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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…