Posts tagged with "New York City":

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See the four must-know developments coming online in the South Bronx

From artist studios to medical centers to sprawling mixed-use apartment buildings, various neighborhoods in the South Bronx have been facing a lot of new development this year. Over the past month, many of these projects have come into view through new renderings, names, and the beginning phases of construction. Despite popular opinions on the rising effects of gentrification, high-cost construction is inevitably altering the urban fabric of the borough. Here are four major developments to watch out for: Bankside 2401 Third Avenue & 101 Lincoln Ave. Mott Haven A couple of weeks ago, developer Brookfield Properties unveiled new renderings of its massive South Bronx waterfront redevelopment project titled Bankside. The seven-building project along the Harlem River in Mott Haven is one of the largest and most expensive development sites in the South Bronx, spanning 4.3 acres near the Third Avenue Bridge. With more than 1,350 apartments, a waterfront park, and ground-floor retail, Brookfield will invest $950 million into the project designed by Hill West Architects and MPFP. Construction is underway and anticipated for completion by 2021 to bring 450 apartments to the north side of the bridge.  The Peninsula 720 Tiffany St. Hunts Point The new mixed-use development that is replacing the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center is finally underway after four years of planning. Described as a “sign of gentrification” by Bronx Justice News, the five-building development called The Peninsula is said to include a mix of retail, recreational and industrial spaces, as well as health facilities, anchored by 740 units of affordable housing. The project was designed in collaboration with WXY Architecture + Urban Design and Body Lawson Associates. Phase one, which includes apartments for low-income households, is expected to be finished in 2021. Financed by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the NYC Housing Development Corporation, the first phase is slated to cost upwards of $121.5 million. The entire $300 million dollar project should be done in 2025. Richard Pruss Wellness Center 362 E. 148th St. Mott Haven Late November, Samaritan Daytop Village and Manatus Development Group kicked off construction for The Richard Pruss Wellness Center in the medically-underserved Mott Haven community. According to the Bronx Times, the facility will serve more than 6,000 individuals annually and will provide outpatient treatment for substance abuse and mental health services, while 10 percent of the building will be used as a primary health clinic. Designed by GF55 Partners, the six-story, 84,000-square-foot building will cost around $35 million and is privately funded by TD Bank.   Occupancy is expected in early 2021.  ArtCondo Gallery and Studio Space 368 E 152 St. Melrose On November 7th, local art collaborative, ArtCondo, launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to build a new gallery and studio space in Melrose. A community-driven real estate enterprise, ArtCondo sets out to collectively organize artists so that they can purchase their own studio spaces. In 2017, co-founder, Michele Gambetta, and 15 artists purchased a vacant lot in Melrose with hopes of building a community arts space at 368 E 152 Street by March 2020. The campaign only has a few days left with under $8,000 of their goal. Renderings of the prospective building were created by Michael Muroff Architect.
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NYC pushes forward with plans to convert Rikers Island into public space

New York’s City Planning Commission certified an application on Monday that would rezone Rikers Island as a public space. The application launched the beginning of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for the conversion, which would ban jails from operating on the 400-acre island after December 31, 2026. The application is just one step involved in the controversial plan to replace Rikers with four borough-based jails, which was approved by the City Council in October.  “By guaranteeing that Rikers will never again be used for incarceration, we’re charting a new course forward for the Island and the people of New York City,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement, “Though mass incarceration may not have started here, we’ll do all we can to make sure it ends here.” The proposal was filed by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the Department of Corrections and is solely focused on changing the mapping of the island to end its use as a jail. Any further plans for development and construction will require new review processes as necessary. As Rikers falls under the jurisdiction of Queens Community Board 1, the community board and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will oversee map changes as part of the seven-month ULURP process. Because Rikers Island is technically within Bronx borough boundaries, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will have the option to offer input on the plan as well.  “This City map change will bring Rikers back to the public, and no longer be used to incarcerate individuals,” Council Member Margaret S. chin stated. “The future of Rikers must be decided by the people, and I commend the City for beginning a participatory planning process to ensure that any uses for this space reflect the needs and input of all New Yorkers.” Florence Koulouris, the district manager of Queens Community Board 1, expects the board to hold a public hearing before January 21. She stressed the importance of educating locals and community members on what the map change entails. Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Elizabeth Glazer, stated that the filing “is another step forward in our commitment to build smaller, safer, and fairer justice system,” and that “New Yorkers are witnessing proof of how our city is turning from a model of safety that relies primarily on enforcement and incarceration to one that relies on building on community strength and partnership.”
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Hunters Point Library is being sued over ADA violations

