Posts tagged with "Red Hook":

Here are key takeaways for architects from Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State address

If everything goes according to the governor's plan, New York City could get a new subway line to Brooklyn, and a new park in Jamaica Bay. Today New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined plans for 2018 and beyond in his State of the State address. Over the course of 92 minutes, the 56th governor of New York unspooled a long list of major projects and new investments, many of which could shape the cities we live in, change how commuters get to work, and add to what we see when we step away from the city outdoors. Citing the Red Hook waterfront's "untapped potential," the governor wants to study the possibility of a subway from Red Hook, Brooklyn to lower Manhattan. Red Hook, a low-slung, low-lying, largely low-income waterside neighborhood, still hosts shipping operations, but in the past two decades, artists and other creative types have flocked to the area and opened up restaurants, galleries, and interesting shops—with chains like IKEA and Fairway fronting the harbor. Despite the influx of new residents and businesses, the neighborhood has remained relatively sedate, in part because it's so hard to get to by public transportation. To spur growth, Governor Cuomo is asking the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to improve transit access by relocating the shipping industry industry. The move, Cuomo said, will revert the waterfront to "more productive community uses" that could enable the MTA to add an underwater subway tunnel to lower Manhattan. The Port Authority would have to move the 80-acre Red Hook Container Terminal about two miles south to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. In 2012, the port handled only 110,000 containers annually, a paltry load compared to the three million containers processed by nearby ports. While the terminal provides roughly 100 jobs, it has been operating at a loss since the mid-1990s. As recently as last year, though, the Port Authority said it did not have plans to develop or sell the site. Politico noted the Red Hook plans bear strong resemblance to a study AECOM produced on South Brooklyn that proposed a 1 train extension to Red Hook. AECOM executive Chris Ward was the Port Authority executive director, but quit in 2011 due in part to his fraught relationship with Cuomo, who was sworn in that year.

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The new subway tunnel wasn't the only one on the governor's mind. Cuomo floated a tunnel for vehicles under the Long Island Sound to connect Long Island with Westchester County or Connecticut. He also pledged to accelerate the L.I.R.R. modernization project, announcing the state would kick $6.6 billion towards adding new rail lines and fixing up stations up and down Nassau and Suffolk counties. All of those L.I.R.R. trains terminate at the beleaguered Penn Station. The governor didn't hesitate to fire shots at the busiest—and arguably most miserable—transit depot in the U.S. "I call it the seven levels of catacombs," he said. Cuomo emphasized the need to rebuild Penn Station, citing ongoing construction on the conversion of the James A. Farley Post Office into the Moynihan Train Hall as one way to relieve capacity on the overburdened station, which receives trains from New Jersey and Long Island. He even invoked the state's ability to seize land for public projects via eminent domain, a veiled shot at Madison Square Garden, the arena and venue across from Penn Station that some experts say should be converted to transit uses only. The subways were another hot spot in the speech. The governor proclaimed funding to fix the broken-down subway system must be provided "this session." His comments on funding follow a New York Times investigation on the subways' performance that revealed political indifference at the state and local level prompted overspending on splashy new projects at the expense of routine maintenance. "We can't leave our riders stranded anymore, period," he said.

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The governor also touched on another controversial project only a few blocks away. Late last year, stakeholders reached a compromise on the lawsuit-plagued Thomas Heatherwick–designed Pier 55 in Hudson River Park on Manhattan's West Side, and plans for the development are moving forward. Cuomo said a full completion plan for Hudson River Park, which will stretch from West 59th Street to Battery Park City, will roll out this year. Cuomo also unveiled the third round of investments in the New York State downtowns. First introduced in 2016, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative gives select cities and towns all over the state and gives them $10 million apiece to invest in their core commercial districts. This latest round allocates $100 million for development, and the Regional Economic Development Councils will select the cities. There were some curveballs, too. The governor revealed plans for a new, 407-acre state park on Jamaica Bay, a wetland estuary which sits between Brooklyn and Queens. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reached out to the governor's office for comment on the park but has not yet heard back.

