On the heels of opening their first U.S. office in Manhattan, London’s Universal (formerly Universal Design Studio) unveiled a performance-based installation at A/D/O/ by Mini in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The participatory On Loop underpins the firm’s research and development-driven methodology, a process of collaborative experimentation to design unique spaces that interact with their users. In a sort of "formal-exercise-slash-performance-piece" hybrid, the installation underscores this ethos with a set up that asks visitors to experiment and co-create. On view through the duration of this year's Archtober, On Loop highlights the design process with an unassuming setup. Fashioned from inexpensive materials—plywood, plexiglass, and masking tape—a half-painted loop and semicircular shelf circumscribe a round table and stools. Inspired by the Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, where a drawing is arbitrarily finished by multiple artists, visitors are encouraged to participate in an on-going evolution of infinite accidental outcomes. In this context, masking tape is randomly placed on a plexiglass square on a spinning tabletop slide carrousel-like display. Over the 31 days On Loop remains on display, the “finished” works by individuals will contribute to a collective display on the installation’s surrounding shelf. Universal will continue to activate its New York presence with a series of workshops co-led by local artists, designers, and makers. With the same premise as On Loop, the programming will ask visitors to participate in a similar Exquisite Corpse-like performance in different mediums. Including a clay, sound, drawing, writing, motion graphics, and food, the curious selection of medium-focused workshops can be found on the dedicated A/D/O/ Eventbrite page. At their new location in the Manhattan wing of design agency AKQA, Universal will focus on continuing to collaborate with local architects, designers, and artists on various projects. When asked, they took particular interest in the hospitality typology—citing previous projects like the London Ace Hotel and Stockholm’s At Six Hotel. The design duo will operate on a bi-continental basis; codirectors Jason Holley and Paul Gulati will continue to work with founders Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby in London and at AKQA in New York.
Posts tagged with "Archtober":
Archtober is just days away and AN is here to get you ready by rounding up all the must-see events beginning October 1. Organized by the Center for Architecture, the month-long design celebration is now in its ninth year and there’s so much to see and do. Ample new building projects have popped up throughout New York since last October, which means this is your chance to tour some of the most talked-about spaces in town. Not only that, but there will be plenty of after-work lectures, panels, workshops, films, conferences, and special events you can attend every day. Sales go fast, so purchase tickets to Archtober events today. Here’s our breakdown of 2019's can't-miss activities: Buildings of the Day tours One Vanderbilt Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox October 3 Building 77 Contemporary Renovations by Marvel Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle October 8 Solar Carve Architect: Studio Gang October 10 Hunters Point Library Architect: Steven Holl Architects October 11 Moxy East Village Architects: Rockwell Group and Stonehill Taylor October 16 Statue of Liberty Museum Architect: FXCollaborative October 23 Bronx Music Hall Architect: WXY Architecture + Urban Design October 24 MoMA Renovation and Expansion Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler October 25 121 East 22nd Street Architect: OMA New York October 29 Lectures + Panels: Building Better Cities with Crowdfunding Organized by: Syracuse Architecture October 1 Cocktails & Conversation: Marlon Blackwell & Billie Tsien Organized by: AIA New York October 4 Shohei Shigematsu & Atelier Bow-Wow on the Past & Future of Tokyo Architecture Organized by: Japan Society October 11 Daniel Libeskind: Edge of Order Organized by: Pratt Institute October 15 NOMA '19 Conference Organized by: nycobaNOMA October 16-20 Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women Organized by: The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, The Cooper Union; Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation; Phaidon October 18 A History of New York in 27 Buildings with Sam Roberts & Alexandra Lange Organized by: Museum of the City of New York October 21 Extra Tours: Architecture and the Lights of Gotham: Nighttime Boat Tour Organized by: AIA New York; Classic Harbor Line Multiple Dates Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital Organized by: Untapped New York October 19 VIP Tour of the Woolworth Building Organized by: Untapped New York October 5 Special Events: Opening of Fringe Cities: Legacies of Renewal in the Small American City Organized by: Center for Architecture October 2 Architecture of Nature / Nature of Architecture Organized by: The Architectural League of New York October 3 World Cities Day Organized by: UN-Habitat October 31
