Posts tagged with "New York":

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Review> Lessons from P! Gallery’s recent exhibition on East German designer Klaus Wittkugel

Ost Und oder West [East and West], Klaus Wittkugel P! Gallery Ended February 21 How does one do good work for bad people? This oversimplified question is especially relevant for architects, and one that the recent exhibition of work by East German graphic designer Klaus Wittkugel at P! Gallery asked us to consider, while simultaneously while treating us to some modernist visual pleasure. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall we have been taught that capitalism is the end-all-be-all system to structure our society, and consumption is the answer to our desires, overwhelmingly influencing our aesthetics and our ethics. But looking at the oeuvre of this little-known figure, Klaus Wittkugel, who was the head designer of the German Democratic Republic’s Socialist Ministry of Information, we find an alternate reality: a sense of aesthetic purpose that, while firmly modernist, shows a softer, more figurative and less abstract approach to design. And yet at times it can be reminiscent of Socialist Realism propaganda, today usually met with finger wagging and dismissals of kitsch: the prefered visuals of dictators, with smiles beaming sunshine and 150 percent worker productivity embodied in a visual image. Yet what this show, Ost Und oder West [East and West], revealed is a more complex relationship between design and power, and the extent of artistic freedom under Soviet Communism in postwar Germany. The exhibition is not only impressive for the work it contains, but also for how it was assembled. P! founder and director, Prem Krishnamurthy, spent more than seven years assembling Wittkugel’s work into a thorough survey of books, posters, exhibitions, and signage, found in auspicious moments at used bookstores and by scouring eBay. The work of Wittkugel displayed in the gallery was in a visual style that positions him as an heir to the legacies of early 20th Century design legends El Lissitzky and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, like a long-lost East German cousin of the earlier German Bauhaus and Russian Constructivist diasporas. The judicious use of mis-en-abyme—the graphic technique of creating an infinity mirror, a recursive visual trick of an image containing a smaller version of itself in a window in a window in a window in a…—we might describe today as being very “meta.” Krishnamurthy acknowledges that “one of the things that really attracted me to his work is there’s a strain of self-reflexivity about the production of graphic design. So you have a poster, for an exhibition of posters, that is a freshly-postered poster column,” which the P! exhibition continued, recreating the poster column on the gallery facade. All of this is juxtaposed with a companion exhibition at OSMOS Gallery on the work of Anton Stankowski, a former classmate of Wittkugel’s from the Folkwangschule Essen, who went on to work in West Germany and Zurich, designing many corporate logos, most notably the minimal Deutsche Bank slash-in-square, still in use today. While Stankowski designed symbols of Western capital, Wittkugel designed the visual manifestation of the political and cultural ambitions of Soviet East Germany in the form of an elegantly embellished cursive visual identity, dinnerware, and signage for the now-demolished Palast der Republik. While works like Wittkugel’s signage for the Kino International relate more literally to architecture, the conceptual lessons the exhibition has for architectural practice speak more to architecture’s inevitable collaborations with people whose values may not align with one’s own. You can refrain from designing prisons if you object to incarceration, but it doesn’t mean some architect somewhere won’t design that prison, so why not engage and attempt to design a more humane prison? The importance of critical engagement is shown in Wittkugel’s 1957 exhibition Militarism without Masks, a polemical, anti-West German exhibition featuring former Nazis who became part of the West German government, displayed on a cleverly designed rotating vertical triangular louvered wall, just one example of very compelling exhibition design. Any serious international cultural institution would be remiss not to consider exhibiting, or even adopting, this collection of thought-provoking work from a precarious moment in design history.
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Pringle-topped Coney Island Amphitheater on the Boardwalk set to open this July