Massive post-Sandy roof restoration begins at Red Hook Houses

On Tuesday morning, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) broke ground on the first of several FEMA-funded renovations to Red Hook Houses, devastated by Hurricane Sandy five years ago. The first step is a total replacement of the roofs, with completion projected for the end of 2021. 2,785 of the almost 3,000 apartment units in Red Hook Houses East and West fall under the total $3 billion FEMA post-Sandy restoration funds for public housing complexes across the city, and the total replacement of its roofs is just the first step. Tenants have spoken out about ongoing leaks, power outages, and mold for years after the storm. "Their plaster is falling because of moisture that came from Sandy," Frances Brown, president of the Tenants Association, told BKLYNER. "A lot of times you plug in something and all your power goes out." NYCHA's entire resilience plan for the Houses, including commissions from KPF, OLIN, and Arup, also includes sidewalk resurfacing; generator installation; utilities and hardware restoration; rebuilt playgrounds; and flood-proofing basements. There are also new sustainability measures incorporated by the firms: rooftop solar panels, raised "utility pods" providing heat and electricity as well as public green space, a raised "lily pad" flood barrier system, and more. Meanwhile, Brown called out New York State Assembly Member Felix Ortiz, whose district includes the development, for helping tenants with immediate practical concerns like replacing fridges and stoves in apartments severely impacted by the storm. As the nation watches superstorms like Harvey and now Irma impact our coastal cities, U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez remarked at the groundbreaking that it's more important than ever to ensure that "the rebuilding we do is built to last"—even if its implementation begins five years on.

Large raised earth “Lily Pads” by KPF will help stop future floods at NYC’s Red Hook Houses

Kohn Pederson Fox's (KPF) New York office has had their planned coterie of dwellings in Red Hook, Brooklyn, recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA)'s 2017 Design Awards. The project was commissioned by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and was a recipient of the Merit distinction in the Urban Design category; the New York chapter of the AIA identified KPF's work as an "outstanding design." Collaborating with Philadelphia-based landscape architects OLIN, KPF worked out a master plan that will serve as part of a contingency plan in response to the devastation Red Hook faced after Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012. After conducting community research, including surveys, workshops, forums, KPF now aims to install 14 "utility pods" that would provide heat and electricity to each building as well as doubling-up as a gathering place for public programs. In addition to this, a "Lily Pad" design will act as a flood barrier, using raised earth in the middle of internal courtyards, aided by an active flood wall with passive barriers. As renders depict, these spaces will become mounds where people can sit and relax. All in all, KPF's scheme will span 60 acres and service 2,873 residences. "These elements transform the experience of residents and guests by providing vibrant, social spaces in conjunction with the area’s infrastructural needs," said the architects. Last year, NYCHA reached out to developers to “finance, design, construct, and operate a campus-scale heat, hot water, and electricity generation and delivery network” that will supply 28 buildings housing 6,000 residents in the area. To aid the effort, the micro-grid will let the NYCHA produce its own energy and link up with the Red Hook Community Microgrid scheme. Projects recognized by the AIANY Awards will be on show at an exhibition at the Center for Architecture from April 21 through June 20, 2017.

Has “resiliency” been hijacked to justify and promote development?

The recent visioning scheme for Red Hook, Brooklyn, is a case study in the conflicting interests that contribute to any proposed change in New York neighborhoods. We all know the story of poor, underserved areas like Red Hook that are ignored for generations, and then suddenly become intense hot spots for development. This scheme proposes not just subtle adjustments, but instead hyper-development, which brings out conflict.

The shorthand to describe this process of change is the overused word “gentrification.” But development in any New York neighborhood, let alone one like Red Hook, with spectacular views of the Verrazano Bay and Manhattan, is fraught with the prospect of winners and losers. All too often in New York City, the losers have been the poor and the winners the wealthy who want (and get) to live in these prime urban sites.

AECOM, the creator of this scheme, has presented a vision (identified specifically as not a “plan”) that it claims was done in response to community demands for new investment and infrastructure. This vision encourages the public to visit AECOM’s website and offer suggestions and critique. The project has the sense of being another top-down plan, where more valuable pieces of landscape are handed over to developers.

In fact, the vision seems to check off many of the much-needed development boxes for southwest Brooklyn: three new subway stations, a bulked up manufacturing-commercial zone, and 11,250 new units of affordable housing.

One important new piece of this “non-plan” is its use of a resiliency paradigm to justify and promote the change. Red Hook is perhaps the lowest lying waterfront area west of the Rockaways and needs new physical barriers to save it from the increasing occurrences of flooding.  In a recent study of the impacts of Superstorm Sandy, “resiliency” is defined by Leigh Graham, Wim Debucquoy, and Isabelle Anguelovski, as “the degree to which a complex adaptive system is capable of self-organization and can build capacity for learning and adaptation.” The concept is usually presented in technical, engineering, and competitive business terms where social, political, and cultural issues are never a part of the equation. The AECOM vision states, for example: “Strategies could include both green and gray infrastructures that provide coastal protection and flood management as well as development of smart grids and distributed clean power generation to provide energy security and buildings that can deal with longer, hotter summers without requiring more energy use.”

