Posts tagged with "Lower East Side":

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Department of City Planning rejects residents’ move to trigger ULURP on Two Bridges towers

The Department of City Planning (DCP) rejected a request from elected officials for a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan's lower east side. Previously, The Architect's Newspaper reported on the profusion of skyscrapers set to blossom on the waterfrontL+M Development and the CIM Group (Two Bridges Associates) are planning a residential complex near JDS Development Group'SHoP-designed 77-story tower, while Starrett Corporation may build a riverside 60-story tower. Rounding out the developments is Extell’s One Manhattan West, an 80-story luxury condo that will be open to residents in three years. In a letter to City Planning Commission chair Carl Weisbrod, city council member Margaret Chin asked for reform of the ULURP process for three planned towers along the East River. The ULURP would have sent developers' plans back to the neighborhood's community board, borough president, and ultimately the city council for review. Weisbrod responded August 11 to say that, because the towers are going to be built as-of-right, DCP sees the developments as "minor modifications" not the "major modifications" that would trigger a ULURP, The Lo-Down reports. He added: "I agree that the development contemplated here is significant when each proposed development is considered individually, and that the potential impacts to the surrounding neighborhood require unique consideration when the three proposed projects are assessed cumulatively.” The developers have agreed to a "coordinated review" of the proposals, Weisbrod continued, and the city will mandate an Environmental Impact Statement with the applications. Chin released a statement following Weisbrod's memo:
We are disappointed by the decision not to treat this as a major modification to the Large Scale plan, but are encouraged by the requirement of an Environmental Impact Statement that will address the cumulative impact of these planned developments in the Two Bridges neighborhood. We look forward to working with City Planning, other elected officials, and the community to mitigate the impacts of development, and to make sure the community’s voices are heard.
Weisbrod's full memo and Chin's response can be found here.
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City analyzing two plans that would curb an explosion of skyscrapers on the LES

Residents of Two Bridges have come up with two plans to slow and manage development in their Lower East Side Neighborhood. Development in the neighborhood has boomed in recent months. In April, JDS Development Group revealed plans for a SHoP-designed 77-story tower, while L+M Development and the CIM Group (Two Bridges Associates) are planning a residential complex nearby. Starrett Corporation may build a 60-story tower on an East River parcel it owns, while Extell Development's One Manhattan West, an 80-story luxury condo, is expected to be complete in 2019. In light of this unprecedented high-rise explosion, residents and the pols that represent them have advanced two proposals that address the development in their neighborhood. One plan, initiated by the Chinatown Working Group proposes a neighborhood rezoning to cap building heights at 350 feet. It would require residential buildings to offer below-market-rate housing (possibly through MIH). The plan would also mandate harassment certification from potential developers, DNAinfo reports.
“We want rezoning, even though it may be a one-and-a-half to two-year process,” said Trever Holland, president of the Two Bridges Tower Tenant Association told The Lo-Down, which first reported the story. ”We need to look forward—we can’t just say even though the zoning plan may take a while to implement, we’re not going to pursue that.” Elected officials, spearheaded by Councilwoman Margaret Chin, delivered a plan in letter form to the Department of City Planning that suggests skyscrapers planned for the waterfront should not be built as-of-right but should be viewed as “major modifications," not "minor modifications." This distinction would trigger a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process, the months-long back-and-forth between larger stakeholder groups that include the community board, Borough Board, Mayor de Blasio, and the City Council. Chin argues that all four development sites should be considered together for these changes to occur. Residents are concerned that the neighborhood's existing infrastructure cannot adequately accommodate an influx of new residents. Moreover, the neighborhood's character could change if more high-rises are built. State Assemblywoman Alice Cancel is calling an emergency meeting of constituents to come up with a plan to stop the developments.
The Chinatown Working Group's plans are being workshopped by the Department of City Planning; the department concluded the plan was too broad and unfocused and is now reviewing three sections of the plan, although there's not community consensus on this approach. The plan as it's being revised by DCP emphasizes a rezoning that would encourage the development of more affordable housing via MIH, which is tied to the development of market-rate units.
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Tenement Museum expansion underway at 103 Orchard Street