Today, the nonprofit Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) filed a class-action lawsuit against Queens Public Library (QPL), the Board of Trustees of the QPL, and the City of New York over the Library’s newest branch, Hunters Point Library. Designed by Steven Holl Architects, the branch in Long Island City has been facing backlash from patrons and community members since it’s opening in September for not being fully accessible to people with disabilities.  Despite disability rights laws, the newly constructed building's circulation relies heavily on stairs which limits access and excludes many from accessing the collection altogether. While there is one elevator, it does not stop at certain levels in the library and patrons have complained of long lines and congestion. The reason that was previously given for such an omission was that librarians can retrieve materials for patrons who cannot access the stacks themselves.  Plaintiffs Tanya Jackson and the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York are suing to require the library to fix this “unjust and discriminatory situation.” Jackson stated in a recent press release, “It is shocking to me that a brand-new public library would not be fully accessible to people with mobility disabilities like myself. Libraries should welcome everyone, not exclude whole populations of people.”  In addition to the three levels which are completely inaccessible to persons with mobility disabilities, there are reportedly numerous other barriers at the library: The children’s section contains a multi-level lounge and meeting spaces inaccessible to children and caregivers with mobility disabilities, the upper level of the rooftop terrace has no access point other than stairs, the framed panoramic views of Manhattan throughout the library are only viewable from the stairs, and designated stroller “parking” areas block circulation from the elevator to other main parts of the library.  “The ADA is not a new requirement, and it is not hard to understand. It is baffling that this $41.5 million building is missing these fundamental elements. It’s as though the library didn’t even care about these requirements, or worse, didn’t even consider the needs of these members of the community,” said Andrew Kozak-Oxnard, a staff attorney at DRA. “People with disabilities should be able to browse, relax, and enjoy the library just like everyone else.” The lawsuit alleges violations of both federal and local civil rights laws for disability-based discrimination and hopes to rectify the situation by requiring the defendants to develop a plan that provides equal access to the library. DRA is the leading nonprofit in disability rights in the country and claims to win nearly all of its cases and “knock down barriers for people with all types of disabilities.” Rather than seeking monetary compensation, their suits aim to force reforms to systems and practices of oppression against those with disabilities.  Michelle Caiola, managing director of litigation at DRA insisted, “Hunters Point Library was meant to be a model, a state-of-the-art institution designed to serve the needs of the community. The Library’s total disregard for adults and children with disabilities must be addressed.” The Queens Public Library provided the following statement to AN:
"This morning we learned that a disability rights organization filed a lawsuit against the Library and the City of New York alleging that Hunters Point is not accessible to people living with disabilities. It is always the Library’s goal to be welcoming, open and available to everyone, including customers with disabilities. We are taking this matter very seriously."
Steven Holl Architects has been contacted for comment and this article will be updated accordingly.
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New Practice breathes new life into New York's hospitality scene

One part cafe, the other some kind of shop or service—hybrid cafe-shops have been popping up right and left in New York City. The typologies are exhaustive: a barbershop-cum-cafe; a nail salon-cum-cafe; a record store-cum-cafe; and so on. Though, there are exceptions to the cliche. One of them is the New Practice Studio-designed tea room and accessories store, Sage Collective. As the story goes, founding partner of the Shanghai and New York-based firm, Neo Zhong, was approached by NYU graduate Feng Ye to design her first business venture: a tripartite retail-teahouse-bar space. In approximately 1,600 square feet (a modest size for a SoHo storefront), New Practice Studio devised a transformative enclave. Customers enter through a retail space with tea paraphernalia sourced from China. At the heart of the operation—the middle section—lies a cafe by day and bar by night. The expanse culminates in the rear with a semi-private tearoom.  This treatment of spaces slowly expanding into each other was inspired by traditional Chinese gardens. Traditionally, the layout of these classics landscapes were arranged so that visitors could not see the entirety at once. Instead, small vignettes were staged to be discovered as one wanders, one sees a series of intimate views.  “There are different depths of space," explained Zhong. "Your eyes are drawn to different focal points.” Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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New York City Council approves controversial East Side flood protection plan

