Posts tagged with "Rockefeller Center":

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Major updates proposed for Rockefeller Plaza overhaul

  The landmarked public spaces and plaza of Rockefeller Center, designed in large part by The Associated Architects (an umbrella name for a collection of firms at the time) and built in the early 1930s, are up for a major revamp. Gabellini Sheppard Associates, along with Tishman Speyer, who owns most of the plaza, are proposing a series of changes large and small which went up in front of the Landmark Preservation Commission yesterday (the full proposal is available here). Some of the interventions, which were on the whole well-received, were intended to bring the famous Midtown location more closely in line with its original intent and increase public access and streamline circulation. Perhaps the most symbolic move towards this would be the relocation of a ten-foot-wide “credo” monument honoring John D. Rockefeller, Jr., that was added in the 1960s away from the stairwell where it currently stops the flow of foot traffic and into the gardens. The large stone parapet around the sunken plaza’s central stairwell that was added when ice skating became an annual activity, would be changed to a more delicate brass railing with planters. Both would be removable such that in the warmer months a larger staircase could be added, as was originally in place in the early 1930s. Doors within the sunken plaza that are currently of different heights and punctuated unevenly would be standardized, though the LPC seemed to push back against all-glass walls. Gabellini Sheppard intends to replace much of the stone—which is deteriorating in places—in kind, though the LPC suggested they attempt to retain as much as possible. The pools featuring block glass in the channel garden would be renovated to their former reflective luster thanks to mirror-backed structural glass that would still allow sunlight to filter to the concourse below. Other changes include the moving of statues, flag poles, and rearranging some landscaping, which the commission asked be in part reconsidered. Softer lighting would be integrated throughout, and new terrazzo and other pavements would be added. The height of the road, which is three inches lower than the sidewalks, would be brought up to that same level. The most contentious proposal was the addition of new elevators and the shifting of some stairwells. The current glass canopy elevators would be replaced with transparent volumes topped with bronze. While many on the commission commended the simplicity and transparency, the proposal to integrate screens for public art displays was opposed, including by the local community board, which supported the project otherwise. After responding to suggestions, Gabellini Sheppard Associates will go before the LPC again at a later date with a revised proposal.
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Daniel Libeskind designed a Swarovski star to top the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

Swarovski Crystal first announced that it had chosen Daniel Libeskind to overhaul the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree star back in May, and the massive ornament was swung into place early this morning. Libeskind, no stranger to projects with jutting angles, designed a spherical crystal bonanza, radically updating the original, two-dimensional Swarovski star (which hadn’t seen a design change since its original unveiling in 2004). While the previous star was large—nine-and-a-half feet in diameter by one-and-a-half feet deep and decked out in 25,000 crystals—Libeskind's is even bigger. The new star is a radiant ball made up of 70 triangular spikes, completely covered in three million Swarovski crystals, and measures nine feet and four inches in diameter. Each spike is attached to its own light, and the electrical component forms the core of the star. When fully lit up each spike is meant to glow from within, with the light ultimately refracted by the topper’s crystal facade. All told, Libeskind’s star weighs 900 pounds, easily dwarfing the previous 550-pound version. Libeskind met with Nadja Swarovski, a member of the Swarovski executive board, in Rockefeller Plaza to watch the star-raising ceremony this morning. “The new Swarovski Star for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is inspired by the beauty of starlight,” said Libeskind, “something that radiates meaning and mystery into the world. The Star is a symbol that represents our greatest ambitions for hope, unity, and peace. I am tremendously honored to collaborate with Swarovski on the Star, and with the entire design team, to bring cutting-edge innovation and design to crystal technology.” The Star Boutique, a 200-square-foot Swarovski popup also designed by Libeskind, will open later this month in Rockefeller Plaza. The interior and branding will all reference the crystalline form of the star itself, and a life-size replica of the Rockefeller Center Star will be on display outside for guests to examine close-up. This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony will take place on November 28.
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Daniel Libeskind will design this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree star

Swarovski Crystal has tapped Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind to design the star topper for this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, marking the first new star from Swarovski since 2004. While scant few details of Libeskind’s design have been revealed yet (the star won’t be unveiled until November), the installation will be massive. Weighing in at around 800 pounds of crystal, the three-dimensional installation will emanate light from within in an astronomically-inspired touch. Libeskind’s canon of work is well known for dramatic lines, twisting geometries, and jutting angles, making him a natural fit for both the material as well as the inherently angled shape of the star. From the sketches released so far, it appears that the new star will radiate long, thin shards from a central point in all directions; the current tree topper is a flat, bedazzled take on the more traditional five-pointed star. “The new Swarovski Star for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is inspired by the beauty of starlight,” said Libeskind in a statement, “something that radiates meaning and mystery into the world. The Star is a symbol that represents our greatest ambitions for hope, unity and peace. I am tremendously honored to collaborate with Swarovski on the Star, and with the entire design team, to bring cutting-edge innovation and design to crystal technology.” This isn’t the first time that Libeskind has collaborated with the luxury crystal company. The architect completed a Swarovski chess set in 2016, designing pieces that resemble famous architectural forms. The set blends typical construction materials–marble and concrete–with lux silver and Swarovski crystal for the higher ranking pieces and trim for the board itself.
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Rockefeller Center plaza is transformed by circular portals and raised streetscape in a new plan

