Posts tagged with "Related Companies":

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Construction workers protest developer behind DS+R, SOM towers

Hundreds of construction workers crowded New York City's Park Avenue on Wednesday during rush hour in protest against Related Companies, developer of New York’s $20-billion Hudson Yards project. Hudson Yards is the massive real estate development on Manhattan's West Side that has towers by DS+R, SOM, and KPF along with DS+R and Rockwell Group's The Shed and Heatherwick Studio's Vessel. As part of the #CountMeIn movement to fight against open shop or non-unionized workplaces, 37 people were arrested at the scene according to Crain’s New York. The demonstration shut down the street at 345 Park Avenue, an office tower home to the headquarters of the National Football League where billionaire Miami Dolphins owner and Related chairman Stephen Ross works. Protestors called for Ross’s resignation from his new seat on the NFL’s social justice committee, which seeks to appease the professional players who oppose the league’s ban on kneeling during the national anthem. Crain’s said that the #CountMeIn protestors—who claim Ross is anti-union—wore teal T-shirts designed to mimic a Dolphins’ jersey that read “Step Down Steve” in orange lettering. The large-scale gathering is the biggest public display so far from organized labor groups in their ongoing dispute with Related, which wants to use nonunion labor for the second phase of construction at Hudson Yards. Crain’s reported the company filed a $100-million lawsuit earlier this year to undercut the efforts of the city’s strongest labor organizer, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, in negotiating new union opportunities for the construction of the upcoming towers at Hudson Yards. The real estate and construction powerhouse believes union workers abused their hours on site and caused inflation over the last five years while working on the first phase. Crain’s wrote that Wednesday’s protests were seen by many as a personal attack on Ross and that he’s discriminating against laborers by condoning racism, sexism, and union-busting. Targeting Ross’s new position on the NFL’s social justice committee is an avenue for the union groups to bring greater awareness to this ongoing fight.
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Hudson Yards’ first residential tower by DS+R and Rockwell Group tops out

The sprint to finish the first phase of the Hudson Yards megaproject is on, as the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group-designed 15 Hudson Yards (Ismael Leyva Architects is serving as the architect of record and handling the interiors) topped out today. The 917-foot-tall condo tower will be the first residential building to open in the new neighborhood, and if construction finishes at the end of 2018 as planned, then the first phase of the new neighborhood will be on track for its March 2019 opening. The 285-unit 15 Hudson Yards is one of the last pieces of the project’s first phase, including the recently completed, bronzed stepwell Vessel nearby, and represents a culmination of five years of work at the site. Although the tower features a glass curtain wall similar to the other buildings on the site, 15 Hudson Yards gradually splits and rounds as it rises, resembling a set of conjoined smokestacks emerging from a square base. The LEED Gold-certified tower will also recycle stormwater, and use capture runoff to support the cooling systems. Once completed, residents will have 40,000 square feet of amenity space, including a 75-foot-long swimming pool in a full “aquatics center,” a fitness club, golf lounge, wine storage and tasting room, and a co-working space for residents. The lucky buyers get to look down on The Shed, as 15 Hudson looms over the extendable cultural venue, also designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group. As the first phase of the 28-acre, 18-million-foot mixed-use development winds to a close, speculation is heating up over who developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group will tap to design the largely residential second phase of Hudson Yards. As AN reported earlier this month, architects Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry are both in the running to design residential towers on the western half of the site. Hudson Yards will contain about 4,000 residential units once it’s fully complete in 2024. Check out a time-lapse video of 15 Hudson’s construction below.
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Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry may be tapped for second phase of Hudson Yards

