Posts tagged with "Michael Van Valkenburgh":

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Princeton University forges a new relationship with its surroundings

Like many universities situated in the heart of their communities, Princeton is grappling with the enormous challenge of growing its campus to accommodate new and expanded programs. Some of the strategies to expand include selective densification of the core and the renewal and repurposing of existing facilities. But longer range, the university will have few options but to expand at the periphery. While densification risks upsetting the delicate balance between buildings and open space that defines Princeton’s campus and grants it a majestic beauty, the ability to craft large swaths of land in the image of itself is also a welcome opportunity.

Recent examples include the new sciences neighborhood at the campus’s southern border, where new buildings by Hopkins Architects and Rafael Moneo join a genomics facility by Rafael Viñoly, and an expanded engineering precinct at the campus’s eastern side, which just welcomed the new Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment by Tod Williams Billie Tsien.

Located on a 23-acre site at the campus’s western edge, the arts and transit neighborhood is an exercise in forging a more engaged relationship between the university and town with new arts facilities, a transit hall and rail station, and various eateries, including a Wawa. Planning the precinct was tasked to Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Michael Van Valkenburgh, who were working with the university at the time on a ten-year plan to guide campus growth through 2016. Scheduled to be complete in 2017, the $300 million project is the largest expansion project in the university’s 265 year history.

The new facilities inscribe themselves into the fabric of the campus by integrating the language of the neighborhood and surrounding courtyards in their form, scale, and materials. Steven Holl’s Lewis Center for the Arts anchors the precinct and creates a new campus gateway. It provides performance and teaching spaces for the theater and dance program, the department of music, and the arts in three buildings organized around a three-sided courtyard that opens to the community.

In the center of the courtyard a shallow pool defines a main public space. The buildings’ Italian limestone exteriors reference the early stones and bluestone paving used elsewhere on campus. The arts tower is scaled to Blair Arch. Rick Joy’s transit hub creates a chapel-like space that is washed in natural light. One of Joy’s big place-making gestures was putting the transit hall and the Wawa in two separate buildings to shape a new public space. “We had a program for it and the Wawa but we never conceived of splitting it apart,” said university architect Ron McCoy.

In addition to new facilities, the university is bringing in new infrastructure—reworking roads, creating plazas and circulation routes for pedestrians and cyclists, and providing for parking. 

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ODA bucks a shortlist of 14 firms to design pair of controversial Brooklyn Bridge Park towers

Last August, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) unveiled 14 proposed designs for a pair of controversial towers it planned to build near the park's southern-most pier. Under a Bloomberg-era development plan, sites along the park would be leased to private developers to finance the upkeep of Michael Van Valkenburgh's 85-acre green space. These two towers near Pier 6 represented the last piece of the development puzzle. Proposals for the two sites came  from some of architecture's heavy hitters like Bjarke Ingels, Morris Adjmi, Pelli Clarke Pelli, and Selldorf Architects. But now, nearly a year later, the BBPC has picked a design for the project by a firm not included in that original group: ODA Architecture. Unsurprisingly, the firm is sticking with its boxy aesthetic for its Pier 6 design. The taller of the two structures, containing 192 market-rate condos, rises to 285 feet. It features factory-style windows and triple-height cutouts punched into its facade. The smaller building tops out at 125 feet and has a mix of market-rate and affordable units, as well as a 75-seat pre-kindergarten. The height of both buildings has been lowered by 30 feet in response to public outcry over their size. Their size, though, has been just one of the controversies surrounding this development. A local group called People for Green Space sued to stop the plan after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed to increase the percentage of affordable units within the project to 30 percent. The group argued that the inclusion of affordable housing went against the original funding scheme, and thus required an additional environmental review an amendment to the decade-old General Park Plan. People for Green Space and the BBPC settled this spring. At the time, the New York Times reported "the group was denied the environmental review, but it prevailed in its demand that the park corporation formally amend its plan." The agreement cleared the path for the project to move forward. It is being developed by RAL Development Services (RAL) and Oliver’s Realty Group. When asked why none of the original 14 designs, or architects, were selected for this project, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation told AN in an email: “The RAL/Oliver’s plan was determined to be the best proposal by the selection committee based on the strength of its financial offer, the affordable housing component, the inclusion of generous public amenities, and a design that demonstrates excellence and creativity in architecture and recognition of the surrounding context that inspires a welcoming entrance to the Park.” If the plan is approved by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Board of Directors, construction would start next spring and wrap up in Fall 2017.
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ASLA announces winners of its 2014 Professional Awards and Student Awards

