Posts tagged with "Construction":

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Quick Clicks> Countenance Cartography, In Situ Study, Old Becomes New, and Venice Vexed

Mapping Visage. Canadian artist Ingrid Dabringer has attracted attention for her unique map paintings, finding countenances in irregular land masses. The artist explained that she draws inspiration from large-scale topography and lines on detailed maps. Dabringer believes that maps hold meaning and by adding her own touches, she seeks a more personal interpretation within a traditional tool. More at Core77. In Situ Study. Recently on Building Design, third-year architecture student Jonathan Brown posed the following question, “Do architecture students today focus too heavily on design theory and practice and consequently, neglect construction skills that cannot be taught in a classroom?” Not alone in his query, the latest RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) “Part of the Picture” campaign permits graduates to credit three months of on-site experience toward their education. Now and then. Technology and the internet have transformed the way we preserve and promote history, particularly our photographs. Trendcentral highlighted three exciting websites: Historypin, where users can upload historic photos and search geo-tagged photos by time, period, and address; Dear Photograph posts reader-submitted photographs of historic photos in context; and the Flickr group, Looking into the Past, includes a diverse range of historic-current photo collages. Troubled Bridge over Water. Conservationists and architects have rejected the Venetian superintendent’s call to replace the historic Ponte del Accademia with a glass and steel substitute, reported Building Design. Although architects Schiavina of Bologna have incorporated an Istrian stone version of the iconic bridge’s gentle arch in their design, prominent art critic Francesco Bonami has dubbed the plans a “bad crash.” Plans remain on hold while the city seeks funding for the €6 million design.
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Quick Clicks> Bike, Walk, Play, but Watch for the River

Bikes First. To protect its cycling tradition and its bikers’ safety, Copenhagen continues to enhance its metropolitan bicycle system.  StreetsBlog reports that 37 percent of the city's urban population bikes to and from work and school on the city’s extensive network of bicycle-only lanes, park paths, and renovated railway tracks. The public transportation system also supports bicycle-travel, while the city has slowly reduced the number of car lanes on streets and auto-routes. Pedestrians, Too. Chicago moves forward this week on its highly anticipated Pedestrian Plan – an attempt to remedy high levels of hit-and-run fatalities and create a safer walking environment. After the tragic death of Martha Gonzalez at the South Halsted Street intersection, the municipal government realized that further safety measures must be taken.  According to the Tribune, the city will host eight public meetings throughout the summer to gather constituent input, the foundation of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s action plan. Construction Sand-Box. While excavating the foundation of his new home in Colorado, Ed Mumm was inspired to develop the Dig This project–a construction equipment playground for adolescents and adults. PSFK reveals that Munn’s second Dig This location recently launched in Las Vegas, where guests can operate a Caterpillar bulldozer or excavator after attending a 30-minute safety briefing. River Craft. BldgBlog brings news that the Dutch art group Observatorium finished Waiting for the River, a 125-foot-long habitable bridge, in 2010. The project is installed on the Emscher River wetlands, a sewer canal contained by dikes that will flood completely within 10 years. Observatorium invites people to wait for the river in the reclaimed-timber cabins; furnished with beds and plumbing.
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Canvassing for Votes With NYC Construction Fence Finalists

If a whole flock of ghostly animals starts appearing in downtown New York this fall, don't panic. It’ll just mean that the public picked Chris Shelley’s design “…of special concern” as a winner in the Buildings and Cultural Affairs Departments' urbancanvas competition, which solicited ideas for decorating the construction fences, sidewalk sheds, scaffolding and cocoons that act as eyesores on seemingly every New York City street. From today through October 1, you can vote for your favorite of the eight finalist designs, whittled down by a professional jury from a starting pool of over 700 entries, with the most popular four selected to appear around the city later this fall. The range of design strategies is broad, with Jen Magathan’s trompe-l'oeuil sky in “My Urban Sky" making buildings disappear, and Mauricio Lopez and Jesse T. Ross’s kaleidoscopic "Color Mesh" making them jump out from the streetscape. Shelley’s design adds an unusual interactive component, pairing the silhouettes of five local endangered species with a bar-code panel on the corner of the screen. When a visitor scans the bar code with her iPhone, it will take her to a website with the full endangered species list. After voting closes, property owners, contractors and businesses will be allowed to select a design from the four winners and print it on any temporary protective structures installed on City-owned property. (They also have the option of printing their construction screens with an image of the project being built, but where’s the fun in that?)
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Manslaughter

