Posts tagged with "The New York Times":

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MTA releases 10-year plan to improve subway and bus services

Within ten years, a modernized signal system on 6 subway lines and more than 180 new subway stations are among many new improvements to New York City’s public transportation promised by the MTA. In a package released by New York City Transit Chief Andy Byford and the MTA, called “Fast Forward: The Plan to Modernize New York City Transit,” (PDF) the transit provider also guarantees repair work at more than 300 stations, new subway cars and CBTC-modified car, a redesign of bus routes and a new tap-and-go fair payment system to be in place in the next decade. The improvements come with a cost. According to The New York Times, the groundbreaking proposal will cost more than $19 billion for the first five years. The plan will also entail closures, including continuous night and weekend closures for up to 2.5 years per line. Byford’s plan is thought to be ambitious, as work previously estimated to take 40 years would be completed within the next ten years. The two-stage proposal will benefit a cumulative eight million daily riders. The outdated transportation infrastructure has caused delays and frustration. The “state-of-the-art” communications-based train control (CBTC) is believed to deliver greater reliability and better prospects for future capacity growth. In the first five years, lines 4, 5, 6, 7, A, C, E, F, M, R, G will be upgraded with the advanced train control signal system; in the next five years, lines 1, 2, 3, B, D, S, N, Q, R, W too will be upgraded. The bus network will be reimagined across the five boroughs, promising customer focused routes, faster and more reliable travel times, and more comfortable and environmentally sustainable buses. However, the plan has an issue with funding. Amidst the quarrel between Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio on who should pay to rehabilitate the subway, a spokesperson for de Blasio told The New York Times that the city is not willing to help pay for Byford's plan. He advised that the MTA should instead resort to existing resources and the state should endorse new revenue sources such as the millionaire's tax that de Blasio has proposed.
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Christopher Gray, Streetscapes column writer, passes away

[Update, 5/1/2017] A memorial service for architecture writer and historian Christopher Gray, longtime author of the Streetscapes column in The New York Times, will be held on Thursday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the New York University Department of Art History, Urban Design and Architecture Studies, 300 Silver Center, 100 Washington Square East (entrance on Waverly Place.) Gray died on March 10 at the age of 66. The memorial is free and open to the public. Christopher Stewart Gray, an architectural historian and author who wrote the popular Streetscapes column in The New York Times, died on Friday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was 66. According to the Times, the cause of death was "pneumonia, complicated by an unspecified underlying illness." Between 1987 and 2014, Gray composed more than 1,450 columns, focusing on the architecture, history and preservation policies of New York City. He said his goal was to "write about the everyday buildings, to investigate even the most trivial, incidental, oddball structures." A review of his articles reveals the sorts of questions he would ask and the subjects he would examine, typically with a wry sense of humor: Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Gray received a bachelor’s degree in art history from Columbia University in 1975. He also studied at the New School for Social Research and Trinity College in Connecticut. He worked as a seaman, a cab driver, and a mailman. Before joining the Times, Gray wrote a column for Avenue magazine, followed by a column about American streets called “All the Best Places,” for House & Garden magazine. He also established the Office for Metropolitan History in 1975, an organization that provides research on the history of New York buildings. His work has received awards from the American Institute of Architects, Classical America, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy, among others. Though decidedly not a preservationist, his wit and cynicism led him to be revered by preservationists and those interested in New York City alike as something akin to the David Letterman of architectural history. After learning that he had been awarded the 2015 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Leadership Award by the New York Landmarks Conservancy and that the award ceremony would be held in the newly restored Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Brooklyn, he purchased a Henry VIII outfit in which to march down the aisle and seize his award. Gray was the author or co-author of half a dozen books, including a collection of his columns entitled New York Streetscapes: Tales of Manhattan’s Significant Buildings and Landmarks, and many other forwards, including one for Andrew Alpern's The Dakota: A History of the World's Best-Known Apartment Building. He generously vetted countless other books for historical accuracy, including John Freeman Gill's The Gargoyle Hunters. He contributed to a Streetscapes page on Facebook, for which he chose a Mystery Photo of a building every Tuesday and invited readers to identify it. Readers may have known something was amiss when no Mystery Photo ran last Tuesday. On his Facebook page in recent years, Gray continued to find stories others would completely miss. For instance, 102 West 81st Street, a 1981 luxury condo by architect Marvin Meltzer, notable for being opposite the American Museum of Natural History with a Pizzeria Uno on the ground floor, piqued his interest as a tortured amalgam of several buildings combined and altered “in a hard-to-call style—shall we call it Romantic-Brutalism,” where in the 1890s, the central building had been the center of the Upper West Side’s real estate development. “Platt & Marie, Samuel Colcord, Clarence True, Alonzo Kight, Charles Judson and others had offices there,” he noted. Gray evaluated every structure in its context, sometimes loftily: “For its time, [the 1981 building on West 81stStreet] was a rather classy, thoughtful operation. There is a certain Mallet-Stevens // Paris // 1930s about it, no? Or am I still just coming down from business class?" Upon speaking with the architect, Gray learned that practicality and not Mallet-Stevens/Parisian modernism was the inspiration. “In the course of some 1,450 weekly columns, Christopher authoritatively and wryly unearthed the forgotten history of New York’s cityscape for his legions of readers,” said Times staff writer and novelist John Freeman Gill. “He was also a great friend and teacher... He is irreplaceable.” “He will be remembered fondly for his ability to open up the world of history and preservation of NYC’s architectural heritage to a broad readership,” architectural historian John Kriskiewicz wrote on Facebook. According to the Times, Gray is survived by his wife Erin, whom he married in 1980; his son Peter Gray; his daughter Olivia Gray Konrath, and sisters Andrea Stillman and Adrienne Hines. In his biography for the newspaper, Gray noted that he felt it was important to write about more than the major landmarks. “To me, these did not capture the essence of the city,” he explained. “It was the little dead ends, the deserted loft districts, the old ethnic clubs—these were what were interesting.”
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A life in the shadows: Take a look at some of Manhattan's darkest and brightest streets

