Trumpets, Please!

East, East Coast
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
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Anne Guiney and AN gang at the bar on Inauguration Day.

Former AN editor, Anne Guiney, has been named executive director of The Institute for Urban Design, the organization dedicated to fomenting debate about urban planning and development policy. With longtime experience as a magazine editor including stints at Metropolis and Architecture magazines, Guiney was part of the original team of editors at The Architect’s Newspaper, making sure that urban planning received as much coverage as architecture and design. Read More

Full Steam Ahead

East, East Coast
Monday, January 18, 2010
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A bronze mural, one of two designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, adorns the recently renovated lobby of 230 Park Avenue (Courtesy Monday Properties)

While the preservation experts at Beyer Blinder Belle are typically busy making old structures look new with new components that look old (like, say, the signage at a certain skyscraper), BBB’s designers also from time to time design from whole cloth. Or whole bronze, as is the case for a pair of murals created for a recent lobby renovation to 230Park Avenue, the former Helmsley Building that caps Grand Central. Last Monday, Monday Properties president Anthony Westreich, the building’s owner, dedicated the murals along with local pols Scott Stringer and Daniel Garodnick and Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Robert Tierney. Weighing more than a ton, the murals—which were drawn by Chris Ludlow and sculpted by Joan Benefiel under the direction of BBB—hark back to the building’s history as the former headquarters for the New York Central Railroad, depicting a train speeding by with the distinctive profile of 230 Park in the background. See more photos from the dedication and shop after the jump. Read More

Robert Moses, Atlantic Yards & Air Pollution

East
Thursday, January 14, 2010
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Pollution predominates—not surprisingly—in heavily trafficked areas, yet another legacy of Robert Moses. (Courtesy Office of the Mayor)

Almost exactly a month ago, the Bloomberg administration released a study called the “New York City Community Air Survey.” Years in the making, it was heralded as the first comprehensive study of the city’s air quality ever undertaken, with results that are shocking if not obvious. As the map of particulate matter above shows—and as many of us already knew—the city can be a pretty gross place to live and breathe. There are plenty more maps like this, but they all basically come to two conclusions: Where there are cars and oil boilers, there is pollution. However, the wonk in us saw something particularly interesting: Outside of Manhattan—where congestion is a whole other animal (hence hope for congestion pricing)—the pollution tracks pretty heavily along the expressways built by none other than the Power Broker himself. We even built a handy GIF (after the jump!) to illustrate this. There is one notable exception, that big brown spot in the middle of Brooklyn, which is why we’re bringing this up now. Read More

This Stinks! But for How Long?

East, East Coast
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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Newtown Creek spills into the East River and Manhattan. (Promaine/Flickr)

UPDATE:The mayor called. See more below.

It should come as no surprise that a local government supported the Superfund designation of one of its most polluted waterways. Unless that government happens to be the Bloomberg administration, which has vehemently opposed “blighting” the Gowanus Canal and environs by naming the polluted Brooklyn waterway a Superfund site. That opposition remains firmly in place. What is surprising, though, as the Brooklyn Paper reported Friday, is that the administration, in testimony submitted to the EPA on December 23, came out in favor of designating Newtown Creek, a place in constant competition with the Gowanus for most reviled in the borough. The big difference, it would appear, is that the Gowanus’ northerly sibling has but award-winning poop processors lining its banks, and not the prospect of condos. Though that prospect could be fading fast. Read More

Some Healthy Construction News

East, East Coast
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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Robert LiMandri, commissioner of the Department of Buildings, visits a construction site last year. Deaths have fallen 84 percent on his watch. (Courtesy DOB)

While the recession has been woefully difficult for architects and construction workers, the latter have had some small reason for celebration: Last year, construction deaths in the Five Boroughs plummeted 84 percent, with only three in 2009, down from 19 in 2008. Partly this can be chocked up to reduced activity: the Department of Buildings, in a release heralding the declines, notes that new permits declined 33 percent, a staggering number itself—as much for not being higher, given everyone’s dour expectations, as for being so high. Also, there were no major accidents as there were in previous years—no Deutsche Bank fires, no consecutive crane collapses. Still, with fatalities at 12 in 2007 and 18 in 2006, this is clearly an awesome improvement. And credit is due, much more than the bad economy, to department Commissioner Robert LiMandri, who has made construction safety his abiding purpose. “We have been working to change the culture of the construction industry—to put public safety ahead of profit—and our message is being heard,” LiMandri said in the release. Well, we hear you, too.

