Posts tagged with "Central Park":

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Central Park Pavilion Restored with Historic and Contemporary Concerns in Mind

Until recently, the only way to enter Central Park's oldest and largest playground was through a chain-link fence. The great Heckscher Playground, impressive in scale and amenities, did not have an entrance to match, but a recently completed renovation to the building has retuned the structure to it's original use with a contemporary twist blending the building's history with contemporary needs. In 1926, an entrance gateway, similar to many classically-adorned brick breezeways in other New York City parks, was constructed concurrent with Heckscher Playground but did not last long. While Fredrick Law Olmstead's design for Central Park provided huge swaths of public space, there remained a need for maintenance areas, and the original entranceway was enlarged and the transversal passage enclosed. The Heckscher Building, with an arched copper roof and flemish bond brick, sat uninvitingly as a maintenance shed at the top of Heckscher Playground until 2004, when the Central Park Conservancy approached several architecture firms with a commission. The Conservancy wanted to retain the enclosed support space while restoring the breezeway entrance into Heckscher Playground. After consulting with several firms, Salam & Giacalone Architects was selected to design the building's renovation. The design posed several challenges to the architects. The Heckscher Building was designated a Scenic Landmark in 1974 as a part of Central Park. Under New York City Law, the "aggregate landscape features" in the park are under the control of the Landmarks Preservation Commission meaning the building with 1936 renovations was protected as well. Because the original playground gate had been significantly altered before landmark designation, restoration of a portal would need to respect both the original 1926 design and the 1936 enlargement while still addressing contemporary needs of the Conservancy. Another primary challenge for the architects was combining the two programmatic requirements: recreating a"portal for the playground" while preserving much needed space for maintenance staff and equipment. To preserve and renovate the exisiting structure, Salam & Giacalone raised the maintenance space to the second floor, opening space in what was once the original 1926 breezeway. The second story is hidden behind the copper roof and accessible by stairs, requiring a steel frame throughout the building for structural support. The Landmarks Preservation Commission, concerned with the appearance of the "relationship of the building to the historic landscape," prevented installing exterior windows on the second floor. To bring natural light to the new space, the architects created a central light-shaft they refer to as an "oculus," which also lights the passageway below. The interior passageway is decorated with ornamental pilasters, modern abstractions of those on the exterior.  
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Quick Clicks> Broken Houses, Tree Mapping, AIA Matchmaker, & Tiny Parks

Objects of Ruin. Israeli artist Ofra Lapid has taken society's obsession with ruin to a whole new level. Inspired by amateur photographs from North Dakota's urban and rural decay, Lapid's Broken Houses series consists of small models of the dilapidated buildings that are re-photographed without their original context. Her work produces an eerie sense of reality set against a stark grey background. Check out more images after the jump. Tree Time. A place for every tree, and every tree in its place. Two maps from New York and Philadelphia are pinpointing the exact location of trees in each city. The Dirt reported that Edward S. Bernard and Ken Chaya have produced an  illustrated map entitled Central Park Entire that seeks to honor the work of landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux by graphically representing all of the flora and fauna of Central Park. In Philadelphia, the PhillyTreeMap provides a similarly detailed online database that crowdsources each green public and private property. Making Connections. According to the Daily Joural of Commerce Oregon, the AIA will launch an online matchmaking service in September for stalled development projects and their potential real-estate investors in hopes of giving life to long-stalled projects while compiling data that helps identify problem developments. Parklet, PA. Philly is the latest city to jump off the bandwagon and set up a park, joining pavement-to-parks pioneers New York and San Francisco. The city will convert parking spots into miniature parks as a low-cost way to open up green space in University City. Additional parklets could be introduced the upcoming years pending the success of their pilot project.
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Quick Clicks: Ruination, Context, Issues, Movement, Resolutions

