For many of the people opposed to Amazon establishing a second headquarters (HQ2) in Queens, New York, casting the company into total exile was never the point. At its heart, opposition lay with the terms of the deal that wooed the company—its massive tax incentives, the process that had created the deal (without input or oversight from the New York City Council or local communities), and the dramatic impact such a real estate development project would have on the city's working class, especially by aggravating its gentrification and displacement crises. Facing a groundswell of local opposition, Amazon announced that it had canceled its plans for a new Queens campus on February 14, just three months after announcing its selection. While HQ2's optics and scale made it a legible enemy to rally against, Amazon's less splashy development projects have already become part of the fabric of many cities, including New York. Taking inventory of Amazon’s existing physical footprint in the city, one begins to perceive a shadow infrastructure at work which reshapes urban environments more through privatized logistics and information systems than through campus construction. In Manhattan, Amazon’s physical presence might best be recognized in retail. It was at the company’s 34th Street bookstore that protestors demonstrated on Cyber Monday following the HQ2 announcement. Indeed, like HQ2, the company’s retail stores serve as useful rallying points. But inside the same Midtown Manhattan building that hosts the bookstore sits a more explicit locus of Amazon’s presence: a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center for the company’s Prime Now delivery service. It might be helpful to state here what Amazon actually is: a logistics company misrepresented as a retail company misrepresented as a tech company. Over time, the types of products the company sells have expanded beyond books and bassinets into less obviously tangible commodities like data (via Amazon Web Services), labor (via Amazon Mechanical Turk), and “content” (via Twitch and Amazon Studios productions). Ultimately the company’s appeal isn’t so much in the stuff it provides but the efficiency with which it provides stuff. Computation is obviously an important part of running a logistics operation, but Amazon’s logistical ends are frequently obscured by the hype around its technical prowess. And while Amazon is increasingly in the game of making actual things, a lot of them are commodities that, in the long run, enable the movement of other commodities: Amazon Echos aren’t just nice speakers, they’re a means of streamlining the online shopping experience into verbal commands and gathering hundreds of thousands of data points. Producing award-winning films and TV shows gives the company a patina of cultural respectability, but streaming them on Amazon Prime gets more people on Amazon and, in theory, buying things using Amazon Prime accounts. Amazon’s logistical foundation is most blatantly visible in the company's nearly 900 warehouses located around the world. Currently, the company has one fulfillment center (FC) in New York City. The 855,000-square-foot site in Staten Island opened in fall 2018 and had already earned Amazon $18 million in tax credits from the state of New York before the HQ2 deal was announced. Additionally, a month before the HQ2 announcement, Amazon had also signed a ten-year lease for a new fulfillment center in Woodside, Queens. The same day that Amazon vice president Brian Huseman testified before the New York City Council about HQ2, Staten Island warehouse employees and organizers from the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced a plan to form a union at the Staten Island FC, citing exhausting and unsafe working conditions better optimized for warehouse robots than employees. These conditions are far from unique to Staten Island—stories about the grueling pace, unhealthy environment, and precarity of contract workers at fulfillment centers have been reported regularly as far back as 2011. And yet, when the Staten Island FC was first announced in 2017, a small handful of media outlets made note of this record. Unions and community leaders weren’t galvanized against the Staten island FC the way they were by HQ2 or the way they had been when Wal-Mart attempted to come to New York in 2011. In some ways, the HQ2 debacle gave new life and momentum to an organized labor challenge previously hidden in plain sight (or at least in the outer boroughs). Of course, Amazon’s logistics spaces aren’t solely confined to far-flung corners of the New York metro area: There are two Prime Now distribution hubs in New York, one in Brooklyn and the other at the previously mentioned Midtown Manhattan location. Same-day delivery service Prime Now originated from that Midtown warehouse in 2014 and spawned Amazon Flex, an app-based platform for freelance delivery drivers to distribute Prime Now packages. (Ironically, one of the reasons Amazon has been able to become so effectively entrenched in the city is because of this kind of contingent labor force—any car in New York City can become an Amazon Flex delivery vehicle, any apartment a Mechanical Turker workplace.) The art of logistics also depends in part on the art of marketing. To support that marketing endeavor, Amazon has a 40,000-square-foot photo studio in a former glass manufacturing plant in Williamsburg that produces tens of thousands of images for Amazon Fashion, the company's online