It's back: The 11th edition of New York's Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is set to bring interesting buildings and the people who design them to the silver screen this October. The five-day event is the largest design-focused film fest in the U.S., with almost 30 films that explore the structures and people who shape space. The kickoff event is an October 2 walk through SoHo centered on short films. The main event, meanwhile, will begin on October 16, halfway through Archtober, the all-things-buildings celebration hosted by the Center for Architecture. All of the films will be screened at Cinépolis Chelsea on West 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue. This year, festivalgoers will get to see City Dreamers, a documentary on four pioneering woman architects: Phyllis Lambert, founder of the Canadian Center for Architecture; Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, the landscape architect behind Expo 67's Children’s Creative Center; and Denise Scott Brown, the queen of pomo. The architect and planner Blanche Lemco van Ginkel will also get her due. Ginkel was the first woman dean of a North American architecture school (the University of Toronto) and designed the roof of Le Corbusier's Unité d’Habitation housing complex in Marseille. She and her husband Sandy van Ginkel also worked on an ahead-of-its-time scheme for a car-free Midtown Manhattan that included an orange electric mini-bus (the Ginklevan) that would transport passengers around the area. Another notable doc will make its U.S. debut: The New Bauhaus, a film on Hungarian émigré László Moholy-Nagy, the Hungarian artist who helped spread Bauhaus ideas through Chicago's IIT. PUSH, a documentary about the commodification of housing around the world and the role of global financing in fueling the affordable housing crisis, will give viewers a taste of global urbanism, as opposed to straight design. Panels, Q&As, and books for sale will round out the programming. If you're looking to cop tickets, they'll be on sale on September 16, while a full program will be released on September 5.
Since 2003, Open House New York Weekend has offered an open platform for New Yorkers to discuss and discover the architecture and public space of the city and to get involved in shaping its future. This past weekend, coinciding with Archtober, OHNY held events across the city’s five boroughs that engaged New York’s denizens with the architectural past, present, and future. AN has rounded up a few of our favorite sites for those who didn’t make it out. Bronx Community College: Marcel Breuer Buildings At the Bronx Community College (what was then part of NYU), the legendary modernist icon Marcel Breuer built five buildings, mostly in his signature concrete, over the course of just more than a decade. African Burial Ground National Monument The solemn, curving African Burial Ground National Monument, designed by Rodney Leon, was built in 2007 to commemorate the nearly 15,000 people of African descent, both enslaved and free, that were buried in Lower Manhattan from the early 17th century to the late 18th century. Nevelson Chapel at Saint Peter’s Church A relatively little-known Midtown chapel is also a pilgrimage site for art enthusiasts. One of the 20th century’s most important figures in sculpture, Louise Nevelson, created an installation for this chapel in Saint Peter’s Church, which was designed by Hugh Stubbins and Easley Hamner with interiors by Lella and Massimo Vignelli. Originally opened in 1977, the Nevelson Chapel is currently undergoing a major restoration. Brooklyn Army Terminal The now-defunct, massive Brooklyn Army Terminal has become a sort of landmark for its unusual atrium, featuring abandoned railway tracks and a balcony-punctuated facade, perhaps reminiscent of an austere version of a John Portman interior. The 95-acre complex was designed by Cass Gilbert in 1919. City College of New York: Solar RoofPod & Harlem Garden for Urban Food At The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at City College is an 800-square-foot, net-plus-energy experiment in green urban energy production, adjoined by a rooftop garden for research in sustainable food production. 17th and 18th century houses in Queens and Brooklyn Across Queens are some of New York City’s earliest surviving structures including the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House (1709) in Ridgewood, as well as the Bowne House (c. 1660) and the Queens Historical Society at Kingsland Homestead (1774–1785) in Flushing. Also on the list was New York’s oldest surviving building: the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum (1652). OHNY also featured several special series and days, including Factory Friday, which opened up fabrication studios to the public. Works by Women, a list of projects built by women and designed by women-led firms, like Deborah Berke Partners, Selldorf Architects, and Architecture Research Office, were also available to explore, as well open studios with firms across the city.
