As New York City’s subways continue to crumble and traffic congestion increases, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have been at odds over the best way to fund mass transit improvements. That may all be about to change, as Governor Cuomo’s Fix NYC Advisory Panel has released their final report and called for the creation of congestion pricing zone in Manhattan. Mayor de Blasio has historically supported a “millionaire’s tax” on the city’s richest residents, while Governor Cuomo has proposed a congestion pricing scheme for vehicles crossing Manhattan’s 60th Street in either direction. In light of Fix NYC’s findings, Mayor de Blasio has seemingly shifted his position and voiced a willingness to implement some form of congestion pricing, if the funds were locked into improving the city’s transit network. Originally formed in October of last year, the Fix NYC panel invited policymakers, real estate developers, planners, MTA employees and other stakeholders to come up with policy fixes to improve mobility across the New York City region. The panel has ultimately recommended splitting any improvements across three phases. Phase one would see a focus on realistic, short-term reforms at the ground level. These range from studying transportation improvement opportunities across the outer boroughs and suburbs, to improving traffic law enforcement, and most importantly, beginning the installation of “zone pricing” infrastructure. This infrastructure would encircle a certain area and allow drivers to be charged for entering or leaving a certain area at specific times or days of the week. Phase two leans heavily on implementing congestion pricing. A central business district would be established as everything south of 60th Street in Manhattan, and for-hire vehicles and taxis would be charged every time they crossed the district’s border. Phase three would ramp up the second phase’s congestion pricing plan, first for trucks, and then to all vehicles entering the district by 2020. While trucks would pay $25.34, for-hire cars would likely only pay $2 to $5, with the overall affect of reducing traffic congestion during the busiest times of the day. Personal vehicles would have to pay up to $11.52 to travel through Manhattan during the busiest times of the day. Drivers would be offered some relief, however. “The Panel believes the MTA must first invest in public transportation alternatives and make improvements in the subway system before implementing a zone pricing plan to reduce congestion. Before asking commuters to abandon their cars, we must first improve mass transit capacity and reliability,” reads the report. It’s estimated that the pricing scheme could raise an additional $1.5 billion a year for the city’s ailing MTA. Governor Cuomo’s response to the report’s findings was muted, and in a statement, he promised to study the proposal more in-depth. Congestion pricing plans have never taken off in New York City despite being proposed regularly since the 1970s, and it remains to be seen whether the mayor’s office or state legislature will seriously take up the issue.
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The NYCx initiative, a collaborative effort between the tech industry and the New York City’s mayor’s office, has announced the names of the 22 tech leaders who will be advising the program’s efforts to use smart city ideas to tackle urban issues. First announced in October of last year by Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYCx was designed to tackle pollution, income inequality, climate change, transit issues and more by connecting local startups with global tech companies. New York’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Miguel Gamiño and Deputy CTO Jeremy Goldberg are leading the program, with help from the newly formed 22-person Technology Leadership Advisory Council. The program has hit the ground running, and awards for all four of NYCx’s current initiatives will be distributed in the first half of 2018. The most ambitious problems being tackled have been categorized as moonshot projects, which partner with global entities, while another set of challenges, the co-lab challenges, are designed to collect community-specific solutions for localized problems. The most ambitious of these questions might be the Climate Action Challenge, as the city is seeking proposals to transition fully to electric vehicles in every borough in only five to ten years. Split between two “tracks,” the challenge wants to simultaneously develop new ways of charging electric vehicles, as well as make charging stations ubiquitous across the city. Winners will be announced on April 30th, 2018, and each selected team will receive up to $20,000 and work with the city to implement their ideas. On the co-lab side, the mayor’s office wants to create safer nighttime corridors and activate public areas in Brownsville, and wire up Governor’s Island with 5G wireless internet by this May. Both challenges involve changing how the local community interacts with public space, and could provide a template for future urban planning and development throughout NYC. The Technology Leadership Advisory Council, which will be evaluating these projects, has attracted members of the country’s largest tech companies. Microsoft, Ford, LinkedIn, Google and more have all contributed talent and will continue to work with the city government on projects “from drones to blockchain,” according to the mayor’s office. This partnership makes sense on its face, as several of these companies are already developing their own smart city models. The full list of 22 advisory members can be read here.
