Posts tagged with "New York City":

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Architects Offer a Glimpse into the Future

Glimpses of New York and Amsterdam in 2040 at the Center for Architecture (through September 10) is a clarion call for designers to redefine sustainability in architecture. Though it didn’t start with this intention, the visions of 10 young architecture firms imagining future landscapes of New York and Amsterdam raise questions about what changes are imminent for urban development and what part architects can play. The projects suggest both practical and fantastical interventions to improve the prospect of urban growth in the face of ecological, geographic, and demographic shifts. The program comes hot on the heels of the announcements of Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and the similar strategy-based Structural Vision: Amsterdam 2040. Curators Luc Vrolijks, Rosamond Fletcher, and Marlies Buurman’s collective ambition has been to use design and debate to link the two cities in the context of these new directives. This month, the Center for Architecture hosted a series of talks and presentations of the work by the architects and the exhibit is also at the ARCAM site in Amsterdam until August 13, which will raise new questions about potential futures. The projects responded to one of five headings: Breathing, Eating, Making, Moving, Dwelling. Breathing: Both Delva with Dingeman Deijs and W Architecture and Landscape Architecture take water as their starting point. While Delva takes the IJ estuary as a generator for energy, W Architecture’s Hudson archepelagos, made using dredge from the port, provide habitats as well as landing banks. Eating: Here, WORKac focuses on the ‘food desert’ in the Bed-Stuy and Bushwick neighborhoods of Brooklyn and maps the potentially resourceful ways of re-appropriating the streets to harvest food, from future transportation (gondola-type links) to a hybrid fish farm and greenhouse-grown plants (Aquaponics). Van Bergen Kolpa Architects imagines a Landscape Supermarket, where varieties of food can be grown and sourced in park-like environments run by city dwellers. Making: In The Refinery, Solid Objectives-Idenburg Liu (SO-IL) imagined a floating market place where robotic arms compartmentalise waste materials to mend a broken landscape. Barcode Architects on the other hand has developed a contained mega science park from which to export knowledge - “the most valuable commodity of The Netherlands in 2040” said Caro van der Venne of Barcode. Moving: Dlandstudio responds to the future need for water transportation and how this can be an opportunity to also positively affect public wellbeing as well as environmental health. Fabric’s interpretation considers a new urban fabric based on mixing uses to produce “a more complete urban program, so that our daily needs are always near.” Dwelling: The Newark Visionary Museum by Interboro Partners and Space & Matter’s We is the New I both approached the idea of sustainability as social concerns. Interboro’s projection showed a colourful scene of failed plans and possible future solutions to Broad Street’s transportation, entertainment, sports and communication demands. Similarly practical was Space & Matter’s solution to increasing diversity and social cohesion by harnessing and building around common interests.
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Quick Clicks> Architecture in Store, Meier is Gilt-y, Clean Air Square, and Suburban Slums

Just Architecture. The Van Alen Institute announced that NYC is about to welcome its first bookstore and reading room singularly devoted to architecture, Van Alen Books, located on 30 West 22nd Street. Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects (and one of the two candidates for the next PennDesign Architecture Dean) and architectural historian Anthony Vidler will be presenting their latest books at the opening party scheduled for next Thursday, April 21. Flash Sale Curator. Curbed shows today that there is no boundary for what architects can do. A popular flash sale venue, Gilt Groupe, is having a home products sale today at noon, curated by an architect, Richard Meier. Items up for sale include "a signed copy of Taschen's Meier, a mezuzah he designed for The Jewish Museum of New York, and his Architectonic Menorah," normally sold for $1K! Breathing Times. According to Streetsblog, New York's Times Square, visited by 250,000 pedestrians each day, has become much more breathable since the 2009 installation of pedestrian plazas (find out why Bill Clinton is a fan) on Broadway. Concentrations of two traffic-related air pollutants, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide, have gone down by 63% and 41%, respectively! Suburban Slumification. Business Insider identifies 18 cities (including a less-than-expected Minneapolis) where suburbs are rapidly turning into slums. In the past, cities suffered crimes and poverty during recessions, while the rich stayed away in their safe suburban havens. But not anymore. Suburban slums are growing five times faster than cities.
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Hyatt Takes It Higher in Union Square

