Posts tagged with "Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates":

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Bloomingdale Trail Plans Come Into Focus With New Renderings

Last night, updated plans for Chicago's Bloomingdale Trail were presented at a public meeting—the public session's last chance to comment on the design before final plans are presented this December. The trail is an elevated linear park designed by a team including Collins Engineers, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and Frances Whitehead on a former rail viaduct running through Chicago. AN contributor and sustainable transit enthusiast Steven Vance attended the meeting at the Humboldt Park Field House, recapping the event on the GRID Chicago blog. Among the details confirmed at the meeting, construction is set to begin summer 2013. While the trail will open for bikers and pedestrians in Fall 2014, landscaping and art installations will continue into 2015. Plans put the elevated linear park into sharper focus, revealing exactly how pedestrians and cyclists can enter the trail at various points accentuated with parks, plazas, and public art. The viaduct will be recontoured to connect with the street and provide a dynamic experience throughout the park. You can download a PDF of the full presentation here, which includes some nearly finalized designs and plans for the long-anticipated rails-to-trails park system. Click on a thumbnail below to launch the slideshow.
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Van Valkenburgh to Design Gardner’s Garden

“I don’t have time to read, because I trot about with the gardeners. And the little monk’s garden at Fenway Court is very dear too,” Isabella Stewart Gardner wrote to her art advisor Bernard Berenson in 1908. The walled "monk's garden" flanks the Gardner Museum's Venetian-style palazzo (the house originally known as Fenway Court that became today's museum) and was first planted in 1903 in an Italianate-style with elegant evergreens running along the walls and pathways. In the 1940s museum director Morris Carter resdesigned the Monks Garden using a Japanese style plan but seeding it with New England wildflowers. For the garden's last update in the 1970s, Sasaki Associates added bluestone pavers and wooden benches. And the recent addition to the Gardner campus by Renzo Piano included a repositioning of the museum's main entrance, a move that gives the Monks Garden a much higher profile, warranting another facelift. Today the museum announced that a search committee led by the Gardner's consulting curator of landscape Charles Waldheim, architecture critic and consultant Robert Campbell, and the Gardner Museum director Director Anne Hawley had selected Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA conveniently has a Cambridge, MA office) to redesign the Monks Garden, which is expected to re-open to the public in 2013.  
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Tracking Progress on the Bloomingdale Trail

The community planning process for the conversion of the elevated rail line known as the Bloomingdale Trail into a public park and recreational path is underway. The three mile embankment, twice the length of New York's High Line, will feature 8 access points from adjacent pocket parks, and a mile and a half of the line will have separated pedestrian and multi-use paths (for bike riders and roller-blades). The trail winds through Chicago's Logan Square, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, and Bucktown neighborhoods.  The project is much more earth-bound than it's New York predecessor with direct connections to the city's sidewalks and parks system. It too will offer unexpected views of the city. This video showcases the community planning process, and features a cameo by architect Carol Ross Barney, one of the members of the design team, which includes Arup and Michael Van Valkenburgh Landscape Architects. Mayor Emanuel has thrown his weight behind the project, so its chances for realization are very high. The first phase is tentatively scheduled to open in 2014.
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Opening Salvo Aimed at NYU Expansion

It was the opening shot heard 'round the Village--and the East Village, and SoHo. An overflow crowd gathered at the Center for Architecture last night to rally the troops opposing NYU's twenty year expansion plan. It certainly wasn't the usual black-clad crowd found at the Center. No, these were some good old fashioned Village rabble rousers. The event was organized by the Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who assured the crowd that the NYU Core plan is "not a done deal." On Tuesday, the university certified proposals with City Planning, thus kicking off the ULURP process for what is likely to become one of the most contentious development debates of 2012. The proposal is, after all,  in the heart of Jane Jacobs country. Just across the street from the Center are the remains of Robert Moses' failed attempt to build the Lower Manhattan Expressway through SoHo after Jacobs and Co. put a halt to the plan. Parcels of land assembled by the Department of Transportation to accommodate the failed highway are now parkland commonly known as the DOT strips. A substantial portion of the 1.3 million square feet NYU wants to build in the area would be placed beneath the strips. The university has proposed designating the strips as parkland after the construction is complete, with the new green space designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. No matter the promises, this was not a crowd that trusts the university. The term "Midtown Zoning" got thrown about with on-message regularity. As did square footage metaphors, such as "bigger than the Waldorf-Astoria," "the size of the Empire State Building," and "three Jacob Javits Convention Centers." Council Member Margaret Chin was on hand to listen, but not to state her pro or con position--despite pressure from the crowd. This month's Community Board 2 subcommittee meetings will no doubt be unusually crowded as they're all dealing with the proposal. If you want to see some New York zoning theater in action, here's a selected breakdown: Land Use:  Mon., 1/9 6PM at The Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Pl. Traffic and Transportation: Tues., 1/10 @ 6:30 NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Pl. room 520 Parks:  Thurs., 1/12 @ 6:30PM at NYU Silver Bldg. 32 Waverly Pl. room 520 Full Board: Thurs., 1/19 @ 6:00PM 116 West 11th Street, Auditorium  
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Coach Seated Business Class at Hudson Yards