New (Yorker) Urbanism

East, East Coast
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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(Courtesy newyorker.com)

Rarely are New Yorker cartoons anything more than esoteric—which is why we love them, right?—but this one, from last week’s issue, struck a particular chord. We still can’t decide if its more Duany or Grimshaw. We do hope Mayor Bloomberg saw it, though, as it could provide an example for the happy future development of Willets Point or the Gowanus Canal, both of which are fighting for their futures as industrial areas. And then, while looking this cartoon up, we stumbled across another good one, which you can find after the jump. If we had a penny for every time we heard about a contractor doing this… Read More

Manhattanville Ho!

East, East Coast
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Demolition of 3229 Broadway is currently underway in Manhattanville, proof of Columbia's determination to build something in the area, no matter what the courts say about pieces of its new campus the school does not control. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Last month’s court victory for opponents of Columbia University’s new campus in Manhattanville was not necessarily a defeat for the school’s planned 17-acre expansion, and not only because appeals remain. With roughly 94 percent of the area under its control, Columbia has said it plans to continue work on the campus, despite its insistence that it cannot be completed as planned without full control of all buildings therein. Last night, Columbia officials outlined their current approach to Manhattanville for the first time since the ruling at a hearing in Harlem on the future of eminent domain in the state (more on that in Issue 1!). Read More

Bridge? What Bridge?

East
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Who says local government never gets anything done fast? Last Monday the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) brought down the ailing Lake Champlain Bridge in less than ten seconds — check out its lightning-fast disintegration captured on the video clip above.

Read More

Skin Condition

East, East Coast
Monday, January 4, 2010
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Putting the Verizon building behind bars—and plans for its recladding on ice. (StartAgain/Flickr)

It looks like one of New York’s ugliest buildings may also have turned out to be one of its naughtiest. The exchange place at 375 Pearl Street is reviled by many, including tall buildings expert and AN pal Carol Willis, thanks to its blank sides and besmirching of our Brooklyn Bridge panoramas. Fortunately, plans were in the works to have Cook + Fox reclad the building and turn it into something more befitting of an increasingly polished downtown, not unlike the recent transformation of another former phone exchanger across from Bryan Park, 1095 Avenue of the Americas. But that could all come tumbling down thanks to some long—or is it tall—overdue taxes. Read More

Walkin by a Winter Renzo Land

East, East Coast
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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The courtyard of the Renzo Piano-designed New York Times Building, utterly transformed by a foot of snow.

We’ve come to hate snow in the city, as it readily turns to gross, sock-soaking brown muck. But today, when we stumbled upon a scene straight out of Aspen, we were reminded just how beautiful and transformative the white stuff can be. Ducking into Muji for some last-minute holiday shopping on our way back from the Gehry theater press conference on 10th Avenue, we were delighted to find a mountain clearing where the courtyard of the Renzo Piano-designed Times building once was. From the birch trees to the unbesmirched snow, its the sort of sight you would struggle to find even in Central Park, let alone Midtown. Excuse us for getting sentimental—it must be the eggnog—but these are the sort of moments that remind us of the power and import of good architecture.

Upending Mies

East
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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tk

Mies' 50x50 House gets a makeover at MASS MoCA. (Photo: Dylan Lathrop)

Mies van der Rohe has suffered some indignities lately, with a building at Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology knocked down and plastic palms taking root at the Dirksen Federal Building. Now comes Madrid-born artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s latest work, Gravity Is a Force to be Reckoned With, which realizes one of the master’s unbuilt projects—albeit upside-down. Read More

Break On Through

East
Monday, December 21, 2009
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The good news continues for mass transit, as the MTA announced today that the first phase of construction on the extension of the 7 Train has been completed, stretching from 26th to 34th steets, where trains will be housed as they shuttle back-and-forth between the West Side and Flushing, Queens. The Bloomberg administration, which is paying for the $2.1 billion project, put together this nice video to help demonstrate the subterranean, and thus often invisible, work. It’s the kind of stuff New York mag is calling in its annual roundup a reason to love the city: our perseverance on such mighty projects, past falterings be damned. And yet, these are exactly the kinds of capital expenditures some transit advocates are hoping to cut into to stave off the MTA’s budget crunch. Will the next stop be to stop?

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