On September 12, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs announced a call for applicants for “City Canvas,” a 24-month-long pilot program designed to improve New York City’s visual landscape through the installation of large-scale, temporary artwork on protective construction structures including construction fences and sidewalk sheds. Protective structures scattered throughout the five boroughs of New York have been criticized for their invasive nature and unattractive appearance. While New York construction codes typically prohibit the alteration of these structures, the City Canvas program will allow select artists and cultural institutions to install visual art on the unsightly supports that lurk over the city’s construction sites. “Sidewalk sheds are unattractive, but they keep us safe,” Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, P.E., told Broadway World. “If anyone can bring some love to the sidewalk sheds New Yorkers love to hate, it’s our city’s artists.” There are two main goals associated with the City Canvas initiative: to improve the pedestrian experience of city residents and tourists by transforming protective structures into beautiful works of art, and to increase opportunities for artists and cultural institutions to gain recognition and create artworks that are representative of the communities in which they are installed. “Art is a way for people to connect, and promoting the installation of more art in public spaces is a fantastic way to create a stronger sense of community in neighborhoods throughout New York City,” Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr. told Broadway World. “City Canvas is an innovative way to support local artists and build community, all while beautifying otherwise unattractive construction sites. I hope the many great cultural nonprofits that serve our city take advantage of the great opportunity, and that it becomes a lasting initiative that brightens our public spaces for many years to come.” During the pilot period, the City is seeking proposals from at least one qualified nonprofit organization to install artwork on at least one location. The deadline is Friday, October 12. The pilot program will run for the next 24 months. Application instructions are available in detail on the NYC Cultural Affairs website.
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For the past two years, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (DHP), the Department of Buildings, the Fire Department, and the Department of City Planning have been working with city council members to legalize more basement apartment rental units, and this June the city took a major step forward. According to City Hall, “The City is using innovative strategies to unlock more affordable housing at every level – including the basement.” Currently, thousands of people are occupying basement and cellar apartments deemed not fit for habitation. According to Council Member Rafael Espinal, “In East New York, I can comfortably estimate that over 75 percent of the basements are being rented illegally.” Also, they haven't been properly registered with the Department of Finance. Following an initial feasibility study, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Members Brad Lander, Rafael Espinal, and Inez Barron proposed legislation this summer to establish a three-year pilot program to facilitate the creation and renovation of apartments in the basements and cellars of certain one- and two-family homes in Brooklyn Community District 5. This demonstration program intends to provide clearer guidelines for landlords looking to make qualifying basements legally habitable. The de Blasio administration has invested $11.7 million in the new program. According to a City Hall press release, “This innovative program will provide safe and legal housing options to more New Yorkers.” Modifications of existing construction codes are designed to improve health and safety standards for occupants while reducing the overall cost of conversions. Barron said, “This bill will enable landlords to make necessary structural adjustments to their basements so that these potential living spaces can be legalized and legitimized.” The DHP is seeking a qualified community-based organization (CBO) to administer the program. The DHP will fund the CBO to assist landlords with completing low-interest loan applications and selecting approved contractors to complete the work. To qualify as a landlord, a homeowner must have an income at or below 165 percent of area median income and occupy the one- or two-family home as their primary residence. If the pilot program succeeds it will potentially expand to all five boroughs.
