Alicia Glen, New York’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, and Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia, announced at a media briefing yesterday that master planning for Sunnyside Yard in western Queens would begin summer of 2018. A steering committee made up of local stakeholders and technical experts will be guiding the process, while Vishaan Chakrabarti’s PAU will be leading the master planning team (confirming a leak from late March). PAU’s team and the steering committee will utilize the results of the feasibility study commissioned in February of 2017 as a starting point in planning for the future of the 180-acre active rail yard. Over the next 18 months, the steering committee and planning team will establish long-term plans for how to best develop the site, and what the most feasible first steps will be. Regular check-ins with the community will also be scheduled, as the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Amtrak want to keep the process forward-facing. Co-chaired by the city and Amtrak, the 35-person steering committee includes several members of Sunnyside’s Community Board 2; President of the Regional Plan Association Tom Wright; President of LaGuardia Community College Gail Meadow; and representatives from developers, construction associations, Amtrak, NYCHA, and other groups with a vested interest in the project. Also of note was the appointment of Cali Williams, a long time NYCEDC employee as the Director of Sunnyside Yard. Any of the resulting plans will involve decking over an extensive portion of the rail yard while keeping it running for the Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New Jersey Transit trains running below. To that end, the actual master plan consultant team is something a who's-who of New York firms. Thornton Tomasetti will be handling the structural engineering, Sam Schwartz Engineering will be responsible for the mobility planning and engineering, and Nelson Byrd Woltz has been tapped as the landscape architect. The Italian firm Carlo Ratti Associati has also been selected as the project’s “futurist”, to help guide expand the team’s thinking about what’s possible. The initial NYCEDC feasibility study determined that decking over 80 to 85 percent of the site was possible, with the potential to build out up to 24,000 residential units, 19 schools, and 52 acres of parkland, at a cost of $19 billion. While monetary considerations weren’t raised explicitly at the May 2nd meeting, it was pointed out that this project would be a significant investment to Western Queens. Right now, the steering committee will be dedicated first and foremost to deciding how to advance what the community wants most out of the development. The steering committee’s formation comes at a critical time for the yard, as the MTA will also be working at the site to bring the East Side Access project online (allowing LIRR trains to reach Grand Central). Governor Cuomo has promised that that particular project will be ready by 2022.
Posts tagged with "Queens":
Kaufman Astoria Studios, a film and TV studio that’s been a fixture in Astoria, Queens since its opening in 1921, is expanding in a big way. Local firm GLUCK+ has shared renderings of the forthcoming four-story film and production building, which comes on the heels of Kaufman Astoria opening the city’s first backlot (used to stage outdoor scenes) in 2014. Besides adding several floors of office space, the new building will hold production offices, dressing rooms, prop storage areas, and two stages, increasing the campus's stage space by 25 percent. Once completed, the new building will represent a sizable increase for the studio’s overall campus, which currently stands at 500,000 feet, and includes nine stages and a restaurant. The project, sited at 35-71 34th Avenue, is down the street from the Museum of the Moving Image. From the renderings, it seems that the studio will also be returning a perforated gate at the northern edge of 34th Avenue that was removed in 2014; the same year a new entrance gate and spiral staircase were added to the campus’s south edge. The exterior of the 100,000-square-foot addition will be clad in vertical panels, and the overall scheme fits comfortably into GLUCK+’s design canon. The 84-foot-tall film and production building will hold 68,000 square feet of open office space across the top half, which should be well-lit due to the numerous, narrow vertical punch windows that break up the facade. According to YIMBY, Kaufman Astoria employees can expect 14-foot-tall ceilings and seven balconies. Kaufman Astoria will also be gaining two stages inside of the building’s heftier bottom half, directly below the offices, as well as 134 parking spaces. Kaufman Astoria Studios has been hugely influential in New York's film and television history, and everything from silent movies to TV shows like Sesame Street and Orange is the New Black in more recent years has been filmed there. Construction on the office project began in February 2017, and no completion date has been announced as of yet.