apparel venture. The company's forays into fashion, while less publicized, may also position it to become one of the largest retailers of clothing in the world. New York is also home to 260 Amazon Lockers: pickup and package return sites for select products typically located in 7-Elevens and other bodega-like environments. Like Prime Now, the Lockers streamline and automate a process that would normally involve lines at the post office. First appearing in New York in 2011, the 6-foot-tall locker units can range between 6 and 15 feet wide, with the individual lockers in each unit capable of holding packages no larger than 19 x 12 x 14 inches (roughly larger than a shoebox). While early reports indicated that store owners received a small monthly stipend for hosting the lockers, the main sell for store owners is the possibility of luring in more foot traffic. But a 2013 Bloomberg article noted that smaller businesses were frustrated by the limited returns from installing the lockers and increased power bills (lockers use a digital passcode system, requiring electricity and connectivity). There is an irony in the fact that for almost a decade before the HQ2 debacle, small businesses have been ceding physical space to Amazon only to be stuck with monolithic storage spaces serving little direct benefit. Following its acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon installed Lockers in all of the supermarket’s locations in the city. Whole Foods was already associated with gentrification and had an anti-union CEO before the Amazon acquisition; if anything, Amazon upped the ante by attempting to bring Whole Foods more in line with Amazon’s logistics-first approach. Reports that Amazon has plans to open a new grocery chain suggest that early speculation about the Whole Foods acquisition was correct: Amazon wasn’t interested in Whole Foods in order to sell produce so much as to gain access to the grocery company’s rich trove of retail data, which Amazon could use to jump-start its own grocery operations. A data-driven approach has been at the core of Amazon’s logistics empire: The company was one of the first to use recommendation algorithms to show consumers other products they might also like, and Prime Now relies extensively on purchasing data to determine what items to stock in hub warehouses. It’s unsurprising, then, that the most profitable wing of Amazon’s empire is Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud computing platform. AWS’s physical footprint in New York City is relatively small, with a handful of data centers within city limits. Its most visible presence may be the AWS Loft in Soho, which opened in 2015, part of a small network of similar spots in San Francisco, Tokyo, Johannesburg, and Tel Aviv. Part coworking space for startups that use AWS and part training center for AWS products and services, the Loft inhabits a kind of in-between space between data services and marketing. The space is free for AWS users and is full of comfy seating and amenities like free coffee and snacks—ironic considering Amazon's reputation for being absent of the kinds of perks expected at tech companies. Belying its small spatial footprint, AWS is a major part of the city’s networked operations. The New York City Department of Transportation and the New York Public Library are both presented as model case studies of successful AWS customers, and AWS has signed contracts with multiple city agencies, including the Departments of Education and Sanitation and the City Council as far back as 2014. AWS is also a major vendor to municipal, state, and federal agencies—and, increasingly, has come under scrutiny for its multimillion-dollar contracts with data mining company Palantir Technologies, which works with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track and deport migrants, and for peddling its face recognition technology to police departments across the country. Some of the criticism of Amazon's campus deal with NYC came from New York City Council members, apparently unaware their office was paying Amazon for hosting web support. To be fair, New York City’s AWS contracts (including the City Council’s) are a fraction of the kind of revenue Amazon is vying for in federal defense contracts. And at this point, AWS is the industry standard upon which most of the internet runs. The situation reflects the depth to which Amazon has insinuated itself as a fundamental infrastructure provider. New York may have dodged a gentrification bullet with HQ2, but as with so much of Big Tech, Amazon’s impact on cities might look more like death by a thousand paper cuts. A new campus might be more visible than the hidden machinery of a city increasingly reliant on delivery-based services, but both impact local economies, residents, and living conditions. Amazon’s long-standing logistics regime also inspires an infinitude of Amazon-inspired niche delivery startups familiar to New Yorkers as a pastel monoscape of subway ads hawking mattresses, house cleaning services, and roommates, to name just a few, along with the precarious jobs that are their defining characteristic. There have been continued efforts in New York to challenge Amazon’s frictionless logistics regime since the HQ2 withdrawal. Pending City Council legislation banning cashless retail would affect far more businesses than just Amazon’s brick-and-mortar operations (which have automatic app-based checkout), but it would certainly stymie any expansion of its physical