A 1960s-era sunken courtyard at the former McGraw-Hill Building is set to rise following a “sweeping transformation,” according to the New York Post. While the current plaza is half-buried and disconnected from the sidewalk, the Rockefeller Group and Italy-based Citterio-Viel & Partners architects have announced plans to raise the public clearing to ground level and knit the streetscape back together. Opened in 1969 as part of the Rockefeller Center complex expansion, the space sits between West 48th and West 49th streets and pays homage to the popular recessed design of the original Rockefeller Plaza. Designed by Wallace Harrison, the plaza currently cuts off retail access from the street. The redevelopment, estimated to cost in the “mid-to-high eight digits,” the Post reports, will fill in the below-ground public space with 2 levels of retail across 35,000 square feet, while turning the topside into a pedestrian-friendly plaza. The architects have chosen to reference the original design by including a large aperture in the center of the space, flanked by a set of descending staircases on each side that looks down on the businesses below. Citterio-Viel & Partners have also proposed updating the pavement to “reflect” the vertical facade of 1221 6th Avenue by extending lighter stone stripes from the base of the building. What’s unclear at this time is what will happen to the public art pieces currently on display. The 50 foot tall stainless steel “Sun Triangle,” designed by futurist Athelstan Spilhaus, has been in the courtyard since the building’s opening but is nowhere to be found in this new rendering. The abstract sculpture references the Earth’s position relative to the sun, with each leg pointed to the sun’s position during solar noon at the summer and winter solstice. One of the few elements of the plaza viewable from the street, the triangle cuts a sharp contrast against the McGraw-Hill Building behind it. Rockefeller Group Senior Vice President Bill Edwards has stated that construction will only begin after an anchor tenant for the retail space has been locked down, with construction estimated to finish in 2019.
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75 Rockefeller Plaza to get dose of green courtesy KPF

With the Landmarks Preservation Commission's (LPC) blessing, a building near Rockefeller Center is set to get green. On Tuesday, the LPC approved a verdant rooftop terrace addition to 75 Rockefeller Plaza, an early modernist building designed by Robert Carson and Earl Lundin in 1941 that sits on the north end of the plaza, between West 51st and West 52nd streets. Completed six years later, the 424-foot, 33-story building was originally part of Rockefeller Center, and was declared an individual landmark in 1985 when Rockefeller Center received its designation. New York–based Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF) and preservation consultants Higgins Quasebarth & Partners are revamping an extension on the tenth floor. The move gives the building more interior space as well as outdoor areas on the ninth floor roof. The proposal also includes an extension of the 11th floor that would create a terrace on the floor above. The designs reflect the commission's goal of keeping the terrace and garden from marring the historic viewshed. In the proposal, the architects emphasized the discreet qualities of their design from street level: The only new addition to the visible landscape is a new, laminated glass guardrail that encircles the terraces' perimeters. The commission approved this plan and Herzog & de Meuron's Upper East Side megamansion for a Russian billionaire with an entrancing backyard in the same session. Although 75 Rockefeller Plaza is a private office building, workers in nearby towers will be able to get a dose of greenery-by-proxy from their cubicle windows.
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Bjarke Ingels' Not-Yet-Built LEGO Museum Commemorated in LEGO Architecture Series

LEGO Architecture has released a new box set—and from the looks of it, this isn't your grandmother’s architectural plaything. The new LEGO set is not the usual plastic-brick model of Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building. No, this new set is cutting-edge. It goes where no other LEGO box set has gone before: it's a replica of an icon so iconic that it doesn’t even exist yet. It’s a limited-edition replica of the Bjarke Ingels–designed LEGO Museum in the company’s birthplace of Billund, Denmark. Spotted by John Hill at A Daily Dose of Architecture and selling on eBay for well over $100, the set also features what appears to be a shaggy-haired Bjarke Ingels figurine, which would place him in the company of Yoda, the Lone Ranger, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as icons that have also been shrunk to LEGO-sized proportions. Hill described the set as "LEGO imitating architecture imitating LEGO," a reference to BIG's clear inspiration for the LEGO House. A video-rendering of the project (above) might even double as an assembly guide for the LEGO Architecture Series set. The real LEGO House will be a blocky, 82,000-square-foot exhibition space designed to celebrate the toy’s history. BIG's real-life museum isn't projected to open until 2016, so if you buy the set now, you'll probably beat Bjarke to the finish line.
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Unveiled> BIG Joins the Supertall Ranks in China with Rockefeller Center-Inspired Tower

