Posts tagged with "Vishaan Chakrabarti":

PAU confirmed as Sunnyside Yard master planner

Alicia Glen, New York’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, and Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia, announced at a media briefing yesterday that master planning for Sunnyside Yard in western Queens would begin summer of 2018. A steering committee made up of local stakeholders and technical experts will be guiding the process, while Vishaan Chakrabarti’s PAU will be leading the master planning team (confirming a leak from late March). PAU’s team and the steering committee will utilize the results of the feasibility study commissioned in February of 2017 as a starting point in planning for the future of the 180-acre active rail yard. Over the next 18 months, the steering committee and planning team will establish long-term plans for how to best develop the site, and what the most feasible first steps will be. Regular check-ins with the community will also be scheduled, as the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Amtrak want to keep the process forward-facing. Co-chaired by the city and Amtrak, the 35-person steering committee includes several members of Sunnyside’s Community Board 2; President of the Regional Plan Association Tom Wright; President of LaGuardia Community College Gail Meadow; and representatives from developers, construction associations, Amtrak, NYCHA, and other groups with a vested interest in the project. Also of note was the appointment of Cali Williams, a long time NYCEDC employee as the Director of Sunnyside Yard. Any of the resulting plans will involve decking over an extensive portion of the rail yard while keeping it running for the Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New Jersey Transit trains running below. To that end, the actual master plan consultant team is something a who's-who of New York firms. Thornton Tomasetti will be handling the structural engineering, Sam Schwartz Engineering will be responsible for the mobility planning and engineering, and Nelson Byrd Woltz has been tapped as the landscape architect. The Italian firm Carlo Ratti Associati has also been selected as the project’s “futurist”, to help guide expand the team’s thinking about what’s possible. The initial NYCEDC feasibility study determined that decking over 80 to 85 percent of the site was possible, with the potential to build out up to 24,000 residential units, 19 schools, and 52 acres of parkland, at a cost of $19 billion. While monetary considerations weren’t raised explicitly at the May 2nd meeting, it was pointed out that this project would be a significant investment to Western Queens. Right now, the steering committee will be dedicated first and foremost to deciding how to advance what the community wants most out of the development. The steering committee’s formation comes at a critical time for the yard, as the MTA will also be working at the site to bring the East Side Access project online (allowing LIRR trains to reach Grand Central). Governor Cuomo has promised that that particular project will be ready by 2022.

Vishaan Chakrabarti and PAU reportedly tapped for Sunnyside Yard master plan

A team headed by Vishaan Chakrabarti has been chosen by the de Blasio administration to create a master plan for Western Queens’ Sunnyside Yard rail pit, according to Crain’s New York. While nothing has been officially announced, Chakrabarti and his firm, Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) will be responsible for envisioning how to deck over the 180-acre yard and support parks, retail, commercial, and thousands of residential units. The idea to deck over the still actively-in-use train yard with housing has been kicking around since 2015, when Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a feasibility study from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Released in February of 2017, the report found that it would be feasible to deck over anywhere from 80 to 85 percent of the site, and up to 24,000 residential units could be built for around $19 billion (about the cost of Hudson Yards). Each of the three schemes in the feasibility report offsets the mixture of residential units with space for cultural centers, schools, retail, and office space, though it’s unclear what PAU will focus on. Sunnyside Yard, which is so large that it stretches across the triangle of Astoria-Long Island City-Sunnyside neighborhoods, is still in active use by Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, and any plan would need to allow for its continued use. Because of the difficulty involved in building over an active train yard, the master plan will help inform Amtrak’s decision to upgrade its facilities in the future. PAU’s selection comes on the heels of a Request For Qualifications released by the NYCEDC in September of last year, though neither party were willing to confirm the choice to Crain’s. Assuming the report's sources were correct, PAU will draw up a vision for the rail yard and create a specific development plan for the megaproject, a process city officials estimate could take up to two years. “We remain on track with the original schedule for this project,” a spokesman for the NYCEDC told Crain’s. “We continue to work closely with Amtrak, and we will also engage community stakeholders before beginning any master-planning process.”