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and Los-Angeles-based Frank Gehry have been chosen to design an undetermined number of residential towers for phase II of Manhattan’s Hudson Yards megaproject, reports the Wall Street Journal. According to “a person familiar with the matter,” the two sometimes-controversial architects were among a crop of designers chosen by the project’s co-developers, Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group. As the first phase of Hudson Yards, development on the eastern half of the 28-acre site, has been racing towards the 2019 finish line, Related and Oxford have begun looking ahead to the project’s residential western portion. Phase one saw the rise of Thomas Heatherwick’s pinecone-shaped Vessel, the eventual completion of four surrounding office buildings, a subway extension on the 7 line, and the High Line-straddling cultural Shed. The second phase will see the rise of 4 million square feet of residential space spread out across seven towers, and another 2 million square feet of office space. The western portion of the site is bounded by the High Line to the west, and is where the elevated park dips to street level. Phase II will likely wrap up by 2024, the projected deadline for the entire project. Handing the reins over to Calatrava and Gehry is an interesting choice by Related and Oxford, as neither architect has realized many residential projects in New York City. While the billowing metal façade of 8 Spruce Street (aka New York by Gehry) is a familiar site on the skyline, Calatrava is most well known in New York for the soaring curves of the Oculus transportation hub. Gehry hasn't shied away from his tepid opinion of the High Line, saying "The High Line is a rusty rail bridge and they put some plants on it." Whatever flair either architect brings to the project will also need to fit within the context of the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed master plan for the site. AN has reached out to the relevant parties for confirmation and will update this post when more information becomes available.
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Thomas Heatherwick unveils High Line towers with bulging window facades

Thomas Heatherwick and developer Related Companies have teamed up yet again, this time for a double-pronged condo tower that wraps around a section of Manhattan’s High Line. As first reported by CityRealty, marketing materials for the Heatherwick-designed 515 West 18th Street, and the nearby 555 West 22nd Street, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), are available via an EB-5 investor website. (EB-5 is a federal program designed to spur international investment by promising green cards in exchange for financing, or through the creation of 10 or more permanent jobs.) The two 18th street towers will straddle the High Line while remaining a single, connected building under the elevated rail park. The east tower will be 10 stories tall, while the west tower will be 22 stories, likely an attempt to maximize views of the neighboring Hudson River. The 425,000-square-foot development will contain 181 condos split across both towers, as well as 17,000-square feet of gallery and retail space. The most defining feature of the project are the barrel-shaped windows, which seem to balloon from within against a constraining brick frame. According to a Related official, the design is a “modern interpretation of the bay window.” As expected of a pricey development along the High Line, the Heatherwick's twin towers will be amenity-heavy and hold a fitness center, spa, entertainment lounges, and 175 on-site parking spots. The video walkthrough of the project seen below, including a look at the high-end interiors and amenity spaces, can also be found on the EB-5 site. Much less is known about the second project on West 22nd Street. The boxy, brick tower designed by RAMSA will likely contain 141 condo units and many of the same amenities as its cousin on 18th Street, but Related has released fewer details on this second building. Together, both projects will form a development tentatively titled the Hudson Residences. Related expects both projects to finish in mid-2020, though neither have fully cleared the city’s approval process. As such, the renderings and information released thus far are still subject to change. Heatherwick and Related have most recently worked together on the massive Vessel sculpture in Hudson Yards, and this collaboration makes sense as Related continues to develop projects along Manhattan’s west side, including the Zaha Hadid’s 520 West 28th. AN has reached out to Related Companies for a comment on the Hudson Residences, and will update this article with more information when it becomes available.
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Will Chicago’s South Loop get its own Hudson Yards-scale development?

