Posts tagged with "WXY":

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Here are the winners of the 2018 AIA Honor Awards in architecture

This is the first article in a three part series documenting the 2018 AIA Institute Honor Awards. This lists the winners of the architecture category, while additional segments contain the winners in the interior architecture and regional & urban design categories. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2018 winners of the AIA Institute Honor Awards. The list contains projects from all around the world, and of varying programs and uses, and honors firms both large and small. From a girls’ school in Afghanistan to a municipal salt shed, this year’s widely diverse group of winning projects will be recognized at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 in New York City, in late June. This year's eight member jury panel included:
  • Lee Becker, FAIA (Chair), Hartman-Cox Architects
  • Anne Marie Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects
  • Susan Johnson, AIA, Strata; Anna Jones, Assoc. AIA, MOD Design
  • Caitlin Kessler, AIAS Student Representative, University of Arizona
  • Marilee Meacock, AIA, KSS Architects
  • Robert Miller, FAIA, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Sharon Prince, Grace Farms Foundation
  • Rob Rogers, FAIA, Rogers Partners.
  Project: Audain Art Museum Architect: Patkau Architects Inc. Location: Whistler, British Columbia, Canada From the AIA Jury: A beautiful, dynamic project that literally wraps users around nature, blurring the boundaries between man-made and natural. It creates a cultural magnet to help educate not only art, but eco-friendly design. The elegant structure hovers over a floodplain topography in an area that receives a large amount of snowfall, battling the elements through an architectural form that embraces the setting. Opportunity for people to live with art. The typology of the building is a stepping stone for Canada, a new icon, and a monument for British Columbia. It has helped elevate all of us. Project: The Broad Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Associate Firm: Gensler Location: Los Angeles From the AIA Jury: Simultaneously sedate and spectacular. It fits the context of the visually exuberant arts buildings in this neighborhood. More than holding its own as a figure, it also engages and takes the user in. The dark body-like, shapely vault is a beautiful counterpoint to the bright, thick, patterned light veil. The design intention is clear and carried through at every scale. The types of space created are unusual but engaging and composed. Project: Chicago Riverwalk Architect: Ross Barney Architects Location: Chicago From the AIA Jury: A gift to city, it embraces Chicago's layered, diverse history by providing a range of amenities that provide forward looking opportunities. Transforms the once neglected downtown riverfront into a vast public space. Design that touches everyone. Subtle moments of education and insight into the ecology of the river, educating visitors and residents. It is the reinvention of urban life that brings attention back to the waterfront. Project: Gohar Khatoon Girls' School Architect: Robert Hull, FAIA, and the University of Washington, Department of Architecture Location: Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan From the AIA Jury: A beautiful and restrained aesthetic with limited means. Architecture is a modern take on Afghan history and masonry construction. This elevates respect for women and girls overall when state resources are used to this extent and design, adding an intent to create an urban oasis and promote community engagement. This space and the process communicates a new era for girls and women very powerfully. It is remarkably resourceful by integrating natural sustainability measures while operating within a weak infrastructure in the country. Project: Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 & Spring Street Salt Shed Architect: Dattner Architects in association with WXY architecture + urban design Location: New York City From the AIA Jury: The Salt storage building took what is usually an industrial construction built as economically as possible into urban art. It raises the bar significantly for civic infrastructure. Unapologetic platonic shape with beautiful skin with commitment to civic expression, environmental responsibility, and sensitivity to the urban context design solution that successfully integrates critical services into the neighborhood. The pursuit of a visual oxymoron to sanitation, and investment therein, is laudable and uplifting to an entire neighborhood and heavily used city corridor. Highly innovative. Project: Mercer Island Fire Station 92 Architect: Miller Hull Partnership Location: Mercer Island, Washington From the AIA Jury: Operations drives design and the execution is flawless. A necessary renovation turned modern reinterpretation of a traditional civic building into a simple box with layers of transparency that visually and physically connect the functions to the street. Great balance of functionality and warmth of materials make this a beautiful facility. Balanced work and relaxation are desired combo for firefighting facilities and certainly that balance is achieved here. As a public project, it is clearly a labor of love. Super judicious use of materials; great scale, sense of public awareness. Best of all this honors the incredibly hard working firefighters deserving of such a light space. Project: New United States Courthouse Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Location: Los Angeles From the AIA Jury: The design's fascination with natural light and white spaces is nicely contrasted by the golden wood interior figures and floors. The building's form is a representation of site and topography, functionality, environmental performance, civic presence, and public spaces. Traditional materials and architectural elements enliven its civic presence, while modern elements introduced through the glass assembly façade create an iconic image for a 21st Century courthouse building while also providing positive environmental performance. This powerful composition and the generosity of its public spaces gives the project a clear civic presence, separating it from its commercial neighbors. Project: Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L. Anderson Design Center Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architects Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas From the AIA Jury: A complimentary and progressive pairing of modern and traditional forms. Consistent orchestration of natural light and a sparse but powerful use of red to make landmark moments in the building is invigorating. Sets the opportunity for an interesting contrast between the old and new wings. The expanded facility unites all three departments – architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design – under one roof for the first time, reinforcing the School’s identity and creating a cross-disciplinary, collaborative learning environment. The overall design is a didactic model, establishing a tangible discourse between the past and present while providing state-of-the-art-facilities for 21st century architectural and design education. Every space seems equally well resolved, simple, elegant Project: Washington Fruit & Produce Company Headquarters Architect: Graham Baba Architects Location: Yakima, Washington From the AIA Jury: This sits on the landscape beautifully and creates space for meaningful community. The oasis among the warehouses is functional, sustainable, spatial and formal. The design idea is integral and cohesive. An idea with depth. Occupied spaces are oriented towards the heart of the place - the courtyard, avoiding views towards the surrounding freeway and industrial warehouses; earth berms surrounding the building focalize views out to the landscape and blurring the boundary of architecture and site. The owners’ commitment to creating a respite from the industrial environment for their employees led to an exploration of curating views and outdoor spaces. The result is a workspace that encourages quiet contemplation, community and productivity.
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WXY unveils spiffy cabin prototypes for New York State parks

