Remember the New York City streetcar? Unless you're a New Yorker of a certain age, you definitely don't. Advances in transportation technology (what die-hard conspiracy theorists refer to as Great American Streetcar Scandal) drove streetcars all over the U.S. straight to the last stop. Yet, it's now very possible that two neighboring boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, will be reunited once again via a new streetcar line of their very own. The streetcar plans legitimate what transportation planners (and Michael Kimmelman) have known for years: commuting patterns in the city have changed, and the hub-and-spoke model no longer serves diffuse, inter- outer-borough commuting patterns. In his State of the City address last week, Mayor de Blasio proposed a 16-mile waterside streetcar route, the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), that would run through 14 neighborhoods, from Brooklyn's Sunset Park through Astoria, Queens. These areas have seen swift transitions from their industrial origins and rapid population growth as the waterfront settles comfortably into its post-industrial future. Renderings are credited to a nonprofit called the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector. According to The Daily News, members include "transit experts, community leaders and business giants like Doug Steiner of Steiner Studios, investor Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Helena Durst of the Durst Organization real estate firm." When the plan was announced in January, AN reached out the the nonprofit repeatedly for comment to confirm stakeholders and received no response. With backers like these, concerns about gentrification and potentially developer-driven policy have been raised. Some see the streetcar idea as a way to spur already-high land values along the waterfront, although the streetcar could also provide the more than 40,000 residents of waterfront NYCHA complexes with better access to public transportation. Others have raised concerns about locating the line in a flood zone. Still others have questioned why the city needs to spend billions on a new form of transportation, one that moves at a pokey 12 miles-per-hour, when bus service could be offered along a similar route. There is time to debate: Although energy around the plan is high, the groundbreaking is a long way off. The plan's timeline states that construction is expected to begin in 2019, and service could begin in 2024. The city pegs the cost at around $2.5 billion, although earlier estimates ran $800 million lower.
Posts tagged with "Queens":
Goldstein, Hill & West Architects (GHWA), in partnership with developer Chris Xu, just unleashed a 79-story residential tower on Long Island City, Queens. At 963 feet tall, the tower will be 305 feet taller than its neighbor, CitiGroup's 50-story One Court Square, already one of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood. The ground floor will sport 19,721 square feet of retail, while 774 apartments will be spread over 759,412 square feet of residential space. Xu bought the 79,000-square-foot site for $143 million from Citigroup in July 2015, YIMBY reports. This is not the New York–based firm's first high rise: GHWA is behind Long Island City's 42–12 28th Street, a 57-story residential tower, as well as 605 West 42nd Street, a glassy 60-story residential tower "detailed in a clean modernist idiom." Walking down Jackson Avenue, it's hard not to notice all the new high rises going up in the neighborhood. Walking down Jackson Avenue in the late afternoon, though, and it's hard not to be blinded by the sunlight that reflects from all those new buildings. The so-called Court Square City View Tower is a mere four blocks from MoMA PS1, and, although there's no word yet on when construction will begin, visitors to PS1 this summer will be thankful for the central feature of Escobedo Solíz Studio's Young Architects Program installation. The colorful rope canopy promises to shade visitors from skyscraper sunburns, giving a whole new meaning to Warm Up.
