The winners of the AIA New York's biennial design competition have been been announced. The Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) committee selected from 120 proposals submitted as a part of QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm, which was intended to drum up ideas that would contribute to the proposed re-purposing of an elevated railway in Queens. Entrants were tasked with designing a vertical gateway for the elevated viaduct portion of the 3.5 mile–long track currently under consideration for the High Line treatment. A jury consisting of Claire Weisz of WXY Architecture + Urban Design, Matthew Johnson of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and project manager of the High Line, and Margaret Newman from the New York Department of Transportation among others convened on January 18th to anoint Carrie Wibert the winner and recipient of the $5000 ENYA prize. Nikolay Martynov's Queens Bilboard finished second, followed by Song Deng's Make It! Grow It! Jessica Shomekaer won the Student Prize while Queens local Hyontek Yoon received honorable mention for Upside Down Bridge. These proposals, along with others submitted to the competition will go on display July 17th in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture that will be supplemented by a series of discussion panels. The exhibit should come on the heels of the completion of the ongoing feasibility study undertaken by WXY and dlandstudio Landscape Architecture & Architecture. The project is not without its detractors, with some locals clamoring for the re-activation of the track for rail transportation as a means of alleviating congestion in the borough. Advocates of the Queensway question the feasibility of such a move and also claim that the park would link communities, improve quality of life, and enable safer bike and foot traffic.
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Drastic architectural overhauls often require the eviction or removal of those living in the area that has been designated for revamping. The ongoing redesign of Manhattan's Astor Place and Cooper Square is no exception, though in this case, authorities are looking beyond mere eviction in favor of extermination. The rodent residents of the area have proven a recent set-back for a project that was first revealed over three years ago. Following its 2011 debut, the plan for the block by WXY architecture + urban design has undergone slight revisions. The goals of creating extra public space, improving storm drainage, and making the area more pedestrian-friendly remain in place. Towards this end Cooper Square Park will be expanded and the surrounding street-grid will be altered. Quennell-Rothschild & Partners will adorn the newly formed plazas and walkways with trees and other vegetation. Updated renderings released at the end of 2013 show additional seating added to the area immediately surrounding the Astor Place Subway station and the creation of a new Alamo plaza, formed by an expansion of the sidewalk that currently houses the rotating public sculpture. Construction began in the fall of 2013 on new drainage systems at East 4th Street and is slated to progress northward over the two years that are said to be required for its completion. In December, however, the steadily growing rat population living underneath Cooper Square became problematic enough that the park needed to be shut down for three weeks to allow for a large-scale poisoning operation. New York Department of Design and Construction spokesman Craig Chin sees the WXY design itself as a more long-term means of addressing the infestation: "The actual reconstruction of the park helps address the issue at the root...with construction removing the burrows and subterranean rodent habitats that formed in the vaulted spaces underground."
A year ago, Hurricane Sandy swept through the East coast—destroying thousands of homes, shutting down infrastructure, and knocking out substations—which resulted in $68 billion in damage. Yesterday, a day before the anniversary of the super storm, ten finalists in the Rebuild by Design competition unveiled their proposals to remake a more resilient coastline. The competition—launched by Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), among other participating organizations—called on the final teams to provide ideas for making the affected coastal areas more resilient to withstand future storms and climate change. After spending three months investigating and identifying the region's challenges, the teams have have honed in on specific areas—from Red Hook and Newtown Creek to Hoboken and the Rockaways—and come up with a number of strategies to protect coastal communities, including improving communication channels, mapping out new community micro-grids, reconfiguring vulnerable neighborhoods, and implementing hard and soft ecological infrastructure. In the next stage of the process, the finalists will be granted $100,000 to collaborate with communities and government entities to further develop site-specific strategies. In March, design solutions from a winning design team (or teams) will be selected, and then later implemented. Interboro Partners with the New Jersey Institute of Technology Infrastructure Planning Program; TU Delft; Project Projects; RFA Investments; IMG Rebel; Center for Urban Pedagogy; David Rusk; Apex; Deltares; Bosch Slabbers; H+N+S; and Palmbout Urban Landscapes. Team statement: "Our unique team combines the best of Dutch land-use planning, environmental and coastal engineering, and urban water management with the best of American urban design, participatory planning, community development, engineering, and economic analysis and financial engineering. The Dutch contingent, which consists of design professionals who have extensive experience working together to adaptively plan coastal regions around the world, have envisioned, designed, and implemented some of the most important flood mitigation and management strategies worldwide." PennDesign/OLIN with PennPraxis, Buro Happold, HR&A Advisors, and E-Design Dynamics Team statement: "The PennDesign/OLIN team combines the strength of PennDesign in cross-disciplinary research, design, and communication; experience across the Northeast region; and institutional capacity to sustain long campaigns for change with a core team of high-capacity, strategic design practices: OLIN for landscape and urban design, and design and research integration; HR&A Advisors for market and financing strategies; and eDesign Dynamics for hydrology and ecosystems. The core team, led by Marilyn Taylor, John Landis for research, and Ellen Neises and Lucinda Sanders for design, and Harris Steinberg for engagement, will