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.”
Posts tagged with "Manhattan":
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:
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. ]
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
The fabulous Peter Marino has designed a fabulous new store for Chanel in Soho, which opened Friday for Fashion Night Out. It’s so fabulous that Chanel Global Creative Director Peter Phillips created a new makeup line paying homage to Marino’s sleek lines and the sleeker girls who hobble about the cobblestone streets surrounding the store. As for the renovation itself, it was inspired by the artsy spirit of the neighborhood and features an acrylic Chanel No. 5 bottle that stands over 10 feet high and will display video art as well as video of runway shows from Paris. The newly outfitted boutique has a gallery feel to it, complete with commissioned artworks by Peter Belyi, Alan Rath, and Robert Greene. More makeup and makeover after the jump.
Yesterday, John Hill, arguably the city's most prolific architecture critic, finished up one of his latest projects, entitled "31 in 31." In addition to his usual flood of posts, Hill is chronicling one building every day in August, in preparation for a new guide book. The buildings are scattershot, ranging from the new Crocs super store in the West Village to One Bryant Park, but most of them are new and, in a way Hill always seems to manage, representative of precisely what has been going on in the city recently—not comprehensive, but authoritative. It's a rundown worth running down, but one building in particular caught our eye: the rather unassuming Wilf Hall at NYU. The project is not yet complete, but it caused quite a stir when it was proposed. Local preservationists objected to the project because it would destroy the Provincetown Playhouse, where Arthur Miller got his start, as well as the home of a number of other old, long-gone bohemian haunts. (Granted prerservationists object when NYU sneezes.) Even though the project is not located in a historic district, master faker Morris Adjmi was brought in, an architect known for his historically sensitive work, including the Scholastic Building in Soho and the High Line Building across from the Standard. Here, Adjmi appears to have pulled off a very nice set of four modern rowhouses, rather prettier ones than the building it replaced. The retained and restored facade of the Provincetown Playhouse is particularly notable for how draws attention to the historic structure, highlighting it instead of hiding it. It is a refreshing building after so much massive development by the university, from Philip Johnson's unusual Bobst Library to the downright awful Kimmel Center. It would seem this is the first project from NYU to make good on its promise to respect the scale and architecture of the Village—a promise that may not hold if its bombshell of an expansion plan is approved in the coming months and years. So what does Andrew Berman, head of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and leading NYU antagonist think of Adjmi's building? He is not impressed, to say the least. In response to a query from the Observer, he sent over the following email:
The Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments was one of the most historically and culturally significant buildings in New York City, and should never have been demolished. It was the home not only of the world-famous theater, but of a collection of institutions which were called by historians "the cornerstone of bohemia" and "the locus of cultural activity and the gathering places of all the figures associated with the Greenwich Village Renaissance that began the era of Modernism in the U.S." The entire building had been determined eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places, and for a mere increase of 17,000 sq. ft.of space NYU chose to demolish rather than renovate or reuse the building, though only five years earlier they had demolished several other historic edifices including the Poe House and Judson Houses just across the street to make way for yet another mammoth Law School building. To add insult to injury, NYU's promise to preserve in perpetuity about 5% of the original building was secretly compromised when, behind construction walls, they actually demolished part of the tiny theater space and kept that fact hidden, which was only revealed by vigilant neighbors and GVSHP. Is the new building less overwhelming and oppressive than many other recent NYU projects? Of course, but it would be a shame if that were the sliding scale by which we judged the university. Wilf Hall will sadly always be a monument to the university's broken promises and greed, and to the loss of yet another irreplaceable piece of New York's proud history.So much for community outreach.
The West End Preservation Society could only save two of the buildings it had hoped for, but an entire neighborhood has been preserved in the process. Back in 2007, a clutch of concerned citizens living on West End Avenue were dismayed to learn that two pairs of brownstones were bound for the wrecking ball, to be replaced by the sliver buildings much in vogue in Manhattan's narrow upper reaches over the past decade. The houses at 732 and 734 West End Avenue are currently being demolished, but 508 and 510 West End Avenue survive, and likely will for some time thanks to the efforts of the society. The LPC is now preparing to finalize plans for a new, expansive historic district—lobbied for by the preservation group—running the length of West End Avenue from 70th Street to 109th Street. The result will be two-miles of almost uniterrupted pre-war grandeur. The commission recently sent out letters to affected property owners notifying them of a September 15 informational meeting at P.S. 75 (located in the district-to-be at 735 West End Avenue). Such meetings are typically a precursor to "calendaring" a project, when it officially enters public review, a step that is now expected by October or November. Commission spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon said a final map of the proposed district will be released at next month's meeting, and it will include 745 new buildings—large by most historic district standards, though the Upper West Side already boasts some 2,035 landmarked buildings. Technically, the commission will not be creating one new district but expanding five that line West End Avenue. Though the result will be one contiguous stretch of landmarks, de Bourbon said the idea was to group them in a way that would honor the individual character of each district, "its history and its rhythms." By expanding the existing districts, the commission will also protect more buildings on the side streets, further what many consider one of the most pristine stretches of pre-war architecture in the city.
Can Columbia build anything without causing a ruckus? There is, of course, the famous gym proposed for Riverside Park that triggered the 1968 riots, and more recently the huge fight over its 17-acre Manhattanville expansion. Now the Times is reporting a "teapot-size storm" surrounding the university's proposal to build a new athletic center within its complex in Inwood. According to the Gray Lady, the issues are the same as anywhere in Manhattan: light, views, and context. “It does not relate well to the community,” said Gail Addiss, 61, an architect who lives opposite Baker Field. “It’s similar to Frank Gehry architecture — large metal things whose glare is going to cause more brightness to reflect into people’s windows.”