New York University released renderings yesterday of the new Davis Brody Bond and KieranTimberlake–designed 23-story building (dubbed 181 Mercer) on the corner of Houston and Mercer streets, where the Cole Sports Center once stood. Bordering I.M. Pei’s University Village, the tessellated glass building will be 735,000 square feet and includes plans for 58 new classrooms, 50 practice rooms, 20 music instruction rooms, a 350-seat proscenium theater, 10 multi-use rooms for the performing arts, an orchestral ensemble room (the university’s first), and housing for approximately 420 freshmen students and at least 30 faculty. This will make it NYU’s largest classroom building. Additionally, it will include common areas, such as an athletic facility with a lap pool, basketball courts, and other fitness areas that collectively will serve as the new hub of the NYU sports facilities. Both firms have worked on collegiate campuses such as Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Cornell as well as many others, and wanted this building to be a visual departure from the Cole Sports Center, which was described as opaque and monolithic. The architects opted to only use 80 percent of the permitted square footage to create a sense of permeability and keep the structure open to the public. Greene Street will be extended as a pedestrian walkway between the building and the University Village to create an open feel on campus. Fostering a sense of lightness and transparency was key to the design, which incorporates green roofs, glass panels, outdoor terraces, and common areas and pushes circulation spaces to the perimeter. The project has been in the works since plans were filed and approved by City Council in 2012. Construction is set to begin February 2017 and will be completed in 2021. The projected cost is $1.b million.
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On its tenth anniversary, the local nonprofit development corporation Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has released a report that details just how well the development of downtown Brooklyn is going. Downtown Rising: How Brooklyn became a model for urban development demonstrates how, since its 2004 rezoning, private investors have put more than $10 billion into Downtown Brooklyn. The report was commissioned by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and produced by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy at NYU. “Downtown Brooklyn has harnessed its determined capacity for creative change to undergo a true rebirth over the past decade,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Partnership. “This report demonstrates just how far strong civic leadership can go when it’s bolstered by smart public investment, and provides the first definitive account of how we came so far, so fast—and where we need to go from here.” At a panel hosted at NYU and moderated by Professor of Urban Policy and Planning Mitchell L. Moss last week, Reed, Joe Chan (executive vice president, Empire State Development Corporation), Regina Myer (president, Brooklyn Bridge Park), and Hugh O'Neill (president of economic consulting firm Appleseed) discussed the report and next steps for downtown Brooklyn. Since the creation of a central business district in the Group of 35 report, Downtown Brooklyn has transformed itself into a tech hub, a center of arts and culture, a nexus of higher education. Between 2000 and 2013, the district's population grew by 17 percent. The number of residents with a bachelor's degree nearly doubled, and median household income grew by 22 percent. Reed mentioned that, as part of its community development goals, the Partnership "is working on workforce development" to close a skills and opportunity gap among residents without a college degree. The report has five recommendations for continued growth which center on clearing barriers for development through incentives and flexible zoning, as well as greater investment in transportation, the arts, and public space:
Downtown Brooklyn and the city should ensure that innovative new companies have room to grow through increased—and targeted—commercial office space investment.
The city should learn from the 2004 rezoning of the area, which allowed flexible permissive zoning and land use policies and resulted in a surge in development. The city should avoid trying to achieve narrowly defined policy objectives by enacting overly detailed zoning restrictions and prescriptions.
The city should continue to invest in innovative public space improvements, such as the Brooklyn Strand initiative and completion of Brooklyn Bridge Park, that make Downtown Brooklyn a more attractive place to live, work, invest, do business, and visit.
Developers and property owners, non-profit organizations, and the city need to work together to ensure that cultural institutions, arts organizations, and individual artists can continue to play a vital role in the ongoing transformation of Downtown Brooklyn.
The city needs to address long-standing gaps in the area’s transportation networks, including lack of transit access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, difficulties in getting between the core of Downtown Brooklyn and the waterfront, and the scarcity of good options for travel between existing and new waterfront neighborhoods and growing concentrations of jobs along the East River.
Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition gets $1.5 million state grant to build Richard Joon Yoo– and Uri Wegman–designed memorial
This year marks the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the most lethal industrial disasters in the United States. To the shock and delight of labor activists and descendants of workers who died in the fire, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that the state would provide a $1.5 million grant to Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition (RTFC) to build a memorial at 29 Washington Place, the site of the former factory. The grant, culled from state economic development funds, will cover the full cost of construction, the New York Times reports. The building that housed the factory still stands. Now owned by New York University (NYU), it houses some of NYU's biology and chemistry labs. Due to its significant place in labor history and the women's rights movement, the structure is a New York City and a National Historic Landmark. In 2013, New York-based architects Richard Joon Yoo and Uri Wegman won the memorial design competition sponsored by RTFC. Yoo has his own firm, Half & Half Architecture, while Wegman practices at Matthew Baird. Their design,“Reframing the Sky,” is sensitive to the historic architecture while bringing visibility to labor issues, past and present. The names of 146 victims will be inscribed on steel panels 13 feet above the sidewalk. At about knee height, a mirrored steel panel will reflect the etched names above before shooting up the side of the building to the eighth floor, where the fire originated. The lower panel will also feature a description of the blaze and its aftermath. The insufficient fire safety and emergency exit measures the disaster exposed strengthened the organizing of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) and prompted building code and fire prevention reforms nationwide. Mary Anne Trasciatti, president of RTFC, stated that the organization will raise an additional $1 million to maintain the memorial. The money will also fund scholarships for the children of present-day garment workers and students pursuing labor history.