Cabins and tiny houses seem to be cropping up everywhere, from country homes to affordable housing. In Wildwood State Park on Long Island, New York City–based WXY Architecture + Urban Design has designed a cabin prototype, the NYS cabin, specifically for the Long Island campground. While the usual image of a cabin in the woods is claustrophobic, window-starved and lacking in amenities, WXY’s design is anything but. The contemporary one- and two-bedroom cabins range in size from over 600 to nearly 800 square feet and feature tall, sloping ceilings, flexible floor plans, full kitchens, and naturally lit interiors. The exteriors of the cabins are clad in cedar shingles, with reclaimed mahogany detailing and metal roofing, allowing the structures to fit seamlessly in with existing Works Progress Administration (WPA) cabins that date from the 1930s. Designed to function across similar New York State campgrounds, WXY’s straightforward update of a classic design may very well end up in your neck of the woods. Claire Weisz, a principal of WXY, told Dwell the cabins were meant to be "robust, chunky, and larger in scale," with sparse detailing that will allow the structures to "silver out" with age.  This is not the first time architects have forayed into the nation's park system. Minneapolis-based HGA won the 2016 American architectural award for its stylish cabins on concrete piers in Dakota County, Minnesota.
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2017 Best of Design Awards for Urban Design

2017 Best of Design Award for Urban Design: India Basin Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: San Francisco
Embodying a commitment to sustainable placemaking, the India Basin project proposes the transformation of acres of overgrown former industrial land on the San Francisco Bay into an active waterfront destination and a vibrant, diverse village. The comprehensive design reconnects surrounding communities with the shoreline, cultivates economic opportunities, and provides mixed-income housing. The mixed-use project creates a complete community at a human scale, with all basic services and amenities located within short walking distance. It interweaves parks, plazas, and open space with new pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly connections, as well as buildings for residential, commercial, and community-serving purposes.
The design also embraces the existing ecology of the land. A robust stormwater management strategy links streetscape streams and bioswales (landscape elements that remove silt from runoff water) with a landscape of canals, reservoirs, and wetlands. "This is a significant redevelopment that will affect this part of the city in profound ways. That said, it is an elegant and reasoned plan that integrates nicely with its surroundings." —Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, Architect's Newspaper (juror) Client: Build Inc. Landscape Architect: Bionic Civil Engineer: Sherwood Design Engineers Urban Design and Planning: Gehl Studio
Honorable Mention Project: Atlanta's Park Over GA400 Architects: Rogers Partners and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Location: Atlanta
Atlanta’s Park Over GA400 seizes the opportunity to reclaim the GA400 highway void with a 2,500-foot-long public space for community gatherings and public art. A dense cover of native trees over the highway links adjacent canopies and reduces the heat island effect, captures stormwater, and supports native flora and fauna. Honorable Mention  Project: The Reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square Architect: WXY Location: New York The network of streets in and around NYC’s Astor Place and Cooper Square benefitted from configurations that improve the experiential nature of the neighborhood. At the behest of the city’s Department of Transportation, the design team developed a rich pedestrian environment, relieved pedestrian and vehicular congestion, and created custom-designed seating throughout the plazas.
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Long Island City riverside development would bring Queens one of its tallest towers

