The Coney Island boardwalk, arguably the best place in New York for people-watching and watching people consume copious amounts of fried seafood, is about to get a new spiffy venue: the long-anticipated, 5,000-seat Coney Island Amphitheater on the Boardwalk is set to open this July. Although plans have been in the works to open the venue for a few years, this is the first official announcement of a set opening date. The Amphitheater will host sports, concerts, and film screenings under its potato-chip-like awning. Plans call to adaptively integrate the Childs Building, long vacant, into the building's program. With the Landmarks Preservation Commission's blessing in 2013, the 1923 building is set to be fitted with 50-foot-tall doors that will let breezes flow inside during the summer, but that can also be shuttered during the winter months for year-round use (the building used to host Lola Star's roller disco before that event moved to the Lefrak Center at Prospect Park). Anticipating the popularity of summertime events, overflow crows from the amphitheater and the Childs Building can be accommodated in a 40,000-square-foot outdoor space, next to the boardwalk. The developer is New York–based iStar Financial. https://www.instagram.com/p/TvUQVXItCL/?tagged=childsbuilding"The opening of the new amphitheater further enriches Coney Island’s long history of offering the City of New York, and especially the borough of Brooklyn, unique entertainment in a seaside environment,” said Dick Zigun, founder of the sideshow and CEO of Coney Island USA. “We are looking forward to making the traditional Coney Island events, such as the Mermaid Parade, even bigger and better with the addition of Brooklyn's newest destination attraction.”
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Staten Island's abandoned New York City Farm Colony is being redeveloped into Landmark Colony, a $91 million residential community for seniors 55 and older. The architect is Staten Island–based Vengoechea + Boyland Architecture/Urban Planning. The Farm Colony was founded in 1829 as a government-run poorhouse for indigent New Yorkers. Enrollment declined with the introduction of government-run antipoverty programs like Social Security in the 1930s and the Great Society programs of the 1960s. The colony closed for good in 1975. Vacant since then, the Dutch revival–style buildings have decayed and now provide canvases for graffiti artists. In 1982, some of the land was annexed to the NYC Parks Department and added to the Staten Island Greenbelt, which runs adjacent to the property. The site, along with neighboring Seaview Hospital, was designated a New York City historic district in 1985.
With last week's City Council approval, Landmark Colony's opening is set for 2018. Plans call for constructing 344 units, a mix of medium-rise condos and low-rise townhouses, on the 43-acre site, the Staten Island Advance reported.
The complex will include 18,500 square feet of retail, a community center with an outdoor swimming pool, and 17.6 acres of green space. The colony's pond will be refurbished, and a hill with seating will surround a stage for concerts and events. 90 percent of the existing roads will be converted into bike and pedestrian trails.
Some of the ruins will be left standing, and, per the Landmark Preservation Commission approval process, new buildings must be compatible with the architectural heritage of the Farm Colony. Former dormitories will be converted into loft-style condos, while the design of the townhouses will reference the shop building on-site.
With construction expected to take less than two years, urban explorers have a only a few months left to explore the Farm Colony's ghostly ruins.
Kevin Roche's late modern interiors at the United Nations Plaza Ambassador Grill & Lounge, and Hotel Lobby are in jeopardy. Millennium Hotels and Resorts, the owners 0f ONE UN New York Hotel (the space's current name) have closed both spaces for possible demolition. Docomomo US, the leading modern architecture preservation group, has filed a Request for Evaluation (RFE) with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to grant the UN Plaza Ambassador Grill and Lounge and Hotel Lobby New York City Interior Landmark status. The interiors, states Docomomo, are strong examples of New York City late modernism. Roche designed the space with his partner John Dinkeloo (as Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates) for the United Nation Development Corporation. The UN Plaza Hotel and Office Building was completed in 1975 and Two UN Plaza was completed in 1983. Sherman McCoy would feel at home beneath the octagonal glass atriums, walls of mirrors, inset light fixtures, sharp geometric motifs, a sumptuous color palette, and a trompe l’oeil faux-skylight contribute to the luxe design. Millennium Hotels and Resorts has begun exploratory work—without permits—on the project, removing sections of the metal paneled drop ceiling that reveal the sprinkler system. Haphazard work, Docomomo claims, could irreparably damage the interior. Docomomo is asking its network of preservationists and others concerned about Roche's interior to write to the LPC to request an emergency hearing.
Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition gets $1.5 million state grant to build Richard Joon Yoo– and Uri Wegman–designed memorial
This year marks the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the most lethal industrial disasters in the United States. To the shock and delight of labor activists and descendants of workers who died in the fire, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that the state would provide a $1.5 million grant to Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition (RTFC) to build a memorial at 29 Washington Place, the site of the former factory. The grant, culled from state economic development funds, will cover the full cost of construction, the New York Times reports. The building that housed the factory still stands. Now owned by New York University (NYU), it houses some of NYU's biology and chemistry labs. Due to its significant place in labor history and the women's rights movement, the structure is a New York City and a National Historic Landmark. In 2013, New York-based architects Richard Joon Yoo and Uri Wegman won the memorial design competition sponsored by RTFC. Yoo has his own firm, Half & Half Architecture, while Wegman practices at Matthew Baird. Their design,“Reframing the Sky,” is sensitive to the historic architecture while bringing visibility to labor issues, past and present. The names of 146 victims will be inscribed on steel panels 13 feet above the sidewalk. At about knee height, a mirrored steel panel will reflect the etched names above before shooting up the side of the building to the eighth floor, where the fire originated. The lower panel will also feature a description of the blaze and its aftermath. The insufficient fire safety and emergency exit measures the disaster exposed strengthened the organizing of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) and prompted building code and fire prevention reforms nationwide. Mary Anne Trasciatti, president of RTFC, stated that the organization will raise an additional $1 million to maintain the memorial. The money will also fund scholarships for the children of present-day garment workers and students pursuing labor history.
In any other circumstance, razing a beloved historic building elicits outrage from preservationists. This time, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) worked the homonym, approving plans to raise the Palace Theater, at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 47th Street, by 29 feet. New York's PBDW Architects and historic preservation consultants Higgins Quasebarth & Partners will lead the theater-raising and subsequent renovation. The lift will allow for 10,000 square feet of retail space on four levels, a new entrance on 47th Street with a 75-foot marquee, back-of-the-house space, a lobby 25-times the size of the current one, plus new bathrooms, the Wall Street Journal reports. Indianapolis-based Maefield Development is financing the move and renovation. When complete, theatergoers will enter through an escalator on West 47th Street to access the mezzanine lobby. Completed in 1913, the 1,700-seat Beaux-Arts Palace was one of the largest vaudeville theaters in the city. Originally, the theater was ensconced in an office building on four sides, though that building was demolished in 1988. Currently, the 45-story DoubleTree hotel tower surrounds the structure. The LPC gave landmark status to the theater's interior in 1987. Though raising a theater in the middle of a crowded urban area poses some logistical challenges, the project management team is not worried. The existing truss will be reinforced. One part will be removed, and a full box will be built around the theater. Beams for the new platform will be installed before telescopic jacks are put into place. The jacks they are using have twice the capacity needed for the weight of the structure, just in case. The existing structure will be raised one inch at a time. Though approved, the plan faced opposition from some preservation groups concerned about the message—commerce > art—that the project sends. The nonprofit Historic District Council noted that:
It is not appropriate to move or obstruct access to an interior landmark to make way for private development, a request that seems to be on the rise as we saw last year with the clocktower at 346 Broadway. Approval of this application will be a clear communication of conscience, and indicative that our culture and art is merely secondary to a Times Square corporate chain store.Proponents argue that the move allows both ground floor retail and expanded space for theater. Moreover, the Palace's interface with the street will be enhanced by the move, as the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue is too busy for theatergoers to linger around pre- and post-show. There's no word yet on dates for the move.
