Pritzkers on eBay

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 11, 2010
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Bauble or board game?

On Monday, September 15, 2008, Herzog & de Mueron’s 56 Leonard Street was unveiled. That same day, Lehman Brothers collapsed. As you can guess, this Jenga-like tower never got off the ground—if anything, the Tribeca luxury tower was the exclamation point capping off the real estate bubble in the city. And yet now is your lucky opportunity to buy into the project: Curbed tipped us off to an eBay sale of one of 300 limited edition models of the project—#37 to be exact. Taking the Jenga theme to an extreme, the model actually comes apart, so its 145 pieces (one for each floor/residence) provide “a means of exploring the tower’s radically innovative design.” The model even has a replica Anish Kapoor sculpture at its base, just as the tower was supposed to, a symbol of the excess of the times that’s now seen as bad taste. Amazingly, there must still be demand for design even in these rough times, as bidding, which Curbed said started at a penny, is up to $187.50. Is there no end to the madness?

UPDATE: Apparently not. No sooner did we hit publish than the auction jumped 8 bids and the price now stands at $228.50. And this is only after the first day. Are we looking at a bubble here?

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There First

East
Thursday, March 11, 2010
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Designed by Elemental Architecture (then The Stein Partnership) Rescue 1, completed in 1988, is the first facility designed for a rescue company. (Courtesy Eduard Hueber)

My story on Rescue 3′s new firehouse in the Bronx, designed by Polshek Partnership, alleged that it was the first such facility ever designed specifically for a rescue company’s needs. Alas, that assertion was woefully wrong. In 1987, Elemental Architecture (then The Stein Partnership) designed the new headquarters for Rescue Company 1—the first rescue company in the world. Located on West 43rd St. in Manhattan, the building includes many features tailored to the elite unit’s needs. These include a quick release system that allows the company’s Zodiac boat to be dropped from the ceiling and attached to the top of the apparatus, a decontamination shower (now a standard feature for FDNY and many other fire departments), and a SCUBA recharging station. Read More

Tipping Over Domino

East
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Is Domino decaying before our eyes?

Even with its generous amounts of affordable housing—30 percent of some 2,200 units, as opposed to 20 percent—the New Domino project surrounding the former Domino sugar refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront has faced stiff opposition from the community, as we reported in Issue 02 earlier this year. The local community remains opposed to the project’s density and lack of infrastructure to support all those new residents in towers designed by Rafael Viñoly that reach 40 stories, twice as tall as the iconic Domino refinery they will surround. Community Board 1 reaffirmed its opposition last night, when it voted 23-12 against the project. Our pal Aaron Short has an insanely detailed blow-by-blow over on his blog, but it all basically boils down—not unlike most of the board’s decisions on land-use matters—that the project is just too damn big. Meanwhile Read More

Childs Anchors Atlantic Yards?

East
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Might a 1- or 7-WTC-style building by David Childs one day replace some of those ghost towers behind SHoP's rendering of their Atlantic Yards arena?

The Brooklyn Paper bumped into David Childs last week, during the opening of his SOM colleague Roger Duffy’s new Toren condo tower, and the BKP is reporting the surprising news that both could possibly be working on some of the 16 residential towers proposed for Bruce Ratner’s nearby Atlantic Yards development.

“First, he brought me in to look at the arena design, which I think is very good now,” Childs said, referring to the current design collaboration between Ellerbe Becket and SHoP Architects. “And then we talked about working together on the residential buildings,” added Childs.

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Architecture is Frozen Music (with Music Added)

East, East Coast
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
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Architectural designer and videographer Sandy Cole made this impressionistic video of the Diana Center at Barnard College, designed by Weiss/Manfredi. For those who don’t have the chance to see it in person, it captures the building’s colored and clear skin, its “slipped vistas” of the campus and city, and its layered interior.–The Editors

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LEGO Fixer Upper

East, East Coast
Monday, March 8, 2010
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Fix up, look sharp: Vormann works his magic on the General Theological Seminary. (Courtesy Dispatchwork)

As most readers of this blog know, we’ve got quite a thing for LEGO building blocks, which is why Jan Vormann might just be our new favorite artist. The Berlin-based, Bavarian-born Vornmann takes the little plastic blocks as one of his favored media, which would be awesome in its own right. But then, pushing the architectural boundaries of LEGO blocks, uses them to fix real-life cracks in the city, beginning to reverse the urban decay as only a child could. He took a recent visit to New York, as we found out from NewYorkology today, though he’s also made repairs across the globe Read More

Manslaughter

East
Monday, March 8, 2010
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The May 30th, 2008 crane collapse on East 91st St.

Today, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has handed out an indictment to two companies, their owner, and a crane mechanic in connection with the 2008 collapse of a tower crane on East 91st St. that killed the crane operator and a worker. New York Crane, J.F. Lomma, James Lomma, and former employee of New York Crane, Tibor Virganyi, face charges of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter, as well as charges of assault and reckless endangerment. “Today’s indictment is an important step not only in holding these defendants accountable for their conduct, but should send a message to the construction industry that that profit cannot be put ahead of safety,” said Vance in a statement. New York Crane also owned the tower crane that collapsed on March 15 at the Azure condo on East 51st St. That incident was even more catastrophic, demolishing a building and killing seven people. The two collapses exposed corruption and bribery within the DOB’s crane unit, forced the resignation of then-Commissioner Patricia Lancaster, and gave rise to a study of construction oversight and safety.