New York City’s outer borough may be getting yet another tall tower, as a recently revealed development in Long Island City, Queens, would bring thousands of residential units to an industrial corner of the neighborhood. As the New York Times reports, landlord Plaxall Realty has proposed converting its 15-acre riverside property into a mixed-use development that would include 5,000 apartments, 3.1 acres of public space, and 335,000 square feet set aside for manufacturing. The plan from New York-based WXY lays out not only retail and restaurant options for the site, but an additional 70-story tower that would become one of tallest in Queens if it were actually built. The borough has seen more of these projects lately, with the 984-foot City View Tower still on track to become Queens' first supertall tower. Anable Basin, the 1,000-foot long artificial channel that the development takes its name from, would anchor the 6-block complex. While Anable Basin was used as an industrial shipping port since its construction in 1868, Plaxall wants to modernize the inlet by ringing it with an elevated esplanade, installing flood barriers, and building docks for kayakers. Plaxall, a plastic container company who used to house factories in the area, has also called for the creation of an “innovation zone” in the development. 335,000 square feet of light manufacturing space will be set-aside in a co-working and living style arrangement, and Anable Basin residents could potentially leave their apartments and head straight down to their ground-floor studio space. Such a large project would trigger the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) requirements, and Plaxall has stated that approximately 1,250 of the proposed 4,995 units would be affordable. The details released yesterday make no mention of how affordability would be determined. Converting an area historically zoned as industrial will come with a set of caveats. Plaxall will need to have the area rezoned, and may sell the entire parcel even if they can find a development partner. If the proposal moves ahead, the Anable Basin special district would allow the public to access a section of the western Queens’ waterfront that had been closed off for centuries. Already in possession of 13 acres, Plaxall has been confident that the private landlords holding the other two will be on board with the scheme. Paula Kirby, granddaughter of Plaxall founder Louis Pfohl, told the Times that Anable Basin was “a unique opportunity to really make a skyline for Long Island City,” The New York City Department of City Planning will hold the first public comment hearing in early December. Construction is slated to begin in 2020.
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New map pays tribute to concrete and Brutalist buildings across New York City

Blue Crow Media, a publishing group that publishes architectural guides for cities worldwide, just released a map glorifying concrete structures across New York City—titled, appropriately, Concrete New York. Among the structures highlighted by the map, many will be familiar to AN's readers. Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at JFK airport, currently being renovated into a 505-room hotel, is listed, as is the Marcel Breuer–designed granite and concrete monolith now home to the Met Breuer. Perhaps less visited is Breuer's Begrisch Hall on the Bronx Community College campus or I.M. Pei's Silver Towers at NYU. Concrete infrastructure also gets its due: the Cleft Ridge Span at Prospect Park (completed in 1872) is featured as well as the more recent Dattner Architects and WXY Studio-designed Spring Street Salt Shed (completed in 2015). In Greenwich Village, New Yorkers will recognize New Orleans architect Albert Ledner's Curran/O'Toole Building, unmistakable with its double cantilevered, scallop-edged facade, formerly serving as St. Vincent's Hospital (a landmark institution for victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis). The guide also points out historic works by Paul Rudolph, Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward Durell Stone, and many others. The map was edited by Allison Meier, a Brooklyn-based writer. The next guide will look at the use of concrete in Tokyo, and will be available next month. Previous maps by Blue Crow Media have examined modernism in Berlin and Belgrade, art deco in London, and constructivism in Moscow, although Brutalism remains their favorite topic to date, with maps on the subject for Boston, London, Paris, Sydney, and Washington, D.C.
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Archtober Building of the Day: SeaGlass Carousel

