More Construction Canvases Downtown, Still No UrbanShed

East, East Coast
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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"Restore the View," one of three Richard Pasquarelli installations that are the latest edition to the Downtown Alliance's re:Construction program. (Courtesy Downtown Alliance)

The Downtown Alliance unveiled “Restore the View” today, the latest installation in its re:Construction program, which gussies up downtown construction fencing. The program began in 2007 and has gotten bigger each year, with five installations done earlier this summer and now three from Pasquarelli, the first artist to conceive of more than one. “Restore the View” just went up over the weekend at the site of Fitterman Hall, across from 7 WTC. “Secret Gardens” will mask road construction on Chambers Street and “Hours of the Day” is going up on a plaza across from the new W Hotel on Washington Street. Not only is it nice that the Alliance is concerned with how these sites look, but it means there is a lot of work still going on downtown. Read More

A New Beginning for West End Avenue

East, East Coast
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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The Landmarks Preservation Commission is preparing to preserve a large swath of West End Avenue and the surrounding buildings. (Ed Yourdon/Flickr)

The West End Preservation Society could only save two of the buildings it had hoped for, but an entire neighborhood has been preserved in the process.

Back in 2007, a clutch of concerned citizens living on West End Avenue were dismayed to learn that two pairs of brownstones were bound for the wrecking ball, to be replaced by the sliver buildings much in vogue in Manhattan’s narrow upper reaches over the past decade. The houses at 732 and 734 West End Avenue are currently being demolished, but 508 and 510 West End Avenue survive, and likely will for some time thanks to the efforts of the society. The LPC is now preparing to finalize plans for a new, expansive historic district—lobbied for by the preservation group—running the length of West End Avenue from 70th Street to 109th Street. The result will be two-miles of almost uniterrupted pre-war grandeur. Read More

Sukkahs, Homeless Shelter Coming to Union Square

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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"Her name is Rain. San Francisco." Her sign will become part of Rael San Fratello

In less than a month, a dozen sukkahs will descend on Union Square, part of the first annual Sukkah City celebration, a modern take on an ancient Jewish structure/holiday thought up by writer Joshua Foer and Reboot founder Roger Bennett. We first revealed the project back in the spring, and now the winning sukkahs have been selected. We spoke with Foer about the entrants, the process, and the winners, a few of which we even managed to scare up (though the rest are being saved for a certain newspaper in another square uptown). Read More

New York, Here is Your New Skyline

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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The city that never stops building.

UPDATE: Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in whose district the project is located, gave her strong support for it at a press conference before today’s meeting of the City Council. More below.

The battle for the soul of New York—or at least for its skyline—was over before it even really began. The City Council Land Use Committee just voted in favor of Vornado’s roughly 1,200-foot, Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed 15 Penn Plaza, apparently unswayed by complaints from the owner of the Empire State Building, Anthony Malkin, that it would ruin views of his iconic tower, and thus the city as a whole. In fact, the issue of the skyline barely even came up, and when it did, the council members, who voted 19-1 for the tower, essentially said New York must build to remain great. “I think it’s a project the city needs,” said Councilman Daniel Holleran, a Staten Island Republican. The bigger issue, by far, than the dueling towers was that of who would build 15 Penn Plaza, namely MWBEs. Read More

Save Our Skyline, Begs Empire State Building

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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We know hackers and preservationists are staunchly opposed to Vornado’s 15 Penn Plaza, because the 1,216-foot Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed tower would replace McKim Mead & White’s notable-if-not-renowned Hotel Pennsylvania. Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, is also not a fan for the simple reason that Malkin Holdings is holding the Empire State Building. And its views would most likely be compromised by 15 Penn Plaza. Malkin is now speaking out against the project, under the aegis of a group calling itself Friends of the New York City Skyline, a posse which also includes MAS, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Landmarks Conservancy. It may be too little, too late. Read More

The Future Future of JFK Terminal 4

East, East Coast
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
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JFK Terminal 4, with 30 additional gates, as planned for some time in the future. (CLICK TO ZOOM)

If this rendering of Terminal 4 at JFK looks familiar, good. That means you’re reading, as it, or something very much like it, was in our story last week about the Port Authority and Delta’s plans for expanding the terminal. What is different, though, if you look closely, is the number of gates. This rendering was released by Delta last week, though it initially confounded us because the talk had been of nine new gates, not the 30 we counted when we compared it to the terminal’s current layout, which you can see and compare after the jump. It turns out, the wrong rendering had been released, and this is in fact the ultimate plans for the future development of Terminal 4, with 10 new gates on Concourse A (right) and 11 more added to Delta’s nine on Concourse B (left). That makes for a total of 46 gates—larger than some mid-sized airports—up from a current 16. No wonder they have to tear down Terminal 3 to make room for more plane parking. But not before Hal Hayes has something to say about it. Read More

