James Gardner Goes Gaga for Central Park Kiosk

East, East Coast
Friday, May 28, 2010
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The "drably mansarded structure in red brick" during its previous life as a mere concession stand. (Courtesy NYMag.com)

As editors ourselves, we know writers don’t usually write the headlines. Still, we were struck by one atop a recent review by our friend and sometimes contributor James Gardner in The Real Deal, which declared, “Central Park’s Le Pain Quotidien ranks as one of the best things about New York City.” You don’t say. And yet, for all the hyperbole, the guy’s got a point: Read More

Who Trumps Trump?

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 27, 2010
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The Trump World Tower (861 feet), Beekman Tower (867 feet), and Carnegie 57 (1,005 feet). (Images Courtesy BergProperties.com, moonman82/Flickr, Observer.com)

The Times‘ dogged development reporter Charles Bagli had a big scoop yesterday on Christian de Portzamparc’s new tower, Carnegie 57, and what it portends for a construction recovery. That said, we couldn’t help but notice a minor error in the article’s lede: “Gary Barnett, one of New York City’s most prolific developers, is about to start construction of a $1.3 billion skyscraper on 57th Street that will overtake Trump World Tower as the tallest residential building in the city.” The only problem is, Trump World Tower was already surpassed by Frank Gehry’s Beekman Tower, which topped out in November. That shimmering, Bernini-swaddled building rises to 867 feet, six feet higher than Costas Kondylis’ Death-Star-on-Hudson. We wouldn’t have mentioned this except that the errant factoid has been picked up all over the place. Read More

Warm-Up Lap for Pole Dance

East, East Coast
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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If the PS1 pavilion is nearly complete, summer must be just around the corner. (Matt Chaban)

Over the weekend, we happened to be biking by the (newly renamed) MoMA PS1 in Long Island City when we noticed something unusual, familiar, even. It was SO-IL’s Pole Dance, this year’s Young Architects pavilion, taking shape. The museum was closing, so we only snapped one furtive, washed-out photo (let’s call it arty) on our cellphone before security made us leave. Fortunately, Frederick Fisher cut some slats in the imposing concrete wall he created as part of the museum’s 1997 redesign, so we managed to capture a little bit more of the installation, emphasis on little. Still, it looks like it’ll be fun, and we can’t help but notice how close it is to the renderings, as you can see after the jump. Read More

Zooming In on New New York

East, East Coast
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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Scenes from New New York. (Courtesy the Architectural League) CLICK TO LAUNCH SLIDESHOW

Yesterday, we told you the story of how the 100 strong New New York Photography Corps snapped some 4,500 photos of the city in stasis for a new show being put on by the Architectural League, The City We Imagined/The City We Made: New New York 2001–2010. Here now are a bakers dozen of the best. To view a slideshow click here or the photo above.

One Bryant Reaches New Heights

East, East Coast
Monday, May 24, 2010
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There was quite the crowd at the One Bryant Park "opening" last week. (Matt Chaban)

The building’s been up and running for two years, but One Bryant Park wasn’t finished finished until last Thursday night, when the opening party was held in the cavernous lobby and the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Dursts with the building’s LEED Platinum plaque. Jody Durst kicked things off, thanking everyone for coming, all the people who made the building possible, and the like before introducing Rick Cook, the lead designer for Cook + Fox on the penguin-shaped tower. Before a crowd of a few hundred bankers, real estate types, and other assorted Midtown workadays, Cook probably gave the largest architectural lecture of his career. Read More

A River Runs Through Times Square

East, East Coast
Monday, May 24, 2010
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A before and after of Molly Dilworth's "Cool Water, Hot Island," the winning entry for a semi-temporary installation in the new-ish Times Square.

Back in February, when the Bloomberg administration announced it would be making the closure of Broadway in Times Square permanent, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told us, basically, that she had been very impressed with the Dutch dots she had seen adorning closed roads in the Netherlands. In the end, the Department decided on something a little more complex for the installation that will adorn the roadway for the next 18 months, before permanent renovations can begin sometime in 2012. Beating out 149 artists, designers, and aesthetes is Brooklyn’s Molly Dilworth, whose Cool Water, Hot Island is an abstracted representation of Manhattan’s heat island effect, that extra blanket of warmth that plagues most urban areas. The piece should be installed by mid-July Read More

Thumbs Up for Penn Tower

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 20, 2010
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15 Penn Plaza, which would become the second tallest tower in Midtown, has met with limited political opposition.

Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gave his approval to 15 Penn Plaza, a nearly 1,200-square-foot tower designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and proposed for a site across from Penn Station. The approval was conditional, as usually happens when a borough president puts the stamp on a land-use project, but what was surprising, perhaps, is that the size or scale of the building were not addressed. As we reported last month, the proposed project is 42.5 percent larger than current zoning allows, one of the chief reasons the local community board opposed the building 36-1, deeming the project too big. Such outsizing is usually a gripe for borough presidents, as well, but that was not the case here, as Stringer took issue with impacts on the open space, transportation, construction, and sidewalks, all of which are impacted by the projects size, though that itself was never an issue. This one, it appears, is all about mitigation and not reduction. That said, this is Midtown—a common refrain in support of the pre-shrunken MoMA tower, to which Stringer did object more strenuously—so maybe this fits after all.

Some-Glass House for Sale

East, East Coast
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
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Philip Johnson's first commission work, the Booth House in Bedford, New York. (Courtesy philipjohnsonsfirsthouse.com)

Philip Johnson’s first commissioned work, a house for the Booth family built in 1946, can now be yours for the forgiving price of $2 million. It’s not exactly Johnson’s first building ever—that distinction goes to his Harvard thesis project, completed two years prior—nor is it exactly his best—according to one first hand report, it’s basically a Glass House with cinder block walls. Still, that’s about par in price for the area according to Coldwell Banker, and how many other of those homes can boast such history? Just so long as it’s not bought for the land and torn down like so many other modernist homes north of the city that have been lost in recent years.

Inching Toward ULURP Reform

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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The Tweed Courthouse, where the Charter Commission held its meeting Monday to set up expert panels, including one for land-use reform.

On Monday, the Charter Revision Commission held its latest meeting, where its members called for a series of five panels to better inform their decision on what, if any, issues to put on the ballot this fall—or next, more on that in a moment. One of the five panels that was called for was on land-use reform, the best indication yet that the commission may well perform the major overhauls the city’s developers and planners have been calling for, as we noted in a recent issue. The commissioned announced today that the land-use panel will be held June 24, at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library, and in addition to experts, public input will also be taken. So if this is an issue you care deeply about—be honest, who doesn’t love ULURP?—then we’ll see you there. As for this fall or next, the biggest debate remains not what but when the commission will conclude its work, as some commissioners and members of the public insist it is moving too quickly to fully engage all the necessary issues.

Not a Bridge too Fair

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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A rendering of a proposed replacement for the Goethals Bridge. It may look different in the end, as the bridge is being developed as a public-private partnership, but the Port Authority seems committed to a strong design regardless. (Courtesy PA)

Ever since the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, politicians and public authorities nationwide have been scrambling to get theirs up to code. New bridges, or at least proposals for them, abound, some nice, some not so much. Fortunately, the Port Authority appears committed to a high-design bridge. The authority released a request for information [PDF] this week, a precursor to an RFQ. The Observer picked up on the PA’s interest in building the thing with a public-private partnership, an approach with a mix of benefits—no upfront costs—and risks—less control or long-term revenue. But what is promising, nonetheless, is the PA’s commitment to constructing what could be called a statement bridge. Read More

Catalyze This

East Coast, National
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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Take that still largely speculative skyline!

Last fall, the Downtown Alliance unveiled a plan by ARO and a dozen or so other designers aimed at reviving an area the civic group dubbed Greenwich South. Among the proposals was an iconic, place-defining tower designed by one of our favorite firms, San Francisco’s IwamotoScott. While the Downtown Alliance’s plan was largely speculative, the tower has, uh, popped up once again, with bountiful new renderings on Inhabitat. It’s not entirely clear why the tower has been so thoroughly expanded upon, but we’re guessing all this new snazz has something to do with the firm’s upcoming appearance at the Design Triennial opening Friday, of which it’s a part. We’ve posted a few of our favorite renderings here, with more than a dozen available at Inhabitat. Read More

Beaming Up the City

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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A Shrike Commander twin-prop plane at twilight, like the ones being used to map New York at night. (Courtesy Texas Aviation)

If you were in New York any time during the last half of the last month, while you slept, you were being zapped with lasers. Or rather, the buildings you slept in. This according to a downright cool story in the Times today reporting that the city has been using a small prop plane to develop far-and-away the most detailed map we’ve ever seen. Like Robert Moses’s famed Panorama dozen times over, “but more accurate and digital,” as Rohit Aggarwala, the departing sustainability czar, told the Grey Lady. More than just creating a solar map of the city’s building stock, the aerial study is beginning to turn up an incredible data set, including all the pitch roofs capable of accommodating solar panels, how much—if any, sadly—of our wetlands remain, and even “zoning changes and stricter building codes.” And here you thought lasers were only good for tag, lasik, and jedi.

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