LEEding the RPA

East, East Coast
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
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Sander (Courtesy RPA)

The Regional Plan Association played a crucial role during the Great Depression, helping guide the Roosevelt administration’s recovery efforts. While the tri-state advocacy group has been less visible during the current crisis, the RPA still plays an important roll in shaping transportation and infrastructure policy, both locally and nationally. The group may be jockey to kick up its profile as it replaces its outgoing chair, little known real estate attorney Peter Herman, with former MTA boss Eliot “Lee” Sander. Read More

This Is a Brooklyn-Bound V-Train

East, East Coast
Monday, January 25, 2010
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At least one change in the MTA's proposed service cuts—replacing the M with the V—could actually be a boon, not a bane. (Courtesy 2nd Ave. Sagas)

Sometimes, bad news can be good news. That’s the conclusion we came to when we saw the map above, posted on the MTA-obsessed blog 2nd Ave. Sagas. On Friday, the MTA announced its revised set of Doomsday 2.0 service cuts, which include slightly fewer bus route eliminations and maybe not quite-so-bad service (get the very detailed details on the Sagas blog). But as Gene Russianoff, head of the Straphanger’s Campaign, put it in an email today, “the cuts still stink.” Except for one. Read More

Eavesdrop NY 01

East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Friday, January 22, 2010
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Sutton Scarsdale Hall is looking to fill its walls with something. Anything. Please. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Pimp Our Ruins
Formula for architectural mischief: Start with a fabulous ruin. Then add a public entity with oversight of fabulous ruins, which, in turn, summons a quirky arts organization to devise a competition to do something useful with said ruin in peril. Governors Island? Nope. Think England: The fabulous ruin is Sutton Scarsdale Hall, a dilapidated wreck of a structure in the countryside of Derbyshire. The public entity is English Heritage, which watches over Stonehenge among other oddities, and the arts organization is something called the Centre of Attention. The 1724 Georgian hall was stripped to its foundation in 1919, and some of the interior paneling ended up in the Hearst Castle and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, although apparently there are still “traces of sumptuous plasterwork.” (Don’t miss the ha-ha ditch on the picturesquely wrecked grounds.) The Centre of Attention has called for proposals to transform the stone shell into “a pavilion of post-contemporary curating.” If that’s your cup of tea, dive right in. Read More

Where Today Meets Tomorrow Night

East, East Coast
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
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(Click to enlarge)

What do Eero Saarinen and Susan Skarsgard have in common? They both worked for GM: he, the Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, his first great commission; she, graphic design for the Big Three car company for more than 15 years. They also share space at the Museum of the City of New York, where Skarsgard will be giving a talk tomorrow night at 6:30 about her sumptuous, custom-made book as part of the museum’s ongoing Saarinen show, Shaping the Future. Weighing 35 pounds, Where Today Meets Tomorrow was painstakingly produced by Skarsgard over a number of years at the Technical Center, which also happens to be her office. The one-of-a-kind book, through which Skarsgard will guide the museum’s guest on a virtual tour, includes rarely seen archival materials from GM and Saarinen. We got a few more shots after the jump to whet your appetite, but if that’s not enough, check out a book of the same name we just found online produced when the center first opened, with principal photography from none other than Ezra Stoller. Read More

Trumpets, Please!

East, East Coast
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
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Anne Guiney and AN gang at the bar on Inauguration Day.

Former AN editor, Anne Guiney, has been named executive director of The Institute for Urban Design, the organization dedicated to fomenting debate about urban planning and development policy. With longtime experience as a magazine editor including stints at Metropolis and Architecture magazines, Guiney was part of the original team of editors at The Architect’s Newspaper, making sure that urban planning received as much coverage as architecture and design. Read More

Full Steam Ahead

East, East Coast
Monday, January 18, 2010
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A bronze mural, one of two designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, adorns the recently renovated lobby of 230 Park Avenue (Courtesy Monday Properties)

While the preservation experts at Beyer Blinder Belle are typically busy making old structures look new with new components that look old (like, say, the signage at a certain skyscraper), BBB’s designers also from time to time design from whole cloth. Or whole bronze, as is the case for a pair of murals created for a recent lobby renovation to 230Park Avenue, the former Helmsley Building that caps Grand Central. Last Monday, Monday Properties president Anthony Westreich, the building’s owner, dedicated the murals along with local pols Scott Stringer and Daniel Garodnick and Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Robert Tierney. Weighing more than a ton, the murals—which were drawn by Chris Ludlow and sculpted by Joan Benefiel under the direction of BBB—hark back to the building’s history as the former headquarters for the New York Central Railroad, depicting a train speeding by with the distinctive profile of 230 Park in the background. See more photos from the dedication and shop after the jump. Read More

This Stinks! But for How Long?

