The entrance to the Holland Tunnel, a maze of traffic and complicated pedestrian crossings, finally has some much-needed open space. Thursday, the Hudson Square Connection, the Business Improvement District (BID) for the area, along with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, announced the opening of Freeman Plaza West, a new public space outfitted with bistro-style tables and chairs, umbrellas, and greenery, including four trees planted in honor of four members of Port Authority Police Department’s Holland Tunnel Command who lost their lives in the line of duty on September 11th 2001. After securing a 5-year lease (with renewal options) for the plaza from the Port Authority, the Connection spent $200,000 on transforming the closed space into a gathering area for the residents and for the more than 50,000 people working in Hudson Square. “The Hudson Square neighborhood is a creative hub in the city and is really starved for open space,” said Ellen Baer, president of the Hudson Square Connection. Freeman Plaza West is one of several public spaces that will be unveiled within the next few years. Last fall, the Connection launched its five-year plan to update and enliven the public realm with substantial improvements to Soho Square and Spring, Varick, and Hudson Streets. This $27 million plan will include a variety of enhancements from planting beds and pocket gardens to curbside seating and widened sidewalks. The Connection has also tapped Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects to help with the landscape design program. "If this works, we may do a few other temporary spaces," said Baer. "We have no shortage of ideas."
Posts tagged with "public space":
Starting Memorial Day, Chicago's Millennium Park will host the U.S. debut of a bright array of public design projects, many of which appeared at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good will feature 84 works, including more than a dozen for Chicago and several that also appeared in Venice. One Venice Biennale carryover will be the slew of pull-down banners created by Brooklyn design studio Freecell and Berkeley-based communication design firm M-A-D. An “outdoor living room” for Millennium Park, designed by Wicker Park firm MAS Studio, is among the new installations. The space will serve as an outpost for the exhibition, according to MAS director Iker Gill, shading visitors with a canopy of more than 700 moving acrylic panels with a lively color palette. Local woodworker John Preus of Dilettante Studios will salvage lumber for the wood support structure and seating. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events brought the design contest to Chicago for its first U.S. showing. Programs will take place at the Cultural Center, in the pop-up pavilion in Millennium Park, and at various offsite locations through September 1. Here’s a video of Freecell and M-A-D’s banner project from the biennale:
Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto has been exhibiting his work for almost 25 years. With his latest work, Neto crocheted a netted pavilion shaped almost like a spider that is currently on view at the Sharjah Biennial 11 in the United Arab Emirates. The Biennial, titled Re:emerge, Towards a New Cultural Cartography and curated by Yuko Hasegawa, investigates the overlapping public and private life found in the historic Islamic architecture of the Sharjah courtyards. Neto's pavilion, While culture moves us apart, nature brings us together, delineates a calm retreat complete with traditional trademarks of Islamic courtyards including shade, benches, greenery, and a small pond. He used a natural wood frame draped in yellow and pink netting to create a unique circular shape defined by arcs. And while the space looks distinct, it mirrors the basic ideas of traditional Islamic courtyards by offering an intimate public space for diversity, creativity, and exchange. Artists for the Biennial were chosen based on their deep and visible connections with their own cultures, like Neto, in efforts to view places outside their own cultures in fresh ways offering new perspectives and possibly creating cross-cultural materials.
Hammer Projects: Dara Friedman Hammer Museum 10899 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles Through April 14 Miami-based artist Dara Friedman is known for her black and white films of dancers dancing through city streets. For her film Dancer (2011) she used a 16mm camera to examine urban space and individuals within these spaces, filming improvisational dancers in a variety of styles, from flamenco, to ballet, to belly and break dancing, and more. In her work, Friedman also investigates accepted concepts of performance-based art. Her grainy films sometimes capture the sounds of street traffic, and she sometimes dubs music that is not always in rhythm with the dancers’ movements. For her first exhibition in Los Angeles, Friedman has prepared an 8mm film that is a follow-up to Dancer.
An inventive new park in Copenhagen’s Norrebro district, "Superkilen," designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Superflex, and Topotek 1 serves as a sort of cultural collage of artifacts sourced from 60+ nationalities. Superkilen slices its way through the center of the city, soaking up and flaunting its inhabitants’ diverse cultural backgrounds along the way. The kilometer-long wedge of urban space, completed this summer, is divided according to use into three distinct color-coded zones and sports bike paths linking directly to Copenhagen’s cycling highways. The park’s "urban furniture" integrates a range of symbolic and functional items from all over the world. Armenian picnic tables join Iraqi swings, Brazilian benches, Chinese Palms, Islamic tiled Moroccan fountains, and an Indian climbing playground, among others. A "Green Park," almost entirely green, offers trees, plants, and grassy hills suitable for sunbathing, sports, strolling, and picnicking. The "Red Square" is brightly painted in geometric patches of radiant reds, oranges, and pinks and is intended for recreational use with indoor and outdoor sports arenas and exercise facilities. Locals can gather and mingle at the "Black Square," which acts as the city’s “urban living room,” and play a game of backgammon beneath a Japanese cherry tree, illuminated by a giant neon-red star from the USA.