Flooding the Unisphere Once Again

East, East Coast
Monday, August 16, 2010
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For the first time in 15 years, the Unisphere, one of the ’64 World’s Fair’s numerous icons, is back on, its fountain at full force thanks to a $2 million renovation funded by the Queens Borough President and the city. Designed by landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, the fountain is, as Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe puts it, part of the city’s Versailles that is Flushing Meadows. While not quite the Lincoln Center fountain, we’d still sit here any day and enjoy some Belgian waffles, which a press release informs us were served at Thursday’s rechristening, having been a favorite at the Fair.

Learning From, and Ignoring, Hong Kong

East Coast, International
Monday, August 16, 2010
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Hong Kong (right) and Kowloon, one of the many cities-within-cities that have sprung up on the island in recent decades. (Mr. Wabu/Flickr)

We’re fairly critical of the planning process here in New York, but our pal Norman Oder has us beat a thousand times over with his watchdog website The Atlantic Yards Report. Which is why we were surprised to find him writing over on Urban Omnibus about just how laudable our way of doing things can actually be, at least compared to the current vogue for Asian-style authoritarian planning, particularly that of Hong Kong. Jumping off from Vishaan Chakrabarti’s praise for Hong Kong’s “doubling down on density,” Oder points out that of the locals he’s heard from, “enough is enough.” Read More

NYC Snatches Sustainability Czar from PDX

East Coast, National
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
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There are few places better for the Bloomberg administration to look for a new head for the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainabilty than Portland, that utopia of urban green living. (To some, it borders on zealotry.) Today the administration announced that David Bragdon, the president of Metro, the City of Roses’ land-use and management body, will be replacing the recently departed Rohit Aggarwala. He has his work cut out for him, as his predecessor was the chief architect of the city’s lauded PlaNYC 2030 plan, though it appears the office is in capable hands. Read More

Calatrava PATH Station Takes Flight

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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It’ll be at least 4 years before Santiago Calatrava’s scaled-back, over-budget World Trade Center PATH station is completed (though as our upcoming feature on Lower Manhattan showcases, everything’s been a long time coming, but it seems to have finally arrived). Still, from the start of the interminable process, we’ve had some of the flashiest renderings around to tuck us in at night. Now comes an illustrated video courtesy the Journal‘s Metropolis blog that gives us our clearest view yet of just what’s planned, as well as what Calatrava meant when he told the New Yorker a while back that he was striving for something akin to Grand Central—a truly great room where the interiors, not the exteriors, would be what truly matters. If this video is any indication, despite all the cutbacks, he’s succeeded grandly.

Rockwell Makes a Ruckus at Imagination Playground

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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Rockwell, in—what else?—black T-shirt, with Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials at Tuesday's opening. (Spencer Tucker/Courtesy Mayor's Office)

“It doesn’t seem like it, but everything connects with each one perfectly,” said Gabrielle Sunderland, 12, squinting happily toward the hot July sun. Around her were piles of weather- and germ-resistant foam blocks in sundry shapes and sizes. The blue pieces are the signature element of David Rockwell’s Imagination Playground, which opened Tuesday on Burling Slip near the South Street Seaport.

A designer of theaters, high-end restaurants, and Broadway stage sets, Rockwell found his own children bored by the playgrounds of Lower Manhattan. So he set out to create a playspace where kids could use their own imagination, just as he once did. “Playgrounds are the places where kids can learn how to be a community and create their own worlds, but the ones we visited were all too linear,” he told AN at the opening. “That gave me the idea of a different kind of playground.” Read More

Showtime for School in Rundown Brownsville Theater

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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Where Al Joelson once performed, students will soon learn. (Courtesy POKO Partners)

Like many outlying parts of the city, Brownsville fell hard from its turn-of-the-century grandeur, with decaying reminders of its former greatness. Among them is the Loews Pitkin Theater, once home to the likes of Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, Humphrey Bogart, and Al Joelson’s last performance, as well as thousands of eager movie goers. The building has been closed since 1969—until last week, when a ground breaking was held for a new charter school and retail complex. Curbed and Brownstoner were among those in attendance, and they got some pretty amazing pictures of the building’s decrepit interiors (see some after the jump). We’ve since been sent the above rendering by the developers, POKO Partners, who are working with Kitchen & Associates, a firm based in Collingswood, New Jersey on the renovation. Read More

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