Manhattan’s far west side is about to become one of the busiest construction sites in the country. Last Tuesday morning, officials gathered at the corner of 9th Avenue and West 33rd Street to celebrate the second major groundbreaking in the Hudson Yards District, Brookfield Properties’ trio of new SOM-designed towers comprising the Manhattan West development to be built over a large rail yard serving Penn Station. The $4.5 billion project’s first phase, construction of the north portion of the railroad-spanning platform that will eventually support development, is now underway, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the second half of the platform could be underway in coming months. Excavation has been ongoing since the fall of 2012.
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The Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion roof channels rainwater for irrigation on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
Jump on a ferry in Downtown Boston and in twenty minutes, you’ll arrive at the Boston Harbor Islands, an archipelago of 34 islands dotting Boston Harbor managed by the National Park Service. To entice city-dwellers to make the trip, Boston-based Utile Architecture + Planning has designed a composite steel and concrete pavilion with a digitally fabricated roof for the National Park Service and the Boston Harbor Island Alliance to provide travel information and history about the Islands and a shady respite atop the highway-capping Rose Kennedy Greenway.
Two thin overlapping concrete canopy slabs supported by delicate steel beams provide a sculptural shelter. Utile digitally designed the $4.2 million Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion using Rhino to respond to the surrounding cityscape and serve as a playful rainwater-harvesting system to irrigate the Greenway’s landscape.
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.”
Beginning on January 22, Pelli Clarke Pelli’s glass Winter Garden at Manhattan’s World Financial Center will be twinkling with strands of LED lights. Lighting artist and theater designer Anne Militello designed the Light Cycles installation, inspired by the jewel-tone color of lights found in nature such as the Aurora Borealis. LED lights will be attached to strings of mirrored discs hanging from the ten-story barrel-vaulted ceiling. The lights will feature “shifting movements and patterns” programmed by the artist. According to the World Financial Center, “Like charms on a bracelet, the jeweled discs entrance through a softly evolving manipulation of color and texture.” The installation runs through March 30, 2013.
An ambitious plan to build a $50 million velodrome in Brooklyn Bridge Park has been scrapped due to budget problems. Philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz had committed funds for the project to be built inside the footprint of an old one-story industrial building sitting within the park boundaries but, despite scaling the project back, site requirements like an aesthetic roof and the risk of flooding at its waterfront site made the proposed building too expensive.
Almost a year ago, reports surfaces that, without an anchor tenant, the 80-story Three World Trade tower by Pritzker-winner Richard Rogers of Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners would be lopped off at seven stories. Without an anchor tenant signing up for at least 400,000 square feet of space in the $300 million tower, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey will not guarantee the project’s debt. Mayor Bloomberg is optimistic, though, telling the New York Post last week that the tower is “closer than anyone realizes” to landing that all-important tenant, which could be GroupM, a subsidiary of advertising giant WPP. The Post said the company is interested in 550,000 square feet of the tower’s 2.8 million total square feet. If a deal is signed and construction continues, the tower could be complete in 2015.
Bloomberg also delivered the not-unexpected news that Norman Foster’s 88-story Two World Trade tower will likely remain a stump for the near future. SOM’s One World Trade and Fumihiko Maki’s Four World Trade are expected to be finished by the end of the year. In the meantime, take a look back at Silverstein’s blockbuster video rendering of the complete World Trade Center site.
In 2010, AN wrote about an identity theft scandal involving some high profile British architects and Chinese impostors leaving some observers at the time to wonder if starchitects like Norman Foster or Zaha Hadid might be next. It now appears the archi-pirates have indeed set their eyes on Hadid’s curvaceous designs, setting of a construction race to see whether the copy-cat can outbuild the original and an international debate about intellectual property. Spiegel reported that Hadid’s Wangjing SOHO tower complex, proposed in 2011 for Beijing and now under construction, has been copied and rebranded as the Meiquan 22nd Century in Chongqing. When placed side by side (above), it’s tough not to see the distinct resemblance.
A proposed 57-story residential tower designed by SOM’s Roger Duffy at the corner of Manhattan’s East 57th Street and 2nd Avenue is seeing new life after laying low through the recession. The Observer reported today that the 250 East 57th project, announced in 2006, will begin construction this year now that developer World Wide Group has filed new construction papers with the city and began clearing the site.
AN previously reported how the project is a partnership with the New York City School Construction Authority to extract the air-rights value beneath the city’s school properties. In this case, developers of 250 East 57th paid the Department of Education $325 million for a site lease and agreed to rebuild P.S. 59 adjacent to the tower’s site, including roof terraces and a large astroturf play area. Roger Duffy told AN at the time, “A lot of school sites in New York remain underdeveloped in terms of FAR (floor-area ratio).” The school opened in September 2012.
After launching a year-and-a-half ago, New York City’s East River Ferry service, has wildly surpassed ridership estimates and Mayor Bloomberg is looking to extend the initial three-year trial period to 2019. So far, more than 1.6 million passengers have paid the $4 fare (or $5 if you take your bike) to ride on the fleet of 149-passenger and 399-passenger boats along the East River between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Governors Island (the NYC Economic Development Corporation predicted that 1.3 million would ride the service in its entire three-year pilot). The ferry pilot program was launched to promote economic development along the city’s waterfront, and has been seen as a boon to such waterfront projects as the Williamsburg Edge. The city has issued an RFP for a future ferry operator to take over once the current contract with BillyBey Ferry Company expires in 2014.