The Parks Department is looking to fill the brand new, but vacant Edgar Allan Poe Visitor Center that was left empty after a funding feud between Parks and the Bronx County Historical Society. Parks anticipated that the society would run the Toshiko Mori-designed center, but the society balked. Now, it appears as though Parks is looking for a coordinator to run seasonal programing through January 2013.
Posts tagged with "Toshiko Mori":
Manhattan Community Board 2 unanimously voted against the NYU expansion plan in Greenwich Village last night citing the impact its scale would have on the neighborhood. Grimshaw with Toshiko Mori designed four of the proposed towers and Michael Van Valkenburgh designed the landscape for the 2.4 million square foot expansion. The plans were set within two superblocks that sprang from Robert Moses-era urban renewal projects that featured buildings by I.M. Pei, Paul Lester Weiner, and a garden by Hideo Sasaki. Of the many proposed elements that the board took issue with, density topped the list. Nearly one million square feet would sit below grade. “They kind of gamed the zoning resolution,” said David Gruber, co-chair of CB2’s NYU Working Group. “The zoning talks about density, but that only counts above ground. There was so much underground but that doesn’t get picked up in the zoning resolution.” Even with the below grade component going under the FAR radar, Gruber said that the plan still needs six zoning changes. And though half of the project wouldn’t be seen from the street, the 12,000 extra pedestrians coming to and fro would be. NYU’s vice president of government affairs, Alicia Hurley said that the university was unique in their ability to utilize windowless, underground space, as they can use it for lecture halls, classrooms, auditoriums, and studios. “The thing we’re trying to have people understand is that we know we’re going to have needs for facilities, we’re already thinking of other parts of the city,” she said, referencing downtown Brooklyn and the hospital campus on Manhattan’s East Side. “We are trying to do as much on our own footprint, to limit the spread out into other communities.” After several months of shepherding the proposal through contentious committee meetings, Hurley said that she wasn’t surprised by the vote. Andrew Berman for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation said the vote revealed larger problems with zoning. “It seems counter intuitive and an enormous loophole that underground space is not counted as zoning square footage,” he said. “It points to the need for reform.” The irony amidst the “Save the Superblock” t-shirts is that the same preservationist crowd may have likely stood in front of bulldozers to thwart Moses’s urban renewal that created the superblocks in the first place. That blocks are now considered an asset, argued Tom Gray, executive director of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. “I think that the preservationist angle is not as pure as it sounds; it's used as a club to stop development which I think is a bit disingenuous,” he said. “Robert Moses put the superblocks in place and it worked. It doesn’t mean it has to stay that way forever.”
On October 25 the New York Times reported on vandalism and closed bathrooms at the Toshiko Mori-designed Poe Park's Visitor Center, but today a Parks Department spokesperson told AN that bathrooms were reopened and that the vandalism has been addressed. The late October report marred what had otherwise been a stellar week for the neighborhoods along the Grand Concourse nearby. Earlier in the week, a good chunk of the boulevard was landmarked and over the weekend, the Bronx Museum hosted Beyond the Super Square, a conference on mid-century Latin American and Caribbean architecture. However, the Poe Park Visitor Center itself still sits on shuttered while Parks and the Bronx County Historical society wrestle with how to staff the place. For now, a Parks' video tour starring Toshiko Mori will have to suffice...
