Posts tagged with "Bronx":

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Co-op City celebrates 50 years of affordable housing in the Bronx

Off I-95 in the northern Bronx, just past the swamps at the mouth of the Hutchinson River and the paved paradise at Bay Plaza mall, arise 35 massive, brick and concrete tower blocks. Most residences nearby are single-family, but Co-op City's 24-story towers shoot out of the ground like sore, red-brick thumbs. But, as out of place as they seem, there are many similar complexes all around New York City and the rest of the country: Stuyvesant Town by the East Village, Riverton Square in Harlem, and the gone-but-never-forgotten Pruitt-Igoe projects of St. Louis. According to Adam Tanaka, a New York–based urbanist who studied these Bronx housing blocks for his Harvard graduate dissertation, Co-op City is the country's largest and most successful cooperative living facility. Many of its 35,000 residents have been living in them since they opened 50 years ago. In a mini-documentary published with CityLab, entitled "City in a City," Tanaka interviewed residents, building managers, representatives, and others involved in the conception of the towers to understand what makes these buildings so successful compared to other projects. On top of interviews and historical analysis, documentary footage shows what life at Co-op City is like. During most weekends of fair weather, tenants and local merchants buy and sell art and food, local musicians perform while residents dance, and children play on the swing sets. Wildlife even has a large presence there: residents have reported seeing deer. What is so special about Co-op City that allows for beautiful scenes like this to be the norm? Tanaka suggests the towers owe their success not to the City of New York, nor to any federally-funded programs, but to their fellow resident, architects, and the coalition of labor unions responsible for the towers’ development. The documentary highlights several of the complex's relatively unique features: a ban on market-rate apartment resale, permanent rent control (which was established in the early '70s after the state tried to increase rents for Co-op City’s tenants), affordable down payments, an elected representative board, self-funded maintenance, and a racially, culturally, and financially diverse group of tenants. But architectural features like larger-than-average apartments with grand windows and ample living and storage space, as well as multiple communal parks and green spaces—all of which was designed by architect Herman J. Jessor, inspired by Le Corbusier’s Villes Radieuse and Contemporain—play major roles, as well. In the documentary, Alena Powell, a resident of Co-op City since 1973, said a friend from the Upper East Side “was amazed because [Powell’s] living room could hold her [friend's] living room and kitchen all together.” Powell also “likes the fact that [she’s] not on top of other people as if [she] was living in Manhattan.” Other residents remark about how “spacious” the apartments are, and how they love the consistent natural light. Pleasing as they may be for many who live there, the Co-op City buildings were (and are) not without criticism. According to an article in Curbed by historian James Nevius, the Co-op City buildings stand as a testament to the ethics of erasing "slums," and to the power of the infamous Robert Moses, whose "bulldoze it" approach to entire neighborhoods is a highly-debated matter, to say the least. During construction in the early 1970s, many rallied against the design and construction of the towers, citing the cheap and unpleasing exterior. Nevius cites Jane Jacobs, who stated they were “truly marvels of dullness and regimentation, sealed against any buoyancy or vitality of city life.” Nevius also references criticisms by the AIA: "Similarly, the American Institute of Architects complained that 'the spirits of the tenants' at Co-op City 'would be dampened and deadened by the paucity of their environment.'" However, many in Tanaka's documentary do not share those opinions and come to the towers' defense. Ken Wray, former executive director of the United Housing Federation, says “the aesthetic was ‘Why waste money on the outside of the building?’ You don’t live on the outside of the building…People driving by might think it’s ugly but people who live there know what [the apartments] look like.” Often overlooked, too, is a sprawling meadow laced among the buildings. According to Nevius, over 80 percent of Co-op City's footprint is dedicated to landscaping: grass and trees with play structures, courts, benches, and market stands on the perimeter. For the people who use these daily, these are helpful amenities that similar developments do not have. Co-op City raises questions about the emphasis on policy or architecture, about interior design versus exterior, about the house and the outdoors, and about ownership and citizenship. Regardless of where one lands on these issues, there's something to be learned from these 35 towers in the Bronx.
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Michael K. Chen completes a glowing children's library for a Bronx shelter