Chicago may be set to build an entirely new waterfront neighborhood master-planned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and a state-of-the-art research center on the south side. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, together with University of Illinois System president Timothy Killeen, announced the creation of a $1.2 billion public-private research partnership that will establish the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a scientific research center that will focus on three key areas: computing, health and wellness, and food and agriculture. The DPI is supported by The University of Illinois, The University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, and has been designed as a research incubator meant to keep Illinois students in the state and to help link the disparate university campuses around Chicago, while also serving to attract students to Related Midwest’s newly unveiled “The 78” development. Once completed, the innovation center would hold up to 1,800 students, and feature residential, commercial, recreational and cultural space.   At 62 acres, The 78 will be built on a waterfront parcel that is an extension of the Chicago Loop and one of the city’s last undeveloped pieces of land. The name references the city’s 77-officially recognized neighborhoods, and Related hopes the project will be seen as a full, integrated neighborhood once it’s finished, similar to Hudson Yards in New York. Prospective residents and commuters won’t be lacking for transportation options either, as the CTA has Red, Orange, and Green Line stations located nearby, as well as a water taxi stop. Related has promised an as-of-yet unspecified amount of land to the DPI inside of The 78. The 78’s SOM-designed master plan envisions the new neighborhood as a continuation of Chicago’s central business district, and will bring residential, commercial, cultural and institutional projects, though 40 percent of the total land area will be green or public open space. A new half-mile long riverwalk will follow the entire length of The 78’s coastline and connect to already existing esplanades in adjacent neighborhoods. Other than SOM, a full suite of architecture studios have already signed on to contribute work to the massive ground-up project, including 3XN, Hollwich Kushner, and AS+GG. While The 78 and DPI have broad support from state and city-level politicians, as well as University of Illinois leaders, no public or private money has been raised for the project yet. Another make-or-break factor may be the result of Amazon’s HQ2 search, as Related is hoping The 78 will lure the tech company to set up shop in Chicago. With funding for the development currently uncertain, no timetables for either project have been released yet.
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Hudson Yards centerpiece “Vessel” tops out

Thomas Heatherwick’s $150 million Vessel sculpture has topped out only eight months after beginning construction. The freestanding staircase is set to anchor phase one of the Hudson Yards megaproject when it opens in 2019, when the five-acre public plaza where Vessel sits, opens to the public. The 150-foot tall, bronzed-steel and concrete Vessel is designed to react to its surroundings in both material and function. Containing over 2,400 steps, 80 landings and 154 flights of stairs, the sculpture gradually widens out from a 50-foot base to a 150-feet diameter at the top, and will offer visitors unobstructed views of the surrounding Hudson Yards neighborhood and the other side of the Hudson River. Fabrication on Vessel began in January, with the individual pieces made in Italy and shipped to the site from Port of Newark in New Jersey across the Hudson River. A time-lapse video of the sculpture's construction provided by Hudson Yards developer Related Companies can be found below. In a statement, the London-based Heatherwick said the following about the project: “Vessel is one of the most complex pieces of steelwork ever made. Today we are marking the exciting moment when the last of the enormous 75 pre-fabricated pieces which traveled all the way from Italy to Manhattan, has been assembled ahead of schedule and with astonishing geometric accuracy.” The climbable sculpture has been compared to a pinecone, a beehive, and countless other forms, while critics have questioned everything from the sculpture’s ADA compliance to the implications of running privately-funded public art spaces. Although the sculpture is only waiting for its cladding, railings, and lighting, Vessel won’t open to the public until early 2019. As part of phase one of Hudson Yards’ development, the surrounding construction on the landscaped plaza and nearby supertalls have necessitated that everything opens at the same time. Once that happens, visitors will be able to move from one west side attraction, the High Line, straight to Heatherwick’s soaring atrium.
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New renderings show future of Hudson Yards

The Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, the owners and developers of Hudson Yards, have just released images of how they imagine the urban development will look. Here at The Architect’s Newspaper, we usually take a skeptical view of renderings, in particular those that claim to represent the city and not just single buildings or interiors. But the 28-acre mixed-use Hudson Yards is such an important new part of the city (at 18 million square feet, the largest planned development ever built in the United States, according to the developers) we are releasing these images that show the official view of the new cityscape. Just squint and imagine streets with no graffiti or paper hot dog wrappers and you can get an idea of how the public will experience the landscape.
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New timeline for long-stalled Gehry Partners towers across from Broad Museum

