"The Hub," in the Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven, couldn't be better named: it's the center of commercial activity in the South Bronx, and one of the busiest intersections in the city. As its dense avenues are packed with shoppers and commuters, the city moved to expand and improve Roberto Clemente Plaza, a public space that's a respite from the hectic nearby streets. In 2008, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) upgraded streets and public space in the area, improving walkability with 15,000 additional square feet of sidewalks, pedestrian islands, and streets partially reclaimed for pedestrians. As part of these improvements, the NYCDOT remade Roberto Clemente Plaza, at Third Avenue and 149th Street. Extra street space was repurposed into a temporary pedestrian plaza with the addition of paint, planters, and gravel. In 2010, NYCDOT passed the torch to the NYC Department of Design & Construction (DDC) Design Excellence Program to create a permanent Roberto Clemente Plaza. The DDC partnered with Brooklyn-based Garrison Architects to design the plaza. Renderings show a curved green strip, lined with benches, that lets plaza visitors take in the streetscape. It's been over two years, however, since the project with an 18 month timeline began, and there's no firm end date in sight. The DDC estimates that construction will last through 2017 (though its website says construction will be complete by August 2016). Neighbors are furious. The constant construction has caused declining revenues for businesses bordering the plaza, and the ever-present construction equipment is an eyesore, residents and business owners claim. In conversation with Streetsblog, Third Avenue BID Director Steven Fish summed up the community's attitude towards the project. “General consensus is that this is a hellhole and there’s no end in sight.” The DDC claims to be "working diligently" with the contractor to minimize further delays.
Posts tagged with "Bronx":
Call it High Line fever: since the first leg of James Corner and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's High Line debuted in 2009, High Line–like projects have popped up all over the city and across the country. Now, not ten miles from the original, the Bronx may be slated for its very own rail-to-park conversion. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to transform an unused slice of below grade train track in Mott Haven into a "lowline." The block-long site, bounded by Brook Avenue, East 156th Street, St. Ann's Avenue, and East 150th Street, is owned by CSX. In order to reclaim the space for parkland, the city would need to buy or seize the land from the railroad company. On a visit to the site in September, Mayor de Blasio deplored the condition of the trash strewn corridor, which doubles as a homeless encampment. Soon after the mayor's visit, city workers cleared out the belongings of the residents and removed debris from the site. Sandwiched between schools and their athletic fields, the lowline would be adjacent to mixed income housing projects Melrose Commons and Via Verde.
Archtober Building of the Day #3 North Hall and Library, Bronx Community College Robert A.M. Stern Architects Alex Lamis, FAIA, and Dennis Sagiev met a windblown gaggle of enthusiasts on the educational plateau of the Bronx: the former University Heights campus of NYU. Now Bronx Community College, it is a repository of ambitious plans. The first was the Jeffersonian campus plan of 1892 by Stanford White with its iconic Gould Memorial Library (1900) framed by the venerable Hall of Fame (1912). Marcel Breuer made his Modernist marks on the hilltop in 1956 and on into the 1960s. At North Hall it’s all about respect. The gang at Robert A. M. Stern Architects went straight to fitting in alongside the White masterpieces. The library itself is sturdily traditional in its up-to-the-minute technology hub – the information commons is awash with stand-up computer desks with scrolls. “A pent-up need,” according to librarian Theresa McManus, resulted in a project that “sends a message to the students.” There’s new building technology in the panel precast brick construction. And RAMSA designed an ironic postmodern histri-ionic column. Lamis explained that the fake rivets were part of the “artistic representation” of the structural steel. Historically, Lamis noted, the library is a “center for the retention of culture in its place.” Tomorrow’s excursion is to the Queens Botanic Garden.
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his plan to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent over 2005 levels by 2050. Needless to say, that's a pretty ambitious target, but this mayor seems to like ambitious targets—his plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade comes to mind. But back to his latest plan, the climate plan. While this decades-long strategy will certainly evolve, it is focused around retrofitting the city’s building stock to reduce emissions. A key focus of these retrofits, at both city-owned and privately-owned buildings, will be installing solar panels. To kick-off that piece of the plan, the mayor is starting with schools. Speaking on Monday at the John F. Kennedy campus in the Bronx, where solar panels have been installed on nine schools, de Blasio announced that 24 additional schools would also be going solar. "These 24 projects we’re talking about today are part of a larger commitment," said the mayor. "They’re going to be an important part because they’re going to help lead the way in our efforts to use much more renewable energy in New York City." The mayor said that this investment would triple the amount of solar power collected on the roofs of city buildings. The city will cover $23 million of the $28 million investment, with the rest being covered by a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Over the next decade, the mayor wants to install solar panels on over 300 city-owned buildings, which would generate about 100 megawatts of power, according to the administration.
