Posts tagged with "Brooklyn":

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Celebrating Coney Island′s Most Curious

The Congress of Curious Peoples has touched down in Brooklyn. Part symposium, part festival, and part freak show, the event celebrates Coney Island's rich history as a vacation and amusement destination. Starting on April 8th, the 10 days of freaky fun begins with Coney Island USA’s annual Sideshow Hall of Fame Inductions and ends on the 17th with Alumni Weekend, where you can catch legendary sideshow performers from the Coney Island Circus Sideshow as well as a scholarly conference on the past, present, and future of this unique and historic part of NYC.
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Gowanus On My Mind

  The Gowanus Canal has been in the news a lot lately, with its superfund designation and sunken schooner. The canal and surrounding neighborhood have long fascinated architects and urbanists, and has been the subject of numerous architecture school design studios. A new ideas competition looks to develop that fascination into a series of proposals for the site, which would improve connectivity across and around the polluted waterway and take better advantage of the area's unique history, character, and economic potential. Sponsored by Gowanus By Design, Connections: The Gowanus Lowline competition site area covers the length of the canal from the flushing station at Butler Street to the Nineth Street Bridge and may include the uplands on either side. Entrants may also choose to focus narrowly on the canal corridor. Greg Pasquerelli, David Lewis, Julie Bargmann, Richard Plunz, Andrew Simon, and Joel Towers will serve as jurors. The April 1 registration deadline is approaching, and entries are due on April 17.  
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Prospect Park West Bike Lane Target of Lawsuit

That thin ribbon of green paint along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West sure is a touchy subject for residents of the Park Slope neighborhood, and beyond--they're even talking about it in London. Many love the new separated bike lane installed in June 2010--the "pro-laners"--but a vocal group packing some political power would rather see the lane removed--the "anti-laners." We're not kidding when we say the anti-laners are up in arms, either. According to a Gothamist report, one resident wielding a bullhorn shouted to bystanders that the new bike path "mutilated" the broad boulevard. After threatening legal action for a month, two area organizations, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, have now filed a lawsuit requesting the lane's removal, which should make CB6's public hearing on Thursday night more lively than usual. StreetsBlog summarizes the complaint:
It argues that DOT acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner, with conclusions made irrationally or in bad faith. It argues that the bike lane did not properly go through the necessary processes given the landmarked status of the Park Slope neighborhood and Prospect Park. And finally, it argues that an environmental review was necessary to assess the impact of the lane on the historic character of the area.
Among the anti-laners are Iris Weinshall, a former NYC DOT commissioner who just happens to be married to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel. Anti-laners have also argued that the Prospect Park bike lane has remade crossing the street as a pedestrian into an urban adventure. Local resident and Huffington Post blogger Paul LaRosa wrote that Prospect Park West "now resembles that old video game Frogger where you need to keep looking and back and forth to avoid getting splattered by a car or a bike." Opposing the lawsuit, Councilman Brad Lander, who represents Park Slope, said a survey of the neighborhood shows the majority of residents support for the bike lane. The Park Slope Civic Association also falls in the pro-laner camp. Association president Michael Cairl told Transportation Nation, "Prospect Park West before the reconfiguration had been a speedway. It was unsafe to cross, it was unsafe to cycle on, it wasn’t all that safe to drive on." The anti-laners submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the DOT's raw data, finding flaws with the results. Their sentiments are echoed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz who also questioned the validity of the DOT data. He suggested that the original study to determine the feasibility of the bike lane should have been done by an outside agency to make it more impartial. As different parts of the city create new bike-car combinations, it's inevitable that there will be some clashes. We'll keep an eye out for the implications for our built environment as cases like these plays out in court and on the street.
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Ahoy! Treasure in the Gowanus Muck!

The Enviornmental Protection Agency is beginning its analysis and cleanup of the filthy yet fascinating Gowanus canal. It's proving to be full of all kinds of junk, including horrendous carcinogenic chemicals and, as the Brooklyn Paper reports, a 60 foot long sunken ship! Located where Fifth Street meets the canal, the wooden ship likely dates from the 19th century, the channel's shipping heyday. What we're calling the S.S. Superfund was discovered through sonar scanning, its outline is clearly visible in the image above. This is the second time in a year that New York's maritime past has resurfaced. Last summer another submerged ship was found buried at the World Trade Center site.
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Quick Clicks> Piano, Plazas, Babbling, Budget Cuts

