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

Walkin by a Winter Renzo Land

East, East Coast
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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The courtyard of the Renzo Piano-designed New York Times Building, utterly transformed by a foot of snow.

We’ve come to hate snow in the city, as it readily turns to gross, sock-soaking brown muck. But today, when we stumbled upon a scene straight out of Aspen, we were reminded just how beautiful and transformative the white stuff can be. Ducking into Muji for some last-minute holiday shopping on our way back from the Gehry theater press conference on 10th Avenue, we were delighted to find a mountain clearing where the courtyard of the Renzo Piano-designed Times building once was. From the birch trees to the unbesmirched snow, its the sort of sight you would struggle to find even in Central Park, let alone Midtown. Excuse us for getting sentimental—it must be the eggnog—but these are the sort of moments that remind us of the power and import of good architecture.

MTA: To Dig or Not to Dig?

East, East Coast
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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Sunset for the Z-train: The MTA could be ending express service on the JMZ line—and so much more—amid new budget shortfalls. (Courtesy Satans Landromat)

Sunset for the Z-train: The MTA could be ending express service on the JMZ line—and so much more—amid new budget shortfalls. (Courtesy Satan's Landromat)

Not since the collapse of Lehman Brothers last year has a major bastion in the city seemed to fall apart so quickly and readily as the MTA over the past few weeks. As the Times succinctly puts it, “state legislators cut $143 million out of the authority’s budget; state accountants then determined that a payroll tax dedicated to mass transit financing would produce $100 million less revenue than initially thought. Finally, late last week, a court ruled that the authority must pay significant raises to transit workers, adding tens of millions of dollars in expenses.” The MTA is required to fill the $400 million budget hole this created because it must end the year with a balanced budget. And so a range of service cuts were ratified today by the agency’s board, including the elimination of subway and bus lines, reduced off-peak service and para-transit, and no more free rides for half-a-million students. Read More

The Final Slam Dunk?

East, East Coast
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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Forest City Ratner successfully sold bonds today, paving the way for construction of its new arena in Brooklyn.

Forest City Ratner successfully sold bonds today, paving the way for construction of its new arena in Brooklyn.

There may be a few hoops left to jump through before Bruce Ratner can begin construction of his SHoP- and Ellerbe Becket-designed arena for the Brooklyn, New Jersey, Nets, such as completing a partial sale of the team to a Russian oligarch, prevailing in some outstanding lawsuits, and going ahead with eminent domain against the area’s remaining holdouts. But the developer appears to have cleared the final major hurdle standing in his way with the successful sale of $511 million in tax-exempt bonds today for his $900 million arena. (There are still taxed bonds and an equity stake to be taken care of, but they lacked the December 31 deadline.) Read More

Kicked by the Curb

East, East Coast
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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Curbed calls Calatravas 80 South Street the biggest disappointment of the decade.

Curbed calls Calatrava's 80 South Street the biggest disappointment of the decade.

The recent building boom has proven to be as much about what got built—40s Bond and Mercer, One Bryant Park, the High Line—as what hasn’t—our Gehry Guggenheim, ample affordable housing, so much of the World Trade Center, not to mention Dubai. Our good pals at Curbed New York, so often trafficking in our real estate dreams and nightmares, have put together a run-down of their top 10 projects that never got built. Read More

Willets Wonderings

East, East Coast
Monday, December 14, 2009
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The city saw a robust response to an RFQ for the development of the western portion of Willets Point in Queens.

The city saw a robust response to an RFQ for the development of the western portion of Willets Point in Queens.

It appears the city’s plan to trifurcate development out at Willets Point has been a smashing success, as the Economic Development Corporation announced on Friday that 29 developers from across the country have expressed interest in the first phase of the project, an 18-acre swath of land on the western section of the 62-acre Iron Triangle that contains the densest mix of uses. “The quantity and quality of these responses are strong indicators that the development community has confidence in the successful redevelopment of Willets Point despite current economic conditions,” Seth Pinsky, president of EDC, said in a release. An RFP is expected sometime in 2010 for a selection of those 29 respondents. After that, the next hurdle is finishing land acquisition, which stands at 75 percent of the phase one area controlled by the city. If need be, the city has not ruled out acquiring what’s left through eminent domain, a specter that has cast a long shadow over the area’s redevelopment, though one that could be sunsetting. Read More

Related Events?

East, East Coast
Friday, December 11, 2009
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City Council member Joel Rivera leads a rally against the Related Companies Kingsbridge Armory project on Wednesday. Council speeker Christine Quinn has taken a quieter approach with that developers Hudson Yards.

City Council member Joel Rivera leads a rally against the Related Companies Kingsbridge Armory project on Wednesday. Council speeker Christine Quinn has taken a quieter approach with that developer's Hudson Yards.

