Posts tagged with "Skylines":

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Dreams bend into furniture with this Inception-style coffee table

The frontier-era drama The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, may have won best picture at last night’s Golden Globes, but it’s the actors’ 2010 mind-bending film Inception that has inspired some seriously cool (yet questionably practical) furniture. The “Wave City Coffee Table,” created by Cypriot-based designer Stelios Mousarris, emulates the scene from the Christopher Nolan–directed thriller in which Ellen Page’s character Ariadne, a student at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris, “messes with the physics” of a dream. The resulting bent cityscape mesmerized audiences around the world—and now around the coffee table. This cantilevering wood and steel table features an urban landscape bending over itself, as depicted in the film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9hBWnh_O6A Mousarris, who previously worked for Foster and Partners as a modelmaker and for Duffy London as an assistant designer, created the unusual piece using 3D printing technology. His other work proves just as unique, and includes the “Carpet Sofa,” which can be custom-made with a carpet that fits your individual space, and the “Half Couch,” which is described by Mousarris as balancing on one side “whilst perfectly supporting the human weight on the other side.” The limited-edition table is available for purchase on the designer’s website for €5,000, although you may only be able to afford it in your dreams.
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Arquitectonica’s newly opened zig-zagging tower in Miami is meant to reflect the rippling waters of Biscayne Bay

Miami-based Arquitectonica has completed a zig-zagging tower on booming Miami's Biscayne Bay. The 42-story, luxury residence building was developed by the Related Group and has been dubbed the Icon Bay. Icon Bay's distinctive textured facade is created through a playful repetition of the structure's balconies and is said to have been a response to the untamed ripples of the Biscayne's waters as they flutter against the breeze. These elevated terraces provide for sweeping waterfront views. The tower includes its own bayside park, also designed by Arquitectonica. The park's circular walkways move through an outdoor art exhibition space. Icon Bay is but one of the many new construction projects that have recently found its way to Miami's shores.
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Video> Shanghai Talks: Toronto city planner James Parakh talks skyscraper design, sustainable urbanism

Last September the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled "Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism." I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Toronto City Planner James Parakh. Parakh talked about enhancing public space through Toronto's POPS program for privately-owned public spaces. Downtown Toronto has added over one million square feet of these developments over the last 10 years—think plazas, parks, pedestrian connections. “I often say it's a win-win,” he said. “The developer gets extra height through the process.” As one of the newest hotbeds for tall building development, Canada's largest city is trying to walk a line between runaway “Manhattanization” and suburban sprawl. At the same time Parakh said Toronto is grappling with questions about its urban character—from the top of its skyline down to its pedestrian spaces. “I don't think every building is a landmark building and I don't think every building should be a gateway building,” he said. “How do we intersperse tall buildings—whether it's in Toronto or Chicago or Mumbai or São Paolo—how do we do that the best that we can so that we can improve the quality of life for people around the world?”
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Opppenheim’s Manhattan bridged towers that might have been

Silverstein Properties is developing a 1,100-foot-tall development on Manhattan's West Side, but it won't be Oppenheim Architecture + Design's proposal for a pair of towers linked by a mammoth greenhouse-topped bridge seen here. The scheme was revealed earlier this year as two speculative mixed-use towers comprising some 1.6 million square feet. Then called 514 Eleventh Avenue, the scheme would have stood eye to eye with the Empire State Building. In dramatic fashion, Oppenheim's renderings and video of the project detailed a pair of towers with stunning vistas of the Hudson River, the nearby Hudson Yards development, and the High Line. Then called 514 Eleventh Avenue, the glass-clad towers would be 60-stories tall and houses mostly residences, with offices and retail also in the building. At the top of the tower, a massive lounge area within the bridge created a greenhouse-like setting, complete with a game of croquet. A five-story retail mini-mall with a green wall–covered facade would occupy the base of the building. Oppenheim Architecture declined to comment on the project for this article. But those plans weren't meant to be. In July, Silverstein revealed new renderings of a single-tower proposal for a project now dubbed 520 West 41st Street. The basic specs remain the same, with a 1,100-foot-tall tower containing 1,400 residences (including 280 affordable apartments), 175,000 square feet of office space, and a stepped 140-foot-tall podium containing retail space. The project dropped the second tower and bridge connection in favor of a lighter, rectilinear form. The tower proposal has met some opposition from West Side residents. In letters sent to the New York City Department of City Planning, the Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee brought up complaints pertaining to the sheer size of the development. The committee also emphasized that equal amounts of attention and time should be applied to building and furnishing the “affordable housing” that the project promises as has been spent in producing the jaw-dropping renderings. One major hurdle still remains for the project—zoning. The developer met with the Department of City Planning on July 31st to begin arguing that the project should be rezoned from a predominantly office tower to the apartment building currently proposed. In the meantime, cancel your sky-high croquet plans for now.
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Port Authority asks store to stop selling merchandise with New York City skyline

