Posts tagged with "Preservation":

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Arquitectonica’s second finished building is being torn down

Arquitectonica’s second completed project, the multifamily Babylon apartment block in Miami, is set to be demolished before July. Fears over the now-abandoned building’s demolition have swirled for years, but last January, the ziggurat-inspired complex had its historic designation overturned by Miami city commissioners. The building’s owner, former spaghetti western star Francisco Martínez Celeiro (known professionally as George Martin), wants to replace the 37-year-old postmodern Babylon at 240 SE 14th Street with a 24-story condo tower, a far cry from the existing five-story structure. The Babylon, with its distinctive stepped, fire-truck-red facade, made an immediate splash when it was completed in 1982 and helped propel Arquitectonica on towards larger projects. While the stepped profile, which is extruded through the long, narrow site it sits on, stood out when it was first erected, the building is now overshadowed by the surrounding condo towers in the Brickell neighborhood. While Celeiro originally sought to build a narrow tower on the site that could have stood anywhere from 48 to 80 stories, the 15,000-square-foot lot is only zoned for a 12-story building. Now, Celeiro is seeking to upzone the lot for a 24-story tower, but according to the Biscayne Times, that request is driving a wedge between the city and Brickell residents and urban planners, who fear the precedent will open the floodgates for other developers to request variances. The primary motivation for revoking the Babylon’s protected status seems to have stemmed from an engineering survey commissioned by Celeiro, who argued that the building was too far gone to repair, and the inexorable link the complex has to the gritty 1980’s—a drug trafficking-filled era that many are keen to forget. “This is the real history of the Babylon,” said Commissioner Joe Carollo in 2018, during the 4-1 vote to strip the building of its historic designation, according to the Miami Herald. “This is a place built on the cheap by a guy who was so high he didn’t know if he was coming or going most of the time. I’m amazed that we’re talking about this 35 years later. I’m amazed we have spent too much time glorifying one of the worst buildings in an era many of us would like to forget.” AN will follow up on this story once further details on the Babylon’s replacement come to light.
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Construction begins on massive Machu Picchu airport despite protests

Ground has been broken on a $5 billion airport meant to connect Peru’s mountainous Machu Picchu more easily with the outside world, but conservationists are up in arms over the impact the facility will have on the fragile world heritage site. Machu Picchu is one of the most famous Incan archeological sites in the world but is currently strained past capacity with tourists. According to The Guardian, 1.5 million visited the fortress in 2017, twice the amount recommended by UNESCO. Currently, the site is only accessible through a single runway airport in the nearby city of Cusco, and to ameliorate crowding and provide easier access to the fragile mountaintop, land is already being cleared at the town of Chinchero—between Machu Picchu and Cusco—for a major international airport that would receive direct flights. Machu Picchu sits in the 37-mile-long Sacred Valley, once the heart of the ancient Incan empire, and activists are worried that the airport (and increased tourism) would despoil the miles of paths, terraces, and other vulnerable sites in the valley. Opponents of the airport claim that the environmental ramifications would be huge, and that runoff from the construction would pollute the nearby Lake Piuray, which provides nearly half of Cusco’s water supply. Additionally, the low-flying planes and influx of tourists may damage the sensitive archeological campus. Peruvian art historian Natalia Majluf has started a petition in opposition to the airport, that at the time of writing, has 48,000 signatures. In it, Majluf cites the potential damage to the area’s canals, ritual lines, and agricultural heritage, which is a direct continuation of the Incan traditions and knowledge that originated in the valley. Majluf is appealing directly to Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra to at least reconsider the airport’s location, but according to The Guardian, the government seems committed to the project. “This airport will be built as soon as possible because it’s very necessary for the city of Cusco,” Finance Minister Carlos Oliva said last month. “There’s a series of technical studies which support this airport’s construction.”
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French Senate declares Notre Dame must be rebuilt as it was before, quashing competition

