Posts tagged with "Coney Island":

Placeholder Alt Text

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.  
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Boardwalk, High-Speed, Archives 2.0, the Street

Boardwalk Empire. The Brooklyn Paper reports that Coney Island will not be getting a concrete boardwalk, at least not if Community Board 13 has a say in the matter. The board members recently voted down a proposal from the Parks Department that would cement over parts of the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk while covering some of the famed seaside path with recycled plastic lumber.

Express Train. The Van Alen Institute wants to know what you think of the future of high-speed rail in the United States. Check out its call for design ideas here.

Digital Architectural History. The Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamen brings news that the good folks at the Ryerson and Burnham Archives at the Art Institute of Chicago have digitized 5,000 images from Archpaper's late 19th century predecessor, the Inland Architect and News Record, offering up photos and drawings from a pivotal period in US architectural history. Sharing is Caring. New York's Municipal Art Society kicked off its second annual "Streets Month" with a program about the city's new and innovative place-making efforts, including a presentation by DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Check out a recap and analysis from MAS over here.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Anti-Mies, Timber, Thunder, Head Start

  Mies Bashing. For all the glory of Modernist Chicago, there are still those who mourn the loss of the White City's Beaux Arts influence. Historian David Garrard tells WBEZ of the "sterile" Daley Center's ruinous effect on The Loop. One has to wonder what he'd make of Time Out Chicago's "Fifteen Fanciful Ways to Fix Navy Pier." Tiiiimmmmbeeeeerrrrr! Meanwhile, at another Navy locale...Chuck Schumer is hopping mad about contorting being done by the U.S. Army to get out of repairing the 158-year-old Timber Shed at Brooklyn's Navy Yard. The Brooklyn Paper reports that the senator is pressing army brass, which still has control over the building, to fix it or get out of the way and let the city do it. For Sale: Beach front property, water views, lively neighborhood. WSJ reports that the land where Coney Island's famed Thunderbolt roller coaster scared the bejesus out of generations of New Yorkers can now be had for $75 million to $95 million. Way Head Start. NYC Department of Buildings launched their Junior Architects and Engineers Program this week at PS31, reports NY1. (The news clip, starring fifth grade Frank Lloyd Wright fan Thomas Patras, is just too cute to pass up.)
Placeholder Alt Text

A Castle Near the Sand

With snowpocalypse about to descend on the city, summer feels a long way away. But there is cause for sun-soaked celebration today, as the Landmarks Preservation commission calendared the Shore Theater, the first step in the public review process to make the building an official city landmark. The calendaring is actually the first fruits to bear from the Bloomberg administration's 13th hour deal with developer Joe Sitt. It will be months before amusements return to a saved Coney Island, but a major negotiating point for the community—and the amusement community in particular—was more landmarks in Coney to protect the area's historic buildings from the flood of development the city's rezoning hopes to create. So far, there are no other buildings in the docket besides the 1920s theater-and-hotel building, though, which could be cause for concern—especially after the area's oldest building recently suffered water damage. Still, after decades of deterioration, any progress is good. In other landmarks news... The commission also calendared today the Gramercy House and the Addisleigh Park Historic District. The former is an apartment building on East 22nd Street designed by Edward and Charles Blum in 1929 and completed in 1931. The building, according to the commission report, boasts "textured brickwork, contrasting base and striking polychrome terra cotta trim." Meanwhile, the latest proposed historic district (the 101st?) is located in Queens and comprised of 426 buildings, the St. Albans Congregational church and its campus, and 11 acres of St. Albans Park. Many of the buildings date from the 1910s to 1930s, and according to this page on the Historic Districts Council's website, the area was an enclave in the 1950s for the city's well-to-do blacks, including Jackie Robinson, W.E.B. DuBois, Count Basie, Joe Louis, and Ella Fitzgerald, among other notables. Here's a map of the area, and you can see it in GoogleMaps here. Finally, the commission voted in favor of two new landmarks today. The Penn Club, formerly the Yale Club, is located on 44th Street between 5th and 6th avenues, near a clutch of other robber baron-era clubhouses. The 11-story building was completed in 1901 on commission from Yale, with designs by two Yalies and McKim, Mead, & White alums, Evarts Tracy and Egerton Swartwout. The building was later acquired by Penn. The other new landmarks is the 143 Allen Street House, which was built around 1830 for ship captain George Sutton, a time, as the commission report notes, "when the Lower East Side was a fashionable residential district." And so the circle is complete. These two buildings also had hearings the same day as Paul Rudolph's 23 Beekman Place, so it's quite possible that building could be coming up for a vote in the near future as well.
Placeholder Alt Text