New York’s LaGuardia Airport (long the butt of snarky comments) will soon be getting a bit more hospitable. Announced earlier this month by the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA), the QCA ArtPort Residency will give four artists 3-month residencies at the airport’s Marine Air Terminal (A), with the first starting in mid-April. The opportunity is open to any Queens-based visual artist who can commit to the 3-month period. The lucky artists will be given a $3,000 stipend and access to 110 square feet of public studio space in the terminal’s rotunda, in what was formerly a Hudson News stand. The residency will take place entirely within view of the public, in a highly-trafficked area that receives thousands of visitors a day. Of course, any artist seeking to win a residency will need to abide by the rules set by the New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which funds the QCA, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The list of prohibited materials is long and excludes anything toxic, and certain themes have been precluded; works can’t be too obscene or political. The space will serve as a gateway to cultural life in Queens, much as the airport welcomes visitors to the city. “Queens is often overlooked for many reasons, and being that almost everybody who comes into the city comes through Queens, we want them to experience a flavor of Queens,” QCA’s Grants & Resource Director Lynn Lobell told Hyperallergic. “As an arts council, we also wanted the general public to be able to experience art in unexpected places and to see how the artist process works.” The residency program within Terminal A will take place under Flight by James Brooks, a large, wraparound mural created as part of the Works Progress Administration program. The landmarked Marine Air Terminal itself, a squat, art deco building defined by its two-story rotunda, has taken on higher traffic than normal as construction continues around the airport. If the residency proves successful, QCA will look into expanding the program to LaGuardia’s Terminal B, once it’s completed in 2021. Interested artists have until Tuesday, April 5 to apply.
A team headed by Vishaan Chakrabarti has been chosen by the de Blasio administration to create a master plan for Western Queens’ Sunnyside Yard rail pit, according to Crain’s New York. While nothing has been officially announced, Chakrabarti and his firm, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) will be responsible for envisioning how to deck over the 180-acre yard and support parks, retail, commercial, and thousands of residential units. The idea to deck over the still actively-in-use train yard with housing has been kicking around since 2015, when Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a feasibility study from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Released in February of 2017, the report found that it would be feasible to deck over anywhere from 80 to 85 percent of the site, and up to 24,000 residential units could be built for around $19 billion (about the cost of Hudson Yards). Each of the three schemes in the feasibility report offsets the mixture of residential units with space for cultural centers, schools, retail, and office space, though it’s unclear what PAU will focus on. Sunnyside Yard, which is so large that it stretches across the triangle of Astoria-Long Island City-Sunnyside neighborhoods, is still in active use by Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, and any plan would need to allow for its continued use. Because of the difficulty involved in building over an active train yard, the master plan will help inform Amtrak’s decision to upgrade its facilities in the future. PAU’s selection comes on the heels of a Request For Qualifications released by the NYCEDC in September of last year, though neither party were willing to confirm the choice to Crain’s. Assuming the report's sources were correct, PAU will draw up a vision for the rail yard and create a specific development plan for the megaproject, a process city officials estimate could take up to two years. “We remain on track with the original schedule for this project,” a spokesman for the NYCEDC told Crain’s. “We continue to work closely with Amtrak, and we will also engage community stakeholders before beginning any master-planning process.”
The first renderings for the Handel Architects-designed skyscraper developed by the Durst Organization at 29-37 41st Avenue in Queens have been revealed. While the tower falls short of its 915-foot-tall predecessor by SLCE, Handel’s 751-foot-tall building will still dwarf the clock tower at its base. The renderings, first obtained by CityRealty, show a massive concave tower, sheathed in a glass curtain wall, set back from the rear of the 90-year-old landmarked Clock Tower. Crowned Queens Plaza Park by prior developers Property Markets Group and the Hakim Organization (before Durst snatched up the site for $175 million in 2016), the 978,000-square-foot development will hold office space, retail, and 958 residential rental units. According to the project’s website, 300 of the units will be affordable, and Selldorf Architects will be handling the tower’s interiors and amenity spaces, complete with an outdoor pool, 20,000-square-foot gym, library, co-working spaces and a demonstration kitchen. A half-acre public park will also sit in front of the residential entrance. Construction on the 70-story skyscraper is already underway, and CityRealty recently visited the site to photograph the cleared area around the base of the Clock Tower. Additionally, the locations of the ground-floor retail and the sharp, almost bat symbol-like shape of the building’s crown have been released thanks to the axonometric zoning diagrams released by the New York City Department of Buildings. The project’s central concave curve, the tower’s defining feature, should span nearly 200 feet from end-to-end once completed. The 11-story, neo-gothic Clock Tower was built in 1927 and housed the former Bank of Manhattan, and Durst has promised to restore the building as part of the redevelopment. While the tower was previously a notable standout in an area increasingly inundated with glass facades, the Handel-designed addition should blend into the surrounding urban fabric a bit more, even if the Clock Tower itself will remain distinct from the tower. There’s also the concern that the skyscraper’s curved form could trigger a Walkie-Talkie-esque fiasco, in which the reflective properties of that building ignited fires, but hopefully Handel has learned from Rafael Viñoly’s mistakes. If finished before the 984-foot-tall City View Tower, also in Long Island City and slated for a 2019 completion, Queens Plaza Park would take the distinction of Queens' tallest building.
