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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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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The plan to relocate Pennsylvania Station to the James Farley Post Office across the street has been slow in coming. The developers, Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust, are now revisiting a previously-rejected proposal to move the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) to what will be Penn Station’s new home, called Moynihan Station—named after Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who first introduced the idea in the 1990s. The New York Times reported that the college would theoretically occupy 1.1 million square feet of the building, and in return, the developer would take over BMCC’s campus downtown. But, it looks like government officials still have their reservations. Some progress has been made, however. The state has provided around $300 million for the construction of a new passageway and two new entrances leading to Penn’s train platforms. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill designed the plans for the renovation of the station.
Los Angeles supervisor Gloria Molina has confirmed what we suspected all along. The Grand Avenue committee—chaired by Molina—has granted the Related Companies a third extension on its lease to develop The Grand, a multi-billion dollar, mixed-use development on top of the city's Bunker Hill. The project's Civic Park, designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, opened last summer, and the first built project, an apartment by Arquitectonica, broke ground earlier this month. But the rest of the project, including 9 acres encompassing at least 2,100 residential units, a hotel, shopping, and dining, still remains dormant. Related would not commit to its original designer, Frank Gehry, when AN talked with them last year, nor would they confirm his continued involvement in a recent interview with the LA Downtown News. More images of Gehry's perhaps-defunct plan below.
Tuesday morning, New York's top power brokers gathered in a muddy lot on Manhattan's west side to mark the official groundbreaking of the 26-acre Hudson Yards mega-development. The dramatic addition to the New York skyline will comprise a completely new neighborhood of glass skyscrapers at the northern terminus of the High Line. The South Tower, the first structure to be built and the future headquarters of fashion-label Coach, will rise on the site's southeast corner at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, where Related CEO Stephen Ross, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and others celebrated the first turning of dirt as a large caisson machine bored into the ground. Representing the largest single piece of undeveloped land in Manhattan and the largest private development since Rockefeller Center, Hudson Yards will eventually house towers designed by some of the biggest names in architecture: Kohn Pedersen Fox, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, David Rockwell, SOM, and Elkus Manfredi with landscapes by Nelson Byrd Woltz. Hudson Yards is being developed by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, who made a deal with rail yards-owner MTA for 13 million square feet of development rights in May 2010. Speaking at the groundbreaking, MTA chairman Joe Lhota remembered back to January 1995 when, acting as the NYC finance commissioner, he realized the lost economic potential in the Hudson Yards site as it generated no revenue for the city. With Hudson Yards, though, Lhota said, "It's not only going to be a new source of revenue. It's going to be something you rarely ever see in New York: the creation of a new neighborhood." The 47-story South Tower by KPF recently crossed the 80-percent-leased line, anchored by Coach which nabbed 740,000 square feet in the 1.7 million square foot building. The footprint of the first tower sits just south of the rail yards, below where a platform will be built to accomodate further development, and adjacent to the High Line, partially straddling a portion of the wildly successful park. A large atrium at the base of the South Tower will overlook the High Line. The tower is being designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and will be complete in 2015. Once additional tenants are secured, KPF's second, larger North Tower with 2.4 million square feet will be built atop the rail yards and linked to the South Tower by Elkus Manfredi's shopping mall complex along 10th Avenue, which will contribute 750,000 square feet, the majority of the overall 1.15 million square feet of retail space at Hudson Yards. "As more tenants commit to the area, Related will build the platform and the additional towers that will be constructed atop the platform allowing us to realize our vision," Bloomberg told the crowd. The North Tower will feature an observation deck precariously cantilevering 80 feet out into Manhattan's air space. "We began with two basic principles," Bloomberg said. "We determined Hudson Yards should be a mixed-use community and an extension of the Midtown central business district." He cited affordable housing, schools, and world class commercial spaces as key to the areas success. "The second principle was recognizing that public policy decisions and infrastructure investment will be crucial to this new community." He lauded the 2005 city council approval of a 300-acre rezoning of the area and an agreement with the MTA to expand the 7 line west from Times Square to this area, a project he was quick to point out is completely funded by the city. West of the South Tower, the flagship cultural component of Hudson Yards will occupy a dramatic spot alongside the High Line. "Working with dynamic architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro and David Rockwell, [the Culture Shed] is another step in New York City's development as the world's home for innovation in the arts. And that's what gets an awful lot of people to come here," Bloomberg said. "The Culture Shed will welcome all the creative industries—performance, exhibitions, media, design, and fashion week—and be a destination for community events." The 100,000-square-foot Culture Shed is expected to build on recent cultural additions lining the High Line like the new Whitney Museum to the south. Elsewhere on the site, 5,000 residences and a luxury hotel in towers by DS+R and SOM and a new public school will be built. SOM's 60-story "E Tower" features rounded corners and gradual setbacks as it rises, meant to evoke abstracted canyons and produce stunning views. It will house the hotel, residences, office space, and a health club. The "D Tower" by DS+R will stand 72 stories tall and connect with the Culture Shed. The tower's main design feature is called "The Corset," an intricately deformed portion of the building's middle where criss-crossing "straps" that make the building appear fluid in form. Eventually, more than 40,000 people will live or work at Hudson Yards. The entire development is organized around large public spaces, which appeared in a recent issue of AN. Running north from 33rd Street, another public space by Michael Van Valkenburgh, called Hudson Park and Boulevard, will house a new entrance to the expanded 7 Line subway, expected to open in 2014. Be sure to check out the full multimedia gallery below, featuring renderings of all the buildings that will comprise Hudson Yards, the site today, speakers from the groundbreaking, and views of the site's detailed architectural model.