Following months of public comments, New York City’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, formed last September by mayor Bill de Blasio, has finished its review. The commission was created as response to the rising fervor around removing contested monuments around the country, as local activists pointed out that New York has its fair share of statues that celebrate problematic historical figures. The most contentious of the monuments under review was the Christopher Columbus statue that anchors the Columbus Circle roundabout on the southwestern corner of Central Park. New York’s Italian-American community slammed the possibility of removing the statue when the commission was first announced, while others decried celebrating a figure whose actions directly led to the killing of native peoples and the seizing of their land. Instead of removing the iconic statue, de Blasio has announced that plaques will go up explaining historical context, as well as the creation of a monument celebrating the achievements of indigenous peoples near Columbus Circle. Citing the “layered legacies” of each of the items under review, the commission’s report recommended a number of changes for several other highly public monuments, which the mayor has already signed off on. The statue of Theodore Roosevelt on horseback in front of the Museum of Natural History, recently doused in red paint by activists, will stay put. Instead, the museum will be offering educational programs on both Roosevelt’s history of conservation as well as his views of colonialism. Additional markers will be installed around the statue to the same effect. The J. Marion Sims statue at 5th Avenue and 103rd Street bordering Central Park was also under deliberation. Known as the “the father of modern gynecology,” Sims’ legacy has come under fire for his well-known experimentation on unanesthetized slaves. Citing the lack of contextual relevance for the statue’s current site the commission voted to relocate it to Green-Wood cemetery, where Sims is buried. While the original pedestal will remain in place in East Harlem, a plaque will be installed that discusses the issues Sims’ legacy raises. Finally, a marker for Marshal Philippe Pétain has been left in place on Lower Broadway’s “Canyon of Heroes”, which denoted a stretch from the Battery to City Hall where ticker-tape parades are typically held. The marker was installed in 2004, when the Downtown Alliance installed a series of 206 granite markers along the avenue, each representing a ticker-tape parade that had been held on Broadway. The Frenchman had been hailed as hero after returning from WWI and honored with a parade in New York, but later became a top figure in the collaborative Vichy government during WWII. In light of his eventual conviction for treason, the commission recommended installing signage that would re-contextualize the markers, as well as stripping the “Canyon of Heroes” name from Lower Broadway. The committee’s full report is the culmination of months of public hearings and thousands of public comments.
Crain's has released its annual Book of Lists, which includes a listing of the largest 25 New York-area architecture firms, ranked by the number of New York-based architects. The New York area, in this case, includes New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, as well Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties in New Jersey. All of the information is based on 2016 numbers, and most of the information was self-reported by firms. The project totals includes projects in the design stage, under construction, or completed in 2016. In the case of a tie, firms were listed alphabetically. Without a doubt, these are the giants that are shaping New York's built environment, and far beyond. 1. Gensler New York-area architects: 254 Worldwide architects: 1,177 U.S. projects: 6,806 International projects: 1,742 2. Perkins Eastman New York-area architects: 253 Worldwide architects: 452 U.S. projects: 650 International projects: 200 3. HOK New York-area architects: 224 Worldwide architects: 1,171 U.S. projects: 981 International projects: 814 4. Skidmore, Owings & Merill New York-area architects: 157 Worldwide architects: 374 U.S. projects: 375 International projects: 357 5. Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates New York-area architects: 127 Worldwide architects: 212 U.S. projects: 44 International projects: 164 6. Spector Group New York-area architects: 86 Worldwide architects: 88 U.S. projects: 169 International projects: 10 7. CetraRuddy Architecture New York-area architects: 84 Worldwide architects: 84 U.S. projects: 76 International projects: 3 8. FXFOWLE New York-area architects: 75 Worldwide architects: 75 U.S. projects: 136 International projects: 8 9. Ennead Architects New York-area architects: 72 Worldwide architects: 75 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 10. STV Architects Inc. New York-area architects: 71 Worldwide architects: 93 U.S. projects: 1,712 International projects: 13 11. Robert A.M. Stern Architects New York-area architects: 64 Worldwide architects: 64 U.S. projects: 186 International projects: 41 12. Gerner Kronick & Valcarcel New York-area architects: 60 Worldwide architects: n/d U.S. projects: 75 International projects: 0 13. SLCE Architects New York-area architects: 57 Worldwide architects: 58 U.S. projects: 63 International projects: 1 14. Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 78 U.S. projects: 261 International projects: 21 14. Dattner Architects New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 54 U.S. projects: 98 International projects: 0 14. Stephen B. Jacobs Group New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 56 U.S. projects: 30 International projects: 2 17. HLW International New York-area architects: 48 Worldwide architects: 74 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 18. CannonDesign New York-area architects: 47 Worldwide architects: 453 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 19. AECOM New York-area architects: 46 Worldwide architects: 1,491 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 20. H2M Architects & Engineers New York-area architects: 43 Worldwide architects: n/d U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 21. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects New York-area architects: 36 Worldwide architects: 36 U.S. projects: 24 International projects: 21 22. Francis Cauffman New York-area architects: 33 Worldwide architects: 83 U.S. projects: 176 International projects: 1 22. TPG Architecture New York-area architects: 33 Worldwide architects: 33 U.S. projects: 1,238 International projects: 11 24. EwingCole New York-area architects: 32 Worldwide architects: 150 U.S. projects: 400 International projects: 0 25. Perkins & Will New York-area architects: 30 Worldwide architects: 684 U.S. projects: 3,263 International projects: 1,088
With the recent revelation that New York City’s proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar project had missed its deadline for launching the public review process at the end of December, new questions have arisen over how feasible the project is. As the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has instead chosen to begin a review of the streetcar’s cost and feasibility this year, it’s worth looking back at the BQX’s bumpy ride through 2017. The last time AN wrote about the BQX, it was to report on the release of a leaked memo from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s advisory team to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen in April. While the 16-mile-long BQX line was originally envisioned as a way to transport residents up and down a revitalized Brooklyn-Queens waterfront by April 2024, the memo called into question the rising costs of relocating below-grade utilities along the line’s route. It was additionally suggested that the use “value-capture” for the $2.5 billion project, which would finance the BQX through rising waterfront property values, might not be enough. Fast forward to November 9th, when two anonymous sources with connections to the project told the New York Post that “It’s going to die.” Citing the contentious relationship between Mayor de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, and breaking with the mayor’s assertion that the BQX would require no state-level intervention, the sources broke down why the streetcar relied on the governor’s approval. Several parcels of land along the BQX’s proposed route are owned by the state government and would need permission to build over, and the MTA has stated that it would not cross-honor BQX tickets for the bus and subway systems. Killing the “last mile” aspect of the streetcar is especially important, as the project was initially pitched as linking neighborhoods that lacked mass transit options. Four days later on the 13th, the nonprofit group Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector unveiled a life-sized streetcar prototype at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The mockup featured enough room for 150 passengers and open gangways, while Friends of the BQX have promised that the streetcar would have an average speed faster than the busses it would share the street with. As December drew to a close, the BQX missed a major milestone in failing to launch the public review process. As the EDC begins an in-depth review of the project, Crain’s has noted that the review would save taxpayers $35 million if plans for the streetcar were scrapped, but would delay the project’s launch another six months, potentially costing up to $100 million every year that it’s delayed. Only a few days after, on December 28th the Post reported that the Department of Transportation would need to repair the decaying Brooklyn-Queens Expressway directly over the proposed streetcar route, potentially delaying the project further. While the Friends of the BQX and the mayor’s office have remained adamant that funding for the project can be found, there are still significant hurdles in the way. A route has to be finalized, some sort of agreement between the city and MTA must be worked out, and protection measures for flooding will need to be discussed as the entire line runs along the most climatologically vulnerable part of the waterfront. As 2018 progresses, it will be worth keeping an eye on whether the BQX can meet its original 2019 groundbreaking date. A Friends of the BQX spokesperson gave AN the following statement in regards to the project's future. "The BQX will dramatically increase opportunity for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront who are clamoring for better access to jobs, education, healthcare and recreation. We're optimistic that the project will take significant, concrete strides forward in 2018."
