When we talk about the batch of luxury towers coming to 57th Street, we’re typically talking about very tall, very skinny, very glassy buildings. But not, of course, when it comes to W57—Bjarke Ingels‘ very pyramid-y addition to the street he calls a “court-scraper” for its combination of the European courtyard building with a New York skyscraper. Last time we checked in on Bjarke’s pyramid—sorry, Durst would prefer we all call it a “tetrahedron”—it was only a few stories high. That was back in June, and since then, the sure-looks-like-a-pyramid has topped out at 450 feet and crews have begun installing its facade.
What is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s position on design and public space? Does he care about design or think it is simply a prerogative of the city’s middle class populations? It is one the conundrums of the current administration that it wants to create 200,000 units of affordable housing but does not seem to care about the architecture of the buildings or or how they might affect their surrounding neighborhoods. There is much that is laudable in the mayor’s push for new affordable housing, but will all this new construction be a step back from the progressive attitude of the Bloomberg administration concerning the physical and spatial aspects of the city?
These issues—and others of great concern to the city’s design community—will be the topic of discussion tonight at the AIANY’s Center for Architecture on LaGuardia Place in a panel discussion called “A Changing Landscape: Public Space and the New Administration.”
Archtober Building of the Day #31
Starlight at the Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Cooper Joseph Studio
Starlight, the aptly named chandelier in the neo-Georgian rotunda of the Museum of the City of New York, was a marvelous termination to our fourth Archtober. Wendy Evans Joseph, principal at Cooper Joseph Studio, described the light fixture with meticulousness equal to the design itself.
Archtober Building of the Day #30
Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility
472 2nd Avenue, 29th Street Pier, Brooklyn
Eadaoin Quinn, the education and administrative coordinator at the SIMS Municipal Recycling Facility presented a classroom full of Archtober enthusiasts with a detailed and informative presentation of the automated process of material sorting and recovery that is recycling. Quinn told us about the machinery of sorting, starting with the “liberator shredder,” which opens the large garbage bags that recyclables arrive in by truck or barge.
Archtober Building of the Day #29> Green-Wood Cemetery Columbarium, Tranquility Gardens, and Chapel/Crematorium
Archtober Building of the Day #29
Green-Wood Cemetery Columbarium, Tranquility Gardens, and Chapel/Crematorium
500 25th Street, Brooklyn
The trend in burial at Green-Wood Cemetery is decidedly toward cremation. Built in 1838, and the final resting place of 570,000 people, it is “literally running out of space,” according to Green-Wood President Richard J. Moylan. He estimated they’ll run out of space for in-ground burials in the next five years. “We could pack them in tighter, but that would ruin it,” he said.
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Installation inverts conventional relationship between architectural models and images.
Each year, a group of Pratt Institute graduate students is challenged with pushing the boundaries of exhibition design as they curate the student work from the previous year. “The basic brief is for it not to be a show where it’s work on white walls, but that there’s an installation component,” said Softlab‘s Michael Szivos, who co-taught the 2014 exhibition course with Nitzan Bartov. The spring show coincides with the publication of Process, a catalog of student projects. “The book shows it in that more normative condition, year by year,” said Szivos. “The installation works in tandem with that. The hope is that the students come up with something different.” This year Szivos’ students passed the test with flying colors, constructing a floating display out of Mylar, medium-density fiberboard, cardboard, and Tyvek that upends the conventional relationship between architectural models and two-dimensional images.
Archtober Building of the Day #28
Times Square Reconstruction
Broadway and Seventh Avenue (West 42nd to West 47th Streets)
“Looking for calm within the chaos,” was how Nick Koster of Snøhetta, described the firm’s design for the Times Square Reconstruction. Just then a topless woman dressed as a super hero sashayed past the Archtober tour group, which contained about a dozen school children.
Archtober Building of the Day #27
Riverside Health Center
160 West 100th Street
Among my favorite things about Archtober are the enthusiasts who show up and add color and detail to the architects’ stories about their projects. Today, in addition to a solid performance by 1100 Architect’s Juergen Riehm and Dominic Griffin, we were amply blessed with a number of locals, or, as Winifred Armstrong self-described, “camp followers.” Sally Yap of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also supplemented our understanding of this new renovation project.
Archtober Building of the Day #26> SLO Architecture adds art to Middletown Road Station in the Bronx
Archtober Building of the Day #26
Middletown Road Station
Middletown Road & Westchester Avenue, Bronx
The “steel river,” as Alexander Levi of SLO Architecture referred to the Pelham Line #6 train on last weekend’s Archtober tour, makes its way north towards Pelham Bay, crossing over four different waterways along its route. These bodies of water are cleaner now than they used to be, due in part to community-based efforts to clear unwanted debris and waste. As a result, plants and animals have returned to the area, and a feeling of pride has returned to the community. To uphold this stewardship and help maintain the waterways, Levi and Amanda Schachter of SLO designed Cross-Bronx Waterway for the Middletown Road Station, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design and chosen through a panel process.
Archtober Building of the Day #23
NYU School of Professional Studies
7 East 12th Street
Mitchell | Giurgola Architects, LLP
A rainy day did not deter Archtober, and the hardy were amply rewarded with an up-to-the-minute view of an urban university hard at work. I want to change the name to “multi-versity” to capture the many different functions, schools, demographics, studies, and programs that the ever expanding universe of NYU now comprises. A recent addition is the newly renamed School of Professional Studies on 12th Street. Carol Loewenson and Stephen Dietz of Mitchell-Giurgola Architects, led the tour of the renovated Fairchild Printing Building. Projects like these—complex renovations where some operations must be maintained in place—require the steady, strong leadership of architects who find the puzzle of programmatic problem solving the bread and butter of successful practice.
Archtober Building of the Day #22
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 West 34th Street
Designed by Pei Cobb in the early 1980s, the Jacob K. Javits Center had fallen into a considerable slump in the years following its debut. Plagued with structural problems, today’s Archtober tour leader and head of the building’s extensive overhaul, Bruce Fowle, began in the center’s Crystal Palace by showing photos of the space before his firm’s massive undertaking. He highlighted two of the worst features of the original structure—the dirty, impossible-to-clean glass and extensive water damage. Almost immediately after opening, large canvas “diapers” were constructed to catch the ever-leaking roof, costing the center nearly one million dollars a year to alleviate the constant influx of water.