The New York City Council voted to approve the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project yesterday, with little opposition from officials. Local councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the affected area, fell in favor of the $1.45 billion project, which will raise East River Park to 8- to-10 feet above sea level with landfill from Montgomery Street to 25th street to protect against future floods. Forty-six members voted in favor, with only one against and one abstention, and the plan now only has to cross Mayor de Blasio's desk, and he's indicated that he'll sign it. The project has experienced strong ongoing opposition from organized community groups, civic associations, and neighborhood parks advocates, who voiced opposition to the extended loss of play areas, removal of trees, and lack of consultation during the design process. A coalition of community groups had drafted an alternative People's Plan, which the final project considered as a part of its community engagement, along with the EDC's Waterfront Esplanade plan and WXY Studio's East River Blueway Plan. The city responded with a plan to phase work over a longer period to ensure the availability of parks during the construction. Others, like architect William Rockwell, who lives in an Amalgamated Dwellings Cooperative building and experienced severe flooding and loss of power during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, voiced support. Among the notable benefits of the design, apart from potentially live-saving flood protection, will be vastly improved pedestrian connections to the East River across on grade bridges spanning FDR Drive. The areas protected from flooding, according to the Scope of Work in the Environmental Impact Statement, fall within the 100-year flood zone and extend upland to meet the 90th percentile projection of sea-level rise to the 2050s. That includes large parts of the Lower East Side and East Village, Stuy Town, Peter Cooper Village, and Stuyvesant Cove Park, which was built on top of low-lying marshes. Originated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as part of the BIG U Rebuild by Design project—with Bjarke Ingels Group as the lead urban designer in collaboration with One Architecture, Starr Whitehouse, James Lima Planning + Development, Green Shield Ecology, AEA Consulting, Level Agency for Infrastructure, ARCADIS, and Buro Happold—the ESCR became the northern half of two separate projects, with the other part section, the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project, extending below the Manhattan bridge. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development originally committed $511 million to the project during the Rebuild by Design phase, with New York promising an additional $305 million. The environmental impact statement (EIS), however, only cites the $1.45 billion cost and $335 million committed by HUD from a federal Community Development Block Grant. An October 2019 independent review of the ESCR by the U.S. arm of Dutch water research institute Deltares noted the lack of publicly available information on aspects of the project, making it impossible to review in its totality. The report argues that "transparency of the decision-making process by city agencies will help rebuild trust and gain [the] support of the community," and recommended establishing a community advisory group and keeping community representatives involved in the later, more detailed stages of project design. It also recommended adding two more feet of fill, coordinating with the green infrastructure program, and studying groundwater patterns in the East Village to evaluate the impact of rainfall on the neighborhood and basement flooding. The implementation is being led by the New York City Department of Design and Construction with AKRF/KSE Engineering as the lead consultant.
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Pierre Yovanovitch explores the theme of love at New York gallery R & Company

Pierre Yovanivitch summoned a sea of red textiles, upholstery, and whimsical graphics at R & Company's White Street location in Manhattan for an exhibition that debuts his latest lighting and furniture collection. From November 6, 2019, to January 4, 2020, the gallery space will be taken with LOVE, a showcase of over twenty new works fashioned by ceramists, woodworkers, glassmakers, and iron artists. LOVE draws from Yovanovitch's iconic aesthetic vocabulary, referencing contemporary and historic French decorative arts, peppered with his hallmark handmade touches and humor. As told by the French interior designer, the exhibition unfolds in as a story that runs through reoccurring motifs like fantastical hands, lips, and Jean Arp-like shapes. Sprinkled throughout, these visual throughlines are seen in upholstered stitching, sconces, chair silhouettes, and so on. As one passes through each space, there's a deliberate intimacy to the scale, textures, and material palette—one that is soft to the touch and perfect for the smallest of gatherings. Furniture pieces featured in the exhibition include a number of chairs and luminaires adorned with body part motifs. These works carry flirtatious names. Two big and small bear-shaped armchairs—complete with hand-stitched hands embroidered by Lesage Intérieur—are aptly dubbed Daydream Mama Bear and Daydream Papa Bear. In a somewhat lewd tone, the bed frame is titled Take Off, as if alluding to salacious uses of this furniture typology. Even better, a suite of textiles called Lust with lip and hand patterns includes a bedspread, embroidered with a face, two eyes, and luscious lips. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Cactus develops a demystified look for skincare brand Ever/body

