Kids get it. While the adults stand around discussing the merits and aspirations of a large sculpture or installation, kids climb all over it. A few years back, when Richard Serra's Intersections II was installed in MoMA's sculpture garden, toddlers raced between the tilted arcs in a game of hide and seek. More recently, kids playing around Situ Studio's reOrder installation have turned the Great Hall of the Brooklyn Museum into Romper Room. Now, with Storm King bringing in Mark di Suvero sculptures and Figment in town to install their annual golf course and sculpture garden, Governors Island is getting its workout. On Memorial Day weekend some of the artists creating the "Bugs and Features" golf course were still working out some of the kinks with their designs. While many of them addressed the issues of hot sun and island winds, they didn't quite account for the destructive nature of children. Dee Dee Maucher stood quietly pondering her installation, trying to figure out what would make it more kid proof. Two days in and her segment in the the golf course, titled The Composting Micro Bug Food Spiral, was in need repair. Michael Loverich of Bittertang mulled over how to keep the kids from climbing atop Burble Bup, this year's winner of the City of Dreams Pavilion, sponsored in part by the Emerging New York Architect committee of the AIANY and the Structural Engineers Association of New York. "We don’t want the kids, or even adults, to come in and kick it," said Loverich. "We kind of knew that people would be interacting with it, but not so aggressively." Loverich said that he and his partner Antonio Torres were considering installing some preventative climbing measures.
Posts tagged with "New York":
Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities Museum of Arts and Design 2 Columbus Circle Opening June 7 Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities showcases the construction of small hand-built artificial environments and alternative realities as sculpture and for film. It explores the increasing interest in creating things by hand, as digital technology becomes a bigger part of our lives. The exhibit, which features models, snow globes, photographs, and video, seeks to reflect a meaningful engagement with materials and attention to detail. Works include the Chadwicks’ diorama of a microbrewery and Alan Wolfson’s recreation of a tri-level cross-section of Canal Street, above.
The Guggenheim has been blurring the boundaries of what makes a traditional museum lately, and among their latest forays into the streets of New York is stillspotting nyc, a series investigating urban life (a previous program, Sanitorium, explored what keeps city dwellers sane as they rush about their hectic lives). Now, The Mute Button, a collaboration between the Guggenheim and Improv Everywhere, continues this trend by staging 23 under-cover actors and two dogs at the entrance to Prospect Park at Grand Army Plaza. The troup is a noisy bunch, until--presto!--the din of the city turns silent. A camera was on hand to catch the reactions of befuddled passers by. (Via Gothamist.)
Last week, Mayor Bloomberg and a cadre of arts enthusiasts from the Public Art Fund gathered at City Hall Park to officially open a retrospective on conceptual artist Sol LeWitt titled Structures, 1965-2006. Comprised primarily of sleek white cubes and forms and one colorful Splotch, the installation of 27 sculptures represents the first outdoor retrospective of LeWitt's work as well as the largest public art display at City Hall Park, billed by Nicholas Baume, chief curator for the Public Art Fund, as New York's "museum without walls." Joined by Baume and LeWitt's wife and daughters, Bloomberg strolled through the park grounds to take in the striking white works of art, many of which have never been publicly displayed in the United Stated before. LeWitt's Structures, with their ruggedly geometric forms, seem at once a seamless part of the surrounding urban and natural landscapes. “City Hall Park and its environs in Lower Manhattan offer a perfect location to reconsider LeWitt’s structures,” said Baume in a statement. “His geometric, white forms contrast with the organic, picturesque park setting, while they also resonate strongly with the surrounding Manhattan grid and the stepped profiles of its signature skyscrapers. The later work, with its complex and irregular forms, anticipates the vocabulary of more recent architecture, including Frank Gehry’s undulating new tower at 8 Spruce Street.” A variety of modular and open cubes, the breakthrough pieces for the artist in the 1960s and 1970s, are scattered about the park, their scale defying the outward simplicity of their form. Complex Forms, with sharp angular edges recall many recent Manhattan skyscrapers such as the Bank of America Tower, and LeWitt's late, colorful work--Splotch 15--defies categorization. Take a look at many of the sculptures in the gallery below. The exhibition is ongoing through December 2, 2011.
With summer weather quickly approaching, it's the perfect time to kick back and dream about a sweet bungalow by the beach... in Queens. Endangered bungalows throughout New York City have been on the radar for some time now, but documentary filmmaker Jennifer Callahan has focused on the fight to preserve the few bungalows left on the Rockaway Peninsula in her film Bungalows of the Rockaways, which will be screened tonight at Tenement Talks at the Tenement Museum. The filmmaker got Estelle Parsons to do the voice over and Columbia's Andrew Dolkart to comment on historic value. Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden talks about the zoning surrounding the enclaves. Even Council Speaker Christine Quinn's dad, 83-year-old Lawrence Quinn, weighs in with his memories of the bungalow. But for the most part, the residents of Rockaway do most of the heavy lifting. The film traces the history of the bungalows from their 17th century origins in Bengal, India, on though to their arrival in England, then New England, and eventually on to their landing in NYC and in Rockaway, where they replaced tent communities of the working class. Callahan doesn't shy away from the sordid bits of Rockaway history, such as segregation. The communities were primarily divided between African Americans, Jews, and Irish, with the blacks responsible for getting the bungalows cleaned and ready for when the whites showed up for summer vacation. Later, when Robert Moses arrived on the scene, his slum clearance displaced scores of African Americans. Many crowded into the bungalows under appalling conditions. There's no need for a spoiler alert in revealing the ending. Suffice it to say, though the Planning Commission and Parks have stepped up efforts to retain the neighborhood's character, the area has yet to be landmarked and without a historic designation, the bungalows are not protected.