Gene Kaufman is putting the finishing touches on designs for the new Hyatt Hotel intended for the southwest corner of 13th Street and Fourth Avenue. Though its interior will be gutted, a century old limestone face will remain to sheath a two-story atrium/lobby. Just behind the facade the building sets back to form a large terrace holding a hydroponic bamboo garden, then continues to climb another eleven stories. Kaufman said the historical context of the old façade is not of particular importance, but Andrew Berman, executive director of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, disagreed. “We are glad that they re-used the facade of the two-story building,” he said. “But the 11-story addition seems woefully out of place.” “Nostalgia is something that’s transient. It’s in people's nature to resist change,” said Kaufman. Though his daughter once took dance classes in the old building, he insists that he didn’t keep the facade for sentimental reasons. He said there were practical as well as aesthetic attributes to consider. The old structure forms a retaining wall that allowed the construction to continue unimpeded by regulations for buildings next to a subway line (in this case, the number six running along Fourth Avenue). Also, the street level structure allowed for Kaufman to conjure a 27-foot high lobby interior, which he foresees serving an amalgam of hotel, bar, and restaurant functions. The tower doesn’t veer stylistically far from its base, a lá Norman Foster atop Joseph Urban. Nor does it rest within a historic district,  so it did not have to undergo landmark scrutiny. The aluminum panel clad tower pierced with square widows is capped by a two-story glass curtain wall.  An open circular ring supported by six thin posts finishes the corner suggesting an iconic flourish. The architect is also at work on a boutique hotel on the Bowery and another on 13th Street at 6th Avenue. He said that there is no set house style for the firm, instead they respond to the neighborhood. Kaufman remains nonplussed by historic naysayers. “For us the primary relationship is to the avenue.”
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Condo Cluster at the Cloisters?

Quadriad Reality is in negotiations to acquire land at Broadway and 190th Street in order to build four towers ranging from 22 to 44 stories. If the proposals go forward they could represent the one of the largest residential developments above 155th Street in more than a generation. Not since the four Bridge Apartment towers went up back in 1963 has a development of this scale been proposed for the area. At 32 stories each, those four low-income residences, which straddle I-95 at the foot of the George Washington Bridge, could be dwarfed by the new Quadriad complex--to say nothing of the competition with the Cloisters for skyline dominance.
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The Other Side of Ellis Island

Most visitors to Ellis Island only get to see the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. I was fortunate enough to go on a hard hat tour of the island's south side, which is not open to the public, and explore newly stabilized structures including the new ('new' as of 1934) ferry building and part of the old South Side Hospital Complex.
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Hudson Square Pushes to Reclaim Pedestrian Space

A major transformation of the once-industrial Hudson Square neighborhood in Lower Manhattan aims to bring pedestrian vitality to streets originally designed for delivery trucks servicing printing houses.  Crain's reports that Hudson Square Connections, the local business improvement district, has selected a design group led by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects from a pool of 23 respondents to create a new streetscape to improve the area's image. Hudson Square, bounded by Greenwich Street, Houston Street, 6th Avenue, and Canal Street, is becoming increasingly residential as large art-deco buildings are converted into hip offices and dwellings. Details are currently being worked out, but a plan is expected to be in place by the end of 2011.  Mathews Nielsen brings experience from nearby Hudson River Park and the pedestrianization of Times Square.  The team, including Rogers Marvel Architects, Billings Jackson Design, ARUP, and Open graphic design, plans to work with the NYC Department of Transportation on the design. With such a background, it's clear that space will be reclaimed for pedestrians.  Ellen Baer, president of Hudson River Connection, told Crain's, "There are very few places where people can sit and enjoy lunch here. We want to create those oases and green spaces." [ Via Crain's. ]
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Envisioning a Green Future for the BQE

