The latest stage in John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)'s renovation began on Tuesday as The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey started seeking proposals for a new master plan. JFK is the busiest international airport in the U.S., serving 59 million passengers in 2016, and is expected to reach capacity in the next decade as it continues to grow. According to DW, the renovation addresses this rapid growth through connected and expanded terminals, improved road and parking access, a ring road to reduce congestion, increased AirTrain capacity, and new, updated amenities. The project is expected to cost $10 billion, of which $7 billion will come from a private investment, according to Bloomberg. The Port Authority is only considering firms that have, within the last ten years, completed a master plan worth at least $5 million for a major airport serving a minimum of 15 million passengers. This would include firms such as KPF, HOK, and Gensler, which have all done large-scale airport projects. While this project has been moving ahead, not all the Governor's infrastructure projects have been progressing without criticism. Governor Cuomo recently caught some flack for funding road and bridge projects while ignoring much-needed subway improvements. Additionally, JFK has already been in the news this year as construction began on the adaptive reuse of Eero Saarinen’s iconic terminal.
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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.
The Regional Plan Association (RPA)'s Assembly conference in New York City, which focuses on urban planning, infrastructure, and transportation, was marked by an acute sense of crises and challenge. "You need to start shouting about how bad things are, how irresponsible" we've been as a nation, former Vice President Joe Biden told the audience. He bellowed how the U.S.'s infrastructure released a D+ rating. Biden was on hand to receive the RPA's John Zuccotti Award. In addition to being a longtime advocate for Amtrack, the noted train enthusiast Biden administered the infrastructure-heavy American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It's an "easy message to deliver," he said, "that our infrastructure is crumbling and making America less competitive." Challenges associated with major projects like the Gateway Program (which promises new rail tunnels under the Hudson, among other improvements), the Second Avenue Subway, and a new Port Authority Bus Terminal loomed large as the conference started off. In the Assembly's large morning panel, Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), highlighted how the region's "accountability and governance model" needs to be reviewed. If government officials have clear ownership, it's better, she said, citing Governor Cuomo's intervention into the Second Avenue Subway. Rohit Aggarwala, chief policy officer of Sidewalk Labs and co-chair of the RPA's Fourth Regional Plan, gave a preview of what the RPA would propose when the Plan comes out later this year. "What has happened to these institutions?" he asked, arguing that it wasn't politics, ineptitude, nor lack of funding that was causing major regional transportation projects to falter and slow. It's the "very shape and structure of these agencies" that were the cause, he said, adding that they're "deeply flawed" in how they're organized, funded, and how responsibilities are divided. He discussed how other global cities, such as London, Honk Kong, and Los Angeles, have all restructured their transportation agencies in the last 20 or so years, consolidating power on a more local level or finding new arrangements more reflective of their needs. "It is time for reinvention," he concluded, saying the Fourth Plan would address these issues head-on. (He gave no concrete hints about the Plan itself, though in one example of dysfunction, he cited how commuter rail authorities are divided by the Hudson.)
There were major project updates at the "Crossing the Hudson" panel, which sought to address the fundamental challenge of improving transportation across (and under) the Hudson to connect New York and New Jersey. Tom Wright, president of the RPA, kicked off the panel by showing how New Jersey added 65,000 new cross-Hudson commuters from 1990 to 2010 and stood to add another 75,000 from 2010 to 2040. (By another estimate, it would be 110,000 by 2040 if you include New Jersey commuters going to all five boroughs.) Forty-three percent of current commutes happen via bus and a new Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) is desperately needed. Additionally, if one track is lost on the current 106-year-old rail tunnel under the Hudson, Penn Station can only handle six trains during a peak hour (as compared to 24 otherwise).
A new PABT is also essential to the trans-Hudson transportation question; the current station will require replacement in 15 to 20 years due to structural deterioration, said Andrew Lynn, director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ)'s Planning and Regional Development Department. (Lynn sometimes holds meetings with local officials and stakeholders in the PABT, using the shaking walls to drive home his point.) The PANYNJ has about $3.5 billion set aside for the terminal, but despite numerous attempts to formulate a plan over the years, none have been successful. The PANYNJ is effectively "pushing the reset button" on the project, and while the group will learn from past failures, "we're really starting over," he said. (Gordon suggested expanding the current PABT upwards by building off the current structure. This would expand capacity while minimzing local impact.)
