Dutch firm Mecanoo’s latest civic building represents a new era in library design. The new Library of Birmingham in the UK replaces the former James Hardin–designed central library, a brutalist concrete structure. The new library is a sleek expression of the evolving nature of education and learning in the 21st century. The modern, metal-clad structure houses a variety of services, including a multimedia center, two cafés, a music library, a performance space, green outdoor terraces, a shop and a gallery. The design vision is that the space will offer culture and entertainment, as well as learning and information.
Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492–1898
200 Eastern Parkway
September 20–January 12, 2014
Within a hundred years of the Spanish empire first expanding its borders into the Americas, an abundance of incredible wealth had been amassed in the New World. This September, Brooklyn Museum is opening its doors and inviting visitors into an elite Spanish Colonial home. They will be showcasing extravagant domestic collections, which give insight into the private lives and power struggles of Spain’s New World Elite. Behind Closed Doors, will include paintings, sculptures, luxury goods from everyday life, manuscripts, textiles, and decorative objects. The exhibition explores themes that include representations of the indigenous and Creole elite, rituals in the home, the sala de estrado (women’s sitting room), the bedchamber, and social identity through material culture. The Brooklyn Museum began acquiring domestic Spanish colonial art in 1941 and now the collection ranks among the finest in the nation. This is the first major exhibition in the United States to explore the private lives and interiors of Spain’s New World elite. Richard Aste, Curator of European Art, organized Behind Closed Doors, which is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-published by the Museum and the Monacelli Press.
Designed to survive the force of a hurricane, the new prefab bathrooms by Garrison Architects have apparently not been weathering this mild summer very well. DNAinfo reported that the stations are leaking and many surfaces are rusting in the salty air. “I look at it now and I say, ‘Is this going to last the winter?’” one anonymous lifeguard assigned to one of the comfort stations told DNAinfo. “There’s leaks right next to the equipment closet. They left it half-done and now there’s problems. The job was done like people didn’t care. It’s a monstrosity. It’s a debacle.” Parks hopes to treat the rust and leaks after the beach season ends. Until then, relieve yourself with caution.
In finalizing a key component of the Long Island Index’s 2014 effort to explore innovations for Long Island’s downtown area parking facilities, Build a Better Burb: ParkingPLUS Design Challenge has revealed the chosen architectural firms to take on the venture. The Rauch Foundation’s project goal is to investigate new parking design concepts that integrate local amenities and transform parking facilities into architectural attractions. The four firms—dub studios, LTL Architects, Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design, and Utile, Inc.—will individually tackle downtown needs in one of four Long Island communities: Patchogue, Rockville Centre, Ronkonkoma, and Westbury. Each community will collaborate with a selected architectural firm to pinpoint prospective sites.
Bjarke Ingels and Michael Van Valkenburgh are teaming up to design Pier 6 at the southern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park. As AN reported, the pier will feature a pastoral landscape terminated by a triangular viewing pavilion called the Mantaray. The landscape and viewing platform will offer unmatched views of the Manhattan skyline and accommodate special events like concerts. Take a look at the gallery of renderings below or read more about the project here.
Norman Foster is expected to design a new skyscraper in downtown Philadelphia, according to sources cited by the Philly Inquirer. Media company Comcast has outgrown its current home in the city’s tallest building—Robert A.M. Stern‘s 975-foot-tall Comcast Center. Details of the planned tower are being guarded, but architecture critic Inga Saffron reported that Comcast is exploring plans to build a “vertical campus” including several new towers, potentially beginning with a new structure on a 1.5-acre vacant lot at the corner of 18th and Arch streets (indicated above). The site was previously approved for a 1,500-foot-tall tower in 2008 but Saffron said the new tower would likely be shorter. Developer John Gattuso of Liberty Property Trust told the Inquirer, ”The tower will be as big as it needs to be.”
As dusk shrouded Lower Manhattan in darkness last night, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum extended an 88-cannon salute to those whose lives were indelibly-changed by the events of September 11, 2001. Now in its 12th year, the Tribute in Light sent two high-intensity beams of light four miles up into the night sky in a poignant memorial marking the absence of the original Twin Towers. Several dozen onlookers including victims’ family members and city officials watched the beams emanate from the top of a parking structure just blocks from Ground Zero in a solemn expression of remembrance.
The streets of Lower Manhattan were especially crowded today as New Yorkers and tourists alike gathered around the World Trade Center site to mark the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. A national moment of silence was observed at 8:45 a.m. this morning—the time the first jet struck the World Trade Center—to reflect on the disaster and all who were touched by the devastation. Over a decade after the attacks, Lower Manhattan is in the midst of a strong recovery. With AN‘s offices only a couple blocks away from the World Trade Center site, we have been able to watch daily as construction continues at rapid speed.
It is going to be an uphill battle for the developers behind two massive residential projects planned for Greenpoint, Brooklyn. DNA Info reported that Community Board 1 rejected the proposals to build over a dozen 40-story residential towers on the northern tip of the borough, but they indicated they could be persuaded to change their minds. The bargaining chip is more affordable and senior housing. The board would like the developers behind the two developments, Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, to drastically bump up the number of affordable units in their plans, which so far include housing, retail, a public school, and esplanades along the water. This decision is just the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).
Fulton Street, the bustling commercial strip of the Brooklyn neighborhood, Bedford Stuyvesant, has just received a much-needed makeover. The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., along with community stakeholders and city officials, gathered this morning at the new Marcy Plaza to celebrate the completion of a $20 million neighborhood revitalization project, funded by the city. The organization led efforts to revamp Restoration Plaza with the help Garrison Architects, build a new plaza along Marcy Avenue, implement public art, and overhaul a mile-long stretch along Fulton Street with expanded sidewalks, new benches, trees, plantings, bike racks, and lighting. These streetscape improvements aim to bolster local businesses and support the local residential community by creating a safer and more walkable neighborhood.