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has unveiled the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, a six story, 218,000 square foot, $325 million expansion, at Columbus Avenue and 79th Street, designed by Jeanne Gang. The principal of New York– and Chicago-based Studio Gang stated that the exuberant organic forms recall “geological canyons, glacial forms," spaces shaped in increments by the forces of nature. Here, form follows function: the aim of the Gilder Center is to build scientific literacy in young people and encourage study in the STEM fields. In addition to creating learning spaces, the structure reconciles the museum's rambling circulation, creating 30 connections to ten AMNH buildings. Its mass dialogues with the existing buildings, maintaing the same height as its neighbors. Inside, cavities in the concrete walls create exhibition galleries, a library, insect hall, classrooms, theaters, and laboratories. The reinforced concrete walls in the Central Exhibition Hall comprise the building's load-bearing apparatus. Exhibition designs are by Ralph Appelbaum Associates (New York). The expansion will be complete by late 2019 or early 2020, although the design has yet to undergo the public approval process. Neighbors have raised concerns about the museum's encroachment onto adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park. AMNH will present its plans to community groups and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. See the gallery below for additional images of the project.
On October 20, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the Howard Hughes Corporation and SHoP Architects' re-visioning of the South Street Seaport's Pier 17—with one crucial change. The developers will comply with the LPC's request to remove a glass pergola shading the rooftop lawn. The 250,000-square-foot, $200 million Pier 17 retail mall and public space is the anchor of the Seaport makeover. Though the LPC approved the design in 2013 (and construction has begun), the LPC review last week was precipitated by the addition of the pergola and the demolition of the adjacent Link Building, two unapproved aspects of the initial development plan. When the pier plan was introduced in August, the LPC raised concerns about the pergola. Neighbors' fears were classic NIMBY: residents worried that covering the lawn would draw bigger crowds to the Seaport's popular concerts and events. Though the LPC can't regulate city vistas, neighbors also voiced concerns that the pergola would block views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Now, residents will enjoy unobstructed—or at least less obstructed—views of the bridge, as well the last coup from the LPC meeting: modified paving on the site's access road. The road is an extension of Fulton Street that will encircle the front of the pier. Instead of asphalt, visitors will tread on precast concrete pavers. Though the Pier 17 deal seems like a relatively utopian public-private compromise, controversy over the overall development looms. Neighbors and preservationists have greeted SHoP's planned, 42 story, 500 tower with vociferous opposition. While the tower is not in a historic district, and thus outside the LPC's purview, the community continues to debate the project. Another major (and potentially contentious) project in the area is the S. Russell Groves–designed, 60 story skyscraper at 151 Maiden Lane, announced in September. The typology of the South Street Seaport reflects its status as one of New York's oldest districts. Like all historic neighborhoods, it must contend with the priorities of a densifying city. It remains to be seen how SHoP's plan, and other nearby redevelopments, impact the district's function and character.
Architects, preservationists come out in force against bill that would change historic preservation in New York City
New York City Council members Peter A. Koo and David Greenfield introduced a bill in April 2015 that would radically alter the way the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) considers sites for historic preservation. That measure, Intro 775, was debated yesterday in an epic public hearing that lasted more than six hours. Intro 775 is a proposed City Council measure to eliminate the LPC's backlog of sites under consideration by instituting time limits on how long a site can stay up for landmark consideration. The bill would impose one-year time limits on individual sites up for landmark status and two year time limits on proposed historic districts. All items that the LPC fails to reach an agreement on would not be eligible for reconsideration for five years. If the bill is passed, the LPC would have 18 months to review their calendar and decide on the status of the 95 items. If the review is not complete in 18 months, these items would be permanently deleted from the calendar. Currently, there are 95 sites under consideration by the LPC (map). Of those sites, 85 percent have been on the LPC's calendar for more than twenty years. The LPC actively solicits public input on how to clear the backlog. Area preservationists and architects overwhelmingly oppose the measure. New York City's five AIA chapters issued a joint statement on the bill: "LPC plays an essential role in ensuring the quality and character of our physical city. The bill, as written, will compromise our City’s seminal Landmarks Law that so greatly contributes to the uniqueness of our urban realm, gives definition to communities, and increases the value of real estate." Other opponents of the bill claim that putting a time cap on the review process would discourage the nomination of controversial or complicated sites. Meenakshi Srinivasan, the LPC's chair, also opposes Intro 775, but is open to internal rules (in lieu of a city law) to expedite the review of sites. After six hours of intense discussion, the Committee on Land Use delayed the proposal until its next meeting on September 25th.
