Posts tagged with "Union Square":

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Van Alen Institute’s spring festival focuses on getting around New York City

New York City subways and buses serve eight million riders per weekday. However, the transit system that many New Yorkers rely on encounters frequent delays and suspensions. As a response, New York-based Van Alen Institute will bring together city planners and participants to imagine new approaches towards seeing, navigating, and moving through the urban environment, with a series of events ranging from bus and bike tours to a flash design competition, from June 17 to June 23. The Van Alen-organized spring festival, "FLOW! Getting Around the Changing City" seeks to rethink the consequences of the 15-month-long L-train shutdown, among other transit issues in New York City. They will host “The Williamsburg Challenge,” where participants will test out what it’s like to travel from Union Square to Williamsburg without using the L train. The institute has also invited professional teams to propose creative solutions to solve the over-ground congestion created by the L train shutdown, in a one-night-only design competition. On June 20, AN’s very own Assistant Editor Jonathan Hilburg will moderate the talk, “Mind the Gap: Improving Urban Mobility through Science and Design." Participants include author Susan Magsamen, Perkins + Wills Associate Principal Gerald Tierney, Gehl Studio Associate Julia Day, and Multimer Strategy Associate Taylor Nakagawa. Other events include an East Village-to-Harlem bus tour led by sociologist and author Garnette Cadogan, a four-hour Brooklyn bicycle tour, a screening of the William Holly Whyte-produced The Social Life of Small Urban Space, and an interactive Urban Mobility Variety Show at Figment NYC featuring dance, music and other performances. Check out this link for a full schedule and tickets.
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New York City plans a tech incubator designed by Davis Brody Bond

The City of New York has unveiled its vision for a tech incubator, designed by Davis Brody Bond, in Manhattan's Union Square. The firm's scheme builds out the city's ambitions for its very own Silicon Alley. Developed in partnership with RAL Development Services, the Union Square Tech Hub also responds to a need for 21st-century office space: Much of New York's older office building stock provides inflexible or hard-to-retrofit layouts that are incompatible with tech industry demands. The hub will house a 36,500-square-foot jobs training and education center, and 58,000 square feet of workspace for new tech-focused enterprises, while Civic Hall, a member-based collaborative workspace that uses technology to benefit the public, will anchor the project. The announcement included buzzing endorsements from elected officials and project partners that verged on tech-babble. The hub will be a "nexus" for "innovation" and "cross-pollination" between startups in the "booming creative economy." In all, the project's expected to cost $250 million. "This new hub will be the front-door for tech in New York City," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a statement. "People searching for jobs, training or the resources to start a company will have a place to come to connect and get support. No other city in the nation has anything like it. It represents this City’s commitment to a strong and inclusive tech ecosystem.” The 258,000-square-foot development will replace the electronics store PC Richard & Sons on 14th Street between Third and Fourth avenues. To support fast-growing enterprises, the hub will offer shorter leases (6 months to five years) than a typical commercial office building. In turn, Civic Hall will partner with General Assembly, Per Scholas, the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education, Code to Work, FedCap, and Coalition for Queens to provide workforce development for city residents. For Davis Brody Bond, 2017's shaping up to be a banner year for development downtown. Late last year, New York University revealed the firm's vision for a 23-story housing and academic center on Mercer Street, designed in collaboration with KieranTimberlake.
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100 Fountains will revive New York City’s esteemed public drinking culture

Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Though New York has the some of the cleanest municipal tap water, New Yorkers now consume 1.25 billion bottles of water annually. A contributing factor to the rise in bottled water consumption is the decline in the number of public drinking fountains. New York–based Pilot Projects would like to revive the grand tradition of public bubblers through a novel design/build competition. Pilot Project's 100 Fountains competition, launched September of this year, will tap artists and designers to build 100 fountains citywide in 2016. Each participant receives $5,000 to develop his or her team's design. According to the project proposal, the competition area will be divided into 30–40 zones, with two or three fountains per zone. The public judging period starts June 2016 and runs through September 2016. The original fountains will be auctioned off for charity, and ten designs from the pool will be chosen and duplicated for permanent installation at to-be-determined locations citywide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFq8z96zbQQ In 2012, Pilot Projects hosted a campaign to raise awareness around the lack of drinking fountains. In the video above, passerbys in Union Square traipse over a red carpet to a (pre-existing, functioning) fountain operated by white-gloved servers. Per a 2007 zoning text amendment, the Department of City Planning (DCP) requires a fountain in every newly-built Privately Owned Public Space (POPS). The report suggests that, in lieu of vending machines offering sweetened beverages and bottled water, designers should incorporate public drinking fountains into the POPS. To justify their economic reason-for-being, 100 Fountains points to large-scale public art installations that overtook city streets in the late 1990s and 2000s: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, Olafur Eliasson's New York City Waterfalls, and CowParade. The economic impacts of these project were estimated in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. 100 Fountains also takes direct inspiration from the Minneapolis Arts Commission. The commission highlighted Minneapolis' connection to surrounding rivers and lakes by installing ten custom fountains to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary. Pilot Projects will partner with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department of Education, Office of the Arts and Special Projects, as well as Yale University’s Environmental Protection Clinic and Parsons The New School For Design to carry out the project. Expect to see fountains on the streets beginning June of next year.  
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AN’s own Susan Kramer appears in New York Times video on Union Square

