The fight to bring down an antiquated elevated highway in Syracuse, New York, is among the controversial issues being highlighted in the race for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. On Monday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., told The Post-Standard she supports the effort to replace a portion of Interstate 81 with a street-level grid—a position she’s never spoken out on before. “Given where the stakeholders are—and given what I have heard from the community in the last several years,” she said, “ I really think the community grid is the better approach to not only revitalization, but to support all members of our community.” For years, higher-level politicians have shied away from taking a stance on the decade-long debate to fix one of Syracuse’s greatest transportation issues. The 1.4-mile highway viaduct cuts through the heart of the city’s downtown, segregating the community physically and economically. As of last year, it reached the end of its functional lifespan and is no longer safe for the thousands of cars that traverse it each day. Syracuse-based community groups, university leaders, and local politicians have spoken out about the dire need to address I-81. Some have come out in favor of any of the three proposed options—an underground tunnel, street grid, or rebuilt overpass—while some have stayed quiet. So far, Gillibrand is the most influential person to state her opinion. Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Representative John Katko, R-Camillus, have declined to comment. “I disagree with the tunnel folks because I think you’re just going to have a bypass of downtown,” Gillibrand told The Post-Standard. “Unfortunately, when you don’t invest in a downtown long-term, your city becomes less attractive. If you create thoroughfares and routes to skip downtown, what you get is boarded up storefront and you get a hollowing out of cities.” It’s no coincidence Gillibrand is speaking out just weeks away from the Tuesday, November 6, election for her U.S. Senate seat. Her Republic challenger, Chele Farley, criticized her decision to pick a proposal. “I think it’s a little offensive for me to make a decision for Syracuse,” Farley said in a reactionary statement. “Let Syracuse decide, but then it’s my job to get the money and bring it back so the project could get funded quickly and it could happen.” Of all three options, the underground tunnel could prove the most expensive at $3.1 billion—another reason why Gillibrand doesn’t back it. A new elevated highway would be around $1.7 billion, while a boulevard, or community grid, would cost $1.3 billion. Most of the funds will be supplied through the federal government via President Trump’s recent infrastructure rule that places priority on interstate highway projects. But some worry Syracuse’s failure to unite on a decision will prevent the city from getting the money it needs on time. Gillibrand and Farley will face off in a televised debate this Thursday at 1:30 p.m. on WABC-TV. Whoever wins the Senate seat will take on the task of pushing the project forward based on the community’s final decision. The New York State Department of Transportation is now working on a new environmental impact study surveying the three options. It’s set to be published in January when a public commentary period will open.
Posts tagged with "Syracuse":
A small sliver of urban infrastructure has been both the bane and blessing of one city in Central New York for 60 years. Interstate 81, an 855-mile-long highway stretching from Tennessee to the U.S.–Canadian border, sliced through downtown Syracuse upon its completion, sparking generations of socioeconomic segregation. Today, the viaduct that hovers over Syracuse’s urban core has reached the end of its functional life, spurring residents and the state’s department of transportation (NYSDOT) to consider next steps for the consequential corridor and how reimagining the site might transform the city in dramatic ways. This isn’t a new transportation tale, but the decisions made in Syracuse could have a major impact on the health and wealth of its locals. For nearly a decade, conversations have centered around three options for the deteriorating viaduct: replace it with a new overpass, build an underground tunnel, or design a street grid that slows traffic through downtown Syracuse and thereby spurs development and a more walkable city. One grassroots group calling for the street grid is Rethink81. They’ve created a digital narrative that paints a clear picture of the city’s wrought history with the highway and what its future could look like. Renderings of the street grid site show new buildings, a green street, and a bike path that extends south on Almond Street in between downtown and University Hill. The street grid seems like the eco-friendliest and fiscally responsible option at $1.3 billion, but many are against it. The DOT estimates that a new elevated highway will cost $1.7 billion but take nearly ten years to complete. Some upstate members of the state