Posts tagged with "New York City":

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NYC considers drones for building inspections after deadly facade collapse

In the wake of architect Erica Tishman's death, New York City officials and lawmakers are considering the use of drone technology for urgent building inspections. The incident, in which a piece of terra cotta fell from an aging facade and killed Tishman near Times Square, unnerved New York pedestrians and brought up major concerns about the poor conditions of local buildings.   In the case of 729 7th Avenue, where the fatal accident occurred, owners Himmel + Meringoff Properties had still not installed scaffolding to address a violation issued back in April for hazardous conditions. The New York Post reported that thousands of other buildings have similar open violations issued by the Department of Buildings.  Brooklyn City Councilmember Justin Brannan announced he would propose a bill early this year that would require a drone inspection be deployed within 48 hours of a building complaint or DOB violation, according to Gothamist. While drone use has already been selectively introduced by the city's police department, the move would be unprecedented for the DOB—especially since drones remain largely illegal in New York.  Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is backing Brannan's idea, released a statement applauding the proposed measure. "The new legislation I am introducing with Councilmember Justin Brannan will make building inspections more cost-effective, saving building owners and the City millions of dollars, it will help us take down sidewalk sheds that often stay up for years, and most importantly, it will keep New Yorkers safe." While terra-cotta as a material has a history of falling off facades, property owners have also failed to be held accountable for open violations on their buildings. In the weeks following Tishman's death, the DOB conducted inspections on 1,331 building facades across the city that had been cited for hazardous conditions. Of these buildings, 220 received Class 1 violations for reported facade issues that remained unaddressed. 
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Architect Erica Tishman killed by falling debris near Times Square

Erica Tishman, a founding partner of DeWitt Tishman Architects, was tragically struck and killed today by a piece of a building facade that fell in Manhattan. The 60-year old architect and vice president at Zubatkin Owner Representation was declared dead on the scene around 10:45 a.m. at 49th Street near 7th Avenue. According to the police, the incident occurred outside of 729 7th Avenue, a 17-story building that was constructed in 1915. The building had been issued a violation in April for “failure to maintain exterior building facade and appurtenances,” and according to The Wallstreet Journal, a city inspector noted in the April summons that the building had damaged terra cotta above the 15th floor in several locations, “which poses a falling hazard for pedestrians.”  The building is owned by a limited liability company controlled by commercial real estate firm Himmel + Meringoff Properties. According to Department of Buildings records, the company took out permits in October and November to work on the facade. As of this morning, the scaffolding needed to complete this work has not yet been installed.
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NYC buildings will soon get report cards for energy grades

New Yorkers know to take a step back when they see a “C” rating in the window of their favorite sushi spot. Now, the same labels will be required for buildings all over the city, but the letter grades will act as a report card for energy consumption—and yes, many buildings, including some shiny new ones, will get D’s.  The new grading system is part of the sweeping Climate Mobilization Act passed earlier this year, intended to reduce greenhouse emissions across New York City, where building emissions alone account for more than two-thirds of its total carbon footprint.  “People want to know what they are walking into, what they are living in and what their contribution to meeting their values are,” Melanie E. La Rocca, commissioner of the Buildings Department, told The New York Times. The city describes the labels as a step towards greater transparency surrounding the city’s carbon emissions. But, the regulation also acts as a shaming mechanism, pushing landlords one step closer to preparations for the energy consumption fines that are set to roll out in 2024.  The new law will require buildings over 25,000 square feet to post the regulatory signage “in a conspicuous location near each public entrance.” These letter grades will soon be a facade feature of over 40,000 of the one million buildings in New York City.  While it may seem logical that the older building stock of New York, like the sooty brick office buildings and old masonry factory lofts, would be the main energy guzzling culprits, there are many new structures that rank lower. Mid-century office buildings in the Financial District and Midtown use a tremendous amount of energy to keep internal corridors at optimum temperatures and fight losing battles to retain heat due to their old, single-pane glass walls. For these glass-and-steel skyscrapers, upgrades will be more expensive than just replacing old boilers.  The building types once considered most profitable in the office tower boom of the ’50s and ’60s are finally showing their weaknesses, as 21st-century workspaces have shifted their priorities towards open floor plans and smart design strategies for not only the planet but for the health of their employees. CEOs and landlords are beginning to recognize that respecting sustainability standards is an asset for property value and branding, and failure to do so can be damaging to their image.  While Ms. Dougherty admitted that “some buildings may be O.K with a C,” that attitude will likely change when tenants are charged with steep fines in 2024.
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NYC passes legislation requiring bird-friendly construction