draw heavily on an engaged group of advisors in architecture, planning, sciences, geographic information systems, and climate modeling, and Wharton Business School, which will inform an approach on how best to shape alliances to layer buildings, living systems, social fabric, infrastructure, and economies." WXY architecture + urban design / West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture with ARCADIS Engineering and the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University; Maxine Griffith; Parsons the New School for Design; Duke University; BJH Advisors; and Mary Edna Fraser. Team statement: "XY/WEST 8 is framing the benefits of a shared approach to coastal protection. Studying systematic and large-scale issues— market failures in the assessment of risk, provision of insurance, and ecological impact, as well as the disproportionate representation of low-income populations in high-vulnerability areas—allows a fuller understanding of the region and nation. This approach leads to investigations of the outermost conditions of the Northeastern American Coastline (its barrier islands, inlets, shorelines and riparian estuaries) and examines a series of prototype transects that run from the shoreline to hinterland, from nature to culture." OMA with Royal Haskoning DHV; Balmori Associaties; R/GA; and HR&A Advisors. Team statement: "With a focus on high-density urban environments, the team’s driving principal is one of integration. The tools of defense should be seen as intrinsic to the urban environment, and serve as a scaffold to enable activity—much in the same way that the dam is the genesis of the city of Amsterdam. This will necessitate an approach that is both holistic and dynamic; one that acknowledges the complexity of systems at play; and one that works with, rather than against, the natural flow." HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson, & Partners; Grimshaw; Langan Engineering; W Architecture; Hargreaves Associates; Alamo Architects; Urban Green Council; Ironstate Development; Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation; New City America. Team statement: "Our team focused on the resiliency challenges of key commercial corridors across the region. We explored solutions that fully integrate design and engineering of buildings and infrastructure with programs, financing tools, and management strategies. Commercial property, including local retail and services, forms the critical backbone of a community, supporting it in everyday conditions and serving as a lifeline for supplies, information, and recovery efforts during storm conditions, including Sandy." SCAPE Landscape Architecture with Parsons Brinckerhoff; SeARC Ecological Consulting; Ocean and Coastal Consultants; The New York Harbor School; Phil Orton/Stevens Institute; Paul Greenberg; LOT-EK; and MTWTF. Team statement: "SCAPE has brought together an energetic, experienced design team that has been both at the forefront of innovative, speculative thinking on resiliency and a key public sector partner in re-building critical infrastructural systems. We have, together as a team and in separate initiatives, mapped, modeled, and studied in depth the Northeast region’s vulnerabilities and developed precise, innovative solutions that tie the regeneration of ecological and water networks directly to economic benefits, community development scenarios, coastal protection solutions, and public space enhancements." Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism and the Dutch Delta Collaborative with ZUS; De Urbanisten; Deltares; 75B; and Volker Infra Design. Team statement: "The team of MIT+ZUS+Urbanisten proposes a grouping of resiliency districts at the edges of the flood zones of the metro area of NY-NJ. Each resiliency district will have its own layered approach that combines emergency infrastructure, evacuation capacity, ecological protection/absorption landscape infrastructure; as well as a development mix of light manufacturing/warehousing with residential. Every dollar of federal investment should help address a wide portfolio of risks – storm surge, rainwater events, and heat islands; and cover a spectrum of vulnerabilities – economic, social, and pollution." Sasaki Associates with Rutgers University and ARUP. Team statement: "The Sasaki-led team, with Rutgers University and Arup, leverages the interdisciplinary perspectives of designers, planners, ecologists, social scientists, and engineers to design opportunities and strategies for long-term coastal resilience. Sasaki’s research focuses on the value of “the beach,” a place of special significance to human memory and economy, and a vital component of coastal ecosystems. New Jersey’s northern shore (Ocean and Monmouth counties) is an ideal place to study the identity and function of the beach; it includes the three coastal typologies found across the eastern seaboard of the United States: Barrier Island, Headlands, and Inland Bay." Bjarke Ingels Group with One Architecture; Starr Whitehouse; James Lima Planning & Development; Green Shield Ecology; Buro Happold; AEA Consulting; and Project Projects. Team statement: "BIG Team brings together significant international experience in Denmark and the Netherlands with a deep understanding of this Sandy region’s economic, political and social environment. Team Leader, BIG, is a group of architects, designers and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development with offices in New York City, Copenhagen and Beijing. For over a decade, BIG has been building a reputation as one of the most creative and intelligent architecture offices in the world. Our projects are also widely recognized as sophisticated responses to the challenges of urban development that create dynamic public spaces and forms that are as programmatically and technically innovative as they are cost and resource conscious." unabridged Architecture with Mississippi State University; Waggoner and Ball Architects; Gulf Coast Community Design; and the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Team statement: "There are places that are too valuable to abandon, even in the face of climate change. Such places hold our traditions and memories, our past enterprises and dreams for the future. The design opportunities we chose have demonstrated their value over generations of inhabitation, and are worth continued investment to make the people, structures, and systems more resilient. Resiliency is not a fixed target, but a strategy with technical solutions, such as elevating structures or constructing structural defenses, and adaptive solutions to encourage new behavior. Adaptive resiliency changes human behavior as well as the physical environment."