This graffiti-covered Bowery landmark is about to turn luxury, but developers plan to preserve years of spray paint on its walls
In December, AN wrote that prolific developer Aby Rosen had picked up 190 Bowery—a six-story, graffiti-covered Renaissance Revival building that had been the private home and studio of photographer Jay Maisel since 1956. Maisel purchased the building for $102,000 and repeatedly turned down offers to sell it despite its skyrocketing value. Rosen's RFR Realty ultimately purchased the landmarked property for $55 million. So, you can understand that when 190 Bowery sold we predicted that its graffiti would be "power-sprayed into oblivion." Well, turns out we were wrong about that: The graffiti-covered building will continued to be a graffiti-covered building even as it transitions into an commercial property with ground floor retail. NY YIMBY reported that Higgins Quasebarth & Partners and MdeAS Architects recently presented their conversion plan to the Landmarks Preservation Commission which includes the "restoration of metal gates, wooden doors, stained glass, and other elements, but not removing the graffiti or cleaning the facade." The project's light touch pleased just about everyone. Landmarks commissioners loved it, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors was pretty happy with it, the Historic Districts Council was smitten, and Community Board 2 approved it, as did the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Speculation about the future of Park Slope's local cinema, the Pavilion Theater, is finally giving way to more concrete plans. The Real Deal reported that Hidrock Realty, who bought the Prospect Park West property in 2006 for $16 million, will likely overhaul the neighborhood movie theater and turn it into 24 residential units including 8,000 square feet of commercial space. The developer also owns the adjacent vacant lot. Architecture Outfit released two possible schemes for the theater back in December, but now real estate blog 6sqft revealed that the architect of record is Morris Adjmi, whose trademark style creating contextual yet modern buildings has made him a favorite with the Landmarks Preservation Commission—think the popular Wythe Hotel he completed in 2012. As part of the Park Slope Historic District, the exterior of the art deco theater will be preserved, but the interior, which isn't landmarked, could undergo a substantial renovation. A spokesperson for Hidrock told the Real Deal that a "sophisticated and "reasonably sized" theater could possibly replace the Pavilion. However, the cinema's lease through 2022, which includes the option of a 10-year renewal, could be a not-so-small hiccup in the fruition of Hidrock's plans for park-side, luxury housing.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has given its blessing to ODA's jewel-like faceted facade for a factory-to-condo conversion on the Dumbo waterfront. The firm first presented its plans for 10 Jay Street last month, and while it was well received, commissioners didn't think the dramatic, glassy design was a perfect fit for the historic neighborhood. So the firm took that into account and added more steel and brick elements into its design. And with that—permission was granted. Curbed reported that the sugar crystal-design of the facade was inspired by the building's history as a sugar refinery. The commission had previously approved ODA's plans to restore the building's other three sides. Check out the fly-through below to get a better sense of the design—albeit, the earlier version of the design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlLQ6DLy44c According to the Real Deal, demolition is slated to start May 1 and completion is planned for Fall 2016.
Getting the blessing of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission can be a tricky thing. Typically, your best bet is to go contextual: stick with historic materials and keep the modern ornamentation to a minimum. That is clearly not the approach that SYSTEMarchitects' Jeremy Edmiston took for a parametrically designed Tribeca townhouse in search of facelift. The existing two-story structure 187 Franklin is not historically significant, but since it sits within a historic district, Edmiston didn't have carte blanche for the owners requested two story addition and setback penthouse. While the architect nods to Tribeca’s history with a primarily brick facade, he doesn’t try to replicate the building’s neighbors. At all. Instead, he assembles a new facade in such a way that it makes the new townhouse appear as if it is entirely engulfed in flames. Home-y? Maybe not. Interesting? Undeniably. Landmark Preservation Commission approved? Unanimously. That approval came back in 2011 and now the Tribeca Citizen is reporting that the project "is back." Edminston told AN that construction is already underway and that the project is slated to be completed in December. The structure’s parametric facade frees bricks from their expected pattern and weaves them into what appear as dancing flames. Between these “flames” are angled windows intended to bring in light while preserving privacy for the family of four. Each floor also gets a steel, mesh-like balcony.