, but rather an arrangement of plaster casts. To create the effect, Young said, six “master molds” were created using a variation on the traditional technique used to make crown moldings. Here, a custom designed profile, or “knife” and “horse” were moved back and forth laterally, pulled along the length of the custom designed rail to form the plaster in three dimensions. Done by hand, the technique produced casts where serrated edges peeled away in an S-shape, giving way to a contrasting smooth surface. These were then used to create the six master molds, which were used to make the casts that clad the core.
To ensure the monolithic quality Young desired, each cast rose to the same height on either side, allowing them to join in a vertically arranged running bond. “There is a continuity and discontinuity that is rationalized across the entire surface,” said Young. He added that the analog, hands-on method contributed to the sense of material ambiguity that the plaster creates. “It was interesting for us to take a centuries-old technique and rethink the manner in which that process is defined.”
The plaster allows the core’s interior facade to respond to the surrounding spatial elements. More dramatic, “aggressive” casts were employed on the volume’s double-height spaces, most notably by the stairway, which is exposed to direct sunlight, while less articulated, “softer” casts were distributed elsewhere.
The courtyard or “glass core” lies opposite the plaster core and bathes it and the stairwell in light.
“As you move around the house, what initially reads as a negative element starts to read as a positive volume,” Young said of the courtyard. Working with landscape design firm Future Green Studio, it is filled with vegetation that hangs from the rooftop. Young intends for this visual connection to strengthen over time as the greenery piles over, offering a rare dose of thriving interior vegetation in an urban apartment.
The spatial organization of an interior courtyard juxtaposed with a solid, materially ambiguous interior wall gives the projects its raison d’être: The courtyard’s plants glow with light, questioning familiar notions of interior and exterior, much like the transformation of plaster gives new characteristics and life to seemingly familiar materials, taking all of it almost into the realm of the unreal.