New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city’s continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio’s predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York’s built environment.
With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed boulders, Bloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan‘s street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it’s at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta’s redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate.
As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era.
First proposed in 2011, Brooklyn’s Silent Light installation has finally become a reality. Located at the intersection of Park Avenue and Navy Street under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) in Red Hook, the series of gates frames a pedestrian walkway that passes through an area of heavy vehicular traffic. The structures are covered in LED lights activated by surrounding noise from cars to create fleeting light shows of various colors and patterns.
After several false-starts, plans to re-open the landmark building as a hotel appear to be underway. Jeffrey Holmes of Australian Architecture firm Woods Bagot is the latest figure attached to the project. Developers David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit of the Chetrit Group purchased the Brooklyn property for $81 million from Watchtower Society in November 2012 but progress subsequently stalled.
Selldorf Architects and Gene Kaufman have both at times been tipped to lead the rennovation, but neither is currently affiliated with the project. While initial prospects looked grim, the city has recently approved plans to change the building’s certificate of occupancy, allowing for construction to begin with an eye towards a summer re-opening, a year later than expected.
Last Thursday, the first mods of the SHoP Architects’ prefabricated skyscraper—the B2 tower at Brooklyn’s megaproject, Atlantic Yards—were hoisted up and assembled into place. The 32-story residential tower, which will be half affordable housing, will rise within the Atlantic Yards development adjacent the Barclays Center. The modular components are being built locally in a 100,000 square foot facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. When construction is complete by end of 2014, it will be the world’s tallest pre-fabricated building.
Last week was a big week for development in the already condo-saturated area of north Brooklyn. Brownstoner reported that City Council gave the massive Greenpoint Landing proposal the green light to construct 10 towers along the East River waterfront. While the project already had the approval to build as of right, the developers made a few concessions including an agreement to build a public school, offer free shuttle service to transit nodes from the complex, bump up the number of affordable housing units, and allocate money towards Newton Barge Park.
In Williamsburg, the SHoP-designed Domino Sugar Refinery proposal (pictured) received Community Board One’s approval. Two Trees also had as of right to build its string of towers, but the developer is now seeking to increase the height of the buildings and add more green space. Board members requested a few tweaks to affordable housing options and retail.
For some, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth hearkens to days of “Long live the Queen!” but a recent design intervention could edit that phrase to “Long live Warhol!” Brooklyn-based Flavor Paper recently launched a collection of proprietary designs from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts‘ store of works in PVC-free, water-based ink formats that can be customized for a variety of applications.
With their winning design for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s “Timber in the City” competition, three students from the University of Oregon have imagined wood’s viable potential in prefabricated low-cost housing. Wood construction has been a popular topic at AN recently and the topic of our recent feature, Timber Towers. Benjamin Bye, Alex Kenton, and Jason Rood entered the design competition last year with the mission to create a community of affordable housing and wood technology manufacturing in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Awarded first place, Grow Your Own City proposes the use of CLT (cross-laminated timber) for construction of nearly 183,000 square feet of mid-rise housing, a bike share and repair shop, and a wood distribution, manufacturing, and development plant.
Brooklyn’s Prospect Park will soon receive a refurbished Lakeside Center, with help from a $10 million donation to the Prospect Park Alliance and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
The LeFrak family, real estate royalty within the borough and in the Tri-state area, has gifted the sum in support of the oft-delayed green space revamp, which finally set a completion date for December of this year. In the heart of Prospect Park’s 526-acre grounds, project restoration by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and construction company Sciame will redevelop the Wollman Ice Rink for use during all four seasons. This lakeside facility is to be renamed The Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center, honoring the family’s philanthropy in Brooklyn.
Today New York City Department of City Planning certified the application for Two Trees’ major redevelopment plans for the iconic Domino Sugar Factory site along the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn, marking the start of the six-month public review process. Two Trees purchased the 11-acre property from developer CPC Resources, and is seeking to bump up the height of the buildings from the previously approved plan of 3.1 million square feet of space to 3.3 million square feet, add 500,000 square feet of office space, and dramatically increase the amount of open space. The developer enlisted SHoP Architects to design the plan. Last March, the developer unveiled their plans, which included a series flashy doughnut-shaped towers.
Happy Halloween! With Jack-O-Lantern’s popping up on stoops across the country, it was only a matter of time before some creative type ran one through a laser cutter. Brooklyn-based design bloggers at DesignSponge have launched a contest for the most creative pumpkin carvings and artist Dan Funderburgh rose to the challenge and delivered an incredible deconstructed pumpkin, carved from lasers instead of by hand. After playing with a few different design motifs, Funderburgh decided to go with an intricate pattern inspired by Mexican punched tin lanterns.