PAU’s revised Domino Sugar Factory proposal passes Landmarks scrutiny

After an unsuccessful first attempt before the Landmarks and Preservation Commission (LPC), Vishaan Chakrabarti’s Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) and developer Two Trees Management Co. have received the go-ahead for their plans to convert the former Domino Sugar Factory into office space. PAU’s design will nest an entirely new glass building inside of the factory’s brick shell, without actually touching the façade save for support beams. Slotting into the SHoP-designed masterplan for the former Domino Sugar site on the Williamsburg waterfront, the design from PAU attempts to bridge the gap between the project’s industrial roots and the five new buildings going up in the neighboring area. By pulling the top of the original factory off, the barrel-vaulted glass roof of the new 400,000-square-foot building can rise higher than the original structure itself, but not as high as the smokestack facing Kent Avenue. Part of the deciding factor is the way in which Chakrabarti and PAU paid homage to the detailing and wear in the original brick through the mullion patterning on the glass structure. It seems the board overcame the trepidation they had the with the scheme the first time around, when commissioners questioned the necessity of converting the original building to an encasing “ruin” in order to save it. The 10-to-12-foot wide “breezeway” between the factory and new office building will remain intact under the new plan presented. David Lombino, Managing Director of Two Trees Management Co., released a statement after the vote for approval. “Thank you to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for engaging in a productive and thoughtful review and for supporting this exciting new approach to making the Refinery building the centerpiece of the Domino redevelopment,” he said. “The new plan is better for everyone. It honors and highlights the landmark; it provides a flexible, modern and totally unique office experience; and it welcomes the public to enjoy this great piece of New York’s history.” Although there was only one “no” vote for the new proposal, the height of the glass barrel-vault was called out as it dwarfs the surrounding brickwork. PAU may still tweak the design as the project moves forward.

Preservation group launches ad campaign to rebuild the old Penn Station

Only a few days before New York City’s Penn Station fills to capacity with Thanksgiving commuters, preservation group Rebuild Penn Station has begun an ad campaign that they hope will build popular support for their plan to reconstruct the original McKim, Mead & White station demolished in 1964. While their proposal is already ambitious in scope, it butts up directly against the $1.6 billion, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed redevelopment that Governor Cuomo unveiled in July. Rebuild Penn Station, a project of the National Civic Art Society, has plastered posters on trains arriving to Penn Station from New Jersey, and has been handing out fliers to Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road commuters there since Monday. Filled with renderings of a “new old” Penn Station, the leaflets offer glimpses of “civilized arrivals” and “the station we deserve”. The group’s $3 to $3.5 billion plan would relocate Madison Square Garden, an action deemed prohibitively expensive by the governor’s office, and faithfully re-create the original Penn Station using modern construction techniques. “[…] Modern panelization technology will allow the station to be built with just one-fifth of the original stone,” according to the frequently asked questions section on Rebuild Penn Station’s website. A complicating factor in this grand vision is that work on SOM’s renovation broke ground earlier this August. Instead of moving Madison Square Garden, the James A. Farley Building on 34th Street and Eighth Avenue also designed by McKim, Mead & White, will be converted from a former post office into a transit hub and extension of Penn Station. The Farley Building’s new Moynihan Train Hall will add retail, restaurants, and nine platforms with 17 tracks. A 92-foot-high skylight will also be built over the Farley Building’s exposed steel trusses, echoing the cavernous glass ceiling of the original Penn Station. Still, Rebuild Penn Station feels that these changes aren’t going far enough. “Today Penn Station is an ugly, cramped, and ineffective transit facility that is an embarrassment to the city and indeed all Americans,” said Sam Turvey, chair of the Rebuild Penn Station Steering Committee. “We propose rebuilding the station to bring back an architectural masterpiece, while simultaneously improving and updating the station’s functionality.” This isn’t the first time an alternative proposal for a new Penn Station has been floated. Last year, the New York Times commissioned Vishaan Chakrabarti to further detail his plan to reclad Madison Square Garden in double-paned glass, creating a multi-level atrium over the station. However, this still remains a proposal. The new Moynihan Hall is on track for completion in 2020.