But the concept of resiliency is becoming a buzzword that animates otherwise pedestrian urban design schemes into relevant and apparently socially conscious initiatives for a more functional and healthy city. AECOM has proposed a creative resiliency plan here, but underserved communities are always wary of these code words because they often mean gentrification. Is resilience in this scheme potentially one of these words?

Many visions or plans for “resilient neighborhoods” consider only a limited number of factors in what they consider resiliency to mean for any particular neighborhood or stretch of coastline. Many advocacy groups are starting to question whether resilience in the scientific sense is enough and propose the use of the concept of “vulnerability” as a framework for understanding exactly what is at stake. 

One such plan is “Equity in Building Resilience in Adaptation Planning,” a guide produced by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), that aims to “provide a guide to localities to enable them to integrate an equity lens as they seek to build resilience in designing adaptation plans.”

The NAACP report calls into question the politics behind physical resilience. They point out a long list of factors that should be considered when planning for environmental stresses on an urban area, in addition to purely engineering factors such as income/wealth, employment, literacy, education, housing stock, insurance status, and access to fresh food.

For designers, this list offers an opportunity to think beyond traditional architecture and planning modes of resilient design, and further challenge what it means to create an equitable, 21st century city—a city that is not easily definable in the face of such large environmental issues. Problematizing “resiliency” with an advanced understanding of “vulnerability” can lead to a more progressive understanding of a rapidly changing world and urban habitat at all scales. This resiliency vision for southwest Brooklyn might yet be one of these new ways of designing cities, but it needs further refinement in how it considers and represents the public.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.

AECOM invites community input for their massive proposed Red Hook development

As first reported by Crain's, the multinational engineering firm AECOM has put forth a plan to build as many as 45,000 units of new housing on “underutilized Brooklyn sites owned by the Port Authority.” The Crain's story accurately portrayed AECOM as proposing the following arrangement:
...proceeds from the sale or long-term lease of the land to developers, as well as other funds generated from revenue streams such as real estate taxes, would go toward upgrading the neighborhood's infrastructure, which includes extending the No. 1 train from lower Manhattan via a new tunnel under the harbor to the Brooklyn area. AECOM's plan also involves creating three new subway stations, one at Atlantic Basin next to the container terminal, another at the Red Hook Houses, one of Brooklyn's largest public-housing complexes, and a No. 1 train station that would connect to the F and G subway lines at Fourth Avenue.
But a press conference on September 12 at the Rudin Center for Transportation flatly contradicted that. Chris Ward, AECOM senior vice president and leader of the team that created the proposal, claimed at the start of his presentation “This is not a plan.” (Ward is also the former Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey). Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, Jill Eisenhard, executive director of the Red Hook Initiative, who were in the audience, claimed they were prepared to respond to Red Hook and Sunset community requests for something to be done about housing, jobs, etc. in the community.It is then a sort of ‘vision’ proposal that asks the community and other interested parties to weigh in on the idea. It may be that the word ‘plan’ has become a dirty word associated with top-down city proposals that end up benefiting everyone one but those who live in the affected communities. The proposal offers several scenarios that go from one that would bring 45 million square feet to the market to more modest schemes. If you want to see the non-plan and weigh in, visit AECOM's website for the project.

Red Hook housing development will feature its own sustainable, resilient microgrid

The New York City Housing Authority (NCYHA) is on the hunt for a developer to back a sustainable heat and power generation complex for Brooklyn's biggest housing complex to be. NCYHA says the developer would "finance, design, construct, and operate a campus-scale heat, hot water, and electricity generation and delivery network" that will serve the 28 buildings housing 6,000 residents in Red Hook. Officially known as the "The Red Hook Houses District Energy System," the project will comprise two energy plants located at each end of the complex that will form a micro-grid that supplies the housing network. Additionally, as part of a post-Sandy contingency plan, the micro-grid would let the NYCHA to produce its own energy and link up with the Red Hook Community Microgrid scheme. "NYCHA believes that the distributed energy component of this project has the potential to be a self-sustaining enterprise, and the RFP provides an opportunity to raise dedicated funds for that," said NYCHA spokeswoman Zodet Negron. “As part of NYCHA’s Sandy Recovery program, we are working to build back stronger and more resilient than ever before,” added NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. As of last week, the NYCHA has released its "Request for Proposals" which calls for a two part submission process due on July 22 and September 9. Developers will work alongside New York firm KPF, who have produced a selection of renders, for the scheme. Nilda Mesa, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability also mentioned how the scheme will combat greenhouse gas emissions. “NYCHA will be harnessing the energy produced in multiple ways, and eliminating individual building systems, which is a smart way to set up a system that will be better to maintain and control." In terms of funds for the project, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has set aside $438 million for repairs on NYCHA buildings damaged by Sandy. "FEMA funds can pay for cogeneration/microgrid components that are consistent with the restoration and resiliency of electrical and heating systems that were damaged by Sandy," a spokeswoman said.  