Scaffolding has been erected around 103 Orchard Street as part of the Tenement Museum's forthcoming expansion. Currently home to the Sadie Samuelson Levy Visitors Center on the ground floor, The Tenement Museum had been looking to expand for a while and will do so into the upper levels of the building. The Museum will also stay in its original home just down the road on 97 Orchard Street. Speaking with The Architect's Newspaper today, the museum's communication manager Jon Pace said the museum was scheduled to open in July of next year and that construction work was "on course." In a press release from 2014, the museum stated how it served 200,000 visitors per year but was forced to turn away "many others due to space limitations." The new space will be used to display re-created homes of past residents, combining "technology and immersive environments" in the process. Focus will also be set on Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, as well as Puerto Rican and Chinese immigrants who ventured to New York's Lower East Side post-World War II. The upper floors of the building will also host a visitor center, gift shop, and classrooms.
Though bought in 2007 for $7 million, scaffolding was only put in place on July 5 this year, some nine years after. Work on 103 Orchard Street currently concerns the building's facade, with particular attention being payed to the roof. Here work is being done on the parapets and cornice. Pace said this was slated to run through until fall and that "phase two" of the construction will start with the interior with the elevator being extended to the fifth floor. "Whether it was Asian immigrants, Irish or German émigrés, or recently arrived European Sephardic Jews, the [Lower East Side's] tenements housed generation after generation of new arrivals to our city," Rep. Velazquez (D-NY) said in a press release in 2014. "The museum tells their story and by allowing it to grow, we can ensure visitors continue enjoying this local historic gem." Pace meanwhile said that further details of the exhibits are set to be released in the next few weeks.

"Our new facilities will help us tell some of America's best untold stories," said Tenement Museum President Morris Vogel. "We have aspirations to show how and why New York, and the U.S., became what it is today." Vogel added: “Now more than ever, the Tenement Museum's mission and work is deeply relevant. The story of our nation’s immigrants is America’s defining narrative, and the joys and challenges of establishing new lives and new communities continue for present-day immigrants around the world. We’re proud and excited that we’ll soon be able to explore a wider range of these stories for a larger audience.”

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New York City and NYCEDC announce conditional approval of world’s first subterranean park

Last week New York City deputy mayor Alicia Glen and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) president Maria Torres-Springer announced that the city has selected the Lowline to officially occupy vacant trolley tracks under the Lower East Side as the world's first underground park. Conceived by James Ramsey of raad studio and Dan Barasch, the Lowline will use a custom solar array to channel natural light into the windowless space, which sits adjacent to the J/M/Z lines at Essex Street. (The Architect's Newspaper toured the Lowline Lab, the park's freakily lush demo and educational space, last fall.) At the Lab, an above-ground solar array refracted onto a paneled canopy provides different light intensities to grow everything from pineapples to moss. Since its opening, the lab has hosted 2,000 schoolchildren and 70,000 visitors, an early indication of its potential popularity (it is slated to operate through March of next year). Last fall, NYCEDC, in conjunction with the MTA, put out a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) to develop the Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, a 60,000-square-foot space below Delancey Street between Clinton and Norfolk streets, under a long-term lease. The RFEI stipulated that the developers must implement a community engagement plan that includes quarterly Community Engagement Committee meetings as well as five to ten design charettes; complete a schematic design to submit for approval in the next 12 months; and raise $10 million over the next 12 months. "Every designer dreams of doing civic work that contributes to society and to the profession. Over the last 8 years, we just stuck to what we thought was a great idea that could make our city and our community better. We're thrilled to move ahead on designing and building a space that people will enjoy for generations to come," Ramsey said in a press release. Principal Signe Nielsen of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects is landscape designer for the project, working with John Mini Distinctive Landscapes. The Lowline's creators and backers hope that the park will showcase adaptive reuse possibilities for vestigial spaces, as well as provide the densely-populated neighborhood with additional green space. “We couldn't be more thrilled for this opportunity to turn a magical dream into reality," said Barasch, the project's executive director. “The transformation of an old, forgotten trolley terminal into a dynamic cultural space designed for a 21st century city is truly a New York story. We know with input from the community and the city, we can make the Lowline a unique, inspiring space that everyone can enjoy." (Courtesy raad studio)
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Diana Balmori’s Meditation Room at IDEASCity 2015 explores the possibility of expansive horizons in crowded cities