The Los Angeles City Council voted this week to approve a new joint venture partnership and project timeline for the Grand Avenue Project, a long-stalled, $950-million Gehry Partners-designed mega-development across from the Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. The project's revised timeline now includes a 2018 groundbreaking and—don't hold your breath—a 2022 opening date, according to developer for the project, Related Companies. Chinese developer CCCG Overseas, also known as CORE, has been brought on to invest $290 million on the project. The agreement, recently approved by the L.A. Board of Supervisors, mandates that at least 30% of the construction and permanent workforce must be locally hired and compels the project team to utilize apprenticeships and local training programs to hire workers who have "previously faced barriers to employment," according to a press release issued by L.A. County. The new agreement between Related, CORE, and the Grand Avenue Authority, a joint powers authority representing the County and City of Los Angeles, ushers in a new spirit of possibility for the delayed project. The deal also signals that the project's cost, reported to be $650 million back in 2014, has ballooned in the years since. The project encompasses a pair of residential and hotel towers located above a mixed-use podium. The project will include a 300-room Equinox hotel as well as between 380 and 450 residential units, 20% of which the Los Angeles Downtown News reports will be affordable. Additionally, the developer has agreed to remain neutral if future hotel workers decide to unionize, a standard provision that paves the way toward local workforce unionization. Grand Avenue Project will consist of two towers at the corner of 1st and Olive Streets with one rising 38 stories and containing condominium and apartment units. A smaller, 16-story building located along 2nd Street would contain the hotel. Current plans call for 200,000 square feet of commercial space, 1,500 parking spaces as well as a large public plaza along Grand Avenue and across from the Broad Museum.
In a press release for the project Ken Himmell, CEO of Related Urban, celebrated the addition of CORE to the project, saying, “We welcome CORE as our joint venture partner on Grand Avenue. They share our vision for the creation of a world-class destination and as a global Fortune 110 company, they boast not only a sterling financial record but also have great excitement for the development.”
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What do New Yorkers get when privately-funded public art goes big?

When Thomas Heatherwick—the nimble London-based designer known for work that defies easy categorization—unveiled his design for a new public landmark called Vessel at Hudson Yards to a crowd of reporters and New York City power players in September, questions abounded. What is it? What will it do to the neighborhood? And what does it say that Stephen Ross, the president and CEO of Related Companies, the primary developer of Hudson Yards, is financing the entire $250 million piece by himself?

It’s natural that Ross chose Heatherwick Studio to design his centerpiece, because the office’s creations stun. For the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, it extruded 60,000 clear acrylic tubes from a center space to create a fuzzy, crystalline object whose apparent fragility is as mesmerizing as it is clever. As the studio moves toward ever-larger and ever-more-public commissions, the people who will live with its work will need to seriously consider what it will mean for their neighborhoods and cities.

Interactive public art is plentiful, but there are no pieces with the built-in interactivity of Vessel. In Chicago, tourists snap selfies with Anish Kapoor’s parabolic Cloud Gate (the Bean), while at New York’s Astor Place visitors can now once again give Bernard Rosenthal’s Alamo (the Cube) a spin. Vessel is supposed to be to Hudson Yards what the Christmas tree is to Rockefeller Center, but on display all year round. Related said it’s a “new kind of public landmark,” while The New York Times called it “a stairway to nowhere.” Heatherwick referred to it as a “device.” Critics have been unable, or unwilling, to name it. There’s power in naming, so let’s call Vessel what it is—it is architecture. It fulfills the most basic criteria for the category: The piece serves a purpose and acts as an apparatus for the reorientation of the body in relationship to both the ground and the city.

Vessel’s 2,400 steps will anchor the largest private development in the U.S., lifting visitors above Hudson Yards’ 14 acres of parks and plazas. The elevations will give New Yorkers and tourists—siphoned off a to-be-constructed High Line spur—a place to view each other and all the stalagmitic towers of Hudson Yards. When complete, the 16-story structure will be the tallest freestanding observation platform in the city, at least until Staten Island’s New York Wheel starts rolling.

Formally, the piece is inspired by Indian stepwells, but according to Heatherwick, it’s a monument “to us.” Like Pier 55, the architect’s park on mushroom stilts on the lower west side, Vessel has instant visual currency—critics have compared it to a snakeskin teacup, honeycombs, bedbugs, and a döner kebab. For its creator, it’s a bespoke response to the globalized taste that plants boring glass curtain-wall towers in Shanghai and London and plops blue chip art on corporate plazas in Los Angeles and Chicago. Vessel is the antidote that nurtures a spirit of togetherness: “Buildings are getting bigger and bigger—that mega-scale, it’s something new,” Heatherwick told AN at the unveiling. “But 2,000 years ago, humans were mostly the same size we are now. The human scale stays true.” Like its creator, who the press has affectionately compared to Willy Wonka, Vessel is so earnest: Its intricate symmetry and aesthetics divorce the grand stair from a signal of power and prestige, while its ostensibly public nature decouples the ordinary stair from its floor-to-floor workaday obligation.

