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

Head Crane Inspector Headed to Prison

East Coast, Other
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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Delayo in court. (Courtesy NY Post)

James Delayo, once the head of the Department of Building’s crane inspectors until he was arrested two years ago for accepting bribes on the job, was sentenced to two to six years in prison today for his $10,000 take. According to the Times, Delayo apologized to the city, as well as his fellow crane inspectors, who “don’t deserve the bad publicity I brought them.” The judge called the crime “an extraordinary betrayal of public trust,” especially in light of the spate of crane accidents, some lethal, that preceded the city investigation that led to Delayo’s arrest. Though as Curbed points out, Delayo was not actually the biggest crook at the department.

Iron Designers Fight and Fundraise

East, East Coast
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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Will everyone have to wear toques tonight?

What will tonight’s secret ingredient be? Marshmallows? A T-square? Tea squares? To help raise funds for the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction, a charter founded in 2004 to teach and promote architecture and design, the school is hosting the Iron Designer Challenge tonight. Like an ARCH DL for a good cause, teams of four professionals and two students will compete for the title of champion, as well as structural innovation, people’s choice, and, of course, best use of the secret ingredient. Teams will start at 5:00, with three hours to finish their work, but there is also a party open to the public—this is a fundraiser, after all—from 6:00 to 8:30. Tickets are 50 dollars, but you get to mingle on the roofdeck with the likes of the jury, DDC commish David Burney, SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli, Cooper-Hewitt ed head Caroline Payson, and Parsons architecture dean Joel Towers. Plus, there’s a damned impressive designy silent auction.

NYC DOT Puts Peddles to the Pavement

East, East Coast
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
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Better busing and biking, coming to a stretch of First Avenue near you some time this fall. (Courtesy DOT)

First came Times Square, then, all in the course of a few weeks, 34th Street, Union Square North, and Grand Army Plaza. Now, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has set her sites on bus rapid transit for the east side of Manhattan. Granted this project, like those above, have been kicking around her office in one form or another for years. But to see all of them getting off—or should we say on—the ground in such a short window is welcome news, especially as the MTA continues to fumble and falter. For all the talk of parks, and not condos, being the legacy of Mayor Bloomberg’s third term, perhaps the exploits of his occasionally maligned Transit Commish should not be overlooked. After all, we’ve got 42 more months of this. At this rate, we could have a citywide space program going by then.

What Were You Thinking, Mr. Foster?

The Architect prepares to take off.

Last night, I was lucky enough to enjoy assorted swells (but not very many architects) at the Hearst building for a screening of the enigmatic “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?”, a film devoted to his lordship’s extravagantly photogenic architecture and life of work. Or so it looks in this approximately 90 minute film which sweeps us from the Engadin Alps where Foster annually plows through a 26-mile mile cross-country ski marathon in tight black lycra with some 14,000 others to his redbrick childhood home quite literally on the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester to his current home in a Swiss villa, spectacularly void of human touches, to his 1,000-plus strong office in London to the early Sainsbury Centre; the Swiss Re gherkin; the British Museum Great Court; the Berlin Reichstag, etc, etc, and of course, the Hong Kong Beijing Airport that is the largest building on earth as narrator Deyan Sudjic intones mellifluously. (The trailor below provides but a morsel of this delight.) Read More

Statues Settle In at NYC City Hall

East, East Coast
Thursday, June 3, 2010
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Mayor Bloomberg opens the Statuesque show in City Hall Park, standing before Aaron Curry's "Yellow Bird Boy" (2010).

