The realities of contemporary architectural production—site, client, and program—often demand that architects incorporate a combination of open space planning, landscape, and infrastructure into their building projects. The reasons are fairly obvious, given the fraught relationship of daily life to the realities of climate change, digitally mediated landscapes, and the amount of time we spend away from home and in our workplaces. It is unfortunate that these conditions most often appear in contemporary architecture as symbols, tacked on to a facade or plaza, hinted at in a green-walled lobby, or worse still, exist only in the project’s marketing images. However, there are a handful of architecture firms that, as far back as the early 1990s, foresaw the looming urban and environmental crises that we face today. They took climate change and the need for environmentally healthy workplaces seriously and considered how architecture might address these demands. One of the firms that recognized the need to rethink architectural approaches is Weiss/Manfredi. Its formulation of design thinking and form making was best described in a 2008 interview with the designers by the late historian Detlef Mertens. “I am fascinated how you teased out commonalities across scales and disciplines,” Mertens said, “and at the same time, used each to rethink the other—landscape to rethink what a building is, infrastructure to rethink what a landscape is, architecture to rethink landscape—and so on.” The firm’s signature design approach and formal architectural response were developed at its inception, when Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi left Mitchell Giurgola to found their own firm in 1989. Yale Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking The unique, elliptical form of Yale University’s Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking is centrally positioned in a courtyard of stepped orthogonal structures. Curved glass walls encourage circulation through and around the center and allow the rest of the university to see and participate in the building’s program. The open studio, conference, and cafe spaces create opportunities for spontaneous discussion and provide a link between public areas and adjacent instructional spaces. Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Art Museum The firm’s design synthesis was utilized even more powerfully in its 2007 Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Its design for an industrial site on the edge of Elliot Bay creates a continuous constructed landscape for art in the form of an uninterrupted Z-shaped "green" platform, and descends 40 feet from the city to the water, capitalizing on skyline views and rising over the existing infrastructure to reconnect the urban core to the waterfront. An exhibition pavilion that provides spaces for art, performances, and educational programming links three new northwest landscapes: a dense temperate evergreen forest, a deciduous forest, and a shoreline garden. The design not only brings sculpture outside the museum walls but also establishes the park itself within the landscape of the city. Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park The firm’s established design aesthetic of merging landscape, infrastructure, and building are no more fully developed than in this new, 11-acre continuous waterfront in Queens designed in tandem with SWA/Balsley. Its design creates places of retreat and invites intimate connections with nature at the water's edge, complementing active recreation spaces. Further, it reestablishes the site's former marshland identity and introduces a resilient, multilayered recreational and cultural destination that brings city dwellers to the park and the park to the waterfront. Museum of the Earth The firm’s approach can already be seen in its 2003 Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York, located on an open promontory sloping down toward Cayuga Lake. Weiss/Manfredi carefully modified the site to merge delicately into the museum’s two glass and steel pavilions through processional ramps and out to the view beyond. The site and plan merge without compromising the building’s powerful glass-and-steel form.
Posts tagged with "Hunters Point South":
A report released earlier this week from the Center for an Urban Future (CUF) detailed the disconcerting state of New York City’s public parks system. While there’s a lot to worry about revolving around the city’s great outdoor spaces, all is not lost. New urban oases and major rehabilitation projects have been popping up throughout the five boroughs over the last 20 years—the latest of which adds 5.5 acres of restored wetlands habitat to the Queens waterfront. On Wednesday, the second phase of Hunter’s Point South Park opened to the public, creating 11 acres of continuous riverside parkland in Long Island City. The new site brings a fresh breath of air to the formerly inaccessible, industrialized site and showcases expansive views of the East River alongside Newtown Creek. SWA/BALSLEY and WEISS/MANFREDI teamed up to design the new addition after working together on the first phase of the park, which opened in 2013. Just north of the site, Gantry Plaza State Park—opened in 1998 also designed by Thomas Balsley Associates —seamlessly connects to the new space. The brand-new design features the same tone and style as its sister site, but includes several new highlights: a shaded grassy cape, a new island connected via a pedestrian bridge, a kayak launch, exercise and picnic terraces, plus a 30-foot-high cantilevered platform that gives visitors panoramic views of Manhattan. According to the architects, the park serves as a model for waterfront resilience and acts as a buffer against storm surges. The opening of the newly expanded Hunter's Point South Park comes on the heels of the new Domino Park in Williamsburg.
While everyone was distracted by Monday's BIG news on the High Line, SHoP unveiled a three-tower complex on the waterfront in Long Island City, Queens. The tallest tower, at 45-40 Vernon Boulevard, will be 28 stories, with 296 residential units. The three towers will ring the Anable Basin, a human-made inlet off of the East river. The towers will sit ten blocks northeast of SHoP's Hunters Point South, a two-building, 900-unit development with 20,000 square feet of retail, where tenants love Airbnb-ing their taxpayer-subsidized pads. The development is part of a master plan to revive the Anable Basin (also known at the Eleventh Street Basin), site of the former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant, with public waterfront access and a refurbished pier. The towers, real estate blog 6sqft reports, will mostly replace the current building on site, 69,550 square foot Paragon Paint Factory, now defunct. The site, currently zoned for manufacturing, will require a zoning variance to build residential. There will also need to be environmental remediation performed on the land. The tallest, central tower partially cannibalizes the rear of the factory, rising into a decidedly non-industrial 300-foot-tall glass wall. Future residents will have expansive views of Manhattan and the East River. The two smaller towers, at 45-24 Vernon Boulevard and along 45th Road, will be copper clad at the base with angled windows on the upper stories to maximize views of the cityscape. The towers will rise 14 stories and eight stories, respectively. No word yet on the project's groundbreaking or expected completion date.