Retracting the Retractable Roof Retraction

Brooklyn has been called the borough of blogs, which probably explains why that's where the big city papers are all launching their hyperlocal efforts. First there was the Times' Fort Greene blog, and now the Post is getting in on the act—not surprisingly, we were notified about the new venture by the king of Brooklyn blogs, Brownstoner. While the Times has wound up with some odd, interesting mix of community driven news, the Post remains, at least in its first two posts, a decidely top-down affair, though this is not exactly a bad thing. Indeed, the inaugural post for the Post looks at borough president Marty Markowitz renewed efforts to include a retractable roof at the Grimshaw-designed concert pavilion at Asser Levy park, which we first unveiled back in April. At the time, we were told the designers were very excited about the possibility of a retractable roof, but it was deemed not only too expensive to construct but also to maintain, given the salty air out at Coney Island. (If you're wondering what they had in mind, it was very much the parachute-like roof at the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt.) The Post suggests Markowitz sees the retractable roof as a way to assuage the project's neighbors who find it unsightly, but since the $64 billion price tag has already caused a stir, Markowitz would appear to be jumping out of a sinking ship and into the roiling sea: "Adding a retractable roof would likely increase construction fees by at least $3.5 million, sources said. And that doesn’t include anticipated increases in daily maintenance costs to deal with the seaside’s corrosive air." Construction remains at least a year away, so anything could happen by then. Grimshaw has yet to reply to requests for comment.

TMI Too Late

Earlier today, the Municipal Art Society posted an incredibly informative presentation that the group gave at the recent City Council hearings on the Bloomberg administration's plans for rezoning Coney Island. The presentation, which can be found above, pretty succinctly explains what's wrong with the city's plan, why it won't work, and alternatives--proposed, of course, by MAS--that could be undertaken. So why has this presentation surfaced so late in the process, when it will have little, if any impact on the rezoning? Rumor has it the group didn't want to rock the boat--after all, they got a warning from planning commission chair Amanda Burden--as the presentation was considered too incendiary for public consumption. Still, it make a far more compelling argument than some loopy renderings. And besides, isn't the MAS supposed to rock the boat? Jane Jacobs would be so disappointed.
Placeholder Alt Text

Eminent Decision at Coney?

When the City Planning Commission barely altered the city's plans--plans that remain diametrically opposed to those of chief landholder Joe Sitt--we couldn't help but wonder whether the Bloomberg administration would some how grossly undermine its plan, or let it fall on the sword at the City Council, at least part of which is firmly under the sway of Sitt. Thus far, the Bloomberg administration has yet to allow a single one of its nearly 100 rezoning fail at the council, often crafting 11th hour deals. Would, could things be different this time? Well, following a hearing at City Hall yesterday, the Daily News reports that the city's rezoning proposal has indeed run up against council opposition, but not for the reasons we would have thought--or hoped. No, it has nothing to do with the lack of vision for either Sitt or the city's plans. The council's opposition stems from an aversion to eminent domain, which the city's economic development czar suggested could be on the table should Sitt not sell, something he has currently refused to negotiate on, despite repeated attempts by the city. But that's not what struck us as wrong. No, the problem is--shocking, we know--that many of these council members now in opposition to eminent domain once supported it, in a way. Look no further than Manhattanville or Willets Point, where Columbia and the city, respectively, have used the threat of eminent domain to push around small businesses and landholders. Clearly, it's not the principal that matters to the council but the size of one's pocketbook.
Placeholder Alt Text