Of all the tools designed to provoke urban compliance, the most effective, it seems, is the old-fashioned letter grade. That’s the tool New York City restaurants have to use, for instance, to communicate their health department ratings to would-be diners. Thanks to newly-passed legislation, New York is becoming the first city in the country to require that "energy grades"—A to F ratings based on federal Energy Star energy efficiency scores—be posted at the public entrances of commercial and residential buildings over 25,000 square feet. Currently, the city collects energy and water usage data on private buildings over 50,000 square feet and public buildings over 10,000 square feet and posts the results for these 11,000-plus properties online. The new rules will broaden energy reporting requirements to owners of eligible private buildings, too, and cover around 20,000 structures total. On December 19, the New York City Council passed the bill, 1632A, authored by Council Member Dan Garodnick. If the mayor signs off on the bill, its first provisions will go into effect immediately, but owners won't have to post letter grades in 2020. To get their scores, building owners will need to fill out an online assessment of their property's performance, and the results will be available in a searchable database, in addition to being posted on the building's public entrances. “As the federal government shirks its stewardship of our environment, it is up to cities to step in,” said Garodnick. Despite the US's recent withdrawal from several global sustainability pledges, the city is still aiming, per the 2015 Paris Agreement, to reduce its greenhouse emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. Efforts to do so include transitioning to a renewables-based electric grid, achieving Zero Waste landfills, and replacing fossil-fuel based heating and hot water systems with high efficiency systems. "Nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas pollution in New York City comes from buildings,” said Rory Christian, director of the New York Clean Energy Environmental Defense Fund, in a prepared statement. “Requiring large buildings to post their energy efficiency grades is a natural next step in the evolution of the city’s energy policies.”
In an exit interview with the Yale University School of Architecture student newspaper Paprika!, former dean Robert A.M. Stern said, “Once I became the dean, I stopped going on any kind of a regular basis to live theater in New York, which I used to be quite an habitué of… I was usually so exhausted that at the end of the day I would go and sit in my one hundred dollar seat and have the most expensive snooze ever known to man… I’m looking forward to catching a few plays after June 30.” AN Senior Editor Matt Shaw caught up with Mr. Stern to talk about his life after deanship, his new office, and what else he has been up to in his newfound free time. Matt Shaw: This is my first visit to the new office. It has a similar feeling to the old one. Robert A.M. Stern: Well I don’t like too much change. The new office here on One Park Avenue is a reflection of the previous office on West 34th Street, which was a reflection of its predecessor on West 61st. Also, after being in an office for roughly 20 years, people forgot to throw things away, so the cleansing experience of coming over here—archiving things and so forth—has been great. But we kept the library. I remember that drawing. When we moved here, we just moved the drawing. The clients in Aspen have been friends of mine for a long time, and so I keep it there. I have a sentimental side, which people don’t actually know. They think I’m a man of steel and I’m really Clark Kent at heart. Well, congratulations on the move. So, what are you up to now that you are finished being dean at Yale? You must have lots of free time. Well, that’s not true. To begin with, I’m on sabbatical. I am preparing a new seminar that I will give this coming academic year. For a long time at Yale, I’ve given one seminar called “Parallel Moderns,” which says that what is commonly called “modern architecture”—in cocktail party chatter—is really only the International Style of the modern movement. However, there were many different kinds of modern architecture that ran parallel in the 20th century. I’m also working with Jake Tilove and David Fishman on my New York 2020 book, which I swore I would never do, but here I am. I was hoping to talk about what you do outside the office. What do you enjoy doing in the city? Do have more time to see shows at the theater now that you aren’t back and forth from New Haven? I had a kind of orgy of shows. The last one I saw was the one with Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, War Paint. I saw Dear Evan Hansen—I actually saw that before it opened. I