New York City’s eighth annual Archtober, a month-long design festival hosted by the Center for Architecture, will begin Monday, October 1, with Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, an exhibition exploring hip-hop culture’s impact on the built environment. “Over the last five decades, hip-hop’s primary means of expression—deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti—have become globally recognized creative practices in their own right,” reads the graffiti-tagged press release. “Hip-Hop Architecture produces spaces, buildings, and environments that embody the creative energy evident in these means of hip-hop expression.” Close to the Edge, which was curated by Sekou Cooke, an assistant professor at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, is the first exhibition dedicated to the hip-hop architecture movement. It will include projects by a diverse group of architects, academics, and students presented alongside paintings by legendary graffiti artist David “Chino BYI” Villorente. The opening will also feature extended hours with a live DJ performance. According to Cooke, the exhibition is not meant to identify hip-hop architecture as a particular style of building, although he welcomes debate from those who disagree, but it is meant to show how architecture can embrace the culture of hip-hop to become a more inclusive and constructive practice. “I want people to come who may not even know what hip-hop is,” Cooke told The Architect's Newspaper. “When people hear ‘hip-hop architecture’ they imagine buildings that are dancing to a specific genre of music, but hip-hop culture goes much deeper than that. It’s really about having people consider the work that they do in a more humanistic way, so that they’re thinking about the people that their work is affecting, the culture of the people they’re working for, and the ways a typically marginalized group of people sculpt their built environment as architecture.” Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture will be on view through January 12, 2019, at the Center for Architecture in New York City. The exhibition will be accompanied by speaking events, panel discussions, and workshops by BlackSpace and the AIANY.
It’s nearly the most architectural time of the year! Archtober, New York City’s annual architecture and design month organized by the Center for Architecture, is just around the corner, believe it or not, and the lineup of archi-activities this season is not to be missed. Now in its eighth year, Archtober will celebrate the influence of the design industry through exhibitions, films, lectures, conferences, and the architect-led Building of the Day tours, which grant visitors unique access to the city’s coolest projects. The first site this year is One John Street by Alloy, a new 130,000-square-foot residential property on the DUMBO waterfront. Perched next to the Manhattan Bridge, the 12-story building boasts unmatched views. You won’t want to miss your chance to get inside one of these apartments. You can also peruse the freshly-renovated TWA Hotel, or check out the brand new WeWork space inside S9 Architecture’s Dock 72 (the current talk of the town). You can also revel in the engineering feat that is The Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group. Sales for all tours begin today. You can purchase tickets via the Archtober website. Here is the complete schedule of sites to see: Oct. 1 One John Street Architect: Alloy Oct. 2 Lenox Hill Health Greenwich Village Original Architect: Albert Ledner; Renovation Architect: Perkins Eastman Oct. 3 Domino Park Architect: James Corner Field Operations Oct. 4 Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant Architect: Polshek Partnership/Ennead Oct. 5 Swiss Institute Architect: Selldorf Architects Oct. 6 TWA Hotel Original Architect: Eero Saarinen; Renovation Architects: Beyer Blinder Belle, Lubrano Ciavarra Architect Oct. 7 BSE Global Architect: TPG Architecture Oct. 8 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library Architect: Marble Fairbanks Oct. 9 Five Manhattan West Architect: REX Oct. 10 Bronx River Arts Center Architect: Sage and Coombe Architects Oct. 11 277 Fifth Avenue Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects Oct. 12 The Marcel Breuer Buildings at Bronx Community College Architect: Marcel Breuer Oct. 15 Hayes Theater Architect: Rockwell Group Oct. 16 R & Company Architect: wHY Architecture Oct. 17 Dock 72 Architect: S9 Architecture Oct. 18 Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse Architect: Architecture Research Office (ARO) Oct. 19 Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden and Water Conservation Project Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. Oct. 20 100 East 53rd Street Architect: Foster + Partners Oct. 21 Kew Gardens Hills Library Architect: WORKac Oct. 22 Spyscape Museum Architect: Adjaye Associates Oct. 23 Manhattanville Campus Plan: Jerome L. Green Science Center (Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute) and The University Forum Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Executive Architect: Davis Brody Bond LLP (Jerome L. Green Science Center) Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Executive Architect: Dattner Architects (The Forum) Oct. 24 325 Kent Avenue Architect: SHoP Oct. 25 Sculpture Studio Architect: Andrew Berman Architect Oct. 26 The Shed Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group Oct. 26 Alice Austen House Original Architect Unknown Oct. 28 Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Architecture, Exhibition Design, Landscape Architecture: Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects (Architect of Record), the Wildlife Conservation Society - Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department, and The Portico Group Oct. 29 African Burial Ground Monument Architects: Rodney Leon / AARRIS Architects Oct. 30 123 Melrose Architect: ODA New York Oct. 31 Hunters Point South Architect: WEISS/MANFREDI View all programming on Archtober.org.