The proposals are in after Monday's final public meeting to decide the future of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway trench which severs the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Residents spoke up and prioritized their wishes for a less disruptive BQE including reduced noise and pollution, increased neighborhood connectivity and bike / pedestrian safety, and an overall greener streetscape. In short, the BQE is going green, or at least as green as a pollution-spewing six-lane highway can be.  Luckily the NYC EDC, NYC DOT, and Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects have come up with three compelling design solutions to improve the area. Three proposed designs offer increasing levels of complexity and ambition with an eye toward construction and financial feasibility. It remains to be seen what proposed intervention will actually be implemented, but nearly any change to this urban sore can be seen as an improvement.  Take a look at the three proposals below. All three proposals build from one another, beginning with the quick fix, "Maximum Green." This plan seeks to improve the streetscape with widened sidewalks and landscaped bumpouts and curvy chicanes.  At a cost of $10.7 to $18.7 million, this should be an easy sell for even the most frugal politician.  The scheme calls for shaving off unused and excessive street space on Hicks Street to calm traffic and create room for the landscaping and sidewalk. The base model Maximum Green design keeps the existing chain-link fence surrounding the highway, but upgrades include an artsy vine-covered metal screen with built in acoustic panels (see comparison below). Existing bridges also feature added landscaping in large planters and drastically wider sidewalks that could possibly accommodate newsstands or a proposed "BQE Flea."  Even with plants, trees, and places to sit, though, will the next hip Brooklyn hang-out be above a noxious highway? More ambitious, the "Connections" scheme retains the basic improvements of the "Maximum Green" design and adds five new pedestrian and bike bridges across the highway and replace one existing bridge to allow handicap accessibility and help restore the original street grid. Depending on the budget, these spans could become illuminated icons topped with photovoltaic roof panels.  Options include flanking the bridges with vine-covered panels and adding LED lighting to create playful interest at night.  Extra features, of course, mean inflated cost, and the Connections scheme would run between $30.1 and $41.3 million. Finally, the "dream scheme" pulls in the massively landscaped streetscape and pedestrian bridges of the previous two proposals but does its best to mask the BQE out of the neighborhood.  "Green Canopy" offers a massive $28 million steel angle-and-beam structure designed by Kiss+Cathcart Architects creating a pseudo-cap over the BQE trench.  Acoustic panels built into the span mitigate noise while a central mesh of steel precludes the need for an active ventilation system. The iconic structure is then covered in vines and solar cells which could net an estimated $312,000 in electricity annually.  If all that weren't enough, imagine dining while hovering above the highway at the "Trench Cafe."  Retail space in the Green Canopy plan is situated on the existing bridge at Union Street. Cost to cover the highway with a giant metal mesh? $78.8 to $82.7 million.  Cost to forget about the BQE forever? Priceless.  Sound off on your favorite scheme in the comments below.
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Potential Pyramid Scheme in DUMBO

Is NYC's next architectural adventure shaped like a pyramid? Maybe, if one of the groups competing for usage space in Brooklyn's historic Tobacco Warehouse has its way. The recently stabilized structure  is currently under the purview of the powers-that-be at the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, which sees the Warehouse as "most compelling public spaces" in the city's quest to spruce up the Brooklyn waterfront. Our friends at Curbed have some renderings of what dance and theater troupe LAVA would like to do if they win the great space race for this (currently) roofless brick structure that seems to sidle up next to the Brooklyn Bridge. This blogger has to wonder if it's less a pyramid and more a volcano (LAVA... volcano... get it?) Meanwhile, contestant #2, the DUMBO-based theater group St. Ann's Warehouse, has more a conventional, but potentially more contextually palatable, idea of what they'd like a revamped Tobacco Warehouse to look like.

Despite an appeal by former Partridge Family star and 1970s teen idol Susan Dey to send the contract out for re-bidding at Monday's tempestuous public meeting, the folks at Curbed are putting their money on St. Ann's to win the conditional designation sometime soon. (Leave us your predictions in the comments section below.)

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Rudolph’s New York Home Passes Landmark Test

The latest Upper East Side landmark isn't another of its signature rowhouses, but rather what's atop one of those brownstones.  Yesterday, the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved landmark status for mid-century architect Paul Rudolph's less-than-context-sensitive home at 23 Beekman Place. Rudolph moved into the 4-story on which the addition sits in 1961 and added his three-story design in 1977, modifying the house throughout his life.  Located between East 50th and 51st Street, 23 Beekman Place has been moving through the landmark process for over a year, and its approval marks an emerging phase in historic preservation. Now that many examples of modern architecture are getting older, they are becoming fair game for landmark protection, a notion the New York Observer says can sometimes be full of contradiction:
And yet there remains a certain alienness to a building like 23 Beekman. In a way, it is an oxymoron, a cancer atop a truly "historic building." The very idea of a modern landmark is itself a contradiction in terms because modernism sought to wipe away history. Consider Robert Moses, Le Corbusier, even Rudolph, all trying to eradicate history, to defeat nature, end poverty and blight, addressing all of the world's ills through their work. Where better to recognize this tension than a building with such a clearly split personality? And yet all of that Utopian zeal failed as much as it succeeded, so much so that many of the buildings it left behind are now unloved, even hated. This makes modernist preservation all the more essential and immediate. Not only have these buildings-beyond-time themselves aged (some quite severely), but they have become examples of architectural idealism, experimentation, and failure. Thus they are something to be saved, even as they sought to wipe out their forebears.
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Have Your Say On the Future of the BQE Monday Evening

