One of Manhattan’s most historic streets could soon become one of its most pedestrian-friendly. That is, if a plan for a revamped Orchard Street from the Lower East Side’s Business Improvement District (BID) is approved by the city. The plan, which was unveiled at a community board meeting last week, calls for curb extensions, bike corals, planters, tree beds, and benches along a six-block stretch of the street. The plan also calls for a pedestrian plaza on adjacent Broome Street.
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Slate-clad addition to the American Swedish Institute evokes contemporary Scandinavian design.
Minneapolis-based architecture, engineering, and planning firm HGA faced a tall order when the American Swedish Institute asked them to design an addition to the building known locally as “The Castle.” The turreted Turnblad Mansion, constructed in Minneapolis’ Phillips West neighborhood in 1908 and home of ASI since 1929, lacked the kinds of multi-purpose spaces required by ASI’s cultural and educational programming—and was suffering wear and tear from a steady stream of visitors. “The project was about creating a front door that was more welcoming and inviting than the existing building, that can help protect the mansion and allow it to be used as a house museum,” said project architect Andy Weyenberg. At the same time, “the mansion remained the focal point,” he explained. “It will always be the identity of ASI. Everything we did, we wanted to respect the mansion and keep it as a centerpiece.” HGA’s intervention honors the primacy of the Turnblad Mansion while updating ASI’s image with a contemporary facade inspired by Swedish building methods and materials.
The New York City Department of Transportation recently broke ground on the second phase of Fordham Plaza’s reconstruction in the Bronx. The revamped space will have all the standard-issue pieces of a New York City pedestrian plaza—the planters, benches, seating, trees, lights, and kiosks—but, ultimately, the plaza represents a significant investment in existing transportation infrastructure.
One of the highlights of this author’s recent exhibition, Never Built Los Angeles, was a comprehensive, and interconnected, parks plan for Los Angeles assembled by the landscape firm Olmsted and Bartholomew in 1930. That old plan is seeing some new life in the Los Angeles community. If the proposed Emerald Necklace Expanded Vision Plan is realized, that idea would come to life almost a century after it was proposed.
The house that Vans built is 30,000 square feet, cavernous, and deep underneath London. The iconic shoe and clothes retailer recently transformed the Old Vic Tunnels beneath Waterloo Station into “The House of Vans”—a multi-level, subterranean cultural venue complete with galleries, artist studios, a café, two bars, an 85-person music venue, a 160-person cinema, and, of course, a skate park.