Congress held a hearing today to discuss the funding and controversial design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial designed by Frank Gehry. Representative Rob Bishop is leading the charge with a new bill that aims to oust Gehry from the $142 million project and hold a new competition to find a more “appropriate” design. The Washington Post reported that the main gripe is over the massive metal tapestries encompassing the memorial, which would display images of Eisenhower’s early childhood in Kansas. The Eisenhower family has expressed that the grandiose scale of the design, specifically the tapestries, is out of touch with the former president’s character.
Architect magazine live tweeted that there were few defenders of Gehry’s memorial at the hearing except for Rep. Holt, and a fair share of confusion over what this bill entails and ultimately means for the future of the memorial.
After much backlash from New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and several community members in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Lightstone Group has decided to abandon its proposed “minor modification” in favor of keeping the as-of-right design for its Gowanus Canal-side development that is in compliance with the rezoning passed in 2009.
Today the New York City Department of City Planning gave Lightstone the greenlight to move ahead with its 700-unit residential development on the Gowanus. The “Minor Modification” would have used a waiver to extend the depth in the rear yard. And while the design initially won the community board’s support, the damage and flooding from Hurricane Sandy in the area generated concern and protest among some residents.
Right as the New York City Housing Authority goes public with its controversial plan to allow developers to build high rises in the middle of public housing developments, the Brooklyn Public Library is taking a similar approach with the hope of mitigating its ongoing financial struggles. The New York Times reports that the library plans on selling off the land beneath two of its branches—The Brooklyn Heights Library at Cadman Plaza and the Pacific Library on Fourth Avenue—to developers who will then tear down the buildings and carve out space for them on the ground floor of their new residential towers.
WXY architecture + urban design has been adding to Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park over the years, designing concession stands, a variety of benches, and a fountain, but their latest addition is adding a twist on the usual urban carousel. AN began watching the ocean-themed SeaGlass carousel back in 2006 when it was announced and the Battery Conservancy will be hosting a topping off ceremony for the structure on April 18. The carousel’s frame is made of stainless steel, evoking the spiral of a giant sea shell or the ornate ceiling of a cathedral.
WXY principal Claire Weisz said the part of the facade now covered in plywood sheathing will be clad in metal panels while other portions will include “smart glass” that can change from transparent to a dark blue tint. The solid areas serve as projection surfaces on the interior where underwater scenes will add to the enchanted effect of riding atop larger-than-life sea creatures like dolphins, clown fish, and turtles. Watch Weisz and co-principal Mark Yoes describe the carousel and other WXY projects in their Emerging Voices address from March 16, 2011. SeaGlass is the the latest in a line of high design carousels in New York, joining Jean Nouvel’s Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The contaminated waters of the Gowanus Canal—nor the threat of flooding from future storms like Hurricane Sandy—are deterring developers from building right up on the canal’s edge. In fact, a new swanky boutique hotel is about to wash up on the shores of the Gowanus Canal. This comes at a time when several new hotels are in the works for Brooklyn over the next few years, including the Rockwell Place Hotel in the Brooklyn Downtown Cultural District and Selldorf Architect’s revival of the Bossert Hotel in Brooklyn Heights.
Just a few weeks before the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, the New Yorker published a profile by Jon Lee Anderson (“Letter from Caracas: Slumlord”). The subject of the profile was less Chavez and more a Chavez-era phenomenon, the so-called Tower of David in downtown Caracas. “It embodies the urban policy of this regime, which can be defined by confiscation, expropriation, governmental incapacity, and the use of violence,” Guillermo Barrios, dean of architecture at the Universidad Central in Caracas, told Anderson.
Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Through March 31
Designing Tomorrow presents relics from six depression-era expositions that brought new visions of progress and prosperity to a struggling nation. Tens of millions of Americans flocked to fairs in Chicago (1933/34), San Diego (1935/36), Dallas (1936), Cleveland (1936/37), San Francisco (1939/40), and New York (1939/40) to catch a glimpse of the futurist oracles that would soon become post-war realities—from glass skyscrapers, superhighways, and the spread of suburbia, to electronic home goods and nylon hosiery. The fairs helped America to look forward to an era of opulence and innovation, spreading from the metropolis to the living room. Modernist furniture, streamlined appliances, vintage film reels, and visionary renderings drawn from the museum’s collection are presented together.
Developer Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management Co. stood up in front of a packed house at a community forum in Williamsburg last night to discuss his ambitious new redevelopment plans for the Domino Sugar Factory Refinery. Citing his family’s history in DUMBO, Walentas told the beer-sipping, tattooed crowd that his intention is to “build an extension of the neighborhood” that is “socially contextual.” The new plan incorporates significantly more commercial and office space, which Walentas says won’t financially benefit Two Trees, but speaks to his company’s philosophy and intent to draw from and embrace the historic and cultural fabric of Williamsburg.
Last night, at the Frank Gehry-designed AIC building in far west Chelsea, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Municipal Arts Society honored an esteemed group of urban activists, designers, and community developers with Jane Jacobs Medals, a prestigious prize named for the ground breaking urban writer and activist. Ron Shiffman, founder of the Pratt Center for Community and Environmental Development, was awarded the medal for lifetime leadership. Roseanne Haggerty of Common Ground and Community Solutions, received the award to new ideas and activism. A new award for technology and innovation was given to Carl Skelton, the founder of Betaville, and Cassie Flynn, Erin Barnes, and Brandon Whitney, the creators of ioby (In Our Backyards), a crowdsourced sustainability platform (the trio also donned Jacobs-like glasses after accepting their award).
The event was originally scheduled for last November, but had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy, which damaged the IAC building as well as many of the galleries, businesses, and residences in the surrounding neighborhood. Social and environmental resilience were strong themes of the night, and Ron Shiffman closed the ceremony with a rallying cry for greater civic activism–a fitting message for an evening dedicated to Jacobs.
It seems that a proposal to make the New Amsterdam Market a permanent fixture in the South Street Seaport’s former Fulton Fish Market building has every food critic and preservationist in New York City revved up, and touting the plan as the next big game-changing development for Lower Manhattan. New York Times opinion and food columnist Mark Bittman went so far as to say that this expansive food market has “wonderful potential that dwarfs even that of the High Line.”
Caroline O’Donnell’s Ithaca-based studio, CODA, is preparing to build a towering pavilion in the courtyard of MoMA PS1 in Queens out of scrap from the manufacture of skateboards. O’Donnell talked to AN when the pavilion, called Party Wall, was unveiled in January, saying, “There are eight different kinds of skateboard forms, and each board has its own errors, which produce surprising effects.”
CODA has now released a stunning video rendering showing Party Wall peeking over the walls of the PS1 courtyard adjacent to landmarks like the graffiti-covered Five Pointz building across the street. It suggests how the crowds that flock to MoMA PS1 each summer might interact with the structure showing benches also made from scrap wood. (Plus, an easter egg: check out what the pavilion’s shadow spells at the 1:40 mark!) Party Wall will open in late June and we’ll be sure to see you there!
The Philadelphia City Council will consider several bills aimed at transforming thousands of vacant parcels into development districts, or a land bank. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the city spends an estimated $20 million on keeping up these tax-delinquent parcels. Council President Darrell L. Clarke will propose that the city create development districts on vacant, publicly owned land. The city would provide a number of incentives to entice developers to build on these properties, such as discounts, expedited permitting, and easy re-zoning. The city is also looking at establishing a land bank within the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation to take over these properties and then sell them at low prices.