Shortly after the Landmarks Preservation Commission declared a section of the Grand Concourse an historic district on Tuesday, New York Times columnist Constance Rosenblum received a call with the news. Walking down Montague Street near her home in Brooklyn Heights, the usually unflappable writer burst into tears. When it comes to the Concourse, Rosenblum wrote the book. Her 2010 chronicle of the corridor, Boulevard of Dreams (NYU Press, $20), played a significant role in calling attention to the plight and promise of the neighborhood. “It was notable day,” she said in a phone interview in reference to the announcement. “It wasn’t easy for the Bronx, and the stigmas will remain for a long time.” Thick with Deco and Moderne, to say nothing of early twentieth century Tudor and Renaissance, the district also showcases work of a few contemporary firms as well. Architectronica’s Bronx Museum of Art sits just down the street from Rafael Viñoly’s Bronx Housing Court. But not all of the 78 properties within the district are knock-out architectural gems. “It’s a little pockmarked,” said Rosenblum. “It’s not cute brownstones, one after the other.” Rosenblum profiled Sam Goodman in the book. He lives, works, and grew up on the Concourse. He said that should the Bronx's fortunes swing up or down, the redistricting will deter owners from abandoning the neighborhood. “Now they'll say, ‘I’m not going to sell to Donald Trump or to the city,’” said Goodman. “So let’s do what we can to keep the buildings attractive.” Goodman pointed out that the landmarking is for a very small section of the Boulevard. Plenty of wonderful buildings sit just to the north, including Emigrant Savings Bank, Paradise Theater and the freshly restored Edgar Allan Poe House. Even with a new visitors center by Toshiko Mori, recent vandalism at Poe Park show that the bad old days aren’t necessarily over. Funding and maintenance remain key issues that preservation alone can’t solve. To that end, Rosenblum believes that the designation goes beyond the bricks and mortar. Landmarking can provide pride of place. “Living in a place that’s important can make you feel good about yourself,” she said. “It’s more than protecting a gorgeous building, it’s giving imprimatur to a very important idea.”
Though a bit more sedate then the previous night's party, where copious amounts of caipirinhas were consumed, the New Practices Sao Paolo panel discussion on July 15 was not without its own fireworks. Toshiko Mori and José Armenio de Brito Cruz moderated the panel which was preceded by presentations from the ten winners. A strictly enforced ten-minute time limit made presentations feel like the Oscars when the orchestra music begins to swell. Though each presenter struck an distinct note, one could pick up on a few common threads. I certainly wouldn't call it anti-green, but a few presenters markedly pointed out that there are other immediate matters in Brazil that compete with sustainability. "We didn't want to create a green building," said Triptyques' Carolina Bueno, when describing her building, which, oddly enough, included "pores" in the facade for plants to grow. More to the point, Arkiz's Rafael Brych questioned whether "green demagogical discourse" shaping the architectural discourse fully represented what was needed in Brazil. No one disputes that Brazil is going through a huge transition period. But while the economy booms, extreme poverty and crime persists. For all its extraordinary architectural history, it's a place where the field of architecture is still evolving. Armenio de Brito Cruz pointed out that Brazil has 100,000 architects and 5000 more graduate every year. "But architecture in Brazil is not as established as it is in the U.S.," Armenio de Brito Cruz said before asking the panel, "Am I lying?" Mori didn't mince words about the problems of "impossible claustrophobia" and crime. Mori was in Brazil as a juror for Harvard GSD's Green Prize when she had to duck behind a car as bullets flew. "It's not New York," she said. But despite the problems "there's this amazing sense of optimism" which she credited two solid presidential administrations. While there were interesting images tied to the 2016 Olympics, Mori pointed out that it's the community and cultural centers in the poorest areas that make the biggest difference. "When architecture enters enters these communities there's a sense of peace."
On December 2, Werner Sobek, IIT professor and founder of Werner Sobek Engineering and Design, delivered the third annual Franzen Lecture for Architecture and the Environment at the Cooper Union. Sobek, who is also head of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart, discussed experiments at the institute to develop an inflatable-fabric-structural-envelope-system-prototype, or “sausage” to be economical. Our eyewitness reports that after much exposition about inflatable fabric membranes, New York architect Toshiko Mori, who moderated the discussion, offered that she had sat on Werner's inflatable sausage, because he wanted her to test the resistive properties to make sure it could withstand the pressure. Tittering spread through the audience, said our witness, who admitted that he lost track of the discussion. Yes, folks, this is what passes for randy double entendre in the academy.