Eavesdrop NY 13

East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Friday, July 31, 2009
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COOPER SCOOPER
Eavesdrop held a glass to the emergency-exit door of the Cooper-Hewitt and heard rumblings that a ten-member, Smithsonian-led committee was about to announce a new museum director to succeed Paul Warwick Thompson. It sounded as if the committee was down to two candidates—Paola Antonelli and Aaron Betsky. The latter volunteered to a source that he was not in the running, but we think he was merely trying to throw us off the scent. Our olfactory sense is too highly tuned to be distracted. Expect an announcement any minute. Read More

Rezoning Day

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 30, 2009
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Yorkville, one of the high density areas of Manhattan that will be elligible for more affordble housing under a change to city zoning approved Wednesday. (Wikimedia Commons)

Yorkville, one of the high density areas of Manhattan that will be elligible for more affordble housing under a change to city zoning approved Wednesday. (Wikimedia Commons)

The rezoning of Coney Island may have takn up all the oxygen at the City Council Wednesday, but it was far from the only rezoning to pass, and far from the only important one. The council also approved a major downzoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which, at 175 blocks, is not only huge, but important, as it was meant to protect the area from out-of-scale overdevelopment. It may be a little too late for that, but better late than never, we guess. Or maybe never again is more like it. The Flatbush neighborhood on the south side of Prospect Park got a similar treatment, receiving a massive 180 block downzoning again to protect against uncharacteristic development. Dumbo was rezoned, though in a particularly contextual manner, given its unique historic character, as were four contiguous neighborhoods in Queens. But perhaps most important was a citywide change to the inclusionary housing bonus. Read More

Stalling Out

East, East Coast
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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A stalled building in--where else--Williamsburg. (Courtesy Curbed.com)

A stalled building in--where else--Williamsburg. (Courtesy Curbed.com)

Last week, the Times reported on efforts by the city to address the wave of stalled projects plaguing the city. It was a surprising story, but not because of the news of the program–mind you, we were well ahead of the Gray Lady on that. No, what took us aback was the huge jump in the number of stalled buildings the Department of Buildings had recorded between the time our story ran on June 11 and theirs on June 19, with the total number of stalled buildings more than doubling from 138 to 362. We immediately called the DOB to find out more but, well, this being summer, we just heard back today. Read More

GSA Now Hiring

East, East Coast
Friday, July 24, 2009
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Now Hiring: 26 Federal Plaza

Now Hiring: 26 Federal Plaza

With the prospects for architectural work tilting downward once again, we can imagine you might be uncertain about the future. Not to worry, though, as a friend sends along the message that the GSA is hiring in its New York office, among many others. And best of all, things are looking up at the agency, as you could go to work, at least in some capacity, for the new director of the Design Excellence program, which is getting a much-needed shot in the arm. Best of luck.

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Chasing One Manhattan Plaza

East, East Coast
Monday, July 13, 2009
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Some day, all this could be yours, as far as the eye can see. (epicarmus/Flickr)

Some day, all this could be yours, as far as the eye can see. (epicarmus/Flickr)

The financial crisis has officially hit architects. No, not in the way you think. We’re talking about banks selling their marquee properties, namely the news today, delivered by the Observer, that JPMorgan Chase may be selling its former headquarters building at One Chase Manhattan Plaza. Designed by Gordon Bundshaft of SOM under the auspices of then-bank president David Rockefeller, the building, which also features an Iasmu Noguchi rock garden, was named a landmark by the LPC in February of this year. Maybe that helped auger the sale, which could include 22 buildings and which the bank continues to deny. (See, we care about commercial real estate, too, and not just famous houses.)