The French Senate has seemingly dealt a blow to French president Emmanuel Macron, approving a bill that requires the damaged Notre Dame Cathedral be rebuilt as it was before and from the same materials, wherever possible. On Monday night, according to French newspapers Le Monde and The Local, the Senate approved a Notre Dame reconstruction bill first passed by the lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, but precluded altering the cathedral. Senators added a clause stating the cathedral must be repaired to its “last known visual state” and use original materials, with exemptions allowed in extenuating circumstances for newer materials. The Senate agreed with the National Assembly that an oversight body headed by the Ministry of Culture would need to be created, but took out text from the lower house’s bill that would have, as per Macron’s request, allowed the reconstruction to sidestep environmental and preservation laws. Both houses of French parliament will now need to hash out the final text of the bill before it can move forward, but whatever they ultimately agree to will form the groundwork for the reconstruction process. If the Senate’s additions hold, it would be an explicit rebuke to Macron and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe. Two days after a fire ravaged Notre Dame on April 15, Macron pledged that the cathedral would be rebuilt by 2024, in time for the Summer Olympics in Paris, and that timetable may still hold. A competition to replace Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s downed timber spire from the mid-19th Century was also announced, and architects all over the world took the opportunity to imagine a Notre Dame topped in glass, parking lots, greenhouses, and more. Opposition to rebuilding the Parisian cathedral using modern materials and bypassing the existent preservation standards gathered steam, and over a thousand architects, historians, curators, and other interested parties have signed a petition calling on Macron not to rush the reconstruction.
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Cincinnati's Terrace Plaza Hotel takes its first step towards landmark status

The first International Style hotel in America may not fall into disrepair or have its iconic exterior transformed after all. After a 5-1 vote in favor of a local landmark designation for the Terrace Plaza Hotel by the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board on February 25, the designation will advance to the City Planning Commission, and finally the City Council. Completed in 1948, the 20-story redbrick tower was the first hotel project from SOM. Natalie de Blois led the design team, which was responsible for everything from the interiors, to the staff uniforms, down to the ashtrays and matchbooks. The building’s most distinctive features are its windowless seven-story base, which projects an imposing presence on the street, and its circular steel-and-glass Gourmet Restaurant space on the roof. As photographer Phil Armstrong detailed in his historical documentation, much of the building’s interior has fallen into ruins. The building has unfortunately sat vacant for a decade, and plans began floating around from a prospective developer at the beginning of last year to strip the hotel’s monolithic base and replace it with a glass box. It should be noted that the building was included on the National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 2017, according to Docomomo U.S., but that this doesn’t provide the level of protection that a local designation affords. The hotel was sold in August of 2018 to the New York–based real estate investment firm JNY Capital. JNY nearly immediately faced the threat of a lawsuit from the city over its refusal to make necessary repairs to the building after ground-floor tenant complaints—and after a chunk of the building dislodged and smashed a parked car below. JNY has been looking into adding windows to the tower’s first seven floors, which it claims is necessary to attract office tenants following a redevelopment but would destroy the building’s historical significance. Now, that plan may be on hold as a landmark designation may be looming; the final decision should be handed down by the City Council sometime in the next six months. During the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board’s meeting, the economic feasibility of redeveloping the building while remaining true to its legacy was discussed, but the board’s members ultimately decided that it was beyond the purview of their discussion. JNY remains opposed to the designation and has stated it has no plans to demolish the hotel or its towering facade.
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San Francisco orders historic Neutra home be rebuilt after being torn down

