Officials broke ground today on the long anticipated restoration of New York's High Bridge connecting the Bronx with Manhattan. Built in 1848 and today the city's oldest bridge, the 1,200-foot-long span had long been a popular strolling bridge, even making an appearance in Edith Wharton's 1913 novel Custom of the Country. The landmarked bridge was closed to the public in the 1970s, but after construction wraps up on the $61 million rehabilitation, strolling New Yorkers and bicyclists can once again cross high above the Harlem River—116 feet—and connect with the city's growing waterfront Greenway. (See also: Photos of High Bridge before renovation.) Improvements include pedestrian safety measures like accessibility ramps, viewing platforms, and new lighting. An eight-foot-tall cable mesh fence to prevent jumpers and throwing trash will also line each side, a point that drew criticism from some in the community who believe it's unnecessary and will spoil views. In a statement released at the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called High Bridge "one of our city's great treasures." He continued, "It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs, and even all over the world, to see some of the most spectacular views in the city."
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Over the last few months, there's been much talk about rebuilding smarter after Hurricane Sandy to prepare for the next super storm. But one alternative has gone under the radar until today’s State of the State Address when New York Governor Cuomo proposed the Recreate NY-Home Buyout Program that would provide funds to buy out homeowners who wish to sell their properties and relocate elsewhere. Capital New York reported that a resident estimated that 60 percent of his Fox Beach community in Staten Island wants a buyout, and through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, that just might be possible. But for a buyout to happen, it requires a several-step process that would need the “Bloomberg administration to petition the state for grant money.” If Cuomo follows through on his proposal, residents of Fox Beach and other waterfront communities who want to relocate might get their wish. (Photo: David Sundberg/ESTO)
After launching a year-and-a-half ago, New York City's East River Ferry service, has wildly surpassed ridership estimates and Mayor Bloomberg is looking to extend the initial three-year trial period to 2019. So far, more than 1.6 million passengers have paid the $4 fare (or $5 if you take your bike) to ride on the fleet of 149-passenger and 399-passenger boats along the East River between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Governors Island (the NYC Economic Development Corporation predicted that 1.3 million would ride the service in its entire three-year pilot). The ferry pilot program was launched to promote economic development along the city's waterfront, and has been seen as a boon to such waterfront projects as the Williamsburg Edge. The city has issued an RFP for a future ferry operator to take over once the current contract with BillyBey Ferry Company expires in 2014.
At Tuesday's groundbreaking of B2, the first 32-story residential tower to be built at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New Yorkers got a sneak peek at how the world’s tallest modular building will be constructed. Just beyond the podium stood what officials call the “chassis,” a steel framed box that makes up an essential structural element of the building. “You don’t need to compromise on design when it comes to modular,” said Developer Bruce Ratner. Located on the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, the SHoP Architects-designed tower will rise above the Barclay Center, also designed by SHoP, and offer 363 units split evenly between affordable housing and market rate units. Ratner told the audience that the affordable units at Atlantic Yards will be equipped with the exact same appliances and amenities as the market rate apartments: “You will not know an affordable unit from a market rate unit.” The bulk of the construction of the modular components will happen in a 100,000 square-foot space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with the help of 125 unionized workers, which MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial and residential development at Forest City Ratner, said would help in the “reduction of traffic, dust, and waste” and Mayor Bloomberg hailed as “cheaper and less disruptive.” B2 is just the first of more than a dozen residential buildings to come.