In an ongoing endeavor to blend public art, architecture, and urbanism by artists Siyuan and Hwee Chong, The Doors Project subversively projects a series of doors onto public spaces in Singapore, reflecting the struggles of the urban poor and underprivileged. But while commenting on despair, the real message is one of faith, hope and empowerment. “We wanted to make a statement about life, and jolt people to think,” the artists said in an interview at Yolo. “Instead of following the light at the end of the tunnel, why not carry our own lights, and create our own doors! It’s really about rolling up our sleeves, and creating the opportunities we want for ourselves.” Inspired by true stories of people they’ve met—from a boy mastering kung fu to protect his mother from his abusive father to an Indian worker desperately raising money for his son’s surgery—the installation provokes the viewer to re-imagine boundaries as thresholds, opacity as reflection, and life’s roadblocks as opportunities. “These people, despite much hoping and praying, are faced with countless roadblocks that take them nowhere,” they said. According to Siyuan and Hwee Chong, people should take a giant leap of faith, work hard at what they believe in most, and open their own “doors” in life. “It’s just more meaningful that way.” Expect more public installations from Siyuan and Hwee Chong in the near future. “’Doors is meant to be an ongoing project. There’s no end date to it. For as long as we keep collecting stories of hope and despair, we’ll keep projecting people’s ‘doors’ onto roadblocks.” Read the full interview with the artists at Yolo or check out The Doors Project's website for more.
It's not every day that architects get a public space named after one of their own, but tucked away in Lower Manhattan is a small pedestrian plaza named after one of the most important 19th-century architects around. Bogardus Plaza occupies one block of Hudson Street on the corner of Chambers Street and West Broadway only a few blocks from AN headquarters and is named from James Bogardus (1800-1874), the inventor of the cast-iron building, and last week the plaza received a fresh coat of gravel-epoxy paint. Bogardus' cast-iron buildings revolutionized architecture and represented a distinctly modern take on building during the Industrial Revolution. For the first time, building elements could be mass produced and quickly assembled on site all while retaining the ornate facades fashionable in the middle of the 19th century. Cast iron as a material, predating modern steel, also permitted unprecedented expanses of glass within cast-iron facades emitting natural light deep into the buildings. Bogardus also espoused the fireproof qualities of his new building type. Examples of cast-iron architecture can be found in neighborhoods throughout New York, especially in TriBeCa, Soho, and the Financial District and Bogardus' legacy can be felt throughout the country in cities like Portland, Louisville, KY and Washington, D.C. where many cast-iron structures still remain. Only a few examples of Bogardus' work remain in New York including structures at 75 Murray Street (1857) and 85 Leonard Street (1860) both near the plaza. The viewing garden at Bogardus Plaza was established in 1996 in what was once a barren traffic island. Noted preservationist Margot Gayle lobbied for the site to be named after Bogardus. Gayle is responsible for the creation of the 26-block Soho-Cast Iron Historic District and author of the seminal Cast Iron Architecture in New York and Cast Iron Architecture in America: The Significance of James Bogardus. The site, maintained by Friends of the Bogardus Garden, was expanded in 2010 to include a temporary plaza on Hudson Street while road construction took place nearby and was made permanent in late 2011 due to widespread popularity of the new public space.