Stemming from the idea that a city is but a stack of layered horizons, landscape architect Diana Balmori’s public installation for IDEASCity 2015 invites the viewer to contemplate where horizons occur in a pause-for-thought experience. Meditation Room: Horizon is a continuous constructed wall of paper where the overlapping of two dot matrix systems creates a visible horizon slightly above eye level. Presented by The Drawing Center, the installation expounds the revelations set forth in Balmori's book Drawing and Reinventing Landscape (2014), which explores horizon and peripheral vision to decode how designers perceive landscape and draw it accordingly. “The physical response to what you look at is vital; it activates the seeing,” Balmori wrote. The pleasure of drawing, she then muses, does not come from the act itself but “from enormous concentration essential to the act of drawing; from the intense looking that produces interior quiet and an imagined silence around you.” At the heart of Meditation Room is the concept that the landscape architect’s onus is to create a sense of expansive horizons within a city’s modest spaces. The piece will be installed at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side at Chrystie and Houston street on May 30 from 12–6pm. Balmori is the founder of New York–based Balmori Associates, an internationally recognized landscape architecture firm. An activist for sustainable architecture, Balmori is currently campaigning to widen and landscape the Broadway median between 72nd and 136th street to create a path with solar panels and wind turbines powered by the slipstream of passing cars.
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DXA Studio designed this Lower East Side tower with a copper facade that changes over time

As this angular copper facade ages, its reddish brown skin will settle into a weathered green. It's a sort of physical embodiment of the changes playing out in Manhattan's Lower East Side and Chinatown as the city's voracious luxury residence market continually searches for a new frontier. The so-called LES Tower at 57 Orchard Street sits between Grand and Hester streets, on the doorstep on Chinatown where signs filled with exotic typefaces make neighbors with minimalist galleries and cafes. Designed by New York–based DXA Studio, the 15-story building is mostly covered in glass neatly framed by perforated copper. The 23,600-square-foot structure will be slotted into a slender mid-block parcel overlooking the predominantly mid-rise streetscape—a feature that helped developers amass air rights to push the tower up into the sky. A series of prewar buildings will also be rehabbed as part of the larger development, with a unified roof deck among the project's amenities. Architects at DXA declined to comment on the design, but did say the tower would likely be built as described in newly revealed renderings. According to the studio's website, "The razor-sharp copper-clad facade is a contemporary foil to the turn of the century context, and at night the perforated facade will be a back-lit lantern that will highlight the activity inside." The Lower East Side has become known for its high-design "finger buildings," including Bernard Tschumi's BLUE Tower, SANAA's New Museum, Norman Foster's Sperone Westwater Gallery, and Grzywinski + Pons' Hotel on Rivington. Herzog & de Meuron is also currently working on a tower farther north for hotelier Ian Schrager. These new luxury outfits are a marked departure for a neighborhood that got its start as home to New York's notoriously overcrowded tenements. The building is projected to open in 2017, pending approvals from the city. [via Yimby.]  
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Four towers by SHoP, Dattner, Handel, and Beyer Blinder Belle to break ground at Essex Crossing