On Tuesday, the LIC Post reported that some residents who received units through the affordable housing lottery in a (SHoP-designed) Hunters Point South high-rise are renting out their units on Airbnb. Market rate tenants expressed righteous indignation, and poor-shamed their neighbors for "gaming the system." In New York City, renting out your rented place on Airbnb is illegal, but is it really wrong? A Hunters Point South Commons tenant named Nathalye listed her two bedroom apartment on the site for $50o per night, plus a service and cleaning fee. Two other units in the development's two buildings were listed for rent, as well. Designated affordable units in the Related Companies development range from $494 to $1,997 for a studio, and $743 to $4,346 for a three-bedroom, depending on household earnings. The New York Post asked building resident Chris Dyer for his take on tenants renting out their affordable units: “they should be super grateful because so many people applied to try to get in, and they should not be taking advantage of the situation. I think those people should be held accountable and kicked out of their lease.” Proponents of sites like Airbnb claim that the site fills an unmet need for less expensive accommodations in a city where the average hotel room costs $297 per night. Opponents note that Airbnb inflates housing costs in the long run and displaces lower-income residents. It's easy to invoke tropes of the "worthy poor" to shame affordable housing tenants who earn extra income through Airbnb. In May, Gothamist outlined the subsidies and incentives that this (mostly market rate) development received: "While Related is not receiving 421-a subsidies for the Hunter's Point South apartments, [the developer] told us that his company is benefiting from a 'one-off' deal, which includes a 40-year tax break agreement (details were not disclosed). As an affordable housing project, the project also got $185 million in tax-exempt bonds from Cuomo, $236 million in said bonds from the Housing Development Corporation, and $68 million in subsidies from Housing Preservation and Development." A full discussion of ethics and affordability is outside the scope of this short post. But, in a city that's increasingly unaffordable for all but the very rich, it's worth asking: are tenants in affordable units so very different from market rate neighbors units or homeowners using Airbnb to make a buck?
While everyone is transfixed on SHoP's dramatic unveiling of its new plan for the Domino Sugar Factory on the Brooklyn waterfront, another SHoP-designed project began construction to the north on the Queens waterfront. The first two towers of the Hunters Point South development, what will be New York City's largest affordable housing project since the 1970s, broke ground, and the $332-million first phase could accept its first residents as soon as 2014. The first phase includes 925 permanently-affordable housing units, 17,000 square feet of retail space, an already-under-construction 1,100-seat school, and a new five-acre park. The first 619-unit tower at 1-50 50th Avenue will stand 37-stories tall and the adjacent 306-unit second tower at 1-55 Borden Avenue will be 32-stories tall. Both will feature breathtaking views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline including the United Nations Secretariat and the Chrysler Building. The project, developed by Related Companies with non-profit Phipps Houses, was designed by SHoP Architects with Ismael Leyva Architectsand is aiming for LEED Silver certification. The two towers will have distinct designs. During the initial design process in 2011, SHoP's Vishaan Chakrabarti told AN, "We asked, should they be twins, sisters, cousins, friends or strangers? And I think we ended up with friends." "After years of planning and partnership, we’re breaking ground on the first large-scale middle-class development to be built in our city in more than three and a half decades," said Mayor Bloomberg in a statement. "In just a few years, Hunter’s Point South will have all the makings of a great community – affordable homes, new transportation links, beautiful parks with sweeping views, and a brand-new school." To mitigate potential flood damage from storm surges in the future, the project's mechanical systems are elevated on upper floors with emergency generators on the roof. A concrete base serving as a flood wall line's the towers frontage facing the flood plain and entrances are designed so flood gates can be attached if necessary. Residents are expected to move in as early as 2014, with the entire first phase complete by 2015. Bloomberg also announced at the ceremony that the RFP for the second phase of Hunters Point South will be issued next month, calling for another 1,000 residential units and 28,000 square feet of community and retail space. When complete, the entire Hunters Point South development will house 5,000 new housing units on the 30-acre site.
Relating. Mayor Bloomberg announced today that the Related Companies has been selected to lead the first phase of Hunters Point South on the Queens waterfront. City Room has more on the project which will initially include two new buildings with 900 apartments. Glass Tickets. The Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut will begin selling tickets for 2011 tours on February 15. A variety of tours running from May through November explore the art, architecture, and landscapes at the house. You may also want to check out their weekly curated Glass House Conversations. Comic Architecture. BldgBlog is running an interview with comic artist Mike Mignola, discussing the intriguing buildings, landscapes, and spaces that fill his graphic novels and create distinct moods for his stories. Rogue Signs. Cranston, RI realized last year that 587 "undocumented stop signs" had been installed on its streets by a mysterious, unknown party. Lowering the Bar says the town has finally come up with a solution: legalize them.