Posts tagged with "New Jersey":

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Proposed Development Threatens Historic Palisades Views

The Cloisters museum and gardens, the Metropolitan Museum's outpost for Medieval architecture and art in northern Manhattan, faces the tree-lined cliffs of the Palisades across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The view is picturesque, uninterrupted by the built environment—nary a single building in sight. But soon, a 143-foot-high office complex designed by HOK could rise above the treetops, a change some say will spoil the idyllic natural view. The New York Times reported that LG Electronics USA's plan to build an eight-story headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, has sparked protests from environmental groups, the Met, and Larry Rockefeller—whose grandfather donated four acres of land for the museum and park in New York and purchased 700 acres along the cliffs on the other side of the river to keep the view unmarred. According to the New Jersey Record, LG is among the largest taxpayers in the area, and therefore has some clout with local government officials in Englewood. The Record reported that LG was granted a variance to exceed a 35-foot height limit in the area, a move later challenged in court. The property was subsequently rezoned to again allow for additional height. The development was also approved last fall by the New Jersey State Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection. The new 493,000-square-foot headquarters will cost an estimated $300 million, which LG said will yield jobs and bring in more than a million dollars in tax revenue. Several groups and individuals are taking action, however, to prevent the new development from blemishing their much-loved, pristine views. The Met wrote a letter to LG requesting that they “reconsider the design,” and Rockefeller has spoken with LG officials to explain the significance of the landscape. In addition, environmental groups and Englewood residents have filed two separate lawsuits against the project. Still, LG plans to begin construction on the new campus this year, with construction wrapping up in 2016. Rockefeller told the New York Times he's optimistic a resolution will be found, saying, "No one’s opposed to the building per se. I’m certainly not. It’s just the design of it being tall and so visible.”
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Tacha Sculpture Saved!

Tacha Sculpture Saved. (Courtesy Athena Tacha) In an about face, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reversed a decision to demolish Athena Tacha's Green Acres, a site specific installation at the State's Department of Environmental Protection. Tacha is largely credited with bringing the land art movement into the social context of architecture. The 1985 sculpture's staying power remains contingent upon private funding to restore the piece. With Art Pride New Jersey, Preservation New Jersey, and The Cultural Landscape Foundation all rallying to the cause, Green Acres looks like it will remain the place to be.
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Storm Brews Over New Jersey Plan to Destroy Tacha Sculpture

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) debacle in New Jersey over a unilateral decision to destroy a sculpture by landscape artist Athena Tacha has begun to slip into the public consciousness. The irony that the plaza piece, titled Green Acres, is to be destroyed by a department with environment in its name has not been lost on many. Apparently, the DEP has a $1 million EPA grant burning a hole in its pocket and plans to replace the sculpture with eco-friendly pavers. The waste has not gone undetected. Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron writes in today's column: "There is nothing wrong with the DEP's making its property more sustainable. But why start with the little plaza when its offices are surrounded by sprawling parking lots paved with the usual impervious asphalt?" Now it remains to be seen whether the agency will be impervious to its critics.
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Not a Bridge too Fair

Ever since the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, politicians and public authorities nationwide have been scrambling to get theirs up to code. New bridges, or at least proposals for them, abound, some nice, some not so much. Fortunately, the Port Authority appears committed to a high-design bridge. The authority released a request for information [PDF] this week, a precursor to an RFQ. The Observer picked up on the PA's interest in building the thing with a public-private partnership, an approach with a mix of benefits—no upfront costs—and risks—less control or long-term revenue. But what is promising, nonetheless, is the PA's commitment to constructing what could be called a statement bridge. It's a pretty strong commitment, especially for an agency with an uneven track record—consider the World Trade Center, JFK, and the loathsome bus terminal. The design requirements, along with these handy renderings, are put thusly in the RFI:
The appearance of the structure is of great importance to the Authority, and the illustrative design has been subject to considerable attention as regards visually significant elements such as pier shape and cable layout. However, the “illustrative design” has been presented at public meetings with the proviso that it may be subject to amendment. The Authority is developing aesthetic requirements to clearly define unacceptable solutions (e.g. “smokestack” pylon design) and help Proposers determine the range of design solutions that may be acceptable. Aesthetic guidelines will cover overall form and function and matters such as edge detailing and finishes that are not yet reflected in the Authority’s “illustrative design. The Authority expects to assign some weight to a DBFM [design, build, finance and maintain] Company’s “visual management plan” which would provide detailed commitments on how aesthetic quality would be taken into account in the detailed design.
While we're still trying to figure out what a "smokestack pylon" is, that there are unacceptable designs is at the very least a promising sign, as there will be no race to the bottom, an especially risky proposition with public projects. The prioritization of pedestrian and bicycle access as well as room for a future transit component running down the middle is a nice touch. Granted, such design guidelines are probably a necessity given that the PA will be giving up some control over the project as a result of its undertaking a public-private partnership. Still, given that this may be the new normal, at least for the time being, as the PA continues to commit more money and time at Ground Zero, it's good to see the agency taking a smart, aesthetically driven approach, one that will hopefully persist on sister projects.
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Path Future

