It makes sense that one of New York City's exceptional botanical gardens would develop what would become one of the city's first green buildings. What is extraordinary is that the Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) began its new Visitor and Administration Building in 2000 – the year LEED certification was launched – and achieved LEED Platinum for a building that ambitiously demonstrates what designed harmony between buildings and nature can be. Patrice Kleinberg, garden educator for the QBG, and Joan Krevlin, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, partner at BKSK Architects, led today’s tour, providing perspectives on both the garden’s unique public engagement challenges and the design solutions. At the earliest stages of the project, the QBG engaged the community to find out what would serve them; across all sectors, they heard “water.” What subsequently evolved was a series of water systems that were both experiential and functional – the building houses not only administrative operations and diverse public programming, but also collects, conserves, cleans, and recycles water. Three different sustainable roofs serve different purposes. The main structure hosts a solar-powered roof, which generates enough power for about 20% of the building’s operations. The roof of the auditorium is planted with local species, cooling the building. The forecourt’s soaring roof canopy, which provides a shady transition space between the gardens and the interior, doubles as a rainwater collection unit. The water collected by the canopy is stored in a subterranean 26,000-gallon cistern that is pumped up into the Fountain of Life, which leads to a leafy stream and eventually into a moving body of water that is terraced between the buildings and culminates in a moat-like pond. The Visitor and Administration Building also sustains a grey water system, wherein water from sinks, toilets, dishwashers, and showers moves through a sandy, planted biotope, from which it can be repurposed. These innovations have inspired and expanded the QBG’s educational offerings, engendering green cleaning job training, and leading to the development of new K-12 curricula. Importantly, the project's bioswales have greatly decreased storm run-off in the area’s sewage systems. Tomorrow, we’ll head over to the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
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Intrepid Archtober-ites ventured to the site of the 1964-65 World’s Fair to explore a monument of the Space Age. The New York Hall of Science, a 90-foot-high undulating vertical structure designed by Wallace K. Harrison, was meant to create the illusion of floating in deep space. Cobalt glass shards stud the 5,400 coffers in the rippling wall, filtering sunlight into the interior and bathing it in an intense, blue glow. Ennead Architects associate Theresa O’Leary gave a detailed account of the extensive renovations that were made in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair . Together with Building Conservation Associates, the firm carefully surveyed the entirety of the structure and made repairs to the water-damaged concrete and rusted rebar. Biogrowth and atmospheric soiling, accumulated over the years, were cleaned off. 50 glass panels were replaced. While the renovation of the building is complete, the exterior landscaping is still a work in progress. Due to a history of drainage issues, plans to recreate the original hexagonal pool were scrapped in favor of greenery. Ennead is also working on an outdoor classroom for the school groups that visit the museum. We’ve moved past the Space Race, but the freshly scrubbed Hall of Science stands as a proud testament to its time.
The architecture studio WXY, engineering firm C2HM, and Pentagram have partnered to rebuild the boardwalk on Rockaway Beach. When it's complete in 2017, the new boardwalk will be a five and a half mile long segmented cement walkway featuring graphic signage that can only be read from the air. The approximately 50-foot-by-100-foot letters span the length of the boardwalk to spell out "Rockaway Beach" in dyed blue concrete. The blue reflects the walkway's proximity to the ocean while remaining clear against the surrounding pale concrete. Paula Scher at Pentagram is leading the design team. The boardwalk is part of a $140 million Rockaway Beach coastal resiliency plan that includes dune restoration, geotextile sandbags to protect buildings near the beach, and concrete retaining walls to keep sand in place during severe storms. The first mile, from Beach 86 Street to Beach 97 Street, opened just in time for beach season this year.
Remember the Battery Park City wheatfield? Conceptual artist is back with a horticultural pyramid in Queens
[Editor's Note: Socrates Sculpture Park on the Queens waterfront installed The Living Pyramid, a public sculpture by Agnes Denes in May, when this article was originally published. They have just announced that they will extend the life of the sculpture through the end of October. The work is Denes’ first since her iconic Wheatfield – A Confrontation in 1982, sited on a waterfront landfill in what is now Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan. Do not miss this chance to see this important artwork before it comes down next month.] Monuments of pre-civilization feats in construction and engineering, pyramids are the latest muse of conceptual artist Agnes Denes who, in 1982, transformed what is now Battery Park City into a two-acre wheatfield. Titled Wheatfield - A Confrontation and featuring the backdrop of a construction site and jostling Manhattan skyscrapers, it’s not difficult to surmise Denes’ intentions. Likewise, her latest project, Living Pyramid resonates with a rebellious call to the wild. Made from soil and thousands of seeds, the pyramid will be erected in late April at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. On May 17, the public is invited to plant the seeds, which, by early June, will have bloomed into wildflowers and leafy plants. Living Pyramid itself will remain on view until August 30, when cooler weather begins to encroach once again. The sculptural exhibition is Denes’ first major exhibition in the city since Wheatfield, although her work has been displayed at New York City’s prime museums including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum. “What [pyramids] all convey is the human drama, our hopes and dreams against great odds,” Denes said in a press release. “Transformed into blossoms, the pyramid renews itself as evolution does to our species.” Long a fixture in Denes’ work, pyramids are also central to her exhibition In the Realm of Pyramids: The Visual Philosophy of Agnes Denes on view at the Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects from March 14–May 9.
