Rockwell Makes a Ruckus at Imagination Playground

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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Rockwell, in—what else?—black T-shirt, with Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials at Tuesday's opening. (Spencer Tucker/Courtesy Mayor's Office)

“It doesn’t seem like it, but everything connects with each one perfectly,” said Gabrielle Sunderland, 12, squinting happily toward the hot July sun. Around her were piles of weather- and germ-resistant foam blocks in sundry shapes and sizes. The blue pieces are the signature element of David Rockwell’s Imagination Playground, which opened Tuesday on Burling Slip near the South Street Seaport.

A designer of theaters, high-end restaurants, and Broadway stage sets, Rockwell found his own children bored by the playgrounds of Lower Manhattan. So he set out to create a playspace where kids could use their own imagination, just as he once did. “Playgrounds are the places where kids can learn how to be a community and create their own worlds, but the ones we visited were all too linear,” he told AN at the opening. “That gave me the idea of a different kind of playground.” Read More

Crocs Treads Lightly with Soho Flagship

East
Friday, July 9, 2010
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The 1818 structure has been meticulously restored, along with a storefront dating from around the 1920s. (Kristine Larsen)

When shoe retailer Crocs set its sights on Soho, the blogosphere didn’t hesitate grouching about the rubber clog emporium’s arrival at the corner of Spring and Wooster streets. What was feared as an assault of global branding, however, has become an unlikely symbol of a sea change for New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which pushed for a modern, glassy volume in the heart of the historic cast-iron district. Read More

Beguiling Horizons from Bruno Cals

East
Monday, June 14, 2010
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Prada (Courtesy Bruno Cals and 1500 Gallery)

The almost abstract series of prints by Brazilian photographer Bruno Cals could show race tracks, prisons, railroads, or meadows. But what Cals has captured through his lens are in fact some of the world’s most seductive new buildings. In an exhibition on view through July 31 at 1500, a new gallery in New York with a focus on Brazilian photography, what resembles swells of water in Prada turns out to be the facade of Herzog & de Meuron’s Prada store in Aoyama, Tokyo. Read More

Statues Settle In at NYC City Hall

East, East Coast
Thursday, June 3, 2010
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Mayor Bloomberg opens the Statuesque show in City Hall Park, standing before Aaron Curry's "Yellow Bird Boy" (2010).

Since Wednesday, an aluminum woman is joyfully resting in the grass of City Hall Park. Among her well-set figurative friends are a bronze giant, an octopus man, and a couple of luminous neon creatures. The new sculptures are part of The Public Art Fund’s yearly exhibit in the park, an ongoing project for more than 30 years with the aim of making visitors experience art more directly. Read More

Charting Chelsea Cove

East
Friday, May 21, 2010
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Hudson River Park's newest neighborhood amenity. (Photo: Courtesy HRPT)

On Monday, the latest portion of Hudson River Park opened to the public, bringing with it a novel pair of attractions along New York’s expanding West Side greenway. Located just north of Chelsea Piers, the project rises atop Piers 62 and 63, which together with Pier 64 form the roughly 8-acre, U-shaped landscape that Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) named Chelsea Cove when starting the project in 2001. “Our main vision was to create not only a park for people moving along the bikeway, but primarily for the community,” said Peter Arato, senior associate at MVVA. Read More

East Coast Champs

National
Thursday, April 1, 2010
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Michael Van Valkenburgh (right) with colleague Matt Urbansky at the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Van Valkenburgh has just won top honors from the American Academy. (Matt Chaban)

The American Academy of Arts and Letters named the winners of its 2010 architecture awards Tuesday, which were dominated by northeastern designers. Long-time GSD professor Michael Van Valkenburgh is the recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture. The annual award of $5000 has been given to preeminent architects since 1955, ranging from Louis Kahn to Elizabeth Diller. Van Valkenburgh has designed more than 350 landscapes, including the recently opened Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Academy also announced the winners of its Academy Awards in Architecture, for strong personal work, which go to New York’s planning-obsessed Architecture Research Office and the Afterpartying MOS, of New Haven and Cambridge. And City College architecture dean, critic, and designer Michael Sorkin also won an Academy Award, largely for his writing. The four winners beat out 50 nominees and were selected by academy members Henry Cobb, Hugh Hardy, Steven Holl, Laurie Olin, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams.

Nouvel Under the Sun

International
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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Nouvel's National Museum in Doha, Qatar. (Courtesy Ateliers Jean Nouvel)

Fresh from landing the commission for the Serpentine Gallery’s annual summer pavilion in London, French architect Jean Nouvel was in New York yesterday for the official unveiling of the new National Museum in Doha, Qatar. Designed as a ring of low-lying, interlocking pavilions encircling a large courtyard, the 430,000-square-foot structure is created from sand-colored disks that define floors, walls, and roofs, almost as if growing out of the desert landscape. Read More

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Tunnel Vision

International
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Detour ahead: Le Gallerie is a twin tunnel-turned-exhibition space in Italy's Dolomite Mountains. (Photography by Pierluigi Faggion)

New York’s celebrated High Line may have turned an old rail trestle into a park, but the Northern Italian city of Trento has one-upped Manhattan, reclaiming two 1,000-foot-long tunnels in the Dolomite Mountains as an experimental history museum—and a fascinating example of the reuse of abandoned infrastructure. Read More

Carnegie Turns the Page

East
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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The St. Agnes branch has gotten a model makeover. (Photographs by Elizabeth Felicella)

At the turn of the last century, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie offered grants for 67 library branches in New York City, a boon for book-lovers across the five boroughs. More than a century later, however, many of these aging buildings are more than a little dog-eared, and the New York Public Library has been working to reclaim them as bright community hubs. The latest of these spaces to be revived, the St. Agnes Library on the Upper West Side, is back in shape after a two-year, $9.5 million restoration that library officials see as a model for the system’s Carnegie legacy. Originally designed by the New York firm Babb, Cook and Willard, the 1906 building had suffered typical alterations: Dropped ceilings occluded architectural details, and skylights were covered over, dimming interior reading rooms. Read More

CUP Tools Up

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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A Makita for affordable housing. (Courtesy CUP)

Two years ago, the Brooklyn-based Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) asked housing advocates and community groups what educational tools they needed the most. The topic of affordable housing was at the top of the list, so designers set to work devising a handy way to help New Yorkers comprehend the much-debated subject. “Affordable housing is a term that has been thrown around for a long time,” said CUP staff member John Mangin. “A lot of people are suspicious of it, it is complicated, and the technical meaning behind it is not always apparent when you hear the word.” Read More

The Art of Taking a Walk

East
Monday, February 8, 2010
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Fitch and Cotner's urban poetics.

In 1685, a young Japanese poet recorded his thoughts in the first of many travel journals, The Records of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton. This now famous haiku master, Matsuo Bashō, believed that one attains spiritual serenity by embracing the world of nature. Now, more than three centuries later, two Gotham flaneurs have updated Bashō’s meandering form, exchanging 17th-century Japan for 21st-century Manhattan. The result is Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch’s new book Ten Walks/Two Talks, a series of 60-minute, 60-sentence walks around Manhattan, interspersed with a pair of dialogues. No ordinary tour guide, the book is an associative journey where scents, noises, people, and buildings are meticulously described through the eyes of intensely attentive explorers. Read More

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