The Coney Island boardwalk, arguably the best place in New York for people-watching and watching people consume copious amounts of fried seafood, is about to get a new spiffy venue: the long-anticipated, 5,000-seat Coney Island Amphitheater on the Boardwalk is set to open this July. Although plans have been in the works to open the venue for a few years, this is the first official announcement of a set opening date. The Amphitheater will host sports, concerts, and film screenings under its potato-chip-like awning. Plans call to adaptively integrate the Childs Building, long vacant, into the building's program. With the Landmarks Preservation Commission's blessing in 2013, the 1923 building is set to be fitted with 50-foot-tall doors that will let breezes flow inside during the summer, but that can also be shuttered during the winter months for year-round use (the building used to host Lola Star's roller disco before that event moved to the Lefrak Center at Prospect Park). Anticipating the popularity of summertime events, overflow crows from the amphitheater and the Childs Building can be accommodated in a 40,000-square-foot outdoor space, next to the boardwalk. The developer is New York–based iStar Financial. https://www.instagram.com/p/TvUQVXItCL/?tagged=childsbuilding
New York City Economic Development Corporation worked out a deal between iStar and the nonprofit Coney Island USA in 2014. The city invested $60 million in the project, which facilitated the property acquisition, reuse of the Childs Building, the building of the Amphitheater and outdoor space.
"The opening of the new amphitheater further enriches Coney Island’s long history of offering the City of New York, and especially the borough of Brooklyn, unique entertainment in a seaside environment,” said Dick Zigun, founder of the sideshow and CEO of Coney Island USA.  “We are looking forward to making the traditional Coney Island events, such as the Mermaid Parade, even bigger and better with the addition of Brooklyn's newest destination attraction.”
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Could pneumatic tubes on the High Line help New York achieve zero waste by 2030?

When New York City's massive, visible-from-space Fresh Kills landfill closed in 2001, the city began trucking its garbage—around 14 million tons annually—to other states. Former Mayor Bloomberg tried to soften this unsustainable solution with a 2006 plan to transport waste by train and barge instead of trucks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 192,000 tons per year. Now, with Mayor de Blasio's ambitious "zero waste" plan for landfills by 2030, the need for revamped waste management systems is pressing. Could old-school pneumatic tubes help the City meet its goal? Pneumatic tubes seem like a futuristic waste disposal technology, but they are widely employed in Europe and parts of the U.S., including New York's Roosevelt Island and Disney World. Indeed, some parts of New York used to get mail delivered by pneumatic tubes. How could this system work on a large scale today? ClosedLoops, an infrastructure planning and development firm, has been researching this question for five years. The team hopes to create a pneumatic tube system, the High Line Corridor Network, underneath the High Line park on Manhattan's Far West Side. Now in the pre-development phase, the team chose the High Line to test their prototype because its height eliminates the need to tunnel beneath the streets. Waste would be sucked from the park and nearby buildings and deposited in a central terminal for overland carting to landfills outside of New York. As of December 2015, NYS Energy Research and Development Authority and NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) are on board, and the DSNY (plus the NYC DOT) have offered to support the grant proposal for the project. If trash tubes were installed citywide, it would be possible to track who produces the most (and least) waste, and mete out fee-for-service accordingly. The project will take a few more years to come fully to fruition. In the meantime, there are plenty of places to see pneumatic tubes in action, including your local drive-thru: https://www.flickr.com/photos/benfrantzdale/5022238452
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AECOM tapped to lead the next set of coastal resiliency measures for Manhattan

The City of New York has selected AECOM to lead the design and build of coastal resiliency measures for Manhattan, formerly known as the Dryline (and before that, BIG U). The project team includes Dewberry, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and ONE Architecture. BIG and ONE provided the original vision for the 10-mile-long project, and are working on the project's Lower East Side component (Phase 1). That phase, which should be complete by 2017, runs from Montgomery Street to East 23rd Street. That (fully funded) $335 million initiative incorporates parkland and recreational space into and over berms and heavy-duty flood barriers in the East River. Starr Whitehouse collaborated with the firms on the landscape design. AECOM and Dewberry New York–based firms responded to a request for proposals issued by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). The duo's design will encircle the lower Manhattan waterfront for around 3.5 miles, from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side, around the island's southern tip, to Harrison Street in Tribeca. The project is expected to cost more than $1 billion, Crain's reports. New York State Senator Chuck Schumer secured $176 million in federal funds for the project, while the City has set aside $100 million in capital funds last year, on top of an earlier $15 million contribution. There's no renderings yet available of AECOM and Dewberry's design, but AN will keep you updated as the project progresses.
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No two walks under this responsive installation in a bridge above the High Line will ever be the same

