Posts tagged with "New York City":

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New York’s floating food forest allows people to pick their own food

The term ‘farm-to-table’ is one that is touted across New York City, but it’s a concept that’s hard to realize for normal city residents without access to farmland (farmers markets and Whole Foods don’t count). Cue Swale: a floating food forest that's built atop a 5,000-square-foot barge that is currently docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 and is looking to revolutionize the food industry in the city. Founded in 2016 by artist Mary Mattingly, Swale allows visitors to forage for their own fruits and vegetables. Acting as both a piece of interactive public art and as a means to provide fresh food, Swale encourages New Yorkers to reconsider their perceptions on edible landscapes—“foodways”—and their relationship to nature. With Swale as a test case, Mattingly aims to shift policies regarding edible landscapes on public land. While there are 100 acres of community garden space in the city, there are actually 30,000 acres of park space. Picking one’s own food is illegal on New York City public land, but it is technically legal on a barge due to waterway common law. “At its heart, Swale is a call to action. It asks us to reconsider our food systems, to confirm our belief in food as a human right and to pave pathways to create public food in public space,” said Mattingly in a press release. Last year, Mattingly transformed the old construction barge by filling it with soil, edible plants, and flowers. This year, thanks to a partnership with the apple cider company Strongbow, alongside other governmental organizations, the barge added apple trees and winding paths. Using edible forestry techniques that mimic natural ecosystems and require less human maintenance, the barge allows for unlimited foraging of anything from asparagus to artichokes to blueberries. After it’s stint at Brooklyn Bridge Park is over on June 30, Swale’s next stop is Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx from July to August. For more on Swale, visit its website here.
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President Trump taps his son’s wedding planner to run N.Y. and N.J. federal housing programs

A longtime Trump family associate will soon be responsible for administering billions of dollars in federal housing funds. Lynne Patton organized the wedding of President's son, Eric Trump, coordinated Trump golf course tournaments, served as the Eric Trump Foundation's vice president, and is a senior aide to the Trump family. News broke today that—starting July 5—she'll be leading U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey. According to the New York Daily News, Patton has a long-running relationship with the Trumps that goes back to 2009 when she started as their "event planner." However, questions have immediately arisen regarding her qualifications for her new role at HUD. Her LinkedIn page lists a J.D. from Quinnipiac University but includes a "N/A"; Yale University is also listed but with no additional information. The New York Attorney General also began "looking into" The Eric Trump Foundation after a report from Forbes appeared to expose practices that broke state laws. Patton's directorship at HUD will include block grants and rental vouchers that go toward senior citizen programs and housing inspections; The New York Daily News reports that HUD funds 100 percent of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)'s capital repair budget and 70 percent of its operational budget. The role Patton is filling has been vacant since January 20.
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SITU Studio crafts a uniquely flexible display system for a New York City vinyl record and audiophile store

Despite the recent resurgence in vinyl record sales, brick-and-mortar music retail remains a challenging business. New York City’s Turntable Lab—which sells vinyl, high-end audiophile equipment, and merchandise, catering to professional DJs and casual listeners alike—had successfully graduated from its small starting location near the Cooper Union to a larger, 1,200-square-foot space nearby. But Turntable’s owners knew their store needed to be nimble to survive. “Products always change…how you display things, where you might need to move things around. Maximum flexibility was what we were shooting for,” said Turntable Lab partner David Azzoni. The new store required that adaptability, but the owners didn’t want to lose the gritty basement feel of the old location.

They turned to Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary firm SITU Studio; the two teams had already collaborated to design a no-frills, flat-pack turntable stand that was successfully Kickstarted. Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny, partner at SITU Studio, said the firm looked to DIY sources for inspiration for the store. “The brilliant detail: It’s a cleat. It’s actually something very straightforward, something your DIY handyman at home will build in his garage for tools,” he explained. The cleats run throughout the space, supporting around 10 different sets of brackets, hooks, and rails, all of which hold stands, shelves, and display inserts.