Today, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has handed out an indictment to two companies, their owner, and a crane mechanic in connection with the 2008 collapse of a tower crane on East 91st St. that killed the crane operator and a worker. New York Crane, J.F. Lomma, James Lomma, and former employee of New York Crane, Tibor Virganyi, face charges of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, as well as charges of assault and reckless endangerment. "Today's indictment is an important step not only in holding these defendants accountable for their conduct, but should send a message to the construction industry that that profit cannot be put ahead of safety," said Vance in a statement. New York Crane also owned the tower crane that collapsed on March 15 at the Azure condo on East 51st St. That incident was even more catastrophic, demolishing a building and killing seven people. The two collapses exposed corruption and bribery within the DOB's crane unit, forced the resignation of then-Commissioner Patricia Lancaster, and gave rise to a study of construction oversight and safety.
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Ground Zip, Zero, Zilch

That's how much the Port Authority owes developer Larry Silverstein, after an arbitration panel's ruling yesterday, which Silverstein Properties announced in a press release today. The developer had been seeking monetary damages and reduced rents because, Silverstein argued, the PA had delayed in turning over the sites of Tower 2 and Tower 3, also known as 200 and 175 Greenwich, designed, respectively, by Norman Foster and Richard Rogers. The arbitrators, who Silverstein tapped in July, found this not to be the case, though it is not entirely clear why as their decision has not been publicly released. The fate of those towers, and the financing Silverstein has been all but demanding from the PA, remains an open question, but the one victory the developer did win was a reprieve from a 2014 deadline to finish all three buildings, lest control of them revert to the PA. Now, the two have 45 days to work out a new deadline, which could also take pressure off Silverstein to demand financing for buildings some analysts say there will be no demand for for decades. Given the panel's unfavorable decision for him, the fiery Silverstein was surprisingly conciliatory in his statement. “I greatly appreciate the hard work and professionalism of the members of the arbitration panel. They did a huge amount of work in a very compressed timeframe," he said. In its own release, the PA thanked the arbitrators for "issuing a responsible decision that protects public resources while creating a positive environment in which the visible, daily progress on the site can continue moving forward." UPDATE: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his own statement, hits the nail on the head: “As expected, the arbitration has not resulted in a resolution. But one thing is clear from the ruling: there is a deal to be made. This is a critical moment to move forward with the long-term development of the site. The parties cannot let it pass without progress.” And the Times reports that Silverstein was requesting $2.75 billion—yes, that's billion—in damages, an amount that likely would have gone a long way toward drumming up financing for the other towers.
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Gehry Windfall

Yesterday's high winds and rain did more than make life miserable for AN staff members with holes in their shoes. They also brought a stop work order down on Forest City Ratner's Beekman Tower. According to the DOB's complaint, metal and plywood fell from the 72-story Frank Gehry-designed structure in an approximately 2 1/2-block radius around City Hall Park. No injuries were reported, though a metal turnbuckle did collide with a parked car and emergency services shut down streets. These events followed the DOB's issuance of a high wind advisory on Sunday. In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Building Commissioner Robert LiMandri sternly reminded contractors that such advisories must be heeded. The GC at the Beekman Tower is Kreisler Borg Florman.
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The Final Slam Dunk?

There may be a few hoops left to jump through before Bruce Ratner can begin construction of his SHoP- and Ellerbe Becket-designed arena for the Brooklyn, New Jersey, Nets, such as completing a partial sale of the team to a Russian oligarch, prevailing in some outstanding lawsuits, and going ahead with eminent domain against the area's remaining holdouts. But the developer appears to have cleared the final major hurdle standing in his way with the successful sale of $511 million in tax-exempt bonds today for his $900 million arena. (There are still taxed bonds and an equity stake to be taken care of, but they lacked the December 31 deadline.) Yes, those hoops may still present challenges, but none had the same drop-dead, end-of-the-year deadline the bonds did, and they seemed the likeliest chance for the project's opponents to succeed. Instead, they sold briskly in a matter of hours, or, as Ratner put it in a release, "The interest in the arena bond offering was beyond our expectations," expectations that have always been highly optimistic, though also always on the money. Perhaps this is why they are already preparing to divert traffic starting next Monday to make way for construction.
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Plummeting Pei