"You need to start shouting about how bad things are, how irresponsible" we've been as a nation. - Joe Biden pic.twitter.com/eIcQScJwTX— Architects Newspaper (@archpaper) April 21, 2017
However, Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), countered that "global cities are not building big bus terminals"; rail is much more efficient. "One enormous bus terminal" is not the solution, she said, citing the failings of Robert Moses and how "we don't think that way now." Lastly, the panel touched on the replacement and expansion of Penn Station. Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of Practice for Architecture Urbanism, who has put forward a plan to adapt the existing structure, explained his plan to move Madison Square Garden to the back of the old Farley Building, allowing the adaptive reuse of the current Garden's superstructure for a new train station that would make the neighborhood a "world-class address." (ReThink Studio, who was also present at the Assembly, has critiqued aspects of this plan.) Chakrabarti also sounded the alarm that office space might be built in the back of the Farley Building to fund Amtrack's construction of a new Amtrack platforms on the rails that run under the Farley Building. Those platforms, he added, would only serve Amtrack and exclude regional rail. He also warned that the current Penn Station was a safety hazard awaiting disaster: with such low ceilings, for instance, a smoke event would be disastrous in the already-overcapacity space. In sum, the panel portrayed a moment of crises but also a potential reconsideration of the current status quo. Once the current crises have been averted, panelists agreed it would make the most sense for New Jersey to emphasize trains over buses for a trans-Hudson commute, as rail is overall far more efficient (albeit also more expensive) a system for moving people. After this, an afternoon panel, "Planning for the Transportation Revolution," sought to address how ride sharing and autonomous vehicle could reshape the urban landscape. Bruce Schaller, principal at Schaller Consulting (which specializes in urban transportation policy), and Matt Wing, corporate communications lead at Uber, both highlighted how Transportation Network Companies (TNCs, such as Uber and Lyft) have filled in gaps created by public transportation. Forty percent of Uber's New York City rides are in the outer boroughs and never touch Manhattan, which serves as little surprise given only one subway line (the G) doesn't pass through Manhattan. TNCs, Wing explained, are also serving as critical links in the "last mile" problem of getting people to mass transit stations. (See AN's transportation feature on Miami for more on this.) Jessica Robinson, director of city solutions at Ford Smart Mobility, revealed that Ford aimed to have a production-ready Level 4 self-driving car by 2021. (Level 4 means no steering wheel, gas pedal, or anything else drivers must operate.) Given their cost, said Robinson, such cars will almost certainly be owned and operated by ride-sharing companies. Seeking to stay at the forefront of mobility solutions, Ford also bought Chariot, a TNC that operates 14-passenger ride-sharing vehicles and aims to reinvent mass transit. It was Robin Chase, the co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, who gave the most impassioned presentation. "Cities are in a one-time position of power," she said, to dictate the terms of how autonomous vehicles should operate before they're legally allowed in major cities. She's currently organizing a global coalition of mayor to negotiate with large companies. Her top priorities include: ensuring all vehicles are electric, creating a level playing field for competition among ride-sharing companies, and negotiating new forms of ride sharing taxation based on distance traveled, curb rights, fuel type, and other factors. Conventional taxation based on registration fees, gasoline tax, and tolls may not be an option when autonomous vehicles hit the road. Overall, the panel argued that anything less than all-electronic fleets of competing ride share companies would be a major loss for cities. In that scenario, there are fewer and much cleaner cars on the road, and vast amounts of parking and curbside space would be made available for public use.
Andrew Lynn of PANYNJ: "We're pushing a reset button" on the new PABT. pic.twitter.com/zQiMHvj0j2— Architects Newspaper (@archpaper) April 21, 2017
For more on major transportations plans, don't miss the upcoming Plan 2050 at the Cooper Union, this May 9!