Mayor Bloomberg and top city officials joined executives from the Related Companies, Oxford Properties, and fashion label Coach underneath the northernmost spur of the High Line on Tuesday to announce the first anchor tenant at Hudson Yards on Manhattan's West Side. "Today we announce Coach as the anchor tenant at Hudson Yards," said Related CEO Stephen Ross. He told the crowd that construction could start in a few months. Coach will relocate 1,500 employees currently scattered across three buildings nearby into a sleek glass and steel KPF-designed tower overlooking the High Line, occupying about a third of the planned first tower. Covering 26 acres along the Hudson River and spanning a LIRR train storage yard, Hudson Yards will mix residential, commercial, retail, and cultural space to create what Ross described as the "Rockefeller Center of the 21st century." Two tapering buildings on the eastern edge of the site—the first to be built—tilt away from each other, appearing to peek overtop of their neighbors. They are joined by a seven-story glass-enclosed retail podium, forming a twin-towers-over-a-mall typology that Related made famous at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle. At 5.5 million square feet and three city blocks long, Related says the "superblock building" will be the largest commercial building in New York. "Finally you're going to get a building as nice as your pocket books," said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The neighborhood is poised to become  a center of fashion and culture in Manhattan, a point Bloomberg made in declaring that Fashion Week will someday take place at the Culture Shed, an arts center designed by Diller, Scofidio & Renfro with Rockwell Group planned at Hudson Yards. While not on stage for the announcement, Bill Pedersen of KPF remarked on the mega-project's design in a statement. "Hudson Yards must link to the prevailing industrial character of the West Side, while also summarizing this context with a fresh visual dynamic. As a time when extraordinary urban projects are arising around the world, Hudson Yards will be an important symbol of New York's continued leadership in global urbanism." The development of Hudson Yards is aided by the extension of the number 7 subway line from Times Square that officials said is on schedule to open at the end of 2013. New glass-canopied subway entrances designed by Toshiko Mori Architect will be located in Hudson Park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh north of the site. The announcement is also a boon to the third and final segment of the High Line, which wraps around the Hudson Yards site. Coach's new global headquarters is located in the shorter, southern tower straddling a section of the elevated park and a large glass atrium will eventually face the park. All parties involved—Related, Coach, and the city—agreed that the High Line should play a prominent role in Hudson Yards. "We at Related look forward to continuing to work with the city, and the Friends of the High Line to transform segment three, and make it a very special place," said Ross. Bloomberg noted that the city is working with CSX to transfer the final segment of rail to the city.
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Building Brooklyn Awards Showcase Green Design

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce recently hosted the 11th annual Building Brooklyn Awards, recognizing 13 buildings for innovation in expanding and preserving Brooklyn's built environment. Awards covered a variety of categories including adaptive re-use and historic preservation, mixed-use, education, interior renovation, mixed-use, open space, and affordable housing. In addition to the building awards, the Chamber of Commerce honored Deb Howard, Executive Director of the Pratt Area Community Council and Jed Walentas, Principal of Two Trees Management for their work in restoring and revitalizing neighborhoods Bedford-Stuyvesant and DUMBO respectively. Noteworthy projects include Brooklyn Bridge Park by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Myrtle Hall at the Pratt Institute by WASA/Studio A, Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility by Ennead Architects LLP; Greeley and Hansen; Hazen and Sawyer; and Malcolm Prime, and Brooklyn Ecopolis by Simino Architects. Each building has been recognized because of its sustainable preservation of and attention to public and private space. Brooklyn Bridge Park Piers 1 and 6 were awarded for design in the Open Space category. From the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, "Pier 1 is the only park pier to built on landfill, rather than a pile-supported structure, which allowed for the construction of dramatic topography. The monumental Granite Prospect offers stunning harbor views and utilizes granite salvaged from the reconstruction of the Roosevelt Island Bridge." The pleasant greenery along the waterfront is complemented by its sustainable features and innovative management systems. The Chamber of Commerce recognized Myrtle Hall at the Pratt Institute in Clinton Hill as an example for Education building. Listed as the first LEED Gold certified academic building in Brooklyn, the 120,000 square foot structure "brings design integrity back to the street, along with foot traffic and increased retail vitality." The Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility completed its first phase of a 25 year master plan in Greenpoint. As the Chamber of Commerce noted, "The site addresses the community's concerns about a large and expanding facility of its kind through integrating excellence of design, a phased approach; and providing public art and waterfront park space." Also, visually interesting because "the entire plant is covered in blue light at night, uniting the disparate elements of the facility and providing a glowing visual element against the skyline." The Mixed-Use award goes to Brooklyn Ecopolis, a family-owned five story building designed for different sustainable projects. Currently, "a sustainable coffee shop at the ground floor level, Brooklyn Ecopolis, a non-profit sustainable resource center on the second floor, with the owners living on the residential floors above." The LEED Gold certified project is hoped to inspire the community of Cobble Hill as an example for other structures of its kind.
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Hyperbolic Paraboloids Can Save Animals