Foster + Partners and SCAPE unveil plans for massive office complex on the Red Hook waterfront

Thor Equities has released renderings of a Foster + Partners–designed waterside office complex in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The four-story, timber frame buildings will host 600,000 square feet of workspace divided over open-plan, 100,000-square-foot floor plates, plus 23,000 square feet for restaurants and retail. The 7.7-acre development will offer the public waterfront access via an esplanade and courtyard, and harbor views from rooftop terraces. New York–based SCAPE/Landscape Architecture is executing the landscape plan. The project, says Thor, is designed to meet the needs of TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) tenants. It's a somewhat nebulous definition, but according to a 2014 report by real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield, the sector is the strongest force behind activity in New York, ahead of even the financial sector. One of the neighborhood's challenges, though, is the lack of subway service: The F/G at Smith-9th Street is about 13 blocks away. The developers anticipate that workers will arrive by foot, water taxi, or bike, and that tenants will offer employees alternative transit accommodations, like shuttle bus service to the subway. Melissa Gliatta, Thor's chief operating officer, was bullish on other options. Gliatta trumpeted the transit potential of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), a proposed streetcar that would run through Red Hook and could begin service in 2023, although the contentious, developer-driven project is still in its nascent, public input phase. Thor's press release for the development assumes a done deal: "A planned Brooklyn-Queens streetcar will also serve the neighborhood." (Dang, well, so much for that stakeholder consensus.) Academics like Adam Friedman, the director of the Pratt Center for Community Development at Pratt Institute, voiced concerns about this, and similar developments taking shape in the borough. Speaking with Bloomberg News, Friedman noted that developers need to "pace themselves," lest new properties sit vacant. "Every developer thinks that theirs is the one that is going to be successful. That’s just the nature of the culture.” Construction is set to begin this summer. Not cost estimate is available as of yet.

Michael Kimmelman Proposes A Queens-Brooklyn Waterfront Streetcar

As development along the Brooklyn and Queens’ waterfront has increased dramatically over the years, transportation options—for residents old and new—has not. The number of glass towers, startups, and parks along the East River has only been matched by style pieces on new “it” neighborhoods from Astoria to Red Hook. But, now, the New York Times' Michael Kimmelman has used his platform to launch a plan to change that equation, and give these neighborhoods the transportation system they deserve. Kimmelman is proposing a modern streetcar to better connect these waterfront neighborhoods. He explained that a streetcar system takes less time to build than a new subway line, needs less space on the road than light-rail, and is more romantic than a city bus. “By providing an alternative to cars, streetcars also dovetail with Mayor De Blasio’s vow to improve pedestrian safety,” Kimmelman said, adding that the mayor wouldn’t need Albany’s blessing for this plan. The streetcar would, of course, not run cheap, but Kimmelman said the upfront costs are more than worth it. “The city’s urban fabric can’t be an afterthought,” says Kimmelman. “The keys to improved city life—better health care, housing, schools, culture, business, tourism and recreation—all have spatial implications.” Read Kimmelman's full proposal at the NY Times.

Rebuild By Design> HR&A’s Commercial Corridor Resiliency Project

In early April, the ten finalists in the Rebuild By Design competition unveiled their proposals to protect the Tri-state region from the next Sandy. And in the near future, a jury will select a winner—or winners—to receive federal funding to pursue their plans. But before that final announcement is made, AN is taking a closer look at each of the final ten proposals. Here's how the team led by HR&A/Cooper Robertson plans to bring resiliency to the East Coast from the Rockaways to Red Hook. The HR&A/Cooper Robertson team focused on creating resilient communities and resilient businesses in Red Hook, the Rockaways, and Asbury Park, New Jersey. To make that possible, they propose the "Commercial Corridor Resiliency" project, which includes flood protection measures and commercial revitalization for at-risk businesses. Specifically, this includes, "behavioral modification, such as the creation of preparedness plans and use of deployable flood protection systems, and capital investment in building and tenant spaces." In Red Hook, they create the "Maker’s District," which includes dry and wet-flood-proofed buildings, as well as a raised promenade to promote public access to the water. In Far Rockaway, the team invests in transportation infrastructure and a revitalized  commercial corridor. And in Asbury Park, flood protection measures are put in place to protect the beach and local businesses. The team includes HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson & Partners; Grimshaw Architects; Alamo Architects; Langan Engineering; W Architecture; Hargreaves Associates; and Urban Green Council.