Preservationists in Twin Peaks, San Francisco, were aghast this past December when it came to light that much of a 1935 home designed by Richard Neutra had been illegally demolished months prior. Owner Ross Johnston had purchased the 1,300-square-foot 49 Hopkins Avenue—also known as the Largent House—for $1.7 million with plans to replace it with a 4,000-square-foot mega-mansion in 2017. Only the home’s garage door and frame still stand today, but on December 13, the City Planning Commission unanimously ruled that Johnston must build an exact replica of the house, as well as a plaque detailing the building’s history. The Largent House was one of only five buildings designed by Neutra in San Francisco. The two-story, whitewashed-concrete-block and redwood-timber building made ample use of glass bricks to let in natural light and included a greenhouse-like glass topper to enclose an indoor pool. The plague of illegal demolitions by San Franciscan homeowners hoping to build big or flip the property is widespread, and punitive repercussions are rare. The city is in the middle of a housing crisis, and when faced with the option of forbidding offenders from building on the demoed lot, the Planning Commission has let homeowners off the hook. Not this time. Johnson applied for a demolition permit and permission to build his new house two months after the home was razed, arguing that a fire in 1968 and remodels throughout the 1980s and ’90s had removed the home’s architectural significance. Rather than flipping the plot of land, Johnson claims that he was only building something that could accommodate his six-person family and that the demo was undertaken for safety and quality of life reasons. The Planning Commission disagreed, and in a 5-0 vote, ordered Johnson to rebuild the Largent House. Planning Commissioner Dennis Richards hopes that the move, along with the recently proposed Housing Preservation and Expansion Reform Act, which harshly penalizes illegal demolitions, would help curb speculation in the housing market. “The fact that it was a unanimous vote should send a message to everyone that is playing fast and loose that the game is over,” Peskin told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We want to preserve iconic, historic structures, but even more important, we want to protect our reservoir of more affordable housing stock. You want a 1,300-square-foot house to be worth what a 1,300-square-foot house is worth, rather than a mega-mansion.” Unfortunately, this isn’t a shocking story in 2018, as a number of architecturally significant homes, including a Venturi Scott Brown–designed house in Pittsburgh, faced under-the-radar demolitions and renovations.
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Milton Resnick's former studio reopens with retrospective of his work

Free and open to the public, the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation on Lower Manhattan’s Eldridge Street will open to the public on September 15 and 16. The art space is housed in a former synagogue where Resnick (1917-2004) lived and worked, while his wife Passlof (1928-2011) had her own converted synagogue one block over on Forsyth Street. Resnick was one of the original Abstract Expressionist painters and was close friends with Willem de Kooning, through whom he met his wife. Although the foundation is focused on their work, it will also present exhibitions of other artists, readings, performances, and lectures, and welcome scholars. The renovation by Ryall Sheridan Architects attempted to keep the spirit and openness of Resnick’s studio while bringing it up-to-date with such improvements as an elevator and modern-day climate-control. Whereas the original studio was dark and enveloping—it included a double-height space with bare brick walls, kept wide open for large-scale painting without furniture or lighting—the new Foundation is light and open. With blonde-and-gray slat wood floors, white walls, LED track lighting, slate-gray metal staircases, riveted Corten steel plates, exposed brick walls, white scrim blinds, wood joists, silver-handled door pulls, and Duravit sinks in the bathrooms, it has the animus of a Chelsea art gallery. The only traces of its ecclesiastical past are the tall windows in the double-height exhibition space on floors two and three (formerly the painting studio and before that the temple assembly), which are capped with round windows and three carved rosettes on the exterior’s top floor facade along with the inscription of the synagogue’s name and date. The building, originally a tenement, was purchased in 1888 and converted into Bnai Tifereth Yerushalayim (Sons of the Glory of Jerusalem) and the Mesivta Tifereth Yerushalayim. The congregation removed the third floor to create the tall sanctuary, and Resnick later removed the women’s balconies. In the 1960s, a Syrian Orthodox church bought the building, flipped it to the Lincoln African Methodist Episcopal Church, who then sold it to a developer, who converted it into a warehouse and later sold to Resnick in 1977. Passlof’s 1874 synagogue, which the couple purchased in 1963 for $20,000 when it was condemned, was home to Kol Israel Anshe Poland, which installed Gothic windows and fire escapes sporting Stars of David. Passlof’s Forsyth Street building was sold in 2012 for $6.4 million to fund the renovation of the Eldridge Street building. It can be viewed from the back windows of the Foundation, along with new skyscrapers ranging from One World Trade Center, the Herzog & de Meuron tower on Leonard Street, the Gehry Tower on Spruce Street, and a new hotel in Chinatown peeking above the skyline. In fact, the entire Lower East Side neighborhood is still filled with relatively small houses of worship on side streets: the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum at 280 Broome Street for the Romaniote Jews of Greece, the Angel Orensanz Center at 172 Norfolk Street, Bialystoker Synagogue at 7 Willett Street, Congregation Sons of Moses at 135 Henry Street, Stanton Street Shul at 180 Stanton Street, Congregation Chasam Sopher at 10 Clinton Street, and the granddaddy of them all, the Eldridge Street Synagogue with Kiki Smith and Deborah Gans Rose Window at 12 Eldridge Street. Resnick was born in Ukraine, then part of Russia, the year of the Russian Revolution in 1917. His Jewish family emigrated to the U.S. in 1922, and he studied at the Hebrew Technical Institute in New York City with the intention of becoming an architect. Because the Depression stifled construction, he switched to Pratt for commercial art, then to the American Artists School for fine art. After working for the WPA Federal Art Project, he was drafted into the Army during World War II and studied in Paris afterward. There he met Giacometti, Brancusi, Tristan Tzara, and other art-world luminaries. On his return, he moved into a studio on East 8th Street, where de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock worked. During the summer of 1948, he first met Passlof, a student of de Kooning’s, who told her Resnick was the individual he “respects more than any other.” The work in the inaugural display, Milton Resnick: Paintings 1937–1987, shows his paintings and drawings, ranging from colorful figurative works to large-scale monochromatic pieces. As he became infirm, Resnick confined himself to the third floor where he worked in a converted closet. This small studio has been preserved with paint splatters, images of Rasputin tacked to the walls, family photos, bas-reliefs of faces and animals, a Polaroid of a tree, Chinese sculpture, his own doodling, jars of paint, cans of brushes, bottles of ink, and a pair of rubber slippers.
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Check out these eight unmatched tennis courts from around the world