retail footprint. State Senator Jessica Ramos has joined labor leaders in calling for a fair union vote at the future Woodside fulfillment center. These sorts of initiatives are often more drawn out and less galvanizing than those to halt a major campus development. But they’re crucial to a larger strategy for making the tech-enabled systems of inequality in cities visible. In 2019, the premise that the digital and physical worlds are mysteriously separate realms has been effectively killed by the tech industry’s measurable impact on urban life, from real estate prices to energy consumption. Comprehending the full impact of companies like Amazon on cities and seeing beyond their efforts to obscure or embellish their presence (glamour shots of data centers, anyone?) requires a full examination of these infrastructures outside of the companies' preferred terms. By demanding public accountability, New York's elected officials and community groups may have demonstrated the beginnings of just how to do that.
Posts tagged with "Staten Island":
For the past six years, the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island in New York City has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of what would be one of the city’s greatest landmark attractions: the giant, 630-foot New York Wheel with views of the New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty, and New York City skyline. While over $400 million has been sunk into the project since its conception, little has been done to get the ball rolling. Construction has barely begun, and Mayor de Blasio recently signaled that it may not ever happen. The main problem is the cost. The New York City Economic Development Corporation reported that the estimated cost of the Wheel has skyrocketed from $250 million when the project was first proposed in 2012 to a devastating $999 million under the de Blasio administration. When the Wheel’s developer, New York Wheel LLC, asked the city for $140 million in support, de Blasio rejected their pleas, refusing to bail out the floundering project. His administration told New York 1 that the city government is “clear-eyed about the risks of putting public money into an expensive, speculative project.” The New York Wheel promised to transform the humble yet densely packed neighborhood of St. George into a world-class, waterfront destination. Aside from the Wheel itself, whose 36 spacious and climate-controlled pods would provide visitors with fine food, drink, and breathtaking views of the city, the site also comprises five acres of publically accessible grass space for events, a state-of-the-art children’s playground, and a terminal building with restaurants, shops, and boutiques. The project would have potentially revitalized Staten Island, a borough that has long been neglected by New York City tourists. Yet the government’s decision to oppose the funding of the New York Wheel comes after a surge of similar projects in cities like Berlin and Beijing that eventually failed due to a lack of support and income. “Despite many recent conversations with the Wheel developer, we remain convinced that public funds are too scare and valuable to be leveraged for this venture,” an official with the Economic Development Corporation told New York 1. Since the Wheel’s developer and former contractor, Mammoet-Starneth, hoped to rely on the city for financial provision, the two parties were forced to craft a new deal that would give the development team until January 7, 2019 to hire a new contractor and complete the project. According to Staten Island Advance, a hearing on a motion to approve the agreement has been set for September 21. Until then, the fate of the Wheel remains unknown.
Rice+Lipka Architects have completed a carriage house “campus” for the Staten Island Historical Society (SIHS), building three arched storage areas for the SIHS’s historical artifacts from corrugated steel. Faced with the task of housing the society’s 62 wooden carriages, Rice+Lipka created linear spans that would be able to house the society’s entire collection as well as space for restoration work and education events. Despite working with a budget of only $1.78 million, the firm was able to build out 10,000 square feet of enclosed space, and costs were kept low by using one structure for both support and the building’s skin. The three houses surround an open-air roundabout that carriages can use to get in and out of the wooded campus, and doubles as a staging area for fundraising events. The interiors of each house were designed for climate controlling the sensitive contents within. Instead of an active heating and cooling system that could run the risk of failing, Rice+Lipka lined the inside of each house with thick, tufted quilts that would keep a constant temperature and humidity, and slowly acclimate the carriages. Large overhead fans were installed to keep the atmosphere hospitable to visitors, and a mechanical exhaust removes hot air in the summer. Concrete would have stressed the carriages’ wheels, so flexible plywood panels were arranged in a staggered grid for the flooring. Outside, each carriage house was sealed with reflective, powder-coated aluminum panels at either end; one building in red, one in orange, and one in magenta, with a number of circular panels on each wall corresponding with the building’s number. The awnings above each colored end wall were extruded to create an additional 1,300 square feet of covered gathering spaces.