Landmarks sends PAU’s Domino Sugar Refinery design back for revisions

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has asked PAU to take its plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery back to the drawing board. While reactions from the public and commissioners were warm on the whole, commissioners debated whether the building, which has sat vacant for more than a decade, is a ruin or "armature" as Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) claimed, or whether the structure could—or should—be treated like an adaptable building. Essentially, PAU intended to use the facade as a mask for a glass office building. Instead of sitting right up against the old brick, the new building would be set back ten feet from the old, and workers could get outside and up close to the original walls via metal latticework terraces poking through the glass envelope. The approach, explained founding principal Vishaan Chakrabarti, would preserve the bricks by equalizing the temperature and humidity on both sides while allowing the architects flexibility within a challenging original structure. A round arched glass roof would dialogue with the American Round Arch windows that define the facade, while on the ground floor, the designers proposed a through-access from the Kent Avenue smokestack to the park and water that would would be open to the public. "We are guardians of the future of the past, and our central question is whether, through the restoration, the old can give new identity to the new," he said. PAU's approach is similar to a Beyer Blinder Belle proposal the LPC approved in 2014, a fact that Chakrabarti and developer Two Trees underscored in cross-comparisons throughout the presentation (PDF). The firm also drew inspiration from Norman Foster's renovation of the Reichstag, in Berlin, and to St. Ann's Warehouse, Marvel Architects' theater complex in an industrial ruin on the DUMBO waterfront. Purpose-built 19th century factories are often difficult to adapt for non-manufacturing uses, and the Domino refinery is no different. The part of the refinery under consideration today accommodated massive machines that boiled, filtered, and reconstituted sugar; the windows give the structure monumental panache from the outside but bear no relationship to the interior program. Consequently, the architects decided to give the new, 400,000-square-foot building within the old the same floor-to-floor heights throughout, allowing access to windows of uneven height on the terraces. From the outside, the mullion pattern on the barrel-vaulted glass roof would reflect the gradation of the bricks on the weathered smokestack, a nod to the old within the new. (The bricks, a project engineer confirmed, are in "generally good" condition.) Though PAU hasn't selected the glass yet, Chakrabarti indicated it would be as "clear as possible," noting that the firm is considering electrochromic glass for the roof. When he broke the news of the Domino plans last month, New York Magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson called the 19th-century structure a ruin. PAU maintains the factory is a "donut awaiting filling." But Landmarks wasn't so sure. "As an architect, I really like the aesthetic," said Commissioner Michael Goldblum. "To my recollection, this is the first time a building that is and was understood as an occupied volume is being transformed into an unoccupied ruin or 'armature,' to be read as an independent object from the [proposed] structure." "I'm not saying it's inappropriate, but I'm struggling," he added. On the public side, two neighborhood nonprofits supported the design, while the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) asked the commission to work with PAU and Two Trees on the specifics of the proposal, particularly the windows and desired patina. It suggested a public exhibition on the refinery to prevent the building from being understood as "just a ruin." Preservation advocacy group the Historic Districts Council, however, was not on board with the proposal at all. "[To] strip the building down to a shell would represent a significant removal of historic fabric and would destroy the 19th century industrial construction methods still exhibited inside—and both are important reasons for the complex’s designation in the first place," said HDC's Patrick Waldo. In light of the "ruin or building?" discussion, the LPC took no action on Tuesday, and as of now, there's no date set for PAU to present its revised proposal. Although today was the first time PAU's plans landed before the LPC, the renderings were revealed in early October. Back in 2014, Two Trees tapped SHoP and James Corner Field Operations to master plan the site. SHoP also designed 325 Kent Avenue, the square donut copper-and-tin–clad building adjacent to the sugar factory, a residential building that began leasing earlier this year. James Corner Field Operations' park on the waterfront is slated to open this spring.

PAU reveals its nested glass design for the Domino Sugar Refinery

The Domino Sugar Refinery has been an unmistakable element of the Brooklyn waterfront for over a century now – dating from the 1880s, the weathered brick façade, towering smokestack, sugar chutes and blown-up Domino logo are now synonymous with the landscape of Williamsburg. In the most recent stage of the refinery's redevelopment saga, plans have just been revealed by Vishaan Chakrabarti (founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, or PAU) for a glass addition to the building's envelope. PAU was commissioned to update the designs for the renovation after the original plans by Beyer Blinder Belle proved unsuccessful at luring real estate interest. In response to this challenge, PAU has created a nested design that expands upward from the refinery's main building – a vaulting structure of steel and glass placed within the original shell of the factory. The firm immediately realized that adding an interior to the existing, hollowed-out structure would be difficult – its staggered windows wouldn't accommodate a more streamlined layout of office floors. There are no direct points of contact between the two structures save a few supportive beams, creating a 10-foot breezeway between the new and old structures (and a ground-level wraparound courtyard). As the firm put it, the nested structure will be "inhabiting the [Domino] building like an armature." Between the glass and brick, there are balconies cantilevered out into the interceding space for lounging amid the plant's lines of open-air windows. PAU's reinterpretation has essentially stripped the refinery of all its industrial space and preserved the outer shell as a historic barricade or ruin. In New York Magazine, Justin Davidson astutely pointed out the only structure he could think of taking an entirely similar approach dates from antiquity – a church built inside a 1000-year old Greek temple in Sicily. The refinery redesign is just one of many developments for the total Domino property – five neighboring buildings of which have been designed by SHoP Architects. Chakrabarti himself is a former partner at SHoP, though he left in 2015 to found his own firm, partly out of a desire to shift into public-sector work. As PAU's website lays out, their work is oriented towards cultural and institutional projects, prototypes linking technology and the city, urban master planning, and public space design. What they don't do: single-family suburban homes, work for autocratic/dictatorial nations, work for clients with "unacceptable environmental practices," or "facilities that manufacture arms." The social tilt of Chakrabarti's work has become marked – most recently, the firm released plans for a rehab of New York City's notoriously clogged-up Penn Station and a proposal for a new Indian Museum of Independence.