Silent Light Installation Illuminated Sound Pollution in Brooklyn

First proposed in 2011, Brooklyn's Silent Light installation has finally become a reality.  Located at the intersection of Park Avenue and Navy Street under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) in Red Hook, the series of gates frames a pedestrian walkway that passes through an area of heavy vehicular traffic. The structures are covered in LED lights activated by surrounding noise from cars to create fleeting light shows of various colors and patterns. The project was conceived and executed by Valeria Blanco, Shagun Singh, and Michelle Brick who together form the Artists Build Collaborative.  The trio collaborated with the Department of Transportation's Urban Art Program, the Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Red Hook Initiative to fund, construct, and install Silent Lights. The arches are intended to provide nocturnal aid to pedestrians navigating a potentially hazardous stretch of sidewalk.  More broadly, the Collaborative hopes that by dramatically visualizing the issue, the installation will call attention to problems of noise pollution that plague the neighborhood by virtue of the BQE.

University of Oregon Students Propose Sustainable Wood Housing in Brooklyn

With their winning design for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s "Timber in the City" competition, three students from the University of Oregon have imagined wood’s viable potential in prefabricated low-cost housing. Wood construction has been a popular topic at AN recently and the topic of our recent feature, Timber Towers. Benjamin Bye, Alex Kenton, and Jason Rood entered the design competition last year with the mission to create a community of affordable housing and wood technology manufacturing in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Awarded first place, Grow Your Own City proposes the use of CLT (cross-laminated timber) for construction of nearly 183,000 square feet of mid-rise housing, a bike share and repair shop, and a wood distribution, manufacturing, and development plant. The site itself was chosen as a residential and industrial area “in flux;” it is a waterfront neighborhood and competitors were required to balance these elements in a mutually beneficial way. Grow Your Own City designs a mixed-use community of wood production and housing construction, considering a variety of needs. Cost efficient and sustainable, the community is meant to manufacture its own wood, then use onsite development power and technology to build the final product: affordable modular housing units that can be prefabricated in the factory and fit together to form the mid-rise complex. A “supersize plywood” technology that can be prefinished before construction, cross-laminated timber is stronger than regular wood construction and possesses a low carbon footprint. When forested correctly, wood can be a very sustainable and environmentally friendly building material. Most units include windows on two sides and vary in size from a 325 square feet studio to a 990 square feet three bedroom apartment. Impressed with the students’ “mature sensitivity to zoning, politics, and concerns of gentrification” unique to this Red Hook site, the jury of architecture professors, green design architects, and a real estate venture praise the project for several specifics of design. A “green alley” allows for biking, timber education, and sustainable rainwater retention and reuse. And the CLT pods are attractive, livable, and realistic for a variety of occupants and their families. “Overall, the project is strong because it maps out the terrain of the site while remaining consistent to the larger neighborhood in terms of plan, context and materiality,” the jury commented in a statement.  

Construction of Expanded Brooklyn Greenway Underway

With the arrival of the Citi Bike share program just around the corner, and the Regional Planning Association’s Harbor Ring proposal gaining momentum, New York’s cycling community can now set its sights on the Brooklyn Greenway. The proposed 14 miles of bike lanes running from Bay Ridge to Greenpoint aim to provide a safe route for cyclists and pedestrians wishing to cross the borough. As Gothamist reported, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) is preparing to begin construction on three more sections of the path, in Red Hook, Greenpoint, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In Red Hook, a connection is set to be forged between Columbia Street and Louis Valentino Jr. Park, with added bike lanes on Van Brunt, Imlay, Conover, and Ferris Streets. (See greenway map here.) TNYCDOT is ready to begin construction on the $12.5 million project this summer. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported bike lanes have been approved along West Street in Greenpoint, while existing routes are set to be widened along Flushing Avenue by the Brooklyn Navy Yards. With a cost of $10 and $8 million respectively, these two projects are slated for completion in 2014.