On Tuesday, the Parks Department cut the ribbon on the River Avenue pocket parks in the Bronx. It is the latest piece of the sprawling, long-overdue parks system promised by the Bloomberg administration in exchange for the parks sacrificed and taxes forgone in the name of the House That Steinbrenner Built (God rest his soul). But that is not what is truly interesting about the River Avenue park. What is is that it contains a skatepark. The fourth one to open this summer, in fact, preceded by new ramps and half-pipes at Hudson River Park (above), Flushing Meadows, and Robert Venable Park in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood. A very popular park opened last year as the first piece of the McCarren Park pool’s redevelopment. (This reporter saw young scalawags jumping the fence to get in even before it was finished, so eager were they to ollie about.) The Parks Department now has 11 skateparks under management, with more on the way. Read More
Yesterday, John Hill, arguably the city’s most prolific architecture critic, finished up one of his latest projects, entitled “31 in 31.” In addition to his usual flood of posts, Hill is chronicling one building every day in August, in preparation for a new guide book. The buildings are scattershot, ranging from the new Crocs super store in the West Village to One Bryant Park, but most of them are new and, in a way Hill always seems to manage, representative of precisely what has been going on in the city recently—not comprehensive, but authoritative. It’s a rundown worth running down, but one building in particular caught our eye: the rather unassuming Wilf Hall at NYU. Read More
It has not been a good day for Gary Barnett and his Extell Development. First, the Post‘s ur-real estate columnist Steve Cuozzo gave Barnett a hard time for delays at his skyline-bursting Carnegie 57. (How come Tony Malkin didn’t complain about this one, by the way?) And this evening, Borough President Scott Stringer has announced he is giving the project his ULURP thumbs down. What more does everyone want? Barnett has promised to build a school, to up the affordable housing from 12 percent to 20 percent, and he has hired one hell of an architect. But this is far from enough apparently, given Stringer’s strongly worded announcement. Read More
The popularity of speed dating is proof positive: people enjoy the sweaty-palmed feeling of being sized-up by a stranger so much that they figure, Why limit myself to only once in a night? Following that logic, the Van Alen Institute is offering young designers the same opportunity to offer themselves up to a critical appraisal multiple times in a row: Their second round of Design Speed Dating is scheduled for Saturday, September 11. Accepted applicants will rotate around a series of professional designers and critics, spending a half hour with each one and receiving constructive feedback on their portfolios. Interested? The Van Alen Institute is seeking emerging talents through an open call. Submit your digital portfolio in PDF format, no larger than 5MB, and no longer than 10 8.5”x11” single-sided pages, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Habitues of the New York architecture scene have long looked forward to Open House New York, the annual weekend in October when the doors to New York’s secret spaces are thrown open in a citywide celebration of architecture and design. Well, now it’s time to return the favor. The 8th Annual OHNY Weekend is seeking volunteers to help at this year’s upcoming event on October 9 and 10. Volunteers would assist any one of the weekend’s many programs, which include organized tours of spaces open to the public for the weekend, as well as site-specific dance and music performances and dialogues with architects, designers, and scholars. In years past, venues have included the High Bridge Water Tower, the Grand Lodge of Masons on 23rd Street, and the Eldridge Street Synagogue, along with architects’ offices, residential interiors, and sundry other venues across the five boroughs. The volunteer shifts will be approximately four hours long, but depend upon the assigned site’s open house schedule, and attendance at one of two training sessions (offered on Sept. 21 and 25) is required.
The restaurant La Superior in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is small place with very high standards. Not only does it have the best tacos and salsa in the five boroughs, but its low-cost décor features design elements by Mexican engineer/designer Ricardo Cid that are as exciting as the food. Cid, from Mexico City, claims he always wanted to be an artist but one that used “different and more complicated tools and calculations,” so he studied engineering at Mexico City’s UNAM. The university gave Cid a research grant, and he used the money to move to New York City and begin an independent research practice focusing on “old and lost methods of Mexican manufacturing,” and adapting them to new materials when the old ones could not be found. Read More
Sidewalk cafes have long been a popular feature of New York City dining, but many restaurants’ sidewalks are too narrow to set out tables and chairs without violating city code. Offering a solution to this spatial problem, on August 12 the Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled its first “pop-up cafe” in Lower Manhattan—an 84-foot-long and 6-foot-wide wooden platform with planters, wire railing, 14 cafe tables, and 50 chairs—as the agency’s latest move to reclaim road space for public use. Read More