In the latest installment of its by "Block by Block" video series, the New York Times explored Manhattan's thriving Union Square neighborhood. The video kicks off with AN's very own Susan Kramer, who is a long time resident of the area. Check out the video below to learn about Union Square's fascinating evolution, and to see what locals like Susan, and restauranteur Danny Meyer, have to say about living and working in one of New York's most bustling areas.
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New York City to remove 96 sites from landmark consideration

In an effort to supposedly streamline New York City’s landmarking process, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will drop 96 buildings and sites from consideration for historic preservation. These sites span all five boroughs and include Union Square, Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, and the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City (above). Of the nearly 96 sites (94 structures and two historic districts), 80 have been calendared for more than 20 years.“The buildings considered for this action were placed on the Commission's calendar, public hearings were held, and they currently remain inactive,” explained the LPC in a statement. While being calendared is kind of like landmarks limbo, it comes with significant protections. “Calendaring means that no demolition, construction, or alteration permits can be granted for a site without first notifying the LPC and allowing them up to forty days to designate the structure or negotiate a change or withdrawal of the permit applications,” explained Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), in a statement. The Society has called upon the LPC to drop its so-called "mass de-calendaring." Landmarks West!, a committee to promote historic preservation on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, has also slammed the LPC’s planned action, saying the commission is “essentially sentencing [the buildings and sites]to death by bulldozer.” The LPC contends that removing the sites will make the landmarks process smoother. "Cleaning up that backlog will ensure the LPC can much more effectively fulfill its mission of responding to the landmarking issues of today in real time," de Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell told DNAinfo. The Commission adds that this action would not stop it from reconsidering landmark status for any of these sites or buildings. After some pressure from DNAinfo and the Manhattan Borough President's office, the LPC has made the list of sites available to the public. The Commission will vote on its "administrative action," this upcoming Monday.
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Union Square Sukkahs Finally Revealed

They're currently in the works in a shop in Gowanus, and we'll have more pictures come Friday, after the in situ party Thursday night (see you there), but here, finally unveiled, are the dozen winning sukkahs from the first annual Sukkah City competition. We first revealed the impressive project, with the ambition of redefining this ancient Jewish structure, back in May, and last month we dug up the dirt on three of the winners, including preliminary plans for the homeless-sign-constructed Sukkah of Signs above. After the jump are a few more of our favorites, with all of the winners and entrants over on the competition's site. They'll be showing up in Union Square a few nights before Sukkot, on Sunday and Monday, with the winner of the People's Choice sukkah, currently being selected over at New York magazine, staying all week. So go on. Vote already. It's a mitzvah and'll do your bubbe proud.
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Sukkahs, Homeless Shelter Coming to Union Square

