Posts tagged with "Coney Island":

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New York Aquarium opens $158 million addition that’s all about sharks

  Coney Island will gain a major attraction this weekend when the New York Aquarium opens a $158 million addition called Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Civic leaders joined aquarium officials and donors on Thursday to cut the ribbon for the facility, which opens to the public on Saturday. With more than 57,000 square feet of space, from an underwater tunnel that takes visitors beneath a coral reef exhibit to a rooftop observation deck, the three-level addition brings visitors “nose to nose” with 18 different species of sharks and rays, plus 115 other kinds of marine life. Having been in the works for the past 14 years, the facility represents a major addition to the New York Aquarium, which is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and is considered the oldest continuously-operating aquatic museum in the United States. The design is the work of a consortium led by Susan Chin, Vice President of Planning and Design and Chief Architect for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Key design team members included Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects of New York, Doyle Partners of New York, and the Portico Group of Seattle. In 2013, the design received an Award for Design Excellence from the New York City Public Design Commission. The goal, planners say, was to create a facility that educates visitors about the importance of sharks to the health of the world’s oceans, points out the threats they face, and inspires visitors to protect marine life in New York and beyond. “Our new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit will awaken New Yorkers to the magnificence and importance of the ocean here in New York,” said Aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin in a statement. “We hope that the pride and sense of wonder instilled by Ocean Wonders: Sharks! translate into stewardship for our oceans.” Completed as a joint venture of the Wildlife Conservation Society and New York City, which owns the land and provided most of the construction funds, the addition also represents a major achievement by the Aquarium and the Coney Island community in rebuilding from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “We’re celebrating a remarkable new facility where New Yorkers can learn more about—and be delighted by—our ocean-dwelling neighbors,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at the ribbon cutting. “But we’re also celebrating another big step toward recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The New York Aquarium brings the wonders of the sea to our doorstep, and we’re proud to have made a major investment in its restoration.” The curving structure cantilevers over the Coney Island boardwalk, which was recently designated a New York City landmark. Its exterior includes an 1,100-foot-long “Shimmer Wall” that was designed in collaboration with visual artist Ned Kahn to convey the force and fluidity of the ocean. This kinetic facade consists of more than 33,000 aluminum “flappers” that undulate with the wind. Inside are nine galleries that Chin says were inspired by nature. They include the “Coral Reef Tunnel,” an immersive underwater tunnel that enables visitors to view sharks swimming overhead; Sharks Up Close,” an interactive gallery showcasing the physiology and behavior of sharks and rays; “Sharks in Peril,” a gallery that shows why sharks are vulnerable to overfishing and other threats, and “Discover New York Waters,” a gallery that highlights the marine ecosystems off New York’s coast.  Other areas include “New York Seascape,“ which shows how scientists are working to save sharks; “Shipwreck,” which explores the more than 60 wrecks found along the New York coastline and how they serve as gathering spots for sharks; “Canyon’s Edge,” a look at the ecosystem of the Hudson Canyon, which begins at the mouth of the Hudson River and is comparable in size to the Grand Canyon; “Conservation Choices,” showing how visitors can become conservationists; and “Ecology Walk,” a look at the ecology of Coney Island and nearby areas such as Jamaica Bay and Sandy Hook. On the top level are the Ocean Overlook and the Oceanview Learning Laboratory, a 1,500 square-foot educational space featuring an outdoor terrace with a rooftop touch tank and other teaching facilities. The New York Aquarium opened in 1896 in Castle Garden, part of the Battery Park section of Manhattan. Since 1957, it has been located on the Coney Island boardwalk in Brooklyn. Of the total $158 million cost of the Ocean Wonders exhibit and its companion Animal Care Facility, $111 million came from New York City and $47 million came from private groups, individuals, and tax-exempt financing. The addition is expected to generate $20 million a year in economic activity. New York officials noted yesterday that the aquarium addition is one of many ways that New York had been working to revitalize Coney Island, even before Hurricane Sandy. “We’ve been making big investments across Coney Island in everything from affordable housing to new amusements to infrastructure upgrades,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corp. “Today we’re proud to add ‘sharks’ to that list. Investing in our cultural institutions is critical to our ongoing neighborhood investments, and we’re thrilled to see this iconic exhibit build on the momentum in Coney Island.”
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Giant affordable housing development planned for Coney Island Boardwalk

