Posts tagged with "Washington Heights":

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New York City converted this dingy subway tunnel into a colorful underground museum of street art

For a long time, the 900-foot pedestrian tunnel that leads to the 1 train in Washington Heights was one of New York City's creepiest spaces. Now, it's been transformed into one of the city's best places to see art—or at least take some impressive Instagram photos. As part of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Beautification Project, the dingy tunnel was recently transformed into a colorful, art-filled corridor. NYCDOT picked five teams of artists (out of 150 submissions) and gave them each a 200-foot piece of the tunnel to use as a canvas. As you can see, the result is pretty dramatic. NYCDOT has a nice rundown of what visitors and commuters should expect as they make their way through the tunnel:

At the entrance to the tunnel, local Washington Heights artist Andrea von Bujdoss, also known as Queen Andrea, welcomes pedestrians with her mural entitled, 'Primastic Power Phrases,' a series of typographical designs that include phrases such as, 'Today is Your Day,' 'Live your Dreams' and 'Estoy Aqui!' As one travels further into the tunnel, Maryland-based artist team Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn have created, 'Caterpillar Time Travel,' a series of colorful, geometric designs. Next, Queens-based artist Nick Kuszyk takes viewers through 'Warp Zone,' a geometric design that plays with perspective and 'warps' the tunnel walls. Chilean artist Nelson Rivas, also known as Cekis, has created a dense jungle landscape with, 'It’s like a Jungle/Aveces es como una jungla.' At the end of the Tunnel, local artist Fernando Cope, Jr., also known as Cope 2, created 'Art is Life' to remind pedestrians to 'Take Your Passion, Make it Happen' and to 'Follow Your Dreams.'

If you're wondering why the DOT oversaw this project, it's because the tunnel is technically mapped as a city street. Anyway, onto the pictures!
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This roadway in New York City’s Washington Heights is being replaced by a pedestrian plaza with playfully meandering paving

New York City recently broke ground on a 14,000-square-foot public plaza in Washington Heights with a very wavy paving design. The Plaza de Las Americas  is intended to reference town squares found in the Caribbean, Central and South America. It was designed for the city by the RBA Group, a landscape architecture and engineering consulting firm. The plaza's design does feel reminiscent of the monochromatic wavy designs of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx like the 1970 Copacabana Promenade, itself influenced by the Portuguese paving patterns of the 1930s. In more modern times, the design also reminds us of Bjarke Ingels' Superkilen park in Copenhagen. Plaza de Las Americas will replace a block of roadway between a grocery store and an old theatre. The city says the plaza is designed to enhance the local markets that currently operate on the site by offering water and electrical system to vendors' booths. The plaza will also include new trees, benches, "pedestrian scale lighting," cafe seating, an information kiosk, and an artsy fountain by Ester Partegás. When completed early next year, the space will host public events including concerts, dance shows, art and craft fairs, performances, and poetry readings. [Correction: An earlier version of this story did not give proper credit to the RBA Group which designed the plaza. We regret the error.]
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Under Construction> Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building

When an under-construction project is just a skeleton of its future self, its nearly impossible to gauge the impact of the finished product. Sure, you’ve got renderings, but as AN has covered before, those are usually chock full of visual embellishments like dramatic sunsets, hot air balloons, and so. many. kayaks. So while it's probably best to reserve judgment on Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building until it opens in 2016, let’s just call a spade a spade right now: this thing is going to be a very dramatic, very zigzag-y addition to Washington Heights. Prolific construction-watcher and photographer, Field Condition, recently visited the 14-story tower which is currently a concrete structure unlike any other. Behind orange construction nets are dramatic, angular cuts that will form the building's “Study Cascade,” a staircase that runs the height of the building and carves out social spaces for students and professors. With the building topped out, the structure's glass curtain wall is starting to be installed. "The panels consist of a single pane of full floor-height glass, much like those used on the recent World Trade Center and Hudson Yards towers,” wrote Field Condition. “Vertical stripes of white frit have been applied in a gradient pattern to create zones of differing amounts of opacity.” Exciting stuff. Gensler is serving as the executive architect for this project.
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Parsons Students Making a Splash in Washington Heights

Parsons The New School of Design has recently completed a new pool pavilion called Splash House for Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center. Led by students in the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons, Splash House was designed and developed pro bono by students in partnership with NYC Parks & Recreation as an addition to the WPA-era Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center. Included in the pavilion's construction are new locker areas surrounded by sliding doors that allow the space to be converted into changing rooms during peak hours.  A second component to the project, to be completed by NYC Parks & Recreation, will add a water curtain to function as a play feature for children and station to rinse off.  The Splash House outdoor pavilion allows the adjacent Recreation Center to remain open all year long by diverting pool-goers away from one space and into another. Previously the center would suspend activities over the summer to accommodate the traffic of over 130,000 visitors to the pool. With the newly constructed outdoor pavilion to alleviate the attendance crunch, the Recreation Center can retain its original purpose and offer more activities to the Washington Heights Community all year long. The Parsons students have already commenced work on the second phase of the project called In_Flux for interior renovations of the central area of the Recreation Center in hopes of enhancing the site further for area residents.
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Unveiled> DS+R Designs Columbia’s Medical and Graduate Education Building