The Bronx-based Concourse House, a transitional shelter for women with children under nine years old, has received a new children’s library courtesy of New York's Michael K. Chen Architecture (MKCA). Instead of a traditional book nook, MKCA has installed an illuminated, elongated library and a reading area below the shelter’s dramatic barrel-vaulted ceiling. Concourse House: Home for Women and Their Children was founded in 1991 as both a shelter and resource center for families who are transitioning out of homelessness. Because Concourse House primarily works with families who have children, the library was a welcome addition. “The love of books and of reading is something that defined my own childhood, and that of everyone on our team,” said MKCA founder Michael Chen. “The space for imagination and for reflection that books afford is such a gift, especially for kids who don’t currently have a permanent home, or might not have a space of their own. It’s a privilege to work with Concourse House to make the library a reality for such a deserving group of children.” MKCA placed the library and slatted bookshelf on the mezzanine of Concourse House’s soaring multipurpose space, allowing light from the space’s ample windows to filter through to the reading area. The rounded edges of the timber bookshelf both slot into and reference the building’s vaulted ceiling. Whereas the multipurpose space below is a stark white, MKCA used color in the children’s library to differentiate it from the shelter’s more institutional spaces. An assortment of soft poufs in red, blue, and green pastels was used for the library’s seating and can be stored in their accompanying shelves to act as backrests for children who sit on the ground. A room-spanning plush carpet in a wild variety of colors drew inspiration from the shape of the other elements in the library for its rounded pattern. The project was completed pro bono, and through the help of small donators. The library was filled with 1,200 books through Sisters Uptown Bookstore in Washington Heights, while MKCA solicited donations from designers, fabricators, suppliers, and contractors to complete the project. The studio also worked to coordinate a charity auction for the shelter, where design objects, furniture, and lighting will be sold through Paddle8.com from December 4 through 18. The project was made possible through the primary support of Julie and Kate Yamin.
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The world's largest ice-skating center could be coming to the Bronx

Plans are underway for the 750,000-square-foot Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx to become the world’s largest ice-skating complex, according to its developers. Crain’s New York reported that the development duo of Kevin Parker, former Deutsche Bank executive, and Mark Messier, former center for the New York Rangers, have secured financing for phase one of their $350 million project, which they plan to begin constructing mid-next year. Parker said that Citibank has promised his group, Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a significant loan for construction to be paired with the $35 million already raised through private investment. “Citibank is committed to doing the first phase of the project,” he told Crain’s. “And they’ve indicated a strong desire to finance the second phase. But we’re going one step at a time.” If approved by New York City officials, the first phase of construction would include the build-out of the 5-acre site into nine rinks, athletic facilities, and a 5,000-seat stadium. Construction for phase one would likely total $170 million in overall costs and Parker hopes to raise money for the remainder of the project in order to complete it by 2022. The Kingsbridge National Ice Center has been a six-year dream in the making for Parker and Messier. The city currently owns the armory and hasn’t given the pair a lease, telling the duo that the city would wait until further financing was secured. The new fundraising news presumably means that the city will be ready to greenlight the project. Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to give the project a $138 million loan to help it find long-term financing after phase one is done. Parker and Messier’s idea for an ice facility beat out other proposals that would have transformed the century-old red brick building into either a film and television complex, a mixed sports center, or a chess center. A highly-contested site, it was designated a New York City landmark in 1974 and was heralded as a leading example of military architecture. The armory originally housed the National Guard and features an 800-seat auditorium and a 180,000-square-foot drill hall. The nine-story structure includes an iconic, curved, sloping metal roof that can be seen from the Major Deegan Expressway and from the surrounding neighborhood near Fordham University.

The Architecture of Literacy in the Bronx

Join the Municipal Art Society for an exploration of literacy-related architecture in the Fordham and University Heights sections of the Bronx. We’ll look at public schools designed by Charles B. J. Snyder, and the campus designed for New York University in the 1890s by Stanford White (now Bronx Community College), with the early-20th-century tourist attraction, the Hall of Fame. Modern buildings include ones by Marcel Breuer and Robert A. M. Stern.
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City Council approves major Bronx rezoning

