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

Barnard Takes Diana Center Stage

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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Since last year, esteemed architecture photo agency ESTO has been shooting video as well. Here is the latest effort, a look at the Diana Center at Barnard, narrated by the designers, Weiss/Manfredi. From the first frame, we couldn’t help but think of Curbed’s frequent Rendering vs. Reality feature. From that first frame on, at times it looks like exactly that, like we’re looking at a renderings. Were it not for the cars and buses and students passing by at times, we might actually believe so. We’re still not sure what Weiss/Manfredi was going for here in terms of appearance, but it certainly seems to be working for the firm.

NY Designers Nicing, Icing Stalled Sites

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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Icebergs, an affordable, sustainable alternative to a vacant lot designed by Woods Bagot.

Construction may not be expected to pick up until next year, but the city is already prepping for it with the UrbanCanvas program, for which registration closes Monday. The Department of Buildings and Department of Cultural Affairs are seeking out designers and artists to create new scaffolding, fencing, and other otherwise unsightly construction protections, of which there are nearly 1 million linear feet. If that’s not enough, ArtBridge, a Chelsea non-profit, is pursuing a similar program, albeit just with the overhead scaffolding—which are also due for a redesign—though ArtBridge submissions are due tomorrow, so get cracking. And should you be not a designer but a building, or more accurately empty lot, owner looking an alternative way to dress up your site, consider Woods Bagot’s Icebergs. As the firm describes them: Read More

Superfront Hawks a Different Dialectic in Brooklyn

East, East Coast
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Urban Omnibus has put together another great video, this time on Superfront, a new-ish storefront collaborative space on the further reaches of Atlantic Avenue. (We’re partial to it not only because it’s a cool idea but also one of us is moving around the corner and also happens to have a friend who lives in the back of the space from time to time.) The video is basically an interview with the space’s founder, Mitch McEwan, an ebullient mouthful of architectural contradictions. Our favorite line: “There really aren’t a lot of opportunities to make mistakes in architecture. And this is an opportunity for me to make mistakes in architecture.” Now what’s yours?

Allah Architecture Causes Controversies Worldwide

East Coast, International
Thursday, July 8, 2010
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It looks like New York isn’t the only city with a controversial mosque on the horizon—and in the case of Marseilles, that’s quite literally where it’s going. Archinect points us to a BBC report about the Grand Mosque, a huge new complex atop one of the city’s northern hills. As the video above shows, the complaints are akin to those surrounding the proposed mosque around the corner from the World Trade Center site—concerns about culture, paternalism, terrorism, and community, though in France the concerns are obviously less direct. In a favorable sign for the NYC mosque, the local community board voted against landmarking the former Burlington Coat Factory ahead of a binding review at the commission next Tuesday. The vote is non-binding but tends to carry some wait, though we’re curious to see what actually happens, as this should be one of the more interesting commission meetings in recent memory. Do check back for a full report.

Snohetta Takes Broadway with Times Square Repairs

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 8, 2010
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The city began work today on Molly Dilworth's "Cool Water, Hot City" installation in Times Square.

While it was nearly hot enough to fry in egg in Times Square Tuesday, things have since cooled off a bit, and not simply because the temperature dropped back into double digits. Today the city’s Department of Transportation began installing in the public plazas Molly Dilworth’s 18-month installation, “Cool Water, Hot Island,” which will not only prettify the eight newish plazas with an abstracted heat map of the city but also reflect some sunlight, making for a more comfortable experience. Meanwhile, DOT along with the Department of Design and Construction announced that it had selected Nordic knockouts Snøhetta as the lead designer for the long-term transformation of the square. Read More

A Hub-bub in the Bronx

East, East Coast
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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The city wants to turn the two lots bisected by the subway into a new mixed-use commercial center—a hub for the Hub.