knew it was going to be amazing and it was amazing. I saw Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, and the Kevin Kline thing, Present Laughter. I love musicals, as you can tell. There is a series at the City Center where they revive old shows. I saw The Golden Apple and it went in one ear and out the other. What are some of your favorite restaurants? Oh, you sound like a client who’s come in from Oshkosh. I used to love going to the Four Seasons and now… I don’t know, it’s not the same. They kind of sexed it up in a way. We’ll see what happens when it reopens in the fall. But, for me, the Four Seasons was very special. I had many lunches with Philip Johnson in the Grill Room and I kept going there afterward, once or twice a year. I still think it’s a beautiful experience to be there. What about public spaces? Where do you like to take a walk? Obviously from my books, I’m a complete enthusiast for New York. There’s no greater enclosed space in New York—or maybe the world—than the great hall of Grand Central. Central Park is another of the great rooms—and it is a room. There’s a difference between Central Park and Prospect Park. Prospect Park is not a room. You go in there and you get lost, whereas Central Park is a completely defined rectangle with walls of buildings on all four sides, so it’s a great room and I love that. I find Times Square amazing. They’re all kind of clichés because they’re so great. Everybody will say, ‘Oh, doesn’t he know some surprising place?’ No.
2017 Best of Design Awards for Lighting - Indoor: Second Avenue Subway Lighting Designer: Domingo Gonzalez Associates Location: New York, New York The opening of this subway line, promised since 1928, was critically important. The debut of four new stations involved an effort filled with numerous compliance challenges. To create a successful lighting strategy, the designers developed custom luminaires—from bare lamp uplights to structure-engaged lensed downlights and wallwashers—to work within an unyielding architectural module. Lighting in high spaces and over escalator wellways is maintainable by a specialized scaffold system proposed and tested by the lighting designers. The installation reminds passengers of the vision that realized this dynamic new line after so many years. "The Second Avenue Subway is not a luxury project, but the design solutions are very effective and given the constraints and demands of the project, executed in a very effective and functional way that will make commuters undoubtedly happier." -Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, Architect's Newspaper (juror) Lighting Design Contributors: Domingo Gonzalez Nancy Lok Patrick Merosier Rosemarie Seeland Nelson Downend Honorable Mention Project: Body Factory Architect: BFDO Architects Location: New York, New York Body Factory encompasses a dramatically lit retail space and softly illuminated private treatment rooms. The walls of the retail space are surfaced in gray parged concrete, indirectly lit from LED striplights placed in the gaps between the panels. Direct lighting in the treatment rooms comes from large, round LED lenses recessed into the dropped ceiling.
The building housing Oscar Wilde, a new bar at 45 West 27th St. in Manhattan’s NoMad district, was once the headquarters of New York City’s Bureau of Prohibition and the mob, whose members reportedly listened in on federal agents there. With 300 whiskeys and 32 beers on tap, many sourced from New York State, Oscar Wilde’s 118.5-foot-long bar—one of the longest in the city—is the centerpiece of the entire 5,874-square-foot space, starting from the front, near the entrance, and eventually wrapping around the back wall. Designed and commissioned by owners Tommy Burke and Frank McCole, the bar consists of a top of white Italian Carrara marble, while the base is gray-green, ornately carved, Victorian-inspired Connemara marble from Ireland. The entire bar was carved by hand in Vietnam. Carved stone can be found elsewhere throughout Oscar Wilde: on the hostess desk directly inside the front door, as well as on what McCole calls “belly bars,” individual bars with round tops where patrons can stand and drink. McCole and Burke spent five years collecting the wonderfully eclectic works of art, stained glass, and furniture that cover almost every square inch of every surface of Oscar Wilde, making between 30 and 40 trips to Ireland, the British Isles, and France to find objects for sale at old estates and auctions. They even uncovered European antiques, such as the oak door of the restroom on the ground floor, in Argentina. Scattered throughout—on many carved elements, in the windows, on some walls—are direct quotations from Wilde’s writings. The bar officially opened August 15, with C3D Architecture as the architects of record.
