Today, New York City broke ground on the new paving/plaza/seating design for Times Square, created by Snøhetta. Dark pavers inset with reflective stainless steel discs will provide a muted backdrop for the area’s frenzy of light and crowds. Monumental benches, with concealed electrical infrastructure for events, will provide a variety of seating, lounging, and viewing options. Moreover, the project signals the Bloomberg administration‘s desire to make its pedestrian plazas permanent.
With only 75 weeks left in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, cyclists the city over will inevitably be concerned about the next mayor’s stance on bike lanes and street designs lest initiatives put in place under Bloomberg fall from grace. One need only to recall Marty Markowitz’s parodic tricycle stunts poking fun at bike lanes or former NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall’s efforts to remove a protected bike lane from Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West to realize that the concern is not unfounded.
At yesterday’s regularly-scheduled City Planning review session, former Bogotá Parks Commissioner Gil Penalosa was invited to give a pep talk, placing a particular emphasis on bike lanes. He warned an audience filled with commissioners and planning staff that as the weeks wind down before the mayor leaves office, they’d better get cracking at PR and permanence: the public needs to become even more familiar with the bike network and the infrastructure needs to become permanent—and striped bike lanes won’t cut it!
Collaboration: The Art and Science of Facades
Symposium: Thursday, July 26, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco
Workshops: Friday, July 27, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
California College of the Arts, San Francisco
This week in San Francisco architects and engineers at the forefront of facade design and fabrication will gather to present their latest work and research. Sponsored by The Architect’s Newspaper and Enclos, the first-day line-up for Collaboration: The Art and Science of Facades includes Craig Dykers of Snohetta as the keynote speaker along with presentation by leaders at SOM, Thornton Thomasetti, Firestone Building Products, IwamotoScott, Future Cities Lab, Gensler, Kreysler & Associates, Gehry Technologies, Buro Happold and more. On the second day, participants receive hands-on practical instruction through workshops with industry leaders.
Those attending both days will receive 16 AIA Continuing Education credits.
One day left to register! For registration click here.
Can’t make it out West this week? Check out the next call for papers: AN‘s Facades + Innovation Conference, October 10-12, Chicago. Download PDF.
BOFFO is an arts and culture non-profit fostering collaborations between artists, designers, communities, and theorists to inform and engage the public in participatory arts programs. In late May, it launched a show house at a Lower East Side public school building turned apartment house, called The Madison Jackson. It turned out to be a clever draw getting people to a neighborhood that is lower and farther east than more popular sections of the LES. I speak from familiarity as I live in a perch overlooking the venue. The glam show house is unusual for a neighborhood comprised largely of public housing blocks next to tall towers that formerly were union cooperatives and as close to socialist housing as we’ve had in NYC.
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A preview of the collaboration behind the entryway to Ras Al Khaimah
Snøhetta’s 656-foot-tall Gateway tower, 93 miles east of Dubai, will mark the entrance to the new planned capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah. Inspired by the surrounding desert and mountain landscape, the project’s undulating form will bring almost 3 million square feet of mixed-use space to the city, which is being master planned by Netherlands-based firm OMA. Snøhetta has designed a prototype of the building’s white-scaled skin in collaboration with Dubai-based lightweight composite manufacturer Premier Composite Technologies (PCT).
Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a pedestrian-friendly Times Square is about to be written in stone. On September 27, Snøhetta gave Community Board 5 a preview of things to come at the Crossroads of the World, and they look a lot more permanent than lawn chairs and painted pavements. Principal Craig Dykers presented designs for dark and darker pavers that largely eliminate any bias for an automotive Broadway, stepping the plaza streetscape up to sidewalk grade and adding elongated benches to indicate long-gone traffic patterns. In homage to New York noir, the designers have also embedded nickel-sized reflectors adding a hard bit of glitz to the dark stones that will not compete with the glam above.
According to an email from Seth Solomonow, Press Secretary at the NYC Department of Transportation: “This long-planned redesign will restore the aging utilities below the street, which itself hasn’t been rebuilt in more than 50 years and still has trolley tracks beneath the asphalt. On the surface, this simple, flexible design will clear obstructions and support the growing number of programs occurring in Times Square, which more than 350,000 people visit every day.”
It’s been several weeks since our last visit to the World Trade Center site. On our return today we were taken with the manner in which different architects handle ventilation at the site. The most obvious example are the two large vent structures that protrude from the west side of the Memorial Plaza. The concrete buildings are a necessary solution to a complicated infrastructure problem. Davis Brody Bond (now Aedas) designed a mesh mask for the concrete structures and workers were putting the finishing touches on south building today.
Toronto’s Ryerson University announced plans this week for a bold Student Learning Center designed by Oslo-based Snøhetta and Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto. The 8-story structure will mix passive and active academic uses with street-level retail and will serve as the university’s front door on busy Yonge Street.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we stopped by the WTC site. The most striking aspect from the street remains the speed with which glass surfaces begin to rise. It seems like only yesterday that three stories of glass wrapped around Tower One. Now with ten stories completed, the quartz-like surfaces start to take shape. At the Memorial Museum, Snohetta’s glass has flown up in what seems a matter of days. The facade already reflects the grove, whose trees continue their own march toward West Street.
[ As the World Trade Center continues its ascent, AN stops by the massive construction site for a weekly update. ]
Lunchtime at the World Trade Center site is a colorful sight even on an overcast and foggy day. Hundreds of construction workers in bright yellow and orange safety vests pour into neighborhood delis and pizza joints, but most crowd into the tiny local gourmet food store, the Amish Market. There, burly gents in hard hats hum to the Nat King Cole soundtrack while choosing prosciutto over pastrami. Make no mistake, these guys know food.
Back at the site, just two bays of the Deutsche Bank remain to tear down, a row of windows appeared on the northwest corner of One World Trade, and the steel mullions for a glass curtain wall began to wrap their way around Snøhetta‘s Museum Pavilion.