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. On Halloween, we dressed as astronauts and boarded the space ship that has landed in McCarren Park – the William Vale Hotel. The hotel, designed by Albo Liberis, sits adjacent to McCarren Park, two blocks from the Williamsburg waterfront. The 20-story structure stands out in the Williamsburg skyline, where the building stock is primarily made up of four- to six-story buildings. Nick Liberis of Albo Liberis, and Amy, Lindsay, and David from the William Vale Hotel, led us on a tour highlighting the hotel’s urban features, event spaces, and retail spaces. The William Vale Hotel, which opened on September 2, 2016, sits on a 50,000-square-foot site that is sloped seven feet from one side of the site to the other. The hotel is made up of three buildings; there are two short buildings on the east and west ends of the site and a tower that springs from the middle. The tower contains six stories of office space and ten stories of hotel rooms. A large sculptural truss acts as the base of the tower. The truss is made up of five pieces – four legs and one center truss – which land on a massive beam at the base of the site. This six-story truss base, currently used as office space, allows for spectacular views for the ten stories of hotel rooms above. Due to a zoning quirk that allowed for the building of smoke stacks, the designers could max out the height of the building. The downstairs event spaces, including the conference center and ballroom, are submerged in the cellar on the south side of the building, allowing for 27-foot-high ceilings. Interiors were designed by Studio Munge, a Toronto-based interior design firm. Studio Munge and Albo Liberis worked closely together to create a contemporary line motif based on the large truss that the buildings rest on. This design is carried throughout the building and can be seen in the ballroom, hotel rooms, and public spaces. Studio Munge and Albo Liberis also worked carefully to source materials for each individual space. Another benefit of the set-back, raised structure is the creation of an expansive urban green space below. Albo Liberis wanted to integrate the building with the urban fabric by creating a courtyard and lawn that would blend seamlessly with the neighborhood. At street level, the retail storefronts read as the same height as the buildings that surround the hotel. One flight up, the public can enjoy rolling green hills and food from Mister Dips, an airstream parked on the roof, owned by Andrew Carmellini. Carmelini directs the entire food program at the hotel, including the restaurant on the ground floor, Leuca, and Westlight, the rooftop bar and restaurant. Liberis and the William Vale Hotel team also led us to the very top of the hotel, a private event space on the roof. As the tallest building in the surrounding area, the views are amazing. Author: Katie Mullen.