East, East Coast
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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Newtown Creek spills into the East River and Manhattan. (Promaine/Flickr)

UPDATE:The mayor called. See more below.

It should come as no surprise that a local government supported the Superfund designation of one of its most polluted waterways. Unless that government happens to be the Bloomberg administration, which has vehemently opposed “blighting” the Gowanus Canal and environs by naming the polluted Brooklyn waterway a Superfund site. That opposition remains firmly in place. What is surprising, though, as the Brooklyn Paper reported Friday, is that the administration, in testimony submitted to the EPA on December 23, came out in favor of designating Newtown Creek, a place in constant competition with the Gowanus for most reviled in the borough. The big difference, it would appear, is that the Gowanus’ northerly sibling has but award-winning poop processors lining its banks, and not the prospect of condos. Though that prospect could be fading fast. Read More

Stimulus Potholes

East Coast, National
Monday, January 11, 2010
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Men at work. Or not... (Courtesy Fremont.gov)

In a blistering report published today, the AP contends that the roughly $20 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, né the Stimulus, dedicated to road and infrastructure spending did nothing to help create jobs over the past 10 months. The news is particularly damning because the House has proposed another $28 billion in road work in its latest jobs package, and in light of this news, those critical infrastructure projects—which are easily pegged as pork to begin will—could become the next health care debate. To wit: Read More

Some Healthy Construction News

East, East Coast
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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Robert LiMandri, commissioner of the Department of Buildings, visits a construction site last year. Deaths have fallen 84 percent on his watch. (Courtesy DOB)

While the recession has been woefully difficult for architects and construction workers, the latter have had some small reason for celebration: Last year, construction deaths in the Five Boroughs plummeted 84 percent, with only three in 2009, down from 19 in 2008. Partly this can be chocked up to reduced activity: the Department of Buildings, in a release heralding the declines, notes that new permits declined 33 percent, a staggering number itself—as much for not being higher, given everyone’s dour expectations, as for being so high. Also, there were no major accidents as there were in previous years—no Deutsche Bank fires, no consecutive crane collapses. Still, with fatalities at 12 in 2007 and 18 in 2006, this is clearly an awesome improvement. And credit is due, much more than the bad economy, to department Commissioner Robert LiMandri, who has made construction safety his abiding purpose. “We have been working to change the culture of the construction industry—to put public safety ahead of profit—and our message is being heard,” LiMandri said in the release. Well, we hear you, too.

New (Yorker) Urbanism

East, East Coast
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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(Courtesy newyorker.com)

Rarely are New Yorker cartoons anything more than esoteric—which is why we love them, right?—but this one, from last week’s issue, struck a particular chord. We still can’t decide if its more Duany or Grimshaw. We do hope Mayor Bloomberg saw it, though, as it could provide an example for the happy future development of Willets Point or the Gowanus Canal, both of which are fighting for their futures as industrial areas. And then, while looking this cartoon up, we stumbled across another good one, which you can find after the jump. If we had a penny for every time we heard about a contractor doing this… Read More

Manhattanville Ho!

East, East Coast
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Demolition of 3229 Broadway is currently underway in Manhattanville, proof of Columbia's determination to build something in the area, no matter what the courts say about pieces of its new campus the school does not control. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Last month’s court victory for opponents of Columbia University’s new campus in Manhattanville was not necessarily a defeat for the school’s planned 17-acre expansion, and not only because appeals remain. With roughly 94 percent of the area under its control, Columbia has said it plans to continue work on the campus, despite its insistence that it cannot be completed as planned without full control of all buildings therein. Last night, Columbia officials outlined their current approach to Manhattanville for the first time since the ruling at a hearing in Harlem on the future of eminent domain in the state (more on that in Issue 1!). Read More

Skin Condition

East, East Coast
Monday, January 4, 2010
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Putting the Verizon building behind bars—and plans for its recladding on ice. (StartAgain/Flickr)

It looks like one of New York’s ugliest buildings may also have turned out to be one of its naughtiest. The exchange place at 375 Pearl Street is reviled by many, including tall buildings expert and AN pal Carol Willis, thanks to its blank sides and besmirching of our Brooklyn Bridge panoramas. Fortunately, plans were in the works to have Cook + Fox reclad the building and turn it into something more befitting of an increasingly polished downtown, not unlike the recent transformation of another former phone exchanger across from Bryan Park, 1095 Avenue of the Americas. But that could all come tumbling down thanks to some long—or is it tall—overdue taxes. Read More

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