Brooklyn and Rio-based Cactus has gained a reputation for developing interiors that strategically blend its expertise in architecture and software engineering. Whether developing a dramatic scheme for an interactive cycle-gym or a bold concept for immersive pop-up exhibition Color Factory, the firm imbues each project with a sense of experiential enhancement. For its latest project, the outfitting of skincare brand Ever/body's first New York "studio" locale, Cactus translated this same meticulous attention to detail to create a scheme that helps embolden the company's image. Amidst the saturated dermatological market, in which conflicting advice often confuses consumers, Ever/body seeks to destigmatize high-performance beauty. Simplifying the cause and effect of skin-born ailments and desired results, the young brand offers clear solutions. This no-nonsense approach to product and service development informed Cactus's intervention and in turn, informed the brand's visual identity. The firm conceived a design that injects modernity into a relaxing haven; soothing clients as if they were entering a spa or traditional Japanese Onsen. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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New York gallery fair Salon Art + Design seeks to attract a younger audience

Taking over New York's Park Avenue Armory for its eighth edition this November, prestigious gallery fair Salon Art + Design is seeking to draw in a younger collector base. Though exhibiting galleries have been charged with presenting more affordable pieces, this year's offering of both vintage and contemporary wares promises to elate all tastes. A far more restrained and arguably refined offering than other somewhat boisterous gallery fairs that dot the annual calendar, the Salon Art + Design (November 14 to 18) brings together a highly select group of 56 collectible and vintage design galleries from around the world. Taking center stage this year are Paris's Galerie BSL—presenting Pia Maria Raeder's wonderfully ornate yet organically-formed Stardust benches and mirrors—newcomer WonderGlass—the independent practice's Venetian-inspired glass sculptures—and Cologne's ammann// gallery—showing new large-scale prints by famed Swiss architecture photographer Hélène Binet. New exhibitors this year include galleries from Russia, Brazil, and Lebanon. Objects range from an ancient bust circa 1000 BC to the newest trends including work made from a 3D printer. Other notable exhibitors will include Demisch Danant, Friedman Benda, Gallery FUMI, The Future Perfect, David Gill Gallery, Giustini / Stagetti, Cristina Grajales Gallery, Heller Gallery, J. Lohmann Gallery, Maison Gerard, Todd Merrill Studio, Sarah Myerscough Gallery, Nilufar Gallery, Patrick Parrish Gallery, Priveekollektie, Adrian Sassoon, Twenty First Gallery, and more. Read the full show evaluation on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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TECH+ Expo and Forum announces three conferences in 2020

AN Media Group, the publisher of The Architect’s Newspaper, has announced its upcoming 2020 TECH+ Expo and Forum events in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The conferences showcase the latest in AEC technological innovation, with presentations by industry thought leaders and hands-on demos from an array of companies both new and established showcasing the latest in smart building systems, advanced materials, and other products.

“I got the chance to speak with architects, engineers, construction managers, people from all across the industry” said Cody Kessler of the imaging company Nearmap, of a previous TECH+ conference. “Some of the biggest construction firms that I’ve ever talked to were here at the event.” Conceived as a day-long symposium and expo for both established and up-and-coming tech companies in the AEC realm, the symposium will bring together engineers, architects, real estate experts, app developers, and other industry insiders.

 “When we started TECH+ three years ago we were the first conference of this nature focused entirely on the tech hitting the AEC community,” said Susan Kramer, programming and special events director at AN Media Group. “So much has changed in this short period, with architectural firms not only catching up to the construction industry in implementing tech, but with so many firms creating their own apps and platforms, which I think is revolutionary.”

Previous speakers have featured industry leaders including Dennis Sheldon from the Digital Building Lab, Gensler's Hao Ko, plus leaders from HOK, Thornton Tomasetti, IBM, SHoP, Gensler, Atelier Ten, Trimble, Turner Construction, Branch Technology, and the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab. Past exhibitors have included PlanGrid, Propmodo, View Dynamic Glass, Morpholio, cove.tool, IrisVR, Kubity, Chaos Group, and Graphisoft, among others.

TECH+ will take place in Los Angeles at the LINE Hotel on February 6, 2020; speakers will be announced in mid-November. Following on last summer’s successful New York event, TECH+ will be returning to the city on July 16 at the New York Academy of Sciences. TECH+ will be held in Chicago on October 18. “We like championing these inventors and revolutionaries on the TECH+ stage, and sharing their knowledge and insights with our audience,” said Kramer. “The electricity of dialogue and engagement during these events could be its own power source.”