legislature even favor the tunnel despite its hefty price tag of $3.6 billion, according to consulting firm WSP Global. The latest discussions—from Albany to Syracuse—center around whether the tunnel idea is still truly on the table. "It's the million dollar question," said Jason Evans, associate principal at Ashley McGraw Architects and member of ReThink81. "The tunnel seems like an excessive investment to make for what would essentially be a duplicate route for traffic to bypass downtown.” Both the tunnel and rebuilt viaduct would allow cars to zip through the city at the same rapid pace as they do today. But that’s just the problem, says Syracuse University architecture professor Lawrence Davis. The city’s biggest issues stem from the fact that hardly anyone lives, works, or plays in downtown. The mass exodus of white residents to the suburbs after World War II caused investment to be drawn away from downtown. To this day, the suburbs remain Syracuse’s wealthiest districts. “This is a vitally important thing to study because a lot of American cities are going through a similar thing and are taking a cost-benefit analysis of their infrastructure,” said Davis. “I’m arguing that the city of the future isn’t so much a concentric city but a multicentric city that’s built in the interest of everybody and provides a variety of neighborhood types.” When the viaduct was built, it cut off Syracuse’s lowest-income residents, members of the largely African American 15th Ward, from the new developments that have risen over the last several decades. This has contributed majorly to the city’s rising poverty rates. Ranked the 13th poorest city in the nation in 2016, it’s also one of the worst places for black Americans to live, according to data from 24/7 Wall Street last year. These stark realities date back to the decision made to build the highway in 1957. Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, Central New York chapter director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), helps educate the local community and university students on the multilayered segregation that’s resulted, and how this modern moment in Syracuse’s history could help end the physical and financial isolation so many people feel there. “A highway isn’t naturally discriminating against everybody, but it creates a number of issues,” he said. “The car has literally split the city and made parts of it less desirable for development. If you look at these constituencies and their effective income, they are living this way because nothing’s been done to provide equitable opportunities for housing choice, economic mobility, or inclusion. It’s caused generational poverty.” Abdul-Qadir and the NYCLU are putting together an expert team of lawyers, urban planners, and project councilors that will continue to fight on behalf of Syracuse’s underrepresented populations as the I-81 debate moves forward. “This isn’t just an urban movement or a policy movement,” he said. “It’s a human rights movement and we’re trying to build momentum.” As of July, the NYSDOT was working on a new environmental impact statement that details how the three options will affect the city. A draft is expected to be complete by early 2019, at which time the public will be able to weigh in with commentary.
Syracuse-based Architecture Office has completed a brightly-colored LED-lit restaurant in Minneapolis for the nonprofit All Square, a fancy grilled cheese restaurant–cum–civil rights social enterprise. All Square’s mission is both to end recidivism and help the formerly incarcerated move on with their lives. For the design of All Square—the name references both the sandwiches themselves and individuals who have completed prison sentences–Architecture Office took an open, airy approach. The 900-square-foot space is without dividing walls and was designed around a square motif. “Our goal was to give All Square’s mission a physical presence by inserting a few everyday elements, such as metal frames, mirrors, and neon lighting, alongside the existing materials in the space,” said Architecture Office founding partners Jonathan Louie and Nicole McIntosh in a press release. “These things work to partition, frame, and unify the interactions and encounters between people in the restaurant.” The color palette is a straightforward mix of whites, black, and gray, with a simple material palette that uses metal, wood, and mirrors to make the restaurant seem larger than it really is. The mirrors also, much like this summer’s Young Architects Program installation, frame patrons in unnatural ways and create new, previously impossible vantage points of the space. All Square’s defining feature, the bright neon-colored lights installed in square frames throughout, shines at night. Once switched on, the restaurant is bathed in pink, blue, and yellow lights that both add a pop of color to the space as well as an identity to each programmatic area. All Square had its grand opening on September 8 and can be found at 4047 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis.