The High Line in New York is spinning off art projects on all sides. For those seeking an immersive architectural walk, tailored to the conditions of their surroundings, a non-discrete bridge in Chelsea may be the answer. https://vimeo.com/150895684 It may be only a small-scale intervention, but a public bridge running next to the High Line now houses a scintillating display of interior lighting. During the day and from an external perspective, the bridge appears mundane, dated even, and of no particular interest. Step inside however, and the bridge comes to life. Taking responsive architecture to the extreme, the 70-by-10-foot installation called Prismatic_NYC utilizes 66 individual prisms, each individually powered by a brushless motor. Subsequently 40,000 integrated LED’s beam across the bridge in a wave-like form. Prismatic_NYC is the work of Hyphen-Labs working alongside IA Interior Architects installed an array of rotating light prisms within the structure. The light show isn’t static either. Using online weather sources, the display responds to changes in the local climate awarding each user a unique experience. A staggering amount data is accumulated to achieve this. Cloud cover, wind speed, humidity, and the accumulation or intensity of precipitation, frequency, speed, and position of the "light-wave," to name a few, go into the installation's lightscape. To amplify the experience further, the designers behind Prismatic_NYC stated that "temperature changes generate a noise function that develops the sculptures color and light behavior." And in order to be in tune with seasonal/holiday moods, a built-in calendar checks for seasons and holidays, sunrises and sunsets, tidal movements, and lunar and celestial events. In theory, no walk through the bridge should ever be the same on different occasions. As a result, the fully enclosed bridge hence connects travellers to the conditions outside while providing them with shelter. One can easily imagine hearing the rain from inside, or seeing the sun set and being exposed to the structures interpretations. "Prismatic allows us to meditate on the beauty of light, geometry, and waveforms.  Each side distinguishable from the other as they absorb, reflect, and generate light," said Hyphen-Labs on its website. "Harmonious luminescent rotations broadcast oscillating waves that spread out through the space and constantly reflecting our changing environment." "The design of the tapered prisms went through various iterations. Generative and parametric design approaches ensured the optimization of the visual experience," the designers continued. "The prisms’ physical components, fabrication, applet, website, and experience are of custom design, using the highest quality materials to ensure maximum performance for the next five years."
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Renderings finally revealed for the base of the Western Hemisphere’s tallest tower

With all the attention focused on the impossible height of New York's new crop of supertalls, it's easy to forget that even skyscrapers have a tether to earth. Renderings were recently revealed for the base of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill's 1,550-foot-tower, which, when complete, will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Most mere mortals will never ascend to Central Park Tower's 95th floor, let alone live in one of its 182 condominium units, but it will be possible to go shopping at its base. The anchor tenant, Seattle–based Nordstrom, will occupy 363,000 square feet over eight floors: Three below and five aboveground. James Carpenter Design Associates created the undulating glass facade that runs up seven stories from the sidewalk. The sprawling department store will be Nordstrom's first Manhattan flagship, but it won't be contained to 217 West 57th Street, The Seattle Times reports. As seen in the two renderings below, the retail footprint will blend new and old by extending into three adjacent prewar buildings. Nordstrom's, along with the rest of the building, is expected to open in 2019.
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This 3D topographic installation raises questions on the high cost of housing in New York City

Besides the overcrowded L and the overabundance of Starbucks/Chase Banks, one of New York's favorite things to kvetch about is the rent: it's too damn high. Now, through Wage Island, an installation created by a New York–based interaction and information designer, it's possible to see in 3D how much housing really costs in this city. https://vimeo.com/138549946 Ekene Ijeoma's Wage Islands sprang from the designer's conversations with Fast Food Forward, a labor advocacy organization that's pushing for a higher minimum wage for fast food workers. Compelled by the group's commentary on how difficult it is for minimum wage workers to pay for housing, Ijeoma put his designer's training to work, correlating median monthly housing costs of each neighborhood with the amount one would have to earn to afford to live there. "This created a poetic way of creating empathy between minimum wage workers and citizens they serve; making the issue about everyone," Ijeoma mused. He collaborated with a team of six to execute the GIS modeling of New York City, design and build the model, and program the Arduino board that controls the islands' topography. Wage Islands was commissioned for Measure, the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s exhibition that ran from August 14 through September 19, 2015. The map's elevations are comprised of over 500 pieces of laser-cut acrylic. Elevations are derived from median monthly housing costs in different neighborhoods, with $271 on the low end and $4,001 at the top. The islands are situated in a tray filled with blue-black water. The user can adjust the amount of water in the box by scaling wages up from the city minimum of $8.75 per hour to a high of $77 per hour. The tallest peaks represent the most affordable neighborhoods; those who make at least $77 per hour have the luxury to choose Manhattan's tony Tribeca or Brooklyn's Brownsville, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. Precision, and reflection on the real world factors that go into determining affordability, is scuttled in favor of highly evocative representation. New York is a renter's city: Less than a third of residents own their own homes. When asked what data was used to gauge median rents, Ijeoma explained that "this was more about looking at New York City together and not separating the different neighborhoods and people from the larger issue." He used the American Community Survey's (ACS) median monthly housing costs as a stand-in for median rents, although ACS data covers both housing costs incurred by homeowners and renters. 69 percent of New Yorkers rent, not own, so the choice to rely on this ACS dataset is unclear. The American Housing Survey, however, has fine-grained data on renters for major metro areas.)