Each year, the MoMA/PS1 Young Architect’s Program features an exciting design by an up-and-coming architect in the courtyard for the Warm-Up series. This year Madrid- and New York–based Andres Jaque and his Office for Political Innovation will build a huge, roving sprinkler system called COSMO that will surely liven up the event. However, it is different from years past: It will be built in Spain and shipped over by boat. Why? “Architecture is no longer about sign or form,” Jaque told AN. “It is about social networks, and how materials move through those networks. Architecture is nothing if it doesn’t engage these networks.” The design for COSMO is made from off-the-rack parts that are not altered in anyway as they are assembled on site. They remain as generic as possible so that they can be reused more easily. “We are designing them so that we don’t have to cut them. If we cut them we would be minimizing their reuse potential.” This could mean making something locally, or shipping it globally. It is a rethinking of what something means to be local. Much of COSMO could be made anywhere in the world. The parts are put together with wires, which are also reusable. The novel tectonics of COSMO are derived from the new, specific ways that the generic parts are put together. When the parts are allowed to have life after architecture, they take on 2nd and 3rd lives elsewhere. “It is a new way to relate to the land,” Jaque said, “It is an alternative to consumption. We want to give things more lives. It is a different culture of materiality that we want to bring to PS1.” Irrigations systems have been a recurring theme in Jaque’s work. He sees them as one of the original and most complete, open source knowledge systems. Since the 1940s, the collective intelligence of irrigation systems have been evolving so that anyone can use the technology. This radical way of thinking about objects and their networks is something the Spanish architect has researched extensively over his career, since growing up. “My family comes from Madrid but also from Aquitaine in France. Both parts of my family had their lives divided between cities and countryside. In France I remember spending summers looking and playing with the centered pivot irrigation systems that my uncle had in his farm,” said Jaque. “I also saw the way he transformed them and exchange parts of it with his neighbors. I guest it all started with that. It was part of a neighbors-based economy.” COSMO is not the first PS1 project to give afterlife to building materials. Past winners such as SO-IL, CODA, HWKN, and Interboro Partners have used ready-made parts that can be re-used after the summer, such as scaffolding, ping-pong tables, skateboard decks, and a host of other objects. “Billion Oyster Pavilion,” one of the 2015 Figment pavilions on Governor’s Island, is specifically designed to be thrown into the New York Harbor later this summer, where it will take on new life as an oyster habitat. According to Jaque, bringing in parts from all over the world is actually better for the environment. This new, global way of producing an architecture is actually more energy-efficient and causes less emissions, due to the sheer volume of freight that a boat can handle compared to a truck. So shipping tires from Turkey is better for the environment than bringing them from somewhere in the U.S., since New York has a harbor. The team also found irrigation pyramids in Spain, where they were more easily procured. The parts are expected to arrive in New York sometime in May, and should be ready for the June 27 opening Warm-Up.
