Playing Samba in a Piano

International
Monday, January 9, 2012
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The new Cabana restaurant near London's West End. (Courtesy John Carey)

The new Cabana restaurant near London's West End. (Courtesy John Carey)

Just a stone’s throw from the British Museum, Renzo Piano‘s Central Saint Giles complex seems to have been overshadowed by the excitement around his Shard of Glass rising in the Southwark section of London. But as the Shard pierces the skyline, the year old St. Giles has begun to find its own footing. Last month, the 500,000 square foot complex brought a bit of bossa nova to this West End outpost.  Cabana, a restaurant designed by Alex Michaelis of Michaelis Boyd, plays well with Piano’s citrus colored facades and brings a dash Brazilian spice to the quiet courtyard.

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Opening Salvo Aimed at NYU Expansion

East
Thursday, January 5, 2012
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Andrew Berman takes the mic before an overflow crowd at the Center for Architecture. (Stoelker/AN)

Andrew Berman takes the mic before an overflow crowd at the Center for Architecture. (Stoelker/AN)

It was the opening shot heard ’round the Village–and the East Village, and SoHo. An overflow crowd gathered at the Center for Architecture last night to rally the troops opposing NYU’s twenty year expansion plan. It certainly wasn’t the usual black-clad crowd found at the Center. No, these were some good old fashioned Village rabble rousers.

The event was organized by the Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who assured the crowd that the NYU Core plan is “not a done deal.” On Tuesday, the university certified proposals with City Planning, thus kicking off the ULURP process for what is likely to become one of the most contentious development debates of 2012. The proposal is, after all,  in the heart of Jane Jacobs country.

Just across the street from the Center are the remains of Robert Moses’ failed attempt to build the Lower Manhattan Expressway through SoHo after Jacobs and Co. put a halt to the plan. Parcels of land assembled by the Department of Transportation to accommodate the failed highway are now parkland commonly known as the DOT strips. A substantial portion of the 1.3 million square feet NYU wants to build in the area would be placed beneath the strips. The university has proposed designating the strips as parkland after the construction is complete, with the new green space designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

No matter the promises, this was not a crowd that trusts the university. The term “Midtown Zoning” got thrown about with on-message regularity. As did square footage metaphors, such as “bigger than the Waldorf-Astoria,” “the size of the Empire State Building,” and “three Jacob Javits Convention Centers.”

Council Member Margaret Chin was on hand to listen, but not to state her pro or con position–despite pressure from the crowd.

This month’s Community Board 2 subcommittee meetings will no doubt be unusually crowded as they’re all dealing with the proposal. If you want to see some New York zoning theater in action, here’s a selected breakdown:

Land Use:  Mon., 1/9 6PM at The Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Pl.

Traffic and Transportation: Tues., 1/10 @ 6:30 NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Pl. room 520

Parks:  Thurs., 1/12 @ 6:30PM at NYU Silver Bldg. 32 Waverly Pl. room 520

Full Board: Thurs., 1/19 @ 6:00PM 116 West 11th Street, Auditorium

 

Slideshow> A New York Year in A New York Minute

East, Newsletter
Monday, December 26, 2011
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The acrylic from Nouvele's carousel mutes views of the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade, and Ghery's 8 Spruce. (Stoelker/AN)

The acrylic walls of Nouvel's carousel building offer a new view of the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade, and Gehry's 8 Spruce. (Stoelker/AN)

Neither blizzards, an earthquake, or Hurricane Irene slowed down work here at 21 Murray Street. Nor did any of these disrupt work down the street at the World Trade Center. The demonstrations at Zuccotti Park did not get in the way, nor the spontaneous turn out following the death of Osama bin Laden. Construction only paused for the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Some of the year’s biggest stories sat at our doorstep, and quite often, we only had to go downstairs to capture their images. Here are a few photos of the news and news-makers taken downtown, as well as a few from uptown, across town, and over the river…

View slideshow after the jump.

Buildings = Energy at the Center for Architecture

East
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
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A design by Perkins and Will explores passive system choices of integrated photovoltaics at the bottom of windows and a reflective panel at the top to bounce light back into the building.

A design by Perkins+Will explores passive system choices through integrated photovoltaics at the bottom of windows and a reflective panel at the top to bounce light back into the building. Angled window panes help reduce solar heat gain. (Courtesy Perkins+Will)

Amidst the event saturated month of Archtober and the holiday hubbub that followed, the Center for Architecture‘s fall show, Buildings = Energy, got a bit lost in the shuffle. But there’s still time to check it out through January 12. Earlier this month Margaret O. Castillo took AN on a tour of the exhibit, the last under her tenure as AIANY chapter president. The show drives home several green points that Castillo has been hammering at all year, primarily the fact that buildings consume energy–a lot of it.  Eighty percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, and in New York City alone they use 94 percent of the power. The exhibit takes a holistic approach focusing on the amount of energy needed to extract and make materials, to the energy used to build, and the energy consumed by the completed structure.

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Slideshow> SHoP’s Pier 15 Opens to Public

East
Monday, December 19, 2011
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The SHoP designed Pier 15 opened to the public today. (Stoelker/AN)

The SHoP-designed Pier 15 opened to the public today. (Stoelker/AN)

Before all eyes and ears were focused on the mayor’s announcement about Cornell and their EDC project upriver, AN was downtown for a much quieter opening of yet another EDC project. Without fanfare, the SHoP-designed Pier 15 opened to the public today. With the exception of another photographer and a family visiting from Spain, we were the only ones at the pier when the security guard unhooked the chain.
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Chelsea Market Expansion: Take 2

East
Thursday, December 15, 2011
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The latest Chelsea Market expansion proposal as seen from the West Side Highway.