2017 Best of Design Award for Temporary Installation: Living Picture Architect: T+E+A+M Location: Lake Forest, Illinois Living Picture wraps a playful array of lightweight aluminum frames with digital imagery on vinyl to produce an immersive outdoor theater on the grounds of the Ragdale Foundation. The project digitally re-creates elements from Howard Van Doren Shaw’s 1912 design for the original Ragdale estate: low limestone walls, columns topped with fruit baskets, and a lush landscape of trees and hedges that once formed the proscenium, wings, and backdrop. By reinserting images of these historic elements among the trees and buildings of the current Ragdale estate, the project blurs the boundaries between past and present, stage and proscenium, reality and artifice.
"This project translates some of the most forward-looking ideas about the post-internet and digital images and applies them to a larger scale environment. It is good to see people thinking about how we react to and perceive images (and architecture) in the 21st century."- Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, The Architect's Newspaper (juror)Structural Consultation: Brian McElhatten and Jorge Cobo, Arup Acoustical Consultation: Ryan Biziorek, David Etlinger, and Rosa Lin of Arup Fabrication Consultation: Shane Darwent Project Manager: Reid Mauti Project Manager: Tim McDonough Honorable Mention Project: Big Will and Friends Designer: Architecture Office Location: Syracuse, New York and Eindhoven, the Netherlands This installation redraws the popular Morris and Co. wallpaper “Thistle” (designed by John Henry Dearle) into an inhabitable visual environment. The designers suggest that wallpaper’s collapse of illusion and material are a problem where multiple forms of knowledge must meet. Live performances bridge the installation with its surroundings. Honorable Mention Project: Parallax Gap Architect: FreelandBuck Location: Washington D.C If most ceilings imply shelter, defining the limits of the room, others suggest the opposite: extension beyond concrete limits. This winning proposal for the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “ABOVE the Renwick” competition curates a historical catalog of notable American architectural styles and renders them through 21st-century technology and visual culture—a dose of trompe l’oeil.
The New York Power Authority and the New York State Canal Corporation launched a competition seeking ideas to shape the future of the New York State Canal System, a 524-mile network composed of the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and the Champlain Canal. Selected ideas will be awarded a total of $2.5 million toward their implementation. The New York State Canal System is one of the most transformative public works projects in American history. The entire system was listed as a National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2017 for its role in shaping the American economy and urban development. Despite its past success, vessel traffic on the Canal System has steadily declined over the last century. Deindustrialization and competition from rail, pipelines, roadways and the St. Lawrence Seaway, put the Canals at a disadvantage in transporting freight. Pleasure boating activity levels have likewise fallen and are today only half what they once were. In contrast to the decreasing maritime activity on the Canal System, recreational uses along it – from hiking and bicycling in spring, summer, and fall to cross-country skiing and ice fishing in winter – have grown in popularity. The 750-mile Empire State Trail, which will run from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, is expected to be completed in 2020. It will further enhance opportunities for recreation along portions of the Canal System. To date, however, much of the Canal System’s potential to stimulate tourism and economic activity in the communities along its corridor remains untapped. To address the challenges and opportunities facing the Canal System, the Competition seeks visionary ideas for physical infrastructure projects as well as programming initiatives that promote:
- the Canal System as a tourist destination and recreational asset
- sustainable economic development along the canals and beyond
- the heritage and historic values of the Canal System
- the long-term financial sustainability of the Canal System
Today, Syracuse University announced New York City-based SHoP Architects the winners of a six-month competition to design the new National Veterans Resource Complex (NVRC) on the school's campus. Programmatically, NVRC will include classroom spaces for veteran-focused programming, as well as a conference center and a roughly 1,000-seat auditorium, both of which can host community activities, lectures, and national events. Gallery spaces will exhibit the robust history of veteran support at the school. The NVRC will offer state-of-the-art vocational and educational programs designed to advance the economic success of the region’s and the nation’s veterans and military families, including research and programming connected to the veteran and military sectors. “The programmatic demands on this building, its historic symbolism for the University, and the gateway role it will play on the campus dictate a very high level of performance in its design—a building that is at once inviting to all and a specialized tool perfectly suited for the specific work that will take place there,” SHoP's William Sharples said in a statement. The NVRC is part of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council’s winning proposal titled Central New York: Rising from the Ground Up, which is part of Gov. Cuomo’s $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI). The facility will house the Syracuse University and Regional Student Veteran Resource Center, the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs “Vet-Success on Campus,” the National Center of Excellence for Veteran Business Ownership, Veteran Business Outreach Center and Accelerator, Syracuse University’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, and the University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). The committee included Chancellor Kent Syverud, J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor of veteran and military affairs, Andria Costello Staniec, associate provost for academic programs; Julia E. Czerniak, associate dean of the School of Architecture; Jared Grace, graduate student in the School of Architecture and Army ROTC cadet battalion commander, Breagin K. Riley, assistant professor of marketing in the Whitman School of Management, Peter Sala, vice president and chief campus facilities officer, and Michael A. Speaks, dean of the School of Architecture. The process was led by Martha Thorne, dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid. The NVRC is expected to be complete in the spring of 2019.
