Dark, Brooding, and Tangley

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 1, 2010
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The Noho Hotel will soon bloom with metallic flower petals. (Photo courtesy Curbed)

When Smith-Miller + Hawkinson was brought in to design a new, Landmarks-worthy facade for 25 Great Jones Street, a 13-story sliver of concrete and steel in Noho, some people complained that the architect’s proposal remained too modern, even despite such genre-bending neighbors as 40 Bond Street. Regardless of such complaints, the LPC approved the new facade a few weeks ago, and as if to prove the doubters wrong, the designers have installed a mock-up on site. “In the context of the neighborhood I think it works perfectly—and curiously familiar in scale and coloring to the cornice ornament of the building adjacent to the East,” Henry Smith-Miller said, adding with a chuckle: “It’s dark, brooding, and tangley. The jungle is coming. Watch out for King Kong.” To see what he’s talking about, check out the mock-ups after the jump. Read More

The Bright Side of Collapse

East, East Coast
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
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The 250-foot crane on Saturday, before its collapse and after. (Adam B./Courtesy Gothamist)

It may have been a jarring reminder of the two deadly crane accidents two springs before, but fortunately little more. A smaller mobile crane toppled onto 80 Maiden Lane in the Financial District on Saturday evening, but it caused little damage and no fatalities, unlike the collapse of two tower cranes in March and May 2008, which claimed seven and two lives, respectively. The exact cause of this latest accident remains unknown, but it was believed to be a combination of human error (the boom was not sufficiently lowered) and mechanical failure (bad hydraulics). In a twist of fate, the crane fell onto the building occupied by the city’s Department of Inspections, which is charged with routing out the corrupt inspectors who let the prior accidents happen, though there appears to be no malfeasance in this incident. Two days later, two Brooklyn condos under construction collapsed, Read More

Soho Salvage

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 25, 2010
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How long before 74 Grand Street is put back in place? (Courtesy Curbed)

Another piece of New York City’s historic fabric is disappearing. But only for a short time! We hope… Curbed swung by 74 Grand Street today and discovered that deconstruction of the five story cast-iron building was just getting under way. The building has been leaning for years after being undermined by construction a neighboring lot. Because it had gotten so bad recently—some 30 inches out of alignment in spots—the Department of Buildings declared the building would come down before it brought the entire blog along with it. Afraid a unique piece of the city would be lost, the LPC demanded the facade be replaced whenever a new building gets built on the site, and it would be locked up in a city warehouse until then. The LPC signed on reluctantly, as the oldest cast-iron facade in the city was once stolen from such a warehouse and sold for scrap. We’ve got our fingers crossed this time around.

Blood on the Tracks

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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God forbid, but we'll probably be seeing a lot more of this in the near future.

The MTA finally passed its so-called Doomsday Budget today. If this comes as a surprise, well, you’re not the only one taken aback. Last year, the transit authority was in a similar predicament—in part because the Legislature refused to implement congestion pricing but mostly because of the recession. But, as with most things in (at least New York) politics, an eleventh hour deal was brokered and the funds were found to stave off the draconian cuts. We figured that would be the case this time around, especially since the MTA’s new and particularly shrewd boss Jay Walder made all the right cuts that would be politically unpalatable for Albany to keep in place, like, say, Student MetroCards. So then why did they pass? Read More

Kingsbridge Conundrum

East, East Coast
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
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That's a lot of empty space to fill. (Courtesy Bing Maps)

What to do with the Kingsbridge Armory, empty for more than two decades? That was the question the Related Companies answered with a proposal for a new mall, which was resoundingly rebuffed last year by the City Council, in part because that mall would have lacked union labor. The question of what to do with the mall was implicit in Related’s offer, as well, the suggestion being that without the mall, the massive nearly 600,000-square-foot building would continue to sit empty for more decades. Well, Bronx Borough President Rueben Diaz, Jr., one of the pols that led the fight against the mall, thinks he has an answer of his own, as the Observer reports, or at least he hopes the taskforce he’s appointed to come up with a solution does. As Diaz put it in a statement: Read More

A Day at the Park

East, East Coast
Monday, March 22, 2010
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New York's newest park, Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Click to launch slideshow)

We’ve already mentioned the opening today of Pier 1, the first piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park. But for those of you less concerned with park governance and public-private funding mechanisms—most of you, really—than with the actual park itself, herein is our guided tour (click the photo above to begin). While the rain may have dampened the mood of some New Yorkers today, not here in the park, which seemed brighter for the downpour, verdant as Ireland and twice as lucky for having opened after a 25-year struggle. The park, and even this first sliver of it, is magnificent and majestic, a transformative place so different and particular—not unlike the High Line—that it can change your entire perception of the city. Dan Kramer, chair of the BBP Conservancy, agrees. “When I walk around, I get the same feeling I get walking around the High Line” he said at today’s ribbon cutting. “This park feels like it was always here, like it always belonged here.” Read More