A comprehensive shadow study of Manhattan has been done by the New York Times. The analysis plots average shadows over the course of the year from every building in Manhattan shedding light (or rather shade) on New York's gloomiest and brightest streets. By hovering over areas of the map, one can find out how much a certain street spends its time in the shadows. This data is presented as a percentage of daylight hours and is split in three to account for different times of year: Summer, Winter, and Spring/Fall. The amount of time a particular area is shadowed is written as a unit of time. For example, the intersection of Broadway and Murray Street spends on average: Four hours and 35 minutes in shadow during the Summer (38 percent); two hours and 34 minutes in shadow during Fall/Spring (29 percent) and two hours and 47 minutes in shadow during the Winter (46 percent). This information changes pretty drastically at the slightest movement of your cursor due to the nature of shadowing. However, the most consistently shadowy areas on the Manhattan grid is the Financial District (FiDi). Much of its narrow streets were designed by the early Dutch settlers of "New Amsterdam," and thanks to the hefty clump of skyscrapers now in the vicinity, they seldom see natural light. One location in particular that this author spotted was Exchange Place. In this dark corner of FiDi, sunlight only gets through three percent of the time in Summer, while the narrow street lies in shadow for the whole of Spring, Fall, and Winter. How cheery. Today, as some may know, is the winter solstice. After rising in the southeast at 5:44 a.m. this morning, the sun will set in the southwest at the depressingly early time of 4:22 p.m. this afternoon. During the Summer months, this will change. Days will be longer, the sun will rise and set farther north, and most of Manhattan's shadows will be shorter. This is due to New York's longitude: by being closer to the North Pole, the city has access to more daylight during the Summer and less in the winter—hence the dramatic shadow interplay.

“One of the beauties of Manhattan, particularly in spring or fall, is that the grid is about 30 degrees off true North,” said New York–based architect and shadow consultant Michael Kwartler in the New York Times. “That means the intersections tend to be very bright because the sun is going diagonally across them at lunchtime.” Speaking of these intersections, Kwartler added that they “tend to be brighter than the streets in between, so it creates this really fabulous rhythm in Midtown of light-dark, light-dark.”

The study in detail can be found here. Those interested in learning about how density, FAR, and vertical development enables—or blocks—sunlight can explore this map from the Municipal Art Society.

