Posts tagged with "Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism":

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New images released of Domino Sugar site public waterfront park

Today, real estate development firm Two Trees Management released new images of the James Corner Field Operations (JCFO)–designed Domino Park, which will line the waterfront of the 11-acre Domino Sugar redevelopment site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In its press release, Two Trees confirmed that the park is on track to open in the summer of 2018, as per its original estimates. “By opening Domino Park in its entirety next summer—ahead of the site’s new waterfront buildings—we are delivering on our commitment to bring waterfront access and much-needed public park space to North Brooklyn,” said Two Trees principal Jed Walentas in the press release. “Weaving in industrial remnants of the factory, Domino Park will serve as a living, breathing reminder of the history of this storied neighborhood.” As part of its design, JCFO preserved 21 columns from the site's Raw Sugar Warehouse, 585 linear feet of crane tracks, and 30 other "industrial artifacts" that will be used in the park. This includes "36-feet tall cylindrical tanks that collected syrup during the refining process, mooring bollards, bucket elevators, and various dials and meters from the factory." JCFO is extending River Street to run the length of the park, all the way from Grand Street to S. 5th Street at the base of the Williamsburg bridge. The aforementioned artifacts (including two 80-foot-tall cranes) will feature prominently in the aptly-named "Artifact Walk," a five-block stretch that includes a "450-foot-long elevated walkway" inspired by the catwalks of the old sugar factory. When complete, the Domino Sugar project—whose campus is being designed by SHoP Architects—will feature 380,000 square feet of offices and 2,800 rental apartments (700 of which will be affordable) across four buildings. The landmarked Domino Sugar Refinery building, designed by the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism and Beyer Blinder Belle, will retain its facade and host the offices. 325 Kent will be the first residential tower to open, in June 2017
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Penn Station proposals fail to recognize unique opportunity to improve regional transit

The redesign of Penn Station offers not just a chance to raise the building’s roof, but is also a unique opportunity to unify the region’s disparate rail networks in a way that has not been possible in over a century. Unfortunately, the recent proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) don’t think broadly enough about the underlying transportation problems afflicting the station and, worse yet, they solidify its already dysfunctional setup.

Most of Penn’s issues are founded in its overloaded capacity. When the station opened in 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad was one of eight railroads providing service into New York City. While other railroads terminated at waterfront stations, the Pennsylvania Railroad was the first railroad to cross the Hudson and East Rivers. Its Midtown Manhattan station provided through service for long-distance trains and terminal service for commuter rail from New Jersey and Long Island.

This is how the station still operates today, with one crucial difference: Over the past century, all the waterfront terminals except Hoboken have been closed, and the trains that served them have been largely rerouted into Penn. The resulting congestion has been exacerbated since the 1990s by a shift in preference toward Midtown’s office district and New Jersey Transit’s decision to reroute as many lines as possible into Penn.

Today, Penn Station serves 650,000 commuters each day. That is more than twice as many at its peak in the 1940s, and three times what its initial design accommodated. Furthermore, both New Jersey Transit and Metro-North would like to bring even more trains into Penn—both from existing and proposed routes. Expanded service into Penn Station will not be possible without significantly increasing its capacity—a need that Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals ignore in lieu of retail space and glass ceilings.

Understanding Penn’s capacity limitations (and how to solve them) is critical to a good design. They exist in three forms: passenger crowding, train traffic, and systematic connectivity issues to the rest of the region. On a passenger level, overcrowding is mitigated through staged boarding, or letting passengers onto the tracks only after trains arrive and unload. This produces chaotic lines and rushed transfers, especially in the area of the station that NJ Transit uses. Images of Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals suggest that the platform width and vertical access would both remain unchanged in the new Penn Station. Preserving existing stairs to the platform level, as PAU proposes, is not enough; Penn needs more vertical access. Rather than working to preserve inadequate stairwells to the platform level, we should be fighting for more stairs and escalators.