Mexico City–based Escobedo Solíz Studio is the winner of the 17th annual MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP) in Queens, New York. Escobedo Solíz Studio, beat five finalists to design a temporary urban landscape for the courtyard of the 2016 Warm Up summer music series. Weaving the Courtyard, will open at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City in early June. According to the architects, the installation will be “neither an object nor a sculpture standing in the courtyard, but a series of simple, powerful actions that generate new and different atmospheres.” The canopy departs from the last few object-based interventions, such as Wendy, Hy-Fi, and COSMO. A vibrant, colorful landscape will be created by using the formwork holes in the walls to anchor colored bands. Water will again be an experiential component, as a wading pool will allow visitors to cool off in fresh water. “This year’s finalists of the Young Architects Program explored a range of approaches, materials, and scales to effectively question the MoMA PS1 courtyard as an arena for escape. Escobedo Solíz’s ingenious proposal speaks to both the ephemerality of architectural imagery today but also to the nature of spatial transactions more broadly. From the evocative woven canopy that will engage visitors overhead to a reflective wading pool, Weaving the Courtyard sensitively brings together elements of MoMA PS1’s Warm Up Series with an exuberant collection of zones and environments,” said Sean Anderson, Associate Curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, in a statement. Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA PS1 Director and MoMA Chief Curator at Large added, "This year marks the 40th anniversary of MoMA PS1 and the 17th joint annual competition brought together by the Architecture and Design Department at MoMA and MoMA PS1. The Mexico City-based team will work on a colorful, celebratory intervention that takes its point of departure to be the existing geometric concrete forms in the courtyard of MoMA PS1 simultaneously creating an urban beach of sand, water, and vibrant colors.” https://youtu.be/aH72lU4AGpU The other finalists for this year’s MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program were First Office (Andrew Atwood and Anna Neimark), Ultramoderne (Yasmin Vorbis and Aaron Forrest), COBALT OFFICE (Andrew Colopy and Robert Booth), and Frida Escobedo. An exhibition of the five finalists' proposed projects will be on view at MoMA over the summer, organized by Sean Anderson, Associate Curator, with Arièle Dionne-Krosnick, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA.
The holidays are here when the Coniferous Tree Exception kicks in. This New York City ordinance allows dead pine trees to be sold on city sidewalks in the weeks leading up to Christmas. One true marker of the season's end is the Christmas trees that line those same sidewalks in January, awaiting DSNY pickup. In years past, one artist has revivified these trees, albeit illegally, creating semi-real pine forests from discarded trees in marginal urban spaces. This year, the trees will have a second chance at life in the most popular place for dead New Yorkers: Queens. In 2012 and 2013, San Francisco–based artist Michael Neff rounded up 35 Christmas trees from the curbs of Brooklyn. He hung them with twine from a metal pipe and displayed them under a BQE overpass, at Metropolitan Avenue and North 6th Street, in Williamsburg. Within a matter of hours, the trees were removed and discarded by the city. https://vimeo.com/150815655 This year, Neff is reprising his installation, legitimated and indoors, at the Knockdown Center, in Maspeth, Queens. A time-lapse video (above) shows the installation in process. Working a cherry picker, Neff and his team suspend coniferous trees of slightly varying sizes from the ceiling in a neat grid. In a statement on the exhibition's event page, Neff describes the advantages that a change of venue con(i)fers:
The exhibition at Knockdown Center allows for a much different experience, most importantly time for the trees to shed their needles into halos on the smooth concrete floor below. Paired with the subtle pine fragrance of the trees and the opportunity for quiet contemplation, the exhibition encourages repeated viewing.Suspended Forest is on view from January 9th to January 31st.
Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient MarinerThough New York has the some of the cleanest municipal tap water, New Yorkers now consume 1.25 billion bottles of water annually. A contributing factor to the rise in bottled water consumption is the decline in the number of public drinking fountains. New York–based Pilot Projects would like to revive the grand tradition of public bubblers through a novel design/build competition. Pilot Project's 100 Fountains competition, launched September of this year, will tap artists and designers to build 100 fountains citywide in 2016. Each participant receives $5,000 to develop his or her team's design. According to the project proposal, the competition area will be divided into 30–40 zones, with two or three fountains per zone. The public judging period starts June 2016 and runs through September 2016. The original fountains will be auctioned off for charity, and ten designs from the pool will be chosen and duplicated for permanent installation at to-be-determined locations citywide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFq8z96zbQQ In 2012, Pilot Projects hosted a campaign to raise awareness around the lack of drinking fountains. In the video above, passerbys in Union Square traipse over a red carpet to a (pre-existing, functioning) fountain operated by white-gloved servers. Per a 2007 zoning text amendment, the Department of City Planning (DCP) requires a fountain in every newly-built Privately Owned Public Space (POPS). The report suggests that, in lieu of vending machines offering sweetened beverages and bottled water, designers should incorporate public drinking fountains into the POPS. To justify their economic reason-for-being, 100 Fountains points to large-scale public art installations that overtook city streets in the late 1990s and 2000s: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, Olafur Eliasson's New York City Waterfalls, and CowParade. The economic impacts of these project were estimated in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. 100 Fountains also takes direct inspiration from the Minneapolis Arts Commission. The commission highlighted Minneapolis' connection to surrounding rivers and lakes by installing ten custom fountains to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary. Pilot Projects will partner with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department of Education, Office of the Arts and Special Projects, as well as Yale University’s Environmental Protection Clinic and Parsons The New School For Design to carry out the project. Expect to see fountains on the streets beginning June of next year.