This story is part of a monthlong series of guests posts by AIA New York that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours. See the full 2017 schedule here. Today’s Archtober tour took in the SeaGlass Carousel and its surroundings at the Battery. Layng Pew, AIA, Managing Principal of WXY architecture + urban design, and Hope Cohen, Chief Operating Officer of The Battery Conservancy, placed this newest addition to the Battery in the context of the Battery’s history. The Battery got its name from the “battery” of cannons placed there in the 17th Century to protect the fledgling port city of New Amsterdam. In the mid-18th Century, the Battery was the site of the country’s first immigrant processing center, which later moved to Ellis Island. It then became an open-air concert venue, and then the New York Aquarium, which was partially destroyed in 1941 by Robert Moses to make way for his proposed Brooklyn-Battery Bridge. Although Fort Clinton, part of the Battery, was landmarked in 1946, the rest of the site was allowed to deteriorate; by the 1980s, this prime waterfront real estate housed a parking lot for municipal agency vehicles. The rest of the Battery was more or less abandoned. By this time, however, Battery Park City had been built next to the Battery. In the mid-1980s, concerned by the decay of their neighbor and namesake, Battery Park City’s management commissioned a masterplan for the area. It was this masterplan that sowed the seeds for what the Battery, including the SeaGlass Carousel, is today, and that led to the founding of the Battery Conservancy, which partners with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation to administer the area. The next phase of development came in the early 2000s, when the Battery Conservancy commissioned a horticultural master plan to supplement the general master plan. The team included WXY architecture + urban design, Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, and Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. During that process, as Pew described it, the designers realized that the eastern edge of the park was dark at night and lacked a focal point. The Carousel was proposed to provide a light-filled center. The idea of having fish rather than horses as the animals came out of a desire to honor the Battery’s maritime location and importance. Despite the building’s small size, its design and construction were far from straightforward. Clients and architects were determined that the building should be a part of the carousel experience rather than simply a roof covering the main attraction. The structure repeats the nautilus shell motif that runs through the Battery, including in the fountain to the west. The design of the ride itself is a collaboration between WXY and artist George Tsypin, whose other credits include the Broadway set of The Little Mermaid and artistic direction of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games opening ceremony. Rather than have all the fish move in a regular circle, as in a traditional carousel, Tsypin wanted to approximate as closely as possible the experience of a shoal of fish. To that end, Tsypin and WXY placed three small rotating platforms on top of the main rotating platform. Most of the fish are on these small platforms, and thus move in small circles while circumnavigating the room on the large platform. The fish are also on retractable poles that allow them to move up and down. These poles contain electric and electronic wiring that controls each fish’s motion down to a fraction of an inch. (For those, like this author, who are skeptical of moving in many directions at once, there are also fixed fish that only move in the traditional large circle.) To prevent collisions, WXY made an animation of the ride and then analyzed stop-motion frames. The entire design and construction process of the Carousel took nearly a decade. Layng described how, at every step of the way, the Battery Conservancy pushed the designers to maintain the ride’s intricacy and elegance while making it safe and functional. Hurricane Sandy flooded almost all of the Battery, but the Carousel is on a slight elevation, and water stopped about 20 feet short of its foundation. At that time, no wall or roof had been constructed, and any flooding to the Carousel would probably have destroyed the exposed mechanism. Sandy, along with a bankrupt subcontractor, nevertheless added about a year to the construction process – the last details of lighting and sound were completed a day before the Carousel’s opening in 2015. But now that the fish swim merrily in their elegant tank, the SeaGlass Carousel fulfills both of its goals: providing joy to carousel riders and lighting up a previously dark corner of one of New York’s oldest public spaces. Join Archtober tomorrow at the Modulightor Building!
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New renderings released of WXY’s Brooklyn Army Terminal landscape redesign

New renderings of Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) and its renovated landscape—part a multimillion dollar expansion project—have been released, as first reported by Untapped Cities.

In 2015, Mayor de Blasio dedicated $115 million of funds to renovate the three million-square-foot site into a campus that would bring in commercial and industrial tenants. A former World War I military supply base, the Cass Gilbert–designed site was designed to foster an intermodal system of transferring goods between ships, trains, and trucks. The confusing circulation has previously deterred tenants from moving to the facility, and in an effort to attract more tenants, New York–based WXY is redesigning the campus's outdoor space. 