Blair Kamin convened a panel of designers at the Chicago Architecture Foundation last Wednesday for a discussion around themes explored in his recent series “Designed in Chicago, Made in China,” in which the Chicago Tribune architecture critic assessed the effects of that country’s rapid development on urbanism and design. “It’s often said that architecture is the inescapable art,” Kamin said to lead off the talk. “If that’s true then China’s urbanization is the inescapable story.” Joining Kamin were Jonathan D. Solomon, associate dean at the School of Architecture at Syracuse University; Thomas Hussey of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will; and Silas Chiow, SOM’s China director. The event was part of the Tribune's "Press Pass" series. If you haven’t read Kamin's series, you should. It examined contemporary Chinese cities and some U.S. designers thereof, giving special attention to trends in three categories: work, live, and play. Photographer John J. Kim illustrated with visuals. “In regards to street life and public space,” said SOM’s Hussey, “there can be a lack of an attitude towards it.” Long Chinese “megablocks” in Shanghai’s soaring Pudong district facilitate an urbanism not on the street, which few Americans would find walkable, but it has given rise to a kind of vertical urbanism within mixed-use towers and urban malls. Hussey pointed to SOM’s plan for a new financial district in the port area of Tianjin, China’s fourth largest city, which seeks to restore the street life present in Chinese cities before rapid modern development. And while Chinese cities are growing up, they’re also growing out. Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will reminded the audience that in the absence of property taxes, Chinese municipalities make money for new development by selling off land. That creates a ripple effect of rising property values and a pressure to sell that is devouring arable farmland. That trend’s not likely to slow down, said SOM’s Silas Chiow, since part of China’s national strategy to turn the largely manufacturing nation into a consumer country is to continue its rapid urbanization. That pressure helped produce China’s enviable mass transit systems and light rail connectivity, but also a homogeneity of design that some have called dehumanizing. Height limits, uniform standards for south-facing units and other design requirements that by themselves improve standard of living can breed sprawling, cookie-cutter developments that are easy to get lost in. Still, housing projects in China don’t carry the social stigma that they do in the U.S., commented a few panel members, in part because they’ve brought modern amenities to so many. Where China’s urbanization goes from here, however, is an open question. Images of smog-choked skylines remind some of Chicago in 1900, but the situation is not a perfect analogue. For one, the problem of carbon pollution is far more urgent now than it was then, and its sources far more potent. “Will China be the death of the urban world,” asked Kamin at the panel’s close, “or its savior?”