Sustained resistance from their Village neighbors has not thwarted NYU’s 2031 expansion plans; they’ve just looked to other neighborhoods. The university has leased 120,000 square feet at Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center and also retained Kohn Pederson Fox to design a 170,000-square-foot campus on their hospital grounds along First Avenue. This is not to say that they’ve abandoned expansion plans in the Village or wooing the neighbors. A storefront gallery space called NYU Open House designed by James Sanders & Associates invites the public in to view new 3-D models of revamped plans for the Silver Towers and Washington Square Village.
When talking to Florent Morellet, don't call it the Meatpacking District. For the eponymous owner of now-closed diner/bistro Florent on Little West 12th Street, it's the Meat Market. Well before SoHo House and long before Pastis, there was Florent, the subject of a new documentary by David Segal, Florent: Queen of the Meat Market. I found out about the New York opening of the film while showroom hopping on Green Street last week. At Kartell, the perfectly bouffant-ed Darinka Chase encouraged me to try out Philippe Starck's Magic Hole. Before slinging chic plastic, Chase spent twenty years as hostess at the downtown den of dining debauchery. She vividly recalls how preservationists met at the restaurant in an effort to preserve the district. "At the time people did think it was kind of nuts, like landmarking the city dump," she said. The eatery was always a hub for a lot of left-leaning causes, acting as a gathering place for gay activists, AIDS activists, fringe artists, and, much later, for preservationists. When the neighborhood took a turn toward high fashion, the area's characteristic metal awnings started coming down. The film devotes a good bit of time on how Morellet helped mobilize the community and suggests that, in many ways, Florent became a victim of its own success. After obtaining landmark status, the neighborhood became more desirable, the rent skyrocketed and the restaurant was forced to close. During a question and answer session following the film I asked Morellet, who now sits on Manhattan Community Board 2, what he thought about the High Line and the influx of contemporary architecture to the area. Citing the Ennead designed Standard Hotel and SHoP's Porter House as great architecture in "conversation" with the neighborhood, he said that without it the Meat Market would look like an industrial neighborhood in any other city. As for being booted out by the high cost, he said "change is good" and that the city needed a strong center. "You have to remember when I came to New York the outer boroughs were burning," he said. As for those still mourning the loss of the grittiness, he chalked it up to "white, middle class nostalgia." He seemed assured that Williamsburg was having a good go of it, though nothing like Meat Market, which was the perfect storm of location, timing and people. Though he allowed that a cheap, centrally located spot like it might one day become available again... provided we "have a really good depression."
Missing Parklet. Who would steal a parklet? The Oakland Local spotted a worried Facebook page for Actual Cafe whose parklet, pictured above, disappeared last week. San Francisco is the city that invented the parklet concept--transforming parking spaces into extensions of the sidewalk--and we hear they're quite popular, so what gives? The cafe has security footage of the early-morning incident. Celebrating CityGarden. St. Louis' much acclaimed urban sculpture park, CityGarden, has been awarded ULI's 2011 Amanda Burden Open Space Award, named for NYC's Planning Commissioner who sat on the selection jury. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the garden topped projects in Portland, OR and Houston to claim the $10,000 prize. Chatham Scratched. DNA reports that plans to transform Chinatown's Chatham Square at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge have been put on hold. The $30 million project would have reconfigured the busy confluence of seven streets to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, but with other construction projects already clogging the area, the city didn't want to make matters worse. Funds will be used for other Lower Manhattan projects instead. Directing Traffic. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has penned a feature-length article on the future of transportation for the Wall Street Journal. In recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of transportation policy, Puentes calls for innovation and sustainability along with increased access to boost the economy.
Last week, we came across illustrator James Gilliver Hancock's series of playful block elevations titled "All the Buildings in New York." It turns out this impulse to sketch block upon block of New York's architecture has been around for quite some time. In 1899, the Mail & Express newspaper company published a graphic journey down Manhattan's Broadway in a book called A Pictorial description of Broadway now archived at the New York Public Library. The stroll down Broadway 112 years ago reveals just how much New York has evolved over the past century. As the NYPL says, "The result, as you can see here, is a 19th century version of Google's Street View, allowing us to flip through the images block by block, passing parks, churches, novelty stores, furriers, glaziers, and other businesses of the city's past." Two of the most dramatic plates in the series show Times Square, above. Quite a striking difference to the neon canyon we know today. Below, you can see the lush Madison Square, also with significantly fewer high rises, and below that is a stunningly underdeveloped 59th Street showing vacant lots and buildings of only a few floors. Click on the thumbnails below to launch a gallery.
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.”
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.