After months of planning, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has approved a $32.2 billion capital plan, the largest in the agency's history. The 10-year plan is bullish on public-private partnerships to support the costs of its projects at the region's airports, bridges, tunnels, and terminals. Although some big-ticket items, like the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, are new construction, much of the budget goes towards repairing or upgrading existing infrastructure. See the highlights from the plan, below:
Planes This $11.6 billion segment allocates $4 billion for a LaGuardia Terminal B replacement and puts funds toward the revitalization of John F. Kennedy International Airport. In New Jersey, work will move forward at Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport. Trains The agency is putting $2.7 billion towards debt service on to-be-borrowed money for a new and sorely needed trans-Hudson rail line between New York and New Jersey. In Jersey, the PATH's older stations will be rebuilt, as well, and new infrastructure will enable PATH trains to run from Newark Penn Station (the current terminus) to Newark Liberty's AirLink station. Additional dollars will support an AirTrain to LaGuardia, a sister link to the line that already serves JFK. Automobiles Another $10 billion will go towards the Goethals Bridge replacement, the rebuilding of the Bayonne Bridge, renovations to the George Washington Bridge, and the planning and construction for the new Port Authority Bus Terminal. The capital plan puts $3.5 billion towards this item, but stakeholders are still discussing where, exactly, the new terminal should go. Proposals from a September design competition pegged the cost of a new terminal at $3 billion to $15 billion, so the agency's allocation may be too low. “This region needs state-of-the-art airports, new mass transit infrastructure and bridges designed to handle 21st-century traffic levels if we are to meet growth projections,” said Port Authority executive director Pat Foye, in a statement. “This 10-year plan provides a record level of investment in all of these areas that will meet and support the region’s growth and serve as a major job creator for the next decade.”
After months of debating, reviews, rejections and re-thinks, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has settled on a $32 billion plan to fund infrastructure across the two states. The money is part of a ten-year financing scheme. Included is the $3 billion Port Authority bus terminal (see the shortlisted designs here); a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, and major overhauls to JFK and LaGuardia International airports of which will cost $10 billion and $4 billion respectively. According to Crain's New York, a record-high spending plan was dismissed at a meeting in December. However, last week, the Port Authority’s board all agreed on the current financing plan which will go before a public review. Final approval is in line for February. Prior to this, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Port Authority's chairman John Degnan had locked horns as to how to delegate spending. Crain's reports that Cuomo regards the Manhattan bus terminus to be a predominantly New Jersey asset as it mainly serves residents commuting to New York. In the end, it was agreed that New Jersey would pay $2.1 billion of the terminal's costs. As for JFK Airport, Cuomo appears prepared to spend big. Around $1.5 to $2 billion will be spent on improved roadway access to the airport. Other plans such as an increased mass transit capacity on the subway, LIRR, and AirTrain are also being considered. As AN's Audrey Wachs reported, notably, the state is exploring the feasibility of a “one-seat” ride to JFK, which would mean no more getting off the A train to board the AirTrain only to find your MetroCard doesn’t have enough cash so you have to wait behind 20 clueless tourists on line at the machine when your flight leaves in 30 minutes. The research and advocacy group Regional Planning Association has even drawn our this neat map as to what that "one-seat" ride might look like. For LaGuardia, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) consists of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and LaGuardia Gateway Partners, which is in turn comprised of the construction company Skanska, airport operator Vantage Airport Group, and investment company Meridiam, among others. U.S. architecture firm HOK is also working on the project. According to a press release, the deal includes the “finance, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal B…with a lease term through 2050.”
