Posts tagged with "Adrian Benepe":

New York Restoration Project Jumpstarts Design Competition with Selection of Eight Local Firms

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, architects have been called to arms to both engage in the immediate recovery efforts and to come up with design solutions that will make New York City's buildings more resilient and sustainable in the long-term. The latest in a flood of new Sandy-inspired design initiatives was launched yesterday by New York Restoration Project (NYRP), dubbed "EDGE/ucation Pavillion Design Competition," asking a group of hand-picked, up-and-coming architecture firms to create a storm-resistant pavilion in Sherman Creek Park right on the Harlem River. The structure, located on a former illegal garbage dumping site, would serve as a boating facility and outdoor classroom for a number of activities such as wetland exploration and oyster gardening. The NYRP undertook a major clean-up of the polluted 5-acre area in 1996 and has since transformed it into a healthy and verdant public space for recreation and boating. The project is expected to cost $900,000. With the help of Susanna Sirefman of Dovetail Design Strategists, the NYRP selected eight Manhattan and Brooklyn-based firms, that include: Bade Stageberg Cox, Desai/Chia Architecture, HOLLER Architecture, KNE Studio, Lang Architecture, Taylor and Miller Architecture + Design, Urban Data & Design, and WORKac. The firms will submit their proposals on September 16th, and the following month, a Technical Advisory Group made up of leaders in the field—such as Adrian Benepe, Director of City Park Development for Trust of a Public Land and Thomas Christoffersen of BIG—will select the five finalists. A new jury—including NYRP founder Bette Midler, James Polshek of Ennead Architects, and Christopher Sharples of SHoP Architects—will then look over the submissions. A winning proposal will be announced in late November 2013.

Benepe Walks the Ten-Minute Walk

Gone will be the miniature civic history lessons that punctuated ribbon-cutting speeches made by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. With yesterday's announcement that the commissioner is moving on to the non-profit Trust for Public Land (TPL), the plaudits are pouring in. But as the Bloomberg Administration begins is slow-motion wind down, New Yorkers should be wary of comparisons to the "good" Robert Moses, builder of parks and playgrounds, despite the scale of public works undertaken under Bloomberg. But in terms of Parks, there is little doubt that Benepe's tenure was historic in scope. Now, one of the mayor's signature initiatives—that a park be within a ten minute walk from every home—is about to go national. But will what flies in NYC fly in Louisville? "If I’ve learned one or two things in this job it's that no one model will work for every situation," he said in a telephone interview yesterday. Last month, TPL launched ParkScore, a platform that rates park systems in America's 40 largest cities, with the "ten-minute test" as one of the major criteria in ranking the cities. While widely lauded for drawing attention to the need for accessible park space in cities, there has also been some grumbling about the survey's methods, or even its effectiveness in helping draw attention to the plight of urban parkland. D.C. blogger Richard Layman worried that DC's respectable 5th place position might take the pressure off leadership to make improvements. But Benepe said that the ParkScore is a good way of "spreading the news." The commissioner added that the city's data differed from that of the Trust's when it came to accessibility.  The Trust found that 94 percent of New Yorkers live within walking distance of a park, while the city's more conservative estimate places it at about 84 percent within the ten minute range. "It's a ten percent improvement and that has largely had to do with the Schoolyards to Playgrounds initiative," said Benepe. The initiative to turn moribund schoolyards into after school playgrounds was funded in part by the Trust ($200 million in land purchases and design). It's an initiative that might work elsewhere, "within limits," he said. Funding will, as always, prove to be the central challenge. "Most cities don’t have the density that New York has and most don’t have great wealth," he said, adding that while he believed that the Obama administration would do more if they could, the days of FDR-level federal support for parks dissipated in the seventies. Nevertheless, the public/private model widely touted in New York  may well become the national way of doing things. "New York didn't corner the market in creative wealth," he said .

Parks & Relocation: NYC’s Adrian Benepe Bows Out to Veronica White

With just a year and a half left of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure remaining, the first of his major appointees, New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, is moving on. Under Benepe, the Parks Department was transformed on a scale that approached the early tenure of Robert Moses. Since his appointment in 2002, the commissioner oversaw the largest expansion of waterfront parks like Brooklyn Bridge Park, embraced public-private partnerships as seen on the High Line, and distributed more than $250 million in Croton Water Filtration funds to small pocket parks throughout the Bronx. In his ten-and-a-half years, 730 acres of new parkland was added—significant considering Central Park is 843 acres—and 2,000 lie ahead at Fresh Kills on Staten Island. Benepe will be moving on to take on a leadership role at the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization based in San Francisco, in a newly created position titled Senior Vice President for Park Development. Benepe will work out of Lower Manhattan and Washington D.C., taking Bloomberg's signature program to guarantee a park within a ten-minute walk of every city citizen to a national level, under the "Parks for People" program. TPL recently highlighted walkability of parks in cities across the country with their ParkScore analysis. Veronica M. White, director of the the Center for Economic Leadership, will take the helm of Parks in September. "I couldn't be prouder that he's going to lead the Trust for Public Land's new initiative to replicate our work in cities across the country," Mayor Bloomberg said this morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at Soundview Park in the Bronx. What the new commissioner may lack in landscape design experience she will likely make up for in fund raising. The mayor noted that White has an "exemplary record of exploring innovative partnerships and attracting private funds."

Design for Final Segment of High Line Revealed!