This system allows for extreme flexibility, but SITU Studio had to work hard to refine the cleat, ensuring that the racks would be secure without requiring tools or extensive force to change them around. Turntable Lab also visited SITU Studio’s workshop throughout the design process, bringing samples of products, to measure what dimensions and displays worked best. “We spent a lot of time just drawing and cutting these things out, playing with just the round-overs, the radiuses…there was a lot of massaging radiuses,” Lukyanov-Cherny recalled. One major decision was to cut out the center of the display brackets, thereby keeping the cases visually open. “It just flows,” said Azzoni.

SITU Studio selected clear finished and untreated Baltic birch plywood for the entire system, with high-pressure laminate for its heavily used surfaces. The plywood—CNC-milled into shape—retains the old shop’s raw, utilitarian feel but balances it with clean lines. And Turntable Lab’s owners couldn’t be happier with the result. Armed with a basic set of display units, they can easily swap out products and how they’re displayed. In the back of the store, each vinyl storage/display unit rolls on wheels and can be moved to make space for events.

Parked among the vinyl records and T-shirts is the old store’s timeworn turntable stand, still used by DJs for in-store concerts. Its plywood has weathered darkly with use, and it sharply contrasts with the fresh plywood around it. But it won’t be the only aged one for long.

“These things can take a beating; you don’t want to refine things that people will be touching. You want to think about materiality and how it ages over time,” Lukyanov-Cherny said. “Eventually,” he added, gesturing from the new plywood displays to the old turntable stand, “they’re all gonna look like this!”

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Artists protest funding cuts to the arts at Trump Tower

On President Donald Trump’s birthday, New York City artists held performances inside Trump Tower’s not-so-secret public gardens to issue a call-to-arms against the White House's proposed budget cuts to arts funding. The performances, which took place earlier today, are part of a rising trend where activists now use Trump Tower’s public gardens as spaces for political activism. The gardens and atriums inside Trump Tower were a part of Trump’s 1979 agreement with the city, which led to the creation of 15,000 square feet worth of public space in exchange for a zoning variance to build an additional 20 stories. The agreement also stipulated that these privately-owned public spaces (POPS) be accessible to the public from 8 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. “Today in an act of resistance, we take back what is rightfully ours, the public space inside Trump Tower, and use the power of art to protest this administration,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, who is also chair of the committee on cultural affairs. “There is an assault on the arts, culture, and thinking in this country right now.” Trump’s budget proposes eliminating federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “We gather as artists and citizens to celebrate our country's commitment to the freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas between all people,” said Lucy Sexton, an artist at the event. Performers used art as a way to cover a wide range of subjects that have been topics of hot conversation in Trump’s administration, including climate change and Russia. Trump himself was also a topic of interest, in performances like Brick x Brick, where participants wore brick-patterned jumpsuits adorned with statements of misogynistic violence made by Trump. The performance was a way to “demonstrate disdain to Trump’s policies,” according to Caterina Bartha, the event’s curator, adding that it was “a gift to New Yorkers who attended the free performance and a call to people across the country to fight to save the arts from Trump’s axe.”
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The Port Authority is in denial about its leaking Oculus

Seen staff mopping inside the World Trade Transportation Hub recently? No, they're not mopping up vomit from puking patrons sick at the sight of the Oculus' horrific detailing. No, no, they're mopping up puddles from leaks. In May, rain resulted in water drizzling down to elevators and balconies in both wings of the Oculus. At $4 billion, the transportation hub's leaks may even be more costly than the Russian kind the U.S. is currently more accustomed to experiencing. In early May, officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (the agency that owns the transit hub) blamed construction work going on at the adjacent 3 World Trade Center. At the time, legislators did call for an investigation into the issue as well. That didn't appear to do much, though. Perhaps, one supposes, the investigation slipped on some marble as the agency in a prepared statement on Friday, May 26, denied that the Oculus was indeed leaking at all. "There were no leaks in the Oculus this week," spokesman Steve Coleman said, despite a reporter witnessing the leaks with their own eyes. "We soak it up and drain it. It’s a lot of work. It’s nonstop," an Oculus mopper told the New York Post recently. "People do have accidents. Like the last rainy day, somebody almost broke their neck here on the marble,” the maintenance worker continued. The victim in question, a woman, was apparently walking down a set of stairs when she slipped on a puddle. "They slipped and they really hurt themselves because, you know, these are marble floors." Construction workers adding the final touches to Santiago Calatrava's billion dollar transit and retail behemoth have said building work was rushed. "Everything is not done so you’ve have to come back and do it,” Shawn Cumberbatch also told the New York Post as he was caulking an unsealed seam in the main room. "They just wasted a lot of cash over here. This should have been done. If they just took their time and got it right the first time, we wouldn’t have this problem." In April this year, two men sustained injuries after an escalator malfunctioned. Earlier in the year, a woman was killed in February when she fell off an escalator after reaching too far for her hat.
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Extensive Alexander Calder exhibition now on display at the Whitney Museum

