Posts tagged with "Queens":

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Come rain or shine, tennis will be played at this year’s U.S. Open

The Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens today unveiled its new retractable roof as well as numerous changes and additions to the tennis complex. Finished in time for this year's US Open on August 29, the roof and masterplanning of the rejuvenated site was served up by Detroit-based firm Rossetti. In 2009, the USTA was pessimistic of constructing a roof over the stadium. They argued it was hard to justify spending such money on a stadium that was used for only a few weeks a year when the organization's primary aim was promoting tennis at the grass-roots level. Now, however, in light of Rossetti's much less costly $100,000 solution the organization has changed its tune.

A photo posted by @usopen on

Spanning 236,600 feet, the Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) weatherproof roof will be primarily used to cover the court during periods of rainfall. USTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Gordon Smith said it "remains to be seen" if the roof will be used as a shading device, though later commented that the USTA's "overriding goal is to be an open court tournament at all times." At the unveiling, Smith and Matt Rossetti of Rossetti boasted of how the roof can open or close in under six minutes. This was put to the test only moments later with the roof being fully closed in five minutes and 22 seconds (under this author's watch). Once complete, there was a marked difference in both light and temperature. No longer necessary to squint, the PTFE significantly reduced sunlight glare while also drastically cooling the arena. The reopening however, wasn't quite as smooth. At the third time of asking after Billie Jeane-King beckoned: "Let there be light, again!" the roof finally opened in swift fashion. Smith later used this as a springboard to inform the audience of how the sensory components of the roof require perfect alignment for the structure to move along the track beds that are in place. Courtesy of the engineers on hand, the delay was only a mere ten minutes and Smith was quick to say that the situation of opening and closing in such a quick manner is unlikely to occur - if at all. It's worth noting that the Arthur Ash Stadium, built in 1997, is the largest tennis arena in the world though it was never designed to have a roof of any kind placed on it. Now though, it is part of an elite group of of a handful of tennis stadia worldwide that can boast a retractable roof, third on the Grand Slam tour to the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne and Center Court at the Wimbledon Championships in London. Here, the roof takes a minimum of ten minutes to be fully deployed; conditions are ready for play around a further 20 minutes after. This added delay is mostly due to the fact that Wimbledon uses grass tennis courts in which moisture in the soil can lead to an increase in humidity when the roof is closed, making the ball behave differently. Explaining this to AN, Matt Rossetti pointed out how the U.S. Open uses a hard court system which negates this effect. Play would be able to get underway much more quickly with players barely noticing a difference. Rossetti also responded to questions from AN regarding the new problems a roof would create such as water run-off and climate control. In response to this, Rossetti identified the large metal guttering that traces the perimeter of the roofscape. 15 feet wide and four foot deep, Rossetti recalled how he reacted with shock to the design requirement. "We said no way, something's got to be wrong!" Rossetti exclaimed regarding the results of the calculations that stipulated such monumental guttering. In terms of maintaining a constant climate, Rossetti also noted the large power unit nearby which will power the the roof system as well as act as a chiller for the space. The roof isn't the only change going on at Flushing Meadows either. Part of a masterplan from Rossetti, a new Grandstand stadium has been built, replacing the old venue which was famed for its intimate environment. Rossetti iterated how this intimacy has been maintained as a key component of the new stadium's design. Sunk into the ground, the new 8,000-seat venue uses a PTFE skin to form partial bowl around the arena. Set against the edge of the nearby Flushing Meadows park, the bowl, which is perforated and broken down into segments, aims to imitate "the view through the foliage" in a similar fashion to the adjacent trees. The tectonic structure secures the 486 panels through a "cable structure with parametric geometry" while also mimicking the "branches" of the surrounding greenery. In addition to this, all the courts have seen an increase in capacity while the smaller courts have been pushed slightly south to free up circulation and facilitate the increase in visitors. Though the proposed landscaping isn't quite yet all in place, Rossetti said the esplanade to the north of the grand stand is a "phenomenal place to be."
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321 new rain gardens in Queens will help clean up Newtown Creek

The City of New York has begun construction on a new green infrastructure project that will place over 300 rain gardens in the Queens neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Maspeth, and Ridgewood. According to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the specially-designed curbside gardens will be able to collect 2,500 gallons of stormwater each for a total capacity of 38 million gallons each year. Along with beautifying these three neighborhoods the rain gardens will help combat sewage overflows into Newtown Creek, an estuary between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens that is one of the country’s dirtiest waterways and a designated Superfund site. The project will be funded by a $7.3 million dollar investment from the DEP, which manages New York City’s water supply, and will be managed by the Department of Design and Construction. Rain gardens, also known as bioswales, have also been constructed in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus to reduce pollution in its famously filthy canal. The DEP’s standard rain garden design involves digging out the garden to a depth of five feet, then backfilling with a mixture of stone and engineered soil. Hardy trees and plants absorb water trapped in the soil mixture, providing the added benefit of greener streets and cleaner air for residents. These gardens mimic natural environmental systems and make good use of what would otherwise be problematic wastewater. The city has already constructed approximately 1000 rain gardens, with another 1500 currently under construction. This and other green infrastructure projects are a key part of the city’s $10 billion initiative to improve its wastewater treatment system and reduce overflows, improving the health of New York City’s harbor and waterways. Check out this video to see a bioswale collecting stormwater in Boerum Hill:
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In a surprise move, NYC Planning nixes Flushing West rezoning

The rezoning of Flushing West, Queens was supposed to be a royal flush. City officials envisioned dealing a great hand for the neighborhood, a win-win for economic development and affordable housing. Residents, though, believed the plan, which would diversify the neighborhood's composition and increase density, was a crapshoot.

