Parsons The New School for Design has named Brian McGrath as the new dean of the School of Constructed Environments, the university’s integrated school of architecture, interior design, lighting design, and product design, taking the place of interim dean David Lewis. Educated at Syracuse and Princeton, McGrath is the founder of the urban design consultancy, Urban-Interface, where he explores the role of architecture, design, ecology, and media in cities, and has been an associate professor of urban design at Parsons‘ School of Design Strategies.
“The School of Constructed Environments has a key role to play with respect to contributing research and practical applications of design to address the key issues of our time: rapid urbanization, globalization, social justice and climate change,” said McGrath in a statement. “We have taken an active role in recent post-Sandy discussions, and plan on expanding these efforts so that we can make a important contribution to future dialogues and debates on these topics.”
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), the agency overseeing the redevelopment of Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront, has hired San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates to redesign the ailing riverfront. Among the challenges the landscape architects will face is reconnecting the new park space with the surrounding city. Currently, the waterfront is disconnected by the large Interstate 95 and Columbus Boulevard, an expanse that can reach up to 1,200 feet wide, according to Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron. Hargreaves has won accolades for handling waterfronts and highways in Louisville, KY and Chattanooga, TN.
While construction has just begun on the first residential tower at Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the developer may be plotting the next construction site. SHoP Architects designed three towers clustered around the Barclays Center arena, but the Atlantic Yards Report blog reported in late March, citing documents from Forest City, that the developer is including a parcel at the southeastern corner of the site at Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street in its first phase construction plans. No design exists for the four buildings planned there, but an early site model by Frank Gehry and a massing diagram from the Municipal Art Society based on the approved Gehry site plan show the buildings will not be the tallest in the project.
Critics like AYR-blogger Norman Oder are upset that development atop the railyards at the center and north of the site aren’t being prioritized and have accused Forest City of delaying real investment in the area. The southeast parcel indicated above is the largest remaining terra-firma site at Atlantic Yards and previously was to be among the last developed.
With its special use permit expired, the push is on to dislodge Madison Square Garden (MSG) from its current location atop Penn Station. The Municipal Art Society (MAS), one group vocally in favor of moving MSG, has asked four leading architects to imagine a future Penn Station unencumbered by the arena. MSG’s owners have asked the city to renew the permit in perpetuity and the city council will issue their decision later this year. Meanwhile, SHoP Architects, Santiago Calatrava, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and SOM have been tasked with creating a dramatic vision that could galvanize New Yorkers in supporting the move.
Madison Square Garden has been on the move since its inception in 1879 as a 10,000-square-foot boxing, bike racing, and ice hockey venue in an old railroad depot at Madison Avenue and 26th Street. The facility later moved into an ornate Moorish-style building designed by famed Stanford White, architect of the Penn Station, which the arena notoriously replaced at its fourth and current home on 33rd Street in Midtown (after a brief stop on 50th Street). Now, if community boards, civic and planning groups, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer get their way, the venue will be sent packing once again.
With both the Hudson Yards and Manhattan West mega-developments underway on Manhattan’s West Side, several other projects in the area are coming into closer focus. Among them, Extell’s structurally criss-crossed Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed tower across 11th Avenue from Hudson Yards proper taking the name of its larger neighbor: One Hudson Yards. New York YIMBY spotted a bevy of new renderings of the 877-foot-tall diagrid tower posted to a just-launched project website. At 56 floors, the tower, shown with a wavy ledge peeling up the building’s facade at its main entrance, will front the Michael Van Valkenburgh-designed linear park, Hudson Boulevard, where the new Dattner-designed 7 line subway will emerge through glass canopies.
While some of the new architecture at Brown University is distinctly modern, Manhattan-based Selldorf Architects has been selected to bring back the historic charm of the circa 1910 English Renaissance John Hay Library. According to the Brown Daily Herald, the project was jumpstarted in February following an anonymous $3 million donation, plus another anonymous $6 million donation for the renovation from 2011. The Hay Library, which houses the university’s rare books collection, archives, and other special collections, will be reconfigured to open up the grand 4,400-square-foot reading room to its original design by Boston architects Shepley Rutan & Coolidge. The room is currently divided into parts to securely store sensitive books. The larger space will allow more access to the public and can play host to larger university-related events.
Last Wednesday, the New York City Council unanimously approved plans to tear down the current Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport and build a new $200 million SHoP Architects-designed mall in its place, marking the end of the long and sometimes contentious ULURP approval process. Crain’s reported that Dallas-based developer Howard Hughes made some concessions to the council including pushing back construction on the project to allow Hurricane Sandy-battered tenants to have an additional summer season, with construction now anticipated to begin on October 1st.
HNTB’s Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge connecting the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with Brooklyn Bridge Park opened to the public last Thursday. The $4.9 million bridge was built using “trail bridge technology” with galvanized steel cables and cylindrical black locust timbers, providing an efficient and lightweight structure that, as a sign at the entrance to the bridge warns, quite literally puts a bounce in visitors’ steps. “The bridge is very light weight. You will feel yourself walking across the bridge,” HNTB’s Chief Engineer Ted Zoli said at a construction tour in December. On AN‘s visit to the bridge Friday morning, traversing the spans did in fact provide a bouncy effect.
Pittsburgh is the latest in a long line of cities preparing to launch a bike share system. According to the Bike PGH blog, Mayor Ravenstahl announced the 500-bike, 50-station program earlier this month. Similar to systems in other cities, bikes will be available for short-term rides for a small fee. Portland, OR-based Alta Planning and Design will partner with the city to launch the system, the same company involved with New York, Washington DC, and other major bike share systems. More information will be available at two community meetings scheduled for April 2nd and 3rd. The city hopes to roll out the new bikes in 2014.
WXY architecture + urban design has been adding to Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park over the years, designing concession stands, a variety of benches, and a fountain, but their latest addition is adding a twist on the usual urban carousel. AN began watching the ocean-themed SeaGlass carousel back in 2006 when it was announced and the Battery Conservancy will be hosting a topping off ceremony for the structure on April 18. The carousel’s frame is made of stainless steel, evoking the spiral of a giant sea shell or the ornate ceiling of a cathedral.
WXY principal Claire Weisz said the part of the facade now covered in plywood sheathing will be clad in metal panels while other portions will include “smart glass” that can change from transparent to a dark blue tint. The solid areas serve as projection surfaces on the interior where underwater scenes will add to the enchanted effect of riding atop larger-than-life sea creatures like dolphins, clown fish, and turtles. Watch Weisz and co-principal Mark Yoes describe the carousel and other WXY projects in their Emerging Voices address from March 16, 2011. SeaGlass is the the latest in a line of high design carousels in New York, joining Jean Nouvel’s Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.