WXY's new public space improvements, which span 12,000 square feet, include new seating, permeable pavement for improved stormwater runoff, and better wayfinding mechanisms for pedestrians to navigate between the ferry landing, parking, and the building. The existing landscape will be preserved where possible. 

The city acquired the complex in 1981 and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is the steward of the terminal. The city has been trying to attract new tenants in its ‘Core Four’ industries: traditional manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, food manufacturing, and Made in New York (production of film, TV, and fashion). The terminal's floors are made out of reinforced concrete and can support loads of 250 to 300 pounds a square foot, making it well suited for manufacturing industries. 

The renovation will bring an additional 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space by this fall. Rent hikes and small spaces have forced manufacturing companies out of the Garment District, and the city hopes the revival of Sunset Park’s many industrial spaces will aid the ailing industry, according to a New York Times report earlier this year.

“The Brooklyn Army Terminal has grown into a hotbed for modern manufacturing, diversified talent, and entrepreneurial zeal,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer in a statement last year.

The redevelopment of BAT joins neighboring Industry City and the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal along the Sunset Park waterfront.

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WXY to plan Brooklyn campus for film and fashion industries

This post has been updated to reflect WXY's planning role in the project. This week New York City unveiled plans for a $136 million garment factory and film lot complex in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. New York's WXY is planning the "Made in New York" campus, a waterside project that includes new space for film and television production, upgrades to existing facilities, and streetscape improvements at Bush Terminal. “We have used our ‘Made in NY’ brand to grow fashion and film companies, and today, we're committing some of our most important real estate assets to support them as well," said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, in a statement. "These industries support hundreds of thousands of families with good wages, and they need affordable and modern space to grow. The ‘Made in NY’ Campus represents the collision of our creative economy and advanced manufacturing. This is going to be a 21st-century working waterfront that keeps our city the capital of film and fashion.” Other, as-yet unnamed firms will design a 100,000-square-foot film and T.V. facility with sound stages, space for shoots, plus augmented reality and virtual reality facilities. Renovations to two existing buildings will yield almost 200,000 square feet of fashion manufacturing space for marking and grading, cutting and sewing, patternmaking, and sample-making. The city says the layout is meant to encourage collaboration and resource-sharing between tenants in different sectors of the industry. Outside, WXY-led improvements will add a new plaza, as well as energize a 43rd Street campus corridor that allows public access to Bush Terminal Piers Park. Potential food and retail tenants will have a chance to lease 7,500 square feet for their operations at the onsite SF Café Building.  The 36-acre Bush Terminal, neighboring Brooklyn Army Terminal, and the Brooklyn Wholesale Meat Market together comprise the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) Sunset Park District, an industrial park that's home to more than 165 enterprises. The Made in NY campus is expected to open in 2020. The announcement recognizes the struggle core industries face in an increasingly expensive city. Five percent (182,000) of the city's jobs are in fashion, while the film industry employs 130,000. Though both industries sustain New York's glamorous image, many enterprises have trouble finding affordable space for local manufacturing and production. The city hopes the Bush Terminal campus will support existing companies while attracting new businesses. For some designers, it may be cheaper to work with factories abroad, but for many, a local facility allows for greater oversight and faster communication if, say, a client wants a new sample that day or a small run of a style that responds to new trends.
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WXY and Local Projects–designed theater included in new Bronx affordable housing complex

