A River Runs Through Times Square

East, East Coast
Monday, May 24, 2010
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A before and after of Molly Dilworth's "Cool Water, Hot Island," the winning entry for a semi-temporary installation in the new-ish Times Square.

Back in February, when the Bloomberg administration announced it would be making the closure of Broadway in Times Square permanent, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told us, basically, that she had been very impressed with the Dutch dots she had seen adorning closed roads in the Netherlands. In the end, the Department decided on something a little more complex for the installation that will adorn the roadway for the next 18 months, before permanent renovations can begin sometime in 2012. Beating out 149 artists, designers, and aesthetes is Brooklyn’s Molly Dilworth, whose Cool Water, Hot Island is an abstracted representation of Manhattan’s heat island effect, that extra blanket of warmth that plagues most urban areas. The piece should be installed by mid-July Read More

Dancing on Cobblestones

East, East Coast
Friday, May 21, 2010
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AN pubisher Diana Darling and Architizer's Ben Prosky (both at left) share a moment before the party gets into full swing. (Courtesy Architizer)

Last Friday, we hosted a party with Architizer at the Dom Showroom on Crosby Street. Valcucine was showing off its latest wares as part of ICFF, including a special line called in glass, with pieces by Thom Mayne, Alessandro Mendini, Steven Holl, and Winka Dubbeldam, who was in attendance with fellow architect-about-town Jonathan Marvel. Other notables included Charles Renfro and photographer Adam Friedberg, plus a few delightful bottles of scotch and duck sliders by Savoy’s Peter Hoffman, making for the delightful evening. You can see more of the party over on the Architizer blog and after the jump. Read More

Thumbs Up for Penn Tower

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 20, 2010
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15 Penn Plaza, which would become the second tallest tower in Midtown, has met with limited political opposition.

Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gave his approval to 15 Penn Plaza, a nearly 1,200-square-foot tower designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and proposed for a site across from Penn Station. The approval was conditional, as usually happens when a borough president puts the stamp on a land-use project, but what was surprising, perhaps, is that the size or scale of the building were not addressed. As we reported last month, the proposed project is 42.5 percent larger than current zoning allows, one of the chief reasons the local community board opposed the building 36-1, deeming the project too big. Such outsizing is usually a gripe for borough presidents, as well, but that was not the case here, as Stringer took issue with impacts on the open space, transportation, construction, and sidewalks, all of which are impacted by the projects size, though that itself was never an issue. This one, it appears, is all about mitigation and not reduction. That said, this is Midtown—a common refrain in support of the pre-shrunken MoMA tower, to which Stringer did object more strenuously—so maybe this fits after all.

Some-Glass House for Sale

East, East Coast
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
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Philip Johnson's first commission work, the Booth House in Bedford, New York. (Courtesy philipjohnsonsfirsthouse.com)

Philip Johnson’s first commissioned work, a house for the Booth family built in 1946, can now be yours for the forgiving price of $2 million. It’s not exactly Johnson’s first building ever—that distinction goes to his Harvard thesis project, completed two years prior—nor is it exactly his best—according to one first hand report, it’s basically a Glass House with cinder block walls. Still, that’s about par in price for the area according to Coldwell Banker, and how many other of those homes can boast such history? Just so long as it’s not bought for the land and torn down like so many other modernist homes north of the city that have been lost in recent years.

Inching Toward ULURP Reform

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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The Tweed Courthouse, where the Charter Commission held its meeting Monday to set up expert panels, including one for land-use reform.

On Monday, the Charter Revision Commission held its latest meeting, where its members called for a series of five panels to better inform their decision on what, if any, issues to put on the ballot this fall—or next, more on that in a moment. One of the five panels that was called for was on land-use reform, the best indication yet that the commission may well perform the major overhauls the city’s developers and planners have been calling for, as we noted in a recent issue. The commissioned announced today that the land-use panel will be held June 24, at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library, and in addition to experts, public input will also be taken. So if this is an issue you care deeply about—be honest, who doesn’t love ULURP?—then we’ll see you there. As for this fall or next, the biggest debate remains not what but when the commission will conclude its work, as some commissioners and members of the public insist it is moving too quickly to fully engage all the necessary issues.

Not a Bridge too Fair

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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A rendering of a proposed replacement for the Goethals Bridge. It may look different in the end, as the bridge is being developed as a public-private partnership, but the Port Authority seems committed to a strong design regardless. (Courtesy PA)

Ever since the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, politicians and public authorities nationwide have been scrambling to get theirs up to code. New bridges, or at least proposals for them, abound, some nice, some not so much. Fortunately, the Port Authority appears committed to a high-design bridge. The authority released a request for information [PDF] this week, a precursor to an RFQ. The Observer picked up on the PA’s interest in building the thing with a public-private partnership, an approach with a mix of benefits—no upfront costs—and risks—less control or long-term revenue. But what is promising, nonetheless, is the PA’s commitment to constructing what could be called a statement bridge. Read More

Catalyze This

East Coast, National
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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Take that still largely speculative skyline!

