Digging into the Past of New York Parks

East
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx (Photo: Malcolm Pinckney)

Most New Yorkers have an intimate relationship with the city’s many parks, especially during summer months when public events transform our favorite green spaces into temporary yoga studios and music venues. It can be easy to forget the industrial past of these urban oases, or the planning work and earth-sculpting toil responsible for the conversion of reservoirs and jails into Bronx parks and West Village gardens. Before They Were Parks, an exhibition presented by the New York City Parks Department, narrates the often untold history of the city’s open spaces. Read More

Boston Arch Taking Off?

East
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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Massport approved of Don Chiofaro's Boston Arch project, so long as it ditches the skyframe that pushes it to 690 feet, above the 625-foot limit. The condos at left are 590 feet tall.

UPDATE: Yanni Tsipis, a Chiofaro critic, counters: “In addition to the 625 foot limit on the Harbor Garage site, which was to be expected, note that [Massport flight paths] would also allow a 900 foot building in the middle of the Boston Common or a 1,000 foot building in the middle of the historic Back Bay brownstone district… certainly doesn’t mean any of these would be a good idea!”

Ever since the Boston Redevelopment Authority finalized its study setting heights along the post-Big Dig Rose Kennedy Greenway, the fate of developer Don Chiofaro’s Boston Arch has been very much in question. The city is recommending no more than two towers rising to 200 feet on the site, saying it will cast shadows on the politically sensitive park. This did not prevent Chiofaro from presenting his own claims earlier in the month that the 40-story office and 59-story residential towers designed by KPF that he wants to build will have no negative impacts, that the claims are overblown. Now, Massport, Read More

Remington Arms Reloaded

East
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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Bridgeport's Remington Arms plant has won a reprieve.

Nils Wiesenmüller of the Bridgeport Design Group reports that the historic Remington Arms Factory has been saved—at least for the moment. As we reported on April 19, the building, which once made guns for Czarist Russian armies and served as General Electric’s corporate headquarters, was slated for demolition by G.E., which still owns the structure. But the Connecticut Post claims that the city’s Inland Wetlands Watercourses Agency has tabled G.E.’s demolition permit for the moment because it cannot prove that “no materials, soil, or hazardous waste would make their way into nearby Stillman Pond during the two years it would take to deconstruct the 13 interconnected structures and powerhouse on the 72-acre property.” Still, it seems that G.E. and some in the city are determined to see the building torn down, so we are continuing our effort to save the structure and find an alternative use for it. We started a petition with Wiesenmüller, and while it now has almost 500 signatures, we need more. Please sign the petition and keep the pressure on to save this historic structure!

Beekman Tower Has Bad Back

East, East Coast
Monday, June 28, 2010
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Baby don't got back. (Courtesy A. Fine Blog)

We’re not sure where the rumor started—most likely Curbed—but for a while now, it’s been going around that the southern side of Frank Gehry’s Beekman Tower isn’t faceted because it got smoothed out during a value-engineering process in 2009 that saved the project after it nearly stalled out (at half its planned height no less). The latest iteration is a lament on ArchDaily. We called Gehry’s people, many of whom were out of the office, but when they finally got back to us, the answer was a definitive “Nope.” This baby’s backside was always flat. We asked why but were told that this is “a question for Frank, only Frank,” who happens to be on vacation with his family in South Africa. Which can only mean one thing. World Cup. Who knew we had such a soccer fan in our midst? Maybe he’s checking out all those cool stadiums? Anyway, our guess is it has something to do with zoning envelopes. And now, consider the record corrected. For the second time.

The Most Fun at P.S. 1?

East, East Coast
Monday, June 28, 2010
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There was a party in the Citi Thursday night. (All photos by Matt Chaban)

Admittedly, we’ve been pretty darn obsessed with this year’s P.S.1 Young Architects Program, Pole Dance. But after last week’s party, the enthusiasm appears to have been justified. Not because this is the first one ever with its own interactive component, where you can log-on to the Pole Dance site and manipulate its sound (also a first) with your phone, or watch visualizations, or upload your own pictures. Not because of all the beautiful and architecturally famous people who came out, as our photos clearly document. No, this may just be the best damned pavilion in the program’s decade-long history because it’s the most damn fun. Your proof is after the jump. Read More

Name Change for Polshek Partnership

East
Monday, June 28, 2010
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Richard Olcott and Jim Polshek show presidential library to Bill Clinton, or vice versa.