The New York City Council has approved a major rezoning of the Bronx’s Jerome Avenue, a vital thoroughfare in the East Bronx that’s lined with auto body shops and crowned by the elevated 4 and 5 trains. The rezoning has been in the works since 2016 and is the first in the Bronx under Mayor Bill de Blasio. The 92-block-long rezoning of the North-South street is meant to encourage the construction of up to 4,600 new housing units in the area, 1,150 of which will fall under the city’s affordable housing programs. The city will subsidize new construction, because it says rents in the area are too low to lure market-rate developments. The rezoning unanimously passed votes by both the City Planning Commission in January and the City Council’s Land Use and Zoning and Franchises Subcommittees in March, and was again unanimously approved by the City Council yesterday. The basic outline of the rezoning follows that of East Harlem, which passed in December of last year; the city had initially wanted to rezone the major commercial spine of the Bronx to allow for the densest development possible under the zoning code (R7, R8, R9). Opponents who felt that the rezoning would displace local businesses and drive up rent costs throughout the area were opposed, as was Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who negotiated with the de Blasio administration to preserve more than 2,000 units of affordable housing. As part of the new conditions of the final deal, the city will include $189 million for improving the area’s parks and streetscapes, including pedestrian safety upgrades and lighting, cameras and crosswalks under the elevated subway tracks. The construction of two 458-seat elementary schools are also part of the package, as is an anti-harassment bill–to prevent landlords from pushing out tenants–and a $1.5 million grant for retraining and relocating displaced businesses. The Bronx rezoning, the fifth of 15 planned neighborhood rezonings under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, follows those in East New York, Far Rockaway, Midtown East, and East Harlem.
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WXY's redevelopment of Bronx juvenile detention center moves forward

This week the New York City Council's land use committee okayed the redevelopment of Spofford Juvenile Detention Center, a vacant former jail complex in the South Bronx's Hunts Point neighborhood. The committee's approval marks one of the final hurdles in a long-sought transformation of the site into a mini-village of affordable housing, stores, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor space. The development, officially known as The Peninsula, is being designed by New York's WXY and Body Lawson Associates. The city-led project will feature 740 units of 100 percent affordable housing surrounded by 52,000 square feet of open space, around 18,000 square feet of health and wellness services, ground floor retail, 48,000 square feet of space for co-working spaces and a small business incubator, and almost 50,000 square feet set aside for light industrial uses. The $300 million project was first revealed in late 2016, and since then, it's acquired a fresh set of renderings, some of which are pictured here. It will be built in four stages: Phase 1A, YIMBY reported, will break ground this spring, and is scheduled for completion by 2019. Phase IB will be complete by the first quarter of 2021, while phases II and III will be done by 2022 and 2024, respectively. Later this month, the full City Council will vote on the project.
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Artist Tim Rollins, who commissioned Aldo Rossi Studio, dies at 62

The announcement that artist Tim Rollins has died at age 62 has shocked many of his colleagues in the art world. Along with Julie Ault and Félix González-Torres, Rollins co-founded Manhattan-based Group Material in 1979. The collective's East Village gallery questioned curatorial practices with a series of oddball shows that, according to ArtNews, “included pop-cultural objects alongside artworks." Rollins was probably best known, however, for K.O.S. (Kids of Survival), a student collaborative he founded in 1981 to make art with middle schoolers from the South Bronx. He worked alongside the students in an after-school Art and Knowledge Workshop, housed for many years in the American Bank Note Building in Hunt's Point, the Bronx. In the early 1990s, Rollins commissioned Aldo Rossi to design a new campus building for the workshop a few blocks away from the studio on small South Bronx site that, if built, would be a sign of hope and rebirth in what was then a physically devastated neighborhood. Rollins picked the hilltop site for its visual prominence but also because it would be adjacent to the notorious Spofford Juvenile Detention Center, a now-shuttered youth jail that's being redeveloped by WXY. He thought this colorful new Rossi-designed school building would be a symbol of hope for the Bronx, as it would have been visible from at least three boroughs. Writing in the New York Times, Herbert Muschamp applauded Rollins's choice because of Rossi’s commitment to the idea of an city and because of his "Jeffersonian ethos: the link between education and freedom; the recasting of traditional architecture in the mold of progressive ideals; the union of architecture and public life." I met with Rollins in his studio at the time, and he tried to solicit my help in raising the $5 million dollars needed to build the project and get it though New York City building regulations. I spent months trying make it happen and recall being discouraged by everyone whose help I sought at city agencies and nonprofits. Sadly, Rossi’s Bronx Academy was never built, but the drawings the architect produced remind us of Rollins foresight, courage, and intelligence to even try to imagine an architecture of transcendent possibility and hope.
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Archtober Building of the Day #21: Bronx River House