In what may or may not be performance art, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey—an organization charged with overseeing the region's bridges, tunnels, and airports—recently told Fishs Eddy—a small home goods store in Manhattan—that printing a pre-9/11 New York City skyline rendered in cartoon-like drawings on its merchandise was of “great concern.” Specifically, the authority would like the store to immediately stop selling all mugs, plates, bowls, and dish towels that depict any of its “assets” including the Twin Towers, One World Trade Center, and even the tunnels Holland and Lincoln. Acccording to the New York Times, a lawyer for the authority sent a letter to Fishs Eddy saying that the store is “unfairly reaping a benefit from an association with the Port Authority and the [9/11] attacks.” Right, because people go to Fishs Eddy to pick out a demitasse saucer that best portrays their favorite transportation organization. And, apparently, just depicting the New York City skyline before September 11th now constitutes “reaping a benefit” from the tragedy. A spokesperson for the authority told the Times that Fishs Eddy is part of its larger "trademark enforcement efforts." The lawyer who wrote the letter also added that the store’s items “[interfere] with the Port Authority’s control of its own reputation.” But come on. The Port Authority is, of course, in control of its own reputation and it’s done more than enough to sully it over the years. A ramekin isn’t going to change that.
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Blue Plate Special: Bjarke Ingles Reinterprets Walter Gropius With “Big Cities” Dinnerware

In 1969, Walter Gropius designed a collection of china for Rosenthal. Named after his atelier in Cambridge, The Architects Collaborative, TAC's elegant and curious forms are pristine in white porcelain. Embellishing Gropius' design would naturally be heresy to some purists. To others, it would reflect his belief in the collaborative process. In their update of the tableware, called TAC Big Cities, architect Bjarke Ingels of BIG and Danish industrial design studio Kilo teamed up to create an urban motif for the collection. The skylines of Paris, New York, Berlin, London, and Copenhagen have been delineated in dark blue with a sure hand (My guess it was wielding a 7B pencil). Not meandering doodles, not too-crisp or CAD-like. This is a friendly, confident line. When wrapping around serving vessels, pitchers, and bowls, the cities' silhouettes are easily recognizable, punctuated with unmistakable architectural icons as the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, and the Brandenburg Gate. But when projected onto the borders of plates and platters—comparatively flat surfaces—the lines distort, and read more like seismic activity graphs. It's a pleasantly unruly ornament. Dining on the town of your choice will cost about $50 for a 11-inch plate.
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Turkey Passes Legislation to Protect Istanbul’s Historic Skyline Silhouette from Rapid Urbanization

For 1475 years, the colossal dome and four minarets of the Hagia Sofia have remained the focus of Istanbul’s historic silhouette. That is, until three hulking towers known as the OnaltiDokuz Residences interrupted the scene last summer, sparking another battle over development in the Turkish capital. In late May, the Hurriyet Daily News reported that the city’s 4th Administrative Court ordered the demolition of the skyscrapers, claiming that their construction was illegal because it "negatively affected the world heritage site that the Turkish government was obliged to protect." To guard against future infractions, this Wednesday the Turkish Parliament passed legislation calling for additional safeguards nationwide to protect historic areas from rapid urbanization. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his distaste for high-rise development within the city in the past, and urged the towers’ owner, Mesut Toprak, to shorten his skyscrapers. The three towers, coming in at 37, 32, and 27 stories, are located in the Zeytinburnu district on the European side of Istanbul, and represent a recent surge in unplanned building and urbanization that is going on throughout the historic city. While the city’s economic upswing is welcomed, the non-contextual form it has taken is not. The public has reacted positively to the demolition ruling, but many worry that there is little hope in curbing the buildup at this point. “I side with a form of architecture that accords with our culture,” said Erdogan in an address to local lawmakers last month. “In Istanbul and Ankara, there are structures that have gone against the characters of both cities. I don’t approve of vertical structures; rather I favor horizontal ones. Four stories should be above the ground, while the other four should be built underground.” This comes in stark contrast to other cities like London and Washington, D.C. that are grappling with potentially raising height limits to allow for greater density and new development. Meanwhile, the towers’ owners plan to seek an appeal, claiming that they complied with zoning regulations and that their project is in no way illegal.
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New York, Here is Your New Skyline