While everyone was distracted by Monday's BIG news on the High Line, SHoP unveiled a three-tower complex on the waterfront in Long Island City, Queens. The tallest tower, at 45-40 Vernon Boulevard, will be 28 stories, with 296 residential units. The three towers will ring the Anable Basin, a human-made inlet off of the East river. The towers will sit ten blocks northeast of SHoP's Hunters Point South, a two-building, 900-unit development with 20,000 square feet of retail, where tenants love Airbnb-ing their taxpayer-subsidized pads. The development is part of a master plan to revive the Anable Basin (also known at the Eleventh Street Basin), site of the former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant, with public waterfront access and a refurbished pier. The towers, real estate blog 6sqft reports, will mostly replace the current building on site, 69,550 square foot Paragon Paint Factory, now defunct. The site, currently zoned for manufacturing, will require a zoning variance to build residential. There will also need to be environmental remediation performed on the land. The tallest, central tower partially cannibalizes the rear of the factory, rising into a decidedly non-industrial 300-foot-tall glass wall. Future residents will have expansive views of Manhattan and the East River. The two smaller towers, at 45-24 Vernon Boulevard and along 45th Road, will be copper clad at the base with angled windows on the upper stories to maximize views of the cityscape. The towers will rise 14 stories and eight stories, respectively. No word yet on the project's groundbreaking or expected completion date.
On Tuesday, the LIC Post reported that some residents who received units through the affordable housing lottery in a (SHoP-designed) Hunters Point South high-rise are renting out their units on Airbnb. Market rate tenants expressed righteous indignation, and poor-shamed their neighbors for "gaming the system." In New York City, renting out your rented place on Airbnb is illegal, but is it really wrong? A Hunters Point South Commons tenant named Nathalye listed her two bedroom apartment on the site for $50o per night, plus a service and cleaning fee. Two other units in the development's two buildings were listed for rent, as well. Designated affordable units in the Related Companies development range from $494 to $1,997 for a studio, and $743 to $4,346 for a three-bedroom, depending on household earnings. The New York Post asked building resident Chris Dyer for his take on tenants renting out their affordable units: “they should be super grateful because so many people applied to try to get in, and they should not be taking advantage of the situation. I think those people should be held accountable and kicked out of their lease.” Proponents of sites like Airbnb claim that the site fills an unmet need for less expensive accommodations in a city where the average hotel room costs $297 per night. Opponents note that Airbnb inflates housing costs in the long run and displaces lower-income residents. It's easy to invoke tropes of the "worthy poor" to shame affordable housing tenants who earn extra income through Airbnb. In May, Gothamist outlined the subsidies and incentives that this (mostly market rate) development received: "While Related is not receiving 421-a subsidies for the Hunter's Point South apartments, [the developer] told us that his company is benefiting from a 'one-off' deal, which includes a 40-year tax break agreement (details were not disclosed). As an affordable housing project, the project also got $185 million in tax-exempt bonds from Cuomo, $236 million in said bonds from the Housing Development Corporation, and $68 million in subsidies from Housing Preservation and Development." A full discussion of ethics and affordability is outside the scope of this short post. But, in a city that's increasingly unaffordable for all but the very rich, it's worth asking: are tenants in affordable units so very different from market rate neighbors units or homeowners using Airbnb to make a buck?