Since Wednesday, an aluminum woman is joyfully resting in the grass of City Hall Park. Among her well-set figurative friends are a bronze giant, an octopus man, and a couple of luminous neon creatures. The new sculptures are part of The Public Art Fund’s yearly exhibit in the park, an ongoing project for more than 30 years with the aim of making visitors experience art more directly. Read More

Now Playing: Every Corner of New York

East Coast, Other
Thursday, June 3, 2010
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Our friends over at Urban Omnibus created this delightful video entitled “Archipelago,” a sort of cinematic corollary to the current New New York show at the site’s mothership, the Architectural League. Billed as “a day in the life of five New York neighborhoods: Hunts Point, Jamaica, Mariner’s Harbor, Downtown Brooklyn, and Chelsea,” the video really is amazing for how it so succinctly captures the mind-boggling diversity of the city, revealing both the familiar and obscure to even the most stalwart local in a way so seamless that the city, for once, seems truly bound together despite all its disparity. The soundtrack alone, from Mr. Softee in the Bronx to freestyling on Staten Island to the constant sirens, is irresistible. It’s the fastest eleven-and-a-half minutes you’ll watch for some time. Almost as fast as the city it chronicles.

In Riverhouse Lawsuit, Not Easy Being Green

East, East Coast
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
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Riverhouse (Courtesy Steel Institute NY)

Despite its slow gestation, Battery Park City is widely considered a resounding success today, particularly in the areas of sustainable design, which was required of many of the complex’s latter day projects. Standing out among even these green stalwarts is the recently completed Riverhouse, designed by Polshek Partnership and shooting for LEED Gold, though the project now provides a bit of a cautionary tale for ambitious developers. According to the Journal, two tenants recently sued the projects’ developers for $1.5 million for breach of contract and fraud because the building was deemed not as green as it had been billed. Among the issues: Read More

James Gardner Goes Gaga for Central Park Kiosk

East, East Coast
Friday, May 28, 2010
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The "drably mansarded structure in red brick" during its previous life as a mere concession stand. (Courtesy NYMag.com)

As editors ourselves, we know writers don’t usually write the headlines. Still, we were struck by one atop a recent review by our friend and sometimes contributor James Gardner in The Real Deal, which declared, “Central Park’s Le Pain Quotidien ranks as one of the best things about New York City.” You don’t say. And yet, for all the hyperbole, the guy’s got a point: Read More

Who Trumps Trump?

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 27, 2010
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The Trump World Tower (861 feet), Beekman Tower (867 feet), and Carnegie 57 (1,005 feet). (Images Courtesy BergProperties.com, moonman82/Flickr, Observer.com)

The Times‘ dogged development reporter Charles Bagli had a big scoop yesterday on Christian de Portzamparc’s new tower, Carnegie 57, and what it portends for a construction recovery. That said, we couldn’t help but notice a minor error in the article’s lede: “Gary Barnett, one of New York City’s most prolific developers, is about to start construction of a $1.3 billion skyscraper on 57th Street that will overtake Trump World Tower as the tallest residential building in the city.” The only problem is, Trump World Tower was already surpassed by Frank Gehry’s Beekman Tower, which topped out in November. That shimmering, Bernini-swaddled building rises to 867 feet, six feet higher than Costas Kondylis’ Death-Star-on-Hudson. We wouldn’t have mentioned this except that the errant factoid has been picked up all over the place. Read More

Warm-Up Lap for Pole Dance

East, East Coast
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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If the PS1 pavilion is nearly complete, summer must be just around the corner. (Matt Chaban)

Over the weekend, we happened to be biking by the (newly renamed) MoMA PS1 in Long Island City when we noticed something unusual, familiar, even. It was SO-IL’s Pole Dance, this year’s Young Architects pavilion, taking shape. The museum was closing, so we only snapped one furtive, washed-out photo (let’s call it arty) on our cellphone before security made us leave. Fortunately, Frederick Fisher cut some slats in the imposing concrete wall he created as part of the museum’s 1997 redesign, so we managed to capture a little bit more of the installation, emphasis on little. Still, it looks like it’ll be fun, and we can’t help but notice how close it is to the renderings, as you can see after the jump. Read More

Zooming In on New New York

East, East Coast
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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Scenes from New New York. (Courtesy the Architectural League) CLICK TO LAUNCH SLIDESHOW

Yesterday, we told you the story of how the 100 strong New New York Photography Corps snapped some 4,500 photos of the city in stasis for a new show being put on by the Architectural League, The City We Imagined/The City We Made: New New York 2001–2010. Here now are a bakers dozen of the best. To view a slideshow click here or the photo above.

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