The Dispersion

East, East Coast
Friday, March 5, 2010
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The Functionality's temporary installation, "Feel It, Take It" disappeared last weekend.

“We all have day jobs, and we don’t all live in the same city, or even on the same continent,” said Andrew Lyon, one of the six members of the multi-disciplinary design collective The Functionality. “But we all have a shared desired – to make something.” Lyon was standing beside Colin Harris, a civil engineer and fellow member of The Functionality. Huddled together against the cold last Saturday, the three of us barely fit inside W Project Space, a diminutive storefront gallery on a grubby block of Division Street, in a neighborhood that’s become a kind of lightning rod for just the kind of art practice the Functionality seems interested in pursuing: work that’s categorically messy, temporary, and site specific. Here, in the tiny storefront there’s a sixer of beer on the floor, half empty. Late ’90s hip-hop issues cheerfully out of the tinny speakers of a portable boom box. Honestly, anything louder would overwhelm the space. It’s like being invited to an art opening inside a VW Bus. Over our heads hangs the reason for the gathering: a seductively tactile, monochromatic felt membrane entitled “Feel It, Take It,” designed and installed by The Functionality for a span of time as brief as W Project Space is small.
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Hell? Yes.

East
Friday, March 5, 2010
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The New Museum and the offending art work. (photo: dominiqueb/flickr)

I’ve never loved the New Museum Building, in part because I know what SANAA is capable of achieving.  The Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, which was completed in 2006 (preceding the New Museum by about a year), is a truly original building, technologically inventive and formally stirring.  A one-story structure, it soars–far higher than the New Museum’s teetering tower ever will. And yet I appreciate the New Museum for what it is: an ethereal, sculptural presence, a kind of apparition.  It never looks better than it does at night, glowing, hovering, seemingly unconnected to the city grittiness around it. Its facade is gauzy, gossamer, “less like a wall than a scrim,” as Paul Goldberger wrote in the New Yorker. Which is why the decision to place a heavy, kitschy artwork on the façade  is so infuriating. When the museum opened in 2007, the artwork–a rainbow hued sign that declares Hell, Yes!–was described as a temporary adornment. Now, according to the museum’s communications director, Gabriel Einsohn, it is a “semi permanent” installation; the museum has no plans to remove it. Read More

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Lost in Penn Station

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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Moynihan Station is meant to adress the deplorable architecture of Penn Station, but its greatest fix could be to the confusing signage. (Courtesy NYMag)

With any luck, Moynihan Station will finally get off the ground thanks to last’s months grant of $83 million in stimulus funds. Having gone through what seems like dozens of iterations, it’s unclear exactly what shape the new station will take, but we do have one piece of advice for whatever cabal of designers takes up the massive project: Don’t forget the signs. While no hardened New Yorker would admit to getting lost in Penn’s warren of tunnels and concourses, Slate‘s Julia Turner uses the underground mess as Exhibit-A of bad signage for her series running this week and next about just how important wayfinding is in our increasingly confusing world. As Turner puts it, signage is “is the most useful thing we pay no attention to.” Read More

Carnegie Turns the Page

East
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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The St. Agnes branch has gotten a model makeover. (Photographs by Elizabeth Felicella)

At the turn of the last century, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie offered grants for 67 library branches in New York City, a boon for book-lovers across the five boroughs. More than a century later, however, many of these aging buildings are more than a little dog-eared, and the New York Public Library has been working to reclaim them as bright community hubs. The latest of these spaces to be revived, the St. Agnes Library on the Upper West Side, is back in shape after a two-year, $9.5 million restoration that library officials see as a model for the system’s Carnegie legacy. Originally designed by the New York firm Babb, Cook and Willard, the 1906 building had suffered typical alterations: Dropped ceilings occluded architectural details, and skylights were covered over, dimming interior reading rooms. Read More

Fresh Look at Fresh Kills

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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Fresh Kills Park takes shape, as mounds of capped gardbage are transformed into rolling hills. CLICK TO ZOOM (Courtesy NYC Parks&Rec)

It will be decades before the 2,200-acre Fresh Kills Park will be totally completed in Staten Island, making it the second largest in the city after Pelham Bay Park and almost three times as large Central Park. Some time next year, limited sections of the park are expected to open to the public, but for those who can’t wait, the city’s Parks Department is guiding private tours through the Field Operations-designed landscape starting next month. Uh, make that May—even though the tours were just announced yesterday, they’re filling up so fast that all the April spots are already taken. The tour season runs through November and will afford visitors breathtaking views of the city and what was once the world’s largest landfill. To sign up, visit the park’s website or—what else—call 311. Should you fail to make it out for a tour, you’ll find a small one after the jump. Read More

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