Since setting up shop in New York, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has quickly become one of the most visible architecture firms in the city. It all started with the tetrahedron-shaped residential “courtscraper,” first called W57 and now dubbed Via, that is now nearing completion on 57th Street. And then there is BIG’s viewing platform at Brooklyn Bridge Park that has been likened to a Tostito. (That nickname has stuck, but the project’s funding has not.)
With his “court-scraper” nearing completion on Manhattan’s 57th Street, Bjarke Ingels is doubling down on Manhattan. The Real Deal has reported that the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has filed an application to build an 11-story, mixed-use residential project in Harlem. While we don’t know exactly what to expect from BIG just yet, the New York Post reported that the structure could cantilever over Gotham Plaza. No matter what the firm brings to the site, it’s a safe bet that it won’t look like the standard-issue residential buildings rising in New York City.
Earlier this week, Manhattan Borough President and City Controller candidate Scott Stringer announced his $1 million pledge to restore a historic Harlem fire watchtower at the heart of Marcus Garvey Park. In the 19th century, the 47-foot tower served as a lookout point and the bell was raised in case of imminent danger. Today, the tower no longer protects the community but threatens it, showing substantial signs of decay and neglect.
Running a tight race against Eliot Spitzer, Stringer lags behind the former governor in terms of African American votes and is thus seeking to salvage one of the community’s most valued landmarks. The past few days, he has generated good publicity from his ability and desire to fund this restoration project.The $1 million provided by Stringer, along with the $1.75 million contributed by Councilmember Inez Dickens and $1.25 million by Mayor Bloomberg will be used to preserve the tower. The project includes a full restoration of the tower’s cast-iron structure, the removal of deficient parts, and the additional construction of a stainless steel support system.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, architects have been called to arms to both engage in the immediate recovery efforts and to come up with design solutions that will make New York City’s buildings more resilient and sustainable in the long-term. The latest in a flood of new Sandy-inspired design initiatives was launched yesterday by New York Restoration Project (NYRP), dubbed “EDGE/ucation Pavillion Design Competition,” asking a group of hand-picked, up-and-coming architecture firms to create a storm-resistant pavilion in Sherman Creek Park right on the Harlem River.
This Saturday evening, July 20, EZUFF, the Elvis Zapp Urban Projection Project, a mini-film festival, will have its inaugural run at the Mayles Cinema in Harlem. Its goal is to explore “art and city public life” using short experimental film to “make a link between contemporary urban forms of expression/representation and the political imagination for the city of today. It is about oblique ways to dig into present day urban cultures and imagine alternatives for the cities of tomorrow.” EZUFF is masterminded by co-founders architect Andrew Macnair and multi-media artist and Mamoru Kobayakawa, along with Robert Bowen, Joke Post, David Kessler, and Kim Steele.
Changes are brewing in East Harlem. DNAinfo reported this week that Community Board 11 just approved a new rezoning plan for a 60-block stretch that runs along Madison, Park, and Lexington avenues between East 115th and East 132nd streets.
Instead of recommending uniform changes, the proposal addresses the needs and character of each specific area in East Harlem whether it be residential, light industrial, mixed-use, or commercial. According to DNAinfo, taller buildings will be permitted “in exchange for permanently affordable housing units.” The proposal also looks at possible solutions for the foreboding Metro-North viaduct that extends over Park Avenue.
Officials broke ground today on the long anticipated restoration of New York’s High Bridge connecting the Bronx with Manhattan. Built in 1848 and today the city’s oldest bridge, the 1,200-foot-long span had long been a popular strolling bridge, even making an appearance in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country. The landmarked bridge was closed to the public in the 1970s, but after construction wraps up on the $61 million rehabilitation, strolling New Yorkers and bicyclists can once again cross high above the Harlem River—116 feet—and connect with the city’s growing waterfront Greenway. (See also: Photos of High Bridge before renovation.)
Improvements include pedestrian safety measures like accessibility ramps, viewing platforms, and new lighting. An eight-foot-tall cable mesh fence to prevent jumpers and throwing trash will also line each side, a point that drew criticism from some in the community who believe it’s unnecessary and will spoil views. In a statement released at the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called High Bridge “one of our city’s great treasures.” He continued, “It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs, and even all over the world, to see some of the most spectacular views in the city.”
Last night was a night of tough decisions. ArchNewsNow threw its tenth anniversary party at the Center for Architecture and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan gave the Mumford Lecture at City College—on opposite ends of town at the same time. Impossible to do both, our Publisher Diana Darling partied down with ArchNewsNow and we headed for the Mumford Lecture, sending hearty congratulations to ArchNews editor Kristen Richards. Despite missing the party, the trip Uptown was well worth it…
A rainy day couldn’t dampen the spirits of the fourth graders that we met playing hoops in the brightly lit gym of the East Harlem School. It looks to me that there are two geniuses behind this wonderful building: Peter Gluck, the acerbic and seasoned architect/builder and Ivan M. Hageman, co-founder and Head of School.
Gluck led the tour, but Ivan was ever-present—in the cafeteria leading an appreciation of the chef and servers, and in the reception area meeting with parents. He welcomed us into his office, which is perched at the east end of the building with a clear glass open view up 103rd Street to the Public School embedded in the nearby housing project. Jane Jacobs eyes on the street.