Astroland, Gone But Not Forgotten

Astroland may be gone, and much of Coney Island with it, but it least its most iconic symbol will be saved. (No, not the Tilt-a-Whirl.) As per a press release we just received, Carol Hill Albert, a co-owner of Astroland, has donated the amusement park's namesake rocket, which once rested atop Gregory & Paul's hot dog stand (an AN favorite).
"This one of a kind Rocket simulator was the very first ride to arrive at Astroland Park, when it was founded by my late father in-law Dewey Albert in 1962," Hill Alpert said in the release. "My husband Jerome and myself are donating this in his honor and on behalf the Coney Island History Project.  It is especially fitting that this Rocket, which was the first to arrive, will be the last item to leave Astroland Park. On the sad occasion of closing Astroland, which has been Coney Island's largest amusement park for 47 years, my husband Jerome and I are heartened to know that the City will be displaying the Rocket in a prominent location as part of the new Coney Island where it can continue to educate and entertain."
The release also said the city has agreed to afix a bronze plaque to the rocket to honor Astroland. And here's a video of its removal a few weeks ago:
Placeholder Alt Text

Showdown at the Coney Corral

So it comes to this. Later tonight--6:30 to be exact--the Municipal Art Society will hold its final meeting on Coney Island, where it will take comments from the community, present the work of its charrette team, and, finally, present their recommendations to the city, a copy of which AN has received. The group's timing couldn't be better because we have also learned that the city is to certify its own long-simmering plans for Coney on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the entire neighborhood has gone (further) to pot. Though the MAS has received more than 300 recommendations through its ImagineConey website--which it kicked off with a Will Alsop-led charrette in November--the heart of its recommendations come from a report prepared by "amusement developer" David Malmuth and real estate advisory company Robert Charles Lesser & Co. Though the group probably has other ideas in store, there are four in particular it would like to see the city take up. First is the purchase of any land to be utilized as an amusement park so as to prevent future problems akin to those the city and local businesses are facing with developer Joe Sitt. Second, the MAS believes any master plan should be shaped by locals, and especially amusement operators and vendors, and that it should include a singular iconic ride that can come to symbolize the new Coney. Third, the city should require, instead of recommend, entertainment- and amusement-related uses for Coney West and Coney North. (The current plan only requires amusements in the main park area, Coney East.) One of two major departures for the MAS from the city is the demand that some interim short-term programming be implemented to keep the neighborhood vibrant and viable as the new rezoning is worked out and new amusements are built, a process that could take decades. The other, and most damning, point is that, in order to be viable, the new amusement area must cover 25 acres. The city's most recent numbers call for only 9 acres of amusement park, which was reduced from 15 acres initially proposed last February, when the rezoning was announced. According to Malmuth's report, that is the level required to attract and support 3.5 million visitors per year, which he says is the critical mass needed to make Coney truly stable and protect it from the sort of market fluctuations and development pressures that have led it astray in the past. Still, even if the MAS has come to some firm conclusions already about what it wants to see from the city, the community proposals are certainly worth checking out. With submissions from the likes of Fred Schwartz and countless architecture students, they're pretty trippy, even garnering a particularly vicious and snarky perusal from Curbed blogger Robert Guskind. And yet, over at his main blog, Gowanus Lounge, Bob gives a thoughtful analysis of the MAS approach:
We respect our friends at the Municipal Art Society and their ImagineConey effort. They have been one of the most vocal groups insisting that the city come up with a interim plan to keep Coney Island viable. Yet, we’re also concerned that as latecomers to the debate–which has been ongoing now for nearly three years–some of what they are bringing to the table is more of a distraction than a help. [...] Mayor Bloomberg, Amanda Burden, Purnima Kapur, Lynn Kelly and all the CIDC Board members, Joe Sitt, Kent Barwick–we’re talking to you and about you. Let’s cut out the meaningless twaddle and get down to the real work of making sure the summers of 2009 and 2010 are not the Summers of Horror in Coney Island. And, if that means sacrificing vision and slowing down bureaucratic process, so be it.
Much as we wish that Bob's wishes would come true, something tells us neither MAS's proposals nor Tuesday's all-but-certain certification will deliver.
Placeholder Alt Text