An aluminum rain screen and locally-sourced brick articulate a two-part program.The Brook, developed by Common Ground and designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, is part of a new wave of affordable housing communities popping up all over the United States. Unlike the public housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, which focused exclusively on housing and tended to suffer from a lack of routine maintenance, The Brook, located in the Bronx, combines apartments and support services under one roof. This duality is manifested in the envelope’s contrasting material palette—dark grey brick for the residential spaces, raw aluminum over the community facilities. “The idea of the exterior was to symbolize, as well as reflect, the internal program of Common Ground as supportive housing,” said Alexander Gorlin. “It’s inspired in part by Le Corbusier and his idea of expressing the program on the facade, and expressing the public functions as a means of interrupting a repetitive facade." The Brook’s communal areas, which are clustered at the corner of the 92,000-square-foot, six-story building, are marked on the exterior by ES Tolga Dry Seal System aluminum panels from Allied Metal. In addition to articulating the change in program, the metal facade “represents coming together, creating a landmark for the neighborhood as well,” said Gorlin, who noted that Common Ground “liked from the beginning marking the corner as a special symbolic place.” The metal-clad corner also functions “urbanistically, to break the building into three parts, break down its scale,” he explained. A series of inset terraces interrupt the grey aluminum walls with splashes of red. “At one level it’s a bright color to be cheerful and optimistic,” said Gorlin. “In China, red is a symbol of good luck. It also symbolizes the heart of the program and the community.” The Brook’s 190 studio apartments are distributed to either side of the community facilities, along wings punctuated with square and rectangular windows. “We decided to vary the window placement so it would create a more lively asymmetrical pattern. It’s not just a simple grid,” said Gorlin. The designers clad the housing areas in locally sourced dark grey brick. “Brick is a very noble, ancient material,” observed Gorlin. As a good insulator, it also contributes to the building’s LEED Silver status. Other sustainability strategies include a green roof, a special boiler system, building management technology that turns off the lights when a room is not in use, and the use of recycled and non-offgassing materials. The Brook was erected on a vacant lot in a neighborhood once known for pervasive blight. Early in the design process, said Gorlin, the architects and developers discussed installing bars over the lower windows. “It was determined very consciously not to do it, even though there’s glass on the corner,” he explained. “We decided not to put bars up or make it look in any way prison-like. In fact, by not doing so it’s been maintained in perfect shape. People in the neighborhood think it’s a high-end condo.” Gorlin calls Common Ground “a miraculous kind of client in terms of what they do and the manner in which they deal with the community.” The Brook, he said, represents a new approach not just to affordable housing, but to homelessness. “To actually build permanent housing for homeless people” is a unique opportunity, he said. “It’s not just a shelter, but a place to start over in life.”
Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero is coming to another dangerous New York City corridor. NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and city officials announced that the Grand Concourse in the Bronx will become the second of the city’s 25 planned “arterial slow zones.” The speed limit on more than five miles of the busy road will be lowered to 25-miles-per-hour, and traffic signals will be retimed to protect pedestrians. The announcement comes weeks after an eight-mile stretch of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens was given the same treatment.
With his time in office coming to a close, Mayor Bloomberg is moving swiftly ahead with his administration’s affordable housing plan, and calling on developers to submit proposals to build on the last sizable stretch of vacant city-owned land in the Melrose and HUB area of the South Bronx. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) is overseeing the Bronxchester Project, and yesterday announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) to develop two parcels into affordable housing and mixed-use space. In the last decade, a wave of new affordable housing developments have taken root in Melrose, a neighborhood destroyed by the arson epidemic in the 1970s and then essentially deserted in the 1980s. “Not long ago it was a rarity to see new affordable homes being constructed in a neighborhood littered with abandoned buildings and rubble strewn lots. What we now see are thousands of new affordable homes and apartments that have laid a foundation for stability and growth in this community; today this is the new normal,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua in a statement. The Bronxchester Project will join other like-developments, such as the Grimshaw-designed Via Verde housing complex and the sprawling Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area, which has added over 2,800 residential units to the neighborhood. The parameters of the project are fairly flexible: Developers have the option to submit proposals for one or two parcels, but must include mixed-income housing, open space, and commercial space or a community facility. The RFP deadline is July 3, 2013.
Five firehouses, built over a century ago, were granted landmark status yesterday. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved each of these five buildings for what Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney characterized as “a clear expression of civic spirit and pride of purpose that existed at the time they were built and continue to this day in our City’s municipal architecture.”
These historic firehouses are located in Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace sections of Brooklyn; Bathgate and Longwood in the Bronx; and the Rockaway Park area of Queens. The buildings represent a range of architectural styles from Romanesque Revival and Neo Classical to Arts and Crafts and Colonial Revival—and were designed by several noteworthy architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including, Frank J. Helmle, Peter J. Lauritzen, and the firm Napoleon LeBrun & Sons. With these recent additions, a total of 37 firehouses have been designated as landmarks throughout the city, of which 32 are still in operation, according to LPC.