Snøhetta has released the first renderings for a split, tapering tower set to rise between Lincoln Center and Central Park in New York City. Snøhetta hopes that this reimagined tower-on-a-base scheme for 50 West 66th will simultaneously engage pedestrians at street level, while also paying homage to the surrounding neighborhood through the use of a familiar material palette. At 775-feet tall, the 127-unit residential building will stick out from the traditionally lower-slung neighborhood surrounding it, but Snøhetta has carved away bulk from the tower’s upper floors to minimize 50 West 66th’s effect on the skyline. Referencing Manhattan’s long history of natural stone construction, the studio has described the tower as being sculpturally excavated, and the 16th-floor amenity terrace prominently cleaves the building into two volumes. Even at that height, residents will be able to see across Central Park to the east, as well as across Hudson River to the west. A two-story textured limestone, bronze and glass retail podium will also contain an entrance for an adjacent synagogue on 65th street and create an approachable neighborhood access point. More windows are introduced to the limestone facade as the bulk of the building rises above the podium’s setback, and the slender tower portion is clad in a bronze and glass curtain wall. Other than the planted, multi-story terrace that anchors 50 West 66th, the tower portion has had its corners sliced away to expose balconies at its opposing corners and create a series of cascading loggias. Triangular, bronze-panel-clad cutaways taper the tower’s corners and join at the tip to form an angular crown. The warm materials, cutaways and slim top all serve to soften the building’s presence in what has been a historically low-to-mid-rise area. The project’s reveal has come amidst a particularly busy month for Snøhetta. Besides being tapped for the Oakland A’s new stadium and an underwater restaurant, the Norwegian studio has also faced criticism for its proposed glassing over of Philip Johnson’s postmodern AT&T Building. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2018.
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Originally unveiled in 2013, Zaha Hadid’s first residential property in New York is nearing completion. Situated on the High Line in close proximity to Hudson Yards, one of NYC’s largest developments, the intimate building offers 39 condo units, many of which include private vestibules and entrances. The project is perhaps the epitome of luxury “21st-century dwelling” in New York, but for all of its loaded amenities catering to private residents–an automated valet, one of the first private IMAX theatres in the world, advanced home automation capabilities, 24-hour gym, juice bar, private automated storage accessed via a secured viewing room (inspired by the design of a Swiss bank vault nonetheless)–the architects say the essence of this project is about an urban contextual response that results in a building that doubles as public art for passersby to enjoy. This dynamic plays out in the building envelope, a sculptural expression of hand-rubbed steel that weaves between motorized doors, windows, and curved glass units. Ed Gaskin, senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects, said “in the great tradition of quintessential New York buildings, such as Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building, 520 West 28th is a building that seeks to improve the public realm through art and architecture.” The proximity of the High Line was particularly important for the architects, who say they were inspired by the overlay of public space near the site, namely the contrast between an elevated free-flowing High Line pathway with the urban grid of streets below. In response, the architects developed an “urban layering” concept that resulted in split levels, challenging the orthodoxy of flat floor plate construction. The resulting split-level configuration is articulated by a continuous chevron ribbon composed of a 900-piece hand-rubbed steel panel installation. “Rather than a staggered zigzag climbing the facade from floor to floor, the chevron is a continuous line, extending along and framing living spaces, bending around the soft curves of unbroken panoramic glass corners and wrapping the facade in free flowing lines each connected and looping continuously from one floor to the next,” said Gaskin. “Balconies and set-back terraces further express a sense of layering in the urban fabric heightened by balconies projecting and dynamically gesturing toward the High Line where it meets the site.” The metal facade was meticulously hand-crafted from stainless steel, recalling the spirit of Chelsea’s industrial past. The panels were engineered, cut, and welded by M. Cohen and Sons, a Philadelphia-based metal fabrication group offering design assist, engineering, project management, and installation services. They achieved a lustrous blackened finish by an antiquing process, light orbital brushing and hand tinting, to produce an effect that resonates with the adjacent elevated rail structure of the High Line. The structuring of the 11-story building was achieved with a conventional flat plate in-situ reinforced concrete. Local areas of post-tensioning were required where cantilevered floors and balconies