It has been a busy few weeks at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Last week, AN got a preview of the Squibb Pedestrian Bridge, which will be completed before the end of the year, and today, Mayor Bloomberg announced the opening of the new sports fields on Pier 5 and the nearby Picnic Peninsula, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Regina Myer, the President of Brooklyn Bridge Park, told the crowd that they have been advocating for these recreation fields since the mid-1980s, which will now be used for a variety of field sports including soccer, lacrosse, rugby, flag football, and cricket. This $26 million project spans 5-acres and offers turf fields supported by shock pad and organic infill made of sand and coconut fibers, shade sails on the northern and southern sides of the pier, and lighting for evening games. In addition to field recreation, there will be an area reserved for fishing with bait and preparation tables provided and a 30-foot promenade on the periphery of the field. While Mayor Bloomberg said that “Pier 5 is designed to withstand sever weather events,” it didn’t make it through Hurricane Sandy unscathed. According to the press release, the electrical equipment “sustained significant flood damage during Hurricane Sandy,” and evening play will be postponed until the equipment can be replaced. The Picnic Peninsula, next to Pier 5, will offer a barbeque area outfitted with picnic tables made from salvaged long-leaf yellow pines, umbrellas, grills (to accommodate more than two dozen grills), a concession area, and a tetherball court. “Before Mayor Bloomberg, most of Brooklyn—except for Coney Island and Brighton Beach—was closed off from the water,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. “I think one of your legacies, frankly, is that we’ve opened up to the waterfront.” The last three unfinished piers planned for recreation space are wedged in the middle of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and are slated for completion in Fall 2013. The 5-acre Pier 2 will be reserved for basketball, handball, and bocce, in addition to a skating rink and swings. Pier 4 will offer an area for non-motorized boating and an upland park. Pier 3, however, is the only unfunded slice of the park, but the plans for it include a “reprieve” said Paul Seck, Associate Principal at Michael Van Valkenburgh Landscape Architects, with lawn areas and an esplanade.
Tuesday morning, New York's top power brokers gathered in a muddy lot on Manhattan's west side to mark the official groundbreaking of the 26-acre Hudson Yards mega-development. The dramatic addition to the New York skyline will comprise a completely new neighborhood of glass skyscrapers at the northern terminus of the High Line. The South Tower, the first structure to be built and the future headquarters of fashion-label Coach, will rise on the site's southeast corner at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, where Related CEO Stephen Ross, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and others celebrated the first turning of dirt as a large caisson machine bored into the ground. Representing the largest single piece of undeveloped land in Manhattan and the largest private development since Rockefeller Center, Hudson Yards will eventually house towers designed by some of the biggest names in architecture: Kohn Pedersen Fox, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, David Rockwell, SOM, and Elkus Manfredi with landscapes by Nelson Byrd Woltz. Hudson Yards is being developed by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, who made a deal with rail yards-owner MTA for 13 million square feet of development rights in May 2010. Speaking at the groundbreaking, MTA chairman Joe Lhota remembered back to January 1995 when, acting as the NYC finance commissioner, he realized the lost economic potential in the Hudson Yards site as it generated no revenue for the city. With Hudson Yards, though, Lhota said, "It's not only going to be a new source of revenue. It's going to be something you rarely ever see in New York: the creation of a new neighborhood." The 47-story South Tower by KPF recently crossed the 80-percent-leased line, anchored by Coach which nabbed 740,000 square feet in the 1.7 million square foot building. The footprint of the first tower sits just south of the rail yards, below where a platform will be built to accomodate further development, and adjacent to the High Line, partially straddling a portion of the wildly successful park. A large atrium at the base of the South Tower will overlook the High Line. The tower is being designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and will be complete in 2015. Once additional tenants are secured, KPF's second, larger North Tower with 2.4 million square feet will be built atop the rail yards and linked to the South Tower by Elkus Manfredi's shopping mall complex along 10th Avenue, which will contribute 750,000 square feet, the majority of the overall 1.15 million square feet of retail space at Hudson Yards. "As more tenants commit to the area, Related will build the platform and the additional towers that will