Posts tagged with "Lower Manhattan":

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With SHoP's skyscraper in the balance, Howard Hughes stacks a Seaport hearing

Last night, at 6:00p.m. sharp, Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee kicked off a public hearing on the Howard Hughes Corporation’s controversial plans to remake New York City's South Street Seaport. The event was held at St. Paul’s Chapel in Lower Manhattan and it was standing room only before anybody got up to the mic. By five after, people waiting on the chapel steps were being turned away. At first glance, the huge crowd makes sense. Since Howard Hughes first unveiled its plan to build a luxury tower next to the Seaport last year, local residents have been showing up in large numbers to meetings like this to voice their opposition. This event also comes shortly after Howard Hughes unveiled its revised Seaport plan: a shorter, SHoP-designed tower and more perks for the community. To many local residents and elected officials, though, that wasn’t enough. Tensions are still high and the developer is still pushing forward, so the turnout isn’t a big surprise. But there was something noticeably different about last night’s crowd, and it didn’t take long to figure out what it was. More than half the people packed into St. Paul’s pews were wearing the same blue or yellow t-shirt that said “SEE / CHANGE” and “Howard Hughes is committed to saving the Seaport Museum.” Some of this t-shirt-wearing contingent said they worked for Howard Hughes and were there to show their support. Others said they were residents or small business owners and wanted the plan to move forward. But that wasn’t everybody. Someone simply said his boss told him to show up. He declined to identify his boss or what line of work he was in, but admitted he didn’t live in the neighborhood. The same thing goes for another non-Seaport resident who said his boss—who has work relating to the Seaport—asked him to show up as a favor. Two men standing in the chapel’s balcony said they signed a petition and kind of just made their way into the event, one of the two worked Downtown. A young guy, maybe in his early 20s, said he was being paid to get people to sign those pro-Seaport petitions; yesterday, he said, was his first day on the job. Some people wouldn't answer the “why are you here?” question at all; others said they didn't really care if the tower got built or not. As for the event itself, SHoP walked through its updated plans, and things played out on familiar lines. Those who support the plan still support it, and those who don’t, don’t. The crowd  was obviously heavily tilted toward the former. When SHoP partner Gregg Pasquarelli mentioned his firm's attention to historic detail, the crowd erupted in applause. It wasn’t until about 6:45 that people waiting outside were allowed into the event. An hour or so later, the crowd was thinning out and the blue and yellow shirts could be heard making plans to meet up at the event’s “after party" that included free ice skating, drinks, and food. That party was held at a South Street Seaport bar and actually started before the hearing even ended. When AN walked by, bartenders—decked out in yellow t-shirts—could be seen passing beers to their patrons who were wearing the very same thing. The crowd was small at that point, but the party hadn’t officially started yet—there was still half an hour of public hearing left. “A broad array of supporters including local residents, small business owners, and members of the labor and business community turned out in force last night to speak out in favor of the proposed plan for the Seaport," said a spokesperson for the Howard Hughes Corporation in an email. "In fact, a recent poll shows that over 84 percent of Lower Manhattan residents support the redevelopment plan for the Seaport District. To thank supporters for taking time out of their evening, The Howard Hughes Corporation held a skate party at the Seaport Ice Rink.” That poll was commissioned by Howard Hughes.
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This beautiful photo of Lower Manhattan won SOM's World Trade Center photo contest

While the critics sure don't like it, many other casual observers are big fans of Lower Manhattan's World Trade Center. This morning, SOM announced the winner its #WelcomeOneWTC photography contest it held to mark the grand opening of New York City's latest controversy-laden skyscraper. Of about 350 entries, New York–based photographer Gerry Padden took the top honor and will receive a "one-of-a-kind scale model of the tower, handcrafted by the firm's model shop in Manhattan, as well as a limited-edition print of One World Trade Center, taken by renowned photographer James Ewing." Ewing was among the contest judges, which also included top officials at SOM. According to SOM:
One World Trade Center has long captured the imagination of locals and visitors alike, who have watched the building materialize from drawings to a 104-story, crystalline skyscraper that stands boldly in Lower Manhattan. More than 13 years in the making, the 1,776-foot office tower—the tallest in the Western Hemisphere—recaptures the New York skyline, reasserts downtown Manhattan's preeminence as a global business center, and establishes a new civic icon for the country.
The photo was taken over the summer from a rooftop in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood.
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Here's how Santiago Calatrava's New York City transit hub got its enormous $4 billion price tag