Georgica Green Ventures and Concern for Independent Living are bringing affordable housing to the Coney Island Boardwalk. New York–based Stephen B. Jacobs Group is the architect for the project. Phase One of Surf Vets Place will add 135 units and 7,000 square feet of commercial space to a 170,000-square-foot parcel at the corner of West 21st Street and Surf Avenue. Residents will be steps away from the beach, and walking distance from the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium and Luna Park. Plans filed in April indicate that 52 of the apartments will be available to households earning 60 percent of the area median income, which in 2015 was $86,300 for a family of four, while 82 apartments will be reserved for homeless veterans. The developers will build a new street, Ocean Way, to connect West 20th and West 21st streets at midblock, and all of the buildings in the development will face onto shared courtyards. The listings page highlights standard amenities, including a fitness center, rooftop terrace, laundry room, and bike storage. Financing documents suggest that the development is projected to cost $68.8 million; construction on the first phase is expected to be complete by 2018. Land around the former amusement park was rezoned for commercial and residential development in 2009. Renderings suggest that buildings up to 25 stories tall will be added at later stages of Surf Vets Place, but when The Architect's Newspaper reached out to CityRealty for comment, no employees were available to speak about the project.
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Coney Art Walls opens for 2016 summer with new work

  Coney Art Walls, the creation of Thor Equities CEO Joseph Sitt, has 21 new wall projects for the 2016 season. According to the outdoor gallery’s website, all of the walls will be completed in time for the Mermaid Parade scheduled for June 18. The site, which opened Friday of the Memorial Day weekend, now features the work of artists Nina Chanel Abney, John Ahearn, Aiko, Crash, Timothy Curtis, Gaia, London Police, and Sam Vernon among many others. The bold and vibrant murals—curated by Sitt and Jeffrey Deitch—are situated at 3050 Stillwell Avenue in Brooklyn. Last summer was the site’s inaugural season and Sitt, who owns the property of the site, announced that he has larger scale ideas for the site long-term in an interview with Jeanine Ramirez, a reporter for Time Warner Cable News NY1.
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Mayor de Blasio’s $2.75-per-ride ferry service to begin summer 2017

Expanding on the East River Ferry system, Mayor de Blasio will see his $55 million plan for a five borough ferry network come to fruition summer 2017.  At $2.75-a-ride, the system will be managed and operated by a California company, Hornblower, that has a proven track record in the industry, having run services in New York for ten years. Currently, the ferry caters to Manhattan residents and those on the shoreline between DUMBO, Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens. The network will be expanded to escort people to Astoria, Queens; Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; and the Rockaways, Queens. Come 2018, Soundview will service the Upper and Lower East Side. Another proposal looks to extend the service further to Staten and Coney Island, though no completion date has yet been penned in. The cost of a ferry trip will align with the price of a single subway ride. Bicycles may be carried on for an extra dollar. This is less than half of what it costs for a standard weekend ferry fare at the moment. Such a pricing scheme is no accident, either, as de Blasio has his eyes on integrating the network with the rest of the MTA system. According to de Blasio, commuters will be able to enjoy the "fresh air, harbor views, and a fast ride on the open water" on the 20-minute journey between Astoria and Manhattan's East 34th Street, as well as being able to make the most of the ferry on the hour-long commute between the Rockaways and Wall Street. “Today I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his $55 million capital commitment to a 5-borough ferry system and declaring that New York City’s waterfront will be open for all. The ripple effect from this service will be felt throughout the entire city from Bay Ridge to Bayside; from Staten Island to Soundview,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile. “Access to a true 5-borough ferry system will be just another jewel to add to our crown here in southwest Brooklyn, one that will be a boon to small businesses and real estate alike.”
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Pringle-topped Coney Island Amphitheater on the Boardwalk set to open this July