Underneath its sincerity, though, Vessel harbors serious contradictions. Heatherwick said it “has no commercial objective,” which is hard to buy when the structure is the ultimate native advertising: It will sit smack in the middle of a five-acre park in the eastern yard designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz, a jewel in a glittery crown. It puts Ross’s taste and design acumen on display for public admiration. As a gathering space, it’s intended to integrate the raw development—which sits on a crust of artificial land over its namesake rail yards—into the rich fabric of New York City.

A proper design narrative, rolled out by the mayor and a multiracial dance troupe from Alvin Ailey, paves the way for public acceptance and mental integration before the idea is built out. Who could argue with Heatherwick’s kumbaya, a campaign for one New York?

In a city where even the ultra-rich hustle in and out of the subway, Vessel elevates the time-honored art of the schlep to civic priority—sort of. Heatherwick said it has no prescribed meaning, and that it is up to the public to decide—a vote for radical spatial practice if there ever was one. There’s tremendous satisfaction, too, in hauling up a long set of set of stairs, our urban mountainsides. The whole-body high from ascending a tough trail, or emerging from the Lexington Avenue–63rd Street subway station, humbles screaming quads before God, gravity, and smart engineers. Heatherwick’s gift to the city of New York, defines a citizen-subject as one who can walk—a lot. In a promotional video for Hudson Yards, Heatherwick says “it’s extremely interactive, but properly,” slapping his torso and thighs, “using your physicality.”

On the surface, there’s a positive correlation between the healthy metropolis—a public ideal that New York embraces—and the fit citizen—a personal ideal. But we’re still far from health equity. 

Sure, the piece will be ADA-compliant; curving elevators will sweep the wheelchair users, arthritic citizens, moms and dads with strollers, tired people, the very unathletic, and the time-crunched up to the top. For those of us fit enough to make it up even some of those steps, the terraces will form a bronzed steel beehive with neat new perspectives on the city. Flânerie never goes out of style, and in 2018 when Vessel opens, people will be watching other people on screens, too, documenting the fun on Instagram in a flurry of #Heatherwicks. Millennial employees of VaynerMedia, a Hudson Yards tenant, might use the thing as a StairMaster, and I predict there will be a Buzzfeed article on how to keep in shape with the new outdoor fitness structure. For his part, Heatherwick hopes that Vessel can be used for live performance, a dynamic and ostensibly more public forum than a Broadway theater or DS+R’s slick corporate Shed adjacent to Heatherwick’s piece. (So corporate, in fact, that “Culture” was removed from the name.)

However, even though initial renderings usually oversell the final product, Heatherwick’s visions are particularly egregious. Although the structure is being assembled right now, the renderings raise troubling questions about the gap between the not-architecture-but-still-architecture’s intended and probable uses.

As his Shanghai Expo pavilion, his redesigned Routemaster bus for London, and his 2012 Olympic cauldron demonstrate, Heatherwick is a master detailer and global designer adept at translating compelling human themes to local contexts. The Vessel model, which Ross reportedly kept under lock and key in his office, has been ready for months. Why then, at the public unveiling in September, were so many details missing?

Consider the crowds. Heatherwick’s piece is supposed to take the success of the High Line and spin it vertically. Though pioneering, the High Line has received justified criticism for its crowding and lack of surprises, but at least it gets you, slowly, from place to place (and, as art critic Jerry Saltz observed, it keeps tourists out of Chelsea’s galleries). If on nice days the High Line backs up, how will crowds be managed on a structure that only has egresses at its base? Heatherwick insists Vessel will be free to visit, but how besides timed and ticketed entry will the structure accommodate everyone?