Tennis courts may be universally designed in the same way, but their topographic location can change the entire look and feel of playing the great game. In honor of the US Open, we’ve rounded up some of the world’s most architecturally impressive courts. From the ever-imaginative buildings within the United Arab Emirates to the secret spaces of Paris, these amazing athletic facilities placed in unbelievable settings feature inspired designs that date from present day, all the way back to the late 19th century. Take a scroll and let your sporty side roam around the globe with these ace spaces: The Couch, Amsterdam, The Netherlands The IJburg Tennis Club near Amsterdam houses 10 clay courts, a tennis school, and a temporary communal building with integrated rooftop seating designed by Dutch firm MVRDV. Acting as a giant piece of street furniture, the red-sprayed concrete structure features a curvaceous roof that dips down towards ground level on the south side, while the north side rises 23 feet high, allowing for bleacher-like seating overlooking the courts. The wood-clad interior boasts ample natural light thanks to wide glass that spans the front and south sides of the building. Burj Al Arab Tennis Court, Dubai, U.A.E. Twelve years ago, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer held an exhibition on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab, the third tallest hotel in the world. Designed by Tom Wright of WKK Architects, the structure stands like the sail of a ship at 1,053 feet tall. The helipad covers 4,467 square feet of space and a grass court was laid out across it for this one-time match. Since its completion, the site has been home to other iconic sports moments: Golfers Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy teed off of the helipad in separate years while Formula One racecar driver David Coulthard performed donuts on the surface in 2013. Dubai could also soon build the world’s first underwater tennis complex off its coast in the Persian Gulf, a vision by Polish architect Krzysztof Kotala, founder of 8+8 Studio. La Cavalerie Tennis Club, Paris Set on the sixth floor of an art deco building with an Aston Martin dealership at its base, this hidden tennis club sports weathered wood paneling and a dramatic, honeycomb-style arched roof. The building itself, designed by famous French architect R. Farradèche in 1924, includes a close-up view of the Eiffel Tower which can be seen from the balconies of the club.  The hard court was established as a national monument in 1986 and features 1,400 pieces of wood that shape the parabolic interior design.   Astor Courts, Rhinebeck, New York This private tennis pavilion is situated within the historic upstate guesthouse and casino of John Jacob Astor IV. Designed in 1902 by Stanford White, the indoor and outdoor sports complex included squash courts, a bowling alley, a shooting range, and an indoor swimming pool. It was designed in the style of the Grand Trianon, a château found at Versailles in France. After being purchased by its current owner in 2003 for over $3 million, PBDW Architects rehabilitated the 20,000-square-foot mansion where Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky were married in 2010. Infinity Court, Los Angeles, California Located at the John Lautner-designed Sheats-Goldstein House, this seemingly floating tennis court provides spectacular, sweeping views of Los Angeles. The house is currently owned by the colorful real estate investor, NBA lover, and fashion designer James Goldstein and was recently acquired by the L.A. County Museum of Art as its first-ever architectural acquisition. When Goldstein bought the property in 1972, he began working with Lautner on several updates and additions to the house. The on-site, infinity-edge court was designed atop a three-level entertainment complex built in collaboration with Lautner’s colleague. It features a glass partition barely visible from the other side of the outdoor space. Tennis Courts at the SLS Lux, Miami, Florida Arquitectonica’s design for the just-completed SLS Lux Brickell Hotel and Residences in South Beach includes a multi-use sports center atop the ninth floor of the 57-story tower. Tennis courts, a rock climbing wall, as well as spaces for volleyball, basketball, and more, allow the residents of the building’s 450 luxury condos, 12 penthouses, and 84 hotel rooms an opportunity for ample play. The base of the building features a colorful, 40,000-square-foot mural on its exterior by Fabian Burgos, a world-renowned Argentinian artist who creates optical designs for architecture. Vanderbilt Tennis and Fitness Club, New York City, New York Since the 1960s, a secret has existed within the walls of New York’s famed Grand Central Terminal: It houses a secluded tennis club. For over ten years, city dwellers could pay to play at the original Vanderbilt Athletic Club, founded by Hungarian athlete and refugee Geza Gazdag. The club housed two clay courts and a 65-foot indoor ski slope built on the third-floor Annex of the train depot. Since Gazdag was priced out of his lease, the coveted piece of real estate began a fraught history of ownership. Donald Trump took it over for three decades, turning it into an elite club for the city’s wealthiest tennis fans. Once his lease ran out in 2009, the space became a lounge for the Metropolitan Transit Authority and new courts were built on the fourth floor where current owner Anthony Scholnick manages the facility.
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Yale is set to renovate the landmark Peabody Museum of Natural History

