Posts tagged with "Manhattan":

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Condo Cluster at the Cloisters?

Quadriad Reality is in negotiations to acquire land at Broadway and 190th Street in order to build four towers ranging from 22 to 44 stories. If the proposals go forward they could represent the one of the largest residential developments above 155th Street in more than a generation. Not since the four Bridge Apartment towers went up back in 1963 has a development of this scale been proposed for the area. At 32 stories each, those four low-income residences, which straddle I-95 at the foot of the George Washington Bridge, could be dwarfed by the new Quadriad complex--to say nothing of the competition with the Cloisters for skyline dominance.
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Seward Park Redevelopment Clears Major Hurdle

Last night, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) took a giant step forward after 44 years of contentious debate. Community Board 3's Land Use, Zoning, Public and Private Housing Committee approved guidelines for development of the city-owned land at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. SPURA’s use of the term “urban renewal” reveals just how long the debate has been going on, a relic from the Moses era when the master planner evicted poor residents from tenements to build affordable housing and an unrealized downtown expressway.  Some housing did get built, but much of the unused land became parking lots. “While there were, at times, deep and principled disagreements among stakeholders, I believe that ultimately this process brought our community together,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Sliver said in a statement. “The final guidelines that were approved by the committee tonight strike an appropriate balance between the needs and concerns of all stakeholders and will result in a development that will ensure our neighborhood continues to thrive.” The guidelines call for 800 to 1000 housing units to rise on the land and to be divided 50-50: 50 percent market rate and the remaining percentage to go to below and middle income families. The breakdown of units for the low to middle income is 10 percent middle income, 10 percent moderate, 20 percent low and 10 percent low income seniors. That the plan incorporates market solutions wasn’t lost on the crowd gathered at the Henry Street Settlement. The area, once a hotbed of Socialism, still retains some of that rallying spirit. During public comments, several speakers requested that document demand 100 percent affordable housing. “The work of Sidney Hillman and others has been destroyed and prostituted,” longtime resident Michael Gottleib told the committee, evoking the name of the area's famed labor leader. One point did unite much of the crowd; several said that the Essex Market should be preserved. For some, the city-owned and subsidized market represents an optimistic scenario for future development. Describing the food hall, speaker Carol Anastasio called it “a mix of the old and the wave of the future.” Emotions continued to run high while the committee listened. Residents displaced in 1960s stood alongside young residents forced out by the high rent. One young woman complained the she and a childhood friend can no longer afford to stay, even though she maintains a moderate income. “I help people at a not for profit and I can’t even help myself,” she said. “Can’t I come back to my own ‘hood? Where I was raised? Where I had my first date?” The full board is expected to approve the guidelines tonight. From there,  several civic hurdles must be cleared before ground is broken.
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World Trade Weekly: White Dots Edition

At first glance, it seems that the riot of square white panels suddenly appeared on the base of One World Trade, but  photos from the past few weeks show that they were going up all along. Closeup shots taken today reveal metal bolts protruding out from the panels. The curtain wall fasteners for the metallic scrim?

Friday Video: Little Plane Flies Through Big City

It's Friday afternoon, so why not take a joy ride through the skies of New York?  Gothamist uncovered this amazing video of a homemade RC airplane with a video camera attached to its nose making its way among the skyscrapers and bridges of New York.  Makes for some pretty amazing footage!
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Models of Freedom: Architectural Model-Maker Featured on Television

Fox News featured Ed Wood and Leszek Stefanski of Radii Inc. last night, giving viewers a behind the scenes glance at a craft little known outside of architectural circles. Wood explained the relevance of architectural models in the face of advances in computer animation. He noted that there is, perhaps, a kind of dishonesty to the flat screen. “The physical model allows freedom,” he said. It was a sound bite that no doubt gelled with Fox producers, who promptly posted the video to their “Rise of Freedom” website under the subtitle “Designing Freedom.”
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A Thousand Drops of Light in Madison Square Park