Manhattanville's Piano. While tallying who is the biggest landlord in New York (it's still the church by a hair), The Observer uncovered a few new views of Renzo Piano's Jerome L. Green Science Center at Columbia's Manhattanville campus, seen here next to a train viaduct. Pedestrianizing New York. The remaking of New York's public spaces continues its forward march. Brownstoner has details on the planned pedestrian plaza on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and StreetsBlog highlights DOT's plans to create a permanent block-long Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights. Archi-babble. Witold Rybczynski talkes issue with architecture's professional jargon in Slate, including a beginner's guide to commonly used words from assemblage to gesamtkunstwerk. What's your favorite word from the language of architecture? Subway Squeeze. We're not talking about your crowded commute, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to trim $100 million from transit. Transportation Nation and StreetsBlog have the details and implications for getting around New York.
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Quick Clicks> Greenways Coast to Coast

Hell's Gate. Gothamist reports that the NYC Economic Development Corporation is planning to spruce up a trail beneath the Hell's Gate Bridge railroad trestle on Randall's Island. The pedestrian and bike path will eventually connect to the South Bronx Greenway. Portlandia Greenway. A multi-use path planned since 2004 is finally getting underway in Portland, according to Bike Portland. The South Waterfront Greenway Trail might not feature those great archways from the Hell's Gate Bridge, but it does offer another innovation: separated pedestrian and bike paths. Biking JFK. Golden Gate Park could be much more bikable this spring. StreetsBlog says a bright green dedicated, bi-directional bike lane is planned along San Francisco's John F. Kennedy Drive and will eventually connect western neighborhoods with downtown and park attractions. Have you're say. The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and the Regional Plan Association are hosting a visioning workshop for a planned greenway in Red Hook, Brooklyn. You can voice your suggestions for the Columbia Street Waterfront Park tomorrow, February 2 at 6:30PM.
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Quick Clicks> View, Fix, Crash, Don′t Crash

[ Quick Clicks: A regular guided tour of interesting links from around the web. ] What a view. Curbed uncovered a few renderings of the planned restaurant at Brooklyn Bridge Park including the view from its rooftop terrace (Hey, where'd the Beekman 8 Spruce Tower run off to?). There's currently an RFP out until January 25 for a restaurant operator to fill the already partially-built concrete and wood structure. Fix don't nix. There are a couple days left to get in on the conversation going on at The Glass House led by New York Magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson. This week's question asks how architects and designers can fix our pervasive car culture without outlawing cars outright. There's already quite a discussion going on. Crashing. A public safety campaign in Melbourne hopes to catch the eye of a few Aussie drivers. PSFK shows how a normal car has been wrapped with decals portraying the wreckage of a car after a high-speed collision to raise awareness of the dangers of speeding. Hopefully drivers will remember to keep their eyes on the road as they slow down to take in the view. Not crashing. Naysayers have been questioning the merits of a dedicated bike lane along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West ever since it was installed last year, but now a report released by the NYC DOT confirms the road diet has increased safety without major impact on drivers. StreetsBlog has full details, but crashes have been reduced 16% and injury crashes are down by 62.5%. Several new improvements are suggested to increase pedestrian safety even further, but no word if the Third Street boulders will get funding.
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Quick Clicks> Lost, Super, Speed, Parking

Parking Slope. A parking lot in Park Slope, Brooklyn could soon sprout an 11-story, 166-room hotel designed by Doban Architecture (pictured above). Curbed stopped by a community meeting last Thursday and reports Hotel Grand Prospect has extended the neighborhood an olive branch in the form of a 400-car parking garage which has won over some community members. The project is still in its early phases and traffic and environmental studies have yet to be completed. (More at Curbed.) Superstreet. North Carolina State University just published a study about a time-saving (for cars) intersection layout called the "superstreet." While researchers show the layout reduced automobile travel times and improved the car-crash rate, the aerial view shown on the NCSU page looks far from super in terms of multimodal transportation options. No sidewalks or crosswalks (and a super-low density neighborhood) could easily outweigh the "superstreet" benefits. (Via Urban Planning Blog.) Lost Brother. Located in the middle of the East River, North Brother Island and its quarantine hospital have been abandoned for 48 years resulting in some amazing ruin photography. Richard Nickel, Jr. at the Kingston Lounge has posted a series of photos from the island along with its history. Owned by the New York City Parks Department, Brotherly Island is closed to the public and is a protected nesting ground (Via Gothamist.) High Speed Fighting. California's battle for High Speed Rail races on. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood wrote in to contest an anti-High Speed Rail editorial in the Washington Post last week. LaHood opposed the notion that the west corridor isn't dense enough to support the proposed rail system. The fight won't be over for a long time, so stay tuned. King. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Check out AN's recent coverage of the planned $20 million upgrades to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis at the Lorraine Hotel where King was assassinated in 1968.