This Federalist-style four-story building across the street from the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was the church’s former school and convent for nearly 200 years. Built in 1826 to replace an orphanage and parochial school founded in 1822, Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral School educated generations of locals and immigrants (including Martin Scorsese; according to a New York Times article he “struggled under the merciless ministrations of the Sisters of Mercy”) before closing in 2010. In 2014, the archdiocese sold it to Hamlin Ventures and Time Equities, who hired Marvel Architects to design the Residences at Prince, a seven-unit condo attached to a 6,100-square-foot space still retained by the church for its offices and community space. Because the structure is a landmark, the exterior elements—namely the windows—were restored. “Integrating glass into [the] historic facade, we supported the architect to update the aesthetic,” said Spencer Culhane, building envelope specialist at Schüco. Preservation consultant Higgins Quasebarth & Partners and Marvel completed the restoration using two styles of windows since the building was built in two different time periods. “The new wood window sashes are shop painted with a durable finish to provide a long-term protected finish,” said Nebil Gokcebay, associate at Marvel. In the interior courtyard, new expanses of glaze and thermally broken windows were installed. Having undergone numerous revisions, the south-facing 200-year old facade is patched up by bricks that fill up what were previously windows. This playful window arrangement (lower level windows occupied by the church are opaque) inspired the new north facade. A similar asymmetrical composition was made with Schüco’s AWS windows throughout. “Between the design starting point and in contrast to the historic double-hung windows in a pre-Civil War wall, we developed an all-glass vocabulary,” said Jonathan J. Marvel, principal at Marvel. Architect: Marvel Architects Location: New York City Codevelopers: Hamlin Ventures and Time Equities Contractor and Fabricator: TRU Architectural Historic Preservation Consultant: Higgins Quasebarth & Partners Facade Windows: Kolbe Windows & Doors Courtyard Glazing System: Guardian Glass Courtyard Glass and Window Systems: Schüco
Governors Island could soon be home to, well, homes. Or at least dormitories. The New York Harbor island could house the city’s newest innovation and education hub while maintaining its identity as a beloved recreational oasis. Crain’s New York reported that City Hall will hold a public hearing next month on its plans to rezone the island's former military base to make way for a proposed 4.5 million-square-foot, mixed-used development. Mayor de Blasio's office posted a notice last week about the hearing, which will be the first step in an environmental review process for the project. Aiming to attract a combination of tech and life-science firms, educational institutions, dormitories, as well as a convention center and hotel, the city wants to build out the development as a way to enhance exposure for Governors Island. The 172-acre landmass currently functions as a leisurely getaway for urbanites to enjoy during the summer. Though city-owned, it’s managed and maintained by the Trust for Governors Island. The new development, which would be constructed on the south side of the island, would help annually fund the costs of the island's 43-acre park. With this proposal, it seems the city wants to piggyback off the success of Roosevelt Island’s Cornell Tech campus and bring those small island–big money vibes south of Manhattan. Plus, space for ground-up construction in New York is limited and Governors Island remains one of the more barren sites in town. Any new facilities part of the proposal would be built on two plots of land currently zoned for residential development. The problem is that residential construction has long been prohibited on Governors Island, which is why the city wants to first rezone the land before bringing businesses on board. After an extensive public review process beginning with next month’s meeting, City Council is expected to vote on the proposal in fall 2019. If passed, the rezoning would allow low-rise commercial structures to be built on the site as well as proposed dorms and hotel properties that could potentially rise as high as 300 feet. Crain’s also noted that the city has already commissioned a second ferry to take construction workers out to the site. But that won’t be enough to transport future commuters to and from the development, even in combination with an expanded East River Ferry service. That’s why the Economic Development Corporation is in talks to put a gondola between Lower Manhattan and Governors Island, further mimicking the layout of Roosevelt Island, which is reachable via a gondola and the F train. The public hearing for the rezoning proposal is scheduled for September 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan.
New York City papers reported this week that employees for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have been having regular orgies in a Bronx public housing complex. The bombshell is a bizarre cap on a summer of horrible news for the agency. New York Daily News reported on Monday that at least two supervisors were pressuring staff at Throggs Neck Houses to participate in alcohol-fueled sex parties in the property's offices. The parties happened on multiple occasions, and staff even counted time at the events as overtime so that they would be paid for participating. The entire Throggs Neck staff has since been reassigned to other properties, but no one has been fired. The greatest penalties have apparently fallen on two ringleaders who were suspended without pay for 30 days while the organization conducts an investigation. One of those people, Brianne Pawson, was the supervisor of grounds at the property and is the daughter of Charles Pawson, NYCHA director, the Daily News reported. Outrage from residents and city council members over the scandal and subsequent lack of disciplinary action only add to the heat NYCHA has felt this summer, as dangerous flaws in its operation have been exposed. Residents in East Harlem have reported that they frequently don't have running water; playgrounds have collapsed while children played on them; drinking water tanks have contained dead animals and human excrement; hundreds of children have suffered lead poisoning after living in apartments with toxic paint. And that's just this year. Reports have uncovered a litany of other complaints and failures, all apparently stemming from gross mismanagement and underinvestment by the authority. Vito Mustaciuolo was named general manager for the organization this summer on the heels of Shola Olatoye's departure from her position as chair of the authority. Earlier this year Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, declared a state of emergency for the organization after several properties lost heat during the winter, and a recent lawsuit targets Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, for his responsibility in a lead poisoning scandal. NYCHA is the country's largest housing authority and shelters over 400,000 New Yorkers. Its leader is appointed by the city's mayor, but it operates as an independent corporation. This year Congress approved an increase in federal funding for the authority after the Trump administration initially proposed cutting support.