Five proposals to rethink the public spaces at Navy Pier have gone on view at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The finalist teams--AECOM/BIG, Aedas/Davis Brody Bond/Martha Schwartz Partners, James Corner Field Operations, !melk/HOK/UrbanLab, and Xavier Vendrell Studio/Grimshaw Architects--use variety of approaches to revitalize the historic pier, which has long been a favored destination for tourists. Organizers hope revitalizing the pier's public spaces will make it a world-class destination for residents as well as visitors, much like Millennium Park and the rest of the lakefront. AECOM/BIG's proposal calls for a series of undulating ramp/bleachers that form a new landscape over much of the pier's midsection, culminating in a new park at the tip. The Aedas-led team calls for a zig zagging series of promenades, some that would serve as boat launches, boardwalks, or pools, extending out from the pier and connecting to the lakefront. The existing pier would receive a dramatic new lighting scheme. The !melk-led team's proposal also features undulating extensions of the pier with low-slung buildings below the ramps, along with a substantial increase in vegetation, including large trees. The zig zag "edge," features a constructed wetlands. Perhaps the proposal's most dramatic feature is a artificial "glacier," a fountain designed to freeze in the winter into a ice column. James Corner Field Operations has perhaps the most lush proposal, with grassy landscape elements, trees, play fountains, and a large floating pool at the end of the pier. Xavier Vendrell's plan is arguably the most modest proposal, largely building upon the existing pier, including a new winter garden. They end of the pier includes a cantilevered sloping lookout over Lake Michigan. All the proposals are on view at the Chicago Architecture Foundation through mid May. Learn more about the designs and comment at Navy Pier Vision.
Brooklyn's grandest public space at the top of Prospect Park has always been a work in progress. Grand Army Plaza, an oval-shaped public space composed of monuments ringed by an inner and an outer roadway, was built as the main entrance to the park in 1866, serving as a buffer between nature and city and happened to be the confluence of some of Brooklyn's busiest avenues. Over the years, a monumental archway was added, fountains came and went, and eventually the roads were widened until the lush plaza was effectively cut off from the surrounding Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. Last week, however, after months of construction to tame the out-of-control roadways, a group of civic leaders and officials gathered in what was once a busy street to celebrate the newly reclaimed plaza. NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan praised the transformation of the intersection into a real multi-modal space. She said the changes to Grand Army Plaza are "an incredible invitation into the plaza to appreciate a landmark in a new way." The transformation is not just a boon for pedestrians and cyclists, she continued, but for motorists as well, noting that automobile behaviors have been streamlined and simplified through the oval by new medians and pedestrian islands to reduce merging conflicts. Similar to interventions across the city that shave off unused or excess pavement from roadways to be reallocated to pedestrians, the NYC Department of Transportation has created 71,000 square feet—or about 1.5 acres—of new pedestrian space at Grand Army Plaza. New landscaped pedestrian islands at the plaza's north side (above) help to route traffic more efficiently while shortening the distance pedestrians must cross to get to the park. At the south side (below), a vast swath of asphalt between the Soldier's and Sailor's Arch and the rest of the plaza has been paved with a light-colored gravel and lined with white granite boulders to officially keep traffic out. A similar treatment was put in place at the gates of Prospect Park where weekend Greenmarkets traditionally take place. New pedestrian islands, a large new crosswalk leading directly into the park, and a dedicated bike lane folllowing the Plaza Street loop complete the picture. Grand Army Plaza has been notoriously dangerous. In the late 1920s the plaza featured a large billboard called the "Death-o-Meter" (below) displaying the traffic injuries and fatalities in Brooklyn to promote safer driving in the area. Grassroots efforts to transform Grand Army Plaza into a pedestrian-friendly environment began in 2006 with the formation of the Grand Army Plaza Coalition (GAPCo) comprised of concerned citizens and organizations including the Project for Public Spaces. The coalition gathered widespread community input on how to improve the space producing a design by architect Jan Gehl in 2006 and eventually working with DOT to make their plans reality. In 2008, a design competition with the Design Trust for Public Space garnered inspiring proposals on how to rethink the urban tangle, with most results calling for a radical overhaul of the traffic circle. Plans were finalized during the contentious battle over the nearby Prospect Park West bike lane, but Sadik-Khan told AN the controversy did not affect the designs at Grand Army Plaza. Still, one component—a two-directional protected bike lane along Plaza Street, which creates the outer oval, that was approved in 2010 by community boards 6 and 8—was withheld from plans presented the spring. StreetsBlog pointed out at the time that the lane wasn't fully eliminated, but delayed after some residents were concerned about traffic. "I'm happy with the way the project evolved," said Sadik-Khan. "Adding 1.5 acres of new public space at the crossroads of Brooklyn is an incredible asset." "Over the past 50 years, the plaza has tipped to more street. We tipped it back to pedestrians," said Robert Witherwax, coordinator of GAPCo. "In terms of getting pedestrians into the plaza, it's genius, simple, elegant, and it works." The changes represent NYCDOT's budget approach to creating new public space quickly. A coat of gravel and paint is much more affordable than a completely new streetscape and can be fulfilled much faster. Witherwax said the next step is to program the new space, which could include new events and outfitting the plaza with furniture. "We have a treasury of ideas," he said. "We're making a part of the park useful that wasn't before."