Upon first stumbling across this massive array of 2,000 LED lights encased in standard light bulbs in Madison Square Park a few weeks ago, I thought holiday decoration had come a little early to the Flatiron's front yard, but as shadowed figures began moving across the field of light, it became apparent that this installation by artist Jim Campbell was something special. Situated on Madison Square Park's Oval Lawn, Scattered Light consists of a three-dimensional grid of light spanning roughly 80 feet by 16 feet and standing 20 feet tall. When viewing the installation from the front, programmed LED lights flicker in sequence to create the illusion of shadows walking through the park. Moving around the artwork causes the image to blue and abstract as the grid moves in and out of focus. Scattered Light video by specialkrb / YT: Scattered Light video by Craig Dorety / Vimeo: The installation is one of three public art projects by Jim Campbell on display in Madison Square Park. Here's more information about the other two from the Madison Square Park Conservancy:
Broken Window, the second installation, will be situated near the main entrance to Madison Square Park at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue. An array of LEDs encased in a glass-brick wall (70”h x 70”w x 10”d) will create illuminated images that appear to glide across the glass plane, reflecting the movements of the city around them and echoing the aesthetic poetry of the Scattered Lightinstallation. Situated on the eastern lawn adjacent to Madison Avenue between 24th and 25th street, Voices in the Subway Station, the third installation, will feature LEDs encased in two dozen glass tablets (14” x 18” each) arrayed across the lawn at ground level. The light pulses emanating from each tablet will be rhythmically modulated to represent the voices of individual travelers as recorded in conversation on a subway platform, combining to create a visual symphony rendered in light.
Each of the three installations offers an abstracted experience drawn from the urban environment that's at once distant but right at home and it's worth an evening stroll through the park to experience them for yourself. The installations will be on display through February 2011. Interview with Jim Campbell from Switched: Voices in the Subway video by Craig Dorety / Vimeo: Broken Window video by lessthanrita / YT:
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Hudson Square Pushes to Reclaim Pedestrian Space

A major transformation of the once-industrial Hudson Square neighborhood in Lower Manhattan aims to bring pedestrian vitality to streets originally designed for delivery trucks servicing printing houses.  Crain's reports that Hudson Square Connections, the local business improvement district, has selected a design group led by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects from a pool of 23 respondents to create a new streetscape to improve the area's image. Hudson Square, bounded by Greenwich Street, Houston Street, 6th Avenue, and Canal Street, is becoming increasingly residential as large art-deco buildings are converted into hip offices and dwellings. Details are currently being worked out, but a plan is expected to be in place by the end of 2011.  Mathews Nielsen brings experience from nearby Hudson River Park and the pedestrianization of Times Square.  The team, including Rogers Marvel Architects, Billings Jackson Design, ARUP, and Open graphic design, plans to work with the NYC Department of Transportation on the design. With such a background, it's clear that space will be reclaimed for pedestrians.  Ellen Baer, president of Hudson River Connection, told Crain's, "There are very few places where people can sit and enjoy lunch here. We want to create those oases and green spaces." [ Via Crain's. ]
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Rudolph's New York Home Passes Landmark Test

The latest Upper East Side landmark isn't another of its signature rowhouses, but rather what's atop one of those brownstones.  Yesterday, the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved landmark status for mid-century architect Paul Rudolph's less-than-context-sensitive home at 23 Beekman Place. Rudolph moved into the 4-story on which the addition sits in 1961 and added his three-story design in 1977, modifying the house throughout his life.  Located between East 50th and 51st Street, 23 Beekman Place has been moving through the landmark process for over a year, and its approval marks an emerging phase in historic preservation. Now that many examples of modern architecture are getting older, they are becoming fair game for landmark protection, a notion the New York Observer says can sometimes be full of contradiction:
And yet there remains a certain alienness to a building like 23 Beekman. In a way, it is an oxymoron, a cancer atop a truly "historic building." The very idea of a modern landmark is itself a contradiction in terms because modernism sought to wipe away history. Consider Robert Moses, Le Corbusier, even Rudolph, all trying to eradicate history, to defeat nature, end poverty and blight, addressing all of the world's ills through their work. Where better to recognize this tension than a building with such a clearly split personality? And yet all of that Utopian zeal failed as much as it succeeded, so much so that many of the buildings it left behind are now unloved, even hated. This makes modernist preservation all the more essential and immediate. Not only have these buildings-beyond-time themselves aged (some quite severely), but they have become examples of architectural idealism, experimentation, and failure. Thus they are something to be saved, even as they sought to wipe out their forebears.
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A Worm in the Big Apple