Yale University is slated to renovate and expand one of its oldest campus institutions, the Peabody Museum of Natural History on Science Hill. Thanks in part to a just-announced $160-million donation from philanthropist and Yale alumnus Edward P. Bass, the project will be the first major update the landmark museum has received in 93 years. The master plan, conceived by Centerbrook Architects and Planners, marks one of the boldest and most thoughtful endeavors the university has taken on in recent years. After well over a decade of planning, the project will yield 50 percent more exhibition space for the museum and improve storage for its on-site collection of over 13 million artifacts. It will also include the addition of a new, four-story infill structure that will connect the neighboring Environmental Science Center. The sky-lit, glass-enclosed connector will give students seamless access into the museum, where Centerbrook will create more modern spaces for research and study. One of Yale’s main goals for the addition, said Centerbrook’s principal Mark Simon, was to complement the timeless architecture of the original Peabody building, a three-story, French Gothic Revival, sandstone structure by renowned campus architect Charles Klauder. Using fritted glass and bronze-colored aluminum framing, the cathedral-like tower will bring a contemporary edge to the aged institution. “The Peabody community wanted to maintain a family resemblance or identity throughout the new and old structures,” said Simon. “It’s always tricky to do something that’s up-to-date but connects well with the historic fabric, but we’re all very pleased with this design.” The building out of the glass tower will be done in the initial phases of construction, Simon said. After that, the renovation of the museum’s existing spaces can begin. So far, a timeline for construction hasn’t been announced as Yale is currently strategizing on how to safely remove portions of the Peabody’s collection to a facility on its West Campus. Both the museum, as well as the other science buildings being updated during the project, will remain open throughout construction to students, faculty, and the 130,000 visitors—which includes 25,000 regional school children—who visit the Peabody each year. Other elements of the master plan include creating new classrooms, labs, and learning spaces for collections-based teaching and scientific exploration. The museum, founded in 1866, has been home to some of the most important discoveries in history and Yale hopes the renovation will help carry on the Peabody’s legacy of advancement in the industry. “As one of Yale’s greatest resources, this museum will provide hands-on learning for students across various undergraduate programs,” said Simon, “and allow them to engage in the processes of the museum itself from research and restoration, to designing exhibits and presenting their work in the galleries.” Centerbrook is one of Yale’s long-time partners. The local firm has completed 12 projects for the university from Kroon Hall, which they designed in collaboration with Hopkins Architects, to the Child Study Center, the renovated and expanded Reese Stadium—home of the men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse programs—as well as an addition to the historic Yale Bowl. While Simon has worked extensively on many of these buildings, the Peabody renovation is a game-changer for the firm. “We are over the moon that this is finally coming to fruition,” he said. “Each year we spend on it, it seems more and more important to do. It’s more than just another university museum upgrade. You get a sense that this project will not only have a major impact on education at Yale, but on the world at large.”
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Jail tower proposed by New York City officials