The renovation of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens continues apace, with a recently announced renewal of the World’s Fair fountains surrounding the iconic Unisphere. Landscape architecture firm Quennell Rothschild & Partners (QRP) has been selected to spearhead a $5 million renovation of the Fountain of the Fairs within the park, and will link the neglected fountains with an interactive “fog garden”. The Fountain of the Fairs, an axis of long, rectangular pools designed by Robert Moses for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, connects the Unisphere to the Fountain of the Planets to the east. Instead of returning the three fountains to their original conditions, QRP will be updating each of them to allow community access as well as save water. In the first phase of the plan, the western pool in front of the Unisphere will be filled in with Art Deco-inspired pavers and converted into a fog garden. The walkway’s fog will be generated by a series of 500 hidden sprinklers, and NYC park officials can either create a four-foot-tall fog wall or release the mist in waves to improve the visibility. As the children play in the garden, parents will be able to watch from the new concrete benches lining the play area. Phase II will see the middle fountain converted into a sunken amphitheater, and the final phase will create a children’s water park in what is currently the easternmost fountain. QRP will also be replacing the massed Yew trees along the fog garden area with maple trees, short evergreen plants, and grasses to improve the views across the park. The new sightlines will also allow food trucks to park in the newly softened plaza in front of the Fountain of the Planets. The renovation is a welcome respite for the Fountain of the Fairs. Although all three fountains were repaired and flowing after a renovation in 2000, the pools have been dry since 2012 due to flood damage from superstorm Sandy. Any visitor to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park might spot children cooling off in the fountain below the Unisphere, although the basin is meant to be purely decorative. “It’s a decorative fountain, it’s not supposed to be used for water play,” Janice Melnick, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park administrator, told amNewYork. “People try to climb up on the Unisphere base; the jets are powerful.” The fountain plans comes on the heels of the revitalization of the Philip Johnson and Richard Foster-designed Tent of Tomorrow, which was restored to its original color in 2015, and which recently won $14 million for structural upgrades. Construction on the first phase of the fountain conversion will begin in the fall of this year.
The on-again-off-again redevelopment of Willets Point in Queens is finally moving ahead, after an injunction early last year seemed to have doomed the project. As first reported in the New York Times, Mayor Bill de Blasio has struck a deal with the project’s original developers, and 1,100 units of affordable housing are now set to rise on the parcel. First announced in 2011 under former mayor Michael Bloomberg, the original Willets Point project would have repurposed 23 acres on the site of the former Shea Stadium in Flushing-Corona. Queens Development Group, a city collaboration with developers Sterling Equities and The Related Companies, would have built out 4.5 million square feet of mixed-use development with 2,500 units of housing, 500,000 square feet of office space, 900,000 square feet of retail. The most contentious portion of the original redevelopment was Willets West, a one-million-square-foot-plus mega-mall that would have pulled land from the nearby Flushing Meadows Corona Park. After a state court ruled in 2015 that the city couldn’t legally parcel up the park, Willets Point seemed dead in the water. With the announcement of a new plan for the Iron Triangle (as the neighborhood is known for the high number of auto repair shops), de Blasio has skirted around the state’s concerns by dropping the mall entirely. Instead, the Queens Development Group will now build 1,100 affordable housing units on the six acres that the city already owns, in addition to a 450-seat elementary school and front-facing neighborhood retail. 100 apartments will be set-aside for formerly homeless families, and another 220 will go to seniors. Other than the increased number of affordable units, 1,100 units versus the original 875, the city will retain control of the land instead of selling it to the developers as originally promised. Related and Sterling will also be responsible for remediating beneath the project site before construction on the residential buildings can begin; Willets Point has been used for manufacturing for a century. Most of the immigrant-owned auto shops and scrap yards are now gone, after the city seized the land under eminent domain in preparation for the redevelopment. The site clean up is expected to finish in 2020, with 500 of the 1,100 units to be completed in 2022. The plan for the remaining 17 acres is up in the air at this point, and Mayor de Blasio has convened a task force with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Member Francisco Moya to come up with further development plans. “Willets Point has been 12 years of bad politics and broken promises. With this deal, we can look to providing some great housing relief for a lot of people who need it. By securing school seats, deep affordability, and senior housing we have accomplished something none of the previous iterations have been able to,” said Moya.