Riverside Redo

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 18, 2010
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Extell downsized near the water, but the density remains about the same. (Courtesy Curbed)

Typically, developers don’t do any more work than they have to in New York, given how much work it takes to build around here, and input at the community level is even rarer. The architects and renderings usually make the rounds of the community boards during the public review process, and that’s about it. Which is what makes Extell Development’s approach to their Riverside Center project so interesting. Not only has the developer made a number of presentations to community since announcing the project in 2008, but it appears Extell has even made some concessions, according to Curbed. As the image above shows, the heights of the three buildings facing the water have been reduced considerably, though those nearer to West End Avenue have been slightly increased. Read More

$1K per Square Inch

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
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It's not exactly one-of-a-kind, but for a thousand bucks, this model better be special. (Courtesy eBay)

Who says starchitecture is dead? While most projects, high-profile or otherwise, are still on the rocks, the market for boldface design remains strong. How do we know? That rinky-dink model of Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard Street that we mentioned last week, well, the eBay auction for it closed just past nine o’clock this morning. After 43 bids, the final price was an astonishing $1,166.11 (if you factor in the 30 bucks for shipping). Seeing as how that’s more than some East Village apartments, we’re going to take this as a leading indicator of better times ahead. Or maybe it’s just further proof of the problems that got us here in the first place.

Pritzkers on eBay

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 11, 2010
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Bauble or board game?

On Monday, September 15, 2008, Herzog & de Mueron’s 56 Leonard Street was unveiled. That same day, Lehman Brothers collapsed. As you can guess, this Jenga-like tower never got off the ground—if anything, the Tribeca luxury tower was the exclamation point capping off the real estate bubble in the city. And yet now is your lucky opportunity to buy into the project: Curbed tipped us off to an eBay sale of one of 300 limited edition models of the project—#37 to be exact. Taking the Jenga theme to an extreme, the model actually comes apart, so its 145 pieces (one for each floor/residence) provide “a means of exploring the tower’s radically innovative design.” The model even has a replica Anish Kapoor sculpture at its base, just as the tower was supposed to, a symbol of the excess of the times that’s now seen as bad taste. Amazingly, there must still be demand for design even in these rough times, as bidding, which Curbed said started at a penny, is up to $187.50. Is there no end to the madness?

UPDATE: Apparently not. No sooner did we hit publish than the auction jumped 8 bids and the price now stands at $228.50. And this is only after the first day. Are we looking at a bubble here?

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Architecture is Frozen Music (with Music Added)

East, East Coast
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
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Architectural designer and videographer Sandy Cole made this impressionistic video of the Diana Center at Barnard College, designed by Weiss/Manfredi. For those who don’t have the chance to see it in person, it captures the building’s colored and clear skin, its “slipped vistas” of the campus and city, and its layered interior.–The Editors

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LEGO Fixer Upper

East, East Coast
Monday, March 8, 2010
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Fix up, look sharp: Vormann works his magic on the General Theological Seminary. (Courtesy Dispatchwork)

As most readers of this blog know, we’ve got quite a thing for LEGO building blocks, which is why Jan Vormann might just be our new favorite artist. The Berlin-based, Bavarian-born Vornmann takes the little plastic blocks as one of his favored media, which would be awesome in its own right. But then, pushing the architectural boundaries of LEGO blocks, uses them to fix real-life cracks in the city, beginning to reverse the urban decay as only a child could. He took a recent visit to New York, as we found out from NewYorkology today, though he’s also made repairs across the globe Read More

The Dispersion

East, East Coast
Friday, March 5, 2010
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The Functionality's temporary installation, "Feel It, Take It" disappeared last weekend.

“We all have day jobs, and we don’t all live in the same city, or even on the same continent,” said Andrew Lyon, one of the six members of the multi-disciplinary design collective The Functionality. “But we all have a shared desired – to make something.” Lyon was standing beside Colin Harris, a civil engineer and fellow member of The Functionality. Huddled together against the cold last Saturday, the three of us barely fit inside W Project Space, a diminutive storefront gallery on a grubby block of Division Street, in a neighborhood that’s become a kind of lightning rod for just the kind of art practice the Functionality seems interested in pursuing: work that’s categorically messy, temporary, and site specific. Here, in the tiny storefront there’s a sixer of beer on the floor, half empty. Late ’90s hip-hop issues cheerfully out of the tinny speakers of a portable boom box. Honestly, anything louder would overwhelm the space. It’s like being invited to an art opening inside a VW Bus. Over our heads hangs the reason for the gathering: a seductively tactile, monochromatic felt membrane entitled “Feel It, Take It,” designed and installed by The Functionality for a span of time as brief as W Project Space is small.
Read More

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