Today officials broke ground on Bronx Commons, an affordable housing complex designed by Danois Architects and WXY Architecture + Urban Design. The mixed-use development, in the South Bronx's Melrose, includes 305 affordable apartments and is developed by local nonprofit WHEDco and BFC Partners in conjunction with New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). In a distinctive twist, the project is grounded by a 14,000-square-foot, 300-seat arts and cultural center and performance space. The Bronx Music Hall, which grew out of WHEDco's storefront music "lab," will bring programming to thousands annually and focus on nurturing the borough's artists. A public plaza and 22,000 square feet of retail at East 163rd Street rounds out the program. “As we build more and more needed affordable housing, there is no finer tribute to New York’s deep artistic history than including a music hall in this Bronx development," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a statement. "The projects will transform long-vacant City land into a vibrant cultural mecca and residential community for the borough and the City. I congratulate the Melrose community, and the future residents of this 100 percent affordable development." True to its diverse programming, the project is being executed by three different New York firms. Danois Architects is designing the housing, while WXY and Local Projects are designing the Bronx Music Hall. The latter firm specializes in interactive media design and its work anchors the new and stellar permanent exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. The 426,000-square-foot project is being built on vacant city-owned land, the last free parcel in the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area. The city is touting its "deep" affordability, with units for households making between 30 and 110 percent of the Area Median Income, or $22,032 and $89,760 for a family of three. The borough's median household income was $34,299 for 2015. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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A notorious former Bronx prison site to become affordable housing

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) recently unveiled plans to redevelop a former Bronx juvenile prison into a mixed-use development centered on affordable housing.

WXY architecture + urban design (WXY) is collaborating with Body Lawson Associates (BLA) to transform the infamous Spofford Juvenile Detention Center into the Peninsula, a $300 million project that will create 740 units of 100 percent affordable housing.

Claire Weisz, principal-in-charge of WXY, said that “no parts of the former prison [were] being reincorporated” into the development. “The goal is to create a campus that incorporates living and working to reimagine this promontory place in Hunts Point,” she added.

The rest of the team—Gilbane Development Company, Hudson Companies, and Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY)—was chosen through a 2015 request for expressions of interest (RFEI).

The team is working with longtime neighborhood stakeholders like the Point CDC, BronxWorks, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, Urban Health Plan, Sustainable South Bronx, and others.

In 2014, Majora Carter—the urban revitalization activist and founder and former executive director of Sustainable South Bronx—partnered with AutoDesk to imagine alternatives to the Spofford site, which operated as the Bridges Juvenile Center when it was shuttered by the city in 2011 over appalling conditions and inmate abuse.

Along with the typical deliverables that come with a project this size—retail, community, and green space—the Peninsula will bring 49,000 square feet of light industrial space to the Hunts Point neighborhood.

Weisz said that “recreating and reconnecting the street grid” while “making a courtyard space [that] expresses the permeability and openness to the community” was a “priority of the team’s proposal.” Victor Body-Lawson, principal at Body Lawson Associates, added that the team “designed the courtyard as a hub that will foster interactivity between the community, residents, and visitors while melding commercial, manufacturing, and residential activities around a central space.”

In addition to providing housing, the plan integrates different types of workspaces, including artist work studios and light industrial space for Bronx-based businesses to both launch and expand. The Peninsula will host a business incubator, job training facilities, school space for pre-kindergarten (an on-site Head Start program will be incorporated into the project) and higher education, 52,000 square feet of open space, and an 18,000-square-foot health and wellness center operated by Urban Health Plan. “The housing and these work spaces will together create a lively and open addition to the neighborhood of Hunts Point,” said Weisz.

Food, too, is key to the Peninsula: The NYCEDC stated that in addition to a 15,000-square-foot supermarket, local favorites like Il Forno Bakery, Soul Snacks Cookie Company, Bascom Catering, and Hunts Point Brewing Company will be setting up shop in the development. According to Weisz, these “will serve as anchor tenants for the Peninsula because they provide access to fresh produce, offer health care services, and strive to be part of a larger vision that benefits their growing business and the community they serve.”

The five-building development is coming online in three planned phases: Phase one is expected to be complete in 2021, with phase two coming online the year after and the third phase set to open in 2024.

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The Astor Cube is back, along with plaza and streetscape improvements by WXY