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. On Saturday, Archtober took a tour of the oldest house in Manhattan, the Morris-Jumel Mansion located in Washington Heights. Frederick Cookinham, a Revolutionary Manhattan expert and volunteer at the mansion, led us on the tour of the estate. The Morris-Jumel Mansion, located on a beautiful hill perched above what is now known as Robert Morris Park, is rich with American history. The house is named for the two families that lived there. In 1765, Robert Morris, a British military officer, bought a vast plot of farmland to build a summer home. Morris began construction a year later and, just as construction finished in 1767, he added an octagonal addition to the north of the house, ultimately creating a three-story, 8,000 square-foot mansion. Morris and his wife lived there until 1775 when they fled the American Revolution. The house was then occupied by General George Washington during the war. Located at the highest point in upper Manhattan, the house gave Washington a strategic advantage with its views to the east and west. In 1810, the mansion was purchased by Stephen Jumel, a wealthy French wine importer, and his wife Eliza. The Jumels were eager to be accepted into New York’s high society, and felt that their home would be their key to that world. They renovated the house, adding an oversized portico and installing detailed wallpapers to the interior. When Stephen Jumel died, Eliza was quickly pursued by Aaron Burr. They married and quickly divorced a year later. Eliza lived the rest of her life in the mansion. As the house stands today, it is decorated in the 1820s style that the Jumels designed. Eliza Jumel is clearly an important figure in the history of this estate and the house’s interior reflects that. The remaining grounds of the estate, which make up Robert Morris Park, were significantly altered by the WPA in the 1930s. Pathways were added, along with a French-style garden on the north side of the property, similar to the one Eliza Jumel planted on the south. In the past few years, the museum has been working towards updating the house and has been sending pieces of furniture out for restoration, including two original couches (from the Jumel era) and Eliza Jumel’s bed. The interior of the house is maintained by the museum, but the surrounding grounds and exterior of the house are actually maintained by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Money has been earmarked for restoration work on the exterior. We look forward to seeing the grandeur of this Old New York house return. Join us on Tuesday, October 31 for the last Archtober Building of the Day at the William Vale Hotel!
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Though it might be easy to mistake 300 Ashland for another trendy tower dotting the Brooklyn skyline, upon closer inspection it’s anything but ordinary. The sensitivity and vision of its design is remarkable, particularly when it comes to the way the tower interacts with its surroundings. 300 Ashland is centrally located at a unique triangular intersection in the heart of the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, at the intersection of Flatbush, Ashland, and Lafayette Avenues. The mixed-use building will feature 379 apartment units, first floor retail space, and will also become the new home of a number of cultural tenants, including MoCADA, Brooklyn Academy of Music cinemas, and a new branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. 50,000 square feet of performance, gallery, archive, and program space will be integrated into the building for these organizations, effectively extending the BAM campus and creating a cultural hub for the community. This is part of the reason that the architects view 300 Ashland as a civic proposal, despite it being a residential building. As such, much attention was given to the way the building interacts with the street and the community. The success of the project relies on TEN Arquitectos' belief that all architecture is on some level public, regardless of program, and the architects prioritized the creation of public space around the project. The result is an open, inviting, terraced public plaza that acts as a civic space and welcoming area for visitors to the cultural organizations within. As Andrea Steele of TEN Arquitectos explained, “We could have built to the property line, which is the street, and we could have made the tower taller.” Yet instead of maximizing square footage, the architects worked with the developer to “give a piece of this project back to Brooklyn.” And by designing to take up less of the overall site footprint, 15,000 square feet were indeed given back to the city in the form of public space. Of course, the architects acknowledged that the project is a business and needs to make money—and with a clever tweak that moves the cultural spaces to the second floor while preserving street level entrances, the space for retail was maximized. At the time of its conception 14 years ago, there were no other towers in the area; the iconic Barclays Center had not even yet been planned. What was there, of course, was the historic 1 Hanson Place, better known to most as the Williamsburg Savings Bank tower. Since the historic tower was completed just prior to the Great Depression, it stood alone for more than half a century in an area that had been planned to support large–scale building projects. For TEN Arquitectos, respecting that building and its residents became a driving force behind the design of 300 Ashland. The façade shifts back to not only provide an additional terrace, but in doing so preserves the uninterrupted view corridor of the historic tower. Archtober did tour some of the small but bright and immaculately finished apartments, and take in some of the incredible views from the tower’s 33rd floor. We may not all be able to live there, but thanks to an inviting plaza and cutting–edge cultural space integrated in the project, we can all enjoy a piece of 300 Ashland. Join us Sunday at the Morris Jumel Mansion!