An extensive exhibition featuring works by Alexander Calder, who renowned for the use of kinetic movement in sculpture, is now on display at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. The exhibition, Calder: Hypermobility, offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience the artist’s works as they were meant to be—in motion. Previously, the dynamic pieces of art were thought to be difficult to show in museums and were often left static. The moving pieces of artworks are motorized and wind-propelled, creating a choreography of rotations and unpredictable movements. Some of Calder’s earliest works are on display, including his early motor-driven abstractions and wall panels with suspended active elements, as well as other major examples from his later years. While people could actually touch Calder’s works themselves during his lifetime, the sculptures at this exhibition can only be set in motion by ‘activators,’ people who are trained to handle the delicate pieces. There’s an intrinsic relationship between the art and the city that only a location at the Whitney can offer. The exhibition space on the eighth floor of the Whitney Museum, where the works are on display, opens up to the city and creates a connection between the city and the gallery space. “This is a show that can only happen in New York,” Jay Sanders, curator of performance at the Whitney, said at the press preview, adding that the exhibition exaggerates the inter-relation between the urban bustle and the artist’s works. “Calder’s works is a wonderful hinge between these realities.” In addition to the gallery display, there will also be a series of performances, concerts, screenings, and episodic, one-time demonstrations led by the Calder Foundation. These contemporary artists will work in dialogue with Calder’s works. Calder: Hypermobility is on view from June 9 to October 23, 2017, at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
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New York City pension funds will no longer invest in private prisons

The pension system provided by New York City will no longer invest in private prisons, Controller Scott Stringer has announced. Before yesterday, the city's pension fund previously held $48 million in stocks and bonds of three private prison companies: GEO Group, CoreCivic, and Group 4 Securicor. However, the controller's office revealed on Thursday that these stocks and bonds had been sold off after a unanimous vote from the fund's trustees. The three companies have a 20 percent-or-higher revenue yield from private prisons. New York City will reportedly keep track on the portfolios on a yearly basis to see if new private prisons are added. “Morally, the industry wants [to] turn back the clock on years of progress on criminal justice, and we can't sit idly by and watch that happen,” Stringer said in the New York Daily News. “Divesting is simply the right thing to do—financially and morally." The decision to sell off the investments in GEO Group, CoreCivic, and G4S was made after a federal audit of private prisons conducted in 2016 found that some were not meeting the standards set by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). One of the findings was:
There were periods after [a] riot during which health services staffing levels failed to meet minimum contractual thresholds. Moreover, between December 2012 and September 2015, the approximately 2,300-inmate Adams County facility was staffed with only a single physician for 434 days (43 percent of the time) and a single dentist for 689 days (69 percent of the time). This resulted in inmate-to-provider ratios that were about double those specified in BOP program statements.
In addition to this, the Daily News reported that eight immigrant detainees have died in the last fiscal year while in private immigration detention centers—these house 65 percent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, so said Stringer’s office. In a statement given to the Daily News, GEO Group said: "We strongly reject the baseless claims that led to this misguided decision. We're proud of our longstanding record providing high quality services, while treating the men and women in our care with the respect and dignity they deserve." Meanwhile, John Adler, chief pension investment advisor to the mayor, commented: "Private prison companies prioritize profits over humane treatment of immigrants and inmates, and their stocks' wild price swings over the past year show the risks inherent in their business model. The Mayor supports divestment from private prisons after thorough analysis from our outside investment consultants, the City Law Department, and the Bureau of Asset Management showed that it was a prudent step for our pension funds to take."  
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Robert Kliment, cofounder of Kliment Halsband Architects, has passed