be constructed atop the platform allowing us to realize our vision," Bloomberg told the crowd. The North Tower will feature an observation deck precariously cantilevering 80 feet out into Manhattan's air space. "We began with two basic principles," Bloomberg said. "We determined Hudson Yards should be a mixed-use community and an extension of the Midtown central business district." He cited affordable housing, schools, and world class commercial spaces as key to the areas success. "The second principle was recognizing that public policy decisions and infrastructure investment will be crucial to this new community." He lauded the 2005 city council approval of a 300-acre rezoning of the area and an agreement with the MTA to expand the 7 line west from Times Square to this area, a project he was quick to point out is completely funded by the city. West of the South Tower, the flagship cultural component of Hudson Yards will occupy a dramatic spot alongside the High Line. "Working with dynamic architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro and David Rockwell, [the Culture Shed] is another step in New York City's development as the world's home for innovation in the arts. And that's what gets an awful lot of people to come here," Bloomberg said. "The Culture Shed will welcome all the creative industries—performance, exhibitions, media, design, and fashion week—and be a destination for community events." The 100,000-square-foot Culture Shed is expected to build on recent cultural additions lining the High Line like the new Whitney Museum to the south. Elsewhere on the site, 5,000 residences and a luxury hotel in towers by DS+R and SOM and a new public school will be built. SOM's 60-story "E Tower" features rounded corners and gradual setbacks as it rises, meant to evoke abstracted canyons and produce stunning views. It will house the hotel, residences, office space, and a health club. The "D Tower" by DS+R will stand 72 stories tall and connect with the Culture Shed. The tower's main design feature is called "The Corset," an intricately deformed portion of the building's middle where criss-crossing "straps" that make the building appear fluid in form. Eventually, more than 40,000 people will live or work at Hudson Yards. The entire development is organized around large public spaces, which appeared in a recent issue of AN. Running north from 33rd Street, another public space by Michael Van Valkenburgh, called Hudson Park and Boulevard, will house a new entrance to the expanded 7 Line subway, expected to open in 2014. Be sure to check out the full multimedia gallery below, featuring renderings of all the buildings that will comprise Hudson Yards, the site today, speakers from the groundbreaking, and views of the site's detailed architectural model.
In New York City’s post-Sandy life, the important issue of provisional housing after a disaster is more prominent than ever. Although the plans will not affect those impacted by the recent storm, over the past five years the Bloomberg administration has been quietly developing modular apartment blocks for disaster housing relief consisting of ever-adaptable shipping containers. Relief housing for future emergencies could be quickly trucked in and stacked to create housing for dozens of displaced residents. The design prototype constructed by New Jersey shipping company, Sea Box, takes the 480 square feet of a shipping container and converts it into a fully furnished modular one-bedroom apartment. Each unit can then be stacked one upon another with the idea that a large parking lot or playground could serve as a location for its speedy construction after a disaster. Officials believe the boxes would serve as a more viable and durable disaster-housing solution for NYC than FEMA trailers. Each module is expected to be reusable up to 20 times and cost between $50,000 to $80,000. The hope is that FEMA could cover most if not all of the expenses. Uniquely answering NYC’s need for housing density in a compact area, the container solution was borne from a 2007 competition—titled WhatIfNYC—where entrants were asked to consider various criteria related to the urban disaster environment including the ability to house large numbers of people, be rapidly deployable, comfortable, inexpensive, and energy efficient. To test the proposal the Office of Emergency Planning will construct a 16-unit prototype in Brooklyn, which they hope to complete by the end of 2013. FEMA and the Army Corps are tentatively on board as the model is constructed, but final approval from the city has yet to be declared.
And then there were 20. The Bloomberg Mayor's Challenge has narrowed its list of competing cities to 20 finalists! The competition—which encourages architects, city planners, and governments to come up with innovative solutions to improve city life—was originally announced in June by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to assist in addressing urban challenges. Of the 305 cities that submitted proposals, 20 were chosen to continue to the next step: an Ideas Camp, where the final five will be selected and a total of $9 million will be awarded to implement their ideas.
