Posts tagged with "Related Companies":

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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?  
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Topping Out 10 Hudson Yards: KPF’s Manhattan tower reaches new heights

The final bucket of concrete anointed the top of Kohn Pedersen Fox's 10 Hudson Yards today. Built to LEED Platinum standards, the 52 story office building, at 30th Street and Tenth Avenue in New York City, is the first of sixteen buildings on the 28 acre site. Unusual among commercial skyscrapers in New York, a concrete superstructure and a concrete shear wall account for 98 percent of the building's weight. So far, SAP, VaynerMedia, Coach, and L'Oréal, as well as four other undisclosed tenants, will move into the 1.7-million-square-foot tower beginning March 2016. If they leave their desks, workers can enjoy direct access to the High Line from the building, as well as Hudson Yard's 14 acres of open space. Developers Oxford Properties Group, Related Companies, and Tutor Perini reinforce the building's luxury branding by noting that its three stormwater tanks can hold 1.3 million grande pumpkin spice lattes.  
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With deal in place, Citi Bike system set to expand in 2015

It's happening. After years of talks and reports, it's actually, finally, in-paper, happening—Citi Bike is expanding. Tuesday, at the Queensbridge Houses in Queens, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the system of 6,000 bikes will double by the end of 2017—putting 2,000 more bikes on the streets than initially envisioned when the program was launched. The news comes as Bikeshare Holdings, a private investment company headed by the CEOs of Equinox and Related Companies, acquires Alta Bicycle Share, which oversees Citi Bike, and other bikeshare programs around the world. As the Daily News first reported, former MTA Chairman Jay Walder will serve as Alta's new CEO. Starting next year, a new fleet of blue bikes will arrive in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and in Long Island City, Queens. As Citi Bike noted on its blog, all of these stations were intended to be part of the program's "initial deployment." Based on a map provided by Citi Bike, the second phase of expansion will include Upper Manhattan, Astoria, Queens, and more Brooklyn neighborhoods. But the system won't just be expanded, it will be entirely overhauled. Anyone who has been on a Citi Bike recently knows why—seats are torn, bikes are broken, docks are out-of-service, and the credit card system is glitchy. To pay for all of this, and to keep the program solvent moving forward, Citi Bike will raise the annual membership fee from $95 a year to $149. The $60 annual membership New York City Housing residents will not change. According to the NYC DOT, Bikeshare Holdings has invested $30 million into the program, the Partnership Fund for New York City pledged $5 million, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group is lending $15 million for a credit increase, and Citigroup has increased its sponsorship commitment by $70.5 million and has extended it through 2024. (Citi initially paid $41 million for a five-year sponsorship contract). “We believe in Citi Bike’s potential as a fixture of New York City’s public transit system," Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. "It can make our neighborhoods more accessible, help us achieve our sustainability goals, and bridge inequities in our transportation network. To achieve all that, bike share has to be reliable and responsive to community’s needs. Today, after tremendous efforts across our administration, we can say we have the management and the support in place to fulfill that mission."
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With Some Cash From Related Companies, Citi Bike Could Expand Next Year

The latest piece in the ongoing saga of Citi Bike actually contains some good news. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Related Companies, through its affiliate, REQX Ventures, is close to finishing a deal that would inject millions of dollars into the struggling, but popular, bike share system. The influx of cash would  allow Citi Bike to expand into Upper Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. It would also almost double the program's current number of bikes to 12,000. The program originally promised to deliver 10,000 bikes at its launch under the Bloomberg administration so there will be an extra 2,000 bikes crisscrossing the city. This, of course, comes with a cost. The Journal reported that Alta Bicycle Share—the company that operates Citi Bike—could raise the yearly membership price from $95 per year to $140 each year. A subsequent New York Times piece  said membership could actually increase to $155 per year. According to the Times, the expansion could begin next year with an expected completion in 2017. "The arrangement would wrest control from Alta, the company, based in Portland, Ore., that has partnered with the city to date, and give it to REQX, a venture formed by some principals of the real estate firm Related and the fitness chain Equinox," the Times reported. "REQX would also assume a majority stake in Alta’s other systems, in cities like Boston, Washington and Melbourne, Australia. The agreement could be announced as early as this week, though officials cautioned that a deal had not been completed."
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Renderings Revealed for Kevin Roche and Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 55 Hudson Yards Tower