exceed the limits of flat plate spans. Glazing design was key to the energy and visual performance of the building envelope. Insulated glazing units (IGU’s) track continuously around flat and radiused segments of the perimeter of the building. IGUs are composed of a layered assembly of three low iron glass panels, two of which are laminated together, with an air void along with low-e coatings for solar protection. The transition between flat and curved units was greatly scrutinized by the project team to ensure visual clarity and color consistency across the fluid expression of the building envelope. One of the challenges, however, was the convex and concave curvatures of the design required varied glazing manufacturing processes which yielded slightly different visual results. The major difference between concave and convex glazing was the location of the coating surface, which produced an “almost imperceptible change in color” according to Gaskin, who said the team “exploited architectural conditions to minimize the visual impact of these differences.” The concave units were located in full shade at deep balcony recesses, contrasting with exposed conditions of the convex units. Gaskin said this contrast of conditions assisted in masking the already subtle differences in glazing appearance. Additionally, during the product sourcing phase, the project team’s attention was focused on testing the supplier’s capability to deliver consistent quality through production and inspection of full-scale mock-ups. This attention to detail ultimately resulted in a “continuity of quality,” according to Gaskin, which was achieved by “understanding material qualities, impacts of manufacturing techniques and working with suppliers to coordinate and test results across different types of glass manufacturing and window unit assemblies.” The project complied with all code requirements, maximizing gross floor area (GFA), building height, and standard setback conformance. The IGUs were installed in a curtain wall system that hung on the outside of floor decks to fully enclose the building. These were selected after design simulation models of thermal and energy performance, which compared the assembly to more commonly-specified window wall systems which sit between floor decks. Gaskin said the facade design at 520 W 28th “successfully demonstrates a way of achieving dynamic and organic sculptural form by repetition of a limited number of standard cladding panel types. Further, use of common installation details and practices allows us to apply the best practices for envelope performance and costs.”
Inefficient architecture and infrastructure is among the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 39% of CO2 emissions in the United States and consume 70% of the nation's electricity. In New York City, fossil fuels burned to provide heat and water to buildings are the number one source of emissions – 42% of the city's total. This week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new plan to drastically reduce the emissions of aging buildings across the city. Despite Trump's hasty withdrawal from the 2016 Paris Agreement, de Blasio pledged to adhere to the treaty and accelerate New York City's action to cut its fossil fuel emissions. If approved by the City Council, owners of buildings larger than 25,000 square feet must invest in more efficient infrastructure (including boilers, water heaters, insulated roofs and windows, etc.) by 2030. This applies to around 14,500 private and municipal structures across the city. Owners of buildings that have not complied will face penalties beginning in 2030, ranging from fines of $60,000 a year for a 30,000-square-foot residential buildings to $2 million for a 1 million-square-foot buildings). Penalties may also include restrictions on future permitting for noncompliant owners. The plan also aims to produce 17,000 middle-class "green jobs" by 2030, including plumbers, carpenters, electricians, engineers, architects, and energy specialists. The announcement has given climate advocates a much-appreciated boost of public support, but also raises concerns for homeowners and renter advocates. The New York State Tenants and Neighbors Coalition tweeted at Mayor de Blasio that the city's promise to "stop landlords ... from displacing tenants or raising rents based on the cost of improvements" was only really possible if rental laws were changed to begin with: What does this all mean for architects working today? This latest development might be applied to provide a new standard for new structures built between now and 2030 (and long after) to incorporate more common-sense energy efficiency features. The Mayor's office has not responded to AN's query on whether this program or its penalties will apply to buildings constructed from 2017 onward. This new legislation marks the first major step by New York City to work toward the goals outlined in the de Blasio administration's 80 X 50 Roadmap – which commits to reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. Donna De Costanzo, Director of Northeast Energy and Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) remarked on the plan: “Reducing the amount of energy used in the buildings in our city will put money back in New Yorkers’ pockets while improving air quality and creating jobs."