After two years in storage, New York’s Astor Place Cube is back for a few more spins, along with a reconfigured plaza and streetscape that are designed to make high-density urban living more bearable. New York City officials held a ribbon-cutting and sculpture-spinning ceremony today to mark the completion of repairs to the rotating Cube sculpture by Bernard “Tony” Rosenthal and the larger $21 million Astor Place/Cooper Square reconstruction project that provides an improved setting for it. Officially known as The Alamo, Rosenthal’s Cube was removed for safe keeping and cleaning on November 25, 2014, so it would be out of the way during plaza reconstruction. It was returned this month, signaling completion of public improvements designed by Claire Weisz of New York-based WXY, in conjunction with the city’s departments of Design and Construction (DDC), Transportation (DOT), and Parks and Recreation. "The redesign of Astor Place brings us yet another beautiful public space that New York City has wrestled back from the automobile,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We have now made the plaza space more welcoming for pedestrians and we have brought back distinctive elements—like the iconic Cube—that have long made this such a special gathering place and gateway to the East Village." Trottenberg wistfully recalled her own involvement at Astor Place. After graduating from Barnard in 1986, she said, she worked in publishing near the Wanamaker Annex back when that's what liberal arts graduates did. “This space means a lot to me,” she said. “I once sold used books under the Astor Place Cube, back when you could still make money selling books.” “The reconstruction of Astor Place—and the reinstallation of the East Village’s beloved Alamo—provides a terrific example of how well-designed public space can create a more unified,  better functioning public sphere,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “Fluid, attractive and walkable spaces like Alamo Plaza are crucial as we work together to create a greener, healthier New York City.” “I am thrilled the Cube is back at Alamo Square and that we are celebrating upgrades to another pedestrian plaza in our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Marking the heart of the East Village, Astor Plaza, and this iconic artwork stand as a crossroads for thousands of New Yorkers.” The 15-foot Cube is one of the best-known sculptures in the city, popular for the way it spins on its axis. First installed in 1967, the Cube is made of jet-black Cor-Ten steel, weighs 1,800 pounds and spins easily when touched, making it a favorite late night toy for neighboring college students and others. Rosenthal (1914 to 2009) created the Cube as part of Doris C. Freedman's Sculpture in Environment installation, sponsored by the New York City Administration of Recreation and Cultural Affairs when the East Village neighborhood was a Bohemian haven. Symbolizing the constant swirl of urban life, it is as contextually emblematic as the Financial District’s 1987 Charging Bull by Arturo Di Modica. It was the first permanent contemporary outdoor sculpture installed in the city of New York. The reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square were completed as part of an effort to upgrade infrastructure throughout New York City, to give residents and visitors public spaces that provide a relief as the city becomes more densely developed. The city has a goal of ensuring that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of quality open space. The Department of Design and Construction managed the project for Transportation and Parks. The community enhancement project created two new pedestrian plazas and expanded and renovated two others, bringing 42,000 square feet of new pedestrian space to the neighborhood. The redesign incorporated an existing subway station and created a safer configuration for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It introduced larger sidewalks; 16,000 square feet of planting areas with new trees and automated, in-ground irrigation systems; 6,700 square feet of permeable pavement; 2,100 square feet of curbside rain gardens for improved drainage; and racks for more than 100 bikes. The Cube was renovated at a cost of $180,000. According to a statement from the Department of Design and Construction: “Astor Place is one of Manhattan’s busiest hubs. With nearby institutions like New York University, Cooper Union, and Parsons School of Design, thousands of cars and pedestrians flow through the area every day. Activity in this plaza space has only intensified in recent years with new buildings rising and businesses moving in to accommodate Manhattan’s population growth.” In addition, the DDC statement notes, “Astor Place is the site of a tricky intersection. Three avenues meet one another, where they form two adjacent triangles. Because of this, the area has been notoriously difficult for pedestrians to navigate. You could very easily find yourself standing in the middle of a traffic median with no access to a protected crosswalk. For years, the surrounding community and city planners saw an opportunity to transform Astor Place into a calmer, safer space.” To reimagine Astor Place, the city agencies turned to WXY, an architecture and urban design firm with a track record for working in complicated parts of the public realm. “We tend to get projects that have gone a long time without being solved, like undersides of bridges or areas surrounding viaducts,” said principal-in-charge Claire Weisz, in a statement issued by DDC. “It’s really about bringing design thinking to unusual problems, or problems that people put off solving.” The redesign was intended to reduce stress for everyone in the area. It creates sidewalks and roadways that are more clearly delineated to calm and guide drivers, and it provides more space for pedestrians, especially in Astor Place’s Alamo Plaza. Custom-designed tables, chairs, and umbrellas encourage pedestrians to stop and take in the view. There are also more trees and benches in Astor Place. At the southern tip of the Astor Place area is Cooper Triangle and Village Plaza. Cooper Triangle got new street fixtures, including steps that provide seating and meeting areas for pedestrians. More pedestrian space was added by narrowing the width of the adjacent road. Reconstruction of Astor Place began in 2013 after the local Community Board approved the plan. Besides moving public art, work included relocating underground utilities and installing new features such as lighting, bicycle racks, and plantings. Planners say in-depth traffic studies were a key step in redesigning and rebuilding roadways to calm the flow of cars. Weisz said she used the unusual geometry of the area to reimagine pockets of under-used public space.  “How do we reconnect people to their environment, not just by views, but by interacting with it?” she said. “The more options we have and the more developed our infrastructure is, the more possibilities we have for continuing our density in the city.” While Astor Place is a high profile project, planners say, areas throughout New York City are receiving similar treatment on a smaller scale. The DDC launched its Plaza Program in 2008, inviting New Yorkers to nominate their own neighborhoods for a plaza redesign. Earlier this year, the DDC and DOT also completed Fordham Plaza in the Bronx and La Plaza de las Americas in Manhattan. Others in the works include George B. Post Plaza, Lowery and Bliss Plazas, Putnam Plaza, Roosevelt Island Plaza, and Times Plaza. Although the Cube was immortalized as a mosaic landmark at the nearby 8th Street-NYU Subway Station by artist Timothy Snell in his Broadway Diary mosaics (2002, for the MTA Arts & Design program), residents have long had concerns that the frequently and roughly used sculpture may change with the area. An Alexander Calder sculpture was planned in 2011 to take the place of the Film Academy Café during 51 Astor’s development but never arrived. The lobby of that building itself now features Jeff Koons’s whimsical 16-foot-tall Balloon Rabbit (Red), 2005-2010, ironically greeting all visitors to Big Blue. During the same plaza redevelopment in 2014 that prompted the Cube’s temporary disappearance, the Department of Transportation removed around 6 light posts encased with episodes of Mosaic Trail, a classic, yet illegally installed hallmark of the East Village begun around 1984 by local street artist Jim Power.
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Former Bronx juvenile prison to become 740-unit affordable housing development