With all the ink spilled of late on the Related Companies’ faltering plans to transform the massive Kingsbridge Armory into an equally huge mall, another of the developer’s megaprojects has been lost amidst the protests: Hudson Yards. As Bronx City Council member Joel Rivera has been leading a noisy fight against the armory, demanding a living wage for workers who will someday populate its stores and food courts, speaker Christine Quinn has been more quietly negotiating with Related on adding affordable housing to the western section of the outsiszed development planned for the Far West Side. Read More

How Green Is It?

East, East Coast
Monday, December 7, 2009
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Maybe theyre afraid City Hall will fail an energy audit.

Maybe they're afraid City Hall will fail an energy audit.

Coming out of City Hall today, we stumbled upon a press conference reaffirming the groundbreaking green-ness of the new green buildings measures first unveiled on Earth Day and due to pass the council this week. Measures that include a new energy code and more efficient lighting, energy benchmarking and training for building operators. But one measure no longer included, according to a rather damning story in the Times this weekend, is mandatory decennial energy audits for commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet, which would be required to replace inefficient building systems if they are not up to current standards. The main culprit, as with many things these days, is the recession: Read More

Come Hear About Designnear

East, East Coast
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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The Designear app maps nearby new notable projects in New York City, and provides info for each one.

The Designear app maps nearby new notable projects in New York City, and provides info for each one.

With an iPhone app already proffering the city that never was, how about the one that is, or is about to be? That is the charming task of Designnear. (That’s design-near, not design-ear.) From the fine folks at Hopnear, which also has a cool Artnear app, too, Designnear maps out nearby contemporary buildings of interest, replete with lots of cool photos and renderings and vital info. And forget where that cool, new project you just read about in The Architect’s Newspaper is? There’s a search, function, too, that’ll map it out and let you find it. Better yet, anyone can log-on and submit their own projects—that’s you, up-and-coming architect—hopefull leading to a comprehensive iPhone catalog of all the city’s nifty buildings. Read More

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Plummeting Pei

East, East Coast
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
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The new Goldman Sachs headquarters in Batter Park City loom as large as the company that will occupy it.

The new Goldman Sachs headquarters in Batter Park City loom as large as the company that will occupy it. (Matt Chaban)

Goldman Sachs has been much in the news lately for its continued blockbuster bonuses as much of the workforce continues to languish. But the new headquarters for the company designed by Harry Cobb has also made headlines for some time now thanks (or no thanks) to construction accidents. The latest occurred this weekend, when glass panels fell in the middle of the night from the 38th floor onto the West Side Highway, shutting it down for a few hours according to the Post. The Tribeca Trib also reports the accident also shut down a Battery Park City ice rink that was set to open Sunday, delaying the inaugural opening by a day. What’s worse, though, is the Trib says construction managers knew about a crack in the panes that precipitated their fall but delayed fixing it. Read More

Cortlandt Coronation

East, East Coast
Monday, November 30, 2009
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The northbound Cortlandt Street station on the Broadway line reopened last Tuesday. (Courtesy MTA)

The northbound Cortlandt Street station on the Broadway line reopened last Tuesday. (Courtesy MTA)

Many New Yorkers were headed for planes, trains, and automobiles last Wednesday as they decamped for the Thanksgiving holiday, but not new MTA chief Jay Walder and a clutch of Lower Manhattan pols. They took the subway to Cortlandt Street, where a re-dedication of the of the the northbound R/W station took place, its restoration—which we first noticed in April—recently completed. “The MTA has played a key role in the revival of Downtown, and we’re excited to provide customers with an improved station just in time for the holidays,” Walder said in a release. Read More

Harlem In Bloom

East, East Coast
Monday, November 23, 2009
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This row of apartment buildings along 135th Street, which are part of Section 8 housing, will get a green makeover starting next month.

This row of apartment buildings along 135th Street, which are part of Section 8 housing, will get a green makeover starting next month.

A crumbling row of ten Renaissance Revival apartment buildings, which were once the first black-owned property in North Harlem, are about to be remade again as one of a growing number of affordable, sustainable housing complexes sprouting up across the city. The project, which according to the Daily News, is set to begin by year’s end, is being tackled by affordable housing guru Jonathan Rose and his Smart Growth Investment fund, who bought the buildings in January as the fund’s first acquisition in its cheap-and-green portfolio. Dattner Architects, experts on both affordable and sustainable housing, is responsible for the retrofits [PDF], which include a photovoltaic array on the roof, efficient energy systems, lighting controls, new windows and insulation, and sustainably sourced materials. In addition to making it a more conscientious project, it also makes it a more feasible one, as these features open it up to stimulus and HUD moneys targeted at sustainable buildings—to the tune of $3 million.

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