Friday Video: Little Plane Flies Through Big City

It's Friday afternoon, so why not take a joy ride through the skies of New York?  Gothamist uncovered this amazing video of a homemade RC airplane with a video camera attached to its nose making its way among the skyscrapers and bridges of New York.  Makes for some pretty amazing footage!
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Envisioning a Green Future for the BQE

The proposals are in after Monday's final public meeting to decide the future of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway trench which severs the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Residents spoke up and prioritized their wishes for a less disruptive BQE including reduced noise and pollution, increased neighborhood connectivity and bike / pedestrian safety, and an overall greener streetscape. In short, the BQE is going green, or at least as green as a pollution-spewing six-lane highway can be.  Luckily the NYC EDC, NYC DOT, and Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects have come up with three compelling design solutions to improve the area. Three proposed designs offer increasing levels of complexity and ambition with an eye toward construction and financial feasibility. It remains to be seen what proposed intervention will actually be implemented, but nearly any change to this urban sore can be seen as an improvement.  Take a look at the three proposals below. All three proposals build from one another, beginning with the quick fix, "Maximum Green." This plan seeks to improve the streetscape with widened sidewalks and landscaped bumpouts and curvy chicanes.  At a cost of $10.7 to $18.7 million, this should be an easy sell for even the most frugal politician.  The scheme calls for shaving off unused and excessive street space on Hicks Street to calm traffic and create room for the landscaping and sidewalk. The base model Maximum Green design keeps the existing chain-link fence surrounding the highway, but upgrades include an artsy vine-covered metal screen with built in acoustic panels (see comparison below). Existing bridges also feature added landscaping in large planters and drastically wider sidewalks that could possibly accommodate newsstands or a proposed "BQE Flea."  Even with plants, trees, and places to sit, though, will the next hip Brooklyn hang-out be above a noxious highway? More ambitious, the "Connections" scheme retains the basic improvements of the "Maximum Green" design and adds five new pedestrian and bike bridges across the highway and replace one existing bridge to allow handicap accessibility and help restore the original street grid. Depending on the budget, these spans could become illuminated icons topped with photovoltaic roof panels.  Options include flanking the bridges with vine-covered panels and adding LED lighting to create playful interest at night.  Extra features, of course, mean inflated cost, and the Connections scheme would run between $30.1 and $41.3 million. Finally, the "dream scheme" pulls in the massively landscaped streetscape and pedestrian bridges of the previous two proposals but does its best to mask the BQE out of the neighborhood.  "Green Canopy" offers a massive $28 million steel angle-and-beam structure designed by Kiss+Cathcart Architects creating a pseudo-cap over the BQE trench.  Acoustic panels built into the span mitigate noise while a central mesh of steel precludes the need for an active ventilation system. The iconic structure is then covered in vines and solar cells which could net an estimated $312,000 in electricity annually.  If all that weren't enough, imagine dining while hovering above the highway at the "Trench Cafe."  Retail space in the Green Canopy plan is situated on the existing bridge at Union Street. Cost to cover the highway with a giant metal mesh? $78.8 to $82.7 million.  Cost to forget about the BQE forever? Priceless.  Sound off on your favorite scheme in the comments below.
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Potential Pyramid Scheme in DUMBO

Is NYC's next architectural adventure shaped like a pyramid? Maybe, if one of the groups competing for usage space in Brooklyn's historic Tobacco Warehouse has its way. The recently stabilized structure  is currently under the purview of the powers-that-be at the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, which sees the Warehouse as "most compelling public spaces" in the city's quest to spruce up the Brooklyn waterfront. Our friends at Curbed have some renderings of what dance and theater troupe LAVA would like to do if they win the great space race for this (currently) roofless brick structure that seems to sidle up next to the Brooklyn Bridge. This blogger has to wonder if it's less a pyramid and more a volcano (LAVA... volcano... get it?) Meanwhile, contestant #2, the DUMBO-based theater group St. Ann's Warehouse, has more a conventional, but potentially more contextually palatable, idea of what they'd like a revamped Tobacco Warehouse to look like.

Despite an appeal by former Partridge Family star and 1970s teen idol Susan Dey to send the contract out for re-bidding at Monday's tempestuous public meeting, the folks at Curbed are putting their money on St. Ann's to win the conditional designation sometime soon. (Leave us your predictions in the comments section below.)

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Have Your Say On the Future of the BQE Monday Evening

It's not too late to join community leaders from the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhoods along with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to discuss the future of the Bronx-Queens Expressway.  The third and final BQE Community Design Workshop takes place this evening and will cover refined designed proposals aimed to reconnect areas surrounding the urban expressway. Act quickly, as the final Community Design Workshop takes place this evening from 6:30PM until 8:30PM at the Long Island College Hospital (LICH), Avram Conference Center, Rooms A and B located at 339 Hicks Street in Brooklyn.  Attendance is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested at BQE@nycedc.com. Among topics to be discussed are noise reduction, pollution mitigation, beautification, connectivity, and pedestrian safety.  The BQE Enhancement project target area is bounded by Hamilton Avenue and Atlantic Avenue and is planned to be built in the next five to ten years.