UPDATE: Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in whose district the project is located, gave her strong support for it at a press conference before today's meeting of the City Council. More below. The battle for the soul of New York—or at least for its skyline—was over before it even really began. The City Council Land Use Committee just voted in favor of Vornado's roughly 1,200-foot, Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed 15 Penn Plaza, apparently unswayed by complaints from the owner of the Empire State Building, Anthony Malkin, that it would ruin views of his iconic tower, and thus the city as a whole. In fact, the issue of the skyline barely even came up, and when it did, the council members, who voted 19-1 for the tower, essentially said New York must build to remain great. "I think it's a project the city needs," said Councilman Daniel Holleran, a Staten Island Republican. The bigger issue, by far, than the dueling towers was that of who would build 15 Penn Plaza, namely MWBEs. That's the policy shorthand for women- and minority-owned business enterprises. The council, like the city, is majority minority, and so ensuring employment for minorities, particularly in the notoriously cosseted construction industry is often a high priority. When Vornado showed up at Monday's hearings without a specific plan for how it would ensure a portion of the contractors on the project would be MWBEs, the committee members were displeased. Councilwoman Letitia James Albert Vann asked if the company even had any sort of minority hiring practices, to which the head of the New York Office, David Greenbaum, joked that he was not sure but had had a party recently at which there were many women, and his wife asked which were employs and which were spouses and he said, with a chuckle, that it was more of the former. James was not amused. Vornado proffered a last minute MWBE plan before today's vote, calling for at least 15 percent of all construction work to be done by MWBEs. Whether the project would have been torpedoed without it is hard to say, but it did little to assuage council members complaints at the same time they overwhelmingly voted for the project. James Saunders, one of the council's lions on MWBE issues, made his frustration known. "This is a tepid response to a need, a very tepid response," he said of the new MWBE plan. "We can't go on like this. That we even have to have this discussion shows that there needs to be some real dialogue here." Holleran expressed disappointment that the council does not use its limited leverage over such projects to extract more concessions early on than at the very end, when development projects have essentially reached the stage of fait accompli. Not that it would have mattered if there was any real opposition, as the mayor cast his considerable weight behind the project yesterday, according to the Wall Street Journal [sub. req.].
"I don't understand that. You know, anybody that builds a building in New York City changes its skyline. We don't have to run around to every other owner and apologize," he said. "This is something that's great for this city." "Competition's a wonderful thing. One guy owns a building. He'd like to have it be the only tall building," he added. "I'm sorry that's not the real world, nor should it be."
Malkin was not at today's vote. And perhaps its was with good reason that the council did not take up his position. As our colleague Eliot Brown points out over at the Observer, the skyline fight is not that disimilar to the one over the Ground Zero "Mosque," in that it's a supremely local issue that has been given over to if not irrational than at least emotional pleas for something locals could care less about. After all, we're only ruining the view from Jersey. Yet again, the debate surrounding this project was only nominally about the project at hand. UPDATE: When we asked Speaker Quinn about the merits of such a large, even overbuilt project—it's 42 percent larger than current zoning allows, going from a 12 FAR to an 18 (though mind you the Empire State Building is a whopping 35, so who's dwarfing whom exactly?)—she said she was fine with it. "I think given that this is 34th Street, 33rd Street, and 7th Avenue, one of the most commercial areas in the city of New York, this is an appropriate place for dense development." (The project is actually located between 33rd Street and 32nd Street.) Quinn even went so far as to compare the unbuilt 15 Penn Plaza to many of the city's other iconic office towers, calling it a modern day Rockefeller Center, something the city needs more of. "Our position is about Midtown business district expanding into the 21st Century," Quinn said. "As it is, we're not on par with some of our competitors, say London or Hong Kong. In the middle of this recession, what this say is New York is coming out of this, and coming out on top." Quinn said that she was happy with the MWBE agreement that had been reached with Vornado while also stressing that such matters were not technically under the purvey of the city's land-use review process. When we asked if they should be, Quinn demurred. On a less demure note, Curbed is reporting that the real reason Malkin is so opposed to 15 Penn Plaza is because it's potentially throwing off the feng shui of his tower, killing the "life force" of the Empire State Building and thus a deal with a business from Hong Kong to lease space in the tower. And now we've heard everything.
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Save Our Skyline, Begs Empire State Building