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New York Times brings back its Streetscapes column

Fans of the late Christopher Gray’s Streetscapes column had much to cheer about last weekend when The New York Times relaunched the feature with a new author.

Historian and novelist John Freeman Gill, a friend and admirer of Gray and “avid Mystery Photo solver,” will now write the column, which will run every other week both online and in print.

“Those of you who know Streetscapes will understand what a humbling turn of events this is,” Gill wrote in a message on Facebook.

“To NYC geeks like me, the column is an institution, the creation of the brilliant, inimitable, and wickedly funny Christopher Gray,” Gill said. “I was lucky enough to call Christopher my friend in his latter years, so being able to carry on his legacy in even a small way is especially meaningful to me.”

Streetscapes, which ran between 1987 and 2014 in the newspaper’s Sunday Real Estate section, was a favorite with architects, historians, and all-around New York City lovers. Its goal was to explore New York City's real estate through its architecture.

Gray, described as an “architectural detective and social historian”  in Sunday’s reboot, wrote more than 1,300 columns before he died in 2017 at the age of 66. His columns touched on the city’s architecture, history and preservation policies. He self-described his goal as “to write about the everyday buildings, to investigate even the most trivial, incidental, oddball structures.”

Gray also contributed to a Streetscapes page on Facebook, for which he chose a Mystery Photo of a building every Tuesday and invited readers to identify it.

Gill is the author of The Gargoyle Hunters, a historical novel set in New York City. His first Streetscapes column was about a series of Clinton Hill carriage houses that have had many different uses, including a stable, garage, photography studio, restaurant, and possibly a speakeasy.

The new author has asked readers to send him story ideas at streetscapes@nytimes.com.

“Ours is a vibrant, textured city, and many of you know pockets of it in ways that I don’t,” wrote Gill. “I hope we can all do this column together.”

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Gensler reveals new views of controversial AT&T Building lobby overhaul

  Completed in 1984 as the headquarters of the telecommunications giant AT&T, the postmodern Philip Johnson and John Burgee–designed tower at 550 Madison has been the subject of a series of controversial renovations over the last two years. Today, the developer behind the Snøhetta and Gensler revamp of the former AT&T building, The Olayan Group, has released the first look at its new interiors. Designed by Gensler, the new lobby has been rendered in a basic Midtown office building palette of bronze and terrazzo, offset with large expanses of white marble which seem to contrast rather starkly in material, color, and proportion. The basic visual language of the architecture of the original lobby were worked into the new design, making for what architect Philippe Paré claims in a press release is a “powerful expression of the building’s character.” Recessed lighting embedded in the ceiling arcs and cutaways creates a formal distinction with a minimal hand. The lobby is designed to connect to Snøhetta’s proposed garden, which should be visible through the lobby's rear windows (though the outdoor space will only be accessible through side doors). 550 Madison is the youngest building to receive landmark status in New York, though only the exterior is protected; the original interior was demolished early last year. Additionally, the pair of site-specific Dorothea Rockburne murals that were added in 1994 when Sony owned the building—and that some feared would be destroyed or moved—will be preserved in a “sky lobby” seven stories up. The forms in the tiles pictured in the lobby's floor vaguely seem to echo the shapes of the 30-foot-by-29–foot pair of paintings. In addition to Gensler’s lobby renovation, Snøhetta intends to replace the enclosed Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman rear plaza with an expanded garden, open up the Madison Avenue loggias with large glass panes, and reconfigure the current elevator arrangement. This renovation is a more modest proposal after a plan to replace the base of the building’s granite facade with sheer glass was met with backlash. Originally designed for 800 workers, current plans are meant to fit in as many as 3,000. The former AT&T Building is expected to reopen in 2020 as a multi-tenant office tower with LEED Platinum certification and will include ground-floor retail and expanded public space.
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Three takes on how New York’s queer nightlife spaces have evolved

