Focal Points

East
Friday, November 13, 2009
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TKTK

Louis Stettner, Man of the Twentieth Century, circa 1954.

In the late 1960s, the New York architect Stan Ries was consulting on design and photography for the art nouveau exhibit Hector Guimard at the Museum of Modern Art, when the director approached him with an unusual opportunity to photograph the entire design collection. Given two days to decide between architecture and photography as a career, he chose the latter. “With photography, the creative cycle is much shorter, and you don’t have to have a client,” he said. “I can make the photograph and I can suit myself.” Read More

Free Design Help

East, East Coast
Thursday, November 12, 2009
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Theres hope on the horizon for non-profits in need of design work (pmarella/Flickr)

There's hope on the horizon for non-profits in need of design work (pmarella/Flickr)

Design has a strong history of pro bono work, from affordable housing to electioneering, and during these tough times, a helping hand can be especially appreciated. With that in mind, more than a dozen design firms and affiliates from New York are offering their services to those in the community in need as part of a new program called DesigNYC. With the goal of creating “a better New York by design,” the group is currently seeking applicants by the end of the month for help solving a design challenge. Read More

Thrice As Smelly

East
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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A picture of a cement plant—though not the citys asphalt plant—along the Gowanus Canal. (Courtesy Joes NYC)

A picture of a cement plant—though not the city's asphalt plant—along the Gowanus Canal. (Courtesy Joe's NYC)

On Monday, we reported on the Bloomberg administration’s continued vociferous resistance to Superfund listing for the Gowanus Canal. While the main complaint by the mayor was that the Superfund stigma would poison the area for development for decades to come, we did not mention—at least not this time—that a major concern is also that the city could be held liable for some portion of the Superfund cleanup because of a number of polluting properties on the canal. That seems all the more likely now—as does the potential for listing—as the Post reported yesterday that the city has been sent a notice for its liabilities. According to the tab, “The city’s responsibility comes through previous/current ownership of an asphalt plant, incinerator, a pumping station, storage yard, and Department of Transportation garage.” In an interesting new twist, the Navy was also served with a notice for at least nine “facilities where the Navy directed and oversaw government contractors which owned and/or operated facilities adjacent to the canal.”

Retracting the Retractable Roof Retraction

East
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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Could this roof someday retract?

Could this roof someday retract?

Brooklyn has been called the borough of blogs, which probably explains why that’s where the big city papers are all launching their hyperlocal efforts. First there was the TimesFort Greene blog, and now the Post is getting in on the act—not surprisingly, we were notified about the new venture by the king of Brooklyn blogs, Brownstoner. While the Times has wound up with some odd, interesting mix of community driven news, the Post remains, at least in its first two posts, a decidely top-down affair, though this is not exactly a bad thing. Indeed, the inaugural post for the Post looks at borough president Marty Markowitz renewed efforts to include a retractable roof at the Grimshaw-designed concert pavilion at Asser Levy park, which we first unveiled back in April. Read More

After Megaprojects

East
Friday, November 6, 2009
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Residential and commercial construction alike doubled in New York under Mayor Bloomberg, who rezoned over a fifth of the city to create large parcels for development under the assumption that the economy would continue to boom. Now, stalled megaprojects like Brooklyn’s City Point complex leave depressing holes in neighborhoods, serving as daily reminders of the tenacious recession and leaving the city strapped for the cash it was counting on to fund other projects. What is to be done? Read More

Back On Board

East, East Coast
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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Former TransLink CEO and new NYCTransit President Thomas Prendergast (far right) cuts the ribbon on a new bike bridge in Vancouver)

Former TransLink CEO and new NYCTransit President Thomas Prendergast (far right) cuts the ribbon on a new bike bridge in Vancouver.

If there was any question Howard Roberts’ resignation yesterday was forced, it can be put to rest, as his replacement atop New York City Transit, the MTA division that runs the subways and buses, was announced today. Thomas Prendergast will be returning to the agency—after a hiatus atop Vancouver’s public transit system—where he used to run the Long Island Railroad, and before that was VP for subways. Though only 57, Prendergast has more than 30 years experience in the field, having begun at the Chicago Transit Authority out of college, then the Federal Transportation Authority, before joining the MTA in 1982. Read More

The Return of Cousin St. Vinny

East, East Coast
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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Might the courts override the LPC and save Albert C. Ledners National Maritime Headquarters in Greenwich Village? (Courtesy MAS)

Might the courts override the LPC and save Albert C. Ledner's National Maritime Headquarters in Greenwich Village? (Courtesy MAS)

