Posts tagged with "Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates":

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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.