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Pier 57 set to receive $225 million boost from PNC Bank

Pier 57, recently renamed the "SuperPier," has received a $225 million loan from PNC Bank, according to a source close to the Commercial Observer. The $350-million project by RXR Realty and partner Youngwoo & Associates is set restore this old shipping and bus terminal. 560,000 square-feet of mixed-used development will be the result. Seth Pinksy of RXR told the Commercial Observer that they were "still finalizing terms and agreements with all of the relevant parties." Around 480,000 square-feet has already been set aside for office blocks. Google has managed to secure 250,000 square-feet of that space when it signed a 15-year lease, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. So far, there's no word on who'll be Google's neighbors. A food market run by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain will occupy 100,000 square-feet. Speaking to The New York Times, Bourdain said the food hall will feel like "an Asian night market." In addition, 80,000 square-feet will make up the public park that will housed on top of the pier while promenades on which the public can walk will take up 34,000 square-feet of the structure.
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Scaffolding comes down at Los Angeles' Broad Museum, but the first impressions are mixed

Rarely has the removal of a building's scaffolding caused as much hubbub as when Diller Scofidio + Renfro's The Broad in Downtown Los Angeles removed its temporary covering on December 31, revealing its "Veil," composed of 2,500 fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels. Those panels, you may remember, are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit against fabricator Seele. Unfortunately for the museum, which will open this fall, much of the media reaction (admittedly not the best indicator of public opinion) has been lukewarm. The Los Angeles Times likened the veil to a cheese grater and called responses to it "less than ecstatic;" Curbed LA announced that the museum had revealed its "newly disappointing facade," emphasizing how much clunkier it looked than the elegant renderings; and LAist compared its indented "Oculus" to the "Eye of Sauron" from Lord of the Rings. Of course, minds could easily change once the museum is running and full of art (and people). Stay tuned. This thing has to open eventually, right? And so you get to see more than the flat, frontal view, here are some new angles, below.      
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NYC 2014: What if New York hosted the Super Bowl of winter sports?

As the Sochi Olympics commence amongst a slew of issues ranging in severity, the New York Times has imagined what the games might look like in a more local context. Perhaps inspired by the weather of late, these renderings imagine what particular locations throughout New York City might look like playing host to a variety of events. The typically circular speedskating track has been unfurled into a 16,400 foot angled sprint from Madison to Battery Park. The ramps of the ski jump stretch out across Bryant Park to loom over the Public Library. A track for bobsled, luge, and skeleton races snakes through Times Square, curving amongst the billboards before a final straightaway past the Lion King. Downhill requires perhaps the most monumental intervention, with Central Park hosting a 2.2 mile long mountain twice the height of the Empire State Building standing 20 blocks to the south. The replica of the course from the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center is slightly larger than the most recent snow-covered artificial mound to grace Manhattan. Head over to the Times for more.
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Series of Films Explore the Past of Future of the Ubiquitous Highrise