If it’s as popular as its creators believe, Vessel will attract not only people but also those other New Yorkers: The pigeons. The structure seems ready-made for roosting, and I can’t imagine how hard it will be to properly enjoy Vessel while dodging dove turds. And in cold weather, I hope Ross will be more sedulous about de-icing the platforms than the neighbors on every block who make pedestrian booby traps out of sidewalks in front of their buildings.

As one climbs up Vessel, the railings stay just above waist height all the way up to the structure’s top, but when you build high, folks will jump. After a student leapt into the soaring central atrium of NYU’s Bobst Library seven years ago, the school installed metal fencing—on top of the Plexiglas barriers it had put in years earlier in response to other suicides. Philip Johnson and Richard Foster didn’t see the death in the design that the public’s morbid ideation uncovered, but Ross and Heatherwick seem not to have learned from Bobst, or from the city’s bridges and iconic tall buildings. If barriers are installed, how will they affect the views, Vessel’s main selling point?

Critics have compared Vessel to the Eiffel Tower, but Paris’s landmark is very much of its era, and meaning-making in our time has moved beyond tit-for-tat semiotics. New York has the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and any number of other symbols with which to broadcast its image. Plus, we’re on Instagram: Times Square is the world’s most-tagged location, more featured than the number-two tagged Eiffel Tower. There is already an essential New York space on a billion screens.

At this hour, there’s truly no point in reviving the perennial debate about the vacuousness of privately-owned-and-operated public space. The structure, surrounded on all sides by condos that start at $2 million, a Neiman Marcus, and a Thomas Keller restaurant, is a footnote in a city where politicians and developers plan expensive malls but call them transit hubs; where amateur urban planners like multimillionaire couple Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, patrons of Heatherwick’s Pier 55, shape public priorities; and impressive but empty fortresses for billionaires jostle each other for space in the sky. In its size and ambition, Vessel feels significant in some way, but in contrast to the High Line’s renegotiation of the urban park, Vessel feels like a Gilded Age geegaw foisted on the city by a “benevolent” rich guy.

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Heatherwick Studio unveils design for new device at Hudson Yards

Over the din of construction on nearby towers, today Anderson Cooper moderated a panel discussion and design unveiling of Vessel, Heatherwick Studio's new public work at Hudson Yards
Stephen M. Ross, president of Related Companies, Thomas Woltz, founding principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), and Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick Studios spoke with Cooper about the value of public space in New York and the opportunities that designing a park and plaza ab ova present. The project's cost was previously reported as $200 million, though there's been no update on whether that's changed with the just-unveiled design.
"Vessel was really unlike anything I've ever seen in New York. We wanted something great. The city is about having great public places," gushed Ross, whose real estate firm is a co-developer of Hudson Yards, the 365-acre mixed-used development on Manhattan's Far West Side. Heatherwick's design, he said, "was love at first sight.”

In a see-and-be-seen city where even the ultra-rich schlep in and out of the subway, Vessel elevates the time-honored art of flânerie to civic priority. Its 154 vertiginous steel-and-concrete staircases are meant to help visitors experience Hudson Yards and surrounding people from as many angles as desired (or, perhaps, angles unintended). The stairs and viewing platforms converge in a lattice that suggests a panopticon with the geometry of an inverted beehive. When complete, the 16-story structure will be the tallest freestanding observation platform in the city (at least until the New York Wheel starts rolling).

"So often, historic public spaces are commemorating kings, or battles, or tragedies. But this is a new public space. It would be a fake duty to look back," Heatherwick told The Architect's Newspaper. Instead, the project reacts to a 21st-century urban condition: "Buildings are getting bigger and bigger—that mega-scale, it's something new. But 2,000 years ago, humans were mostly the same size we are now. The human scale stays true. This project was not driven by fitness or health alone, but more by how we could nurture the human scale."

Hudson Yards, Cooper maintained, needed an attraction for those humans—a Christmas tree 365 days per year but also something the public could interact with. “It was an extraordinary thing, to make a new public square, in the center of the city," Heatherwick said, comparing Hudson Yards to Trafalgar Square and Bryant Park. "We felt enormous pressure to not make gardens but to make an urban square, an extension of New York."