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced this year's winners of its Professional and Student Awards, which honor "top public, commercial, residential, institutional, planning, communications and research projects from across the U.S. and around the world." Each of the winning projects will be featured in the October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine and be officially presented by ASLA at its annual meeting and expo in Denver on November 24th. In total, 34 professional awards were selected out of 600 entries. General Design Category   Award of Excellence  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus Seattle Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Honor Awards Slow Down: Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park Liupanshui, Ghizhou Province, China Turenscape Gebran Tueni Memorial Beirut, Lebanon Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture Segment 5, Hudson River Park  New York City Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. Salem State University Marsh Hall, Salem, Mass. WagnerHodgson Landscape Architecture Urban Outfitters Headquarters Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia D.I.R.T. Studio Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Grand Teton National Park, WY Hershberger Design for D.R. Horne & Company Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park Queens, NY Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi Low Maintenance Eco-Campus: Vanke Research Center Shenzhen, China Z+T Studio Shoemaker Green University of Pennsylvania Andropogon Associates, Ltd.   Residential Design Category Award of Excellence Woodland Rain Gardens Caddo Parish, La. Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects Honor Awards Hill Country Prospect Centerport, Texas Studio Outside for Sara Story Design Vineyard Retreat Napa Valley, Calif. Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture Le Petit Chalet Southwest Harbor, Maine Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC Sky Garden Miami Beach, Fla. Raymond Jungles Inc. West Texas Ranch Marfa, Texas Ten Eyck Landscape Architects Inc. GM House, Bragança Paulista São Paulo, Brazil Alex Hanazaki Paisagismo City House in a Garden Chicago McKay Landscape Architects   Analysis & Planning Category Award of Excellence Midtown Detroit Techtown District Detroit Sasaki Associates Inc. Honor Awards The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization for Little Rock Little Rock, Ark. The University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architect Devastation to Resilience: The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Houston Design Workshop Inc., Aspen, and Reed/Hilderbrand Zidell Yards District-Scale Green Infrastructure Scenarios Portland, Ore. GreenWorks, PC Yerba Buena Street Life Plan San Francisco CMG Landscape Architecture Unified Ground: Union Square - National Mall Competition Washington, D.C. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Communications Category Award of Excellence The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley The Cultural Landscape Foundation Honor Awards Freehand Drawing and Discovery: Urban Sketching and Concept Drawing for Designers James Richards, FASLA, published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. Monk's Garden: A Visual Record of Design Thinking and Landscape Making Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. Garden, Park, Community, Farm Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Lands Louise A. Mozingo, ASLA, published by MIT Press   The Landmark Award Norman B. Leventhal Park at Post Office Square Boston Halvorson Design Partnership Inc.
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Brooklyn Bridge Parks Opens New Pier and Beach

The opening of a new pier and beach at Michael Van Valkenburgh's Brooklyn Bridge Park this week marks the halfway point in the transformation of the celebrated 85-acre site. Local elected officials and community leaders—including Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver—appeared on the new Pier 2 to mark the occasion. They used words like “amazing” and “unbelievable" to describe the new six acres of space, but didn’t need much help selling the project. As they spoke on the overcast afternoon, their voices were drowned out by people playing basketball and bocce, and children running around a new playground. "We love all the boroughs," said Silver during his turn at the mic. "But, let me say, Brooklyn is really cool." This “active recreation”  space came out of a community-driven planning process, and also includes handball courts, a field, a roller rink, and food vendors all under a protective shed. A few steps from all the action at Pier 2 is the new Pier 4 beach,  a small waterfront space that will soon look out onto a natural habitat called Bird Island.
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Pictorial> Bjarke Ingels’ Mantaray Will Soar Over Brooklyn Bridge Park

Bjarke Ingels and Michael Van Valkenburgh are teaming up to design Pier 6 at the southern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park. As AN reported, the pier will feature a pastoral landscape terminated by a triangular viewing pavilion called the Mantaray. The landscape and viewing platform will offer unmatched views of the Manhattan skyline and accommodate special events like concerts. Take a look at the gallery of renderings below or read more about the project here. All renderings courtesy BIG and MVVA.
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Michael Van Valkenburgh Overhauling The Menil Collection Campus