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today, Archtober went on a hard hat tour of Bronx River House designed by Kiss + Cathcart with landscape design by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners. Situated on the Bronx River, access to the site is currently from a service road; when the project is completed, it will open into Starlight Park on the Bronx River Greenway. Though the project has been in the works for over ten years, it is expected to officially open in January 2018, with a full program activating the site sometime after that. The Bronx River House is the result of a public-private partnership between the Bronx River Alliance and numerous government agencies, primarily the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Since 2001, the Bronx River Alliance has been bringing attention to the recreational possibilities of the Bronx River and working to make the Bronx River Greenway a reality through educational and recreational programs. When Bronx River House opens, it will serve as the headquarters for the offices of the Bronx River Alliance, as well as a community space for locals and park visitors. The Bronx River House is a single-story structure, approximately 7,000 square feet in area, that will contain multiple programs. Surrounding the main structure, a metal mesh screen wall will serve as a security measure and support greenery. Within the building, the Alliance will have space for around 25 desks in addition to a boathouse, which has room for 20 or more canoes. These are used for river restoration, clean-up, and recreational tours. Public spaces will include a multipurpose room and a classroom that will face onto a public plaza that directly connects to Starlight Park. Our tour was led by Gregory Kiss of Kiss + Cathcart, who highlighted the design decisions they made to integrate the building into its setting. Less visible decisions include rainwater collection through the structure’s roof and plazas, geothermal heating and cooling systems, and solar energy panels that will allow the building to run on nearly 100% solar energy on a net basis. Perhaps most exciting are the plans to integrate plants and other greenery into the design of the building. The metal screen surrounding the building will be planted with an array of vines that will provide shade in the summer and allow light through in the winter. Kiss explained that the hope is that the main building will eventually be covered in moss. Because the cultivation of moss on vertical surfaces is still experimental, they will start with a 300-square-foot area. A drip irrigation system using collected rainwater will be added to the shingles on the façade to support the moss. Kiss stated that his intention with the vines and moss is to create a forest-like micro-climate that further integrates the building into the surrounding park. We definitely look forward to visiting again when the building opens to the public. Claudia Ibaven of the Bronx River Alliance, who joined us on our tour, reminded us to keep an eye on the Alliance’s website for announcements on when that will be. Join us tomorrow at ISSUE Project Room. By Berit Hoff
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. On Sunday, Archtober toured Freshkills Park, a former New York City landfill on Staten Island redeveloped into a 2,200-acre green space. Our tour guide was Mariel Villeré, the Manager for Programs, Arts and Grants at Freshkills Park. She gave us insights into the park’s history, design, and construction. An NYC Parks minibus picked us up from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal for the 30-minute ride to the site. After signing our waivers and traveling some distance over sanitation department roads, we arrived at the Visitor Center. Here, Villeré delved into the history of the site and the project. Until the mid-20th century, Freshkills Park was a wetland. In 1948, Robert Moses chose this supposedly “useless” site to create a landfill, which by 1955 was the largest in the world. The waste was dumped into four huge mounds, North, South, East and West, which today form the basis of the park’s landscape. The waste dump, which all five boroughs used, was officially ordered to close in 1996, and the last barge of refuse was sent to Freshkills after the World Trade Center attack in 2001. (The boroughs now have separate contracts with outside landfills; Staten Island’s garbage, for example, is shipped to South Carolina). In 2001, the Freshkills Park Alliance and NYC Parks launched a competition for a site masterplan, which James Corner Field Operations won. Their plan proposed the four distinct areas of the park based on the garbage mounds, along with a central area, known as the Confluence. Our tour focused on North Park, which recreates and strengthens the site’s wetlands and creeks. The entire site is two-and-a-half times the size of Central Park. In North Park, we took in the stunning views over Staten Island to Manhattan on the north and the rest of Freshkills Park to the south. Villeré discussed the vision behind the park’s design, noting how they needed to balance the recreation of the former habitat with the understanding that the site’s ecology and meaning have been irrevocably changed by 50 years of trash. While the garbage is under several layers of topsoil, no attempt is made to downplay the typical mound shape of the landfill. This creates an ecological opportunity in the northeast, where the drive for reforestation