Tonight, the design team from the High Line will present plans for Section 3 to the community.  Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe will introduce James Corner from the project's lead team, James Corner Field Operations, and Ricardo Scofidio from Diller Scofidio + Renfro. High Line co-founder Robert Hammond will moderate a post presentation discussion. Unlike the last two sections of the High Line, Section 3 will be intimately integrated with one major developer, as opposed to a variety of property owners and stakeholders. From 30th to 34th Street, the High Line wraps around Hudson Yards, the 12 million square foot office and residential district being developed by Related Companies. Much of the new section will be built cheek by jowl with Related's construction. At the westernmost section overlooking the Hudson River, an interim walkway will span the existing self-seeded landscape, so as coordinated design efforts alongside Related's development and give Friends of the High Line time to raise more funds. The estimated total cost of capital construction on the High Line at the rail yards is $90 million. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2013 with a full public opening in spring 2014. All renderings courtesy Friends of the High Line. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.

From Urban Farm to Urban Forks

After giving a brief lesson in New York's Dutch history, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe opened a one-acre urban farm to a couple hundred local school children in Battery Park on Monday. It's the Battery's first farm in the area since the Dutch tilled soil there in 1625. The idea for the farm brought together celebrity chefs, architects, and community activists to work alongside the kids. The design, by the newly formed STUDIOperFORM, incorporated bamboo salvaged from last year's Metropolitan Museum rooftop exhibit, Big Bambú. Design partners Shane Neufeld, an architect, and Scott Dougan, a set designer, used an silhouette of Zelda, the park's resident turkey, as the basis for their design. Neufeld said that Zelda was never meant to be fully recognizable, instead, the design serves as narrative to teach the children about nature. As a native of Brooklyn, Neufeld said that he doesn't recall ever having a garden. "We had a parking lot," he said. The idea for the farm was hatched by students at Millennium High School's Environmental Club and quickly gained momentum once they got Battery Park Conservancy President Warrie Price on board. Price said that with seven schools within walking distance, 683 students will be able to get their hands dirty. She added that even though 5000 bamboo poles were used to make the fence, they still have enough left over for furniture, should another design firm be inclined to offer their talents. In addition to the children's gardens, area restaurants will also use the farm to provide specialty ingredients for their own operations. Merchants Market will grow there, and the new Fatty Cue Kiosk and Fatty Shack will grow herb gardens. Fatty owner Kevin Pomplun said that they've already been talking about planting anise-hyssop, borge, and other rare ingredients to top off ice cream deserts and savory dishes. The amalgam of restaurants, kids, designers and neighborhood groups prompted Benepe to remark, "This is absolutely unique," adding that the operation might serve as a prototype for other city parks.

Partying for the World Architectural Festival

The 2011 World Architecture Festival was in town beating the drum for their international competition at the Van Alen Institute last night. Paul Finch, the festival's program director, was joined by AN Editor-in-Chief William Menking and Van Alen Chair Abbey Hamlin in hosting the star-studded event. The frigid weather did not deter a distinguished crowd—white maned Richard Meier, red scarved Bernard Tschumi, man of the hour Thomas Leeser, Parks Commish Adrian Benepe—from celebrating what promises to be a hot ticket this November in Barcelona. With his English lilt Finch thanked the crowd for coming and promised his remarks would steer clear of Ricky Gervais territory. He briefly outlined some of the goals for this year's program, which included a bigger tent to incorporate interior architecture as well. While no hat was passed, Finch did say that the organization would be happy to take donations in any denomination. Jan Berman of MechoShade promptly offered to make a donation in lira.

Flooding the Unisphere Once Again

For the first time in 15 years, the Unisphere, one of the '64 World's Fair's numerous icons, is back on, its fountain at full force thanks to a $2 million renovation funded by the Queens Borough President and the city. Designed by landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, the fountain is, as Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe puts it, part of the city's Versailles that is Flushing Meadows. While not quite the Lincoln Center fountain, we'd still sit here any day and enjoy some Belgian waffles, which a press release informs us were served at Thursday's rechristening, having been a favorite at the Fair.

The Art Above

As the first segment of The High Line opened to the public on Monday, the first public art commission to occupy the space was unveiled. An installation by Brooklyn-based artist Spencer Finch, The River That Flows Both Ways, is a collection of 700 tinted films applied to the existing windowpanes of a semi-enclosed loading dock attached to The Chelsea Market. Anne Pasternak, President and Artistic Director at Creative Time, the cultural partner of Friends of the High Line, described the project: “He takes old window mullions in a dark, unremarkable tunnel and transforms them into reflections of color and light taken from the nearby Hudson River.” The installation is based on a single day Finch spent in a boat floating up- and downriver propelled only by the natural flow of the Hudson. A camera, on a timer, took a photograph of the water once a minute for 11 hours and 40 minutes. Later, selecting the exact color of a single point in each photograph, Finch produced a film with which he laminated the windows and organized in chronological order. The River That Flows Both Ways is a subtle work, unassuming at first glance, especially with construction still taking place around it. On its first day open, passersby were observed walking halfway through the underpass, apparently unaware of the exhibit, and suddenly stopped to look at the playfulness and soothing colors of Finch’s work. The park currently plans on presenting at least one other major public art project, scheduled for next spring. The artist and the project will be announced in the next few months. Pasternak explained that in addition, “Friends of the High Line will be launching an artist residency program this fall through which artists will be invited to create new work that interprets the site's past, present, and future.” The new curator for this program is Lauren Ross. Adrian Benepe, the Parks & Recreation Commissioner, also shared his view of the park’s future. “The High Line will be one of the city’s best outdoor art museums,” he said. With Finch's work now on view, the elevated park has a great start.