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) have unveiled renderings for plans to redevelop a former Bronx juvenile prison into a mixed-use development centered on affordable housing. WXY architecture + urban design (WXY) are collaborating with Body Lawson Associates (BLA) to transform the notorious Spofford Juvenile Detention Center into The Peninsula, a $300 million project that will create 740 units of "100 percent" affordable housing. Along with typical deliverables—retail, community, and green space—for a project this size, the Peninsula will bring 49,000 square feet of light industrial space to the Hunts Point neighborhood. The project is one of many mixed-use complexes cropping up in the borough: In May, Mastermind Development broke ground on a $117.7 million project in East Tremont and FXFOWLE's La Central in Melrose is moving forward. The development team—Gilbane Development Company, Hudson Companies, and Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY)—was chosen through a 2015 request for expressions of interest (RFEI). The team is working with longtime neighborhood stakeholders like the Point CDC, BronxWorks, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, Urban Health Plan, Sustainable South Bronx, and others. In 2014 Majora Carter, the urban revitalization activist and founder/former executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, partnered with AutoDesk to imagine alternatives to the Spofford site, which operated as the Bridges Juvenile Center when it was shuttered by the city in 2011 over appalling conditions and inmate abuse. DNAinfo reports that a development team spearheaded by Carter was rejected in favor of the winning proposal. "The lack of diversity on the team chosen by NYCEDC to develop Spofford is not indicative of Mayor de Blasio’s much-publicized commitment to including minority businesses in the city’s contracting," Carter told DNAinfo. "Instead EDC selected a typical team composed exclusively of white men 'partnered' with uncompensated minority nonprofits to whom no transformative capital benefits will accrue." The five-building development is nevertheless coming online in three planned phases: Phase one is expected to be complete in 2021, with phase two coming online the year after, and the third and final phase set to open in 2024. In addition to providing housing, those facilities will host a business incubator, job training facilities, school space for pre-K (an on-site Head Start will be incorporated into the project) and higher ed, 52,000 square feet of open space, and an 18,000-square-foot health and wellness center operated by Urban Health Plan. Food is key to the Peninsula: According to the NYCEDC, in addition to a 15,000-square-foot supermarket, local favorites like Il Forno Bakery, Soul Snacks, Bascom Catering, and Hunts Point Brewing Company will be setting up shop in the development.