When is a Center really a center? Well first of all it’s got to have a center, don’t you think? The Betances Community Center has a splendid gym holding strong in the middle of the plan, full of warm, white light modulated by the south-facing glass block wall and monitor side walls of Kalwall. Originally intended to house a boxing ring and bright orange bleacher seating, the space is now multi-purpose with the bleachers accordioned to the walls; the famous boxing program moved elsewhere. Even without the ring, the architecture packs a wallop of clarity, modesty, attention to detail, and programmatic resolution.
Yesterday, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court denied a request by the city and Vornado seeking to dismiss Justice Lucy Billings’ ruling which allied a protected natural resource with an urban landmark. In ruling that the Citizens Emergency Committee to Protect Preservation (CECPP) and Pratt professor Eric Allison had legal standing for their petition, Billings cited Save the Pine Bush v. Common Council City of Albany, a case addressing the protection of a forest Upstate under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. In deciding against the appeal, the court effectively said that they won’t hear the Manufacturers Hanover case in piecemeal. The case returns to Justice Billings’ courtroom next Wednesday where CECPP is asking for everything from reams of email correspondence between Landmarks and Vornado, to the new tenant’s lease and rental terms.
Just after 4:00p.m. Sunday afternoon, cryptic messages visible for miles around Manhattan were written in the sky, spelling out, among other things, “Last Chance.” Out of context to millions in the streets below, the messages were slightly unnerving and deliberately vague. Curious speculation as each giant letter was traced into the sky led many to wonder what the message actually meant: An ad? A terrorist’s warning? A persistent marriage proposal? It turns out the display was part of an art project by Kim Beck called The Sky Is the Limit/NYC and sponsored by the Friends of the High Line.
It’s been a while since we did the once around the super block that is the World Trade Center site. We held off on WTC Updates until the Tenth Anniversary news fest subsided. Now that all eyes are on the Zuccotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, we figured it’d be a good time to take another walkabout. From an urban planning standpoint, the Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) status of Zuccotti Park has stirred up quite a bit of interest.
As the 9/11 Memorial opened only last month—and remains a highly controlled space—the only way to navigate around the site is to walk through a series of interior and exterior POPS. Right now Occupy Wall Street’s takeover of the Brookfield-owned park is getting the lion’s share of attention, but elsewhere there are little known gatherings in other POPS around Lower Manhattan that happen every day.
550 West 18th Street
New York, NY
The IAC Headquarters is Frank Gehry’s first building in New York. Neither a symphony hall nor an art gallery clad in riveting titanium that creates its own economic system, it is rather a diminutive swell of faceted glass with a graded white frit. Compared to most big-name office buildings, the IAC is built at a much more personal scale. Built as-of-right and opened to little in the way of the usual starchitect fanfare, some might notice it’s hard to find the front door. What you may not know, however, is how bird friendly the building is.
Let’s face it, outside of Central Park, Manhattan isn’t known for its abundance of open space. This is beginning to change, however, as in this increasingly innovative architectural age, people are looking to odd, underutilized remnants in the city, from abandoned rail lines to decrepit industrial buildings and toxic waterfronts to create the next amazing public space. One such space sits just beneath the Manhattan Bridge, where Architecture for Humanity has secured a grant and invited nine design firms to take on Coleman Oval Skate Park. Holm Architecture Office (HAO) with Niklas Thormark has taken on the challenge and revealed their program-driven proposal.
959 8th Avenue
New York, NY
As written in the AIANY Design Awards issue of Oculus, Summer 2007:
With its efficient use of resources, abundant natural daylight and fresh air, and modern technologies, this 856,000-square-foot building designed by Foster + Partners and completed in 2006 is the first in New York City to receive a LEED Gold rating for its core, shell, and interiors. Most notably, it was constructed using more than 80% recycled steel. The diagrid framing uses 20% less steel than conventionally framed towers, and it was designed to consume 25% less energy than most Manhattan towers.
Terminal 6 has been on Death’s Row at least since June 2010. So why are so many aflutter now? It’s an old adage but a persistent one: It hasn’t happened until the New York Times reports it, or until there’s a television tie-in as newsworthy as the cheesy jet set-orama, “Pan Am” on ABC.
Tonight and Friday at 7 pm Murder, Love, and Insanity: Stanford White and the Gilded Age will be broadcast live from the top of the old New York Life Building at ArtOnAir.org. The building, also known as the Clock Tower, was designed by White in 1897 and provided plenty of grist for Peter McCabe, the show’s producer and writer. McCabe has his own show on the website and began pondering the idea about a year ago. A grant from the Jerome Foundation made the six week project a reality.
Who knows what Henry Kissinger, Lou Gehrig, Maria Callas, Ralph Ellison, Marianne Moore, and Jacob Javits have in common?
They were all kids who checked books out of their neighborhood library, the Fort Washington Branch of the New York Public Library. It is one of the original 67 New York City Carnegie Libraries. Designed by Cook & Welch Architects, it opened in April 1914. Walter Cook, along with George Babb and Daniel Willard, designed the Carnegie Mansion on Fifth Avenue and 91st Street – today’s Cooper-Hewitt museum.