Ten Roads Whose Time Has Come: Congress for the New Urbanism Releases List of Freeways Ripe for Removal
The Congress for the New Urbanism has released their annual list of Freeways Without Futures. The organization selected the top 10 urban American (and one Canadian) highways most in need of removal. The final list was culled from nominations from more than 50 cities. Criteria for inclusion included age of the freeway, the potential that removal would have to positively effect the areas where the roadways are currently situated, and the amount of momentum to realize such removals. Additionally the CNU highlighted campaigns in Dallas, the Bronx, Pasadena, Buffalo, and Niagra Falls, that are taking significant steps towards removing freeways (some of which have been included in past lists) as illustrations of broader institutional and political shifts on urban infrastructural thinking. I-10/Claiborne Overpass - New Orleans The already aging Interstate 10 was heavily damaged in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. The Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) suggested that the removal of the elevated portion of the highway would allow for the reclamation of 35 to 40 city blocks and 20 to 25 blocks of open space. With the help of public engagement Livable Claiborne Communities outlined a plan for a similar removal that would improve living conditions in the neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of the expressway. I-81 - Syracuse This road, including an elevated portion that runs through downtown Syracuse, was built in the 60's. Advocates for the transformation of the most urban portion of the freeway could be replaced by a boulevard that would connect neighborhoods, inject economic activity into the area, and be cheaper to maintain. Numerous local politicians have spoken in favor of such a plan and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) co-led the I-81 Challenge to examine traffic patterns and alternatives to the current state of the highway. Gardiner Expressway - Toronto Unpopular with local citizens, the overworked Expressway requires more than $10 million annually in repairs. Recently, the City of Toronto and WATERFRONToronto finished work on the Gardiner Expressway & Lake Shore Boulevard Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment & Urban Design Study which will dictate the future of the portion of the Gardiner overlooking Lake Ontario. Route 5/Skyway - Buffalo The Skyway Bridge and Route 5 mar public views of the Buffalo River, diminish land values, and create a web of confusing traffic patterns predicated on inefficient one-way streets. The Department of Transportation rates the Skyway bridge as "fracture critical" while the Federal Highway Administration classifies the bridge as "functionally obsolete." It is likely to cost more than $50 million to maintain over the next two decades. Inner Loop - Rochester The Loop was built for the city Rochester once was, rather than the shrunken metropolis that stands today. For this reason much of the beltway carries traffic that could easily be carried by a urban avenue. Furthermore it constricts the downtown area, inhibiting development and isolating adjacent neighborhoods. In 2012 the city was awarded a USDOT TIGER grant to replace the eastern portion of the Loop with a two lane boulevard flanked by street parking. I-70 - St. Louis I-70 separates the city from the waterfront of the Mississippi River and Saarinen's iconic arch. Calls for bridging this divide by converting the expressway into an urban boulevard have been long simmering. Park Over The Highway is a $380 million project for a park and pedestrian and bike path that leaps I-70 in connecting the city to the area abutting the river. I-280 - San Francisco Meant to be part of a larger web of freeways that was ultimately halted by mid-century protests, the removal of this highway stub would increase the land values of the area by $80 million according to a report by Fourth and King Street Railyards. Replacing the strip with a urban boulevard would open the area for further redevelopment and allow for greater fluidity between neighborhoods. The city's Center for Architecture + Design has hosted a design competition for such a project. I-375 - Detroit This 1.06 mile strip served to divide portions of the city and contributed to the isolation and subsequent decay of once thriving black neighborhoods. Detroit's drop in population has lead to a 13% decrease in usage since 2009. In December of 2013, Detroit's Downtown Development Authority moved forward with alternative plans for the highway, with particular focus on converting the road into a more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. Terminal Island Freeway - Long Beach As it stands the freeway currently serves a mere 14,000 vehicles a day, numbers that could drop further if plans to expand the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility come to fruition, a development that would redirect significant freight traffic in the area. Local nonprofit urban design studio City Fabrick have spear-headed a movement to convert the road into a greenbelt that would act as a buffer between residential districts and industrial port infrastructure. In 2013 the plan was awarded a Caltrans grant. Aetna Viaduct - Hartford This 3/4 mile stretch of elevated expressway was completed in 1965. In running directly through downtown Hartford the Viaduct destroyed historic architecture, public spaces, and severed inter-community links once easily traversed by foot. Initially set for costly re-surfacing that would increase its lifespan by 20 years, new plans are being considered for the heavily-trafficked road. Hartford officials and Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) are currently considering plans to re-align nearby rail tracks that would open 15-20 acres of nearby land for redevelopment.