In less than a month, a dozen sukkahs will descend on Union Square, part of the first annual Sukkah City celebration, a modern take on an ancient Jewish structure/holiday thought up by writer Joshua Foer and Reboot founder Roger Bennett. We first revealed the project back in the spring, and now the winning sukkahs have been selected. We spoke with Foer about the entrants, the process, and the winners, a few of which we even managed to scare up (though the rest are being saved for a certain newspaper in another square uptown). Foer told us in the spring that he hoped to thoroughly investigate the complexity and variety found within the relatively strict confines of the sukkah, a ritual harvest structure. These include as that it be certain dimensions, made from organic material, and impermanent. Foer said he was blown away with the results.
We had over 600 entrants, so it was really a diverse set of answer to how this structure could be imagined. Some designers engaged with the idea of ephemerality. Some engaged directly with the idea of collective memory, a structure meant to provoke collective memory. Some engaged with the idea that the structure confront social justice issues. [...] Some of the structures were just little beautiful jewels that are just stunning little pavilions. The idea is that the 12 together will speak to the diversity of responses. It's not the 12 best sukkahs but the one best sukkah city.
The Gathering by Dale Suttle, So Sugita, and Ginna Nguyen. (Courtesy Sukkah City) The dozen winners are:
  • Kyle May and Scott Abrahams - New York, NY LOG
  • Dale Suttle, So Sugita, and Ginna Nguyen - New York, NY Gathering
  • SO-IL - Brooklyn, NY In Tension
  • Matter Practice - Brooklyn, NY Single Thread
  • THEVERYMANY - Brooklyn, NY P.YGROS.C / passive hygroscopic curls
  • Bittertang - Brooklyn, NY Bio Puff
  • Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan - Long Island City, NY Fractured Bubble
  • tinder, tinker - Sagle, ID Shim Sukkah
  • Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello - Oakland, CA Sukkah of the Signs
  • Volkan Alkanoglu - Los Angeles, CA Star Cocoon
  • Matthias Karch - Berlin, Germany Repetition meets Difference | Stability meets Volatileness
  • Peter Sagar - United Kingdom Time/Timeless
Even though the competition was open to Jews and gentiles alike, and there were entries from 43 countries, one can't help but wonder if therein lies the explanation for so many New York City firms—as Alvy Singer might say, we New Yorkers all a little Jewish. Of the three entries we've actually seen, Rael San Fratello's is probably the most interesting. The Suttle, Sugita, and Nguyen entry, Gathering, seems to fall into Foer's first category, of challenging the temporal nature of Sukkot, with a wooden structure that can take on countless shapes, never being the same twice, constantly shifting and relocating and redefining itself, like the Jews. THEVERYMANY's P.YGROS.C / passive hygroscopic curls seems to be a clear example of the jewels, a lustrous green gem, a challenge of formalism, to be marveled at from inside and out as it redefines itself around its environment. Yet it is Sukkah of Signs that is most audacious in its scope and, we imagine, shape, as it tackles ">tikkun olam. Rael and San Fratello have gone about collecting signs from homeless people in the Bay Area and, with the help of volunteers, from across the country, in what they're calling "The Homeless House Project." Somehow, they're going to repurpose these into a sukkah, a challenge we can't wait to see in action. Best of all, as Foer points out, "It's really great because they're basically transferring their award money to the homeless population," as each sign is gotten in exchange for a donation. As for construction, well, that's something Foer wonders about with a number of the winners. "They're all 100 percent kosher structures, designed in consultation with rabbis and structural engineers," he said. "A couple of winners, I'll be impressed if they can pull it off." Sukkah City arrives in Union Square September 19 and 20. Once designs are unveiled next month on the Sukkah City website, voting will commence for the "people's sukkah," which will remain in the square for all eight days of Sukkot. For the rest of the holiday, the remaining structures will be dispersed to sites across the city, extending the celebration far and wide.
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Only 18 More Shopping Days Until Shanghai!

Even Union Square, San Francisco's high-end shopping mecca, sports the occasional empty storefront these days. To beautify a few for the holidays, the Union Square Association brought in four architecture firms to work their magic, a pro bono effort that also "highlight(s) the vibrant creativity of local architecture firms in a whole new way," says the press release.  A delightful idea--but in execution, somewhat of a mixed bag, as you will see. Truest to the spirit of the assignment, Charles Bloszies'' window at 400 Post St.  (above) features the work of local FIDM students, who made couture out of shopping bags à la Project Runway.  A wooden plaque lists the posh stores that are still alive and kicking (or perhaps they donated bags?). On the other side of the square, at 393 Sutter St., fashion was also on the mind of FME Architecture + Design, which filled its storefront with a video of a runway show.  Not sure whose, though.  ( "Fashion" is the Twitter handle for ShoppingBlog.com, but maybe I didn't understand the instructions correctly?) One street south, Brand + Allen took over a space once occupied by Frette at 124 Geary, and spelled out the word "Pause" using a screen of cardboard tubes. There is a Chinese symbol behind the screen, to symbolize how Union Square is the gateway to Chinatown. Perhaps the subtext is: If the prices around here are too scary, take a deep breath and think of the affordable tchkotches just up the street. The furthest away from Union Square was Gensler's window at 101 Post St., which celebrates San Francisco's sister city of Shanghai--and Gensler's design of the Shanghai Tower. Nice building and all, but let's encourage people do to a little shopping, shall we?

MTA Doomsday Rally

Transportation Alternatives has planned a rally tomorrow to pressure Albany into rescuing the beleaguered MTA, a move supported by the Governor and Assembly but not yet, if ever, by the Senate. We can only hope the actual rally is as, uh, exciting as the video they produced to promote it. Stop by on your way to work and see if the dragons actually show up.