Medical and Graduate Education Building Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro Architect of Record: Gensler Client: Columbia University Medical Center Location: Haven Avenue and 171st Street Groundbreaking: Early 2013 Completion: 2016 Columbia University Medical Center has unveiled plans for the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed Medical and Graduate Education Building on its campus in Washington Heights. Visible from nearby George Washington Bridge and Riverside Park, the 14-story tower will become a major landmark in the skyline of northern Manhattan, with a south-facing multi-story glass façade punctuated by jutting floorplates and exposed interior spaces. The building will house the four schools of CUMC along with the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The building will feature technology-enabled classrooms, operating rooms, and other real world clinical environments, collaborative and quiet study spaces, an auditorium, student lounges and cafes, and multiple outdoor spaces, all woven into the spiraling system of floor plates expressed on the structure's exterior. Social and public spaces are stacked along a central circulation stair dubbed the “Study Cascade” running the full height of the building. The Study Cascade holds a system of alcoves designed to foster collaboration and team-based learning and is clad in cement panels and wood, occasionally piercing the glass southern facade with protruding balconies and terraces. Classrooms, clinical simulation space, and administrative offices are housed in the northern face of the tower. “Spaces for education and socializing are intertwined to encourage new forms of collaborative learning among students and faculty, ” Elizabeth Diller wrote in a statement The tower will serve as a visual landmark for the northern limit of Columbia’s medical campus and its announcement follows the release of plans for the school’s Manhattanville expansion to the south of the new building. Construction on the tower is expected to begin in early 2013 and will take approximately 42 months. Columbia hopes the building will meet LEED-Gold standards for sustainability.
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Ornate Cornices Disappearing in Washington Heights

When the attention of real estate speculators diverts, sometimes old neighborhoods have time to acquire a majestic patina. The Washington Heights section of northern Manhattan has been neglected for some time, but is now getting a fair share of spillover interest from Columbia's Manhattanville project and the university's nearby hospital campus. In 2009, the Audubon Park Historic District was created to protect the area just behind Audubon Terrace, home to the Hispanic Society and the Academy of Arts and Letters. But just north of the district, years of landlord neglect has unwittingly preserved row after row of early 20th century apartment buildings festooned with ornate cornices. But the cornices are now in danger of disappearing. Provided you look up, there are still vistas in Washington Heights that recall the area’s heyday. In the early part of the last century a striving middle class made up of German Jews, Irish, and Greeks walked beneath striped fabric awnings perched at apartment windows, all topped with fanciful cornices. Most know that when Robert Moses plowed through the Bronx to build the Cross Bronx Expressway, neighborhoods were severed and died a slow death. But little attention is paid to the Cross Bronx’s connection to the George Washington Bridge, which severed Washington Heights too, providing easy access for suburbanites to swoop in and out of the neighborhood to buy drugs. Eventually, like the South Bronx, the area regained its footing. Now, the Pier Luigi Nervi-designed Port Authority Bus Terminal at the base of the bridge is set to undergo a $285 million restoration. And Starbucks, the ever present harbinger of gentrification, is just a few blocks north. But just as Washington Heights begins its reemergence, several building owners are stripping away the architectural features that make the area unique. Just next door to the bus terminal sits 4195 Broadway at the corner of 178th Street. Two weeks ago, the decorative lion heads that once reigned atop the 1920 edifice were stripped, thrown into a dumpster and replaced with corrugated metal. It’s indicative of a neighborhood trend. Over the past several years the cornices of Washington Heights are finally getting much needed maintenance attention. But instead of restoring them, many building owners are ripping them off and replacing them with steel, aluminum, and concrete. Photographer Trish Mayo noticed the latest affront on a bus ride home from the library. The shapes in a dumpster registered as something familiar to her. She got off the bus to investigate. Mayo said the dumpster was almost full with terracotta lion heads taken from 4195. The dumpster has since been carted away. “I think that after so many years of neglect the decorative details have become a safety hazarded and it’s just cheaper to destroy all the beauty that’s in these buildings,” she said.
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Quick Clicks> Piano, Plazas, Babbling, Budget Cuts

Manhattanville's Piano. While tallying who is the biggest landlord in New York (it's still the church by a hair), The Observer uncovered a few new views of Renzo Piano's Jerome L. Green Science Center at Columbia's Manhattanville campus, seen here next to a train viaduct. Pedestrianizing New York. The remaking of New York's public spaces continues its forward march. Brownstoner has details on the planned pedestrian plaza on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and StreetsBlog highlights DOT's plans to create a permanent block-long Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights. Archi-babble. Witold Rybczynski talkes issue with architecture's professional jargon in Slate, including a beginner's guide to commonly used words from assemblage to gesamtkunstwerk. What's your favorite word from the language of architecture? Subway Squeeze. We're not talking about your crowded commute, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to trim $100 million from transit. Transportation Nation and StreetsBlog have the details and implications for getting around New York.