After delays of almost a year, Staten Island's giant Ferris wheel is finally back on track. Earlier this month, the aggrieved parties reached a deal in court that allows construction on the New York Wheel to move forward. The New York Wheel hired Holland's Mammoet-Starneth to design and engineer the 630-foot-tall North Shore amusement, which sits steps away from the ferry drop-off in St. George. According to the Staten Island Advance, the company left the job on May 26, 2017, and it filed for bankruptcy five months ago. The New York Wheel fired Mammoet-Starneth from the job soon after. The two entities started mediation in March, but they weren't able to come to an agreement in court—until now. Among its key provisions, the new agreement vacates the lawsuit between the two companies and lets the New York Wheel hire a new contractor to finish the job. It has selected American Bridge and ARUP, the construction company and the massive engineering firm, respectively. Per the agreement, the New York Wheel has until early September to scrounge up financing for the venture—and it can cut loose from the deal if it can't find the money. So far, the company has raised $400 million of the wheel's $580 million estimated cost from investors, but at this point the New York Wheel is mum on how much of that money has been spent. On the New York Wheel's website, S9 Architecture and Perkins Eastman are listed as the architects behind the project. The wheel is supposed to be a supposed to be a draw for New Yorkers and tourists alike, many of whom are predicted to descend upon the adjacent Empire Outlets, the city's first outlet mall. SHoP Architects is designing that complex, which is slated for completion this fall.
This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. On Sunday, Archtober toured Freshkills Park, a former New York City landfill on Staten Island redeveloped into a 2,200-acre green space. Our tour guide was Mariel Villeré, the Manager for Programs, Arts and Grants at Freshkills Park. She gave us insights into the park’s history, design, and construction. An NYC Parks minibus picked us up from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal for the 30-minute ride to the site. After signing our waivers and traveling some distance over sanitation department roads, we arrived at the Visitor Center. Here, Villeré delved into the history of the site and the project. Until the mid-20th century, Freshkills Park was a wetland. In 1948, Robert Moses chose this supposedly “useless” site to create a landfill, which by 1955 was the largest in the world. The waste was dumped into four huge mounds, North, South, East and West, which today form the basis of the park’s landscape. The waste dump, which all five boroughs used, was officially ordered to close in 1996, and the last barge of refuse was sent to Freshkills after the World Trade Center attack in 2001. (The boroughs now have separate contracts with outside landfills; Staten Island’s garbage, for example, is shipped to South Carolina). In 2001, the Freshkills Park Alliance and NYC Parks launched a competition for a site masterplan, which James Corner Field Operations won. Their plan proposed the four distinct areas of the park based on the garbage mounds, along with a central area, known as the Confluence. Our tour focused on North Park, which recreates and strengthens the site’s wetlands and creeks. The entire site is two-and-a-half times the size of Central Park. In North Park, we took in the stunning views over Staten Island to Manhattan on the north and the rest of Freshkills Park to the south. Villeré discussed the vision behind the park’s design, noting how they needed to balance the recreation of the former habitat with the understanding that the site’s ecology and meaning have been irrevocably changed by 50 years of trash. While the garbage is under several layers of topsoil, no attempt is made to downplay the typical mound shape of the landfill. This creates an ecological opportunity in the northeast, where the drive for reforestation sometimes sidelines open spaces and wetlands. The diversity of the park has increased dramatically over