Of all five boroughs, the Bronx arguably fell the furthest during New York City’s 1970s collapse (the decade that saw the infamous burning) while it has not seen nearly the revival of Brooklyn or Queens in recent years. There’s the new Yankees Stadium, and the Grand Concourse remains resurgent, but there is still much to be done. The city’s Economic Development Corporation is hoping to nudge things along just a bit east at the Hub, an architecturally and historically rich area centered around the intersection of 149th Street, Third Avenue, and Melrose Avenue. On two lots covering 112,000 square feet where the 2/5 Trains shoot out of the ground, the city is hoping to create a new mixed-use retail center that can anchor the area’s continued redevelopment. Read More

Beekman Tower Has Bad Back

East, East Coast
Monday, June 28, 2010
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Baby don't got back. (Courtesy A. Fine Blog)

We’re not sure where the rumor started—most likely Curbed—but for a while now, it’s been going around that the southern side of Frank Gehry’s Beekman Tower isn’t faceted because it got smoothed out during a value-engineering process in 2009 that saved the project after it nearly stalled out (at half its planned height no less). The latest iteration is a lament on ArchDaily. We called Gehry’s people, many of whom were out of the office, but when they finally got back to us, the answer was a definitive “Nope.” This baby’s backside was always flat. We asked why but were told that this is “a question for Frank, only Frank,” who happens to be on vacation with his family in South Africa. Which can only mean one thing. World Cup. Who knew we had such a soccer fan in our midst? Maybe he’s checking out all those cool stadiums? Anyway, our guess is it has something to do with zoning envelopes. And now, consider the record corrected. For the second time.

The Most Fun at P.S. 1?

East, East Coast
Monday, June 28, 2010
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There was a party in the Citi Thursday night. (All photos by Matt Chaban)

Admittedly, we’ve been pretty darn obsessed with this year’s P.S.1 Young Architects Program, Pole Dance. But after last week’s party, the enthusiasm appears to have been justified. Not because this is the first one ever with its own interactive component, where you can log-on to the Pole Dance site and manipulate its sound (also a first) with your phone, or watch visualizations, or upload your own pictures. Not because of all the beautiful and architecturally famous people who came out, as our photos clearly document. No, this may just be the best damned pavilion in the program’s decade-long history because it’s the most damn fun. Your proof is after the jump. Read More

Last Columbia Hold Out Hung Out to Dry by Top Court

East, East Coast
Thursday, June 24, 2010
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Sprayregen outside one of his Tuck-It-Away storage facilities, which Columbia may now seize unless the Supreme Court says otherwise. (Courtesy blockshopper.com)

Nick Sprayregen, the last remaining holdout in the way of Columbia University’s Manhattanville expansion project, has just had his fortunes reversed—quite literally, as now it appears the school has a good chance of taking Sprayregen’s land through eminent domain to make way for its new 17-acre campus. Last December, Sprayregen won an unexpected court decision, which was overturned today in a unanimous decision by the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court. The Observer astutely points out that even justice Robert Smith, the lone dissenter in the major Atlantic Yards case, sided with the majority this time out.

At issue was whether the Empire State Development Corporation has the right to take private land and convey it to Columbia, which the lower appellate court found it did not, as in the judges view there was no clear public purpose. In today’s reversal, the justices found that the agency made a clear and compelling case for the project, and it was not the place of the judiciary to overule them: Read More

Bloomberg Taps Third Banker for Economic Development

East, East Coast
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
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Steel and Bloomberg, at the announcement of his appointment today. (Courtyesy NY Observer)

Maybe that headline is self-explanatory, even makes a good bit of sense. Or it did when Robert Steel’s two predecessors took the job of Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Dan Doctoroff and Robert Lieber, like Steel, used to work on Wall Street before joining the Bloomberg administration. But nowadays, appointing someone who spent three decades at Goldman Sachs (before heading to the Treasury Department earlier this decade and then on to unwinding Wachovia) is a bit of a head scratcher. This has nothing to do with populist fervor and Goldman still being more hated than BP despite the catastrophic oil spill. No, this is about the future direction of the city. Read More

Mess With the Imagination (Playground) of David Rockwell

East, East Coast
Monday, June 21, 2010
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For the past few years, David Rockwell, that master of stage and scene, has been developing the Imagination Playground, a deployable playground-in-a-box that has been finding its way across the country. Now, he is just finishing a larger playground, sort of a showcase for the concept, at Burling Slip in Lower Manhattan. (As the rendering after the jump shows, it’s quite literally a flagship.) To celebrate the opening of the new playground at the end of July, the Parks Department is taking imagination playgrounds on a pop-up tour, which kicked off this past weekend in Staten Island, with stops in all five boroughs to follow. It truly is a revolutionary concept in recreation, Read More

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