Grimshaw and Beyer Blinder Belle have been tapped by Washington, D.C.'s Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) to spearhead a master plan to spruce up the city's iconic train station. The "Master Development Plan for Union Station's 2nd Century" builds upon the hugely ambitious, $9 billion development plan that Amtrak and developer Akridge unveiled in 2012. As AN wrote at the time: "The 3-million-square-foot project promises to unite the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and NoMa, a former industrial area transformed into a leafy residential neighborhood." Now, Grimshaw and Beyer Blinder Belle are tasked with making that vision (or something like it) a reality. To do so, the firms will be conducting a comprehensive planning process with public engagement and environmental assessment. They will also draw up conceptual designs to improve the passenger experience and overall functionality at the station. "The Master Development Plan for Union Station’s 2nd Century will respect and reinforce the station’s historic setting, while also integrating it with surrounding neighborhoods, and the construction of Burnham Place, a three-million-square-feet of mixed-use space, parks, and plazas to be developed over the rail yard," said the USRC, Amtrak, and Akridge in a statement. This master plan will actually be the second Union Station master plan that Grimshaw is currently overseeing. Last fall, the firm unveiled a very futuristic vision for Los Angeles' train station of the same name.
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Essex Crossing has been over four decades in the making, and now the plan to turn the six-acre swath of land in Manhattan's Lower East Side, known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), is gaining traction. The development team, Delancey Street Associations, along with the four participating architecture firms—Handel Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, Dattner Architects, and SHoP Architects—just revealed the latest renderings for the project's first phase. This first phase, consisting of four of the total nine sites, will provide 1,000 units of affordable, market rate, and senior housing in addition to a mix of residential, retail, and community space, including the relocated Essex Market, a bowling alley, the Warhol Museum, and a rooftop urban farm. There will, however, be no parking so residents will have to get familiar with their public transit options. This, according to Curbed, concerned community board members the most. The developers explained that after talks with the DOT, they determined that with the congestion around the area of the Williamsburg Bridge, it wasn’t safe to include more parking. One person at the meeting suggested increasing bus service to alleviate overcrowding. Other issues, such as accessibility to public amenities and bike storage, came up as well. The architects at a press preview cited the tenements as fodder for their designs with the goal of making the buildings contextual within the mostly low-rise neighborhood. The project has already gone through Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and is expected to break ground by Spring. If all goes according to plan, the buildings will be complete in roughly three years from the start of construction.
After a three year absence, the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is set to reopen on December 12. The nation's design museum has been active in the interim, staging off site exhibitions, hosting workshops and classes, and bestowing honors to the nation's best designers, but its full return to New York's cultural landscape is much anticipated. A large group of top tier designers has contributed to the museum's renovation, expansion, and rethinking of how it displays the objects and processes of design, including Gluckman Mayner Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Pentagram, Beyer Blinder Belle, Local Projects, and Thinc Design. The museum reorganized staff areas and moved offices into adjacent townhouses to create new galleries in the landmark Carnegie mansion's third floor, among many other alterations. Here is a sneak peak of some of the reinstalled galleries. Welcome back, Cooper-Hewitt!
The picturesque Longwood Gardens outside of Wilmington, Delaware has announced a $90 million plan to revitalize its 83-year-old fountain garden. The expensive undertaking will include replacing the fountain’s aging electric and plumbing infrastructure, restoring limestone reliefs, installing new plantings and pathways, and improving guest access to the garden. The historic renovation is being led by Beyer Blinder Belle with West 8 overseeing the garden’s public space design. When it reopens in 2017, the refurbished five-acre Fountain Garden will have a new system of water jets to create a more dynamic water choreography—think the Bellagio. These new jets won't just be agile, they will be powerful, capable of pushing water 175 feet high—topping the current system by 45 feet. There will also be a colorful LED lighting system to highlight all of the fountain's new tricks. Fluidity Design Consultants is behind the fountain's revamp. The renovation of Longwood Gardens will also include the reopening of the south wall which has 20 wall-mounted fountains, new seating areas, a renovated Pump House lobby, and a trellis bride that connects with the Fountain Terrace. “Our founder Pierre S. du Pont created the Main Fountain Garden for the enjoyment and delight of his guests at Longwood. Over the past eight decades, they have become a beloved part of our grounds,” said Longwood Gardens’ Executive Director Paul B. Redman. “The Gardens and its Board of Trustees have been planning for the revitalization of these iconic fountains for many years now. We are preserving Mr. du Pont’s legacy and adding to it through beautiful new plantings, the creation of new spaces in which to relax and reflect, and improved accessibility so guests can walk freely among the fountains.” Groundbreaking is expected to start in mid-October.