With the final rafter installed on Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transit Hub the New York Times has done a deep-dive on how, exactly, the long-delayed structure ended up costing close to $4 billion. While the hub ultimately looks more like a stegosaurus than a dove taking flight, as Calatrava originally envisioned, it is undeniably a head-turning piece of dramatic architecture. But one that will be forever grounded by the reality of its staggering price tag. To find out how the Hub's budget soared right along with Calatrava's ambition, the Times conducted two dozen interviews and pored through hundreds of pages of documents. In the end, the Times said the problems go “far beyond an exotic and expensive design by its exacting architect, Santiago Calatrava.” The site's complexity, the hub's changing designs, security concerns, the lack of consistent oversight, and the price of labor and materials all slowed things down and increased costs, but, above all else, the $4 billion cost comes down to politics, politics, politics.
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Kimmelman says "flawed" One World Trade is a "cautionary tale"

New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has weighed-in on 1 World TradeNew York's tallest,most superlative, open-but-not-yet-completed skyscraper. And, spoiler, he is no fan. Kimmelman's piece is so chock-full of quotable critiques, it's hard to decide where exactly to begin. But let's start with the politics. "Like the corporate campus and plaza it shares, 1 World Trade speaks volumes about political opportunism, outmoded thinking and upside-down urban priorities," wrote Kimmelman. "It’s what happens when a commercial developer is pretty much handed the keys to the castle." He described the tower's exterior as "opaque, shellacked, monomaniacal" and the overall design as "symmetrical to a fault." The finished product is "an abbreviated obelisk." As for the antenna, well, Kimmelman said counting that as part of the building's total height is like "counting relish at a hot dog eating contest." Ultimately, he finds the building to be a frustrating failure—a bland building that could be anywhere on the globe, an office tower that gives next to nothing to the city it calls home. To Kimmelman, the failings of 1 World Trade should be a warning to New Yorkers. "The public had a big stake in making [1 World Trade] great," he wrote. "That stake wasn’t leveraged. There are other giant projects like Hudson Yards, Penn Station and Roosevelt Island that will reshape the city’s streets and skyline. Their design is everyone’s business."
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Window washers dangling from One World Trade Center rescued

Firetrucks, police cars, and a helicopter surrounded 1 World Trade Center this afternoon to save two window washers who became trapped near the 69th floor on the south side of the building. According to the New York Times, the machine controlling the scaffolding, to which the washers were strapped, malfunctioned. Firefighters were able to reach them by cutting a hole in a nearby window and then bringing them to safety.  An official from the fire department said he believed the cause of the scaffolding failure was a snapped cable.

“They are in a difficult spot,” a fire department spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. “They are feeling the effects of hanging in there.”

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Video> Installing James Carpenter's Sky Reflector-Net at the Fulton Center

Earlier this week, AN went inside the recently completed, $1.4 billion Fulton Center in Lower Manhattan. As we mentioned, the station connects nine subway lines and is centered around a real show-stopper of an oculus. That massive skylight is wrapped in the Sky Reflector-Net, a 4,000-pound, James Carpenter–designed, structure that uses aluminum panels to disperse light throughout the station. Check out the video below to see how the MTA strung-up the high-tech net.
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Pictorial> The new Fulton Center opens in Lower Manhattan