the last few years, with over 100 species of birds now counted at the site. Villeré outlined the manifold challenges of creating a park on top of a landfill. Landfills generate two byproducts: landfill gas and leachate. At Freshkills, landfill gas is funneled into treatment facilities where its components, methane and CO2, are separated. The methane is piped into the New York City gas grid. The other product, leachate, is the liquid that forms, on a small scale, at the bottom of a trash bag. At Freshkills, permeable pipes laid in concrete ditches at the bottom of each mound collect the leachate. It is then treated and separated into leachate cakes, a highly concentrated substance, and clean water. We also drove by a flare station, which is a backup in case there is an issue with the system piping methane into the grid. Since the site is so huge, the project is necessarily phased. These phases are arranged from the outside in order to give back to the surrounding community, which was negatively impacted by the dump. The timeline has therefore prioritized small, demonstrable projects along the park’s edges. So far, some wetland restoration, Owl Hollow soccer fields, the New Springville Greenway, and the renovation of Schmul Park have been completed. We got a view of Schmul Park in the Travis neighborhood just to the west of the park. The redesign of a Moses-era blacktop playground–also by James Corner Field Operations–is now vibrantly colorful, packed with children and families on the warm October day. It is a blueprint for the success of an extraordinary project that will transform not only an extraordinary site, but how we think about the relationship between waste and nature in New York and beyond.
Tomorrow elected officials are breaking ground on a Staten Island office building with a bocce court, giant rooftop farm, a nearby vineyard, and a social enterprise restaurant that will serve Italian food and donate all of its proceeds to charity. Developed by The Nicotra Group and designed by CetraRuddy, the eight-story structure is part of Staten Island's Teleport Campus in Bloomfield, not far from the Arthur Kill on the Island's west shore. Compared to the rest of New York City, "designing for Staten Island means there's more space to work with," said Eugene Flotteron, a partner at CetraRuddy and a borough native. Right now, there are two low-slung 1970s office buildings on the nine-acre campus, directly adjacent to the new structure, which will contain mostly office and medial facilities. Structually, there was room for the south side to slope sharply towards the ground, minimizing solar heat gain, and a north side that's angled more gradually up to draw in the rays. On the ground floor, a white overhang will shade the main walkway and line the building on four sides. Up above, a 40,000-square-foot rooftop garden will provide herbs and produce for the in-house restaurant, and grab-and-go greens from the rooftop will be for sale, too. Limited public transit options make ample surface parking a necessity, thought the structure is aiming for LEED Silver certification. CetraRuddy is collaborating with a local firm, Being Here Landscape Architecture & Environmental Design, on the rooftop and ground floor landscaping. The 336,000-square-foot office building's program reflects the developer's heritage as well as the heritage of more than a third of Staten Island residents with Italian ancestry. The restaurant, Pienza, Pizza, Pasta and Porchetta, is named for Pienza, a Tuscan town that The Nicotra Group founder Richard Nicotra and his wife visit every year. Among other amenities, visitors will have access to bocce courts outside and a vineyard that Nicotra is building with specialists from California's Napa Valley. While the design doesn't have a direct antecedent in Italian or Roman architecture, Flotteron said finishes and materials like the Italian marble in the double-height lobby, as well as a potential collaboration with an Italian curtain wall company, will reflect the country's influence. Foundation work is set to begin in the next few months, and the project should be complete in fall 2018.