In a nearly unanimous vote on Tuesday, December 10, the New York City Council passed a new regulation mandating the use of “bird-friendly material” in all new construction projects. Conservationists hope the new bill will curb the number of birds killed annually by collisions with the city's buildings, a figure that currently ranges between 90,000 and 230,000. The bill, Proposed Initiative 1482B, which passed 43-3, will require 90 percent of the first 75 feet of new buildings to be constructed with materials that are easier for birds to identify as obstacles. John Rowden, Director of Community Conservation at the National Audubon Society, pointed towards lighting and glass as the two main reasons for bird collisions. “Lighting is an attractant—especially for migrating birds who often fly at night. Brightly lit buildings can draw birds in where they can hit windows or other obstacles,” noted Rowden. Glass is confusing to birds because it is both invisible and reflective; they see their habitat or sky reflected in the glass and consequently fly into it. Once the bill becomes law, that glass will need to be treated with frosted patterns or etchings to demarcate it as an obstacle. New York City experiences exceptional bird traffic because of its location along the Atlantic Flyway, one of four major migratory routes across the globe. Migrations during fall and spring bring a surge of varied species through the city, and with that comes a corollary increase in collisions. As North America continues to build taller glass structures, it is estimated that 29 percent of birds (about 3 billion) have vanished from the continent since 1970. New York City is the largest American city to adopt this sort of environmental building legislation. According to a report by Curbed, the council hopes to set an example for others to follow: “This is a significant step in protecting our feathered friends,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “The hope is that when you have other big cities that put this requirement on, it’s going to increase production and, hopefully, bring costs down. We think that other cities are going to follow us on this.”
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WeWork is getting a TV show as it lays off 900 employees in NYC

The dramatic rise and fall of WeWork will soon be transformed into a TV series, and Nicholas Braun (aka Cousin Greg) of HBO’s hit show Succession will be playing the company’s cofounder, Adam Neumann.  Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content have acquired the TV rights to the saga detailed in a forthcoming book from Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell which will be published by Penguin Random House imprint Crown. Having extensively reported on the nearly $50 billion startup for years, Chernin and Endeavor are also working on a WeWork documentary, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The writer of the limited series and the network it will air on have not yet been announced, however, Braun will executive produce the project. While the TV series is the latest in WeWork projects, others also have plans in the works. Blumhouse Productions will produce a feature film based on an upcoming book by Fast Company’s Katrina Brooker, and Campfire announced it would be producing a documentary with Business Insider Meanwhile, today the actual WeWork is in the process of laying off over 900 New York City employees after announcing last month that they would lay off about 2,400 employees across the company. The filing, required because of the high number of positions to be cut, listed that 911 New York employees would be affected, mostly in Manhattan. Additionally, the company is also trying to spin-off (or shut down) the various office management and co-working startups it had acquired during its rise. According to the filing, of the 911 employees, 262 (largely maintenance workers) will be offered transitional positions to one or more third-party vendors. The locations with the most affected are 85 Broad Street with 250 employees, 1619 Broadway with 71 employees, and 12 49th Street with 23 employees.
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Van Alen Institute will move to Gowanus in Spring 2020

On Tuesday, the Van Alen Institute announced that they would be moving their home in Manhattan’s Flatiron District to a new, street-level space in Gowanus, Brooklyn, in Spring 2020. The ground lease of 303 Bond Street, a 3,500-square-foot space not only reflects the evolution of the design institute but also aligns with their broader mission as an organization. The announcement comes a year after the nonprofit sold its current storefront home at 30 West 22nd Street. “For Van Alen, maintaining a street-level space is not just symbolic; it is absolutely critical to our work,” explained Deborah Marton, executive director of the institute, in a recent press release. “We must use design thinking to answer questions we hear most often from outside the profession--questions about displacement, responsible city growth, and impacts of climate change,” she added. The Bond Street location will house the organization’s ongoing public programming as well as new workshops. With street-level access, the location reflects the commitment to foster conversations between communities by staying engaged with its surroundings and providing space for discussion on cities, design, and public health.  Marton elaborated that, “As we’ve learned in our Flatiron District space, street access gives us the single most important tool in answering these questions: a direct connection with the public. Our doors will be open to our Gowanus neighbors and we look forward to listening to them.”  “Van Alen’s new Gowanus space is an important mission-driven investment, and provides a sustainable home for our next 125 years,” said Jared Della Valle, Van Alen board chair and CEO of Alloy Development. “As we expand our work nationally, we look forward to learning from the ongoing conversations about climate change and equity in this neighborhood.”  With the success of a recent Miami project focused on the use of design and climate change, Van Alen hopes to continue expanding this work on local and national levels.
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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.