While it may sound a tad like a movie starring Kirk Douglas, Ennead Architects is the new official name of the firm formerly known as Polshek Partnership. The change, according to partner Todd Schliemann, who has been with the firm since 1979, is meant to reflect the collaborative and dedicated spirit that has long suffused the practice’s philosophy, founded in 1963 by James Polshek, now 80, and that will now be even more pronounced. Polshek retired from active duty five years ago, and there was some confusion, according to Schliemann, about who had designed which projects. Read More

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Konyk Cotton Field Blooms Under the High Line

East
Monday, June 28, 2010
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An outdoor event space and pop-up boutique are the latest of the High Line's fashion-forward amenities. (Courtesy Konyk Architecture)

The high-end cotton label Supima is planting its flag—or rather, a field of cotton plants imported from Texas—under the High Line this summer, in a public outdoor event space designed by Brooklyn’s Konyk Architecture. Dotted with movable cotton-bale seating and set atop a plywood “walkable mural,” the space will host a variety of events beginning the week of July 15 and continues through New York Fashion Week in September, just in time for those cotton bolls to bloom beneath Neil Denari’s soon-to-liftoff HL23. Read More

Last Columbia Hold Out Hung Out to Dry by Top Court

East, East Coast
Thursday, June 24, 2010
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Sprayregen outside one of his Tuck-It-Away storage facilities, which Columbia may now seize unless the Supreme Court says otherwise. (Courtesy blockshopper.com)

Nick Sprayregen, the last remaining holdout in the way of Columbia University’s Manhattanville expansion project, has just had his fortunes reversed—quite literally, as now it appears the school has a good chance of taking Sprayregen’s land through eminent domain to make way for its new 17-acre campus. Last December, Sprayregen won an unexpected court decision, which was overturned today in a unanimous decision by the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court. The Observer astutely points out that even justice Robert Smith, the lone dissenter in the major Atlantic Yards case, sided with the majority this time out.

At issue was whether the Empire State Development Corporation has the right to take private land and convey it to Columbia, which the lower appellate court found it did not, as in the judges view there was no clear public purpose. In today’s reversal, the justices found that the agency made a clear and compelling case for the project, and it was not the place of the judiciary to overule them: Read More

The Perils of Subway Naming Rights

East
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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Can you see me now? (brettisrael/Flickr)

Our favorite wonky MTA blog has an interesting and funny post about how quickly and easily naming rights on a public transit system can get, in this case down in Philadelphia. While we all know transit systems are in trouble and should probably go about getting money wherever they can—short of more draconian fare increases, let’s hope—it is easy to go too far on the naming rights front, not only into parody but confusion. While it may be a bit unseemly that the MTA tried to charge the Yankees for the rights to have their name at a refurbished 161st stop last year, and that Barclays is actually paying up for the rights in Brooklyn, yet another advertising assault on our public lives. But SEPTA has gone a step further, renaming its Pattison Avenue Terminal to AT&T Station. Unlike the Barclays annoyance, this could be downright confusing because there is no geographical relevance here, nothing AT&T about this station. As another blogger puts it on SAS: “The whole situation raises the frightening prospect in the near future that, instead of riding the Broad Street Subway from City Hall to Pattison, people will take the Coca-Cola Trolley from Pizza Hut to AT&T.”

Bloomberg Taps Third Banker for Economic Development

East, East Coast
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
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Steel and Bloomberg, at the announcement of his appointment today. (Courtyesy NY Observer)

Maybe that headline is self-explanatory, even makes a good bit of sense. Or it did when Robert Steel’s two predecessors took the job of Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Dan Doctoroff and Robert Lieber, like Steel, used to work on Wall Street before joining the Bloomberg administration. But nowadays, appointing someone who spent three decades at Goldman Sachs (before heading to the Treasury Department earlier this decade and then on to unwinding Wachovia) is a bit of a head scratcher. This has nothing to do with populist fervor and Goldman still being more hated than BP despite the catastrophic oil spill. No, this is about the future direction of the city. Read More

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

Design Writer Has Sweet Dreams for New Domino

East
Thursday, June 17, 2010
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You can do better! (Manu_h/Flickr)

The simmering opposition to the New Domino plan from the local community and especially its City Council rep has been well-noted, but the reaction from the design community has been more muted. And while the approval from the City Planning Commission, and the forthcoming showdown at with Councilman Steve Levin mean the project is pretty much headed for an up-or-down, maybe slightly tweaked if not entirely scrapped vote, design writer Stephen Zacks had made a bolder proposal, calling for the plan to be scrapped not because it is too dense and under invested, but because it is not visionary enough. “These unique sites are opportunities to generate new forms of urbanism and orders of magnitude greater revenue, instead producing the high volumes of similar units that are now languishing on the market,” Zacks declares in a letter to the Council (in full, after the jump). He has a few ideas of his own, something called Domino University, but is also soliciting them from others. Feel free to leave them in the comments section, or on his Facebook page. Read More

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