Day One: New Yorkers rejoice as their governor, Andrew Cuomo, announces his intent to bring AirTran service to LaGuardia Airport. Day Two: Well-respected transportation blog The Transport Politic digs into the $450 million plan and shreds apart some of its ambitious goals, namely the time savings it takes to get to the airport. Using the LaGuardia AirTran would actually be a less convenient way to get to the airport than the slow and unreliable options that currently exist. The plan, which is in its early stages, would mean building an AirTran station by Citi Field, between an existing Long Island Rail Road stations and a 7 line subway station; the elevated train would then connect to LaGuardia via the Grand Central Parkway. The Cuomo Administration says the distance traveled is 1.5 miles, but Transport Politics puts it closer to 2.3. Since the new rail line would travel alongside a highway, it would cause minimal disruptions for existing neighborhoods, making this whole thing a much easier pitch for Cuomo, at least politically and financially. Cuomo says the state has the money to pay for the plan through existing funds. But if the LaGuardia AirTran is built as currently proposed, it would actually mean a longer ride to the airport from many major population centers. Travelers heading to LaGuardia from Midtown, Downtown Brooklyn, Central, Queens, and the South Bronx would be better off taking one of the bad public transit options that already exist. The new AirTran would, of course, be faster for anyone living near Citi Field, and would shave a few minutes off the ride from Penn Station for those taking the Long Island Rail Road. This is not the first time that the city has looked into ways to make New York City’s closest airport not feel so far, far away. A 1990's plan, for example, would have extended the N subway line from Astoria, Queens right to LaGuardia. But as Transport Politic noted, the extension was squashed by neighborhood opposition because people apparently didn't want an elevated rail line cutting through their neighborhood. Check out Transport Politic's handy chart below that compares travel times of that 90's plan, Cuomo's plan, and an alternate plan for a connector from Jackson Heights, Queens.
Posts tagged with "Queens":
We know, we know, we know—the internet is being overrun with drone-photographed, time-lapse videos of cities and ruins. They are like cat videos, or BuzzFeed quizzes, or thought-pieces on Hillary Clinton's ground game in 2016: they're everywhere and they're unavoidable. But sometimes they're pretty great. This five-minute video by Victor Chu is called “Ultimate Aerial Video of NYC!," and, well, yeah, it kind of is! The video starts with a quote from (who else?) F. Scott Fitzgerald and then finds its way through the five boroughs with the help of an agile drone. Some architectural highlights include Four Freedoms Park, Hunters Point South Waterfront Park by Thomas Balsley Associates, and pre-demolition 5Pointz. The drone also travels directly through the Unisphere, which is known best from the 1964-65 World’s Fair and second best from Men In Black. [h/t Gothamist]
The Louis Armstrong House Museum, a National Historic Landmark in Corona, Queens, has received the green light from the city to start construction on its long awaited expansion plans. Located across the street from the renowned jazz trumpeter and singer’s restored home, the new $20 million addition, designed by Long Island City-based firm Caples Jefferson, will house exhibition space, designated research areas, and a “Jazz Room” for musicians. The center, featuring a gently undulating glass facade, will be roughly 9,000 square feet and is designed to respect the scale of the neighborhood while providing views of the musician’s home from inside the building. The firm plans on seeking LEED Gold certification for the structure by employing green strategies such as a green roof and the use of sustainable materials. Louis and Lucille Armstrong moved into the house as newlyweds in 1943, and lived there for nearly three decades before the musician’s death in 1971. Caples Jefferson has designed several local cultural institutions, including Queens' Theatre-in-the-Park, the Queens Museum of Art, and the recently completed Weeksville Heritage Center.
The QueensWay has had a bumpy rollout. In October, when the Trust for Public Land and the Friends of the QueensWay unveiled their plan to transform an abandoned railway in Queens into something like the High Line, they were immediately faced with skepticism and criticism from around the city. That pro-QueensWay plan came with plenty of eye candy courtesy of splashy conceptual renderings from dlandstudio and WXY. This all got people asking why millions of dollars should be spent turning the rails into a fancy park when the rails could be refurbished to provide a useful commuter rail line. But the park plan has had its champions, and the New York Times can now be counted among them. “Of the two tantalizing possibilities—rail or trail—trail now has the upper hand,” wrote the Times’ editorial board in a recent piece praising the plan. It claimed that building the QueensWay would transform “a humdrum stretch of residential-commercial-industrial-whatever with the sylvan graciousness that the High Line brought to the West Side of Manhattan, but on a far bigger scale.” The board explained that the "rail" plan could actually be the more complicated of the two options largely because the project would have to be added onto the MTA's “overflowing, underfunded to-do list.” Instead, wrote the board, build the QueensWay and address commuter needs with dedicated bus lanes.