Like Fannie and Freddie, Ijeoma pegs affordability to spending no more than 30 percent of one's income on housing. That's sensible advice, but more than half of New Yorkers are, by this measure, rent burdened, spending over 30 percent of their income on rent.

Affordability guidelines are generally broken down by the number of bedrooms per unit as a proxy for household size. Instead of looking at average rents across neighborhoods, or rents for units of one particular size, Ijeoma dismissed those nuances as irrelevant for this project, as "[the data] would've more or less looked the same because of the geo-spatial interpolation and translation into 3D."

Currently, Ijeoma is doing a stint at Orbital as a designer-in-residence, where he's working on a mapping project that covers a broader swath of America, as well as a project that addresses social media–engaged phone-zombies who blunder through the streets of New York.
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Architect Gary Handel on designing the world’s tallest Passive House residential project

As designers and builders around the world have, in recent years, embraced Passive House standards, one question has remained: will it scale? Is the Passive House approach to sustainable design suited only to small-scale ("house") projects, or might it be applied to other, larger, building types? Handel Architects has answered the latter question with a resounding yes in its Cornell University Residences, a 26-story tower for the institution's new Roosevelt Island Campus. When complete, the project will be the tallest and largest residential building in the world built to the strict Passive House code. Handel Architects' Gary Handel will deliver a keynote address on the challenges and opportunities represented by the Cornell University Residences at the Facades+AM DC symposium March 10. The building's prefabricated metal-panel building envelope is a key contributor to its overall energy-saving strategy. "The facade design is the 'passive driver' of the thermal performance of the building," explained Handel. "Higher thermal performance of the enclosure means less energy used to heat and cool the interior. This in turn means smaller, more efficient equipment to deliver the heat or cooling, which means lower energy input overall and thus a lower 'carbon footprint' than a conventionally enclosed building." The high performance facade, in other words, is the metaphorical substructure upon which the project's "active" systems are built. As with any cutting-edge endeavor, the project has not been without hiccups. "Implementation of the details has probably been the biggest challenge, as some of these details have never been implemented in a building of this size," said Handel. As an example, he cited the difficulty of installing sealing tape along portions of the facade interior that are obstructed by the building structure. In addition, explained Handel, "having the entire team—designers, suppliers, contractors—buy into the concept of a world class sustainable building and be committed to the goal has been a constant challenge." The overall experience has nonetheless been rewarding. "Designing solutions to challenges . . . has been part of the learning process we've undergone," concluded Handel. Hear more from Handel and other key players in the world of facade design and fabrication next month at Facades+ AM DC. See a complete symposium schedule and register today on the event website.
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Back to the Future: New York City explores streetcar transit route linking outer boroughs

Remember the New York City streetcar? Unless you're a New Yorker of a certain age, you definitely don't. Advances in transportation technology (what die-hard conspiracy theorists refer to as Great American Streetcar Scandal) drove streetcars all over the U.S. straight to the last stop. Yet, it's now very possible that two neighboring boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, will be reunited once again via a new streetcar line of their very own. The streetcar plans legitimate what transportation planners (and Michael Kimmelman) have known for years: commuting patterns in the city have changed, and the hub-and-spoke model no longer serves diffuse, inter- outer-borough commuting patterns. In his State of the City address last week, Mayor de Blasio proposed a 16-mile waterside streetcar route, the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), that would run through 14 neighborhoods, from Brooklyn's Sunset Park through Astoria, Queens. These areas have seen swift transitions from their industrial origins and rapid population growth as the waterfront settles comfortably into its post-industrial future. Renderings are credited to a nonprofit called the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector. According to The Daily News, members include "transit experts, community leaders and business giants like Doug Steiner of Steiner Studios, investor Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Helena Durst of the Durst Organization real estate firm." When the plan was announced in January, AN reached out the the nonprofit repeatedly for comment to confirm stakeholders and received no response. With backers like these, concerns about gentrification and potentially developer-driven policy have been raised. Some see the streetcar idea as a way to spur already-high land values along the waterfront, although the streetcar could also provide the more than 40,000 residents of waterfront NYCHA complexes with better access to public transportation. Others have raised concerns about locating the line in a flood zone. Still others have questioned why the city needs to spend billions on a new form of transportation, one that moves at a pokey 12 miles-per-hour, when bus service could be offered along a similar route. There is time to debate: Although energy around the plan is high, the groundbreaking is a long way off. The plan's timeline states that construction is expected to begin in 2019, and service could begin in 2024. The city pegs the cost at around $2.5 billion, although earlier estimates ran $800 million lower.
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Futuristic coffee shop, Voyager Espresso, opens in New York’s Financial District