This year, New York’s Pride celebrations revolved around a single bar: The Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street. In the late 1960s—before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 made the site historic—the windows would’ve been blacked out, the doors kept closed, the inside kept dark and smoky until bright lights flashed on as a warning for an impending police raid. Now the bar is dressed in dozens of rainbow flags and sponsorship banners from Brooklyn Lager and Sky Blue, and in 2016, it became the first LGBTQ site to be designated a National Monument. As the jewel in New York’s queer history crown, the Stonewall Inn shows how the visibility of LGBTQ venues has changed over the past fifty years. “Bars have long been a key social aspect of gay life,” said Andrew Dolkart, cofounder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a group that documents significant buildings from New York’s queer history. “At a time when it was very difficult for gay people to find each other, bars served that purpose. There weren’t really alternative places where people could congregate and meet each other.” Many of the sites documented by the LGBT Historic Sites Project are no longer extant; the buildings remain but the inhabitants and businesses that gave them their character have since moved on. Any and every kind of building has the potential to transform, if temporarily, into a queer space: The Gay Activist’s Alliance, formed in the aftermath of Stonewall, hosted meetings and parties in an old firehouse at 99 Wooster Street in SoHo before an arsonist’s fire evicted the group in 1974. In 1983, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion on Sixth Avenue was transformed into the Limelight, a disco club, before becoming a David Barton gym. In the late ’70s, the disused buildings at the Christopher Street Piers permitted men the privacy to sunbath naked or seek sex in the crumbling buildings, before the area was redeveloped in the mid-’80s right as AIDS was ravaging the city and performing an erasure of gay history and memory. “One of my favorites was the Starlite Lounge in Brooklyn,” Dolkart said. “It was a black-owned gay and lesbian bar that saw itself as the oldest nondiscriminating bar in New York, and when it was closing there was a little demonstration in front.” Patrons felt the closing of the Starlite to be a particularly hard loss, because, as Dolkart pointed out, “People have this tendency to think that gay bars and gay culture are white culture.” A lifelong resident of New York, Dolkart has witnessed first-hand the evolution of LGBTQ nightlife and the venues that accommodate it, “from places that were closed or enclosed, where you couldn’t tell what was going on inside unless you were gay.” Around the ’80s is when he noticed a change, with “bars with large windows that were very public. I think that has been an enormous change, that gay bars aren’t hidden anymore.” The changing character of New York’s architecture has accommodated this increased visibility, as vast sheets of glass have become the skin of the city. Take two of the city’s most visible hotel monoliths: The Standard East Village on Cooper Square (upon its opening, the building received nicknames including the Giant Shampoo Bottle and the Dubai Dildo), and its West Side counterpart, The Standard High Line in the Meatpacking District, with its wall of windows through which pedestrians can watch hoteliers having sex against the glass. This February, Angela Dimayuga opened the queer-friendly spot No Bar under the East Village Standard, a windowed venue with the option of opening up to the street front. At The High Line Standard, the rooftop bar and club Le Bain invites queer Meatpackers to dance in the open air. As queer spaces become more publicly visible, they also blend more homogeneously into the city’s landscape. “Gentrification is the removal of the dynamic mix that defines urbanity,” Sarah Schulman wrote in The Gentrification of the Mind, her book chronicling the erasure of gay life during the AIDS epidemic and the concurrent development of New York. During that time, New Yorkers saw Time Square’s adult cinemas and stores cleared away, health authorities began padlocking New York’s gay saunas as a preventative measure at the height of the AIDS crisis, while the Meatpacking District—where clubs like The Anvil and The Manhole turned the neighborhood’s industrial grunge into a fetish aesthetic—began its transition to a luxury address. While the glass and steel of contemporary New York favors transparency over privacy, there are those for whom queer nightlife will always be sought in shadowy spaces that offer obscurity, secrecy, and (hopefully) debauchery. Ladyfag, the queer party organizer who is responsible for many of New York’s most popular queer events, including Battle Hymn and Ladyland, is less interested in these new, glitzy venues. “I prefer a dirty basement with a low ceiling,” she said. “You want to go to some plush hotel and sit on a banquette? Go ahead.”
 