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
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COOKFOX's green affordable housing complex will open in the Bronx

This Wednesday, an affordable housing development in the the Bronx designed by COOKFOX Architects will hold its long-anticipated ribbon-cutting. The developments are dubbed Park House and Webster Residence, the former house containing 248 units and opening this week, the latter containing an additional 170 units and opening in 2018. Both are intended for low-income and formerly homeless households. The complex was topped off in May of last year. The complex has been built on what was formerly a vacant industrial plot. Its facade is set in a combination of brick tones, stratified and layered to produce a "biomimetic surface reminiscent of ocean sand or tree bark patterns," as the firm writes. The 12-story buildings also incorporate sustainable design techniques, utilizing green roofs, natural light, recessed green spaces, and a central garden and courtyard shared by tenants. As the firm's founding principal told AN last year, the materials and layout of the complex are meant to instill “a sense of permanence, a sense of belonging to the streetscape” – a motivation which seems especially apt when designing for the recently homeless. The project was completed through a partnership between COOKFOX Architects and the nonprofit Breaking Ground (formerly Common Ground), the city's largest housing provider for the homeless. Breaking Ground currently manages over 3,500 units of supportive and affordable housing largely within the New York metropolitan area, and have set a goal of building an additional 1,500 units for low-income and homeless families within the next five years – no small task. But with three more residences already planned in the Bronx, their target is well within reach.
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Bronx Children’s Museum breaks ground

The Bronx Children’s Museum is inching closer to reality: the project broke ground yesterday in Mill Pond Park, which is steps away from the Yankee Stadium. The $10.3 million, 13,800-square-foot museum also doubles as a restoration project. A historic powerhouse facility will act as the museum’s permanent home, which is slated to be LEED-certified. The museum will sit on the second floor, with the first floor providing access to the river, park, and tennis courts. The Bronx is the only borough in New York City that doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar children’s museum. Previously, the museum used a roving bus that hosted exhibits. Designed by New York–based O’Neill McVoy Architects, the Bronx Children’s Museum's design aims to catalyze its site—located between the city grid and the bank of the Harlem River—by creating an organic flow within the rectangular frame. The museum hopes to connect children to the natural world and the project's design was inspired by Jean Piaget’s concept of a child’s development from topological to projective, according to the architects’ description. Curved wooden and translucent partitions diverge, reconnect, and spiral throughout the space to create both continuity and separation between exhibition spaces. The theme of “Power” will unify all of the exhibits, which will also explore Bronx culture, arts, and community resources. In accordance with its vision to engage children with their natural environment, there will be a river habitat where visitors can build beaver dams and learn about water ecosystems. There will also be a community gallery, garden, and a greenmarket. The museum is projected to open in late 2018.
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AIA Brooklyn + Queens Design Awards winners announced

The American Institute of Architects Brooklyn + Queens Design Awards (BQDA), which now works with AIA Staten Island and AIA Bronx, has announced the winners for its 2017 gala, the second edition of the awards. This year, the AIA chapters of Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, all collaborated for the awards. They're aiming to promote chapter members and affiliates by recognizing, as they said in a press release, "the best architecture and professionals that Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx can offer." A jury from AIA Long Island sifted through more than 100 entries, and after a month's worth of deliberation, allocated awards in 13 categories; each AIA Chapter also has its own award. 2017 Brooklyn Chapter Award Casa de Sombra Bade Stageberg Cox 2017 Queens Chapter Award Spire Lofts Zambrano Architectural Design
2017 Staten Island Chapter Award Midtown Redevelopment Project: The City of Monessen v+b Architects
2017 BQDA Design of the Year Elmhurst Community Library Marpillero Pollak Architects Below, are the winners of the 13 categories: Residential (1-2 Family) BQDA Award of Excellence and People's Choice Winner Artist Residence, Brooklyn Lynch Eisinger Design Architects, LLP BQDA Award of Merit Prismatic Bay Townhouse, Brooklyn Peterson Rich Office, LLC

Residential (Multiple Family/Multiple Dwelling)