As part of New York City's quest to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, Queens councilman Donovan Richards has introduced legislation that would force commercial buildings to switch their lights off after their occupants head home. The Daily News explained that the councilman's bill would limit light usage in 40,000 buildings across the city. Under this legislation, if those buildings don't flip the switch, they will be fined $1,000. Richards said he got the idea for his turn-the-lights-off-bill after visiting Paris which enacted a similar measure in 2012. While Richards can't quantify the exact impact of his legislation, the Paris plan removed about a quarter million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the air. The next question is obviously: What happens to New York City's skyline at night? Well, not much said Richards. He told Capital New York that the legislation would not apply to "iconic landmarked locations and buildings and zoned areas." The same goes for small business and storefronts, holiday displays, and buildings that need lights for security.
If these five architecture teams get their way, the library of the future will look a lot different than today
New York City’s public libraries need cash—and they need it fast. Over the years, the city's three library systems—the New York Public Library (serving Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island), the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Public Library—have racked up over one billion dollars in capital needs. And that's not money needed for new educational tech tools, like iPads and laptops, but for renovations just to keep the old buildings in a state of good repair. Making things more challenging is that over the last decade, as the city's libraries continued to fall into disrepair, circulation through the city's three systems increased by 46 percent and program attendance shot up 62 percent. That's all according to the Center for an Urban Future, which published a report on the dire state of New York City’s public libraries back in September. But the Center didn’t just drop the bad news and see itself out the back door. It partnered with the Architectural League and launched a design study to find architectural, financial, and programmatic tools to get the libraries out of the red. Now, five interdisciplinary teams have proposed a wide range of ideas that would supposedly do just that. To the team led by Andrew Berman Architect, the city's libraries must become more useful and accessible tools for the people they serve. So, for example, just keeping community rooms open later in the day could go a long way. The team also proposes creating 24-hour vestibules at libraries that function like the ATM room at your bank. The keycard-accessible space would have plugs for laptops, book drop-off, and information kiosks. Essentially, just a place to hang out and work. A proposal called L+ from the team led by SITU Studio has two main goals: to make library community rooms "register as an accessible and useful neighborhood asset" and to create an entirely new service model for the 21st century library. To Team Situ, this means creating library "retail" outposts that become an extension of the existing library system. These flexible and architecturally distinct structures would have strong graphic identities, and be built within existing library buildings, storefronts, and transit hubs. The proposal from Marble Fairbanks with James Lima Planning + Development, Leah Meisterlin, and Special Project Office is rooted in the weeds of city data. After overlaying existing branch locations with flood zones, development potential, and information about communities (population growth, diversity, age range, etc), the team proposed a mixed-use tower for Brighton Beach that has stacks, ground-floor retail, and a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments. To understand the pitfalls and potential of the city's library system, the MASS Design Group investigated all aspects of a few specific branches in south Brooklyn. The team concluded that the libraries' programmatic possibilities were limited by the physical form of the buildings—so what did they do? They changed the buildings. In Sheepshead Bay, for example, MASS creates a branch with flexible space for cultural events. And in Coney Island, they turn the second floor of a library into a food, health, and educational center. Team UNION takes a less architectural approach, focusing instead on how to make public library more recognizable as civic institutions. To boost the the systems' profile, UNION proposes a new identity system that has a more recognizable library icon and clearer signage. This strategy also includes a marketing campaign and a new library card that could “unlock services far beyond libraries.” The team would also use "architectural strategies that leverage needed investments in roof and facade repairs to create more distinctive, open and flexible facilities."