For the eleventh anniversary of September 11, The Architect's Newspaper has been reviewing progress at the World Trade Center site. Last Thursday, AN visited SOM's One World Trade to survey the view from the 103rd floor and check in on construction of the tower's spire. Friday, a trip to the top of Fumihiko Maki's Four World Trade on Friday showed the less-publicized view of the site. From both vantage points, the hum of activity—both from construction crews and visitors to the memorial plaza—was readily apparent. Of particular interest were substantial developments at the Vehicle Security Center, where a new entryway on Liberty Street will send security measures beneath a new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. It was heartening to read in today's New York Times that the conflict between Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg over the Memorial Museum, reported here last year, was resolved in time for ceremonies this morning. For all the talk of delays, an extraordinary amount work has been accomplished. As a tribute, AN has compiled a video montage showing continued progress at the site on this historic day.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this morning on his morning radio show that New York City's forthcoming CitiBike bike-share program—already mired with delays caused by software problems—would be further delayed until at least next spring, confirming rumors that the system's bugs weren't being worked out quickly enough. On his radio show, the mayor delivered the bad news, "The software doesn't work, duh." He maintained that, "we are not going to put out the system until it works." The highly anticipated program is set to become the largest is North America when it opens and was a signature piece of the mayor's bike infrastructure plan for the city. Software problems have been a reoccurring problem for recent systems operated by Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share. Earlier this month, officials announced that Chicago's bike share system, expected to be second only to New York's in North America, was delayed until 2013 and a recently-launched 300-bike system in Chattanooga, TN has also been experiencing computer glitches. New York's system was originally to be rolled out in July, but, for now, the bike-share stations remain in storage at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where they were assembled. Following the mayor's comments, the NYC Department of Transportation released a timeline outlining the updated schedule for the system, calling for 7,000 of the 10,000 bikes and 420 stations to hit selected streets in Manhattan and western Brooklyn by March of 2013.
With nine million dollars total in prizes up for grabs, The Mayor’s Challenge simply asks for innovations in city life, a subject that’s been a growing concern for countless architects, planners, and governments worldwide. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the competition last week calling for individual designers and teams to address urban challenges from sustainability to citizen empowerment. "Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources," Bloomberg said in a statement. "Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people's lives and move America forward." Mayors of cities with a population above 30,000 people—about 1,300 across the country according to the 2010 census—are invited to participate as team leaders. Entries will be theoretical, but will be judged for their vision, ease of implementation, potential for impact, and replicability in other cities. Teams are encouraged to present new and radical ideas relevant to multiple cities addressing social or economic problems, improving customer service, improving accountability, or that help governments run more efficiently. But what ideas are big enough to change cities across the country? The challenge points to PlaNYC, an initiative launched by the Bloomberg administration in 2007, calling in part for transforming 4,000 acres of New York City land into public space to provide every New Yorker with a park within a ten-minutes walk from their homes; Chicago's 311 hub, implemented in 1999, also helped improve city life by combining multiple city services and access points in one easy-to-reach location, providing efficient customer service and encouraging public engagement. From the contesting cities, twenty finalists will be chosen to attend an Ideas Camp and among them five will be named national winners, with one $5 million grand prize and four $1 million prizes to help implement the ideas. All qualified entrants are required to RSVP by July 16th, 2012 and apply by September 14th,2012.
With just a year and a half left of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure remaining, the first of his major appointees, New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, is moving on. Under Benepe, the Parks Department was transformed on a scale that approached the early tenure of Robert Moses. Since his appointment in 2002, the commissioner oversaw the largest expansion of waterfront parks like Brooklyn Bridge Park, embraced public-private partnerships as seen on the High Line, and distributed more than $250 million in Croton Water Filtration funds to small pocket parks throughout the Bronx. In his ten-and-a-half years, 730 acres of new parkland was added—significant considering Central Park is 843 acres—and 2,000 lie ahead at Fresh Kills on Staten Island. Benepe will be moving on to take on a leadership role at the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit land conservation organization based in San Francisco, in a newly created position titled Senior Vice President for Park Development. Benepe will work out of Lower Manhattan and Washington D.C., taking Bloomberg's signature program to guarantee a park within a ten-minute walk of every city citizen to a national level, under the "Parks for People" program. TPL recently highlighted walkability of parks in cities across the country with their ParkScore analysis. Veronica M. White, director of the the Center for Economic Leadership, will take the helm of Parks in September. "I couldn't be prouder that he's going to lead the Trust for Public Land's new initiative to replicate our work in cities across the country," Mayor Bloomberg said this morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at Soundview Park in the Bronx. What the new commissioner may lack in landscape design experience she will likely make up for in fund raising. The mayor noted that White has an "exemplary record of exploring innovative partnerships and attracting private funds."