It's not all glitz in Midtown Manhattan.  One block of 35th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues was awarded the pernicious title of Midtown's ugliest stretch on the appropriately named "Ugly Streets" walking tour, headed up last Friday by the Municipal Art Society's Frank Addeo. Addeo points to an abundance of blank walls and scaffolding that contributes to the street's generally boring and dark demeanor. The Daily News was on hand to take in the sights along the "Ugly Streets" tour, put on as part of MAS's Summit for New York City:
People who walk the block every day were far from surprised at its dubious distinction, although a homeless man wearing underwear on his head seemed to find it an ideal spot to spend the afternoon.
Although one bystander found the silver lining of the sooty street:
"There should be more lights in here; it's really creepy at night," she said, but added that there is a plus side: "There's no tourists who walk here, so at least you don't have to push through a crowd."
Via New York Daily News.
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Breaking Bricks at Moynihan Station

Moynihan Station might not be welcoming its first passengers for years to come, but a heavy-hitting group of officials gathered at the James A. Farley Post Office to sledge-hammer a cinder block wall and declare Phase I ground officially broken. When complete, Moynihan Station will offer relief to the adjacent Penn Station (whose predecessor was regrettably demolished in the mid-1960s) and its 550,000 daily commuters. The brainchild of late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the project has been planned for almost two decades. Among the political celebrities gathered on the 100th anniversary of the original Penn Station were Mayor Bloomberg, Governor David Patterson, Senator Charles Schumer, and Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood who brought tidings to the tune of $83 million in Recovery Act TIGER funding.  The first phase is estimated to cost $267 million, jointly funded by State and Federal governments. Phase I construction will puncture two new entrances into the Farley Post Office to expand Penn Station and provide a larger West Concourse to accommodate Amtrak trains. It's slated to take about six years to complete the project as work is relegated to nights and weekends, a time span the NY Daily News points out is only two years shorter than the construction time for the original Penn Station and 5-miles of tunnels. Planning is currently underway for Phase II which includes a grand hall in the center of the Farley building.
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New York City's 15 Penn Plaza Catches a Wave

The battle for Midtown Manhattan has taken a new twist.  Radio broadcasters located in the nearby Empire State Building have raised concerns that Vornado Realty Trust's proposed 15 Penn Plaza will swat their signals from the sky. Standing at over 1,200 feet tall, broadcasters worry the Pelli Clark Pelli designed 15 Penn Plaza could reflect or disrupt radio frequencies, causing a phenomenon known as multipath where multiple waves are sent to the same signal. Radio World reports that experts have been watching the proposed tower closely as it was recently given a thumbs up after a contentious approval process in which Empire owner Tony Malkin argued 15 Penn Plaza would diminish from the historic significance of his building. From Radio World:
"Vornado officials have not indicated an interest in building rooftop broadcast facilities atop the new tower, according to observers. "The Empire State Building is home to 19 FM stations and most of the city’s digital television transmitters. Many radio and television broadcasters migrated there after the collapse of the World Trade Center’s twin towers in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (see sidebar). "Multipath issues are nothing new in the city because of its monstrously tall buildings, but the proximity of the skyscraper to the Empire State Building — approximately a quarter-mile — raises a red flag for some in the broadcast community."
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Historic District Struts Its Stuff on Manhattan's West End Avenue

As we reported a few weeks ago, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is gearing up to create a huge new historic district on the Upper West Side. Last night, the commission held a meet-and-greet with the neighbors, at which the tentative boundaries for the new district—technically five contiguous extensions to five existing districts—were unveiled. As the map shows, it's quite a lot of real estate, and though smaller than the extant Upper West Side historic district (2,000+ versus 745) it will become, should it be approved, one of the largest in the city. What's most interesting, though, is how much of the Upper West Side will now be under the commission's purview. It will be interesting to see how the development community reacts.