In an effort to supposedly streamline New York City’s landmarking process, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will drop 96 buildings and sites from consideration for historic preservation. These sites span all five boroughs and include Union Square, Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, and the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City (above). Of the nearly 96 sites (94 structures and two historic districts), 80 have been calendared for more than 20 years.“The buildings considered for this action were placed on the Commission's calendar, public hearings were held, and they currently remain inactive,” explained the LPC in a statement. While being calendared is kind of like landmarks limbo, it comes with significant protections. “Calendaring means that no demolition, construction, or alteration permits can be granted for a site without first notifying the LPC and allowing them up to forty days to designate the structure or negotiate a change or withdrawal of the permit applications,” explained Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), in a statement. The Society has called upon the LPC to drop its so-called "mass de-calendaring." Landmarks West!, a committee to promote historic preservation on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, has also slammed the LPC’s planned action, saying the commission is “essentially sentencing [the buildings and sites]to death by bulldozer.” The LPC contends that removing the sites will make the landmarks process smoother. "Cleaning up that backlog will ensure the LPC can much more effectively fulfill its mission of responding to the landmarking issues of today in real time," de Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell told DNAinfo. The Commission adds that this action would not stop it from reconsidering landmark status for any of these sites or buildings. After some pressure from DNAinfo and the Manhattan Borough President's office, the LPC has made the list of sites available to the public. The Commission will vote on its "administrative action," this upcoming Monday.
The Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York has bestowed its second annual Isamu Noguchi Award to designer Jasper Morrison and architect Yoshio Taniguchi. This eponymous accolade is given to professionals who, like Noguchi, are leaders in the fields of design and architecture, and “kindred spirits in innovation, global consciousness, and Japanese/American exchange,” the museum said in a statement. Noguchi, an artist and landscape architect, brought a sculptor’s touch to furniture design, creating pieces that were abstract yet functional, soaring yet minimalist. The recipients of this year’s award were selected because they demonstrate a common approach to their work and “exemplify Noguchi’s lifelong commitment to world citizenship and the practice of art with a social purpose,” stated Jenny Dixon, Director of the Noguchi Museum. Motohide Yoshikawa, the Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations, will officially present the awards to Morrison and Taniguchi on May 19, 2015 at the museum’s Spring Benefit and 20th Anniversary bash. The museum’s inaugural awards went to Norman Foster and Hiroshi Sugimoto this past May.
As we speak, Long Island City’s graffiti mecca, 5Pointz, is being demolished so two beige apartment towers can rise in its place. But lest we forget the history of the iconic institution, Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of 5Pointz, wants to trademark its name so he can spray it on the residential replacement he is developing. DNAInfo reported that Wolkoff’s company G&M Realty filed an application in March with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to do just that. That request was apparently denied in June, but Wolkoff has some time to respond. As the New York Times explained last year, the name was originally coined by graffiti artist Meres One back in 2002. Unsurprisingly, the attempt to trademark the name has been blasted by 5Pointz artists. But Wolkoff has defended his actions, saying that all is not lost with the new development as space will be reserved in his towers for artists' work. "I'm bringing the artists back," he told DNAinfo. "The building is going to be back and the artists are going to be back." Well clearly not everyone sees it that way. [h/t 6sqft]
It's happening. After years of talks and reports, it's actually, finally, in-paper, happening—Citi Bike is expanding. Tuesday, at the Queensbridge Houses in Queens, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the system of 6,000 bikes will double by the end of 2017—putting 2,000 more bikes on the streets than initially envisioned when the program was launched. The news comes as Bikeshare Holdings, a private investment company headed by the CEOs of Equinox and Related Companies, acquires Alta Bicycle Share, which oversees Citi Bike, and other bikeshare programs around the world. As the Daily News first reported, former MTA Chairman Jay Walder will serve as Alta's new CEO. Starting next year, a new fleet of blue bikes will arrive in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and in Long Island City, Queens. As Citi Bike noted on its blog, all of these stations were intended to be part of the program's "initial deployment." Based on a map provided by Citi Bike, the second phase of expansion will include Upper Manhattan, Astoria, Queens, and more Brooklyn neighborhoods. But the system won't just be expanded, it will be entirely overhauled. Anyone who has been on a Citi Bike recently knows why—seats are torn, bikes are broken, docks are out-of-service, and the credit card system is glitchy. To pay for all of this, and to keep the program solvent moving forward, Citi Bike will raise the annual membership fee from $95 a year to $149. The $60 annual membership New York City Housing residents will not change. According to the NYC DOT, Bikeshare Holdings has invested $30 million into the program, the Partnership Fund for New York City pledged $5 million, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group is lending $15 million for a credit increase, and Citigroup has increased its sponsorship commitment by $70.5 million and has extended it through 2024. (Citi initially paid $41 million for a five-year sponsorship contract). “We believe in Citi Bike’s potential as a fixture of New York City’s public transit system," Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. "It can make our neighborhoods more accessible, help us achieve our sustainability goals, and bridge inequities in our transportation network. To achieve all that, bike share has to be reliable and responsive to community’s needs. Today, after tremendous efforts across our administration, we can say we have the management and the support in place to fulfill that mission."