In response to Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched the Rebuild by Design competition to develop strategies to increase the resiliency of urban and coastal areas in the face of extreme weather events and climate change. According to HUD's website, the goal of the competition is "to promote innovation by developing regionally-scalable but locally-contextual solutions that increase resilience in the region, and to implement selected proposals with both public and private funding dedicated to this effort. The competition also represents a policy innovation by committing to set aside HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding specifically to incentivize implementation of winning projects and proposals. Examples of design solutions are expected to range in scope and scale—from large-scale green infrastructure to small-scale residential resiliency retrofits." The shortlist of 10 teams—including architects, landscape architects, university groups, developers, engineers and others—has been announced. Interboro Partners with the New Jersey Institute of Technology Infrastructure Planning Program; TU Delft; Project Projects; RFA Investments; IMG Rebel; Center for Urban Pedagogy; David Rusk; Apex; Deltares; Bosch Slabbers; H+N+S; and Palmbout Urban Landscapes. PennDesign/OLIN with PennPraxis, Buro Happold, HR&A Advisors, and E-Design Dynamics WXY architecture + urban design / West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture with ARCADIS Engineering and the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University; Maxine Griffith; Parsons the New School for Design; Duke University; BJH Advisors; and Mary Edna Fraser. OMA with Royal Haskoning DHV; Balmori Associaties; R/GA; and HR&A Advisors. HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson, & Partners; Grimshaw; Langan Engineering; W Architecture; Hargreaves Associates; Alamo Architects; Urban Green Council; Ironstate Development; Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation; New City America. SCAPE Landscape Architecture with Parsons Brinckerhoff; SeARC Ecological Consulting; Ocean and Coastal Consultants; The New York Harbor School; Phil Orton/Stevens Institute; Paul Greenberg; LOT-EK; and MTWTF. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism and the Dutch Delta Collaborative with ZUS; De Urbanisten; Deltares; 75B; and Volker Infra Design. Sasaki Associates with Rutgers University and ARUP. Bjarke Ingels Group with One Architecture; Starr Whitehouse; James Lima Planning & Development; Green Shield Ecology; Buro Happold; AEA Consulting; and Project Projects. unabridged Architecture with Mississippi State University; Waggoner and Ball Architects; Gulf Coast Community Design; and the Center for Urban Pedagogy.
Last week, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced an $8 million achievement of capital funding for the East River Blueway proposal for redevelopment of the Brooklyn Bridge Beach. The proposal, set by President Stringer and Assemblyman Kavanagh in collaboration with WXY architecture + urban design, will redesign and improve the stretch of East River greenway in Lower Manhattan from East 38th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge. At a press conference on the esplanade underneath the bridge itself, Council Speaker Quinn declared that the City Council of New York had matched Borough President Stringer’s $3.5 million allocation, realizing their $7 million monetary goal for the creation of salt marshes, access to the natural beach, an improved esplanade, and reconstruction of piers for fishing and boating in the 11,000 square foot area they call Brooklyn Bridge Beach. The officials also announced that Council Member Dan Gardonik provided an additional $1 million in funding to go toward the construction of a kayak and canoe launch on the East River at Stuyvesant Cove, which stretches from East 18th to East 23rd Streets. "New York has always been a city of water, and this project will re-connect us to one of our greatest resources," Council Speaker Quinn said in a statement. "The waterfront is an asset to New York City—we must embrace it." These plans, however, are only a small part of the extensive, 82-page East River Blueway proposal. As Stephen Miller of Streetsblog points out, the conference presented no specific plan for development besides the previous WXY conceptual renderings, no timeline for construction, and no indication of the cost of the entire project. Several companies are attempting work along the same East River front in hopes that a continuous greenway is achieved. Mayor Bloomberg's "Seaport City," a Manhattan landfill extension on levees planned as protection from storms similar to Hurricane Sandy, is proposed adjacent to Brooklyn Bridge Beach but Borough President Stringer avoided the question when asked to comment.