The Coney Island boardwalk, arguably the best place in New York for people-watching and watching people consume copious amounts of fried seafood, is about to get a new spiffy venue: the long-anticipated, 5,000-seat Coney Island Amphitheater on the Boardwalk is set to open this July. Although plans have been in the works to open the venue for a few years, this is the first official announcement of a set opening date. The Amphitheater will host sports, concerts, and film screenings under its potato-chip-like awning. Plans call to adaptively integrate the Childs Building, long vacant, into the building's program. With the Landmarks Preservation Commission's blessing in 2013, the 1923 building is set to be fitted with 50-foot-tall doors that will let breezes flow inside during the summer, but that can also be shuttered during the winter months for year-round use (the building used to host Lola Star's roller disco before that event moved to the Lefrak Center at Prospect Park). Anticipating the popularity of summertime events, overflow crows from the amphitheater and the Childs Building can be accommodated in a 40,000-square-foot outdoor space, next to the boardwalk. The developer is New York–based iStar Financial. https://www.instagram.com/p/TvUQVXItCL/?tagged=childsbuilding
New York City Economic Development Corporation worked out a deal between iStar and the nonprofit Coney Island USA in 2014. The city invested $60 million in the project, which facilitated the property acquisition, reuse of the Childs Building, the building of the Amphitheater and outdoor space.
"The opening of the new amphitheater further enriches Coney Island’s long history of offering the City of New York, and especially the borough of Brooklyn, unique entertainment in a seaside environment,” said Dick Zigun, founder of the sideshow and CEO of Coney Island USA.  “We are looking forward to making the traditional Coney Island events, such as the Mermaid Parade, even bigger and better with the addition of Brooklyn's newest destination attraction.”
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Woody and The Donald

Here is a story to file under the Republican presidential primary, celebrity, radical American politics, and affordable housing policies in New York City. The Conversation writer Will Kaufman reports that the "This Land is Your Land" folk singer Woody Guthrie lived in Federal Housing Authority–financed housing in Coney Island's Beach Haven. Those residences were constructed by non other than Fred Trump, Donald’s father. Guthrie despised his landlord, the elder Trump, and wrote several ditties (a reprise of his "I Ain’t Got No Home") about him:

Beach Haven ain’t my home! 
I just cain’t pay this rent! 
My money’s down the drain! 
And my soul is badly bent! 
Beach Haven looks like heaven 
Where no black ones come to roam! 
No, no, no! Old Man Trump! 
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home! Trump’s involvement with and creation of (racially exclusive) affordable Beach Haven housing for the hundreds of thousands of returning servicemen to New York after World War II is a sordid tale. Kaufman unearthed the story after going through the Guthrie archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He reports that “when the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) finally stepped in to issue federal loans and subsidies for urban apartment blocks, one of the first developers in line, with his eye on the main chance, was Fred Trump. He made a fortune not only through the construction of public housing projects but also through collecting the rents on them." Its a fascinating story of housing policy in New York that becomes more pointed “in the wake of Donald Trump, who says, 'My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.'” (via Gawker)

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Wright or Wrong? Debate over Massaro House Authenticity Rekindled

The story goes like this: In 1949 an engineer named A.K. Chahroudi commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home on Petra Island in Lake Mahopac, New York, which Chahroudi owned. But the $50,000 price tag on the 5,000 square foot house was more than Chahroudi could afford, so Wright designed him a smaller, more affordable cottage elsewhere on the island. Fast forward to 1996 when Joseph Massaro, a sheet metal contractor, bought the island for $700,000, a sale that also included Wright's original yet unfinished plans. Though he says he only intended to spruce up the existing cottage and not build anything new, one can hardly fault Massaro for wanting to follow through on a home Wright once said would eclipse Falling Water. In 2000 Massaro sold his business and hired Thomas A. Heinz, an architect and Wright historian, to complete and update the design, a move that incensed the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, who promptly sued him, stating he couldn't claim the house was a true Wright, but was only "inspired" by him. Massaro was able to complete the house in 2004, fending off lawsuits by stating his intent not to sell. Now, however, he's ruffled the Wright Foundation's feathers once again by putting the house on the market for $19.9 million, 11-acre island included. Even though the house is not recognized by the Foundation, that hasn't stopped Massaro from listing it as a true Wright. In a statement to the Los Angeles Times he said, “You hear these purists that talk about how no unbuilt Frank Lloyd Wright house should ever be built because Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t here anymore. And then you take a look at this masterpiece of his—I’m sure Frank would rather have it built than not built at all." That may be true, but those purists are an outspoken bunch, citing four details in Massaro's house that Wright would never have approved of had he been alive to see its construction. First, the decorative "rubblestone," a Wright trademark, is not flush in Massaro's home, but protrude from the wall—a major Wright no-no. Second, the home's 26 skylights are domed, not flat, a choice Massaro apparently made citing flat skylights' propensity to leak (sealants, anyone?). Third, an exterior stairway that appears in several of Wright's original drawings was nixed by Massaro, as it would have landed in three feet of water due to the island's changed coastline. Lastly, Wrightians claim that the copper fascia are too shallow, a seemingly petty point of contention, but as Wright house owner Rich Herber pointed out, "It's the small details we'll never know about." To be fair, Massaro seems to have tried to stay as true to Wright's original intentions as possible. When the late Walter Cronkite, who knew Wright personally, visited the property he said, "I feel Frank in this house." Whether or not it's technically authentic and officially condoned by the Foundation, or the result of a Wright/Heinz collaboration, the world is probably a better and more beautiful place for the existence of the Massaro House, which interested buyers can arrange to visit to through Ahahlife.com. All images courtesy Ahahlife.
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Sky-High Amusement Parks, Both Imagined and Real