Highrise buildings are the most commonly built form of the last century. So says A Short History of the Highrise, an interactive documentary that is a co-production of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and the New York Times Op-Docs which has its premiere at the 2013 New York Film Festival and will launch on the website on October 5. It explores the 2,500-year global history of vertical living in four short films: Mud, Concrete, and Glass, which draws on the Times photo archives. The fourth, Home, is comprised of images submitted by the public. The films can be stopped at any time by swiping, pinching, pulling and tapping to dig deeper into the stories, see the backs of photos, and play games. Questions like who gets to live on the top floor and why (in Roman times, upper floors were the least desirable) are asked in rhyme: “Were these vertical experiments there for elites? Or to warehouse the poor away from the streets?” We climb the Tower of Babel, the Hakka round houses of Fujian province, and medieval Yemenese Manhattan-like mud towers before arriving at New York’s luxury-serviced Osborne, London Terrace, and Dakota built simultaneously to the multi-story tenements of the Lower East Side. All are shown in still images cleverly animated: buildings grow up, skaters glide, women wink, lights turn on, and the text is read by well-known Canadian musicians Feist and Cold Specks, as well as the series director, writer and editor Katerina Cizek. The result is a delightful, visually stunning exploration that is seemingly simple, but actually stretches both the conventional documentary form and how we depict space. This endeavor is the latest of a multi-year multi-format project of the NFB called Highrise. They have harnessed the tools of the digital revolution and fused them with tools of the social sciences, architecture, and design. Cizek has been working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenDocLab as an MIT Visiting Artist, and with York University’s CITY Institute. The results thus far have been a series of web documentaries that tell tales “story by storey.” World of Highrises goes from the macro to the micro--Google Streetview aerials of countries, zooming into cities, and then specific highrises accompanied by a Wikipedia entry. We are encouraged to add to the roster. Living Proof shows that downtrodden highrise renewal is not a pipe dream. Examples of successful revitalization projects around the world are shown, narrated by architect Graeme Stewart who argues that it’s not the buildings themselves that are the problem so much as the system around the building. Cited are Hansaviertel in Berlin where a ground floor apartment was transformed into a cafe with terrace, and the facade brightened with an awning and paint. 1- CHOICE 1_NYThighrise The first documentary produced, Out My Window: The Towers in the World, the World in the Towers is comprised of interactive “Views from the Global Highrise.” Called a 360-degree documentary, it uses Yellowbird multi-lens panoramic video technology to look at the “concrete-slab residential highrise buildings that are the most commonly built form of the last century. On the outside, they all look the same. But inside these towers of concrete and glass, people create community, art and meaning.” More than 90 minutes of material features 49 stories from 13 cities, “not the Parises, Londons, Tokyos” but the mid-sized cities -- Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Sao Paolo, Havana, Amsterdam, Prague, Istanbul, Beirut, Bangalore, Phnom Penh, Tainan, Johannesburg -- in 13 languages told in fragmented, non-linear fashion from the destruction of Cabrini Green in Chicago to the fallout of the Velvet Revolution in Prague, all from from very personal points of view. “One Highrise, every window a different city.” One Millionth Tower is an interactive open-source documentary which reimagines what rundown highrises can be. Many of these concrete blocks are falling apart, and considered failures. Some are torn down, some renovated, but most left to decay. In Toronto there are 2,000 such high-rise towers. In this video, a cluster of suburban Toronto towers (19 towers with 19,000 inhabitants) are matched with architects and animators. Together they envision a market, a garden, a playground in dis- or un-used spaces. On this video journey, we travel through a virtual space online in a 3D experience using HTML5, flying over a gridded ground, rather than viewing a straightforward 2D film. Utilizing Popcorn, created by the open-source web browser Firefox’s parent, Mozilla, allowed the team to add interactivity to video by linking it with social media, news feeds, and data visualizations. What you see is a series of stills accompanied by recorded conversations that are overlaid with what is re-imagined in drawings and animation. We come to understand the grim reality of the place, and the possibilities of changing that space with simple interventions--an abandoned tennis court becomes a performance arena with shallow stairs, a ravine becomes a stepped garden, a parking lot becomes a farmer’s market. Animators overlaid trees, a basketball court, bright colors, dancers, skaters, and a meditative garden. They tried to “make a photo come alive, to say `this space is alive.’ .... to slowly build the characters ... breathing and moving” transitioning from daytime to nighttime. In fact, one of these dreams actually came to pass: the Toronto residents built their own new playground. After all the brainstorming for the documetary, they applied for a grant (it took 10 days to complete the proposal) which was awarded. 90 residents together with outside help, performed the labor. In a shot from One Millionth Tower, a resident blows animated “seeds” from her hand which float across the “garden,” alight, and take root, a harbinger of the new growth that followed. 2 -NYThighrise2
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Ratner Ready to Sell Majority of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards to an Investor

It has been a bumpy road for Brooklyn's controversial Atlantic Yards development. The ten-year project-in-the-making is in the news yet again. According to the New York Times, 50 to 80 percent of Atlantic Yards is now up for grabs. Developer Bruce C. Ratner, chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies is on the hunt for an investor to buy the lion's share of the development for a hefty sum of up to $800 million. Forest City would still hold the reigns over the future development of the project. The plan for this swathe of land in the downtown Brooklyn vicinity would include 14 residential buildings and 6,000 apartments of which thirty percent are committed to moderate- and low-income housing. One motivation behind this sale is to accelerate the construction process, which has experienced delays. Development watchdog site, Atlantic Yards Report, stated in response this announcement and the Times article: "Real estate analysts speculate that Mr. Ratner’s company could reap as much as $800 million from the sale of 50 to 80 percent of the remaining project. Well, that's an estimate, but if Forest City has invested about $500 million in cash, as the company said in June, that looks like a rather significant profit. So that's a pretty generous headline—'enhance Atlantic Yards'—as opposed to 'cash out/make profit.'"
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Times' Take on Topping Four World Trade

At a panel discussion on architecture journalism held at the Center for Architecture last month, the New York Post's Steve Cuozzo griped that The New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman had yet to weigh in on the 9/11 Memorial. Indeed, even the Times's go-to architecture reporter Robin Pogrebin had to concur. She noted that she too had raised the question. Nevertheless, World Trade Center reporting—let alone criticism—can be a full time job. Although Pogrebin continues to report on the cultural venues slated for the site, the architectural aspects of the project have been the province of David Dunlap from the get-go. With the topping of Four World Trade today at 977 feet, Dunlap once again provides a highly detailed report, as he did two weeks ago in his analysis of the grossly altered designs of One World Trade. Standing in the shadow of One World Trade, Dunlap notes that architects Fumihiko Maki and Osamu Sassa have no problem with his building being labeled "the biggest skyscraper New Yorkers have never heard of." "Subtlety extends one’s appreciation," Sassa told the Times. Kimmelman, meanwhile, has made a trip to the area, but to review a glass canopy, "in the shadow of One World Trade Center no less."
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New York Urbanism Times