Archtober Building of the Day #31 SculptureCenter Renovation and Expansion 44-19 Purves Street Queens Andrew Berman, Architect An enthusiastic group of Archtoberites came out today to bid adieu to this year’s Building of the Day series. Cloistered away on a dead-end street in Long Island City, SculptureCenter offers underrepresented and emerging artists an opportunity to develop site-specific works in this former trolley repair shop. This is, of course, a neighborhood that has gone through a tremendous amount of change in recent years. When the project began, the surrounding block held a chop shop and not much else. Now, brand new apartment buildings line the street. In this renovation of the SculptureCenter, Andrew Berman, FAIA, strove to honor the character of the original building and neighborhood without competing with it. The addition is “sympathetic to the original, not vying for attention,” he explained. The project was born from an RFP for a new stairwell, but Berman decided to take it a step further, with Executive Director Mary Ceruti’s go-ahead. His goal was to make a space that was flexible, not in the sense of moving parts, but one that would create exhibition spaces with just the right feel for all of the artists who would come to inhabit the building. Between exhibitions, the solid door to the forecourt swings shut, presenting a wall of weathered steel to passersby. According to Ben Whine, associate director of the ScultpureCenter, it is always quite a show when the building reopens. It is during the weeks of installation that the institution returns to its roots as a studio space for artists who create site-specific pieces to show in the industrial space. Downstairs, we entered what appeared to be a functional hallway. A low, whirring sound could be heard in the background as Berman and Whine spoke, but it wasn’t until an “exit sign” had wended its way halfway down the hall that I realized it was part of a show. Gabriel Sierra, an artist interested in architecture, design, institutional critique, and structural interventions, had installed this simulacrum of an exit sign that was slowly making its way across the space. Because of the nature of Sierra’s work, I found myself constantly searching for additional interventions, to the point that I no longer trusted my ability to discern the functional elements of the building from the installation within. Berman seemed most proud of the masonry wall that had been cut with a circular saw to reveal its cross-section, marking the transition between the original building and the addition. This cut is “all but invisible, but here to be discovered,” he explained. Also true of the SculptureCenter, a gem of an organization tucked away on a narrow street, but just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Manhattan.
Until recently, the Tent of Tomorrow looked very yesterday. Part of the Philip Johnson–designed New York State Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair has been restored to its original color, "American Cheese Yellow," earlier this month. New York City has allocated almost $8.9 million to shore up the tent, the pavilion, and other relics of the World's Fair in Queens' Flushing Meadows Corona Park (including the Unisphere). Designs for the structural reinforcement and preservation of the pavilion will be in by fall 2016, with construction to begin in 2017. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and preservation group People for the Pavilion, in partnership with the city, will begin soliciting ideas for design and programming in the space early next year. New Yorkers got a rare glimpse inside the relic at last week's Open House New York Weekend. Sixteen, 100-foot-tall columns support a 50,000-square-foot ceiling with colored clear panels. Three towers of 60 feet, 150 feet, and 226 feet—most recently famous as spaceships from the film Men in Black—stand adjacent to the tent. The shorter towers held cafeterias, while the tallest supported an observation deck. To fulfill apprenticeship requirements, 30 bridge painters from Painters DC 9 and the Painting Contractors Association worked for a combined 8,000 hours to bring the Tent of Tomorrow's steel diadem back to its original color. This phase of the project was done pro bono, with an estimated value of $3.25 million (really). The city estimates that the fresh paint will extend the life of the structure by about 15 years.