The saga of New York City’s proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar has taken yet another turn, as Mayor Bill de Blasio placed responsibility for funding the $2.5-billion project on the federal government. At an August 24 media roundtable, de Blasio dodged questions about how much the city would be contributing to the project and claimed that while a detailed BQX plan was incoming, federal subsidies were necessary to move things along. “When we have a more detailed plan we'll speak to it,” said de Blasio, “but the primary focus I have beyond the resources that would be created via its very existence because of increased property taxes for that area, is the need for federal support. I don't think it's doable without federal support, but we'll speak to the details.” It looks like the federal government is throttling back its investments in mass transit, as the Federal Transit Administration has been consistently decreasing the amount of money allocated to intra-city projects. Still, it might not be impossible for the city government to secure federal funds for the BQX; the Gateway rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey, long maligned by President Trump, has seen a consistent trickle of money through Congressional action. While the city still has yet to release a draft report of the BQX’s route, there has been no mention of changing the 2019 groundbreaking. The de Blasio administration was (and seemingly still is) shooting for a 2024 completion date, but even if funding is secured in time, the reconstruction of the decaying Brooklyn-Queens Expressway could alter any previously proposed route. De Blasio added that details on the BQX’s next steps would be forthcoming. “Figuring out how to do it is what we've been working on cause it is complex, we're going to have an announcement soon on the details. But, you know, bottom line is the original concept makes sense, we believe there will be some real funding created by its presence but, we're gonna need some additional support.” The nonprofit Friends of the BQX declined to comment.
The troubled tower originally designed by Foster + Partners in Manhattan's Sutton Place neighborhood has hit yet another speed bump. Crain's reported that local residents have filed a lawsuit to block the condo building from going up at 430 East 58th Street, claiming that it has run awry of recent zoning changes. Locals are unhappy with the tower's height. Its scale is closer to the skinny supertall towers of nearby 57th Street, which is also known somewhat pejoratively as Billionaire's Row and is the home of some of the city's most expensive apartments. Sutton Place is, however, an affluent mid-rise and low-rise area, home to historic townhouses and exclusive brick apartment buildings. The project has never been welcome in the area. In an attempt to block its rise, the local populace successfully lobbied the city government to change the area's zoning to exclude structures of the tower's proportions. The developers then scrambled to get the building grandfathered into compliance by finishing the building's foundation before the new restrictions took effect last December. The city gave the developers an extension to meet the deadline, which is what the neighborhood is objecting to and suing the project over. The suit is aimed at stopping construction and shrinking the tower, which is currently planned to be 68 stories. The original developer, Joe Beninati, was a relative newcomer to the New York City real estate scene, and after a series of bad financial decisions he lost control of the project, and it went into the hands of Gamma Real Estate. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Foster + Partners is the current architect on the project.
Construction cranes dominate the New York City skyline almost as much the city’s tallest spires. A street with scaffolding, especially in Manhattan, is a sight seen more often than not. Thousands of projects are currently underway in the five boroughs and it’s impossible to keep track of them all. To provide some perspective, a new interactive map and database from the New York City Department of Buildings allows you to visualize all the active major construction sites in the city. Updated daily, it unveils the great pace at which the city is changing in real time—not to mention that it shows the disparity in investment from neighborhood to neighborhood. Categorized by square footage, estimated cost, and number of proposed housing units, the data lets users analyze what’s being built right now and where. According to the site, there are 7,457 active permits filed and 197,913,815 total square feet of construction happening now. Brooklyn and Queens have the most sites under construction with 2,800 projects and 2,500 projects respectively. Nearly 2,000 more new buildings are coming up than renovations. So this leads us to ask: How is the city making room for all this new space? The answer: It's building up. The largest-scale project shown is 500 West 33rd Street (a.k.a. 30 Hudson Yards), a 3.9 million-square-foot, mixed-use skyscraper spearheaded by the Tishman Corporation. It’s subsequently the most expensive project going up in New York at a reported $576.68 million. Norman Foster’s 410 10th Avenue (50 Hudson Yards), an office tower, comes in a close second at 2.91 million square feet but is beat out for second priciest project in construction by the residential conversion happening at One Wall Street. The data also details that the tallest new building under construction in New York is, not surprisingly, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill’s Central Park Tower at 225 West 57th Street. The supertall boasts 98 floors and should top out next year. Also hitting the top ten list of tallest buildings by floor count are 220 Central Park South by Robert A.M. Stern, One Manhattan Square by Adamson Associates and Dattner Architects, as well as the MoMA-adjacent 53W53 by Jean Nouvel. The residential project with the most apartments offered under construction is HTO Architects’ 22-44 Jackson Avenue, a controversial two-towered, 1,115-unit development that’s replacing 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens. The map also shows the stark differences between the construction corporations leading the market. Tishman currently has so many projects under its purview that together they span a total of around 15 million square feet in New York. Lendlease and Turner fall behind with 5.4 million and 4.8 million square feet, respectively. According to the data, 120 million square feet of apartment projects are underway, with five of the top ten residential projects with the most dwelling units going up in Queens alone. What this map doesn’t do, however, is zero in on how much residential construction is affordable. To find that out, you have to extrapolate from the data by looking at each project’s permit application on the DOB’s website. Having that information more easily available, maybe also as an interactive map, would be even more helpful to normal New Yorkers than a site that largely details the city’s tallest and most expensive buildings. All you have to do is walk outside and look up to know that.