Newark’s Bears stadium will be replaced by a 2.3-million-square-foot mixed-use development

Is it finally Newark’s time to shine? Recent projects, like James Corner Field Operation’s Passaic Riverfront Park revitalization and now the redevelopment of Bears & Eagle Riverfront Stadium, have slowly been pushing the city into developers' line of sight.

Ever since the minor league Newark Bears baseball team folded in 2014, the stadium once touted as a “saving grace” has been left largely empty. It was then sold for $23.5 million in 2016 to developers Lotus Equity Group, who will lead the redevelopment of its site in hopes that the project will spur a revival of the city's downtown. 

Lotus chose Vishaan Chakrabarti of New York–based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) to lead the master plan as well as a portion of the architectural design. The master plan includes turning the eight-acre site into a 2.3-million-square-foot mixed-use development. It aims to be, as Chakrabarti said to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), a “renaissance for Newark.”

He said the city is currently anchored by its institutions: the Newark Museum, Newark Library, Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). What the city lacks, however, is a connective tissue, according to Chakrabarti. Wide streets designed for automobiles create “a kind of physical archipelago,” he said, describing how “every institution is an island onto itself.”

What will be replacing Bears stadium is a dense, mixed-use development made up of residential, office, retail, and cultural space, with an emphasis on community-centered programming. Two housing blocks and one commercial office block will make up the master plan's superblock; a piazza in the middle will hold retail shops and host public programs. There are also plans to bring another cultural venue into the site, which will tie the development back into the city and the surrounding institutions.

Pedestrian movement will be prioritized. Parking garages will be relegated underground, streets will be designed with the pedestrian and non-automobile transportation in mind, and there are plans to only have one shared street for automobiles running through the site.

Chakrabarti, Michael Green of Vancouver, British Columbia–based Michael Green Architecture, and Enrique Norten of New York–based TEN Arquitectos will be leading the design for the three main buildings. “We wanted three different architects from three different places, with each one bringing different sensitivities,” Ben Korman, founder of Lotus Equity, said, adding that the mix of designs will bring a “creative tension.” 

The site’s proximity to educational institutions, certain tech industries, and transit infrastructure (Penn Station is 15 minutes away by train) will help attract Manhattanites looking to move out of the city as well as those who work in Newark, according to Korman.

“It is a transforming project,” Korman said. “Ultimately the vision is to create a significant project that would serve as a model for others to follow.”

The designs and plans are scheduled to be completed by mid-2018, with groundbreaking tentatively aimed for early 2019.

Vishaan Chakrabarti departs SHoP to begin his own practice, the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism

Architect and planner Vishaan Chakrabarti has had some crazy ideas over the years. In the past he has worked to convert an old Post Office adjacent to Penn Station into the monumental Moynihan Station and helped shape a loopy scheme to transform the former Domino Sugar Factory on Brooklyn's Williamsburg Waterfront. In 2013, he even spearheaded a proposal to extend Manhattan island to connect it with Governors Island and project a new plot of land into New York Harbor. It's fair to say that Chakrabarti thinks big. Today, Chakrabarti announced his latest big idea: his own architecture firm called the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU). "All architects have something in them says they want to start their own firm," Chakrabarti told AN on Thursday. "I certainly thought about it in the past. I realized if I didn’t do this now I wouldn’t do it." He hopes PAU can return relevance to a profession that the public has relegated to "navel gazing." Rather than viewing buildings as shiny objects, PAU will look at how they interact with cities and across disciplines, accounting for the building user's experience and that of passers by. Chakrabarti has assembled a diverse and prestigious resume, working at top posts in the public and private sector. He started his career at SOM. Six years later he was named head at the Manhattan office of the Department of City Planning under Dan Doctoroff where he worked on projects like the High Line. Later he joined development firm the Related Companies, where he was named Executive Vice President of Design and Planning. The list goes on. Chakrabarti served as Director of the Columbia Center for Urban Real Estate in 2009 and is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP). In 2012, he joined up with the skyrocketing firm SHoP Architects in the midst of several mega-projects including a number of skyscrapers and Essex Crossing. He published his book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for Urban America, in 2014, expounding a manifesto of urban living. "For me, PAU is really an opportunity to synthesize all of that experience into one direction," Chakrabarti said. "To bring to bear all I have learned—it’s a great chance to bring all that experience together." He plans to draw on both his planning and architecture background to create a more holistic firm. "I think this is a healthy and important thing for the future of architecture, to understand the context in which we practice," he said. "It’s about speaking multiple languages." In his work, teachings, and writing, Chakrabarti has been a staunch supporter of cities and the urban density that makes them tick. PAU, set to be based in New York City, will focus on those cities. "You’ll see a very strong focus on cosmopolitan architecture and strategic urbanism—how we’ll have an impact that’s very directly associated with cities," he said. "That division—architecture and planning—is what makes cities work," he continued. "It used to be that the professions were joined at the hip. You could think of architecture as an outcome of innovative planning. That’s no longer the case." PAU will concentrate on architecture and strategic planning, including master planning, advocacy, and urban design. The firm's first clients include Google's Sidewalk Labs, a new project with Two Trees Management, and a new cultural building in Manhattan. Chakrabarti said he couldn't disclose concrete details about those projects and noted that his firm would begin unveiling them in coming months. Describing his work with Sidewalk Labs, Chakrabarti said his work will prioritize "the future of the city and technology and how technology can create innovation and make our lives better by elevating quality of life. It thinks about everything from changes to the automobile to changes in how we use services in the city." PAU's cultural commission "will talk about the future of how culture interacts with the city and integrates with the urban experience." He added, "It's not just another black box." PAU will initially focus on metropolitan areas in North America. "I’m very interested in the betterment of the American city," he said. "Mayor’s around the country have really caught on to this—that design is a critical piece of attracting human capital and making cities better places." Chakrabarti said the firm may eventually work internationally, but with strong caveats against working in nations that abuse labor or are not transparent and accountable.

Letter to the Editor> Addressing themselves to the Skyline

[ Editor's Note: The following are reader-submitted responses in reference to William Menking’s editorial “Will de Blasio Make Progress on Design?” (AN 05_04.09.2014). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] In your editorial “Will de Blasio Make Progress on Design?”, you seem to suggest that there is an inherent conflict between the development priorities of the new administration and the accepted tenets of good urban design. We disagree. Taking the agreement to increase the amount of affordable housing at the Domino site as an ominous sign of the mayor’s indifference to the quality of public experience does not support your case. Rather, it represents a serious misreading of the longstanding plans for, and the recent history of, our project, which began detailed public and design review under the Bloomberg administration during its final eighteen months. There simply were no hastily negotiated changes at Domino. Neither, contrary to what you wrote, has the height of the planned buildings increased since 2012. In fact, the well-calibrated massings remain exactly the same as those that this administration—like the previous—understands to be necessary in order to create a major new public amenity for the benefit of all: a thrilling extension of the life of Williamsburg, with new streets and new parks, exciting architecture, and new gathering spaces designed to the highest standards to promote the fullest use. And, yes—there will be new towers, too: opening so the adjoining neighborhood can reach the waterfront, rising to address themselves to the skyline, exactly as (two mayors, the City Council, and the vast majority of the local community board agree) a vibrant, hopeful, and proud symbol of the new Brooklyn should. Vishaan Chakrabarti Kimberly Holden Jonathan L. Mallie Greg Pasquarelli Christopher Sharples Coren Sharples William Sharples SHoP Architects, New York