Calling all international architects, designers, urban planners, and engineers: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) is asking you to create a multi-disciplinary design team to submit designs and deliverables for a new bus terminal on Manhattan's west side near the aging existing terminal on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. The current terminal is the largest in U.S., supporting over 220,000 passenger trips each weekday. PANYNJ is seeking designs that address “an appropriate level of service to meet bus passenger demand, improved functionality for bus parking and staging, minimizing traffic impact on surrounding local streets, and sustaining safety and security.” While the two-phase competition opened earlier this month, the PANYNJ board just approved funds for the project this past week. The projected cost: $10-$15 billion. One alternative to the current Manhattan location was Secaucus, in northern New Jersey. “Scott Rechler, Andrew Cuomo’s top appointee to the Port Authority, had asked the agency to explore putting the new terminal near the Secaucus Junction train station in New Jersey,” reported New York Magazine. Rechler thinks a new larger bus terminal in NYC will worsen Lincoln Tunnel traffic. Those who didn't support his plan say it would require a train transfer for many traveling from New Jersey to downtown Manhattan. “As part of a deal announced Thursday, Rechler will drop his push for a Jersey-based terminal, and in exchange, New Jersey’s top appointee to the authority withdrew his opposition to a $4 billion reconstruction plan for La Guardia Airport’s central terminal.” The first competition phase deadline is April 12, 2016. The second phase will be due sometime late this summer. PANYNJ officials expect to announce a winner this September. The award: $1 million for the winning concept. More details on PANYNJ’s competition page.
The Port Authority declines to celebrate the grand opening of the world’s most expensive train station
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has declined to celebrate the March grand opening of the Santiago Calatrava–designed World Trade Transportation Hub. Why is the agency snubbing its own baby? Because it's monstrously over-budget. The $4 billion taxpayer-financed project cost $1.8 billion more than expected, and construction extended years over schedule. These issues have dogged Calatrava personally and professionally, and cast a shadow on his otherwise bright reputation. Pat Foye, the Port Authority's executive director, told POLITICO New York that the project's been a fiscal fiasco from the start: “Since I arrived here, I have been troubled with the huge cost of the Hub at a time of limited resources for infrastructure so I’m passing on the [now-cancelled opening] event.” The Hub is expected to serve 100,000 daily passengers, far fewer than the Port Authority Bus Terminal (230,000), Grand Central (750,000), and Penn Station (906,708). In a follow up statement, Foye was unequivocal about what New York's newest piece of public infrastructure represents to him: “The thing is a symbol of excess.” In an interview with AN last year, Calatrava delineated the project's design goals and ethos behind the Hub:
I tried from the very beginning to do that whole network of connections extending from the oculus as a single unit. So the character of the structural members you can see with the ribs, and a certain character in the paving, and a certain character in the front of the shops is already delivering a character that a person will see all the way through. So if you are in the oculus or the mezzanine, or in the other corridors to Liberty Street or the other internal streets towards Liberty Plaza, or towards Wall Street or towards Fulton, all these areas are marked with the same character. My goal is to create a space where as soon as I arrive in the transportation hub I know I am in the transportation hub, no matter what corner I enter from. Also, something that the corridor delivers is a sense of quality of spaces. I have built seven of the major transportation hubs in Europe, in Lisbon, in Lyon, in Zurich, in Italy, and so on. Getting out of this experience, it’s very important to create places of quality, because people behave according to that. You see after all the enormous effort to bring all the subways and the trains to this place and see to maintain the service through all the construction—why shouldn’t these places have a certain material and structural quality that you can enjoy in a day-to-day way, not just commuters but visitors who arrive in this place. I think the station will match with the tradition in New York of great infrastructural works, as you see today in Grand Central and in the former Penn Station. If it had not been demolished it would be recognized as one of the greatest stations worldwide. I hope people can see some of these material qualities in the East/West corridor.On the eve of the opening, New York architecture critics are divided on the aesthetic and functional value of the Hub. AN toured the Hub this afternoon, so check back here for our assessment. In the meantime, picture Calatrava riding a Zamboni, polishing the smooth white Italian marble floors world's most expensive train station.