Back in March, Protect the Village Historic District sued the Landmarks Preservation Commission over its granting of a hardship to St. Vincent’s Hospital, so that it might demolish Albert C. Ledner’s National Maritime Union Headquarters, now known as the O’Toole building, and replace it with a new hospital tower designed by Pei Cobb and Freed. The focus of PVHD’s suit is that the hospital did not explore suitable alternatives, nor did the commission require them, but now, the state Supreme Court appears to be questioning the very nature of the hardship finding—that retaining the O’Toole buildings prevented the hospital from carrying out its charitable mission—or at least that is the finding of a brief filed today by the Municipal Art Society and half-a-dozen preservation groups that directly challenges the LPC on the matter. Read More

Thrown from the Bus

East, East Coast
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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Roberts (far left) cuts the ribbon last year at the re-opened subway entrance to Bloomingdales on the Upper East Side.

Roberts (far left) cuts the ribbon last year at the re-opened subway entrance to Bloomingdales on the Upper East Side. Despite progress, the head of NYC Transit often took the blame for troubled subways and buses.

If you’ve been frustrated by the recent flood of delays on the Subway, don’t complain to Howard Roberts. The president of New York City Transit, which operates the R142s and the various city buses, Roberts submitted his resignation today, effective the end of the month. The move did not come as a surprise to the Times, which noted that the move had actually been expected by many within the MTA because of failings over a recently renegotiated transit workers contract and, more simply, “a changing of the guard [...] is often accompanied by staff shake-ups.” (Jay Walder, the new head of the MTA who accepted Robertson’s resignation, took over roughly a month ago.) Read More

Only In Brooklyn: Archostumes

East
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Architecture has never been so adorable.

Architecture has never been so adorable.

Last week, we threw out some ideas for architectural-themed Halloween costumes, including a proposal for a New Museum costume. Well, we’ve been one-, make that twice-upped by this adorable trio, who were spotted Trick-or-Treating in Cobble Hill by a colleague. Marcel Breuer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and SANAA must be so proud.

Engine Company 201

East
Friday, October 30, 2009
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Designed by RKT&B Architecture, the Engine Company 201 firehouse in Sunset Park Brooklyn was commissioned under the DDCs Design and Construction Excellence program. (Courtesy Albert Vecerka/Esto)

Designed by RKT&B Architecture, the Engine Company 201 firehouse was commissioned under the DDC's Design and Construction Excellence program. (Courtesy Albert Vecerka/Esto)

Last week, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) broke ground on a police station in Staten Island designed by Rafael Vinoly. This week, the agency announced the completion of another such project: a firehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Both projects were commissioned under the DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence program, which has raised the bar on design in public architecture. The firehouse—Engine Company 201—was designed by RKT&B Architecture, a local firm that has been around since the 1960s and has completed its fair share of  city work. The building’s red glazed brick and backlighted Maltese Cross telegraph its function to the neighborhood, while the glass apparatus doors—a first for a firehouse in the city—maintain a close connection with the community. Look after the jump for more pictures. Read More

Pratt Is Back

East
Thursday, October 29, 2009
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Pratt

Pratt designer-alumni have furnished this Rogers Marvel-designed townhouse in Carroll Gardens.

Pratt Institute was founded in 1886 by Charles Pratt, who had sold his family’s Astral Oil works to Standard Oil in 1874. It was Pratt’s original intention that the school train industrial workers for the changing economy of the 19th century, and this it did for many years before growing into one of the leading art and design schools in the country. Read More

The City of Benchly Love

East
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
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Three of the new Corian seats, deployed across the city by C.H. Briggs in honor of Design Philadelphia 09.

Three of the new Corian seats, deployed across the city by C.H. Briggs in honor of Design Philadelphia 09.

It would seem Philadelphia has a bit of a seating fixation going on with this year’s Design Philadelphia event. First there was the new Veyko subway chairs, and now—as you’ve noticed if you’ve been out wandering the streets of town during October—more than a dozen seats/sculptures scattered about, all cut from DuPont Corian, all created by prominent local designers. Reading-based C.H. Briggs, the interiors supplier, decided it wanted to celebrate Philly’s top designers and the city’s popular public spaces by commissioning them to create site-specific seating from that most ubiquitous of building materials. The results will only officially be up through the end of the month, though Briggs is currently negotiating with the city and certain institutions to donate the pieces so that they might find a permanent home—not unlike those damn cow parades that were so popular earlier in the decade, though at least these seats have a far greater purpose. You can see a slideshow of all 14 here.

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