WXY architecture + urban design has been adding to Lower Manhattan's Battery Park over the years, designing concession stands, a variety of benches, and a fountain, but their latest addition is adding a twist on the usual urban carousel. AN began watching the ocean-themed SeaGlass carousel back in 2006 when it was announced and the Battery Conservancy will be hosting a topping off ceremony for the structure on April 18. The carousel's frame is made of stainless steel, evoking the spiral of a giant sea shell or the ornate ceiling of a cathedral. WXY principal Claire Weisz said the part of the facade now covered in plywood sheathing will be clad in metal panels while other portions will include "smart glass" that can change from transparent to a dark blue tint. The solid areas serve as projection surfaces on the interior where underwater scenes will add to the enchanted effect of riding atop larger-than-life sea creatures like dolphins, clown fish, and turtles. Watch Weisz and co-principal Mark Yoes describe the carousel and other WXY projects in their Emerging Voices address from March 16, 2011. SeaGlass is the the latest in a line of high design carousels in New York, joining Jean Nouvel's Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] WXY architecture + urban design has a game plan to revive Manhattan's East River waterfront, softening its hard edges with wetlands, beaches, and new pedestrian and cyclist amenities to create a model city based on resilient sustainability and community-driven recreation. AN spoke with WXY principal Claire Weisz about her firm's East River Blueway plan to find out a new waterfront can help New York stand up to the next major storm. Below, slide between the current views of the East River waterfront and the proposed changes under the Blueway plan. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, wetlands will calm the East River's choppy waves and a newly-accessible beach would allow recreational access to the river. Water-filtering tidal pools allow a cleaner option than swimming directly in the East River itself. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Where pedestrian and cyclist paths are crowded against the FDR highway, WXY proposes building elevated platforms to pull away from the highway and make room for a landscaped waterfront. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Beneath the FDR, a tray system holds freshwater marshes that filter rainwater runoff before it enters the saltwater wetland system in the East River. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Stuyvesant Cove just above 14th Street includes more tidal pools and wetlands and a more dramatic network of paths elevated over the water. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] WXY is exploring building a park atop a parking garage on the waterfront and separating motorized and human-powered watercraft on separate piers to minimize conflift. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] A bowtie-shaped pedestrian and cyclist bridge would offer security and flood protection to the power substation that exploded during Hurricane Sandy while greatly improving neighborhood access to the waterfront.
The neighborhood around Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal is about to undergo monumental change as the Bloomberg administration pushes to upzone areas around Park and Madison avenues. Already, Norman Foster recently unveiled his plans for a new 425 Park tower, viewed as a precursor to what's bound to be a taller neighborhood and the NYC Department of Transportation announced intentions to close Vanderbilt Avenue to automobile traffic to help with already-overflowing sidewalks. But in anticipation of Warren and Wetmore's Grand Central celebrating its centennial next year, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) asked three firms—SOM, WXY, and Foster+Partners—to re-envision the Beaux-Arts masterpiece and its surrounding midtown neighborhood with an eye toward the train station's next 100 years. The results of the Grand Central…The Next 100 project were unveiled at this year's MAS Summit for New York City, which wrapped up on Friday and included both down-to-earth and fanciful visions for the future of Manhattan. Each of the three firms used the existing Grand Central as a springboard to create infrastructure that stimulates and interacts with the public realm, connecting the terminal to the street and larger neighborhood. These connections are vital considering the terminal handles up to a million visitors on peak days. Foster & Partners put it succinctly in a statement:
The result is acute overcrowding; connections to the rail and subway lines beneath the concourse are inadequate; and the arrival and departure experience is poor. Added to that, the surrounding streets are choked with traffic and pedestrians are marginalised. The rapid growth of tall buildings in the vicinity has all but consumed the Terminal.All three proposals recognize the importance of the pedestrian realm and push for expanded public space, not only along Vanderbilt Avenue, but also along the terraced Park Avenue weaving around the terminal and along diagonal corridors carved through surrounding buildings. The three teams also proposed different ideas of layering spaces, connecting the street level with a terraced viaduct surrounding the terminal and connections to the activity happening underground. WXY peeled away portions of Vanderbilt Avenue to reveal the subterranean infrastructure that makes Grand Central tick, providing both