Parks Department Coopting NYC Skaters?

East
Thursday, September 2, 2010
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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

Wilf Hall Not Bad By NYU Standards

East
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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Wilf Hall (Courtesy Archidose)

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

Scale the Scaffolds on DOB YouTube Channel

East, East Coast
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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The Department of Buildings recently launched a YouTube channel. You’d think the department’s time would be better spent actually inspecting buildings instead of making videos about inspecting buildings, but a) given the black eye the department suffered after the two crane accidents two years ago, and b) this is a pretty damn good video, let’s let our criticizm slide. In fact, this simple black-and-white-photos-and-voiceover film verges on tearjerker. “A lot of the companies out there welcome us and are happy to see us out there performing a safety inspection, and then there’s that percentage that want no part to do with us,” intones inspector Joseph Coben, the Bronx still thick in his voice. Interesting factoids about the three-year-old scaffolding team abound, like how every scaffold gets a walkthrough no matter how dangerous, and how thankful workers are for the inspector getting them off a dangerous site they can’t leave without risking their jobs. Grab some popcorn and a hardhat and enjoy.

More Construction Canvases Downtown, Still No UrbanShed

East, East Coast
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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"Restore the View," one of three Richard Pasquarelli installations that are the latest edition to the Downtown Alliance's re:Construction program. (Courtesy Downtown Alliance)

The Downtown Alliance unveiled “Restore the View” today, the latest installation in its re:Construction program, which gussies up downtown construction fencing. The program began in 2007 and has gotten bigger each year, with five installations done earlier this summer and now three from Pasquarelli, the first artist to conceive of more than one. “Restore the View” just went up over the weekend at the site of Fitterman Hall, across from 7 WTC. “Secret Gardens” will mask road construction on Chambers Street and “Hours of the Day” is going up on a plaza across from the new W Hotel on Washington Street. Not only is it nice that the Alliance is concerned with how these sites look, but it means there is a lot of work still going on downtown. Read More

BP Stringer Throws Water on Riverside Center

East
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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BP Scott Stringer is no fan of Riverside Center. (Courtesy Extell)

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

A New Beginning for West End Avenue

East, East Coast
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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The Landmarks Preservation Commission is preparing to preserve a large swath of West End Avenue and the surrounding buildings. (Ed Yourdon/Flickr)

The West End Preservation Society could only save two of the buildings it had hoped for, but an entire neighborhood has been preserved in the process.

Back in 2007, a clutch of concerned citizens living on West End Avenue were dismayed to learn that two pairs of brownstones were bound for the wrecking ball, to be replaced by the sliver buildings much in vogue in Manhattan’s narrow upper reaches over the past decade. The houses at 732 and 734 West End Avenue are currently being demolished, but 508 and 510 West End Avenue survive, and likely will for some time thanks to the efforts of the society. The LPC is now preparing to finalize plans for a new, expansive historic district—lobbied for by the preservation group—running the length of West End Avenue from 70th Street to 109th Street. The result will be two-miles of almost uniterrupted pre-war grandeur. Read More

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

East
Monday, August 30, 2010
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Van-Alen-Speed-Dating

The AN's own Bill Menking, on a "date" with a lucky young designer.

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 vai@vanalen.org.

Open House New York Needs You!

East
Thursday, August 26, 2010
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Work AC's Diane von Furstenberg Studio HQ, on tap this year. (Elizabeth Felicella)

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.

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Sukkahs, Homeless Shelter Coming to Union Square

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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"Her name is Rain. San Francisco." Her sign will become part of Rael San Fratello

In less than a month, a dozen sukkahs will descend on Union Square, part of the first annual Sukkah City celebration, a modern take on an ancient Jewish structure/holiday thought up by writer Joshua Foer and Reboot founder Roger Bennett. We first revealed the project back in the spring, and now the winning sukkahs have been selected. We spoke with Foer about the entrants, the process, and the winners, a few of which we even managed to scare up (though the rest are being saved for a certain newspaper in another square uptown). Read More

New York, Here is Your New Skyline

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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The city that never stops building.

UPDATE: Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in whose district the project is located, gave her strong support for it at a press conference before today’s meeting of the City Council. More below.

The battle for the soul of New York—or at least for its skyline—was over before it even really began. The City Council Land Use Committee just voted in favor of Vornado’s roughly 1,200-foot, Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed 15 Penn Plaza, apparently unswayed by complaints from the owner of the Empire State Building, Anthony Malkin, that it would ruin views of his iconic tower, and thus the city as a whole. In fact, the issue of the skyline barely even came up, and when it did, the council members, who voted 19-1 for the tower, essentially said New York must build to remain great. “I think it’s a project the city needs,” said Councilman Daniel Holleran, a Staten Island Republican. The bigger issue, by far, than the dueling towers was that of who would build 15 Penn Plaza, namely MWBEs. Read More

Mexico City Design on the Menu at Brooklyn Taqueria

East
Friday, August 20, 2010
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Mexican artist and engineer Ricardo Cid adapted the vintage "rotulo dorado" process for a latter-day Brooklyn cantina. (Courtesy Ricardo Cid)

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 Sipping with Sadik-Khan at NYC Pop-Up Cafe

East
Thursday, August 19, 2010
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NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, the Downtown Alliance's Nicole LaRusso, David Byrne, and Janette Sadik-Khan at the pop-up cafe. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

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

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