Busybodies and neighborhood know-it-alls rejoice: today, New York City, in partnership with civic data managers Vizalytics, launched a beta version of neighborhood.nyc, a new website that maps street-level information derived from 311 calls and city agencies. While this information was and is available in the NYC Open Data Portal, it often required time and high-level sleuthing to sort through mounds of data. The city's new website, neighborhood.nyc, pulls from open data feeds to streamline and map information in the data portal, allowing residents to filter results by neighborhood, or categories, including: MTA, traffic, public health, and quality of life. A search of Tribeca (AN's home neighborhood) revealed markers for noise complaints, street closures, restaurant inspection reports, and contact information for police, fire, and elected officials. In the coming months, the city will invite community leaders to become page administrators, allowing them update their neighborhood's home page images, post community events, or promote local business. To ensure broad access, the site is available in 13 languages. Each neighborhood has its own searchable URL. The index lists over 400 districts famous and obscure, including the twee portmanteaus that are definitely not a thing.
Review> Paul Gunther on preservation and the ongoing exhibit, Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks
Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks An exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York and Catalog edited by Donald Albrecht, Andrew Dolkart, and Seri Worden Through January 3, 2016 Since the first trace of the species homo sapiens, human evolution only represents four one hundred thousandths of one percent of the earth's age. In proportion to an 80-year life span, that means just 31 hours—less than a day and a half of the 701,280 hours lived. With the existential threat of climate change and ecological ruination gaining traction in collective consciousness—combined with the outsized expectations of breath-holding fundamentalists for whom earth’s rapturous end can’t come soon enough—our sense of what permanence means has begun to shift. If all human culture to date is just four-dozen millennia and we’ve wreaked so much havoc already, “forever” strikes a dubious chord. This temporal dynamic is one prism through which Saving Place and the anniversary it examines can be seen. Another is the end of the post-World War II order and with it a sense that history hasn’t ended after all, including the survival of world monuments (especially amidst the tribal strife in the Middle East) that a united (albeit Western-centric) world had deemed essentially imperishable. It turns out historic places of exceptional human accomplishment can disappear as readily as an endangered species can; the risk of disorientation resulting from the obliteration of common orthodoxies is always high. Such sobering reflection informs this worthy stock-taking anniversary enterprise, which focuses more on the role of the preservation movement as part of the plodding, existential course of civic engagement, rather than some celebratory juggernaut tied only to the singular examples of past excellence like Grand Central Terminal or the Guggenheim Museum. Among the most valued places saved are those of daily routine that most identify as the common bonds of a vibrant community. Only with such coherence can change occur in ways that succeed—and that hold value. Fifty years ago, New York City Mayor Robert Wagner signed into law the first landmarks designation statute in the nation with the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. With its advent came new public authority and civic duty to adjudge the aesthetic and historic value of elements of the built environment, including privately owned or nonprofit properties, whose future disposition affects the commonwealth of all citizens. It was as controversial then as it continues today, whether held as the basis for NIMBY battles by the privileged few or the evergreen bane to developer dreams clipped by what they sometimes assert are its onerous and subjective restrictions blocking the growth and change endemic to sustained livability. That is not an easy distinction for a metropolitan region. Since first launched by the colonizing Dutch, the bonanza of real estate development has been the golden egg of the regional economy. It is the essential cornerstone of New York commerce and the obsession of dwellers from those born and bred to those beckoned by its promise of opportunity and fresh beginnings. This relatively recent chapter of local land use policy and its record of impact are the inspirations for Saving Place, delivered with a welcome sobriety of tone and presentation calmly sharing its results along with the means and personalities that made it happen. An underlying intent born of civic pride stays in lively focus. Like any thorough history show, gray wins out over black and white: The movement started far before the generally shared crucible of the 1963 demolition of McKim, Mead & White’s uplifting Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Station (giving way to the peerless bathos of Penn Plaza by designer and businessman, Charles Luckman, whose clients took the train users of 1968 to be some dying breed of rodents) and has learned as much from its failures and occasional compromises