Navy Pier has launched an international search for a team to re-envision its public spaces. The multi-tiered process includes a RFQ for design teams, followed by a selection 10 teams who will be asked to supply additional information about key members. Five finalists will receive will be asked to submit design proposals, and given a $50,000 stipend. The winning team and design will be selected in mid February. The redevelopment of the public spaces will follow the guidelines of "Centennial Vision" masterplan, released in June. Think fast, though. The initial submission is due on October 6.
A decade after the 9/11 attacks, the public will soon be able to visit the site, much of which has been fully transformed into the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. While many were dispirited by the years of revisions to and deviations from the Libeskind master plan (which itself had many detractors), AN's recent visit to the plaza, crowded with workers laboring toward the anniversary opening, revealed a vast, contemplative space that we predict will function well as both a memorial and a public space. Next week AN will take a look at the design and offer a preview of the what the public can expect from the space, but, first, a look at how the highly engineered plaza works. With transit tunnels, mechanical systems, and much of the memorial museum located below the surface, the plaza itself could only be approximately six feet thick. Unlike the original World Trade Center Plaza, which many found to be barren and scorching or windswept, the Memorial Plaza is conceived of as an abstracted forest of Swamp White Oaks surrounding two monumental pools outlining the footprints of the original towers. Designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker Partners, with Aedas, the plaza will include approximately 400 trees, 215 of which will be in place for the opening. About one third of the plaza has yet to be constructed, while the Santiago Calatrava designed PATH station is being completed. Plaza plantings are arranged in bands, alternating between bands of pavers and bands of trees, grass, and ground cover. This creates both a unifying visual language for the large plaza and a highly rational system for organizing the mechanical and irrigation systems on the site. Between the planting bands, accessible utility corridors house electrical and security equipment. Drainage troughs divide the planting bands from the utility corridors. The whole plaza acts as a vast stormwater collection tray. The plaza is very carefully graded to channel stormwater into the drainage troughs. Rainwater is collected in cisterns below and recirculated in the plaza's drip irrigation system as well as funnelled into the memorial fountain. The trees grow in a lightweight mixture of sand, shale, and worm casings. Growing and installing the plaza's oaks has been a long process. Given the pace of slow construction, the trees, which have been cultivated at a nursery in New Jersey, are much larger now, most standing around 25 feet tall. Trees were hauled onto the site with cranes and then placed in the planting beds with a specially designed lift. Tree roots will spread laterally, filling in the planting bands, and designers believe they will eventually reach 60 to 80 feet in height. The roots are anchored with bracing under the stone pavers. While the PATH station is being completed, the remaining unfinished plaza is still an uncovered construction site, inaccessible to the public. According to Matthew Donham, a partner at Peter Walker, the construction of that portion of the plaza will be even thinner in depth. Aside from an expansion joint, there will be no visible difference between the two sides.
There's nothing that'll kill the buzz on your birthday faster than rumors of the Rapture coming on the same day. But we think John Chase, the beloved urban designer of the City of West Hollywood, would have handled it in stride. Chase, the oft-celebrated "King of Public Space," was a tremendously outspoken presence in planning and politics and was responsible for transforming the scruffy city into one with attractive public spaces that are both progressive and respectful of the city's past. To remember the late urban designer, de LaB, a group of Chase's friends, family, co-workers, and collaborators, is leading a walking tour on the anniversary of his birthday, Saturday, May 21, across the city. Architects and city leaders will guide the participants through various projects and share their memories of Chase and discuss his urban spaces. Stops include Formosa 1140, Plummer Park, The MAK Center, Habitat 825, Holloway Park Veteran's Memorial, Sierra Bonita Affordable Housing, 8140 Sunset Boulevard, and West Hollywood City Hall, among others. The tour will conclude (hopefully with the world still intact) with drinks at one of Chase's favorite places in the city, Barney's Beanery. Presented by KCRW's DnA: Design and Architecture, design east of La Brea and The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, the day's speakers include Frances Anderton, Christopher Hawthorne, John Keho, Jennifer Davis, Katherine Spitz, Deborah Murphy, John Kaliski, Margaret Crawford, Lorcan O'Herhily, Richard Loring, Merry Norris, Andy Liu, Wade Killefer, Pat Smith, Bruce Kaye, and more to be announced. John Chase's West Hollywood: An Architectural Walking Tour Saturday, May 21, 2011 10:00 a.m.: Tour departs from the West Hollywood Gateway, 7100 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood. Meet in front of the Starbucks in the courtyard. 5:30 p.m.: Drinks at Barney's Beanery, 8447 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood. You can take the 704 or 4 bus back to the start. Please visit AN's diary for more info.