Last fall, the Downtown Alliance unveiled a plan by ARO and a dozen or so other designers aimed at reviving an area the civic group dubbed Greenwich South. Among the proposals was an iconic, place-defining tower designed by one of our favorite firms, San Francisco’s IwamotoScott. While the Downtown Alliance’s plan was largely speculative, the tower has, uh, popped up once again, with bountiful new renderings on Inhabitat. It’s not entirely clear why the tower has been so thoroughly expanded upon, but we’re guessing all this new snazz has something to do with the firm’s upcoming appearance at the Design Triennial opening Friday, of which it’s a part. We’ve posted a few of our favorite renderings here, with more than a dozen available at Inhabitat. Read More

Beaming Up the City

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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A Shrike Commander twin-prop plane at twilight, like the ones being used to map New York at night. (Courtesy Texas Aviation)

If you were in New York any time during the last half of the last month, while you slept, you were being zapped with lasers. Or rather, the buildings you slept in. This according to a downright cool story in the Times today reporting that the city has been using a small prop plane to develop far-and-away the most detailed map we’ve ever seen. Like Robert Moses’s famed Panorama dozen times over, “but more accurate and digital,” as Rohit Aggarwala, the departing sustainability czar, told the Grey Lady. More than just creating a solar map of the city’s building stock, the aerial study is beginning to turn up an incredible data set, including all the pitch roofs capable of accommodating solar panels, how much—if any, sadly—of our wetlands remain, and even “zoning changes and stricter building codes.” And here you thought lasers were only good for tag, lasik, and jedi.

Recycling Finally on NYC Streets?

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Council members Peter Vallone, Christine Quinn, Jessica Lappin, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Letitia James in Astoria earlier today, pushing for more recycling bins in the city. (William Alatriste)

When was the last time you found yourself on a city street, empty water bottle or given-up-on crossword in hand? Being the conscientious New Yorker you are, no doubt you looked around for a recycling bin to deposit your refuse in. Odds are, you didn’t find any nearby, as the city—so often held up as a green beacon—is woefully lacking in recycling receptacles. That could change soon, with the passage of a package of recycling-related legislation that was unveiled just before Earth Day last month. Since the launch of a public recycling pilot program in 2007, there are now 300 bins scattered across the city. The council hopes to double that number within three years of the legislation’s passage and increase it to 1,000 within a decade. But the city has a long way to go, considering there are more than 25,000 “corner baskets” located in the five boroughs. Read More

The Wright Ingredients

East, East Coast
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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Welcome to the Wright, now approved by two dead baldmen. (Courtesy Andre Kikoski Architects)

Local boy Andre Kikoski won the James Beard Award today for his flashy new restaurant inside the Guggenheim Museum. It replaced the once dowdy cafeteria designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, for whom the award-winning eatery is named, long a vestigial space tucked in under the museum’s sweeping rotunda. Now all flashy curves and color, Kikoski’s space, which opened in January, was even considered a might bit better than the food served therein by New York food critic Adam Platt. The Wright beat out another local spot, Brooklyn’s Choice Kitchens & Bakery by Evan Douglis Studio, and Greensboro, Alabama’s PieLab, designed by Project M. Kikoski joins recent award winners Thomas Schleeser of Design Bureaux (2009) for Chicago’s Publican, Tadao Ando (2008) for Morimoto New York, Lewis Tsuramaki Lewis (2007) for New York’s (now defunct) Xing, Bentel and Bentel (2006) for the Modern… (We’re noticing a trend here, which maybe helps explain why the food in the city is so darn good.)

Spare Land-Use Change?

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 29, 2010
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Community groups and unions protest the Kingsbridge Armory, a project that died in part because of its CBA arrangements—or lack thereof. (Matt Chaban)

Yesterday, the Times ran an interesting story about the potential illegality of Community Benefit Agreements, as determined in a report by the New York City Bar Association. The report argues such agreements should not be fostered by the city, even if there is nothing that can be done to stop a developer from negotiating with local community groups—something the bar believes can lead to corruption—and, failing that, not to allow the agreements to have a bearing on land-use decisions. The Times’ article concludes with a note of resignation, though, that CBAs are here to stay, so deal with it. What a capital idea! In fact, the reason this story rang so true with us is that it sounds a lot like one of the issues that came up while working on our piece on the Charter Revision Commission. Herewith is yet more reason to take a serious look at land-use issues and not just term limits.

MoMA Gets Social

East Coast, International
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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Quinta Monroy Housing Project, Iquique, Chile (2003-2005), by Elemental. (Photo: Tadeuz Jalocha)

AN has a first look at MoMA’s upcoming architecture exhibition, Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures for Social Engagement, which will include eleven projects from four continents. The show examines how architects working on small budgets can “bring a positive impact to social conditions,” according to curator Andres Lepik. All the included projects are exemplary for their level of community engagement, which often includes developing the skills of local people. For Lepik, this level of community engagement sets these projects apart from what he calls “charity architecture” or “parachute architecture.” While the American architects are fairly familiar, among them Michael Maltzan, the Rural Studio, and the Estudio Teddy Cruz, many of the international examples will be new to the MoMA audience. Read More

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