Today's New York Times is packed with urbanism stories, with three articles and two Op-ed pieces that made it to print. First, there's Speaker Christine Quinn's exemption for Related Properties' Hudson Yards project from the Living Wage bill. Then there are rumblings from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office that he isn't pleased that NYU "seems to be backpedaling" on their 2.2 million square foot proposal. A source says the university may be able to get by on 1.5 million square feet.  “When you propose a plan you know will overwhelm the existing community, you lose credibility with architects, planners and land-use experts, and you lose the heart and soul of a community,” the BP told the paper. But wait there's more... There's  a stunning rebuke of gated communities by Rich Bengjamin in the Op-ed. This was followed by Jessica Bruder's concern that Burning Man, the overnight city that rises in the Nevada each year, "is building its own kind of caste system" with scalpers charging more than $1000 for tickets. Back in the New York section there is an article about the so-called Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue. Through mid-block crosswalks, speed bumps, and stop signs, the DOT is planning to better connect a series of privately owned public spaces, known as POPS, between Sixth and Seventh Avenue, from 51st to 57th Streets. But the article opens with a swipe at DOT bike lanes: "First came the bike lanes, creeping like overgrown ivy across the city streetscape." The idea for defining passages was first presented to CB5 about a year ago by the Friends of the Privately Owned Public Space (F-POPS). The group proposed naming the passageway Holly Whyte Way, after the great New York urbanist William "Holly" Whyte. Loeb fellow and Streetsblog founder Aaron Naparstek found the Times lede a tad off. "It's a little bit disappointing to see the New York Times metro desk framing yet another public space improvement as a tabloidy 'bikelash' story while completely failing to make any mention of Holly Whyte, the man," he said in an email. Architect and F-POPS president Brian Nesin said seeing connections defined remains the main focus, but "his work helped change the zoning to really improve pubic space in the city and we all benefit from that."    
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Quick Clicks> Decaying Cities, Gallery Restaurant, Green Upgrades

Urban decay. Gizmodo’s urban photography competition last week yielded beautiful, haunting images of decaying architecture, infrastructure, and other city spaces taken over by nature. More info on the grand winner and a photo gallery here. Lunch as art. As part of the exhibition Time/Bank: Time/Food at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City is hosting a temporary restaurant, where artists will prepare home-style meals for gallery visitors, reported e-flux. Part of the Time/Bank program, participants are awarded credit in exchange for skills and time. Greener buildings. Barclays and Lockheed Martin intend to invest up to $650 million in green upgrades for Sacramento and Miami buildings, utilizing a tax loophole that enables property owners to upgrade structures at no preliminary cost. The New York Times has more.
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Kimmelman Bags NY Times Archi-Critic Post

An internal New York Times email, acquired by AN today, announced that Michael Kimmelman would start this fall as the New York Times’ new chief architecture critic. Citing Kimmelman as “one of the paper’s great writers”, Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor, wrote how Kimmelman started at the paper of record as a music critic and “swiftly morphed into an art critic.” And now after four years as a foreign correspondent, he will fill out his all-purpose critic portfolio as architecture critic. In the same memo, Kimmelman is quoted describing his abiding interest “in how we live, in how buildings actually work, in city planning, public policy, neighborhoods, communities and characters”—intriguingly local interests not on best display in his magazine marquee profiles of Oscar Niemeyer, Shigeru Ban, and most recently Peter Zumthor. Meanwhile in an Architectural Record web story, “Vote: Who will Replace Nicolai Ourossoff?” put up on June 17, the top choice of 12 was Chicago Trib’s Blair Kamin with 79 out of 685 votes. A close 2nd Place went to LA Times’ Christopher Hawthorne with 76; with third (69) and fourth (66) going to Atlantic Monthly’s Witold Rybczynski and AN’s Julie Iovine. In Arc Rec’s vote, Kimmelman attracted the fewest votes, 18, in a slightly eerie confirmation that what architects and what the paper of record think are very different.  But that is hardly new news.