Bjarke Ingels, architect of mountains, now has set his eyes on Everest. The New York and Copenhagen-based architect's firm BIG has been tapped by the Rockefellers to design one of the world's tallest buildings at 1,929 feet for a new commercial development in Tianjin, China, a city of nearly 13 million people. Ingels revealed a cryptic, fog-shrouded rendering of the tower on his web site—indicative of the scarcity of detail yet released on the tower—but this being the information age,  AN found more information and views of the tower on a clear day. BIG is working with HKS Architecture and Arup to design the $2.35 billion Rose Rock International Finance Center set within an SOM-designed master plan for the Tianjin Binhai New Area Central Business District. The new commercial neighborhood to the southeast of Tianjin replaces a formerly industrial peninsula with a mix of high-rises, historic sites, and parks anchored by a high-speed rail station and helps to connect it to the coast. Rose Rock Group, founded by Steven C. Rockefeller Jr., Steven C. Rockefeller III, and Collin C. Eckles, held a ceremonial groundbreaking on December 16, 2011 and is promoting the new tower as a key to transforming Tianjin into "the financial center of Northern China." Renderings show a terraced pyramidal tower with a palpable vertical thrust and clear reference to the Art-Deco stylings of its inspiration, the Rockefeller Center in New York. Just as the Rockefellers built ambitiously skyward in New York 80 years ago, Ingels said in a statement, "The Rose Rock International Finance Center will be to the contemporary Chinese city what the Rockefeller Center was to the American city of the 1930s: an architectural landscape of urban plazas and roof gardens designed to stimulate and cultivate the life between the buildings." Only this time, over a thousand feet higher.
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Archtober Building of the Day #4: Top of the Rock

It’s hard to imagine that the cool and suave young architect who launched Minimalism on Park Avenue with the Jil Sander Store in 1983 is the same man who brought us the modern apotheosis of Art Deco at Top of the Rock. Is it a space? Is it a ride? It certainly has a chandelier! Michael Gabellini, FAIA, a principal of Gabellini Sheppard Associates, a RISD grad, and a Kohn Pedersen Fox alum, waxed poetic at the Archtober preview: "Top of the Rock epitomizes Archtober’s mission of raising awareness of architecture and design. By restoring public access, the project celebrates and embraces the ongoing life and vitality of Rockefeller Center." As I’ve been saying for months, almost 50 million people don’t come to New York every year to enjoy purple mountains' majesty. They come for a different view…and from the Top of the Rock, 70 stories above Rockefeller Plaza, they get it. Jaded New Yorkers may stay away from this tourist destination, but they shouldn’t. Gabellini has created an extravaganza of sparkle that will cheer one and all on even the gloomiest day. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at
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The Long Arrivederci

The Venice biennale will just not end! It opened in the warmth of September with mobs of well-known architects in attendance and officially closed on a cold November Sunday with scores of Italian schoolchildren roaming the pavilion grounds. I locked the doors of the U.S. Pavilion, put models and drawings into shipping containers (the show will be reprised at Parsons School of Design in February), and floated our Kartell-donated furniture down the Grand Canal on a barge—just in time for the highest floods in La Serenissima’s post–global warming history. Fortunately, the pavilion sits on high ground, and the stored work is safe.

The pavilion's furniture in stylish transit.

But there were pieces of the pavilion (story boards and a long blue table) not being returned to the States, and these we donated to a group called Commons Beyond Building (a collective whose members include Stalker, 2012, Millegomme, and EXYST), who were commissioned to create RE-Biennale: a recycled artwork of objects from the architecture biennale to be placed in the upcoming art biennale in June. Now we hear from biennale curator Emiliano Gandolfi that La Biennale di Venezia believes the project will be too costly, and are shutting it down. The group is appealing to art curator Daniel Birnbaum to rescue the effort.

Meanwhile, as we were closing the biennale, a water taxi roared up, and out stepped architecture critic, philosopher, and Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari, who scurried off to a meeting in the Accademia. The Venetian water taxis—absolutely the most elegant form of public transportation imaginable—are designed and built by a company called Riva, which is in New York this week at the Javits boat show. Riva sent along a photo of one of their boats with BB, and a temporary showroom in Rockefeller Center in 1964. A used wooden Riva is yours for just $500,000.