The Path Train has finally entered the 21st Century. Yesterday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a number of new additions that have rocketed the rail line out of its luddite solar system and into a whole new constellation of technology. The Path now boasts new, up-to-date rail cars, an upgraded website (be sure to watch the video), and... drum roll... a Twitter page! Next time you have to ride out to Jersey you can forget the hair gel and gold chains and instead grab your favorite PDA and put on those glow-in-the-dark Ray Bans. The future is now.
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Porter House: Hoboken Edition

Say "Hoboken" to a New Yorker and Irish Bars (and rowdy ex-frat boys), quaint row houses, and the Path Train might spring to mind. Thanks to the recently completed Garden Street Lofts (on sale now!), you can add high-end green condos designed by name brand architects to that list. Designed by SHoP, the project incorporates new construction into an old coconut processing plant, and is expected to receive LEED silver certification. Garden Street Lofts gets lots of merit badges: adaptive reuse, urban infill, green features, good design in Jersey, etc. But it also bears a striking resemblance to an earlier SHoP project, the Porter House, at 15th Street at Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. Hoboken! It's like the Meatpacking district, only farther west, and green, and with less expensive cocktails nearby. And the view from the green roof is better (at least until the High Line opens)!
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LIEBing for New Shores

The Lieb House, Robert Venturi’s second commission and once in danger of demolition, will soon be en route to its new location, but by sea, not by land. After a bit of resistance from Glen Cove town council, the house has been cleared to travel by barge to its new site in the Long Island town. The architect Frederic Schwartz and Jim Venturi, Robert’s son, led the fight to save the storied home. The beach house, completed in 1967 in Barnegat Light, New Jersey, was to be razed and replaced by its new owner. Schwartz and the Venturis negotiated a 10-day grace period to allow them to find a new location for the house before it was to be destroyed. They found a fitting new site for it alongside another Venturi-designed home on the Glen Cove property of Debbie Sarnoff and Robert Gotkin. The two-story, 2,000-square-foot Lieb House will now act as a guesthouse to the main residence. Featuring a large, segmented circular window and curiously large number “9” signage, the Lieb House became an immediate postmodern success. The not quite box-shaped home set the foundation for the then-burgeoning Venturi style. (Video courtesy The Press of Atlantic City). The Storefront for Art and Architecture is hosting a weeklong exhibition, including a pier party to watch it sail by, celebrating the house and its unusual move. Opening on March 11, the exhibition will feature a map highlighting the house’s current location, final destination, and the route it will take between the two. Original drawings and photographs of the house will also be on display. The following day, March 12, Storefront will present a conversation about the house and its fate with Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. The couple had deplored the house’s once seemingly inescapable demise:

We think it is architecturally tragic: it is a very significant house. We enjoyed making it a Modernist box with views toward the sea via windows and a roof terrace, and with a big sign: "9". We loved that by accident the round window works as a halo to the neighbor's religious statue, and we loved working with wonderful, understanding clients.

Early on the morning after the discussion, the public is invited to Pier 17 between 7 am and 9 am, to watch the house cruise down the river toward its future habitat. Thirteen cameras, including a heli-cam, will be filming the move as part of a documentary on the house being produced by Jim Venturi.