When the new Fulton Center opened this weekend—after seven years of delays and cost overruns that lifted the project’s price tag from $750 million to $1.4 billion—New York City got two things: a modern upgrade to its transportation network and an iconic piece of architecture. With new well-lit concourses, pedestrian tunnels, escalators and elevators, and more intuitive transfer points between nine subway lines, Fulton Center will drastically improve the transit experience for the 300,000 people who pass through it every day. But even with these significant improvements, all anyone is talking about is the center's eye-catching glass oculus and its hyperboloid Sky Reflector-Net installation. Step inside the station, and you'll understand why. The 53-foot-diameter structure was commissioned by the MTA Arts & Design program and created by James Carpenter Associates with Grimshaw Architects, Enclos, TriPyramid Structures, and ARUP. It is comprised of 952 aluminum panels, 224 high-strength rods, 112 tension cables, and 10,000 stainless-steel components that work in tandem to fill the station with natural light. The full effect of the design can only be experienced from within the station—standing across the street from Fulton Center, which appears as a steel and glass headhouse, the oculus and Sky Reflector-Net could be mistaken for a massive vent. The upper floors of the rotunda, which are set directly underneath the oculus, will soon be ringed by shops and restaurants. The 66,000 square feet of commercial space is connected to the station through a prominent glass elevator that is wrapped in a spiral staircase. But as dramatic as all of these large gestures are, the center is completed with the MTA's standard-issue, black and gray finishes. The handrails, doors, flooring, and even garbage cans are what you would find at any other station. The station's subdued color scheme, though, is broken up slightly with the light blue glass tiles that clad the station’s below-grade corridors. In these subterranean spaces, the choice of tile, and the decision to set overheard fluorescent bulbs at an angle, shows the impact that designers can have when deviating—however slightly—from the norm. Spread throughout the new Fulton Center are over 50 digital screens that make up the MTA’s “largest state-of-the-art digital signage media program.” When AN visited the Fulton Center, some of those screens were quickly switching between video art and ads for Burberry. And then back again. The completion of the Fulton Center also comes with the $59 million renovation of the adjacent, 125-year-old Corbin Building. The refurbished space, which boasts a stately exterior, is incorporated into the circulation of the center. Exiting through the Corbin Building–side exit, you can see the wings of the nearly $4 billion, Calatrava-designed World Trade Center Transit Hub. When that station opens next year, it will connect to the Fulton Center, and quite likely overshadow it. The bulk of the funding for this project ($847 million) came from a Congressional appropriation which was aimed at rebuilding transit networks in Lower Manhattan after September 11. An additional $423 million came from President Obama's stimulus act. The MTA also provided $130 million in funds.              
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Pictorial> One World Trade Center officially opens its doors

After years of delays and nearly $4 billion in costs, One World Trade Center is officially open. Earlier today, about 175 Condé Nast employees walked past a scrum of reporters and into the SOM-designed tower where the media company has leased 24 floors. By early next year, Condé Nast is expected to have all of its 3,400 employees within the building. Still, less than 60 percent of the 1,776-foot-tall tower has been leased. A few hours after the Condé Nast employees arrived for work, AN went down to the World Trade Center site to check out One World Trade's lobby. The multi-story space is clad in white marble, which according to the New York Times, comes from the same quarry that was used when constructing the original Twin Towers. These expansive white walls are partially covered with artwork and colorful columns of light caused by sunlight passing through the lobby's translucent glass fins. The lobby connects to Calatrava's $4 billion Transit Hub through a subterranean passageway, and to the September 11 Memorial through a street-level entrance. One World Trade's observation deck, known as the One World Observatory, is expected to open this spring and will be accessible through a separate entrance on the lobby's western side. That entrance comes with a small public plaza which, as of today, looks like an afterthought as it is just an expanse of concrete and a few trees. The opening of One World Trade comes as the long-delayed, over-budget, 16-acre World Trade Center redevelopment continues to grow and connect into the city grid. The Maki-designed 4 World Trade Center is officially open, the final wings are being welded onto the Transit Hub, and Richard Rogers' stalled 3 World Trade Center is restarting its climb. At the same time, construction shedding is coming down and sidewalks are reopening, making the entire complex feel a little more concrete.
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Archtober Building of the Day #25> 4 World Trade Center by Fumihiko Maki