SHoP Architects’ Dancing Towers Break Ground on First Avenue in New York

After a decade-long wait, construction commenced in late July on a pair of conjoined rental towers designed by SHoP Architects on an empty parcel on First Avenue between 35th and 36th Streets. The New York Times reported that the two copper buildings, consisting of 800 units and reaching up to 49 and 40 stories, will be connected by a sky bridge. The luxury development will boast high-end amenities and facilities such as  indoor lap pool, rooftop deck with infinity pool, fitness center, squash court, and film screening room. These dancing towers will be a visual departure for this area around Turtle Bay, which is home to a cluster of hospitals and medical centers and bereft of much new contemporary architecture. Vishaan Chakrabarti, a partner at SHoP Architects, told the Times that the copper veiled facades were inspired from Richard Serra's twisted sheet metal sculptures. Also in the works is a privately-operated park and an elementary school if City Planning gives the developer JDS Development the green light. The construction site flooded during Hurricane Sandy, so now the two buildings are being prepped for future storms. JDS Development said they are planning on placing mechanicals above grade, and considering floodgates and backup generators.

JDS Development purchased the roughly one-acre parcel from developer Sheldon H. Solow who had originally tapped Richard Meier and Skidmore Owings & Merrill to design 7 towers on this sprawling 9.2-acre site.

The development is expected to be completed by early 2016.

Domino Developer, Architects Discuss Project Details, Context of Brooklyn Waterfront Makeover

Developer Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management Co. stood up in front of a packed house at a community forum in Williamsburg last night to discuss his ambitious new redevelopment plans for the Domino Sugar Factory Refinery. Citing his family’s history in DUMBO, Walentas told the beer-sipping, tattooed crowd that his intention is to “build an extension of the neighborhood” that is “socially contextual.” The new plan incorporates significantly more commercial and office space, which Walentas says won’t financially benefit Two Trees, but speaks to his company’s philosophy and intent to draw from and embrace the historic and cultural fabric of Williamsburg. While the zoning map doesn’t need to change, the plans still need to go through the ULURP process once again. The new vision for the site puts an emphasis on making the Domino Sugar Refinery a “nucleus” for the neighborhood that would house commercial space and artist studios (some subsidized, some not). An additional building on Grand Street would also be dedicated for small neighborhood retail. Walentas said, like DUMBO, he would fill these space will mom-and-pop stores and promised the audience that there will be no big box stores such as Duane Reade or Starbucks. In addition to commercial, two large community spaces will also be part of the overall plan. From the get-go, affordable housing has been a critical issue in the redevelopment of Domino Sugar Site, and the initial plans that were approved—prior to Two Trees acquiring the property—promised 660-affordable housing units. Walentas says he’s committed to keeping the affordable housing units, which will be 60 to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), and identical to market rate apartments. The exact income levels have yet to be determined. But while Walentas said that the redevelopment will be “contextual,” Vishaan Chakrabarti, partner at SHoP Architects, told the audience that won't be the case with the design. He acknowledged that the new development isn’t in keeping with Williamsburg’s low-scale, but said, “It will be high no matter what,” referring to any future development to be built on the waterfront. “It is not contextual,” said Chakrabarti. “But we can start creating a skyline we can be proud of.” Chakrabarti argued that the height difference between the old and new plans won't be noticeable to people in the neighborhood and provides several benefits such as more open space inside and a lighter and airier feel. Since the building will be turned perpendicular to the water, he says more light will filter in. But Hurricane Sandy has forced developers and architects to reshape their approach to waterfront development. Chakrabarti addressed some of the changes they plan on implementing from setting the park back to putting basements above grade and building sloped sidewalks to allow water to drain. “The park will act as a sponge because it will be made of permeable material,” said Chakrabarti. The conversation grew heated when a few community members expressed doubt over Two Tree’s commitment to affordable housing and questioned whether the infrastructure in the neighborhood could support this influx of people and new commercial and business sector. “Our intent is to be a long term owner,” said Walentas. “Our interests are aligned with the community’s interests.”

Seagram and Lever to Get a Swanky New Neighbor

L&L Holding Company, owners of a midcentury office tower at 425 Park Avenue, are looking to build a new, high design office tower on that site. It would be the first new office tower built on Park Avenue since the 1980s. Some of the biggest names in architecture are competing for the job: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Ateliers Christian de Portzamparc, Herzog & de Meuron, Foster & Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, OMA, Maki and Associates, KPF, Richard Meier and Partners, Rogers Sirk Harbour + Partners, and Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of the center for urban real estate at Columbia, is running the competition for L&L. "This competition of ideas is the first step in the process of realizing a globally advanced, bespoke skyscraper that will both complement Park Avenue’s existing architectural treasures and make its own indelible mark in the world’s most timeless office corridor,” he said in a statement.