This Friday, catch the world premiere of "Modern Ruin" all about the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair
World Premiere of Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion Friday, May 22nd, 2015 Cocktails 7:00–8:00p.m., Screening 8:00–9:30p.m. Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin's New York State Pavilion for the 1964 World's Fair in Queens' Flushing Meadows Corona Park should be more than an eyebrow raiser as those curious, disc-on-pole structures seen when driving to JFK airport. It was Munchkinland, the starting place for Dorothy's journey to Manhattan—correction, Oz—in the 1978 film The Wiz. It was an alien spacecraft tower in the original 1997 Men in Black which crashes into the nearby Unisphere. And it was the site of Tony Stark/Ironman's confrontation with his adversaries in Iron Man 2 on the grounds of Stark Expo 2010, a digitally updated 1964 World's Fair grounds (director Jon Favreau's childhood home overlooked the park). And it will appear in the new film Tomorrowland starring George Clooney that opens May 22. But the common current perception of what Ada Louise Huxtable called “sophisticated frivolity" when the buildings opened is one of dereliction, decay, and outmodedness. That is, except for a number of dedicated citizens called People for the Pavilion and architectural simpaticos, who rightly see this as a preservation issue. What results is a new documentary called Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion by Matthew Silva and executive produced by the makers of Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island (2014), Jake Gorst and Tracey Rennie Gorst, which will premiere the same day as Tomorrowland. The towers were a favorite of master-builder and fair impresario Robert Moses, who saw these structures as one of the few 1964 World's Fair buildings intended to live beyond the event. Paul Goldberger said it used "advanced engineering combined with a very exquisite sense of architectural composition, to make something that was both aesthetically and structurally quite beautiful and fully resolved." The pavilion consists of three components made of reinforced concrete and steel: the "Tent of Tomorrow," the Observation Towers, and the "Theaterama." The elliptical “Tent of Tomorrow” measured 350-feet by 250-feet with sixteen 100-foot-tall columns supporting a 50,000 square foot roof of multi-colored fiberglass panels—like a Rose window over a circus tent—once the largest cable suspension roof in the world. The Observation Towers are three concrete structures, the tallest at 226 feet high, with observation platforms once accessed by two "Sky Streak capsule" elevators. The adjacent “Theaterama” was originally a single drum-shaped volume of reinforced concrete where pop artworks by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, and Ellsworth Kelly—plus art from local museums—were exhibited alongside a display from the New York State Power Authority featuring a 26-foot scale replica of the St. Lawrence hydroelectric plant. A 360-degree film about the wonders of New York State, from Jones Beach to Niagara Falls, was screened inside. Warhol’s specially-commissioned Thirteen Most Wanted Men series depicting criminals' mug shots straight on and in profile, displayed on the exterior had a fate reminiscent of Diego Rivera's censored murals at Rockefeller Center: Nelson Rockefeller had it covered over, here because too many Italian Americans were depicted as criminals. (In 2014, the complete series was displayed at the Queens Museum, just 200 yards from the New York State Pavilion.) The Theaterama was converted to the Queens Playhouse in 1972 and is now the Queens Theatre where Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion will be screened. Connecting the complex was a floor made of 4-foot-by-4-foot terrazzo panels that formed a map of New York State. In fact, it was a Texaco roadmap and was a great hit with people finding their home towns and navigating across the state. At the end of the fair, the floor was supposed to be moved to a building in Albany, but instead was left and became a roller rink—terrazzo is a great skating surface. The site was largely intact until the mid-1970s (the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin performed there), but its fate was part of New York City's downslide. The roller rink closed, the roof was taken out. Left open to the elements, the mapped floor was destroyed. Since that time, the complex has continued to deteriorate, but a handful of dedicated citizens have devoted themselves to resurrecting the space. Volunteers for the New York State Paint Project are sprucing up the tent with a fresh coat of paint. CREATE Architecture Planning and Design came up with an idea to make it into an Air & Space Museum—that plan went nowhere. In 2014, New York City government announced a pledge of $5.8 million towards rehab of the structure, and Governor Cuomo’s office pledged $127,000, but estimates for the complete rehabilitation have climbed to a staggering $75 million. The film is a loving portrait with intelligent interviews with Frank Sanchis (World Monuments Fund), Robert A.M. Stern, and Paul Goldberger laced among those who created, remember, and are saving the site.
A new tower designed by FXFowle will bring a touch of design to Long Island City’s ever-growing skyline of glassy and generic residential buildings. For starters, the 35-story luxury rental tower is differentiated by a rust-colored steel that encases the podium and runs up its sides, framing three glassy expanses. Yes, there is still a lot of glass on this one too, but FXFOWLE said the building is inspired by the area's “original industrial heritage and its new position as a fresh and modern NYC locale.” The profile of the building, with three stacked volumes, reminds us of Chad Oppenheim's Williamsburg Hotel project proposed a few years ago in Brooklyn. The designers and developers of the Purves Street Residential Development are also quick to point out the project's sustainable features. To hit LEED Silver certification, the tower's podium will be covered in an expansive green roof and common areas will be partially powered by solar and wind energy that is created on-site. In renderings, it is easy to spot a helix-shaped windmill on top of the building. But as the New York Times explained last year, the impact of these types of windmills that are now appearing across New York City can be pretty mixed. Inside the Long Island City building, the apartments and amenity spaces (of which there are many—in fact, there is a separate “amenity building”) are decked out with industrial materials like concrete and steel, alongside lots of wood. The building broke ground, not coincidentally, on Earth Day and is expected to be completed in two years.