As part of the plan to close Rikers Island by redistributing inmates to smaller jails across four of the five boroughs, the Daily News reports that city officials are looking to build a 40-story jail tower at 80 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan. Perkins Eastman, along with 17 subcontractors, has been tapped to redesign the smaller community-oriented jails in each borough and orient the new developments toward a rehabilitative model. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office had released a list of preferred community-chosen locations in each borough back in February, but ran into opposition with their sites in the Bronx. Now the plan for the Manhattan location appears to have changed as well, as the city is looking to top the nine-story 80 Centre Street with a jail tower that could contain affordable housing. The initial location in Manhattan, an expansion of the Manhattan Detention Complex at 125 White Street, was deemed infeasible for the number of inmates that would need to be housed. Rikers currently houses 9,000 inmates, but the city is hoping to cut that number to 5,000 through bail and sentencing reform and distribute the population throughout the new sites. Closing the jail has been the goal of vocal activists for whom the facility embodies gross abuses of the criminal justice system. Mayor de Blasio has recently come to support the push for closure. If the jail tower moves forward–80 Centre St. is one of two sites under consideration–the 700,000-square-foot Louis J. Lefkowitz State Office Building would be gutted and the preserved facade would serve as the tower's base. The granite, art deco building is currently home to the marriage bureau, and was completed in 1930 and designed by William Haugaard; according to the city’s official building description, Haugaard kept the building squat to avoid casting shadows on the nearby courthouses and Foley Square. The jail’s vertical shape would mean that men and women would need to be separated on different floors, as would the hospital area, outdoor space, recreation areas, and classrooms. AN will follow this story up as more details become available.
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The AT&T Building is now a New York City landmark

It’s official: Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s postmodern Manhattan skyscraper 550 Madison, better known as the AT&T Building, is now a protected landmark. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously this morning to landmark the 1984 tower, making it the youngest building to receive landmark status in New York. A movement to protect the building began last year when developers Chelsfield America and Olayan America revealed plans to renovate the base of the tower. The contested (and protested) scheme from Snøhetta to strip the pink granite from the 110-foot-tall arch and loggias at the tower’s base and wrap it in glass drew immediate criticism when revealed in October 2017. The proposal would have unbalanced the tripartite arrangement between oversized openings at the base, in the central tower, and through the ornamental “Chippendale” topper, and preservationists and Johnson’s contemporaries rallied to prevent alterations. Before designating the AT&T Building as a landmark, commissioners noted the outpouring of support from residents, critics, and architects at the public hearing on June 19. Special attention was drawn to the building’s relatively recent completion date; Fred Bland, the interim chair of the commission, remarked that it was one of the rare buildings of which commissioners had experienced the original intent. To that end, commissioner Kim Vauss recounted that on a tour of the building in college she was struck by the grandeur of the original lobby. It was only years later that she would learn the original lobby was gone, AT&T’s Golden Boy statue having been removed by Sony in 1992, and the arcades having been converted into enclosed retail spaces in 2002. Keeping retail off of Madison Avenue and confined to the passage between East 56th Street and East 55th Street (now enclosed by a Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman-designed canopy added in 1994) was Johnson’s original intent, something that Sony disregarded during their occupation. The lobby was ineligible for landmarking as the ownership consortium–including minority partner RXR Realty­­­­–demolished the ground floor interior in February. The demolition is part of ownership’s plan to reorient the building by creating a large enclosed garden and seating area in the rear and to open up sightlines through the new lobby. The tower’s interiors, originally designed for 800 single-tenant employees, will be converted into Class A office space for up to 3,000 workers. 550 Madison’s ownership team released the following statement to AN: “We are proud that 550 Madison is now an official New York City landmark, claiming its place in our city’s architectural heritage. Ownership strongly supports designation of the iconic office tower and applauds the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision. Since acquiring the building, we have taken our role as stewards of this important building very seriously. We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with the LPC and other stakeholders to preserve 550 Madison's legacy as a commercial Class A destination in East Midtown, with smart and sensitive modifications to serve modern tenants.” When reached for comment on what exactly the designation covers, the LPC issued the following statement: "The landmark site for the AT&T Corporate Headquarters Building is the tax block and lot (Tax Map Block 1291, Lot 10), and includes the exterior facades of the office tower and the annex, and the exterior facades of the enclosed covered passageway."
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Target opens in the East Village with polarizing faux-urbanism