In a surprise move, the city has scuttled a proposed rezoning of 11 mostly industrial blocks between the last stop on the 7 train and Flushing Creek.

City Councilman Peter Koo sent a letter to the Department of City Planning that framed his constituents' objections to the plan, which would allow for the development of retail, open space, and affordable housing (See AN's coverage of the proposed rezoning here). Koo expressed concern that the area's infrastructure wasn't equipped to handle an influx of new residents. The to-be-rezoned parcels, he argued, are in the flight path of planes at nearby LaGuardia Airport, limiting the developments' maximum heights. (The paths could be re-routed, but that would require federal intervention.) The city's plans, moreover, did not address the other side of flushing: Heavy combined sewage outflow into Flushing Creek would make any waterside park very, uh, fragrant, and potentially pose a health hazard to visitors.

The same day, Carl Weisbrod, the chair of the City Planning Commission, wrote back, saying he shared Koo's concerns and would withdraw the plan, Crain's New York reports. The rezoning was intended to be one of 15 neighborhood rezonings that would spur the creation of affordable housing in exchange for denser development—in this case, up to 1,600 new affordable and market-rate units. Weisbrod did note that the city could revisit the proposal, if the problems Koo and the city recognized are addressed.

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Eight new installations at Socrates Sculpture Park interrogate a rapidly changing Queens

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.
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Queens’s first supertall skyscraper set to break ground in 2017

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.
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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.
For more information and updates on the extension of a Park Slope historic district, St. Augustine’s Church and Rectory, New England on City Island, and other newly-landmarked items, check out the LPC's website.
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Hou de Sousa wins the 2016 Socrates Sculpture Park Folly Competition

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.
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Vote for your favorite adaption of the New York State Pavilion

Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion, located in Queens, was once part of the 1964 Worlds Fair. Now it is the only remaining structure from the event. Years of neglect has seen the pavilion fall into a state of disrepair. However, all does not appear to be lost thanks to The National Trust for Historic Preservation, People for the Pavilion, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Together, they have organized an ideas competition in an attempt to bring the pavilion back to life. The competition so far has received a number of submissions up for public vote. The current frontrunners are a hydroponic farm (essentially a farm that uses nutrient water instead of soil) and a flexible exhibition space. The former an ambitiously wants to demonstrate a process that could "feed cities into the next century" while the latter envisions an outdoor performance area and park. In recent memory, the pavilion's only claim to fame was its appearance in Iron Man 2 where it played host to the Stark Expo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bchp8boR0Dc The pavilion's appearance on screen however, has done little to bolster its circumstances, although a fresh coat of paint was added in fall last year. The New York State Pavilion Ideas Competition now hopes to "spark a conversation about the value of historic preservation," citing Johnson's work as an "irreplaceable structure" that is one of Queens' "most significant assets." Submissions so far mostly depict colorful scenes that refer back to the pavilion's original red and yellow coloring. These include the "Queens Pavilion Cheeseburger Museum," "Trampoline Castle," "The Funland of art" (that promises to be "the most fun your kids will ever have"), and the "Pavilion for the People." Others proposals include an observatory, ice-rink, and planetarium. There are few constraints on putting forward an idea. Participants must be over the age of 13 and submit an original idea complete with an image. A Sketchup model of the pavilion has been made available to download to aid contributors. The competition is also free to enter. For now, the public has until July 1 to submit their ideas, with Deborah Berke, founding partner of Deborah Berke Partners and soon to be Dean of the Yale Architecture School and critic Paul Goldberger among others judging the submissions. The jury will select first, second and third place, of which will receive $3,000, $1,000 and $500. The voting system however, will be used to select a "fan favorite" with the winner taking home $500.
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Mayor de Blasio’s $2.75-per-ride ferry service to begin summer 2017

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.”
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How about expanding LaGuardia Airport onto Rikers Island?

[beforeafter]rebuild-laguardia-07 rebuild-laguardia-08[/beforeafter]   (Renderings courtesy RethinkNYC, Cezar Nicolescu, and Sigmund Lerner) The New York Times published an editorial on February 24 called "Imagining a Rikers Island With No Jail" that proposes various uses for the East River island if its prison were closed. “As for the island, it should be given back to the sea gulls," the editorial concludes, "or used for affordable housing, or an extension of LaGuardia Airport.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaQpLe89kA4 If fact, AN published an Op-Ed piece with James Venturi on July 15, 2015, that presents a convincing argument for repurposing Rikers Island as an extension to LaGuardia. We thought it was time to revisit Venturi’s plan and bring it back for public discussion. Read Venturi's full proposal here.
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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.
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Goldstein, Hill & West Architects designs Long Island City’s tallest tower yet

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.