As with most new towers these days, the offices and apartments rising at Hudson Yards are unsurprisingly wrapped in glossy, glass skins. That is why revised renderings for the new kid on the block, 55 Hudson Yards, are so notable. The 51-story office tower has plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows, but those windows are framed by a metallic grid that encases the entire building. At certain points that metallic wrap disappears as if space has been carved out of the building's exterior. The 1.3-million-square-foot tower was designed by Eugene Kohn of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and Kevin Roche of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. According to a press release from developer Related, 55 Hudson Yards is inspired by “Soho and early modernism.” KPF has designed many of the Yards’ towers, but for this site, Related chairman Stephen Ross reportedly wanted to try something different. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ross asked Kohn to work with a “fresh face” to design a tower that added some architectural variety to the development. That fresh face came in the form of Roche who is famous for designing the celebrated Ford Foundation in the 1960s. Roche told the Journal that, for this project, he wanted to create a building that is “simple and straightforward, that meets the needs of the developers and occupants—a basic, fundamental sculpture." But Roche was reportedly only involved in the early parts of this project, with Kohn and his firm overseeing the major design elements.
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Los Angeles County Supervisors Approve Frank Gehry’s Grand Avenue Project

Yesterday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved Gehry Partners' and  Related Companies' long-stalled Grand Avenue Project, all but assuring that it will go ahead after years (and years, and years) of delay. The only remaining vote comes later today as the Grand Avenue Authority, the city-county agency overseeing the project, votes on the project. At the Supervisors' meeting the head of that authority, Supervisor Gloria Molina, praised Gehry's newest plans, a three-acre, mixed use development centering around a terraced, U-shaped plaza. "It's really a much improved design," said Molina. "It  really creates an environment of a lot of activity and a lot of connectivity to the rest of downtown." She referred to an earlier iteration, by Gensler along with Robert A.M. Stern, as "very enclosed, very fort-like." Gehry returned to the project last month after being off the project for close to a year. The Grand Avenue project was first approved back in 2007 (after already experiencing years of false-starts), and Related has received almost a dozen extensions until this point. Gehry Partners' Paul Zumoff described the firm's new approach "to carve out the interior of the Grand Avenue scheme...giving views both to the interior and the exterior." He added: "It's a bit like Disney was inside and was pulled out of the interior." The Grand Avenue Authority meets today at 3pm to vote on the project. Also up for discussion is whether the project will be exempt from environmental review.
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We’re Bowled Over by James Corner Field Operations’s Plans For the High Line

This week, Friends of the High Line revealed the design concept for the third and final section of the High Line with a tantalizing set of renderings from James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Beginning at the intersection of 10th Avenue and West 30th Street, the latest addition, known as the High Line at the Rail Yards, will wrap westward around Related Companies’ impending Hudson Yards mega-development before culminating on 34th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. The highlight of Phase 3 is undoubtedly the large, tree-lined amphitheater that will float above the 10th Avenue and 30th Street. Dubbed the Spur, the lush, verdant bowl will offer an intimate, semi-enclosed seating area and public restrooms, while serving as a gateway to Hudson Yards and the High Line’s final stretch. The whole project, estimated to cost $76 million, is scheduled to open to the public in late 2014, though according to the Friends of the High Line, we may have to wait another year or two for the Spur. Located at the widest section of the elevated park, the Spur will provide an immersive woodland environment just a few blocks from the heart of Midtown. Encircled by wood-be forest of Snakebark maples, black tupelo trees, ferns, perennials and woodland grasses, the space will contain tiered seating amidst a lush, urban wilderness. Combing skyward views of Hudson Yard’s forthcoming skyscrapers with James Corner’s signature naturalism, the Spur will offer what is sure to be a truly unique park experience. Friends of the Highline have committed to raise $36 million, culled form private donations, for the final stage of the the park. Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, as part of their Hudson Yards development, are on board to contribute $29.2 million to the project’s construction and continued maintenance, while the Bloomberg administration and City Council allocated $11 million in capital funding.
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LA’s Grand Avenue Project Gets One Final Chance