Have you ever gazed upon the New York skyline and thought to yourself, there's an amusement park missing from this picture. Have you ever dreamed of twirling around the top of New York’s fourth-tallest building while strapped into flimsy carnival swings? While it's certainly not for the faint of heart, these fantasies have been imagined, and now they've been rendered into a beautiful new video. In this quite impressive promotional video for Luna Park in Coney Island, Argentinean director and post-production wizard Fernando Livschitz has transformed Manhattan into a fantastical amusement park. Swings spin atop the Chrysler Building’s iconic art-deco spire, tilt-a-whirls whizz through Times Square and across the Brooklyn Bridge, and a roller coaster zooms around the Empire State Building. Utilizing tilt-shift photography, time lapse, and some wild after effects, Livshitz is a master of turning cities into funfairs. But if you're inclined to try out a sky-high amusement park in real life, you'll have to head over to Las Vegas, where a miniature funfair-in-the-sky sits atop the 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere Tower, including the world's tallest amusement ride, a vertical descent called the Big Shot. Unfortunately, a roller coaster twisting around the top of the tower has since been removed, but we've included a video of the experience below for old times' sake.
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Coney Gets a Gateway

The New York Post says the city's plans for the new entrance to Coney Island are just "beachy" and "spectacular" while Gothamist tells readers to "behold ...a grand beachfront entrance fit for pharaohs." The plan replaces the sixty-year-old Eighth Street Bridge with a sweeping new plaza at Tenth Street. The change may be welcome compared to the decayed structure that greets visitors now, but does it have anything to do with the Coney of 'ol New York? The entrance at Eighth Street may not be pedestrian friendly, but the new design is merely pedestrian. Bike racks and ADA ramps are welcome improvements, but historicist lampposts of no discernible period and smooth blue pavement don't portray whimsy. And the deco-ish gestures of the steps and planters look like Moses-era-WPA-knockoffs, a very suburban approach to one of the most deliciously honky-tonk resorts in America. Where's the fun? Perhaps the battle weary Community Board 13 doesn't have the energy to fight this $11 million "improvement" after the Design Commission allowed the plastic to pass for wood on the boardwalk two weeks ago. It might help if the designers  did a bit of research on Coney's outré heritage...
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@MikeBloomberg: #SocialMedia is Complicated! SMH

Mayor Bloomberg was in Singapore last Wednesday to accept the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize for sustainable planning, but it was the mayor's comments on social media got the most play in The New York Times and the New York Post. “I think this whole world has become a culture of 'me now,' rather than for my kids later on," he was quoted as saying. "Social media is going to make it even more difficult to make long-term investments. We are basically having a referendum on every single thing that we do every day, and it’s very hard for people to stand up and say, ‘No, no. This is what we’re going to do’ when there’s constant criticism and an election process.” Indeed. Two of the projects that Lee Kuan judges called out were conceived in a pre-social-media atmosphere: the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park.  The third example, "re-purposing the right of way" (i.e. bike lanes and pedestrian plazas), evolved under the glare of social media. But as the mayor said in the speech, the High Line was just one court decision from being torn down when his administration took over in 2002.  One can't help but wonder how much easier activist mobilization might have been if social media were around. Instead, activists relied on community outreach and coverage in print media to save the endangered rail bed. Though Brooklyn Bridge Park began with traditional community mobilization, by the time park officials got around to proposing a hotel and residential towers within the park's boundaries,  opponents had found plenty of friends on Facebook. But among the three initiatives/projects cited in Singapore, none played out in social media more than the bike lanes. Interestingly enough, it's here that the mayor got the most support. If you can find the wordy "No Bike Lane on Prospect Park West Neighbors For Better Bike Lanes" Facebook page, compare its closed group of 288 members to the 3,397 'likes' on Transportation Alternatives public page.  Transportation Alternatives has another 4,081 following them on Twitter under the handle @TransAlt. Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes isn't on Twitter. It’s not difficult to understand the mayor’s concern. In the last month alone, social media has had a profound effect at the city’s pubic hearings and meetings. The young bucks from the AIDS Memorial Competition nearly upended the land use process for the Rudin’s plan for St. Vincent’s when they tapped into Architizer’s 450,000 Facebook fans to hold the competition mid-ULURP.  Normally quiet sub-committee meetings of Community Board 2 had to scramble to find more room for the NYU 2030 Expansion Plan after Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) digitally got the word out.  And the very staid—and sometimes dull—Design Commission meeting turned into a sideshow when Save Coney Island informed their 5,300 Facebook friends of the time and place of the meeting. Regardless of how the mayor (with his own 240,000 followers on Twitter) feels about social media, it's here to stay. Even though the city closed down Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street continues to make its presence felt online, where they plan flash demonstrations held all over town. The question is: how does the city integrate this vital new participation into the process? There are platforms on NYC.gov that allow citizens to see what's going on, but few to interact. Researchers at NYU's Polytechnic Institute have been developing Betaville, an online, open-source platform where residents can do a 3-D fly-through of proposed projects and make comments. At the GVSHP kickoff meeting to oppose the NYU2030 expansion plan, one gray-haired woman said to another gray-haired woman that there was just too much gray hair in the room. As the various CB2 subcommittee meetings progressed through the month of February, more and more students who opposed the plan began to show up, as did their NYU professors. How did they get the younger turnout? Word of mouth, flyers, and, of course, social media.
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AN Video> Hysteria on Coney Island