[ Quick Clicks> A hand-selected tour of links from around the world. ] Ruination. Mayor Bloomberg received an angry letter in the mail last week from Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. According to the NY Times, Hawass is threatening to take back the circa-1500 B.C. monument if the city doesn't properly care for the inscribed hieroglyphics. Heavily eroded, the obelisk was a gifted to the United States in 1869 to celebrate the completion of the Suez Canal. Out of Context. After last week's unveiling of the Broad Art Foundation in Los Angeles, NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff penned a rather scathing critique of of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed museum. Among his jabs was a note that the design was out of context to LA's landscape of freeways and sprawl causing Charles Siegel (Preservation Institute Blog) to wonder whether it's appropriate to build to the context of autopian sprawl. Planning Issues. Planetizen has compiled a list of 2010's "Top Planning Issues." Last year was great for renting, bikes, and China but not so hot for city finances, McMansions, or free parking. Movement. The Sydney Morning Herald weighs in on Frank Gehry's recently unveiled UTS building in Sydney, and architect Elizabeth Farrelly raises her concerns. "It's not a choice between the dull box and the exuberant PR-driven sculpture. There is a third option: architecture. We deserve it." (Via ArchNewsNow.) Resolutions. Chicago is going on a road diet. The Chicago Tribune says the city will undertake the traffic experiment on a mile-long stretch of Lawrence Street. The four-lane road will be trimmed down to three lanes with widened sidewalks, landscaped islands, and, of course, bike lanes. While Chicago has already slimmed down nearly a dozen other neighborhood streets in recent years, this example is the first time it's being done on a major arterial road. Construction will begin next year if funding comes through.
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James Gardner Goes Gaga for Central Park Kiosk

As editors ourselves, we know writers don't usually write the headlines. Still, we were struck by one atop a recent review by our friend and sometimes contributor James Gardner in The Real Deal, which declared, "Central Park's Le Pain Quotidien ranks as one of the best things about New York City." You don't say. And yet, for all the hyperbole, the guy's got a point:
Properly understood, the opening of Le Pain Quotidien, deep in the heart of Central Park, represents one of the most momentous changes to the park in half a century. This highly respected Belgian purveyor of fine breads, salads and soups now has 21 stores in the city, but none of them is as delightful as its newest, on the northern edge of Sheep Meadow. [...] Once it had been far otherwise. For the structure you see today is really a replacement for a lovely Moorish pavilion designed by Jacob Wrey Mould in the 1860s. Known as the Mineral Springs Pavilion, it offered up a variety of salubrious waters to the thirsty citizenry. But with his habitual philistinism, Robert Moses, the once all-powerful parks commissioner, demolished Mould's vision and in its place he erected the unprepossessing structure you see today. For more than half a century it presented itself to the world as nothing more than a narrow concession area looking east, its vague interior filled with storage space for the park department's sundry fences and gardening paraphernalia. The revelation of the new Pain Quotidien starts with the fact that it fully occupies and opens to the public the interior spaces of the pavilion, which turn out to be far vaster than one ever imagined. Like most of this brand's interiors throughout the city, and indeed the world, the present space is adorned with pale woods in the French provincial style, a fully stocked bakery and a long, communal table, as well as individual tables.
For it's true, nothing improves the taste of a fresh tartine, or most things in life, like being at the park.
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Pop-Up Hadid

“Don’t panic, don’t wander off…. Open my bag, as they say in French…” Thus begins the audio-tour of the Chanel pop-up architecture pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid and launched this morning in Central Park (Fifth Avenue and 69th Street). The throaty dominatrix on the tape could have been Zaha herself, but is actually the ageless actress Jean Moreau.

The installation is a fine example of the collapse between art and commerce that architecture feeds into so well. Zaha’s billowing pod with entrances stapled into the base offers an almost too inner-uterine experience as visitors glide around slick white fiberglass folds detailed in padded black leather and across scarlet, maroon, purple, and aqua glass tiles blooming into high-kitsch floral patterns. “Don’t go up the stairs,” the voice commands.

In another unfolding folded space, art works—that is, installations inspired by “an iconic accessory”—are on display, including a gigantic purse with a fur-lined interior and an open compact (pace Meret Oppenheim). Other works show erupting pearls, ingested gold watches, and perhaps inevitably swings suspended from the gold roping handle of the famed Chanel quilted bag.

The pavilion itself is by far the most accomplished interpretation of Chanel’s power to be seductive, and temptingly threatening at the same time. And do go up those stairs.