On a track level, the station is also hopelessly congested. Incoming trains often have to wait in tunnels for ten minutes or more as other trains exit the station. This is because the station is operated primarily as a terminal rather than a through station. Trains must cross each other as they enter and leave the station. Through-running avoids this problem by scheduling eastbound traffic on southern tracks and westbound traffic on northern tracks. Each train could enter the station, unload and load passengers, and continue on without ever crossing oncoming traffic.

Penn’s present configuration makes through-running impossible because only two tracks connect to Penn from New Jersey, while four tracks connect to the station from Queens. Amtrak’s current Gateway proposal would remedy this by building two additional tracks between Penn and New Jersey.

Unfortunately, none of the schemes put forward thus far recognize this unprecedented opportunity to expand the station’s capacity.

PAU’s analysis of Penn’s lack of connectivity at the neighborhood scale only tells half of the story. As a transit hub, the most important function of Penn Station is not on foot at street level, but underground at a track level. Furthermore, as one of the two regional rail hubs in New York, a redesign of Penn Station offers a uniquely valuable position to solve numerous problems at just as many scales. The schemes put forward thus far fail to look beyond the neighboring blocks of Midtown Manhattan.

Our ReThinkNYC proposal does. By understanding the regional importance of Penn Station, we are able to use infrastructural opportunities to not just solve present day problems within the station, but to improve connectivity on a regional scale.

We would reduce passenger crowding by extending all platforms to pass below neighboring Moynihan Station, currently the Farley Post Office. Some platforms already extend under Moynihan and other platforms should be extended as well. This would increase stair and escalator access to platforms for every carrier. We would widen the platforms, reducing the current 21 tracks to 12. This potentially counterintuitive move has significant benefits: Wider platforms allow passengers to board safely and quickly at track level, much like New York’s subway service, and this would decrease the amount of time each train would need to sit at its platform. By staging this work, it would be possible to extend and widen the platforms without interrupting service. We would use the new Gateway tunnels to implement through-running at Penn, allowing trains to enter and leave the station efficiently, without crossing each other’s paths. By permitting carriers to bring more trains through the station, Penn will be able to serve a growing New York City for years to come.

Not only will these track-level changes increase passenger and train capacity, but by bringing more trains through the station, we can dramatically improve the city’s connectivity as a whole. This includes NJ Transit trains that currently only go to Hoboken, LIRR lines that need more service but have no track space at Penn, and some Metro-North cars, that would be diverted from Grand Central. Furthermore, bringing Metro-North into Penn would have the added benefit of unifying the region’s three commuter rail lines into one station.

Redesigning Penn Station is about understanding its role within the New York region as a whole. The Gateway tunnels and Moynihan Station present a once-in-a-century opportunity to make Penn a transportation hub that both serves and stimulates the entire New York region. Proposals for vaulted ceilings and inspiring spaces would certainly make the station more beautiful, but are incomplete gestures if they fail to also address the more serious issues on a track and capacity level. In Penn Station, we have a rare opportunity to create a world-class station with the capacity and connectivity that New York needs. To give the city anything less would be a detriment not just to the station, but the region as a whole.

For more on ReThinkNYC, visit their website.

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SOM Chosen to design Detroit’s East Riverfront District

Skidmore Owings & Merrill have been selected by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and the City of Detroit Planning Department to develop a comprehensive plan for the city’s East Riverfront District. Early stages of planning will analyze of the area's current building stock, pedestrian and car circulation, and land use patterns. One of the main early concerns is addressing the link between the city and the river front, a mission championed by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy for the past decade. Along with SOM, six Michigan firms—Birmingham, MI-based McIntosh Poris, Detroit-based Giffels Webster, Kraemer Design Group, AKT Peerless, Southfield, MI-Based Rich & Associates, and West Bloomfield, MI-Based E. Austell Associates—will provide local consulting. Landscape architect Michel Desvigne will also join SOM for the project. Additionally a “Creative Detroit Think Tank” will be set up by Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. New York-based HR HR&A Advisors will provide real estate, economic development and energy efficiency expertise to the project. SOM was picked from a field of seven teams which presented initial proposals in late January. Those teams were led by New York-based BJH Advisors, Boston-based STOSS Landscape Urbanism, New York-based Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), Chicago-based Gensler, and Boston-based Utile. "The selection process reflects our aspirations for promoting the Detroit waterfront as an international treasure," said Maurice Cox, director of the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department in a press release. "We see no better signal of this than assembling an accomplished team representing local, national and international talent." The first public meeting for East Riverfront District plan will be held on April 12th  from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Outdoor Adventure Center, 1801 Atwater Street, Detroit. “This project is integrally important to the continued evolution of the Detroit Riverfront,” said William Smith, CFO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy in a press release. “And, we’re looking forward to hearing what the community has to say. The community feedback we’ve received in the past helped shape what the riverfront is today. What we learn throughout this process now will shape what the riverfront will become in the future.”  
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Vishaan Chakrabarti departs SHoP to begin his own practice, the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism

Architect and planner Vishaan Chakrabarti has had some crazy ideas over the years. In the past he has worked to convert an old Post Office adjacent to Penn Station into the monumental Moynihan Station and helped shape a loopy scheme to transform the former Domino Sugar Factory on Brooklyn's Williamsburg Waterfront. In 2013, he even spearheaded a proposal to extend Manhattan island to connect it with Governors Island and project a new plot of land into New York Harbor. It's fair to say that Chakrabarti thinks big. Today, Chakrabarti announced his latest big idea: his own architecture firm called the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU). "All architects have something in them says they want to start their own firm," Chakrabarti told AN on Thursday. "I certainly thought about it in the past. I realized if I didn’t do this now I wouldn’t do it." He hopes PAU can return relevance to a profession that the public has relegated to "navel gazing." Rather than viewing buildings as shiny objects, PAU will look at how they interact with cities and across disciplines, accounting for the building user's experience and that of passers by. Chakrabarti has assembled a diverse and prestigious resume, working at top posts in the public and private sector. He started his career at SOM. Six years later he was named head at the Manhattan office of the Department of City Planning under Dan Doctoroff where he worked on projects like the High Line. Later he joined development firm the Related Companies, where he was named Executive Vice President of Design and Planning. The list goes on. Chakrabarti served as Director of the Columbia Center for Urban Real Estate in 2009 and is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP). In 2012, he joined up with the skyrocketing firm SHoP Architects in the midst of several mega-projects including a number of skyscrapers and Essex Crossing. He published his book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for Urban America, in 2014, expounding a manifesto of urban living. "For me, PAU is really an opportunity to synthesize all of that experience into one direction," Chakrabarti said. "To bring to bear all I have learned—it’s a great chance to bring all that experience together." He plans to draw on both his planning and architecture background to create a more holistic firm. "I think this is a healthy and important thing for the future of architecture, to understand the context in which we practice," he said. "It’s about speaking multiple languages." In his work, teachings, and writing, Chakrabarti has been a staunch supporter of cities and the urban density that makes them tick. PAU, set to be based in New York City, will focus on those cities. "You’ll see a very strong focus on cosmopolitan architecture and strategic urbanism—how we’ll have an impact that’s very directly associated with cities," he said. "That division—architecture and planning—is what makes cities work," he continued. "It used to be that the professions were joined at the hip. You could think of architecture as an outcome of innovative planning. That’s no longer the case." PAU will concentrate on architecture and strategic planning, including master planning, advocacy, and urban design. The firm's first clients include Google's Sidewalk Labs, a new project with Two Trees Management, and a new cultural building in Manhattan. Chakrabarti said he couldn't disclose concrete details about those projects and noted that his firm would begin unveiling them in coming months. Describing his work with Sidewalk Labs, Chakrabarti said his work will prioritize "the future of the city and technology and how technology can create innovation and make our lives better by elevating quality of life. It thinks about everything from changes to the automobile to changes in how we use services in the city." PAU's cultural commission "will talk about the future of how culture interacts with the city and integrates with the urban experience." He added, "It's not just another black box." PAU will initially focus on metropolitan areas in North America. "I’m very interested in the betterment of the American city," he said. "Mayor’s around the country have really caught on to this—that design is a critical piece of attracting human capital and making cities better places." Chakrabarti said the firm may eventually work internationally, but with strong caveats against working in nations that abuse labor or are not transparent and accountable.