Chasing After Zero

East, East Coast
Monday, July 13, 2009
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Locals and Cambridgians enjoy the latest issue of New Geographies. (All photos Kevin Greenberg)

Locals and Cambridgians enjoy the latest issue of New Geographies. (All photos Kevin Greenberg)

Kevin Greenberg sends us another insightful dispatch from Kenmare Street:

Last Tuesday, the Storefront for Art and Architecture felt like a satellite campus of the GSD as Harvard students and other Cambridgians joined locals at the Storefront for a release party for the second issue of New Geographies, a doctoral student-edited periodical recently launched by the GSD’s Aga Khan Program. The editors of New Geographies, Neyran Turan and Stephan Ramos, told us that they had several meanings in mind when they chose the theme for the second issue. Titled “After Zero,” the issue centers on the slippery idea of a “zero point.” The editors cite zero carbon and “zero context” urban developments (or “cities from scratch”) as contemporary examples that force designers to question design methodologies and justifications. Read More

Art Island

East, East Coast
Friday, July 10, 2009
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"At The Same Moment" by Lawrence Weiner (here shown in the process of installation). Photos by Victoria Monjo

The physical distance that separates Governors Island from most New Yorkers often offsets the draw and mystery of the place. This summer, however, everyone has a new reason to make the mini-pilgrimage—only 10 minutes by ferry—to the island that was for so many years off-limits. An art installation dubbed PLOT09: This World & Nearer opened to the public on June 27th and features artwork by 19 international artists. Read More

TMI Too Late

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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Earlier today, the Municipal Art Society posted an incredibly informative presentation that the group gave at the recent City Council hearings on the Bloomberg administration’s plans for rezoning Coney Island. The presentation, which can be found above, pretty succinctly explains what’s wrong with the city’s plan, why it won’t work, and alternatives–proposed, of course, by MAS–that could be undertaken. So why has this presentation surfaced so late in the process, when it will have little, if any impact on the rezoning? Read More

Walk Jane Jacobs Way

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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555 Hudson Street

555 Hudson Street (Courtesy naparstek.com)

In her 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jane Jacobs documented and analyzed the urban street life visible outside her home in Greenwich Village, revolutionizing the way people and planners think about cities, urban planning, and development. In honor of her legacy, the preservation group which she helped found, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), initiated a proposal for the street in front of her former home at 555 Hudson Street between Perry and West 11th Streets to be renamed “Jane Jacobs Way.” Read More

Path Future

East, East Coast
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
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Warp speed. Next stop, the 21st Century! (Courtesy dandeluca, flickr)

Warp speed. Next stop, the 21st Century! (Courtesy dandeluca, flickr)

The Path Train has finally entered the 21st Century. Yesterday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a number of new additions that have rocketed the rail line out of its luddite solar system and into a whole new constellation of technology. The Path now boasts new, up-to-date rail cars, an upgraded website (be sure to watch the video), and… drum roll… a Twitter page! Next time you have to ride out to Jersey you can forget the hair gel and gold chains and instead grab your favorite PDA and put on those glow-in-the-dark Ray Bans. The future is now.

Inlet Assumed

East, East Coast
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
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The actual Bushwick Inlet on the day of the groundbreaking of Bushwick Inlet Park (Courtesy Victoria Monjo).

The actual Bushwick Inlet on the day of the groundbreaking of Bushwick Inlet Park. (Courtesy Victoria Monjo)

Yesterday, in a quiet ceremony attended by Mayor Bloomberg, the city broke ground on the first phase of Bushwick Inlet Park. Situated between North 9th and 10th streets along the Williamsburg waterfront, this initial stage of construction will comprise a synthetic turf athletic playing field. Turns out I was also on the Williamsburg waterfront at the time, on a tour of that neighborhood with photographer and AN Editorial Intern Victoria Monjo, capturing images for our forthcoming developers issue (see last year’s here). One of the images we captured was of Bushwick Inlet itself, which sits three or four blocks to the north of where the festivities were taking place. Eventually, park construction will extend all the way to this placid cove, where, according to the Parks Department’s initial plan, there will be a beach, planted terraces, and a performance garden, whatever that is. See the view from Kent Avenue after the jump. Read More

Everybody Wants a Bailout

East, East Coast
Monday, July 6, 2009
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Money pits.

Money pits: World Trade Center and Atlantic Yards.

With the news today, reported by The Observer, that Larry Silverstein has begun legal proceedings against the Port Authority to end the gridlock at Ground Zero, as well as the developments two weeks prior at Atlantic Yards, it seems obvious to us what’s going on here. Having witnessed the financial titans across town receive hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money, these developers now want theirs. Granted, so did Larry Flint and the porn industry, but the comparison bears consideration. Read More

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