We know hackers and preservationists are staunchly opposed to Vornado's 15 Penn Plaza, because the 1,216-foot Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed tower would replace McKim Mead & White's notable-if-not-renowned Hotel Pennsylvania. Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, is also not a fan for the simple reason that Malkin Holdings is holding the Empire State Building. And its views would most likely be compromised by 15 Penn Plaza. Malkin is now speaking out against the project, under the aegis of a group calling itself Friends of the New York City Skyline, a posse which also includes MAS, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Landmarks Conservancy. It may be too little, too late. Amanda Burden and the City Planning Commission already gave their approval in July, calling it "precisely the type of well-designed…office building that New York City needs to stay globally competitive." Still, hoping to head off a vote on Monday at the City Council, Malkin and his Friends have sent around mawkish renderings and a statement (below) about everything that's wrong with this building and how it could ruin the city. Currently 15 Penn Plaza is 42 percent bigger than current zoning allows, with no setbacks, but at the same time, as garish as it looks in these renderings, it also shows the dynamic way in which our iconic skyline is always changing. Just think of the thrill you get looking back at old pictures of the city and comparing them to today. Even monstrosities like the Trump Wold Tower across from the U.N. look half-decent in this context. To build is to survive as a city and it's good to know that, for better or worse, there are no sacred cows. After all, these were some of the same groups who complained when Burden cut Nouvel's MoMA Tower down to size. Significantly, the tower is in Council Speaker Christine Quinn's district, and she is an avowed friend to developers: Tenant or no tenant, building is in the cards. Malkin's statement:
"The Empire State Building is the internationally recognized icon on the skyline of New York City. We are its custodians, and must protect its place. Would a tower be allowed next to the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben’s clock tower? Just as the world will never tolerate a drilling rig next to The Statue of Liberty, why should governmental bonuses and waivers be granted to allow a structure as tall and bulky at 15 Penn Plaza to be built 900 feet away from New York City’s iconic landmark and beacon? We believe that the public approval process to date for the proposed 15 Penn Plaza has failed to address the interests of New Yorkers. The City Charter did not create the ULURP process so as to provide a speedy approval for a speculative office tower for which there is no planned commencement. The Developer’s Environmental Impact Statement at first ignored, and then (by last minute amendment) gratuitously denied, any impact on the largest landmark in New York City from the proposed 1,200 foot tower to rise at some unspecified future date on the present site of the Hotel Pennsylvania. The people of New York City have already made their sentiments clear: Community Board 5 voted down this proposal 36 to 1, so the only hope for protection of this public legacy now sits with the City Council. There may be buildings taller than the Empire State Building. But no building so close to the Empire State Building should be allowed through discretionary official exceptions to be as bulky and tall as 15 Penn Plaza. The height and bulk of 15 Penn Plaza are the result of waivers and bonuses greatly in excess of code. Another waiver granted 15 Penn Plaza the right to build without setbacks. At only 67 stories, 15 Penn Plaza would be as tall as the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building, and would, if built, be as much a scar on the complexion of New York City as the loss of Penn Station. We are working with other New Yorkers and concerned parties who care about this landmark to write and speak to the City Council and its Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises on August 23 in opposition to this effort to mar permanently the iconic signature which creates the world's most famous skyline."
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Catalyze This

Last fall, the Downtown Alliance unveiled a plan by ARO and a dozen or so other designers aimed at reviving an area the civic group dubbed Greenwich South. Among the proposals was an iconic, place-defining tower designed by one of our favorite firms, San Francisco's IwamotoScott. While the Downtown Alliance's plan was largely speculative, the tower has, uh, popped up once again, with bountiful new renderings on Inhabitat. It's not entirely clear why the tower has been so thoroughly expanded upon, but we're guessing all this new snazz has something to do with the firm's upcoming appearance at the Design Triennial opening Friday, of which it's a part. We've posted a few of our favorite renderings here, with more than a dozen available at Inhabitat.
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A Day at the Park

We've already mentioned the opening today of Pier 1, the first piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park. But for those of you less concerned with park governance and public-private funding mechanisms—most of you, really—than with the actual park itself, herein is our guided tour (click the photo above to begin). While the rain may have dampened the mood of some New Yorkers today, not here in the park, which seemed brighter for the downpour, verdant as Ireland and twice as lucky for having opened after a 25-year struggle. The park, and even this first sliver of it, is magnificent and majestic, a transformative place so different and particular—not unlike the High Line—that it can change your entire perception of the city. Dan Kramer, chair of the BBP Conservancy, agrees. "When I walk around, I get the same feeling I get walking around the High Line" he said at today's ribbon cutting. "This park feels like it was always here, like it always belonged here." Michael Van Valkenburgh sees the park as a civics lesson. "I'm always reminded when a park opens that there's nothing more democratic or important to the city than a park," he said. "I'm always struck how this is for everyone." He and principal-in-charge Matt Urbanski said they expected the newly empowered to city to keep on building, and the opening would only help boost their momentum. "It's like serving the entree without all the fixings," Urbanski said. "This is a big slice of roast beef, and it's gonna be good, and everyone'll want more." Regina Myer, head of the park development corporation and maestro of its construction, certainly believes New Yorks will like their first taste of the place. "It's a park like none other, given its place on the water and in the city," Myer said, "but really, it's extraordinary for the way it embraces beautiful design and sustainability and I think that, maybe after the bridge, is what people are going to notice."