New York architect Robert Kliment passed away on June 3. Kliment cofounded Kliment Halsband Architects with his wife Frances; the firm received the AIA Firm Award in 1997 and an Honor Award the following year. Kliment Halsband Architects has received upward of 100 awards. In addition to his architecture practice, Kliment was a member of the faculty at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. Best known for his work as a principal designer on the computer science buildings at Princeton and Columbia, the renovation of Yale Divinity School, and courthouses in Brooklyn and Gulfport, Mississippi, Kliment was considered to be a thoughtful, humanistic architect. On the firm’s site, it states, “Our clients are public and private organizations with ambitious educational, cultural, and civic goals.” In its citation for the Firm Award, the AIA jury described the work of Kliment Halsband Architects as “a quiet and persuasive architecture that speaks to the best traditions of our profession.” Most recently, the firm worked on the Sixth Avenue IFC Center in New York. Kliment’s approach could be attributed to his unusual childhood. Born in Prague, Kliment was one of the children rescued by Sir Nicholas George Winton at the beginning of World War Two and made it safely to England. From there Kliment attended school in France and Cuba before studying architecture at Yale for his B.A. After a stint serving with the U.S. Army, Kliment returned to Yale for his master’s degree and won a Fulbright scholarship to study the history and evolution of urban spaces in Italy. He joined Mitchell/Giurgola in 1960 and later opened its New York office. He and his wife founded Kliment Halsband Architects in 1972. Robert is survived by his wife, Frances; son Nick Morris-Kliment and his wife Jamie; son Alex Kliment and his wife Maya; and grandchildren Sam and Lydia Morris-Kliment, and Milan Hernández Kliment.
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The MTA is circulating free e-books on the subway this summer

Instead of staring vacantly into a phone on the train, the MTA and New York City's three public library systems would like straphangers to bury their noses in e-books, gratis. Starting today, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library will be offering hundreds of free short stories, books, and book excerpts for download through each station's wireless network. Available for six weeks only, Subway Library will let you read titles in the library system as well as selects from five publishers' catalogues. And who doesn't like books? Even Governor Andrew I-don't-control-the-MTA Cuomo had kind words for the program. “I am thrilled that the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library are kicking off the summer reading season and offering free e-books to subway riders through the MTA’s TransitWirelessWiFi™,” Cuomo said, referring to the private wireless services provider for the subway system. “The Subway Library will encourage adults and children to explore new worlds through reading during their daily commute, while spreading awareness of our Wi-Fi and connectivity services underground.” To promote the program, the MTA's gone all out and decked out a real train: Inside, the promotional car is gussied up to resemble the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library's main branch on 42nd Street: The industrial grey-blue seats are transformed into faux wood benches as book-lined wallpaper edges the car, though the titles are more suggestive than substantive. Curious riders can catch the special train on the E and F lines' 6th and 8th Avenue corridors.
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Live architecture-focused performances will debut across New York City this November

Performa, an organization dedicated to live performance across various disciplines, will be launching a new program centered around the relationship between architecture and performance in New York City for their seventh edition of the Performa Biennial. The program, titled Circulations, is comprised of site-specific live performances and architectural experimentations in iconic venues throughout the city. Through performance, Circulations aims to examine the movement of bodies in space while looking at how architecture exists in today’s built environment. “From our daily routines, to the spaces that Performa identifies as frame or backdrop for Performa Commissions, it is the built environment that shapes our behavior and impacts our understanding of space,” said RoseLee Goldberg, founding director and curator of Performa, in a press release. Projects by various architects will be brought to life. Montreal-based architect François Dallegret’s “The Environment-Bubble,” a blueprint envisioning a flexible dome capable of hosting multiple occupants, will become a (temporary) reality and roam the city as an inflatable structure, hosting dance workshops. Philip Johnson’s Glass House will be occupied by French artist Jimmy Robert, transforming the icon into a stage “that delves into the intersections of architecture, visibility, and black representation.” Other artists and architects will present installations and performances, including a collaboration between the Marching Cobras of New York, a Harlem-based after-school drum line and dance team, with Bryony Roberts and Mabel O. Wilson, architects and professors at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). This performance, "Marching On," was commissioned by the Storefront for Art and Architecture. “New York, with its dense urban fabric and complex history—from its Downtown mystique to its real estate–driven present—is the ideal location for a program like this,” said Charles Aubin, principal curator of Circulations, in the press release. “The artists and architects treat the city as a platform for experimentation where human beings and their activities confront the built environment.” Performa will also be launching a publication focusing on historical and contemporary works by architects who have incorporated performance into their practice, as well as a symposium that further examines the historical relationship between buildings and cities. Circulations will take place from November 1 to 19, 2017.
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MTA considering a car-free busway on 14th Street ahead of L train shutdown