The East Village outpost of Target opened in lower Manhattan this weekend and kicked off the festivities by draping a vinyl facade of long-gone East Village institutions down a stretch of the street. The installation concocted Target-ized versions of long-gone cultural institutions, including riffs on CBGB, the Village Voice, a local laundromat, and more, drawing the ire of preservationists.
The 27,000-square-foot Target is a smaller, “urban” offshoot at the base of the Beyer Blinder Belle-designed luxury EVGB (“East Village’s Greatest Building”) tower at the intersection of 14th Street and Avenue A. The kiosks around EVGB’s base were all throwbacks to the neighborhood’s punk 1970s past and included a wrapping reminiscent of the tenement buildings that existed before Extell developed EVGB. The online responses were, predictably, divided. Preservationists viewed the stunt akin to a facadectomy and accused Target of appropriating the area’s past to promote a gentrifying store. On the other side, most of the visitors this weekend seemed happy to snag free swag the “TRGT”, fake pizza places, and “palm readers”. Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York was particularly scathing in his assessment, calling it a “Potemkin Village from Hell” and decrying the commodification of his formative experiences. Still, this kind of thing happens regularly, as facades and nods to an area’s past are frequently appropriated in the marketing for whatever comes next, whether it be an addition or wholesale replacement.
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Fogarty Finger designs a domestic office for a financial firm in Flatiron

Most of us would prefer to keep our work and home lives separate, but as the line between office and living room continues to blur, the professional world is increasingly trading staid benches for plush couches. New York-based Fogarty Finger, together with Kevin Dumais, have recently completed a top-floor office in Manhattan’s Flatiron district that brings a homey touch to what would otherwise be a sprawling floorplate. 119 Fifth Avenue, smack dab between Union Square and Madison Square Park, might seem like an odd location for a wealth management firm. It’s not Wall Street, but as Fogarty Finger cofounder Robert Finger describes, financial firms are beginning to scout for locations that set them apart from their competitors. In the case of 119 Fifth Ave., the client requested a different type of workplace that would feel more like an extension of his home; he even brought in his own furniture, said Finger. The result, an 8,000-square-foot office for only six employees, uses soffits, residential furniture, and soft natural lighting (the ceilings are high enough for clerestory windows) to avoid feeling cavernous. Taking advantage of the office’s top floor location and soaring ceilings, Fogarty Finger and Dumais highlighted the historic cast iron building’s skylights over the central gathering places by framing them and illuminating them from within at night with installed lights. The building’s original ornate elevator frame and French windows were kept and restored as well. The design elements help further delineate the office’s programming. A more traditional office space adjacent to the reception lounge has been carved out with filing cabinets, cone-shaped overhead lights, and a specialized desk system, and the carpeted floors of the meeting rooms denote the transition from one discrete area to the next. Doors and partitions were specifically arranged to allow views framing the entire length of the floor, and contemporary art was strategically placed throughout to break up the larger spaces.