Coney of the Mind

It's been a busy day out at Coney Island. Not only did local City Council rep Dominic Recchia tell the Post that the city is trying to buy up developer Joe Sitt's stake in the area, but now comes the Municipal Art Society's zany plans for the famed amusement park. The MAS spent a busy week talking to the community and then working to conceive fanciful designs with a world-renowned team of planners, designers, and amusement experts, the fruits of which were unveiled at a press conference today at Borough Hall. AN had a correspondent on the scene, but these renderings are just too nice to keep to ourselves. With the blustery weather outside, maybe they can give hope for a warmer future. More amusements after the jump. Update: We almost forgot! Do check out the party tonight at BAM, where the designers and their designs will be on view. It starts at 6:30, and a source tells us there will be free Coney Island Lager on hand. See you there. (We'll be wearing the pink tie and the gray cardigan.)
Placeholder Alt Text

Cutting the Nets?

At Monday's Coney Island charrette kick-off, hosted by the Municipal Art Society, a number of stakeholders from the area gave presentations to the design team to help them form ideas for leading the charrette in a few weeks. (To share your own, visit the imagineconey.com, which just launched today.) One of the presentations was given by Jon Benguiat, the director of planning and development for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who spoke about Asser Levy Park, a small outdoor amphitheater and park across Surf Avenue from the aquarium, which is getting a dramatic $64 million retractable roof courtesy of Grimshaw. (More on that soon, we hope.) As with all these things, there was a Power Point presentation, and as with all Power Point presentations, the whole thing took some time to boot up. In the interim, Benguiat decided to tell the story of how he became Marty's planning direct, during which he let some shocking news about the Atlantic Yards, or at least the fate of the Brooklyn Nets, slide. But first a caveat: We had considered letting this news go on Monday, in light of the off-hand circumstances and the fact that AN is not one for "gotcha journalism." After all, it would not come as a surprise to most people following the project that it is in trouble, what with Forect City's stock plummeting, its credit rating following suit, and, speaking of suit's, DDDB's got picked up by the state appeals court. Granted the IRS ruled in Bruce Ratner's favor on some tax-exempt bonds, but that's got to be small consolation. However, when reports about the possible sale or relocation of the Nets began to circulate the past two days, as Atlantic Yards watchdog Norman Oder has pointed out, we felt it out duty to relay Benguiat's words. Waiting on Monday for the projector to warm up, Benguiat told the crowd that, when Marty got elected, he had served as the previous borough president's director of land use. Asking if Markowitz was looking for one, the beep-to-be said no, but he did need a director of planning. "Without even thinking about it, I said yes," Benguiat said. "Then I spent the whole night fretting, wondering what I'd gotten myself into." Benguiat said his anxiety only grew when he showed up for the first day of work and Markowitz rattled off the list of initiatives he hoped to pursue: the revival of Coney Island, return of pro sports to the borough, realization of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and redevelopment of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront. "I won't repeat all the expletives I spewed when I heard this," Benguiat said. "But here we are, nearly all of them complete. I'm not sure if we're going to get the Nets or not. We should have groundbreaking in December, but we'll see." How much Benguiat knows--even Ratner has admitted that the groundbreaking will likely be pushed back due to the lawsuit--is uncertain, but his statement is one of the most dire to come out of the Markowitz administration, which is uniformly unwavering in its support for the project, no matter the legal or financial circumstances. Asked to clarify his comments afterwards, Benguiat declined to comment, instead directing AN to the borough president's press office, which released the following statement from Markowitz:
The current state of the American economy underscores the importance of moving ahead with projects like Atlantic Yards, and I am confident the project will happen. It will create union jobs and much-needed affordable housing, as well as bring professional sports back to Downtown Brooklyn—becoming just the kind of investment magnet that Brooklyn and New York City need right now
Now that the team is in doubt, would the Atlantic Yards project still enjoy the full support of the borough president without one of its foremost reasons for being? Markowitz's office has yet to respond on that front. No word yet from Forest City Ratner, either.