Archtober Building of the Day #23 NYU School of Professional Studies 7 East 12th Street Mitchell | Giurgola Architects, LLP A rainy day did not deter Archtober, and the hardy were amply rewarded with an up-to-the-minute view of an urban university hard at work. I want to change the name to “multi-versity” to capture the many different functions, schools, demographics, studies, and programs that the ever expanding universe of NYU now comprises. A recent addition is the newly renamed School of Professional Studies on 12th Street. Carol Loewenson and Stephen Dietz of Mitchell-Giurgola Architects, led the tour of the renovated Fairchild Printing Building. Projects like these—complex renovations where some operations must be maintained in place—require the steady, strong leadership of architects who find the puzzle of programmatic problem solving the bread and butter of successful practice. The entire facade was replaced, and a bit of fun was had in the slightly random placing of vertical aluminum shading fins with an occasional dichroic glass accent fin. Dietz said that the randomness reflected the variety of career paths that this particular branch of NYU caters to. A part of the whole university by day, by night, the building is filled with continuing education students—career changers, retoolers, and reinventers. The variety of programmatic areas accommodate both. Never think that spatial pragmatism leads only to dullness. A three-story stair in the lobby is enfronted by a shiny, mango-colored Venetian plaster core wall, and the terrazzo floor has bright cobalt speckles that jazz up the sturdy color scheme of indestructible surfaces. Every level has small puddles of space suitable for scattered gathering. Snippets of wood trim decorate the window sills, and much is made of the wood doors and frames. But where are the comfy old green leather sofas? My only quibble was one of character—all these open work areas and glass-walled conference rooms will seamlessly segue into the urban professional world of the workplace, but will they leave an indelible impression on the searching mind?
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture and Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater.
It seems only fitting that New York City, the most densely populated city in the United States, is now home to a new academic institute devoted to the study of cities and urbanization. After receiving a generous $40 million donation from billionaire and NYU trustee Donald Marron, New York University launched the Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment this week. According to the institute’s website, the institute is an “interdisciplinary and international effort to advance vital new research and teaching on cities and the urban environment,” and will “help cities around the world become more livable, sustainable, and equitable.”
Yesterday, John Hill, arguably the city's most prolific architecture critic, finished up one of his latest projects, entitled "31 in 31." In addition to his usual flood of posts, Hill is chronicling one building every day in August, in preparation for a new guide book. The buildings are scattershot, ranging from the new Crocs super store in the West Village to One Bryant Park, but most of them are new and, in a way Hill always seems to manage, representative of precisely what has been going on in the city recently—not comprehensive, but authoritative. It's a rundown worth running down, but one building in particular caught our eye: the rather unassuming Wilf Hall at NYU. The project is not yet complete, but it caused quite a stir when it was proposed. Local preservationists objected to the project because it would destroy the Provincetown Playhouse, where Arthur Miller got his start, as well as the home of a number of other old, long-gone bohemian haunts. (Granted prerservationists object when NYU sneezes.) Even though the project is not located in a historic district, master faker Morris Adjmi was brought in, an architect known for his historically sensitive work, including the Scholastic Building in Soho and the High Line Building across from the Standard. Here, Adjmi appears to have pulled off a very nice set of four modern rowhouses, rather prettier ones than the building it replaced. The retained and restored facade of the Provincetown Playhouse is particularly notable for how draws attention to the historic structure, highlighting it instead of hiding it. It is a refreshing building after so much massive development by the university, from Philip Johnson's unusual Bobst Library to the downright awful Kimmel Center. It would seem this is the first project from NYU to make good on its promise to respect the scale and architecture of the Village—a promise that may not hold if its bombshell of an expansion plan is approved in the coming months and years. So what does Andrew Berman, head of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and leading NYU antagonist think of Adjmi's building? He is not impressed, to say the least. In response to a query from the Observer, he sent over the following email:
The Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments was one of the most historically and culturally significant buildings in New York City, and should never have been demolished. It was the home not only of the world-famous theater, but of a collection of institutions which were called by historians "the cornerstone of bohemia" and "the locus of cultural activity and the gathering places of all the figures associated with the Greenwich Village Renaissance that began the era of Modernism in the U.S." The entire building had been determined eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places, and for a mere increase of 17,000 sq. ft.of space NYU chose to demolish rather than renovate or reuse the building, though only five years earlier they had demolished several other historic edifices including the Poe House and Judson Houses just across the street to make way for yet another mammoth Law School building. To add insult to injury, NYU's promise to preserve in perpetuity about 5% of the original building was secretly compromised when, behind construction walls, they actually demolished part of the tiny theater space and kept that fact hidden, which was only revealed by vigilant neighbors and GVSHP. Is the new building less overwhelming and oppressive than many other recent NYU projects? Of course, but it would be a shame if that were the sliding scale by which we judged the university. Wilf Hall will sadly always be a monument to the university's broken promises and greed, and to the loss of yet another irreplaceable piece of New York's proud history.So much for community outreach.