In anticipation of the upcoming L train shutdown in 2019, the Department of Transit (DOT) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) are examining the possibilities for a car-free busway for a portion of, or the entirety of, 14th Street in Manhattan. According to a Streetsblog NYC article, the agencies presented four potential options to a Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee last night. These options are meant to alleviate traffic that will inevitably result from the L train offload, which amounts up to 275,000 people daily. Here’s what was presented: A “standard” Select Bus Service (dedicated lanes with no physical separation), an “enhanced” Select Bus Service (additional turn and curb restrictions), a car-free busway in the middle blocks of 14th Street, and a completely closed-off, river-to-river street dedicated only to buses. The presentation also included three alternative bus route plans between Brooklyn and Manhattan; one would run from the Grand Street L stop and over the Williamsburg Bridge, heading up First Avenue to 14th Street, and the other two routes would link to the Broadway-Lafayette station. The MTA has already ordered an additional 200 buses for the duration of the 15-month-shutdown. They have anticipated that between 75 to 85 percent of the daily riders will use other subway lines, while only 5 to 15 percent of riders will turn to bus services—which could easily turn the J/M/Z and G subway lines into a nightmare. These new, “attractive” bus options could help increase bus ridership, officials said at the meeting. “The difference for the average user is really dramatic,” said Transportation Alternatives organizer Tom DeVito to Streetsblog. “They made the point loud and clear that they want those 200 buses to be moving people as efficiently as possible.”  
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Fogarty Finger unveils 22-story tower next to historic Dimes Bank in Brooklyn

New York–based architecture firm Fogarty Finger along with developers Charney Construction & Development, 1 Oak Contracting, and Tavros Capital Partners, unveiled its latest project: a new 22-story mixed-use tower integrated with the historic Dimes Saving Bank of Williamsburg in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The site, nicknamed “The Dime,” involves a 342,451-square-foot building at 263 South 5th Street, with over 100,000 square feet dedicated solely to office space, 50,000 square feet of retail, and 177 rental apartments. The project is aimed towards the increasing number of office tenants in the area and features an open-plan space with large floor plates. The building's streamlined aesthetic with ribbon windows and rounded corners is a nod to art moderne architecture, particularly Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson Wax building and New York’s Starrett–Light building, according to the architects. The facade will be clad in white terra cotta tiles in reference to the neo-classical bank, which will also be undergoing a renovation. “It was tying back to the bank building, but the idea that the bank building and what we were using for the new building are materials that were used at the same time,” Chris Fogarty, a partner at Fogarty Finger, said to Commercial Observer. The restoration of the 16,700-square-foot bank will involve revitalizing existing columns and maximizing natural lighting by replacing the current skylight. The plan is to let the old Dime bank become a flexible commercial area, with spaces for a showroom, an office lobby for tenants, or stand-alone retail. The project’s strategic location, which is close to the Marcy Avenue J/M/Z stop, offers commuters a solution to the upcoming L train shutdown, according to the architects. “The Dime building will create the perfect gateway to Brooklyn, welcoming inhabitants at the crossroads of the bridge, the BQE, and the elevated train tracks, creating an iconographic project that merges the past and future of the city,” the firm said in a press release. Construction is expected to begin in June 2017 and finish by 2019.