Streets occupy nearly a quarter of New York City’s land, however there are limited outdoor spaces to socialize, sit, and enjoy city life outside of parks. As part of an effort to improve the quality of public space for all New Yorkers, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has been developing new public open space by converting underutilized street spaces into pedestrian plazas. With dozens of plazas already open and functioning across the city, the NYCDOT has been looking to polish the new spaces, installing permanent designs, improved benches, and now, specially designed signs to showcase public art.
On View> Museum of Arts and Design Presents “Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Design” Through September 15
You may think you know wood, but this exhibition stretches the material beyond convention into the 21st century, and has a distinct sense of humor. Artists and designers play with the form, starting with artist Martin Puryear, who inspired curator Lowery Sims to explore trends that destabilize conventional methods. His specially commissioned piece for this show is a puffy, tufted wing-back chair that looks so soft you could sink into it, but it is actually solid pine. Its title, A Skeuomorphic Wing Chair, 2012, refers to the ersatz, an object made to resemble another material to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, like a digital notebook app that mimics yellow lined paper. Weight is conveyed differently in Yuya Ushida’s Sofa_XXXX, 2010, a delicate lattice comprised of 8,000 recycled bamboo chopsticks, that can be expanded or contracted; or Mark Moskovitz’s Facecord, 2012, which looks like a stockpiled cord of logs, but is actually a chest of drawers.
Marina Abramović owes 4,765 hugs to the supporters of her successfully funded $600,000 Kickstarter. Last month, the artist launched the online campaign to fund her own Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) in upstate New York, a performance center conceptualized as a laboratory that will be dedicated to the practice of long-durational performance art and the “Marina Abramović Method.” Project donations ranged from $1 to $10,000 and all donors are invited to receive a personal hug from the artist in a future performance event called “The Embrace.” With help from social media, celebrity interest, and a few encouragements from Abramović herself, the center surpassed its goal by more than $60,000 before the end of its month-long funding period this past Sunday.
Earlier this week, Manhattan Borough President and City Controller candidate Scott Stringer announced his $1 million pledge to restore a historic Harlem fire watchtower at the heart of Marcus Garvey Park. In the 19th century, the 47-foot tower served as a lookout point and the bell was raised in case of imminent danger. Today, the tower no longer protects the community but threatens it, showing substantial signs of decay and neglect.
Running a tight race against Eliot Spitzer, Stringer lags behind the former governor in terms of African American votes and is thus seeking to salvage one of the community’s most valued landmarks. The past few days, he has generated good publicity from his ability and desire to fund this restoration project.The $1 million provided by Stringer, along with the $1.75 million contributed by Councilmember Inez Dickens and $1.25 million by Mayor Bloomberg will be used to preserve the tower. The project includes a full restoration of the tower’s cast-iron structure, the removal of deficient parts, and the additional construction of a stainless steel support system.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. Completed in 1963, it is Le Corbusier’s only major building in the United States, and one of his final commissions before his death in 1965. The renowned modernist architect envisaged a “synthesis of the arts,” the union of architecture with sculpture, painting, and other arts. In the spirit of Corbusier’s unique style, the building stands out among the more traditional architectural prototypes of the Harvard campus. This is evident right from his initial concept sketch of the building, where Corbusier utilized bold colors to denote the new building, while shading the surrounding Harvard campus in dark brown—a color not typically part of his visual palette.
It has been several years in the making, but now the industrial strip along Brooklyn’s polluted Gowanus Canal will finally be transformed into a lush and porous green space aptly named The Gowanus Canal Sponge Park that will soak up and filter rainwater to help improve the overall water quality along the waterway. This $1.5 million project, a collaboration between the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and landscape architecture firm dlandstudio, will finally get off the ground with the help of city, state, and federal funding.
It has been a bumpy road for Brooklyn’s controversial Atlantic Yards development. The ten-year project-in-the-making is in the news yet again. According to the New York Times, 50 to 80 percent of Atlantic Yards is now up for grabs. Developer Bruce C. Ratner, chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies is on the hunt for an investor to buy the lion’s share of the development for a hefty sum of up to $800 million. Forest City would still hold the reigns over the future development of the project.
The former record needle and clothing manufacturing building, 5 Pointz, in Long Island City, Queens, is one of the few remaining refuges for graffiti art in New York City. For the last two decades, aerosol artists have flocked to this 200,000-square-foot warehouse to exhibit their work. But now the graffiti art mecca is one step closer to being demolished and replaced by two 47 and 41 story residential towers. In spite of Queens Community Board 2′s opposition to the plan, the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a special permit that would allow developer G&M Realty to build a larger structure than permitted by the existing zoning. DNAinfo reported that Queens Borough President Helen Marshall also came out in favor of the plan with the stipulation that the development include 75 affordable housing units and studio space for artists.
Astoria may soon rival its neighbor, Long Island City, as the next major residential waterfront community in Queens. In a unanimous vote, the City Planning Commission has given developer Lincoln Equities Group the green light to move forward with a $1 billion residential housing development on Hallets Point peninsula.
DNAinfo reported that the project would include 2,161 market-rate and 483 affordable apartments as well as a public esplanade along the East River, retail, supermarket, and possibly a public school in NYCHA‘s adjacent Astoria Houses campus.
In the business-oriented district of Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, LandDesign landscape architects and Seattle-based artist, Norie Sato, have collaborated on the design of a new 5.4-acre park inspired by the life and work of native artist, Romare Bearden. The Charlotte Observer reported that the public space located in Third Ward will serve as a venue for concerts and cultural events in effort to revitalize the area’s currently dull after-work scene. Scheduled for a grand three-day opening this upcoming Labor Day weekend, Romare Bearden Park includes open greens, gardens, courtyards, a play area, and water features within its conceptual inspiration.