As New Yorkers celebrate Grand Central's Centennial, many might have forgotten, or perhaps never even knew, that the train terminal almost suffered the same fate as Penn Station and was nearly demolished in the late 1960s. This controversy made historic preservation a critical part of the conversation about development and the future of New York City. Grand Central "was a gift to preservation and left a legacy. By its influence, it will save other buildings in the future," said Frank Prial, Associate Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the firm responsible for the restoration of Grand Central. "It is our poster child for preservation." Prial mentions that the effort to save Grand Central Terminal "grew from great community service" and with the help of city leaders such as former Mayor Ed Koch, who recently passed away, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Over the years, there have been renovations and updates to the building. Prial was part of the team at Beyer Blinder Belle to work on the restoration, and recalls a significant decision—to construct a new staircase on the east side, which was included in the original designs by Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem, but was ultimately cut because the project was "running out of money and there was no place to go on east side because they filled with tenements and slaughter houses." While some of the more conservative preservationists doubted the necessity of the new staircase, Prial says that "there was more than just an architectural need for it, not only to uphold the architects’ original intent, but also to create access to this great space below and also to encourage ciruculation and in times of emergency." Few commuters might realize that this stairwell was only built in 1998—it fits naturally within the space, and as Prial points out, is in keeping with Beaux-Arts tradition. "People are simply not aware that this stair didn’t exist. It is simpler, cleaner and more modern than original on the west side."
Design studio Diller Scofidio+Renfro (DS+R) has certainly had a very good week. As we noted yesterday, the firm’s designs for the Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building in Washington Heights have just been released, and now today, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has announced that DS+R will be working with museum staff on the redesign of the museum’s exhibition spaces that are currently under renovation on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The Cooper-Hewitt closed last July for an extensive, two-year face lift and is currently undergoing an extensive reprogramming that will increase the amount of exhibition space by 60 percent and rearrange the institution's functional divisions. Gluckman Mayner Architects, with executive architects Beyer Blinder Belle are responsible for the restoration and renovation of the institution's historic Andrew Carnegie Mansion and two adjoining row houses on 90th Street and Fifth Avenue. While the buildings are reprogrammed and historic features preserved, DS+R will be responsible for designing the new exhibitions contained in those spaces. Along with media designer Local Projects, DS+R is responsible for the visitor’s experience in both the permanent exhibition rooms on the first floor and the temporary exhibition spaces on the second and third floors. At this point in the process, neither the collaboration between Local Projects, DS+R, and the Cooper-Hewitt, nor the scope of the final product, has been decided. Stay tuned to AN for updates on the new exhibition spaces as they emerge.
Last week, as New York was blindly transfixed on its impending Thanksgiving feast, the Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) released renderings of a proposed mixed-use development that has been floated to help fund the waterfront park. Seven proposals stacked, folded, and otherwise covered in plants a program calling for several hundred hotel rooms and residences on two park-side sites on Furman Street. The developer/architect breakdown was full of the regular big names and heavy hitters: Brooklyn's Two Trees selected WASA/Studio A; Toll Brothers worked with Rogers Marvel; SDS worked with Leeser; Extell went with Beyer Blinder Belle; Dermot with FX Fowle; RAL with CDA; and Starwood teamed with Alloy Development, Bernheimer Architects, and n Architects. Building any new buildings along the park has been a contentious issue, but the tax revenue the new development would generate would go a long way toward BBP's financial sustainability. While architects whipped up some flashy renderings, one aspect seems certain to rouse fans of Brooklyn Heights' elevated promenade. In several of the renderings, views of the Brooklyn Bridge appear slightly interrupted despite guidelines that limit the height of new construction. BBP spokesperson Ellen Ryan told AN that all of the proposals adhere to the Special Scenic View Corridor regulations set forth by City Planning, which are actually lower in height than the old cold storage warehouses that once stood on the site until the 1950s. The building height limits range from 55 feet on the south parcel and 100 feet on the north. That's not the only thing driving neighborhood angst. The Brooklyn Eagle pointed out that the public only has about four weeks to review and comment on the proposals—until December 22—and at the height of the holiday season rush no less. There's a lot to like about the proposals as well. WASA/Studio A clad their curvilinear buildings with giant green walls with windows poking through while Rogers Marvel and others planted every available rooftop space with green roofing. FXFOWLE's stacked metal-mesh-covered volumes connect to the planned Squibb Park pedestrian bridge, providing direct access to its rooftops in what looks to be a gesture to the High Line. Leeser Architects' futuristic proposal called for a massive atrium filled with a gym and a floating pool, while Starwood's team of Bernheimer and n Architects lifted their proposal to provide views of the park along the sidewalk. Take a look at all of the proposals below and share your thoughts in the comments. All images courtesy respective firms / Brooklyn Bridge Park.