Essex Crossing has been over four decades in the making, and now the plan to turn the six-acre swath of land in Manhattan's Lower East Side, known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), is gaining traction. The development team, Delancey Street Associations, along with the four participating architecture firms—Handel Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, Dattner Architects, and SHoP Architects—just revealed the latest renderings for the project's first phase. This first phase, consisting of four of the total nine sites, will provide 1,000 units of affordable, market rate, and senior housing in addition to a mix of residential, retail, and community space, including the relocated Essex Market, a bowling alley, the Warhol Museum, and a rooftop urban farm. There will, however, be no parking so residents will have to get familiar with their public transit options. This, according to Curbed, concerned community board members the most. The developers explained that after talks with the DOT, they determined that with the congestion around the area of the Williamsburg Bridge, it wasn’t safe to include more parking. One person at the meeting suggested increasing bus service to alleviate overcrowding. Other issues, such as accessibility to public amenities and bike storage, came up as well. The architects at a press preview cited the tenements as fodder for their designs with the goal of making the buildings contextual within the mostly low-rise neighborhood. The project has already gone through Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and is expected to break ground by Spring. If all goes according to plan, the buildings will be complete in roughly three years from the start of construction.
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Archtober Building of the Day #13> The Museum at Eldridge Street

Archtober Building of the Day #13 The Museum at Eldridge Street 12 Eldridge Street Archimuse The Columbus Day holiday and parade did not deter the Archtober faithful from attending a very special family event at the Museum at Eldridge Street. Archtober first visited the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue on on October 28, 2012 in the shadow of the looming Superstorm Sandy, to enjoy the fruits of a 20-year restoration project that culminated in the 2010 installation of the Kiki Smith rose window. Now, adding to the manifold riches to be found within is a fully realized Museum at Eldridge Street, the result of a collaboration of curators, historians, architects Archimuse, and graphic designers. Amy Stein Milford, the deputy director of the Museum at Eldridge Street, supplemented tour guides Reuben Jackson, Archimuse, and Los Angeles–based Kracauer in a recounting of the challenges of maintaining a tiny Orthodox congregation, who worship in the museum, and the imperatives of the interpretation of the Jewish immigrant experience. The Eldridge Street Synagogue, one of only two landmark synagogues in New York (the other is Central Synagogue on Lexington Avenue at 55th Street), was the first purpose-built synagogue in the city. Now surrounded by Chinatown, this city, state, and national landmark represents the epicenter of historic Jewish life on the Lower East Side, and hosts 40,000 visitors of all faiths annually, said Milford. Archimuse was challenged by five separate entrances to the structure that had to be rationalized on the street. Creating a coherent museum experience required that a maze of tiny spaces be opened up, exposing the original structure, and harmonizing the needs of a very contemporary exhibition with the needs of a small but dedicated congregation. The exhibition narrative starts with the map of the Great Jewish Migration, in the orientation experience. This map uses the traditional Jewish names from Eastern Europe to locate the sources of the two million Jews who left to freely practice their religion in the United States in the late 18th and early 20th centuries. The Journey is followed by “A New Home in a New Land,” a watercolor rendering of the facade of the synagogue executed in the early 20th century. The original deeds to the property and an original Star of David finial are on display. “Such a City!” has Yiddish and Hebrew signs from the synagogue and local businesses, including one for Singer sewing machines. “Becoming American Jews” is split between “Order and Orthodoxy” and “Women and Children.” “To the Brink and Back” recounts the further journeys of the community beyond the Lower East Side, and the subsequent rescue and restoration of the historic synagogue.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober:  Architecture and Design Month NYC.  She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell.  After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson,  held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. ckracauer@aiany.org 
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New plan unveiled for a more pedestrian-friendly Lower East Side