Architect Costas Kondylis, the prolific designer behind over 86 buildings in Manhattan, died Friday at age 78, according to The Real Deal. The cause of death has not yet been announced. Kondylis was best known as one of Donald Trump’s closest and most frequent collaborators in New York City. He designed the 90-story Trump World Tower, formerly the world’s tallest residential structure, in Midtown East for the real estate mogul as well as the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle, and several buildings at Trump Place on Riverside Boulevard. While Kondylis’s extensive resume reveals a handful of projects associated with Trump, the architect’s 50 years designing in New York included countless high-rise designs for various local developers. Born in Central Africa, Kondylis studied in his parent’s home country of Greece before earning a graduate degree at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. After finishing his second masters at Columbia University in 1967, he began working for Davis Brody & Associates. While employed by Philip Birnbaum & Associates, he designed his first notable building, Manhattan Place Condo, in 1984. As one of the first high-rise condo projects in the city, as well as one of the few to focus on luxury design at the time, it caught the eye of Trump who was then expanding his New York building empire. Five years later, Kondylis launched his own firm, Costas Kondylis and Partners in 1989. During this busy time in his career, he designed 65 buildings—one building every six weeks—from 2000 to 2007, TRD reported. Once the practice dissolved two decades later, Kondylis started his own firm, Kondylis Design. It’s argued that Kondylis influenced the New York skyline more than any other architect in history. His more recent projects, Silver Towers, River Place, and Atelier, all towering residential properties, have helped shape the newly-developed far west side of Manhattan. He was largely recognized as the “developer’s architect,” a term he grew to embrace, having worked well with everyone from Silverstein Properties to Moinian Group to Vornado Realty Trust and Related Companies. Though his work was usually on time and on budget, it wasn’t highly favored by critics who saw his large-scale structures as too conventional. Larry Silverstein told The New York Times in a 2007 interview that Kondylis’s name is almost synonymous with the city’s condominium architecture. “He designs an attractive, buildable, functional building,” he said. “If I’m going to do a residential building in New York, the most natural thing in the world is to pick up the phone and call Costas.” Kondylis repeatedly stated that his primary goal was always to please the client. He was regarded as one of the most professional, humble, and patient architects in the business despite criticism or praise of his work. Kondylis died last week in his home and is survived by his two daughters, Alexia and Katherine. A service in his honor is scheduled for October.
A study released by the nonprofit Regional Plan Association (RPA) last week found that temperatures in New York City’s busiest subway stations are soaring and that the average temperatures hover around 94.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Although temperatures climbed past 104 degrees at the Union Square station on 14th Street, solutions are stymied by the design of each station, aging infrastructure, and the trains themselves. The RPA surveyed 10 of the busiest stations in New York and found that the sweltering temperatures were exacerbated by the heatwaves that much of New York (and the world) have been experiencing this summer. The constantly late trains aren’t helping commuters either, as passengers have been forced to wait for longer periods of time on the platforms. Why exactly are these stations so hot? As the Village Voice explains, the city’s busiest stations are often its oldest and their design precludes centralized climate control; this is also the official reason given by the MTA. The trains themselves output a large amount of heat as well, both through their air conditioners as well as braking. Each full train weighs around 350 to 450 tons depending on the make and length, and the kinetic energy required to brake is converted to heat when a train stops at a station. The hottest stations surveyed were where trains idled the longest. The Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall stop in Tribeca was unsurprisingly featured as well, as the 6 train makes its last stop there then idles before departing on its uptown route. When WNYC surveyed 103 of New York’s stations during the July 2015 heatwave, the Brooklyn Bridge stop clocked in at 107 degrees. For its part, the MTA has pledged to keep the trains running more efficiently to reduce the time passengers have to wait on these overheated platforms. While the MTA tests new communication and signal technologies that could improve wait times and braking efficiency, New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford has pledged that most of the subway system will use communications-based train control by 2030. Still, as the climate warms, these types of heat waves are only going to become more common, and the fixes required to keep the city’s subway stations tolerable are solutions that will require long-term investments on par with the MTA's other sustainability initiatives.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has released its final selection of sites for the four borough-based jails that will replace the notorious prison on Rikers Island. At an under-the-radar mayoral press conference yesterday, the city released its 56-page draft plan (available here) which includes the final locations, number of beds, amenities, zoning restrictions, and other materials necessary for the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to proceed. The final selection comes eight months after the city tapped Perkins Eastman to analyze and design alternative sites to the centralized Rikers complex. There had been some back-and-forth with the community in each of the four boroughs over where these 1,500-bed jails would be built (Staten Island is sitting this one out). According to the draft plan, the city will move ahead with its backup plan for the Bronx after failing to secure its preferred site adjacent to the Bronx Hall of Justice and will build a 26-story jail on an NYPD-owned tow pound at 320 Concord Avenue. The city will push ahead with plans for a 40-story jail tower in Tribeca at 80 Centre Street, currently home to the Marriage Bureau. Brooklyn’s proposed jail at 275 Atlantic Avenue, currently the site of the Brooklyn House of Detention, could also be built out up to 40 stories. The Queens location, 126-02 82nd Avenue in Kew Gardens (formerly the Queens House of Detention) would reach up to 29 stories.