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Part of the appeal of Ladyfag’s parties is their transient nature, appearing in previously undiscovered spaces and always moving. “I like to create my own connection with a space, with my crowd,” she said. “That way, when they come there, they think of it as that party or that space that I created as opposed to something in a bigger picture.” Holy Mountain, which Ladyfag held at Slake on 30th Street for four years, exemplified her parties’ punk, trashy experience: The narrow staircases were always gridlocked, the air-conditioning regularly failed, and the lighting was mercifully low. “Everybody told me it will never work because it’s on 30th Street and nobody wants to go to Midtown,” she said. “And they’re right. But it worked, everybody loved it.” The party eventually moved to Brooklyn when Slake was bought for redevelopment. Queer nightlife has a knack for finding such disused venues, bringing them to filthy life for a year or two, and then slinking off as the development teams approach. Being so short-lived, such parties and venues become instantly mythologized. Andrew Durbin’s 2017 novel MacArthur Park reads as a nostalgic ode to the Bushwick nightclub Spectrum at 59 Montrose Street, which had only closed one year prior to the book’s release. Spectrum—where coats were checked into garbage bags and thrown onto a pile in a corner while sweat dripped from the so-low-I-can-touch-it ceiling; where you were discouraged from lingering on the street out front because the venue wasn’t, strictly speaking, legal—instantly became the epitome of the grungy, DIY sensibility of Brooklyn’s queer nightlife, a sensibility which welcomed a nostalgia for itself even as it was happening. For Ladyfag, who got started when no one wanted to come to Brooklyn to party, the tables have turned. “Now everyone’s in Brooklyn,” she said, “and I’m like, I’m going to go back to Manhattan.” In the past ten years, nothing has affected queer nightlife more than social media. When Ladyfag first moved to New York in 2005, social media hadn’t yet dominated our lives. “We had the internet, but we didn’t have that constant knowing where everyone is at all times,” she said. “If you didn’t go out, you were alone. It was a totally different New York.” The rise of social media—specifically dating and hookup apps—significantly changed queer people’s reliance on bars and parties to find each other. “People don’t have the need to go to bars as much,” Dolkart said. “Like other commercial places, the internet has really taken over. Bars were not only social spaces, they were spaces where people met for sex, and then on to meet people to go home with. That’s kind of petered out.” As bars could no longer solely rely on the promise of sex to entice patrons, the rise of drag culture offered an alternative drawcard. Drag has always been a fixture of LGBTQ venues, but as RuPaul’s Drag Race jump-started a resurgence of the art form, it underwent its own Brooklyn renaissance. The drag performer Untitled Queen discovered Brooklyn’s drag scene in 2012. “All of these creatives descended into this nightlife scene,” Untitled said. “I think we romanticize ourselves as dirty punk, but there really were a lot of people experimenting and trying new stuff out. At the time, the bar scene became really hungry for drag.”
This experimental drag scene congregated in warehouses in Greenpoint and Bushwick, bars such as Metropolitan, Tandem, and Sugarland, and parties like Bath Salts at Don Pedro, a venue that Untitled remembered being “disgusting. There was old carpet and all the performers did lots of stuff with food and blood and alcohol. It was a very liquidy, gross show, and it was awesome.” In 2012, Untitled Queen performed at the first Bushwig, a drag festival cofounded by drag performer Horrorchata. Bushwig initially took place at Secret Project Robot, another Bushwick venue that has since disappeared. “That was an art gallery space, very DIY,” Horrorchata said. “I don’t even know how we did three years there because by the second year it was just so big.” Now in its eighth year, Bushwig takes place at the Knockdown Center, the festival’s home for the past four years, an immense converted warehouse space with huge windows and masses of outdoor space. “I think for some people they imagined it would lose its edge, and it has not at all,” Untitled said. “The family and the door opens wider, and people still feel the same energy.” To define a space as queer comes, more than anything else, from those who inhabit and transform it. “I think a queer space for me is if the promoter is queer, the event is queer,” Horrorchata said. “For example, at Knockdown, whenever we have Bushwig, we have a meeting with security and make sure there’s no gendering, no ‘Mrs.,’ no ‘Ma’am.’ It’s super nonbinary. We try to educate them and let them know this is going to be a queer space for the next weekend, and these are the rules.” Ladyfag’s events invite the same openness. “Queer to me is still this radical kind of gayness,” she said, “and in a queer space, if you call it a queer space, you’re making a statement of inclusivity.” In 1994, on the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, Dolkart took part in a conference on gay space. “There was an interesting conclusion that was reached at the end of the day, that there were no gay spaces, with the exception of bathhouses. There were no gay spaces, there were spaces that gay people put to use. And I like that. I think that our site is very much about that. It’s about places that gay people have made their own, and with nothing unique about the design of those places—whether it’s a bar or a theater or an apartment—they’re the types of spaces that you find in New York but that gay people have made their own.”