Two New York City neighborhoods heavily affected by Hurricane Sandy received City Council go-ahead for two new (and very different) rezoning plans last Thursday, September 7. The first was the approval of Mayor Bill de Blasio administration's proposed rezoning of Far Rockaway, a historically under-served coastal neighborhood. This is the neighborhood's first rezoning since 1961. The plan committed around $288 million to commercial development, public amenities, schools, and affordable housing in the downtown area. This includes more than 1,000 affordable housing units, 250,000 square feet of commercial space to attract new businesses and jobs, the neighborhood's first new library since 1976, and its first new park since 1960, according to local City Council member Donovan Richards. Additional funds will renovate and build new parks as well as improve open space at the public housing complex. This development plan is the result of two years of community engagement. For Staten Island's East Shore, the City Council approved the creation of a new Special Coastal Risk District. This plan, a response to flood vulnerability, will buy out two swaths of land – including parts of the Oakwood Beach, Graham Beach, and Ocean Breeze neighborhoods – and tightly restrict future development. Any land re-use will be restricted to the creation of open space. The goal of creating the Coastal Risk District is to form a storm surge barrier between the coast and developed areas. Of the 10 neighborhoods identified by the Bloomberg administration for rezoning after Sandy, the Staten Island's East Shore is one of only three neighborhoods that has advanced to City Council with an actual proposal addressing flood risk. In the plan, homeowners in the two areas of the Coastal Risk District will be offered a voluntary buyout of their homes at pre-storm values, and those who choose not to participate will be very limited in how they rebuild their homes. Those in affected areas now face the question: continue on living in a designated flood zones under the new, restrictive ordinances, or move to a more secure inland location but lose their home? For many, this is not an easy choice, and voluntary retreat is disproportionately skewed to affect low- and middle-income households. As New York approaches the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and watches Houston and Miami begin the process of recovering from Harvey and Irma, it's clear that the need to build resilient cities is more urgent than ever.
This month, the Design Trust for Public Space and Staten Island Arts launching a new series of public arts projects, Future Culture, with the broader mission of connecting people to Staten Island's North Shore and heightening its role in greater New York as a cultural destination. Six finalist proposals for site-specific installations or programs will be surveyed in the exhibition, which opens on September 14. Two of those six proposals will be piloted. The first, a concert series called Court Yard Fridays, will include regular public concerts in the garden adjacent to the Richmond County Supreme Court building, bringing together musicians and listeners of diverse backgrounds. The second, Sonic Gates, will be a sequence of sound sculptures linking the St. George Ferry Terminal and the Clifton SIRR station—the installations will function as both wayfinders between the two points and pitstops encouraging exploration into the surrounding urban terrain from St. George to Stapletown. Other finalist ideas included sculptures highlighting the parallel between urban bird corridors and human arterials, bus stop installations celebrating Staten Island's biodiversity, and youth engagement workshops helping local schools rethink their connection to larger community developments. Design Trust for Public Space director Susan Chin said the exhibition aims to "jumpstart a dialogue among the Staten Island Community, developers, and public agencies to strengthen the network of cultural practitioners and to create inclusive and vibrant public spaces in the North Shore." For updates on more specific Future Culture programming running from late September through the end of November, check the Design Trust's website, linked here.
James Corner Field Operations' plans for Freshkills Park in Staten Island inched closer to fruition this week after New York City authorities awarded a $23 million contract to Lomma Construction Corporation to carry out the first phase. Occupying what was once the Fresh Kills Landfill site on Staten Island, the North Park will cover 21 acres and be open by 2020. In an email to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), a spokesperson for NYC Parks said that North Park had been identified as an area for simple recreational facilities, vast natural settings, meadows, wetlands, and creeks. "It is envisioned as a lightly programmed natural area connecting with Schmul Park in the Travis neighborhood, extending the rich habitat provided in the adjacent William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, and capitalizing on one of the quietest and most sheltered areas of Fresh Kills," they said. Inside visitors will be able to find an observation tower from which they can look over the Arthur Kill River and watch birdlife on the marshes. When complete, Freshkills Park will be 2,200 acres—almost three times bigger than Central Park, second only to Pelham Bay Park. It will be the largest park built in New York City since the 19th century. 450 of its acres will be wetland. The Phase One work will also mean that come 2020, the public will be able to use broad pathways, "secondary paths," a seven-acre seed farm, a forested plateau, a composting comfort station (i.e. a composting public bathroom), a picnic lawn, a waterfront overlook deck, a bird observation tower, and a bicycle repair station. A parking lot for 67 spaces will also be included. Some areas of the park are now open to the public, though only during certain times of the year. According to DNAInfo, two parks connected to Freshkills have already been completed: the Richmond Avenue greenway and one entrance to North Park, Schmul Park.