As the draft report fleshes out, each new jail will be designed to integrate with the surrounding community and will include ground-level retail and community facilities, and the Bronx location may contain up to 234 residences, including affordable units. Hundreds of new accessory parking spots will be included at each location, and the Queens jail will open their lots up to the public. As for the jails themselves, the 6,000 beds will accommodate the 5,000 prisoners expected by 2027, when the phase-in of the new facilities will be fully implemented. Rikers's current population has been consistently falling and was pegged at just under 8,500 in May of 2018–the administration and jail reform advocates are hoping to keep slashing away at that number through a combination of bail reform, expedited trial wait times, increased access to legal representation, and reduced incarceration for lower level offenses. While the move to close Rikers was lauded by politicians and civil rights activists alike, the community in all four locations must still weigh in on the plan before the project can begin the Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (ULURP) process in mid-2019. The city will be holding a series of workshops to solicit feedback before advancing its plan. According to the report, public meetings on the draft report will be held as follows: Borough of Brooklyn, September 20, 2018, 6:00 PM P.S. 133 William A. Butler School 610 Baltic Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217 Borough of Queens, September 26, 2018, 6:00 PM Queens Borough Hall 120-55 Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens, N.Y. 11424 Borough of Manhattan, September 27, 2018, 6:00 PM Manhattan Municipal Building 1 Centre Street, New York, N.Y. 10007 Borough of the Bronx, October 3, 2018, 6:00 PM Bronx County Courthouse 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx, N.Y. 10451 Design details for each jail are currently sparse, and will likely be forthcoming as the final sites are locked down.
Today NYC released its draft plan to build 4 jails to #CloseRikers but there is no big press conference or event. @NYCMayor is talking about ferries. Later there is a private briefing for reporters pic.twitter.com/sTR5IAdzZe— Christopher Robbins (@ChristRobbins) August 15, 2018
Plans are underway for the 750,000-square-foot Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx to become the world’s largest ice-skating complex, according to its developers. Crain’s New York reported that the development duo of Kevin Parker, former Deutsche Bank executive, and Mark Messier, former center for the New York Rangers, have secured financing for phase one of their $350 million project, which they plan to begin constructing mid-next year. Parker said that Citibank has promised his group, Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a significant loan for construction to be paired with the $35 million already raised through private investment. “Citibank is committed to doing the first phase of the project,” he told Crain’s. “And they’ve indicated a strong desire to finance the second phase. But we’re going one step at a time.” If approved by New York City officials, the first phase of construction would include the build-out of the 5-acre site into nine rinks, athletic facilities, and a 5,000-seat stadium. Construction for phase one would likely total $170 million in overall costs and Parker hopes to raise money for the remainder of the project in order to complete it by 2022. The Kingsbridge National Ice Center has been a six-year dream in the making for Parker and Messier. The city currently owns the armory and hasn’t given the pair a lease, telling the duo that the city would wait until further financing was secured. The new fundraising news presumably means that the city will be ready to greenlight the project. Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to give the project a $138 million loan to help it find long-term financing after phase one is done. Parker and Messier’s idea for an ice facility beat out other proposals that would have transformed the century-old red brick building into either a film and television complex, a mixed sports center, or a chess center. A highly-contested site, it was designated a New York City landmark in 1974 and was heralded as a leading example of military architecture. The armory originally housed the National Guard and features an 800-seat auditorium and a 180,000-square-foot drill hall. The nine-story structure includes an iconic, curved, sloping metal roof that can be seen from the Major Deegan Expressway and from the surrounding neighborhood near Fordham University.