World Trade Center Transportation Hub World Trade Center, Manhattan Downtown Design Partnership; STV, AECOM, and Santiago Calatrava A team from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey wowed the crowd of lucky Archtober fans this morning with a full-length tour from the Hudson River to the beating heart of the new World Trade Center. Robert Eisenstat, the chief architect at the Port Authority Engineering Department, was joined by Thomas L. Grassi, a program manager on the World Trade Center construction, and a number of others along for the ride. These dedicated people, along with many others, have been working on the site since “the day.” Today was a little reminiscent of that day, over 14 years ago—a crisp sunny day with only wisps of clouds. It is hard to visit the site at all, for some of us. But now because of the sublime poetry of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub—they call it the “oculus”—a brighter future can be imagined. It is a futuristic creature born from the construction chaos that still defines the neighborhood, with white, spiked ribs rising up like the barbs of a chalky peace dove’s feather. Peace is not easy. I kept thinking, we have to tell the crowd how complicated this all was, how many levels, how many logistical nightmares, how many times its seemed like it could never be completed. I have to do my thing about how architects are problem solvers, which of course is true. But some problems are spiritual ones, hard to put in the brief for a nearly $4 billion transit integration project. This is where the architect’s special poetry comes in. Whatever you may say about this project, and there has been a lot of negative press with Santiago Calatrava certainly taking some knocks along the way, it is uplifting. The spirit soars; the room has an ineffable majesty of great architecture that defies easy explanation. While the Port Authority was getting its “network cohesion” out of the tangle of subway lines and trans-Hudson modalities, it also got a cathedral that looks like the waiting room for heaven. Cynthia Phifer Kracauer is the managing director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture & 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. Tomorrow: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, Entry Building, and Arch.
After all these years (read: delays), the public will finally be able to check out the grand oculus in Santiago Calatrava's $3.9 billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub—starting next month. The New York Times reported that beginning in June, a north-south passageway with direct views onto the building's main attraction will open to "limited pedestrian traffic." The entire building won't fully open until the end of this year, or early next year so don't get too excited. And you can always walk through an already open portion of the Calatrava station connecting to the Brookfield Place towers. The Times also noted that the World Trade Center redevelopment is set to check off milestone after milestone over the next few weeks and months. —The second of four PATH platforms in the Transportation Hub will open on Thursday. —Soon after that, a floor-to-ceiling barrier will come down as well. This will allow commuters to marvel at the immaculate space set beneath those already-iconic soaring white ribs, or wings, or spikes, or whatever you want to call them. —And on May 29th, the One World Trade Center Observatory will open, offering panoramic views to anyone willing to shell out $32 a ticket. As for 2 World Trade Center, well, we're still waiting to hear if Norman Foster's design will be replaced with something from Bjarke Ingels.
JetBlue Airlines—the one with free snacks and live television—is interested in getting into the hotel business, and it wants to kick things off with Eero Saarinen's swooping TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. The Wall Street Journal reported that JetBlue and New York–based hotelier MCR Development are in "advanced negotiations" with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for the rights to turn the swooping structure into a modern hotel. While things seem promising, similar attempts have failed. In 2013, hotelier André Balazs won the rights for a terminal-to-hotel conversion, but ultimately decided not to move forward with the project because of how long it would take to complete—he's a busy guy and said he had more interesting things to pursue. After that episode, the bidding process was relaunched and JetBlue and MCR came out on top. If this new plan doesn't meet the same fate, the two companies plan to fill the terminal with 500 rooms, many of which will be occupied by frustrated fliers whose flights were cancelled and need a convenient place to stay before they catch the next flight at the crack of dawn. Honestly, having to spend a night in Saarinen's masterpiece wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey claimed it will cost $11 billion to overhaul its supremely hated bus terminal in Manhattan. Yes, everyone agrees the place is pretty much a dump, but $11 billion? That sure seems steep. The plan will be presented to the Port Authority board on Thursday, but it may not go given that it doesn't seem to have the support of governors Christie and Cuomo. And the eye-popping figure may actually be a way to preemptively kill the project, so says Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. She told Streetsblog: "There’s a tendency to over-inflate transit costs just to kill them."
The Real Deal recently scored an interview with Santiago Calatrava, the so-called "symphonist of steel" behind the upcoming (and wildly over budget) World Trade Center Transit Hub, and the nearby Saint Nicholas Church. In the interview, Calatrava explained how New York City's building code impacted the two projects’ designs, offers his thoughts on the World Trade Center master plan, and comments on the construction quality of the Transit Hub. Overall, the controversial architect lavishes praise on just about everyone—from Daniel Libeskind to Larry Silverstein to the Port Authority.