Authorities expect the whole of Freshkills Park to be fully open by 2036. More information can be found on the park's website, here.
The New York Wheel may be back on track. The giant Ferris wheel on Staten Island made news last month when it was revealed that wheel designers Mammoet-Starneth left the job after a pay dispute with the developer, New York Wheel LLC. Apparently, the firm is in "advanced negotiation" with another company to get the ball rolling (wheel turning?) again. To finish the project, the developer has partnered with the American Bridge Company, the same folks behind the new Tappan Zee Bridge, the Las Vegas High Roller observation wheel, and the Empire State Building, way back in the day. "As part of that transition, the cranes previously provided by Mammoet are not required and will be removed from the [project] site in order to make way for replacement equipment," said Cristyne Nicholas, spokesperson for the New York Wheel, in an emailed statement. She added that work on the terminal building is ongoing and that the New York Wheel will announce a new completion date "in the near future.” Stay tuned.
Update 7/18/17: This article originally misstated the name of the retail complex under construction on Staten Island. It is Empire Outlets, not Empire Stores. Update 7/19/17: This article originally named S9 as design architect and Perkins Eastman as architect-of-record for the New York Wheel. The two firms are associated architects on the project. It looks like plans for a giant Ferris wheel on Staten Island have ground to a halt. Court papers reveal the designers, Mammoet-Starneth, left the job in May after a pay dispute with the developer. Now, plans for the New York Wheel are on hold. The 630-foot-tall structure—slated to be the largest wheel in the Western Hemisphere—is in easy walking distance of the St. George Ferry terminal on Staten Island's north shore. The project, part of a $1.6 billion waterfront revitalization plan intended to lure tourists to the borough, is adjacent to the Staten Island Yankees (minor league baseball) stadium as well as Empire Outlets, a SHoP-designed retail complex that will be New York City's first outlet mall when it opens in 2018. New York firms Perkins Eastman and S9 Architecture are officially credited as associated architects on the project. The Ferris wheel was supposed to open this year, but court papers reveal a number of compromising problems for the $600 million project, the New York Post reports. The developer, New York Wheel, alleges the designers, who are based in the Netherlands, missed many deadlines and have breached their $165 million contract. The two sides agreed to a 30-day mediation period that began June 12, though a construction livestream on the S9's webpage shows no activity at the job site. Opening day, the Post says, has been moved to spring 2018. The complaint, filed in federal court in Manhattan, details a number of issues with the project on both sides. Costs have doubled from an initial estimate of $300 million, and all this money didn't stop city inspectors from noting poor welding on the wheel's main legs, a major defect that has pushed back the approvals timeline. The base pad that the Ferris wheel sits on is faulty, too, while the wheel and the pad are attached incorrectly. The developers say Starneth, the same firm behind the London Eye, didn't use a manufacturer for the wheel's legs from the Department of Building's approved list, leading to a delay in approvals. In turn, the designers claim New York Wheel provided a bad pad for their wheel.
The American Institute of Architects Brooklyn + Queens Design Awards (BQDA), which now works with AIA Staten Island and AIA Bronx, has announced the winners for its 2017 gala, the second edition of the awards. This year, the AIA chapters of Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, all collaborated for the awards. They're aiming to promote chapter members and affiliates by recognizing, as they said in a press release, "the best architecture and professionals that Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx can offer." A jury from AIA Long Island sifted through more than 100 entries, and after a month's worth of deliberation, allocated awards in 13 categories; each AIA Chapter also has its own award. 2017 Brooklyn Chapter Award Casa de Sombra Bade Stageberg Cox 2017 Queens Chapter Award Spire Lofts Zambrano Architectural Design
2017 BQDA Design of the Year Elmhurst Community Library Marpillero Pollak Architects Below, are the winners of the 13 categories: Residential (1-2 Family) BQDA Award of Excellence and People's Choice Winner Artist Residence, Brooklyn Lynch Eisinger Design Architects, LLP BQDA Award of Merit Prismatic Bay Townhouse, Brooklyn Peterson Rich Office, LLC