How do you solve the problem of wildlife crossing a major highway? Build a bridge! On Sunday, the NY Times reported that Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (MVVA) was named winner of an innovative competition to build a wildlife crossing over a Colorado highway. Together with construction company HNTB, the team's design calls for a lightweight precast span that will improve animal and driver safety as well as help reduce habitat fragmentation. Finalists for the ARC Competition were announced last year including proposals from Balmori Associates, Olin Studio, Janet Rosenberg & Associates, and Zwarts & Jansma Architects. (View a gallery of the finalists' proposals below.) The competition carried a $40,000 award. MVVA's proposal is called hypar-nature after its structural system comprised of hyperbolic paraboloid vaults that support a vegetated wildlife crossing wide enough to create areas of distinct habitat for a variety of animals including forests, shrubs, and meadows. An expansive fence along the highway would shepherd animals to the bridge. Designed to be a prototype for a network of future crossings, the design features modular precast pieces that can easily be set into place over the roadway. While Colorado has not dedicated funds to the project or determined what site to pursue, officials hope to study the finalists' proposals.
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The Straw That Broke the Silver Towers’ Back

I.M. Pei speaks and NYU listens. The university announced this week that plans for a Grimshaw-designed residential highrise planned for Pei's landmarked Silver Towers block will be scrapped after the architect expressed disapproval over the project. The proposed 400-foot tower set amid three original concrete structures had been a point of conflict between NYU and its neighbors. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, led an effort to landmark Pei's Silver Towers site and has been vocal in his opposition to the proposed fourth tower. "This arrangement of three towers in a pinwheel fashion, with one side left open around a central space, was a motif you see throughout [Pei's] works,” Berman told AN earlier this month. “It was not an accident or an incomplete design awaiting a fourth element.” While neighbors in Greenwich Village repeatedly battled the fourth tower, the final blow came from Pei himself.  “From the beginning, we sought a design for the Silver Towers block that was most respectful of Mr. Pei’s vision. Some people disagreed with our proposed approach; others agreed. We believed that among those who agreed was Mr. Pei himself, who expressed no opposition to the concept of a tower on the landmarked site when we spoke with him directly in 2008,” said Lynne Brown, NYU’s Senior Vice President, in a release. “Mr. Pei has now had a change of heart. The clarity Mr. Pei has now provided--that the Morton Williams site is ‘preferable’--is helpful to us in understanding how to proceed with our ULURP proposal.” Now, plans call for a return to the adjacent original building site where a Morton Williams grocery sits. That location had been passed over in favor of the Silver Towers site to preserve sight lines, the University said at the time. Berman has also expressed concern about the Morton Williams site.  “The fact that building on the supermarket site would also be bad doesn’t make building on the landmark site any less terrible,” Berman said earlier in November. He suggested at the time that NYU explore building opportunities in the financial district, where community boards have actively invited such development. New York University has begun preparing a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application for submission next year to build on the Morton Williams site. New plans must undergo full review before construction can take place.
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Charting Chelsea Cove

On Monday, the latest portion of Hudson River Park opened to the public, bringing with it a novel pair of attractions along New York's expanding West Side greenway. Located just north of Chelsea Piers, the project rises atop Piers 62 and 63, which together with Pier 64 form the roughly 8-acre, U-shaped landscape that Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) named Chelsea Cove when starting the project in 2001. “Our main vision was to create not only a park for people moving along the bikeway, but primarily for the community,” said Peter Arato, senior associate at MVVA. In order to achieve this, the strategy was to activate the site with a mix of uses, but also to blur the typical division between upland and pier, creating “a larger park experience that was not so linear-based.” The first of the piers’ new attractions is a carousel with 33 colorful, hand-carved wooden figures that represent native animals of the Hudson River Valley. Created by Carousel Works of Mansfield, OH, and due to open on Memorial Day, the merry-go-round and its menagerie of bears, turtles, and falcons is protected by a steel-framed roof that incorporates a green roof system above. The cove’s second notable feature is a 15,000-square-foot skate park made of reinforced concrete and shotcrete, with an undulating landscape that replaces an existing skate park on the site. Designed in collaboration with SITE Design Group of Solana Beach, CA, the skate park is the first in the world to be built on a pier structure, according to the designers. To accommodate these two elements—including the skate park’s 10-foot elevation and the carousel’s heavy, 35-foot-wide platform—the designers used structural EPS foam to reduce the load on the pier. The foam was also used to form the rolling landscape that characterizes Pier 64, which was completed last year. The new site also includes a large lawn bowl, a perennial garden designed by Lynden Miller, and a sculptural landscape with large boulders set among wildflowers and shaped by artist Meg Webster.