as from its best known victories. The movement’s roots took hold not so much against change, but against failed progress when the exchange of present conditions for some promised social gain fell short and urban well-being emerged impoverished. Like the l965 law, the 1978 majority ruling by the United Sates Supreme Court, written by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (upholding the City’s designation of Grand Central Terminal and thus laying to rest once and for all any lingering assertions that landmark designation was unconstitutional), is far more nuanced than its friends and foes would have New Yorkers believe. The preservation work done, like the battles to come, are perpetually a collective work in progress. The places and leading players presented in such a context emerge more as dynamic case studies than as fixed heroics. The commissioned photographs by Iwan Baan (whose work is characterized as usual by the vehicles, people, and quotidian activity of such places, so often absent in studies of planning and architectural design). Like the exhibit installation by Wendy Evans Joseph and her firm Studio Joseph, record individual designations are not just bright beacons of superior significance but indispensable, stabilizing place holders that bind community even when hidden in plain sight. Saving Place respects the value of landmarks by gently reminding its audience of what we take for granted and by offering (without insisting) on a greater depth of meaning for sites both individual and district-wide. And yet its overwhelmingly beneficial impact on all corners of today's five boroughs, not to mention the quality and measure of visitor appeal (like it or not, tourism means jobs), cannot be denied or scoffed away as a Luddite blockade to change. Whatever else New York may risk in 2015, a dearth or loss of dynamic change is not one of them. Saving Place shows instead how traces of the past can at best stand alongside the new for at least the relatively small measure of time that our present civilization can endure. Like the natural world, today we know that the built world also demands balance as a basis of sustenance. The exhibit’s iconic original architectural models and array of primary artifacts are brought to the fore as the landmark’s legacy of material sensuality in historic terms both material and artisanal. The society we keep is well served by some record of past beauty that for all kinds of reasons simply cannot be replicated, and how that should be done. These strands tie a knot of quiet reflection for the Saving Place initiative that bodes well for a landmarks movement pausing only briefly to recall the reasons its work will never end in the messy marketplace of a healthy city. Coexistence is the key; landmarking works best as one part of the overall planning process, not the bejeweled hobbyhorse of some nostalgic elite. In a world with a foreshortened sense of permanence, the longer we can maintain this democratic equilibrium the better off we all will be.
It makes sense that one of New York City's exceptional botanical gardens would develop what would become one of the city's first green buildings. What is extraordinary is that the Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) began its new Visitor and Administration Building in 2000 – the year LEED certification was launched – and achieved LEED Platinum for a building that ambitiously demonstrates what designed harmony between buildings and nature can be. Patrice Kleinberg, garden educator for the QBG, and Joan Krevlin, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, partner at BKSK Architects, led today’s tour, providing perspectives on both the garden’s unique public engagement challenges and the design solutions. At the earliest stages of the project, the QBG engaged the community to find out what would serve them; across all sectors, they heard “water.” What subsequently evolved was a series of water systems that were both experiential and functional – the building houses not only administrative operations and diverse public programming, but also collects, conserves, cleans, and recycles water. Three different sustainable roofs serve different purposes. The main structure hosts a solar-powered roof, which generates enough power for about 20% of the building’s operations. The roof of the auditorium is planted with local species, cooling the building. The forecourt’s soaring roof canopy, which provides a shady transition space between the gardens and the interior, doubles as a rainwater collection unit. The water collected by the canopy is stored in a subterranean 26,000-gallon cistern that is pumped up into the Fountain of Life, which leads to a leafy stream and eventually into a moving body of water that is terraced between the buildings and culminates in a moat-like pond. The Visitor and Administration Building also sustains a grey water system, wherein water from sinks, toilets, dishwashers, and showers moves through a sandy, planted biotope, from which it can be repurposed. These innovations have inspired and expanded the QBG’s educational offerings, engendering green cleaning job training, and leading to the development of new K-12 curricula. Importantly, the project's bioswales have greatly decreased storm run-off in the area’s sewage systems. Tomorrow, we’ll head over to the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.