This Syracuse mural project, S.Alt City, was sent to AN over the summer just as we were preparing our live coverage of the Venice Biennale and went unreported in the paper. But the mural by Cheng and Snyder Architects is a smart project that deserves more attention than it has received. The mural depicts a local waterside salt barge that alludes back to Syracuse's industrial heritage but it also imbedded QR codes throughout the work. These QR codes are becoming more ubiquitous in the world of art making and were in fact used in the Russian pavilion at the recent Venice Biennale in a grandiose and very expensive installation in their pavilion. In Syracuse the young architects cleverly and cheaply utilized the QR codes to send smart phone viewers to links for contemporary arts organizations in the Syracuse region. The connection between the old industrial fabric of the city and the contemporary use of codes and cultural facilities and organizations to help bring the city back to its former livability and economic strength. It is exactly the type of "art" young architects should be engaged with today. The mural is in downtown Syracuse on a west facing wall of Lemp jewelers (on Fayette Street just west of Warren). The mural is permanent and was funded by a seed grant from the Syracuse University School of Architecture (one of Dean Mark Robbin's last initiatives before he left his deanship ) as well as a larger grant from the Connective Corridor.
OPEN: An Exhibition by Tsao & McKown Architects Slocum Gallery Syracuse University School of Architecture Syracuse, NY Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown aim to provide a critical context to seven projects in their OPEN exhibition, ranging from a lipstick tube to a prototypical community of 25,000 in China. The exhibition provides a theoretical framework with which to view the projects, with the inclusion of historical, cultural, and economic background research in addition to sketches and drawings that demonstrate the design process at work. Realizing the limitations of a gallery—that is, the impossibility of showing actual architecture, as well as a limited space to display information—Tsao and McKown decided to post the exhibition materials online and make the gallery a gathering space for students. In the center of the gallery, a raised platform with sides angled to provide backrest is lined with felt and populated with dozens of throw pillows (graffiti markers included). Films that have influenced Tsao and McKown are projected on a screen that runs along the back of the platform. With wall space freed up the team fill the gallery with images of their lives at work, from moonlighting on Vogue sets to work done before architecture school, allowing students to understand the details that inform and motivate their work.
The Syracuse School of Architecture launched the Ground Up housing competition with the express purpose of challenging the notion that green building had to be expensive. Selecting three homes for under $150,000 designed by Cook+Fox, ARO/Della Valle Bernheimer, and Onion Flats, the school and local non-profit Home HeadQuarters sought to investigate the limits of sustainable design while reviving Syracuse's rundown Near West Side. The project is nearing completion as detailed in a series of blog posts from the Post Standard (to which we were directed by our friends at ArchNewsNow). It's a thorough, thoughtful account of three pathbreaking homes and well worth checking out both as a fine example of bricks-and-mortar blogging and deft design.
It's been a busy week for Ray LaHood, our favorite Transportation Secretary. On Monday, he sat down with the Times' Green Inc. blog to discuss a range of topics, most notably his recent declaration (video above, shot from atop a table at the National Bike Summit) that cyclists and pedestrians would get equal time, money, and consideration on America's streets. The next day, a blog post, ostensibly by the secretary, featured an interesting study showing that a staggering amount of us—Americans, not just readers of this blog—want more and bet transit options. And this goes for the nation's waterways as well, all delivered through a more transparent DOT. And in an unusually unbureaucratic move, the department is even sharing some of its responsibilities, partnering with the EPA to set fuel efficiency standards. The week was capped off today in a sweep through New York to press drivers stop texting and stump for high-speed rail, one of his pet projects. And to think people were afraid he'd be reactionary just because he was a Republican Congressman. Revolutionary is more like it.