Goldman Sachs has been much in the news lately for its continued blockbuster bonuses as much of the workforce continues to languish. But the new headquarters for the company designed by Harry Cobb has also made headlines for some time now thanks (or no thanks) to construction accidents. The latest occurred this weekend, when glass panels fell in the middle of the night from the 38th floor onto the West Side Highway, shutting it down for a few hours according to the Post. The Tribeca Trib also reports the accident also shut down a Battery Park City ice rink that was set to open Sunday, delaying the inaugural opening by a day. What's worse, though, is the Trib says construction managers knew about a crack in the panes that precipitated their fall but delayed fixing it.
Robert Blackman, Tishman’s executive vice president, said workers had spotted a half-inch-long "hairline" crack in a window on the 38th floor of the $2.4 billion office tower on Nov. 13, but chose to put off replacing the glass until after the external construction hoist on the north face of the building was dismantled. “[The broken glass] was deemed not to be a safety concern to us,” Blackman told a Community Board 1 members Tuesday night, upset over this, the fourth reported incident of falling objects from the site. “I would have been the first to have stopped the job if we thought it posed a risk to this community.” Blackman said “unusually high winds” the morning of Nov. 28 were likely what spread the crack across the upper portion of the 10-by-7-foot window. Around 7:30 that morning, pieces of the window fell off of the building, landing on West Street and on a platform inside the construction site.
That's more than two weeks between spotting the damage and the accident. Were this the first problem at the site, that might be understandable, but as has been widely reported with the news of this latest accident, it's not. There was an errant piece of steel that fell onto a neighboring soccer field in the middle of a game, a hammer that hit a cab, and, most tragically, the seven tons worth of girders dropped on a construction trailer that paralyzed the architect trapped inside. What has not been mentioned yet, though, is that falling glass is nothing new for Pei Cobb Freed.

Perfect Fit

Here at AN there is no shortage of talk about how buildings are designed, but it is rare indeed that we actually get to show architecture in the course of one of its most important processes: construction. Lucky for us (and you dear reader) Robert Adrian Pejo filmed and edited the above video of a group of ornamental ironworkers from W&W Glass installing the James Vincent Czajka-designed glass link at the American Academy of Arts & Letters. The project is the subject of my In Detail piece in the current issue. Now, watch in amazement as these trained professionals crane lift 10-foot-wide-by-16-foot-high pieces of laminated glass (perfect golden rectangles mind you) over 40 feet into the air and insert them, in windy conditions, between the stone walls of two Beaux Arts edifices.
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Crumbling Concrete

Yesterday, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau served an indictment against a dozen employees of a concrete inspection company, which the DA cited for improperly inspecting at least 102 buildings in the city in recent years. According to the Times' account, Testwell, of Ossinning, New York, was "the city's leading concrete-testing firm." AN picked up a copy of the indictment today, and how right the paper of record is. What is striking is the number and range of projects Testwell touched--or didn't, as the case may be. The Times notes three--the Freedom Tower, new Yankees Stadium, and the Gensler-designed Terminal 5 for Jet Blue--and adds that city officials believe all projects to be safe, though the quality of the concrete may be inferior and thus have a shorter lifespan. But the other 99 projects are not just faceless outer borough in-fill. 7 World Trade Center is there, as are a number of high profile projects, including Norman Foster's Hearst Building, Frank Gehry's Beekman Place tower, Polshek's Brooklyn Museum Expansion, FXFowle's One Bryant Park and 11 Times Square, KPF's Goldman Sachs HQ in Batter Park City, and the new Greek and Roman Gallery's at the Met by Beyer Blinder Belle. (The indictment [we've linked a PDF of the list below] lists the gallery as MoMA, but that can't be right. Not surprisingly, roughly half the projects are nondescript luxury condo projects--10 Barclay, 150 Lafeyette, 801 Amsterdam, Latitude Riverdale--not unlike the majority of construction work in the city during the recent boom. A number of government projects, big and small, local and federal, are listed, including Brooklyn Borough Hall, I.S. 303, Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse, as well as a number of collegiate buildings. Perhaps most unsettling, safe or otherwise, are the infrastructure projects the company worked on, such as the Second Avenue subway, New Rochelle MetroNorth station, and, scariest of all, the deck replacement of the Triborough Bridge. There are a few oddballs, too:the USS Intrepid's refurbished Pier 86, the Pier 90 cruise terminal, the massive Xanadu commercial complex at the Meadowlands. The Testwell 102