The design blends a key cue from the High Line—elevation—and reacts to the city’s fire escapes, stoops, and the countless staircases that facilitate the flow of people in the city. “We wanted to make a project out of just stairs, an ultimate body thing,” Heatherwick explained. Visitors can hit their FitBit goals twice over by climbing 250 flights to the structure's top.

On the ground, NBW collaborated with Heatherwick to create the Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards, a six-acre public space that links Hudson Yards with Hudson River Park and the High Line, which will get a new on-site entrance at Tenth Avenue and 30th Street.

Like Heatherwick, who designed Vessel's teacup form with upper-story office workers in mind, Woltz wanted "to create a site that was quite graphic" for the square and gardens. The firm consulted 400-year-old maps to determine the site's original environmental conditions (it was a wet meadow) and captured a snapshot of native flora from that time, Woltz told AN.

This is one of NBW's two active commissions for landscapes over infrastructure: The platform the park sits on is the ventilation cover for the rail yard below, and the platform had to be engineered to support 200 mature trees. “The landscape operates in a seven-foot-thick sandwich of structure. I will never in my life take for granted being on real earth, because everything here is constructed,” Woltz said.

Amid exhalations on Twitter, some raised concerns about the accessibility of the public spaces, especially Vessel, whose stair-fixation seemed to exclude parents with strollers and people who use wheelchairs.

A model depicted elevators on a fixed track—hardly the expansive views and exuberant movement promised by the architects. The project is inclusive, Heatherwick maintained. He told AN that the model is outdated; new renderings, including the bird's eye view, below, were captured from elevators that snake around Vessel's insides on curving tracks.

The High Line, with the new perspectives it gives people on public (and private) space, was key to Heatherwick's approach to Vessel, which he calls "a device, not a sculpture." In the most successful public spaces, there's a chemistry to seeing that's aided by human interaction, he said. A good public space, too, should offer an element of play. "I asked, 'Why are playgrounds only made for children?' We're creating a vertical structure for all of us."

Vessel will be complete in 2018.

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Hudson Yards Is Reshaping NYC’s Skyline and Streetscape

New York City's waterfront Hudson Yards development is a big deal—literally. The largest private real estate development in the history of the United States, the project comprises 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space and 14 acres of public open space. Hudson Yards is having "a catalytic effect in terms of kicking off an entire new neighborhood," said Related Companies' Michael Samuelian. (Related and Oxford Properties Group have partnered with a number of high-profile architecture firms to design and build the project.) "We don't just focus on a building, but on the relationships between buildings—the spaces between the buildings themselves are just as important." Samuelian and KPF's William Pedersen, whose firm is designing three skyscrapers for Hudson Yards, will deliver up-to-date information on the work in progress at next month's Facades+NYC conference. Hudson Yards promises to reshape the city on multiple scales. On the larger end, "the development of Hudson Yards fills a void in Manhattan's fabric which has prevented the city from having a dialogue with the Hudson River," explained Pedersen. Related commissioned a wide slate of architects "to purposely create variety and juxtaposition, which is the dominant characteristic of Manhattan's iconic skyline," he said. As important as Hudson Yards' impact on New York City's skyline, said Samuelian, is its capacity to create a welcoming streetscape. "We put considerable effort into ensuring we have warm, appropriate materials below 150 feet," he said. "Each building changes as it comes down to grade to give civility to the skyscrapers, to make them more humane participants in the street life of the city." Pedersen concurred. "The dominant characteristic of our buildings is their gestural capacity," he said. "They do not stand in isolation but rather seek an active relationship with every aspect of the context they engage, including the pedestrian on the street." Catch up with Samuelian, Pedersen, and other AEC industry leaders reshaping New York's built environment at Facades+NYC. Register today to secure your space at the symposium and in a lab or dialog workshop of your choice.
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Affordable housing tenants are renting out units on Airbnb. What’s wrong with that?

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?