Archtober Building of the Day 4 World Trade Center 150 Greenwich Street Maki and Associates Located along the western edge of Memorial Plaza, 4 World Trade Center by Maki and Associates is part of the Studio Libeskind master plan for the World Trade Center being developed by Silverstein Properties. This weekend, Archtober crowds toured the building. The materials used throughout 4WTC bring the outside in—a black, polished Swedish granite wall brings a reference to the Memorial Plaza into the building’s lobby. The high feldspar content of the granite creates a stippling effect that softens and slightly abstracts this reflection. The glass used in the first-floor lobby is low in iron, rendering it incredibly clear, while the more reflective glass of the stories above emphasizes the building’s connection with the diagonally adjacent One World Trade Center. Sky Memory, a sculpture by the Japanese artist Kozo Nishino, is composed of lightweight titanium arcs that emerge from the black granite wall and, in a trick of the eye, reads as a full circle. Pure white Thassos marble along the north wall of the lobby stands in contrast to the black granite. It reappears in the core of the building, where three lobbies lead to a bank of elevators. These lobbies are clad in wood panels that were all harvested from a single Anigre tree. Coated with six layers of polyester and one of polyurethane, the panels reflect scenes of water, trees, and sky depicted in LED screens at the ends of the lobbies. After a quick, ear-popping elevator ride 57 stories up, we disembarked to breathtaking views. As Osamu Sassa, the project architect, pointed out, the notches that accentuate the corners of the building when viewed from a distance also double the number of coveted corner offices available on each floor. After a few minutes of snapping selfies, we reconvened on the terrace formed by the cutout in the building’s facade. One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the United States, did not seem quite as overwhelming from this vantage point. The Pavilion at Brookfield Place, with its grand lobby that we visited on Archtober 12, appeared diminutive by comparison. Cynthia Kracauer:
My bad. I missed the first hour of the tour led by Osamu Sassa and Mary Dietz. Sassa was the project architect for seven years for the many Maki projects in New York. Dietz represented Silverstein Properties. Archtober minions were out in force, so I will cede my blog space to those who actually enjoyed the presentation. Nonetheless, Benjamin and I had a wonderful post-tour conversation with Sassa. We both noted how much 4 WTC resembles the work of Edward Larrabee Barnes. Sassa had Barnes as a critic at the GSD, and expressed a reverence for him—and shared our sense that his contribution to the tropes of skyscraper design is under-recognized.
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.
 
 Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.
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Meet Fleurt, New York's most anticipated chair of the fall season

Fleurt, the winning design for the Battery Conservancy America's "Draw Up a Chair" competition, has been described as an “archetypal floral form” and even a “whimsical suggestion of sun-loving flowers floating in a field.” But it is much more than that. Fleurt “announces openness and photogenic warmth” and creates a “memorable, diaphanous landscape.” Fleurt “stretches out” with its “lounging curves.” Fleurt is, yes, fine, technically a chair. Fleurt comes to us from the mind of Canadian designer Andrew Jones who just won New York’s first-ever, open-call competition to create a moveable chair for a city park. The contest, which was launched in 2012 by the New York City Parks Department and the Battery Conservancy, received 679 submissions from across the Americas. From there, a jury selected 50 finalists and then prototypes of five of those designs were fabricated and exhibited to the public. And then, after 4,000 comments were collected, the jury picked Fleurt as the winner. And if it wasn't clear from the above descriptions of said chair, the competition organizers were very, very excited to announce that. Very excited. If you can slice through all the adjectives surrounding Fleurt, it is possible to get a sense of just the basics. The chairs are made of perforated steel and will be fabricated in varying shades of blue. The floral aesthetic is realized through petal-shaped armrests that may or may not be comfortable. “I don’t like the way it forces you to make a decision with your arms,” one  sitter told the New York Times after trying out the Fleurt. To be fair, his wife disagreed with that assessment, saying “I’m not bothered by the arm rests." Soon enough you, too, can weigh-in on the Great Fleurt Armrest Debate of 2014 as the chairs are expected to arrive on the Battery Oval in Lower Manhattan by the end of the year.
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From 67 floors above the World Trade Center, a progress report