There was plenty of pomp for the opening of the Brooklyn Navy Yard's BLDG 92. For the first time in 210 years, the Yard welcomed the public into its gates. The $25.6 million project includes the renovation of a building by U.S. Capitol architect Thomas U. Walter and the addition of new 24,000-square-foot community and exhibition space. D.I.R.T. Studio signed on as landscape architect. Beyer Blinder Belle and workshop/adp dreamed up a perforated sunscreen which utilizes highly pixelated imagery of an historic photograph, meshing new technology with nostalgic imagery.
Superlatives swirled in every account of the 2006 opening of the expansion of the Morgan Library and Museum, designed by Renzo Piano with Beyer Blinder Belle. Nicolai Ouroussoff teed up: “dazzling,” “sublime,” “triumph,” and “mesmerizing” (New York Times, April 10, 2006). The AIANY jury feted it with its Architecture Honor Award in 2006, calling it “a masterpiece” (Oculus, Fall 2006). The critics adopted Piano’s romantic metaphor “piazza” to describe the new atrium space. Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I think that buildings face onto piazzas, showing their fronts—not their back-sides. Don’t get me wrong—the McKim library has a very pleasant blank Tennessee marble back side, and you can barely see the hind quarters of the Annex building for all the overhead extravaganzas of shading grids, light fixtures, and flying elevator platforms. The brownstone of the former residence is also obscured behind the deep cherry paneling and new pavilion that houses offices and the loading dock on the 37th Street side. When I think piazza, I think figural space—space that has defined shape and volume. The Gilbert Court space, as it is named, is vaporous and soft—it flows between the masses of the three buildings that pin its corners. It is an indeterminate medium into which the other buildings have been embedded, incidentally, not creating its own new separate order, but rather seeping in and around tiny points of entry on the behinds of the cardinal structures. -Cynthia Kracauer/Center for Architecture
More than four years after opening its Renzo Piano-designed expansion, The Morgan Library & Museum has given its 1906 McKim, Mead & White building a loving restoration, expertly executed by Beyer Blinder Belle. In addition to cleaning the mosaics and marbles, the Museum has opened two new spaces to the public, Pierpont Morgan's vault and the serene North Room, formerly the director's office. The renovation allows more of the museum's permanent collection to be displayed, and allows curators to better display those objects, thanks in large part to the exacting lighting design by Renfro Design Group. The Rotunda (above) glows with new lighting and cleaned surfaces and five new display cases, lit with fiber optics, to show the institution's fascinating collection, including a "life mask" of George Washington, a cast of his face made while he was alive as a study for a sculpture (in the case on the right). The East Room has three tiers of rare books, illuminated with strip LEDs, accessible to staff by secret passageways (no kidding). The new display cases match the walnut of the existing bookshelves, but use a more contemporary design vocabulary. The carpet, though of the period, is also new to the room. The dramatic pendant lamp is original to the room, though it had been in storage for many years. The more intimately scaled North Room served as the office of the collection's first librarian and curator, and later became the directors office. Open to the public for the first time, the room will house rare books above the mezzanine, with a permanent installation of antiquities in new shallow display cases below. The vast West Room served as Morgan's library and displays some of the paintings and majolica he collected, largely in the last 15 years of his life. The vault, visible at left, often held objects Morgan was considering for purchase. The vault now offers more space for display, and gives visitors a glimpse into Morgan's life as a collector. The restored McKim, Mead & White building opens to the public on Saturday, October 30.
As the redevelopment of the massive Domino Sugar refinery on the WIlliamsburg waterfront continues to trudge through the city's public review process, what remains of the once mighty sweetener plant continues to deteriorate—or improve, depending on your attitudes towards street art. Following on the footsteps of the busted windows some feared would cause water damage to the main refinery building, now warring graffiti crews have set up shop on the bin building. A concrete addition from the 1960s that will be demolished to make way for some of Rafael Viñoly's 2,200 apartments, the bin building has now been bombed by no fewer than 5 graffiti writers. But it's not all bad news for the development, as it won conditional approval from Borough President Marty Markowitz on Friday, though some of those conditions are pretty steep if also in line with the demands of the local community board, which does not support the project. They include reduced bulk and density for the project; more and better subway service, especially on the L, for all those new residents; and room for a school, supermarket, and "possible artisan establishments" within the development.
While the preservation experts at Beyer Blinder Belle are typically busy making old structures look new with new components that look old (like, say, the signage at a certain skyscraper), BBB's designers also from time to time design from whole cloth. Or whole bronze, as is the case for a pair of murals created for a recent lobby renovation to 230Park Avenue, the former Helmsley Building that caps Grand Central. Last Monday, Monday Properties president Anthony Westreich, the building's owner, dedicated the murals along with local pols Scott Stringer and Daniel Garodnick and Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Robert Tierney. Weighing more than a ton, the murals—which were drawn by Chris Ludlow and sculpted by Joan Benefiel under the direction of BBB—hark back to the building's history as the former headquarters for the New York Central Railroad, depicting a train speeding by with the distinctive profile of 230 Park in the background. See more photos from the dedication and shop after the jump.