New York-based landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has been selected to develop new designs for The Menil Collection’s 30-acre campus in Houston, Texas. The appointment kicks off the Menil’s “neighborhood of art” master plan, designed in 2009 by London-based David Chipperfield Architects. Chipperfield's scheme attempts to tie together a group of six buildings spread across several blocks and interspersed with outdoor sculpture gardens and green spaces. The museum anticipates that groundwork for the initial stage of MVVA’s design will begin this September. Chipperfield Architect's master plan calls for new visitor amenities, such as a cafe, as well as new buildings for art. The first of these, The Menil Drawing Institute designed by Los Angeles-based Johnston Marklee, will be dedicated to the display, preservation, and study of modern and contemporary drawings. MVVA will design a new entry on the north side of the Menil’s campus. The firm’s scheme will usher guests from the parking area to a new Menil café, which will be housed in one of the campus' historic bungalows, and the Renzo Piano–designed museum building. Mr. Van Valkenburgh told the New York Times that “it’s always a challenge to take a landscape that has evolved incrementally and a landscape that has a subtle and modest character and to somehow succeed in improving it.” Outdoor garden space is indispensable to the collection and the museum aims to do a better job in curating the landscape. Menil director Josef Helfenstein emphasized in a statement that appreciating art is linked to the entire experience of where it is viewed, including the journey between disparate buildings in an institution like the Menil.
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With Few Changes City Planning Passes NYU Expansion

In a 12 to 1 vote this morning, City Planning approved NYU’s Core expansion plans for two superblocks in Greenwich Village designed by Grimshaw with Toshiko Mori and Michael Van Valkenburg. In slow and deliberative pace, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden read from a prepared text that included several aesthetic and few programmatic changes to the proposed plan. The new plan will reduced the size of the overall project from 2.47 million square feet to 2.1 million. All four proposed buildings were approved with tweaks here and there. Both of the so-called “Boomerang Buildings” will be reduced in height that will not exceed the slabs of the Washington Square Village buildings that frame them. The “Zipper Building” will not be allowed to include a hotel component as part of its programming. The proposal for a temporary gym was also nixed. Of the changes to the nearly four acres of public space the most significant is that the university will not be permitted to build beneath the green strips on the northern superblock, thus saving the mature trees that are on the site. The proposed light wells that allow natural light to flow to the massive subterranean structure will be reduced on the Mercer Street Boomerang Building so as to create more open space at grade. The creation of the an Open Space Oversight Organization will be set up to insure public oversight, and allow for future modifications, “especially as the space is not to be built until 15 years from now,” said the Commissioner. As the lone commissioner to vote against the proposal Michelle de la Uz praised the university’s “laudable efforts,” but noted that it was done to address the impression that “their growth thus far has been haphazard and insensitive.” She also voiced concern, shared by many in the community, that the programming for the northern superblock is still too vague. She added that a lack of affordable housing and a public school were also troubling. In the end Uz concluded the project’s size has not dramatically changed, as indeed it hasn’t. For their part NYU seemed pleased with the outcome, with NYU’s vice president of government affairs Alicia Hurley finding most of the changes as “not an impediment” to the university’s overall goals. The one building that seemed to get lost in the shuffle was the  building replacing the Morton Williams super market on the southern superblock. That building is supposed to house the public school which sparked Commissioner Uz’s concern. Hurley said that ongoing talks with the Department of Ed are going well. “They are interested,” she said. After the hearing, Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, employed the shoehorning-the-Empire-State-Building-into-the-Village phrase he’s used throughout the process to describe the plan. He did not seem particularly surprised by the outcome, saying that every major development application that went before this commission was approved. Still, he held out hope that the next stop for the application at City Council will put a halt to the project. “Hopefully City Council will show some independence from the mayor,” he said.
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CB2 Votes Unanimous Nay on NYU Expansion