sometimes sidelines open spaces and wetlands. The diversity of the park has increased dramatically over the last few years, with over 100 species of birds now counted at the site. Villeré outlined the manifold challenges of creating a park on top of a landfill. Landfills generate two byproducts: landfill gas and leachate. At Freshkills, landfill gas is funneled into treatment facilities where its components, methane and CO2, are separated. The methane is piped into the New York City gas grid. The other product, leachate, is the liquid that forms, on a small scale, at the bottom of a trash bag. At Freshkills, permeable pipes laid in concrete ditches at the bottom of each mound collect the leachate. It is then treated and separated into leachate cakes, a highly concentrated substance, and clean water. We also drove by a flare station, which is a backup in case there is an issue with the system piping methane into the grid. Since the site is so huge, the project is necessarily phased. These phases are arranged from the outside in order to give back to the surrounding community, which was negatively impacted by the dump. The timeline has therefore prioritized small, demonstrable projects along the park’s edges. So far, some wetland restoration, Owl Hollow soccer fields, the New Springville Greenway, and the renovation of Schmul Park have been completed. We got a view of Schmul Park in the Travis neighborhood just to the west of the park. The redesign of a Moses-era blacktop playground–also by James Corner Field Operations–is now vibrantly colorful, packed with children and families on the warm October day. It is a blueprint for the success of an extraordinary project that will transform not only an extraordinary site, but how we think about the relationship between waste and nature in New York and beyond.
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. On Monday, Archtober toured the renovated George Washington Bridge Bus Station. During our tour, Robert Eisenstat, FAIA, Chief Architect of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and Robert Davidson, FAIA, Senior Vice President and Aviation and Multimodal Practice Lead at STV, described the design and renovation process for the project. The bus station vastly simplified access to buses and subway, creating commercial space to serve as both a source of revenue for PANYNJ and a new focal point for the community. The renovation project began around 2004, when PANYNJ was casting around for revenue streams in the wake of 9/11. A key aim of this initiative was to open retail space throughout PANYNJ’s properties. At the same time, the George Washington Bus Terminal needed considerable revamping. Every two platforms had a separate stair running up from the ground level, creating both a logistical nightmare and an accessibility violation. There wasn’t enough room to put in ramps or an elevator for multiple staircases. PANYNJ architects had long been drawing up plans for an integrated bus concourse from which all platforms would be accessible. This, combined with the need for rental space, became the impetus for the redevelopment. The project officially began once PANYNJ and STV convinced a developer to take on the project in exchange for revenue from renting the business spaces in the late aughts. The George Washington Bridge Bus Station was originally a PANYNJ project planned in conjunction with one of Robert Moses’s immense infrastructure projects. It sits over the Trans-Manhattan Expressway, which connects the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson with the Alexander Hamilton Bridge on the Harlem River. The Bus Terminal was designed by Italian architect and engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, a pioneer of reinforced-concrete construction whose other notable works include numerous sports stadia in his native Italy. As Eisenstat and Davidson stated, although the building is not officially landmarked, they treated it as if it was and even collaborated with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission on the project. A thorough analysis of the building’s use guided the design of the renovation. The proposal consolidated all bus gates into one centrally accessible expanse, eliminating redundant stairs. It also concentrated all bus activity on the top (third) level, leaving the ground level open for commercial use. This retail space focuses on the “Broadway corridor,” which the designers and developer identified as the main way the bus terminal could serve the surrounding community. The set of stores is known as the "GWB Market | Mercado," as new lettering proclaims. These stores, which include a sorely needed supermarket just off Broadway, are almost all rented and will, once fully occupied, create a new hub of activity to ensure that the terminal serves local users as well as those in transit. The ground floor is now a clean, large space where escalators and a stair lead to the bus concourse above. When visitors arrive at the top of the stairs, they can see the parked buses and, past one of Nervi’s columns, catch a glimpse of the George Washington Bridge. PANYNJ and STV managed to imbue clarity and simplicity into Nervi’s extraordinary structure, turning a somewhat forbidding and empty structure into a pleasing and welcoming space serving both those on the move and the local community. Tuesday's tour of The Hills at Governors Island had to be cancelled due to inclement weather. Join us on Wednesday at Bronx River House.