If these five architecture teams get their way, the library of the future will look a lot different than today
New York City’s public libraries need cash—and they need it fast. Over the years, the city’s three library systems—the New York Public Library (serving Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island), the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Public Library—have racked up over one billion dollars in capital needs. And that’s not money needed for new educational tech tools, like iPads and laptops, but for renovations just to keep the old buildings in a state of good repair.
Demolition of the graffiti mecca known as “5Pointz” in Long Island City, Queens has become a flashpoint in New York City development. The iconic arts institution was literally whitewashed by the developer last spring and has since been turned to rubble to make way for two rental towers. As the controversial project continues in Queens, the destruction of another world-renowned graffiti forum, just a few miles away in the South Bronx, has gone largely unnoticed.
In an effort to supposedly streamline New York City’s landmarking process, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will drop 96 buildings and sites from consideration for historic preservation. These sites span all five boroughs and include Union Square, Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, and the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City (above).
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.
The New York City Department of Transportation recently broke ground on the second phase of Fordham Plaza’s reconstruction in the Bronx. The revamped space will have all the standard-issue pieces of a New York City pedestrian plaza—the planters, benches, seating, trees, lights, and kiosks—but, ultimately, the plaza represents a significant investment in existing transportation infrastructure.
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.
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.”
Lehman Collage Art Gallery
250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY
Through January 9, 2013
Space Invaders is a collaborative site-specific art installation, curated by Karin Bravin at the Lehman College Art Gallery. The spaces both inside and outside the gallery, including the walls, ceiling, floor and balcony, are used as the artists’ canvas and the art—a mix of photographs, fabric installations, text installations, drawings, sculptures and more, seem to grow into and with the space. Pieces like Heeseop Yoon’s Still-Life #2 (above) or Dewitt Godfrey’s Layman (below) also transform ordinary materials, like electrical tape and mylar, into otherworldly constructions. The work incorporates and mirrors the Gallery’s structure and also accounts the effects of exterior factors such as light and wind.
There’s a scene in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country, where the wicked vixen Undine Spragg insists on speeding across the High Bridge in a “horseless carriage” before making her grand entrance at a party so as to rouge her cheeks with a cold snap of air whipping up from the Harlem River. The romantic fascination accorded the then-65-year-old bridge quietly slipped from New York’s consciousness as bigger engineering marvels usurped its quiet dignity.
Now approaching 165 years, renovations are about to get underway to finally restore the bridge to its former glory as a 1,200-foot-long pedestrian bridge, uniting neighborhoods of High Bridge and Washington Heights in the Bronx and Manhattan. New Yorkers for Parks stopped by the span Monday afternoon to document current conditions before construction is in full swing, giving us a hint of Undine’s views. Though controversial netting integrated into the design might mildly disrupt the vista, Monday’s photos show it the way it was, albeit slightly overgrown.
A formal dedication for a creative urban intervention called ARTfarm brings flowers and greenery to a formerly barren step street in the Bronx. Architects Valeria Bianco, Christian Gonsalves, Shagun Singh, and Justin Taylor designed and built the project with help from Architecture for Humanity and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.