Archtober Building of the Day #11 Glen Oaks Branch Library 256-04 Union Turnpike, Queens Marble Fairbanks The goal of libraries is to provide communities with access to resources, said Karen Fairbanks, founding partner of Marble Fairbanks. Before Fairbanks and a large team of fellow architects, landscape architects, and engineers designed the new Glen Oaks Branch Library, community members were yearning for a facility that could provide more resources that better serve their needs. Throughout the design process, the design team continued to return to the word “search”—it is projected across the facade of the building, changing its appearance based on time of day and season. Even in the age of digital resources, libraries remain hubs for people of all ages to search for answers and information. In their design, libraries today must achieve the proper balance of flexible space for programming and digital research as well as storage for printed materials. The brick library that previously stood on the site was small, uninviting, and lacked sufficient natural light. Overall, the building was not civic, said Fairbanks. The design team set out to design a new structure that appeals to library goers, and adequately represents the area’s diverse community of 30,000 people speaking 30 different languages. The intricate design on the building’s glass exterior skin, developed by a complex algorithm, spells out the word “search” in 30 different languages to signify the community’s diverse demographic makeup. Each translation is accompanied by a series of lines representing the population size of each language represented. From a distance, it looks like rows of books. Each of the building’s three levels serves a distinct group—adults, teenagers, and children. Teens primarily use the main floor and the rear garden, or outdoor reading room. After school, this area is flooded with students. They can choose from a range of furniture types and feel comfortable doing homework or socializing. An open stairway with transparent glass railings leads to the basement level where adults, the largest group of library patrons, congregate. The stairwell creates an atrium allowing light to enter the lower level. Skylights embedded in the landscaping outside, over which visitors must walk to enter the library, also bring light in to the grand basement space. The perimeter of the basement reading room is wrapped in books for easy accessibility, with intimate reading areas arranged throughout. One of two community rooms is tucked in the back of this level. The top floor, reserved for children, is the quietest floor. Fairbanks noted that the carpeting and perforated ceiling absorb sound. Smaller chairs and tables and shorter bookshelves clearly indicate the target audience. Children can access materials and librarians can monitor the whole room. An LED art piece by Janet Zweig, commissioned by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs as part of the Percent for Art program, hangs from the ceiling. On it, unanswerable philosophical questions scroll overhead. The stimulating installation is meant to inspire children and engage their sense of wonder and desire to “search.” The Glen Oaks Branch Library opened to the public in September 2013. Five days a week, visitors flow naturally from the bus stop on Union Turnpike, to the sitting area outside the entrance made possible by the building’s setback on the site, and into the library. Emma Pattiz is Policy Coordinator for the AIA New York Chapter.
A new public plaza in Sunnyside, Queens proves that creating inviting public space doesn’t require lots of money and a lengthy design process – especially in a crowded city like New York. That’s certainly the case with Bliss Plaza, a recently-opened plaza tucked underneath the tracks of the 7 train. Frankly, there’s not all that much to it – save for a new sidewalk, some planters, and a handful of bright bistro tables and chairs. But here’s what Bliss Plaza does have: People. And that’s the key. According to Streetsblog, the space was already closed-off to cars, but recently revamped by Sunnyside's Business Improvement District (BID) and the city’s public plaza program. The same approach is being taken for nearby Lowery Plaza, which is expected to open this fall. If both plazas are successful, then there are are plenty of opportunities for the city to keep going. The vacant spaces and parking lots under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, for example, could be similarly activated with some planters, chairs, and, of course, people.