interesting view corridors and easier access to the train station. The new pedestrian plaza is bookended by an proposed new super-tall tower at its southern terminus and a reimagined MetLife building planted with trees and repurposed as residential, office, and hotel uses with an ambitious cultural anchor at its base. The Park Avenue viaduct has been divided to provide separate automobile and pedestrian / bike access. In addition to turning Vanderbilt Avenue over to pedestrians, Foster reimagined the streets surrounding Grand Central as shared spaces where pedestrians, cyclists, and automobiles share space in a slow-moving environment with faster traffic bypassing the area through an underpass. Through a series of small-scale interventions, Foster sought to provide "breathing room" around the terminal that allows visitors to linger and experience that place rather than simply rush through, accomplished in part through a series of cuts in the pedestrian plaza leading to retail zones. SOM similarly addresses the ground plane with more nuanced pedestrian space, also turning over the entire Park Avenue viaduct to pedestrian use. Their plans turned monumental with several large towers proposed flanking Grand Central with a moveable ring connecting the two floating over the station. SOM also reached out into midtown with a series of POPS, privately owned public spaces, forming diagonal pedestrian streets modeled after the recently opened Holly Whyte Way that connect to surrounding landmarks like the New York Public Library. As a major transportation hub, a historic building, and a commercial space, Grand Central is among the most important anchors in all of Manhattan, and MAS President Vin Cipolla emphasized the need to acknowledge the public experience in the midst of the ongoing rezoning initiatives. Foster added that MAS’s focus on the next century of Grand Central “represents an important and welcome debate that will help shape the future form of the city. The quality of a city’s public realm reflects the level of civic pride and has a direct impact on the quality of everyday life.” The results of The Next 100 will help the MAS is compiling its forthcoming report,The Future of Midtown.
The Municipal Arts Society is celebrating Grand Central's upcoming centenial, by holding a design challenge to reimagine the grand dame for the next 100 years. Foster & Partners, SOM, and WXY have each been invited to revamp public spaces inside and outside the terminal. More DOT pedestrian plazas anyone? The results of will be shown at the society's third annual Summit for New York City on October 18. (Photo: Tom Stoelker/AN)
As part of Quennell Rothschild's master plan for the Rockaways, WXY Architects was tapped to design the beach pavilion and two shade shelters. The pavilion will be open to the public tomorrow, Wednesday, July 18, with a ribbon cutting set for later this month. A wave-like roof flows from a utilitarian box enlivened by glazed brick stripes arranged in muted shades of mint, lime, and hunter green. Circular openings are punched into the roof covering a large outdoor boardwalk made of recycled plastic. The structure servers as a comfort station, park maintenance station, and an outdoor classroom. Kids can kick back on precast concrete seating that conjure up a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. The flowing rooftop is cast-in-place concrete painted with tank liner VersaFlex. The end of the structure culminates in a 15-foot cantilevered sweep upward, giving the appearance of a towel flapping in the wind.
WXY appointed Adam Lubinsky as principal. Lubinsky received a Ph.D. in Planning and Urban Design from the University College London, where he also has been teaching. Ben Bischoff is taking over operations at MADE as the sole principal of the company. Bischoff co-founded MADE with Oliver Freundlich and Brian Papa, who are both departing to "pursue individual interests." Ray Huff has been named director of the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston. Huff was the founding director of the Charleston program when it was initiated in 1987 and has served as an instructor there for much of the time since. J. Scott Kibourn has been appointed Principal and Chief Operating Officer of Perkins Eastman's international operations. CENTRIA Metal Architectural Systems has named Tom White Design and Development leader. White was previously Corporate Director for Business Development at the architectural firm Burt Hill. HR&A is opening an office in Washington, D.C. and welcoming back Lionel Lynch as the principal leading the effort. SmithGroup has tapped Paul Johnson, FAIA, who has been with the firm since 1986, to lead the firm’s Building Technology Studio in Detroit. Have news on movers and shakers in the architecture & design universe for SHFT+ALT+DEL? Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org!
New zipper benches designed by WXY are in place at Peter Minuit Plaza. The skateboard-proof benches in front of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal got a proper workout yesterday, despite the cold. The sinuous design begins as two benches facing opposite directions before zipping up and melding into one surface offering the sitter a choice of two views. Morphing benches seem to be making statements in more places than just New York as well. Last week's AN Fabrikator story spotlighted subway benches in Philly that scrunch up to discourage people from lying down. It would seem that firms are taking on bad behavior by pushing the design envelope.