The slow days of the recession are long gone. Recent figures indicate that September was another robust month for the architecture industry. The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) rose from 53.8 in August to 54.3 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said that this upswing in the demand for design services is a reflection of the industry’s new and advanced design and business practices. “The prolonged economic downturn that has affected the design and construction industry has actually resulted in the increased productivity levels as reported by architecture firms,” Baker said.
Sweden-based firm White Arkitekter has been named the winner of the “For a Resilient Rockaway” (FAR ROC) design competition. The team’s winning proposal, Small Means & Great End, offers a set of design strategies to transform an empty swath of land, known as Averne East, along the Rockaways in Queens, New York into a resilient, mixed-use community.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), along with private developers and the AIA New York Chapter, shortlisted four finalists back in July, including Ennead Architects, Lateral Office, and Seeding Office.
New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) just faced another hurdle in its controversial plan, known as its “infill strategy,” to lease swathes of land in public housing developments to private developers. The deal would allow for the construction of new market-rate apartment buildings, along with a handfull of affordable housing units, in eight projects throughout Manhattan. But New York City Council and a group of tenants filed a lawsuit on Thursday to prevent the plan from moving forward. This past spring, the struggling agency issued a Request for Proposal seeking ideas from developers. The lawsuit slips in right before NYCHA’s November 18th deadline for proposals. The New York Times reported that the plaintiffs said that the agency failed to include City Council on the “decision-making regarding the plan to build on public housing grounds.” And moreover, government officials pointed out that the Bloomberg administration didn’t follow the standard protocol, which requires that agency officials go through City Council for approval.
In a statement to Times, NYCHA said: “It’s unfortunate that the City Council is attempting to block a proposal that would generate significant revenue for the New York City Housing Authority — money that would go directly into developments and repairs for residents.”
Philadelphia‘s Logan Square, home to the Penn Center and much of the city’s cultural district, is now experiencing an influx of commercial and residential development. The city just gave developer Neal Rodin the green light to move forward with his eponymous three-acre mixed-use project, Rodin Square.
It is the end of an era. The New York City Council voted in a favor of a plan to demolish the iconic 5Pointz, the former manufacturing building-turned-graffiti-mecca, in Long Island City, Queens, to make way for a $400 million residential development. The New York Times reported that the Wolkoff family, the owner and developer of the property, will build two residential towers—one of which will climb up to 47 stories—consisting all together of 1,000 units.
Recent economic figures from the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) revealed that summer finished on a high note with a significant rise in the demand for design services. The ABI score for the month of August jumped more than a full point from July climbing up to 53.8 from 52.7 (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, sees positive growth for the industry, but remains cautious about the future. “As business conditions at architecture firms have improved eleven out of the past twelve months, it is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” Baker said. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”
It is going to be an uphill battle for the developers behind two massive residential projects planned for Greenpoint, Brooklyn. DNA Info reported that Community Board 1 rejected the proposals to build over a dozen 40-story residential towers on the northern tip of the borough, but they indicated they could be persuaded to change their minds. The bargaining chip is more affordable and senior housing. The board would like the developers behind the two developments, Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, to drastically bump up the number of affordable units in their plans, which so far include housing, retail, a public school, and esplanades along the water. This decision is just the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).