2017 Best of Design Award for Civic - Educational: Elmhurst Community Library Architect: Marpillero Pollak Architects Location: Queens, New York With over 80,000 users speaking more than 57 languages, Elmhurst is the second-busiest circulating library of the 64 in Queens Library’s network. The building’s massing maximizes the impact of an existing community park and highlights the civic role of two reading rooms that emit a welcoming glow after sunset. The main circulation spine extends the streetscape toward a group of trees in the block interior. A system of brightly colored “portals” supports orientation and interaction among programmatic spaces catering to diverse age groups, reinforcing the library’s neighborhood significance. The main architectural elements are two structural glass cubes that position patrons within the community park and on the urban thoroughfare of Broadway. The park cube makes legibile the operations of the library’s two main floors with a monumental stair grounded by a bookshelf, while the Broadway cube floats above the main entry displaying the work 955 Shapes by artist Allan McCollum. “This handsome new library takes full advantage of its site with its richness in textures and colors, and provides a welcoming cultural and educational resource for this Queens community.” —Irene Sunwoo, Director of Exhibitions, GSAPP (juror) Structural Engineer: Severud Associates General Contractor: Stalco Construction Percent for Art (Selected Artist): Allan McCollum Structural Glass: W & W Glass Material Supplier for Terra-cotta Rainscreen: Boston Valley Terra Cotta Honorable Mention Project: Lakeview Pantry Architect: Wheeler Kearns Architects Location: Chicago, Illinois Lakeview Pantry has transformed a dilapidated pet daycare into its first permanent home. Located adjacent to an L station, the renovated building immediately sends a welcoming message to both neighbors and clients with its large storefront windows and colorful, bright interiors. The goal of the architecture is to create a space that provides dignity to those in a time of need, furthering the Pantry’s mission. Honorable Mention Project: University of California, San Diego Jacobs Medical Center Architect: CannonDesign Location: La Jolla, California The ten-story UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center functions as three medical specialty centers—housing inpatient services for high-risk obstetrics and neonatal care, cancer care, and advanced surgical care. The building’s overall curvilinear form was driven not only by the design of the patient units, but also by the goals of capitalizing on views, maximizing daylight, and minimizing solar gain and glare. The elevated gardens and terraces bring nature up to the patient level.
New York City’s outer borough may be getting yet another tall tower, as a recently revealed development in Long Island City, Queens, would bring thousands of residential units to an industrial corner of the neighborhood. As the New York Times reports, landlord Plaxall Realty has proposed converting its 15-acre riverside property into a mixed-use development that would include 5,000 apartments, 3.1 acres of public space, and 335,000 square feet set aside for manufacturing. The plan from New York-based WXY lays out not only retail and restaurant options for the site, but an additional 70-story tower that would become one of tallest in Queens if it were actually built. The borough has seen more of these projects lately, with the 984-foot City View Tower still on track to become Queens' first supertall tower. Anable Basin, the 1,000-foot long artificial channel that the development takes its name from, would anchor the 6-block complex. While Anable Basin was used as an industrial shipping port since its construction in 1868, Plaxall wants to modernize the inlet by ringing it with an elevated esplanade, installing flood barriers, and building docks for kayakers. Plaxall, a plastic container company who used to house factories in the area, has also called for the creation of an “innovation zone” in the development. 335,000 square feet of light manufacturing space will be set-aside in a co-working and living style arrangement, and Anable Basin residents could potentially leave their apartments and head straight down to their ground-floor studio space. Such a large project would trigger the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) requirements, and Plaxall has stated that approximately 1,250 of the proposed 4,995 units would be affordable. The details released yesterday make no mention of how affordability would be determined. Converting an area historically zoned as industrial will come with a set of caveats. Plaxall will need to have the area rezoned, and may sell the entire parcel even if they can find a development partner. If the proposal moves ahead, the Anable Basin special district would allow the public to access a section of the western Queens’ waterfront that had been closed off for centuries. Already in possession of 13 acres, Plaxall has been confident that the private landlords holding the other two will be on board with the scheme. Paula Kirby, granddaughter of Plaxall founder Louis Pfohl, told the Times that Anable Basin was “a unique opportunity to really make a skyline for Long Island City,” The New York City Department of City Planning will hold the first public comment hearing in early December. Construction is slated to begin in 2020.