Voyager Espresso, a 550-square-foot coffee bar, brings the perks of artisanal coffee to New York’s perpetually caffeine craving Financial District in the new Fulton Center. The bar opened in January and was crafted by New York–based design practice Only If, a team of five architects and designers founded in 2013. The clients, a pair of Australians, wanted the space to look distinctly different from the ubiquitous white tile, reclaimed wood, and Edison bulb coffee shop aesthetic and had ambitious plans despite their tight budget. With this in mind, Adam Frampton, principal at Only If, opted for an “inexpensive but futuristic” material palette of aluminum enamel painted oriented strand board, black marble, perforated aluminum and copper, and black rubber. “In such a small and constrained space, our first intuition was to be very pragmatic with the layout and articulate the design through the materials and details. However, we didn’t want to simply decorate the space,” Frampton said. “It soon became apparent that a more figural gesture—albeit less efficient in terms of quantity of seating—improved ergonomics within the service area and produced a greater identity and hierarchy.” Frampton also devised a layout based on two circles: The positive volume, a barista station, allows two baristas to work simultaneously and a negative volume, the "grotto," a seating space carved out of the surrounding walls. Frampton and his team worked through many iterations before landing on this clever configuration. “The method of exhausting all possibilities until the best fit emerges is probably something that came from my experience working at OMA,” said Frampton. “What’s really interesting about the layout is how it activates different social settings and creates different types of seating.” The careful planning paid off: After seven weeks of preparing the design and obtaining the correct permit, drawing, and construction documents, the space was built in about eight weeks. It is now open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 110 William Street through the John Street subway entrance.
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Apple shows love to New York’s historic neighborhoods and the Landmarks Conservancy takes notice

The New York Landmarks Conservancy is honoring Apple with its 2016 Chairman's Award. The award, to be given at a fundraising luncheon where individual tickets start at $500, honors the company for "their contribution to preserving, restoring, and repurposing notable historic structures in New York City." Although Apple's New York flagship store, on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th streets, is recognized widely for its modern glass cube, the company has four stores in historically significant locations around the city. Apple has a shop in Grand Central Terminal, a New York City landmark, and stores within the Soho, Gansevoort Market, and Upper East Side historic districts. With 700,000 travellers passing through Grand Central Terminal, that store is the most heavily trafficked of the historic four, Apple Insider speculates. In March, the NYLC will recognize the company's commitment to historic preservation (or locating stores in historic areas, as there is no explicit preservation agenda in the stores' design). The Chairman's Award was started in 1988 to recognize "exceptional commitment to the protection and preservation of the rich architectural heritage of New York." The NYLC is different from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission: the latter is a city government group that decides which districts and structures receive recognition for the historic, cultural, or architectural merits and subsequent protection under local historic preservation laws. The former is a nonprofit advocacy organization that protects the architectural heritage of New York City by advocating for preservation-friendly policy at the state, local, and national level; running workshops and providing technical assistance; and providing loans and grants for preservation of individual structures, sites, and neighborhoods.
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Goldstein, Hill & West Architects designs Long Island City’s tallest tower yet

Goldstein, Hill & West Architects (GHWA), in partnership with developer Chris Xu, just unleashed a 79-story residential tower on Long Island City, Queens. At 963 feet tall, the tower will be 305 feet taller than its neighbor, CitiGroup's 50-story One Court Square, already one of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood. The ground floor will sport 19,721 square feet of retail, while 774 apartments will be spread over 759,412 square feet of residential space. Xu bought the 79,000-square-foot site for $143 million from Citigroup in July 2015, YIMBY reports. This is not the New York–based firm's first high rise: GHWA is behind Long Island City's 42–12 28th Street, a 57-story residential tower, as well as 605 West 42nd Street, a glassy 60-story residential tower "detailed in a clean modernist idiom." Walking down Jackson Avenue, it's hard not to notice all the new high rises going up in the neighborhood. Walking down Jackson Avenue in the late afternoon, though, and it's hard not to be blinded by the sunlight that reflects from all those new buildings. The so-called Court Square City View Tower is a mere four blocks from MoMA PS1, and, although there's no word yet on when construction will begin, visitors to PS1 this summer will be thankful for the central feature of Escobedo Solíz Studio's Young Architects Program installation. The colorful rope canopy promises to shade visitors from skyscraper sunburns, giving a whole new meaning to Warm Up.