It's not too late to join community leaders from the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhoods along with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to discuss the future of the Bronx-Queens Expressway.  The third and final BQE Community Design Workshop takes place this evening and will cover refined designed proposals aimed to reconnect areas surrounding the urban expressway. Act quickly, as the final Community Design Workshop takes place this evening from 6:30PM until 8:30PM at the Long Island College Hospital (LICH), Avram Conference Center, Rooms A and B located at 339 Hicks Street in Brooklyn.  Attendance is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested at BQE@nycedc.com. Among topics to be discussed are noise reduction, pollution mitigation, beautification, connectivity, and pedestrian safety.  The BQE Enhancement project target area is bounded by Hamilton Avenue and Atlantic Avenue and is planned to be built in the next five to ten years.
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Zero Energy Red Hook Green Gets Zero Help From City

Red Hook Green gets a red light from the NYC Department of Buildings.  Brooklyn's touted "brownstone of the future" is up against the ropes after a zoning decision ruled the mixed-use building cannot proceed as planned.  Jay Amato's ultra-sustainable, shipping-container chic Red Hook Green was denied its proposed accessory residential use on industrially zoned land, officially throwing the entire project into limbo. Designed by Garrison Architects, Red Hook Green was to be a model of sustainability in the Brooklyn neighborhood.  The 4,000 square foot net-zero-energy structure would have provided live-work space with an array of green technologies including a solar car charging station, photovoltaic panels, and an ultra-insulated building envelope. It was that residential component that ran Red Hook Green afoul with the DOB.  By law, the accessory residence cannot exceed 15 percent of the building's gross area - and in fact the space in question only comprised 12 percent of the total area - but the city saw the entire structure as too small to warrant such a space to begin with.  Amato shares the latest on the RHG blog:
As of yesterday, my dream of building the first net Zero-Energy work live building in Brooklyn seems to be officially DEAD! ... I was advised that given my particular use, I could  make an “M” zoned plot work.  What that means is that given the majority of my structure was to be dedicated to commercial use, the living quarters would be an ‘accessory’ to the true function of the building.  Therefore we would request the building department grant us permission to live in what would is called a “caretakers apartment”, which would be incidental to it’s primary use.
The Brooklyn Paper spoke with the architect about the current state of Red Hook:
Garrison saw his defeat as part of an ongoing conflict in Red Hook between residential and manufacturing. “It’s been a battleground,” Garrison said because industrial businesses do not want Red Hook to become residential. So Garrison’s lot remains zoned for manufacturing, even though it is actually too small to be used for anything except residential. “Common sense is not prevailing here,” Garrison said.
Red Hook blog A View from the Hook shares this sentiment, pointing out that the lot where the project was to be built is next to two residential structures. We'll see how Amato proceeds from here.  Three options he's considering - redefine the project as an office building, file for a zoning variance with its requisite costs and delays, or scrap the site and begin anew somewhere else - will surely add time, cost, and frustration to the already ambitious project.

Scale the Scaffolds on DOB YouTube Channel

The NYC Department of Buildings recently launched a YouTube channel. You'd think the department's time would be better spent actually inspecting buildings instead of making videos about inspecting buildings, but a) given the black eye the department suffered after the two crane accidents two years ago, and b) this is a pretty damn good video, let's let our criticism slide. In fact, this simple black-and-white-photos-and-voiceover film verges on tearjerker. "A lot of the companies out there welcome us and are happy to see us out there performing a safety inspection, and then there's that percentage that want no part to do with us," intones inspector Joseph Coben, the Bronx still thick in his voice. Interesting factoids about the three-year-old scaffolding team abound, like how every scaffold gets a walkthrough no matter how dangerous, and how thankful workers are for the inspector getting them off a dangerous site they can't leave without risking their jobs. Grab some popcorn and a hardhat and enjoy.