The latest Chelsea Market expansion proposal as seen from the West Side Highway.

After a tumultuous first round, Jamestown Properties presented new plans for Chelsea Market by STUDIOS Architecture. Initial proposals took a beating in the local press and at community board meetings, sending the developer and architect back to regroup and redesign. Jamestown exec Michael Phillips told Chelsea Now that the team went on something of a listening tour with interested parties before finalizing the latest proposal. STUDIOS principal David Burns told AN that the “community feed back helped shape the design and we’re the better for it.”
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Slideshow> WTC Memorial at Night

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
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Sonohetta's entrance to the Memorial Museum overlooks the North Pool.

Snøhetta's entrance to the Memorial Museum overlooks the North Pool.

Last Friday, AN went to the 9/11 Memorial, without a press pass, an official tour guide, or a hard hat. We went as a neighbor and experienced the place as any other visitor might. First, we attempted to get our ticket online. After checking the availability on Tuesday, we dithered, and by Wednesday online tickets were gone. But at the temporary exhibition space on Liberty Street, and a manager told us that a $20 ticket to the museum would get us into the memorial without reservations.

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The Ralph Pucci Tango

East
Monday, December 12, 2011
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The fiber art of Dana Barnes included fiber molded tires and inner tubes.

The fiber art of Dana Barnes included fiber molded tires and inner tubes. (Stoelker/AN)

The opening of “The Architecture of Indifference” last Thursday at Ralph Pucci’s Gallery 9 brought together the worlds of fashion and design in the manner that only this showroom can. The event launched a new line of mannequins from the company called “Guy,” with sultry poses suggesting last call at a bar in Buenos Aires. Any doubt as to Pucci’s inspiration for this collection was put to rest by the a tango performed by Walter Perez and Leonardo Sardella, who ambidextrously shifted roles in dancing backwards. The diversion almost threatened to distract from the fiber-based designs of Dana Barnes, but, of course, that’s nearly impossible to do.

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Umbrella Shed Makes Broadway Debut

East
Friday, December 9, 2011
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As seen from sidewalk approach the new umbrella shed allows for clear sight lines down Broadway.

As seen from sidewalk approach, the new umbrella shed allows for clear sight lines down Broadway. (Stoelker/AN)

Its not everyday that construction and office workers stop to photograph a sidewalk scaffolding shed, but that’s just what they were doing today on Broadway in Lower Manhattan. Yesterday, the mayor unveiled the new Urban Umbrella shed designed by Angencie Group. The new design, the result of a competition sponsored by the AIANY and the Department of Buildings, was fabricated by the Brooklyn based Caliper Studio.

More pics after the jump

Slideshow> Apple Takes Bite of Grand Central

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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Apple moves into the Lexington Avenue balcony overlooking Grand Central (Stoelker/AN).

Apple staff await customers on the balcony overlooking Grand Central (Stoelker/AN).

This morning Apple held a press preview of their new Grand Central store, which is set to open this Friday. The first impression of this glassless emporium, an anomaly for the company, is the respectful handling of the hallowed space. The store fills the space vacated by Metrazur restaurant, which wrapped around the Lexington Avenue side balcony. Apple’s showroom takes up half of the northern balcony as well. For Mac fans, the cleaned lined furnishings will be familiar, as are the various stations spread throughout the 23,000-square-foot space. The Genius Bar is still there, as are the iPad and iPod stations, laptops, accessories, and a professional yet casual staff of more than 300. Apple, aided by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, took sight lines into consideration, as the only real hint that the store is there from the concourse are small strips of table lighting, and, of course, the company’s ubiquitous apple which hangs from a grand arch centered on the balcony. It could be argued that logo competes a bit with the world famous clock at the center of the terminal. But otherwise, the interventions appear considerate and reversible.

View the sideshow after the jump

Glass House: New Play Explores Fascistic Modernism

East
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
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Philip Johnson's Glass House at New Canaan inspired the play. (Courtesy. Ezra Stoller/ ESTO)

The Center for Architecture seems to be on a lively arts kick of late. After presenting Architect, the chamber opera about Louis Kahn just a couple of weeks ago, last Friday the Center staged a reading of Glass House, a new play by Bob Morris and produced by the Center’s Cynthia Kracauer. The show employs a premise that sounds like the start of an ethnic joke: an Arab and his Jewish wife move next door to a WASP and his black wife in an exclusive Connecticut enclave…

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Activists Press On for AIDS Memorial at Triangle Park

East, Newsletter
Thursday, December 1, 2011
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A view looking east through the Triangle Park plan by M. Paul Friedberg (courtesy Westside Healthcare Coalition)

A view looking east through the Triangle Park plan by M. Paul Friedberg and Partners. (courtesy Westside Healthcare Coalition)

On the eve of World AIDS Day, dozens crammed into the City Planning building in downtown Manhattan where the Rudin Organization presented plans for the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site at a Universal Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) hearing.  The commission is set to vote on the plan on January 24, but over the last few months yet another issue has emerged at the long contested site. Activists from the Queer History Alliance continue to press for an AIDS Memorial to be placed at a proposed park across the street from the former hospital, which was considered ground zero during the height of the AIDS crisis.

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