Back in 2004 it seemed like Downtown Los Angeles would be getting one of the largest developments in the city's history: the $1.8 billion, 3.8 million square foot Grand Avenue Project. Overseen by a city/county entity called the Grand Avenue Authority and developed by the Related Companies, the project would insert residential, retail, hotel, and park spaces into the city's long-struggling core. Just a week ago it seemed like that dream was dead, when the Grand Avenue Authority voted unanimously to reject new architectural plans by Related, which included a sharply reduced scope, and a whole new team of designers. (Gone is Frank Gehry, in for the master plan is Gensler.) But on September 30 the Authority voted to give the developer a four month extension to adjust the plans. Whether the authority will move ahead after is still very much in doubt.  The only sure things at this point are the 16-acre Grand Park, across from The Music Center, and Arquitectonica's 19-story residential tower, just south of The Broad, which broke ground several months ago.
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Related Eyes Chicago Spire Debt as Speculation On New Life Swirls

The Chicago Spire site, currently the city’s most-watched hole in the ground, has had false starts before. This week The Wall Street Journal reported that Related Cos. of New York signed on to buy the stalled project's debt, raising suspicions that development might proceed on the riverfront site. Santiago Calatrava’s twisting tower design was to stand 2,000 feet high and house condos, but the $64 million land bordering Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville sat idle after the recession hit in 2008. The troubled project has been tangled up in litigation ever since. Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency put the project's $93 million in debt on the market earlier this year. While Irish developer Garett Kelleher’s firm still holds title to the parcel, and Related’s reported deal remains up in the air, speculation swirls around the site which not long ago was prepared to house the nation’s tallest building.
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Related Breaks Ground on Two SHoP-Designed Towers at Hunters Point South

While everyone is transfixed on SHoP's dramatic unveiling of its new plan for the Domino Sugar Factory on the Brooklyn waterfront, another SHoP-designed project began construction to the north on the Queens waterfront. The first two towers of the Hunters Point South development, what will be New York City's largest affordable housing project since the 1970s, broke ground, and the $332-million first phase could accept its first residents as soon as 2014. The first phase includes 925 permanently-affordable housing units, 17,000 square feet of retail space, an already-under-construction 1,100-seat school, and a new five-acre park. The first 619-unit tower at 1-50 50th Avenue will stand 37-stories tall and the adjacent 306-unit second tower at 1-55 Borden Avenue will be 32-stories tall. Both will feature breathtaking views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline including the United Nations Secretariat and the Chrysler Building. The project, developed by Related Companies with non-profit Phipps Houses, was designed by SHoP Architects with Ismael Leyva Architectsand is aiming for LEED Silver certification. The two towers will have distinct designs. During the initial design process in 2011, SHoP's Vishaan Chakrabarti told AN, "We asked, should they be twins, sisters, cousins, friends or strangers? And I think we ended up with friends." "After years of planning and partnership, we’re breaking ground on the first large-scale middle-class development to be built in our city in more than three and a half decades," said Mayor Bloomberg in a statement. "In just a few years, Hunter’s Point South will have all the makings of a great community – affordable homes, new transportation links, beautiful parks with sweeping views, and a brand-new school." To mitigate potential flood damage from storm surges in the future, the project's mechanical systems are elevated on upper floors with emergency generators on the roof. A concrete base serving as a flood wall line's the towers frontage facing the flood plain and entrances are designed so flood gates can be attached if necessary. Residents are expected to move in as early as 2014, with the entire first phase complete by 2015. Bloomberg also announced at the ceremony that the RFP for the second phase of Hunters Point South will be issued next month, calling for another 1,000 residential units and 28,000 square feet of community and retail space. When complete, the entire Hunters Point South development will house 5,000 new housing units on the 30-acre site.