Posts tagged with "The New York Times":

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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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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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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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Buy This House!

The comparison shopping set up of the "What you get for..." column in the New York Times Real Estate section is often a stroke of editorial genius. This week's price point is an affordable $275,000, which gets you a charming frame bungalow in Nashville, a handsome one bedroom loft in Philadelphia, or this Midcentury Modern two bedroom in Madison, Wisconsin, designed by William Kaeser. According to the Times, the house is located in a residential neighborhood called Sunset Village about two miles from downtown and within walking distance of shops and restaurants. The house retains many of its original details, including mahogany paneled interiors, so the right buyer could turn it into a serene yet cozy modern hideaway.