Archtober Building of the Day Grand Finale

East
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
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The Archtober team outside of the Official NYC Info Center.

The Archtober team outside of the Official NYC Info Center.

With Archtober fading away with the fall leaves and buckets of Halloween candy, here’s one last look at the last three Archtober Buildings of the Day from Halloween weekend!

Building of the Day #29: NYC Information Center
810 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY

Neither snow, nor rain… your intrepid Archtober team made it through the snowy October nor’easter to visit the Official NYC Information Center at the Times Square Alliance, designed by WXY architecture + urban design and Local Projects and run by NYC & Company. Alas, our architect tour guide didn’t.

Kracauer and crew inside the WXY designed space.

Kracauer and crew inside the WXY designed space.

In the street level space sneeze guards in the shape of large, suspended three-dimensional lower-case “i”s keep unwanted reflections from obscuring the interactive map tables in the center of the room. Old fashioned brochure racks for paper flyers are on each side wall.

One stroke of your iPhone or iPad makes these cumbersome tables with their info pucks look so 2008! (A moment of silence, please, for Steve Jobs.) Still, the organization behind the effort is first rate, and we appreciate all of their help.

The NYC Information Center was one of the first stops we made when we were launching our idea of a month-long curated calendar and festival of architecture and design in New York City. Upstairs from the retail area are scores of NYC & Company marketing whizzes and PR geniuses who work hard every day to assist the 50 million tourists who visit each year, and who are so vital to our city’s economy. We wanted to do our part, too, to let the world know that design is one of our great exports, and that we are home to 40,000 hard working folks in design and related industries…no other city comes close! So, it’s quite fitting to be rounding the end of our first festival with one of our first stops.

 

MVVA's Brooklyn Bridge Park after the October storm.

MVVA's Brooklyn Bridge Park after the October storm. (Laura Ann Trimble/Center for Architecture)

Building of the Day #30: Brooklyn Bridge Park
1 Main Street
Brooklyn, NY

The snow from Saturday’s October storm did not keep us from enjoying a sunny tour of the Brooklyn Bridge Park for Sunday’s Building of the Day. The closing of “swing valley” was the only sign of the prior day’s storm (note the strange juxtaposition of autumn’s red leaves in the shot of the snowy playground).

We walked the one mile span of the park with Ellen Ryan, senior staff member of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Danielle Choi of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architecture firm that designed the park. It was not your average walk in the park – starting with Pier 6 and working our way toward Pier 1, we had a sneak preview of the piers that have yet to undergo redevelopment. Wet suits hanging to dry were the sign of the underwater work of highly trained divers who are reinforcing the 1100 piles dating from the 1950s that support a 5 acre pier the size of Bryant Park. Next fall it will open as sports fields. Long walks to reach a game will be offset by the fantastic views of lower Manhattan.

Walking from South to North, the selected vegetation for Pier 6 is “wild but calculated,” and by the northern end the park becomes less heavily planted and rugged. Recreation varies from playgrounds to volleyball courts and kayaking in the summer, to even a merry-go-round (enclosed in a glass pavilion designed by Jean Nouvel for year round use).

There is no doubt that every effort was made to produce as sustainable a park as possible. Luxurious yellow leaf pine from the former industrial site was transformed into elegant streamlined benches. The tall lighting fixtures, a reference to the former industry, are the first lights in a city park to utilize dimmers. Storm water collected on site is used for irrigation and accounts for 70% of the park’s water needs. A 15 mile greenway that cuts through the park supports sustainable transportation of bikes and pedestrians.

The waterfront-lined Brooklyn Bridge Park, even on a cold fall day, is a fantastic public amenity. There is much there to enjoy, and with the strategic vision of the 2005 masterplan in mind, still more coming. Like our weekend visit to the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park showed signs of success as a wedding photo backdrop. And it’s worth noting that dogs that stay on the paths are welcome.

A Halloween tour of Lincoln Ristorante.

A Halloween tour of Lincoln Ristorante. (Courtesy Laura Ann Trimble/Center for Architecture)

Building of the Day #31: Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Lawn and Lincoln Ristorante
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
New York, NY

Archtober draws to a close today with our last Building of the Day, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Lawn and Lincoln Ristorante at Lincoln Center. Diller Scofidio + Renfro authored the project in collaboration with FXFOWLE. Our tour today was led by Zoe Small, AIA, LEED AP, of DS+R. An able tour guide, she knew precisely where each duct and sprinkler pipe was tucked in under that tilted, warped platter of slightly soggy grass. The lawn is both high and low. High in concept—a peeling back of the surface of the plinth on which all of the ensemble buildings of the cultural center rest—and low in use…that freak snowstorm has it off limits, yet again.

The restaurant interior felt forced. Travertine-colored leather chairs that sat like slabs of stone, travertine inspired carpet in places, Portuguese limestone in others, still more mahogany elsewhere. The large-scale print of the purplish hemicycle banquettes (also pretty stiff in the seat) was re-echoed in a patterned interlayer on glass cheek walls at the lower, formerly a bar, now private dining level. Much ado was made about the cantilevered toilets inset into the mirror wall “floating” off the back walls of the individual bathrooms. Why? I wondered.

But that didn’t stop Archtober 11 1/2″ Fashion Doll, who made her public debut today. With all due respect to the creators of a similar “I can be” Architect doll, we thought that our gal needed to be a bit tougher to stand up to all of the challenges of such a demanding career.

See you next year!

Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture.

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