Manhattan Community Board 2 unanimously voted against the NYU expansion plan in Greenwich Village last night citing the impact its scale would have on the neighborhood. Grimshaw with Toshiko Mori designed four of the proposed towers and Michael Van Valkenburgh designed the landscape for the 2.4 million square foot expansion. The plans were set within two superblocks that sprang from Robert Moses-era urban renewal projects that featured buildings by I.M. Pei, Paul Lester Weiner, and a garden by Hideo Sasaki. Of the many proposed elements that the board took issue with, density topped the list. Nearly one million square feet would sit below grade. “They kind of gamed the zoning resolution,” said David Gruber, co-chair of CB2’s NYU Working Group. “The zoning talks about density, but that only counts above ground. There was so much underground but that doesn’t get picked up in the zoning resolution.” Even with the below grade component going under the FAR radar, Gruber said that the plan still needs six zoning changes. And though half of the project wouldn’t be seen from the street, the 12,000 extra pedestrians coming to and fro would be. NYU’s vice president of government affairs, Alicia Hurley said that the university was unique in their ability to utilize windowless, underground space, as they can use it for lecture halls, classrooms, auditoriums, and studios. “The thing we’re trying to have people understand is that we know we’re going to have needs for facilities, we’re already thinking of other parts of the city,” she said, referencing downtown Brooklyn and the hospital campus on Manhattan’s East Side. “We are trying to do as much on our own footprint, to limit the spread out into other communities.” After several months of shepherding the proposal through contentious committee meetings, Hurley said that she wasn’t surprised by the vote. Andrew Berman for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation said the vote revealed larger problems with zoning. “It seems counter intuitive and an enormous loophole that underground space is not counted as zoning square footage,” he said. “It points to the need for reform.” The irony amidst the “Save the Superblock” t-shirts is that the same preservationist crowd may have likely stood in front of bulldozers to thwart Moses’s urban renewal that created the superblocks in the first place. That  blocks are now considered an asset, argued Tom Gray, executive director of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. “I think that the preservationist angle is not as pure as it sounds; it's used as a club to stop development which I think is a bit disingenuous,” he said. “Robert Moses put the superblocks in place and it worked. It doesn’t mean it has to stay that way forever.”
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East Coast Champs

The American Academy of Arts and Letters named the winners of its 2010 architecture awards Tuesday, which were dominated by northeastern designers. Long-time GSD professor Michael Van Valkenburgh is the recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture. The annual award of $5000 has been given to preeminent architects since 1955, ranging from Louis Kahn to Elizabeth Diller. Van Valkenburgh has designed more than 350 landscapes, including the recently opened Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Academy also announced the winners of its Academy Awards in Architecture, for strong personal work, which go to New York's planning-obsessed Architecture Research Office and the Afterpartying MOS, of New Haven and Cambridge. And City College architecture dean, critic, and designer Michael Sorkin also won an Academy Award, largely for his writing. The four winners beat out 50 nominees and were selected by academy members Henry Cobb, Hugh Hardy, Steven Holl, Laurie Olin, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams.
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A Day at the Park

We've already mentioned the opening today of Pier 1, the first piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park. But for those of you less concerned with park governance and public-private funding mechanisms—most of you, really—than with the actual park itself, herein is our guided tour (click the photo above to begin). While the rain may have dampened the mood of some New Yorkers today, not here in the park, which seemed brighter for the downpour, verdant as Ireland and twice as lucky for having opened after a 25-year struggle. The park, and even this first sliver of it, is magnificent and majestic, a transformative place so different and particular—not unlike the High Line—that it can change your entire perception of the city. Dan Kramer, chair of the BBP Conservancy, agrees. "When I walk around, I get the same feeling I get walking around the High Line" he said at today's ribbon cutting. "This park feels like it was always here, like it always belonged here." Michael Van Valkenburgh sees the park as a civics lesson. "I'm always reminded when a park opens that there's nothing more democratic or important to the city than a park," he said. "I'm always struck how this is for everyone." He and principal-in-charge Matt Urbanski said they expected the newly empowered to city to keep on building, and the opening would only help boost their momentum. "It's like serving the entree without all the fixings," Urbanski said. "This is a big slice of roast beef, and it's gonna be good, and everyone'll want more." Regina Myer, head of the park development corporation and maestro of its construction, certainly believes New Yorks will like their first taste of the place. "It's a park like none other, given its place on the water and in the city," Myer said, "but really, it's extraordinary for the way it embraces beautiful design and sustainability and I think that, maybe after the bridge, is what people are going to notice."