The construction-watching site Field Condition recently toured phase one of the Hunters Point South development in Long Island City, Queens where a pair of SHoP-designed towers are wrapping up construction. The taller of the two buildings, Building A, stands 37 stories and has a primarily gray facade with pops of color from PTAC units that have been tinted orange. Building B has a much darker presence, with a primarily glassy black exterior. Field Condition noted that work is currently focused on finishing interior spaces before tenants start moving in this spring. In December, DNAinfo reported that 92,700 applicants had been received for the development's 924 affordable units. Check out the buildings—and their views—below.
This year's Folly installation in New York City bends and twists spheres into an innovative plywood pavilion
The winning proposal for this year's Folly installation at New York City's Socrates Sculpture Park rethinks social interaction in public spaces with a sculptural installation resembling cross-sections of basketballs protruding from a horizontal plane. Torquing Spheres comprises sculpted, intertwined forms whose voluminous curves represent new feats in material techniques: bending plywood in a way that has been common in bending plastic panels. "By cutting out a fold line as well as a hole in the center of the panel, the material edges can be overlapped and mechanically fixed in place by simple bolts," the architects explained in their proposal. Best viewed from above for its juxtaposition of straight lines with complex spheres, the design riffs off the traditional geometry of domes, squinches, and pendentives to make standalone units. "The result is a doubly curving membrane but made by a simple construction technique that creates a monocoque shell that is self-supporting without a structural frame." Each half sphere is a pod resembling a futuristic, design-conscious take on the humdrum and far-from-plush park bench. The proposal is the brainchild of architects Mariana Ibañez and Simon Kim of IK Studio, a Cambridge and Philadelphia-based design and research practice that dabbles in material performance, adaptable tectonics, spatial interaction, and robotics within architecture and urbanism. Torquing Spheres won first place out of 126 submissions from around the world in the annual Folly program, a juried competition held in recognition of exceptional early-career architects and designers. The innovative proposal was selected by a five-person jury of big-name architects and artists, including David Benjamin (The Living), Leslie Gill (Architect), Sheila Kennedy (Kennedy & Violich Architecture), Alyson Shotz (Artist), and Socrates Sculpture Park Executive Director John Hatfield. Torquing Spheres is presented by the Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, and will be unveiled at the park on May 17 from 3:00–6:00p.m.
As AN reported, it will be quite difficult for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to pull off his plan to launch a five-borough ferry system. There are, of course, the obvious issues surrounding subsidies, ridership, operators, and dock placement that could all cause major headaches down the road. While the mayor starts charting his path through these details, another potential problem came to the fore: winter weather. https://vimeo.com/119709319 Specifically, a partially frozen East River. Just weeks after de Blasio announced his five-borough ferry plan, Gothamist reported that the East River Ferry had to discontinue service at least once because boats could not make it through the ice. On its website, New York Waterway, which operates the East River Ferry, explained that the river (technically an estuary) is extremely unpredictable over the winter and that conditions can change within minutes. This, it said, can disrupt the schedule and lead to the temporary closure of certain stops. “We hope that you can understand,” it wrote on its site, “and won’t hate us forever.” It is not you we hate, East River Ferry operator, it is this never-ending winter. https://twitter.com/eastriverferry/status/567044595859869696 https://twitter.com/eastriverferry/status/569922481802375168
Yet another tower could rise in Long Island City, Queens. Citigroup is expected to sell a prime development site next to its SOM-designed, 51-story turquoise office tower that dominates the neighborhood’s skyline. The New York Times reported that when Citi built the structure in 1989, the city expected Long Island City to blossom into a major commercial hub. That hope did not pan out. But the neighborhood has seen a boom in residential development in recent years and now Citi wants to take advantage of it. The bank will reportedly sell the development site for $150 million, likely giving way to an apartment or hotel high-rise.
New York City's MTA has posted another collection of East Side Access construction photos to remind New Yorkers that its majorly delayed and hugely over budget project is still actually chugging along. When East Side Access is ultimately completed, at the cost of nearly $11 billion, it will connect Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central making life easier for about 80,000 commuters. But that's a long ways off—last we heard, the project will not be completed until 2023. As for where the project currently stands, the MTA explained in a statement, "Work continues on the Manhattan side of the East Side Access Project below Grand Central Terminal with waterproofing, rebar arch installation and drilling for couplers. In addition, temporary shoring for concrete slabs that will make up track and room levels can be seen." To see for yourself, take a look at the photos below which were captured by the MTA deep beneath city streets.