It's almost time to face the mid-August blues, that moment when the back-to-school copy books hit the drug store shelves. Well, there's still time to cram in a few summer day trips. One item at the top of the list should be a visit the recently landmarked Childs Restaurant building, better known as the headquarters for Coney Island USA.  There, the freak shows still reign and Zoe Beloff's small show on toy theater dioramas has an extended its run till mid-September. The four dioramas at the museum are part of a larger project called "The Somnambulists," with the diorama segment called "Four Hysterical Dramas."  The show's focus on the 19th century theater's preoccupation with madness makes perfect fit for the Coney Island Museum, which take up the second floor of the Child's building. "The show is about about where the science and sideshows collided," said the artist. Beloff's last show at the museum also dealt in early psychoanalytic themes and is now touring Europe. Three of the four theaters are inspired by real buildings, two of which are insane asylums while a third is the gate house at Snug Harbor in Staten Island. But the Chinese-style theater is derived from a more traditional source, a toy theater featured in Peter Baldwin's book on the subject.  Pollock's Toy Museum in London provided the artist with additional grist. Inside the three dimensional Victoriana, twenty-first century technology brings the project to life, archival film footage is projected by a hidden DVD onto semi-silvered glass, giving the illusion of 3-D. In the diorama titled "Hysterical Hemipligia Cured by Hynosis" 19th century footage of a mentally ill patient was taken from the archives of the Dr. Guislain Museum in Belgium. "I’ve always been interested the science in a more reputable way, but in the museums of the 19th century things were more fantastic," said Beloff.  "I am really fascinated by dioramas, where the science becomes a spectacle, which is highly contrived and controlled."  
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QUICK CLICKS> Prism Problems, LinkedGreen, Boardwalk, Critic Kvetch

Prismatic Schmatic. After the NYPD criticized the security measures at One World Trade back in 2005, David Childs responded by losing the glass on the bottom 20 floors and creating a bunker like base to be hidden behind prismatic glass panels and welded aluminum screens. Now the Times reports that plan has to be scrapped because the Chinese manufacturer can't prevent the prismatic panes from bowing. Childs is back at the drawing board. Green Empire. Sustainable Cities says that LinkedIn signed a 31,000 square foot lease at the Empire State Building because it's too green to pass up. The building is undergoing a $550 million makeover and shooting for LEED Gold. Via Planitzen. Say It Ain't So! Gothamist reports that Coney Island is going concrete, or at least part of the famed boardwalk is. The community board has decided to allow a 12-foot wide concrete path for vehicular traffic to run straight down the middle of the famed wooden way. Critic Shortage. The LA Times' Christopher Hawthorne took to the pages of Architectural Record bemoaning the damage "internet culture" has done to criticism. He takes aim at bloggers in particular, though he allows that Geoff Manaugh's BLDGBLOG is a stand out. But for every BLDGBLOG there are ten whose work is "overlong, prone to self-absorption, and still struggling to get a handle on the it’s/its dilemma — appears to exist only to prove the old adage that it’s the editor who makes the writer." Via Archnews.