BQDA Award of Excellence Creston Avenue Residences, Bronx Magnusson Architecture and Planning, PC BQDA Award of Merit and  People's Choice Winner 365 Bond Street, Brooklyn Hill West Architects

Residential (Mix Use Residential)

BQDA Award of Excellence and  People's Choice Winner Navy Green, Brooklyn FXFOWLE BQDA Award of Merit Fulton Street Development, Brooklyn GreenbergFarrow

Institutional

BQDA Award of Excellence and  People's Choice Winner Elmhurst Community Library, Queens Marpillero Pollak Architects BQDA Award of Merit The Novogratz Center for Athletics, Brooklyn Jack L. Gordon Architects

Commercial - Small Projects

People's Choice Winner CREATE, Queens New York Design Architects

Commercial - Large Projects

People's Choice Winner Apple Store Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Additions/Renovations

BQDA Award of Excellence and  People's Choice Winner Olmsted Center Annex, Queens BKSK Architects BQDA Award of Merit Park Slope Townhouse, Brooklyn GRADE 

Adaptive Reuse/Historic Preservation

BQDA Award of Excellence and Queens Chapter Award Spire Lofts, Brooklyn Zambrano Architectural Design People's Choice Winner Brooklyn College Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema & 25 Washington Restoration at Steiner Studios, Brooklyn Dattner Architects

Interiors

BQDA Award of Merit Maple Street School, Brooklyn Barker Freeman Design Office Architects, PLLC and Marvel Architect and 4Mative Design Studio People's Choice Winner Beyond at Liberty View, Brooklyn Zambrano Architectural Design

Small Firm/Sole Practitioner

BQDA Award of Merit Warehouse Loft, Brooklyn studio modh architecture People's Choice Winner House Front Addition, Queens Architecture Studio

Local Firm/Beyond BQDA/International

BQDA Award of Excellence Resort in the Maharashtra Hills, Shillim, India Khanna Schultz BQDA Award of Merit Josai i-House Dormitory, Tokyo, Japan Studio SUMO and Obayashi Corp People's Choice Winner University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Forman Active Learning Classroom, Philadelphia. Studio Modh Architecture

Local Firm/Local Project

BQDA Award of Excellence and  People's Choice Winner Courtyard House, Brooklyn vonDalwig Architecture

Unbuilt

BQDA Award of Excellence North Brother Island School + Habitat, Bronx Ian M. Ellis and Frances Peterson BQDA Award of Merit 1490 Southern Boulevard, Bronx Bernheimer Architecture People's Choice Winner The Table Top Apartments: Affordable Housing in New York City, Brooklyn and Queens Kwong Von Glinow Design Office

Student - Urban Design 

BQDA Student Award of Merit and  People's Choice Winner Brooklyn Cinematic Hotel, Brooklyn Yasmine Zeghar 
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More details emerge for plan to raze Robert Moses–era expressway

In March of this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would set aside $1.8 billion for a Bronx infrastructure project to transform the Robert Moses–era Sheridan Expressway into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard, among other improvements. For decades, nearby residents have worried about the deleterious effects of pollution from the traffic and feared for the safety of pedestrians due to the many large trucks that travel through the residential streets en route to the Hunts Point Cooperative Market.

The 1.3-mile expressway was built in 1962, severing residents from the Bronx River and immediately causing traffic and air-quality issues, a pernicious by-product of Moses’s legacy. Community activists have long fought for the alteration or razing of the expressway; most notably, the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance took up the cause in the late 1990s. News of the plan, then, comes as a long-awaited win for the community, which will have unimpeded access to waterfront.

Its implementation, however, must strike a delicate balance between residents’ health and safety and the economic vitality of the Hunts Point Market, which employs around 3,500 workers, many of whom live nearby. Cuomo promises that this will be achievable, stating in a press release that “The project will create an interconnected South Bronx with access to the waterfront, recreation, and less traffic on local streets while simultaneously better supporting those who use the Hunts Point Market—a vital economic engine for the borough.”

The expressway project was announced almost a year after the state dedicated $15 million to the development of the Greenmarket Regional Food Hub, in Hunts Point, and will purportedly create 4,250 new jobs over its duration. The Sheridan is set to be decommissioned next year as part of phase one, and the completion of the $700 million tree-lined boulevard is anticipated for 2019.