Earlier this week, AN went up to the 67th floor of the recently-opened 4 World Trade Center to get a progress report on the 16-acre redevelopment taking shape below. Inside the wide-open and raw space, Larry Silverstein, the site’s developer, told reporters that his vision for a new World Trade Center had finally become a reality. “I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation as a wild-eyed optimist,” he said in front of a wall of windows. “But even I have to admit that I didn’t see all this coming.” Noting that it had been 13 years since the attacks, he went on to refer to the anniversary as the site’s “bar mitzvah.” From high up in Fumihiko Maki’s celebrated 4 World Trade it’s easy to see how much has changed at the World Trade Center site over those 13 years—and how much still needs to get done. Looking straight down the tower’s western edge, you can see the pools of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza which opened in 2011 and the adjacent 9/11 Memorial Museum that came on-line three years later. Next to that is Calatrava’s bird-like transportation hub where workers could be seen busily welding on the structure's skeletal wings. That project is scheduled to open in the second half of 2015, years behind schedule and at a cost of nearly $4 billion. A few blocks north of the winged creature is 7 World Trade, the David Childs–designed building that opened in 2006 and is fully leased. Across Vesey Street is another Child's tower—the site’s centerpiece—the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade. After years of delays, the building is expected to open some time this fall. As of now, the tower is about 60 percent leased. The same can be said for 4 World Trade. "I am both humbled and inspired by the process. It is never an easy process, and why should it be?" asked Daniel Libeskind, who crafted the site's masterplan. "This is New York City, there are so many stakeholders, so much to be done, and so much to think about." But there is obviously so much more to be done still—so many missing pieces in Libeskind's plan. Just this month, the board of the World Trade Center's performing arts center announced it had scrapped Gehry's decade-old design for the project. The board told the New York Times that is currently looking for a new architect to take over. And then there is Calatrava's other project at the site, the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which is still a few years off. While looking straight down from 4 World Trade shows how much has been rebuilt since 9/11, looking straight out reveals how much has not. The Midtown skyline that served as a backdrop for the event's speakers may have been impressive, but it was a blatant reminder of what has not been accomplished since the Twin Towers came crashing down. Because, at this point in the reconstruction process, employees in 4 World Trade Center shouldn’t have an entirely unobstructed view of Midtown—there should be two other glass towers in the way: 3 World Trade by Richard Rogers and 2 World Trade by Norman Foster. Silverstein said that the former should be completed by 2018, but as for 2 World Trade Center, it’s anyone’s guess. In a fact sheet distributed by representatives of Silverstein Properties, the tower's completion date is conspicuously left off.
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Design Trust For Public Space Announces Winners of its Public Space Competition

Last night, AN was over at the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan, to hear the Design Trust for Public Space announce the winners of  Energetic City: Connectivity in the Public Realm—its open call for proposals to reimagine the city's public space. Out of over 90 submissions that came from individuals, city agencies, and community groups, the jury selected four winning plans that should collectively include programming in all five boroughs. In a statement, the trust said the proposals "will develop new ways of connecting diverse people, systems, and built, natural and digital environment of New York City. Each project, which will receive seed funding to begin immediately, will respond to the needs and aspirations of community users." Here's some information on each project all courtesy of the Design Trust for Public Space: Design Guidelines for Neighborhood Retail (
The New York City Department of Housing, Preservation & Development) The NYC Department of Housing, Preservation & Development needs design guidelines to achieve successful mixed-use developments that include high-performing ground-floor spaces. The resulting manual will generate immediate changes to HPD’s development process for mixed-use projects, but also for other entities focused on creating vibrant local economies through design. FMCP Creative / Reconnect the Park
 (Queens Museum and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation) Queens Museum and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation will investigate new ways of connecting public parks to communities through a pilot study that will analyze Flushing Meadows Corona Park (FMCP). Envisioned as an active learning framework for park users, the project will support community participants in developing proposals to improve FMCP’s connectivity with surrounding neighborhoods, focusing on the park entrances, wayfinding system, and new uses for the World’s Fair infrastructure. Future Culture: Connecting Staten Island’s Waterfront Staten Island Arts (Staten Island Arts) Staten Island Arts seeks to establish a replicable model of inclusive development through public art to link neighborhoods, starting with Staten Island's North Shore. The project will provide planning and policy recommendations to stabilize the cultural assets of neighborhoods. Opening the Edge
 (Jane Greengold with the support of New York City Housing Authority) Brooklyn artist Jane Greengold aims to activate underused public spaces surrounding public housing developments with the residents. The project will develop new ideas and a prototype to transform inaccessible landscapes around NYCHA developments into lively places to gather for residents and visitors alike.