One of Manhattan’s most historic streets could soon become one of its most pedestrian-friendly. That is, if a plan for a revamped Orchard Street from the Lower East Side’s Business Improvement District (BID) is approved by the city. The plan, which was unveiled at a community board meeting last week, calls for curb extensions, bike corals, planters, tree beds, and benches along a six-block stretch of the street. The plan also calls for a pedestrian plaza on adjacent Broome Street. “As Orchard Street continues to evolve, it finds itself tying together historic neighborhood fabric with large scale real estate development on all sides,” said the BID in its proposal. “As pedestrian and bike traffic on the street continue to grow along with motor vehicle traffic, a safe and welcoming streetscape that maximizes the pedestrian and bike experience while accommodating is more important than ever.” DNA Info reported that the plan follows an interactive planning process that let residents rearrange pieces of the the street on a 16-foot-long replica. The plan was reportedly well-received overall, but the BID will continue to study the impact of the pedestrian plaza, which would block a connection for drivers to the Williamsburg Bridge. If approved by the city, the project could begin construction next spring.
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Ian Schrager Pens Deal To Build 25-Story Lower East Side Tower

Boutique hotel pioneer Ian Schrager plans to expand his newest hotel concept, Public, to New York with a new 25-story hotel and residential tower on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The Wall Street Journal reported today that Schrager and investors paid $50 million for the site at 215 Chrystie Street, once a garden for an adjacent low-income tower at 10 Stanton Street. The land was sold after tenants and the tower owner struck a deal to build a rooftop recreation area and extend affordability of the units. Schrager gained fame in the 1970s for operating the famous Studio 54 nightclub and has more recently developed the Gramercy Park Hotel and the Herzog & de Meuron-designed 40 Bond condo building, where he lives in the penthouse. The new Public hotel line launched its first outlet in Chicago at the old Ambassador East Hotel, and Schrager plans to open similar boutique hotels, billed as sophisticated and modern yet affordable, in major cities around the world. An earlier development plan for a Public hotel near Herald Square fell through. Plans are still emerging and no architect or construction timeline has been set, but papers filed with the city indicate that the first 17 floors of the 25-story tower will house the hotel with apartments above. The tower will stand higher than most surrounding buildings, but the neighborhood has been rising in height in past years with the completion of SANAA's New Museum on the next block, Arquitectonica's Avalon Bay residential building next door, and the Thompson LES hotel by Rawlings Architects a few blocks east among others. Despite the land deal, some neighbors aren't pleased with the proposed tower's height, most notably, the Norman Foster-designed Sperone Westwater Gallery, which claims shadows will obstruct light from entering its gallery space. The gallery has hired environmental lawyers to fight the project.
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Excitement Builds Over 8-Block SPURA Redevelopment in New York

Attention developers! It's almost time to prepare your visions for one of the largest redevelopment projects in Manhattan, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), now that all the approvals are in. While an official Request for Proposals (RFP) won't be issued until early next year, the NYC Economic Development Corporation is getting a jump start on soliciting interest with a new informational brochure issued today including a panoramic new rendering of the SPURA site, marked in orange. The project calls for up to 1.65 million square feet of mixed-use space built from the ground up on a site covering eight city blocks in the Lower East Side that Robert Moses leveled in the 20th century. The project also calls for a reconstructed Essex Street Market and a new 15,000 square foot park. The notice comes with a warning that the RFP process "will have an aggressive timeline," between January and May 2013. Watch for the official RFP to be released at the NYCEDC website, and get ready to rev those rendering engines, architects!
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A New School for The Lower East Side up in the Air

Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (Photo Credit: Wikipedia/Yori Yanover) The massive development planned at the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) was unanimously upheld by the New York City Council Land Use Committee on Thursday, and the Lower East Side might be getting a new school. Or not. City officials won’t decide whether to build the project—part the 1.65 million square foot development at SPURA—for at least another five years, claiming initially that the community did not need a new school. According to City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, the city will set aside 15,000 square feet in the new mixed-use buildings in case a school becomes necessary in the future. The city will also reevaluate the funding available to build it and will keep the potential space available until 2023.