In a nearly unanimous vote, on July 10th the City Planning Commission approved the rezoning and revitalization plan for Downtown Far Rockaway in Queens, as first reported by CityLand. The plan aims to re-establish Downtown Far Rockaway as the peninsula’s commercial and transportation hub through new zoning that encourages mixed-use development, new public spaces, improved pedestrian walkways, and better access to community services. It's also one of several neighborhood rezonings in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to build more affordable housing. Downtown Far Rockaway is the historic commercial core of the peninsula: located near Rockaway Beach and Jamaica Bay, it's serviced by stops on the A train as well as the LIRR. The area has not been rezoned since the 1961 Zoning Resolution that subsequently prevented residential developments in the commercial and manufacturing zones that feature extensively in the area. Downtown Far Rockaway also has few local employment opportunities, little open space, and poor pedestrian access. Rezoning, which is the plan’s backbone, would foster new residential and mixed-use developments, especially on the area's larger streets. One part of Far Rockaway would also be designated an Urban Renewal Area, which would enable the City to purchase and transfer properties to developers. The “roadmap for action” plan also aims to incorporate the current community by improving existing commercial spaces and local businesses as well as increasing accessibility to job training, education, and community services. According to CityLand, the city is already investing $100 million in the area, with improvements including "streetscape reconstruction, sewer upgrades, park improvements, storefront improvement, and library upgrades." The plan was passed with conditions that include community-based project labor, a new school and park, and limits on up-zoning. Additionally, a 22-block area (bounded by Caffrey Avenue, Redfern Avenue, Nameoke Avenue, Beach 22nd Street, and Gateway Boulevard) would be designated for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. The final vote will be made by Major de Blasio, who has already indicated his support of local neighborhood rezoning and revitalization plans.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens, broke ground on its long-awaited expansion project, the new Education Center, today. The project is located across the street from the landmarked house of the legendary jazz musician. The new $23-million, 14,000-square-foot center will allow the museum to offer expanded programming, including concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and community events. The museum’s research collections, which are currently housed at Queens College’s library, will move into an Archival Center on the second floor. There will also be a Jazz Room for musicians to rehearse and perform their music, fulfilling the living legacy of the Louis Armstrong. In 2006, the State of New York awarded Queens College and the City University of New York (CUNY) $5 million to begin the design process, and in 2007, the Department of Cultural Affairs gave another $5 million. New York–based Caples Jefferson Architects was selected to head the design of the center. Once it is completed, the firm will seek a LEED Gold rating. The center’s facade is composed of three sections: curved window panes along the bottom, a flat, recessed middle section with a terrace above, and a green roof on the top. Its entrance is placed at an angle along the curved facade to establish a direct visual connection to the house, according to the architects’ description on their website. Openings in the roof allow light to cut through, illuminating different heights of the exhibit spaces and research rooms. “The groundbreaking for the Education Center is the next step toward creating a Louis Armstrong campus,” said Michael Cogswell, executive director of the museum, in a press release. “There is nothing else like it in the jazz world.” Louis and Lucille Armstrong purchased the house (which is the museum today) in 1943 and lived there for the entirety of their life. The site is a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark, now owned by Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by Queens College. The project is slated to finish in 2019.
The American Institute of Architects Brooklyn + Queens Design Awards (BQDA), which now works with AIA Staten Island and AIA Bronx, has announced the winners for its 2017 gala, the second edition of the awards. This year, the AIA chapters of Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, all collaborated for the awards. They're aiming to promote chapter members and affiliates by recognizing, as they said in a press release, "the best architecture and professionals that Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx can offer." A jury from AIA Long Island sifted through more than 100 entries, and after a month's worth of deliberation, allocated awards in 13 categories; each AIA Chapter also has its own award. 2017 Brooklyn Chapter Award Casa de Sombra Bade Stageberg Cox 2017 Queens Chapter Award Spire Lofts Zambrano Architectural Design
2017 BQDA Design of the Year Elmhurst Community Library Marpillero Pollak Architects Below, are the winners of the 13 categories: Residential (1-2 Family) BQDA Award of Excellence and People's Choice Winner Artist Residence, Brooklyn Lynch Eisinger Design Architects, LLP BQDA Award of Merit Prismatic Bay Townhouse, Brooklyn Peterson Rich Office, LLC