Manhattan’s far west side is about to become one of the busiest construction sites in the country. Last Tuesday morning, officials gathered at the corner of 9th Avenue and West 33rd Street to celebrate the second major groundbreaking in the Hudson Yards District, Brookfield Properties’ trio of new SOM-designed towers comprising the Manhattan West development to be built over a large rail yard serving Penn Station. The $4.5 billion project’s first phase, construction of the north portion of the railroad-spanning platform that will eventually support development, is now underway, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the second half of the platform could be underway in coming months. Excavation has been ongoing since the fall of 2012.
Congregation members of the Lincoln Square Synagogue stepped inside their new $50 million facility this weekend. It is the first new synagogue to be built from the ground up in New York City in five decades according to DNA Info. The four-story structure, designed by Cetra Ruddy, has a 450-seat sanctuary, a large ballroom in the basement level, classrooms, an in-house kosher catering company, and a prayer space. Senior Rabbi Shaul Robinson told DNA Info that the old synagogue “didn’t age well” and “was cramped and restrained.” There will be no dearth of space in this new 52,000-square-foot facility.
West Market Street, a once seedy part of Philadelphia, is set to undergo a transformation in the near future. PlanPhilly reported that the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) released a new report that recommends creating mixed-use developments centered around transit stops. A few of the projects slated for the West Market Corridor include a transit-related development called New West, a building for police administration and other city services, and a redevelopment of a large parking lot. While the plans call for mixed-use, housing will play a lesser part in the development since population is decreasing, which “makes demand for housing pretty tough” said Planning Commission Chairman and Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger. To move this plan forward, PCPC will need to revise zoning maps, work with property owners in the area, and look into a tax credit program.
Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge
It seems as if a day can’t go by without a new announcement from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Paper reported Tuesday that park planners are pushing for a free bouldering wall to be built beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The proposal calls for a ten to 12-foot-tall climbing wall at Plymouth and Washington streets. This fits within a larger vision to develop the park area by Main Street by expanding lawn space, designing a new entry plaza, and relocating the dog run.
This news comes right after philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz announced he was abandoning plans to build a velodrome, a complex for cyclists, in the park. As planners delved into the project, they found that the mounting costs of construction exceeded Rechnitz’s $50 million budget and growing concerns about flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy added another layer of complexity to the design. Rechnitz, however, is still on the hunt for the right location for his velodrome in New York.
Stop by New York’s John Houshmand Showroom on Thursday, January 17 from 6:00 to 9:00p.m. to take in some art and music, part of the Soundwall exhibition. Ed Potakar’s sound sculptures, audio architecture, and handcrafted musical instruments will be on display with a special performance at 7:30p.m. More info here.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Richard Davey announced plans for expanding and maintaining the state’s transportation system on Monday. The improvements outlined in the proposal would require an estimated $1.02 billion a year reported Masslive.com, and include everything from adding new tracks at South Station and implementing a commuter rail to South Coast, to major road repairs in Western Massachusetts and a pedestrian and bike program.
One critical component remains rather vague, however—how the state intends on funding this costly agenda. MassDOT suggests a number revenue sources in its proposal such as a green fee (a fee assessed by the amount of carbon emissions released), an increase in tolls and fares, and an income tax that would increase the tax rate from 5.25 percent to approximately 5.66 percent. Governor Deval Patrick is expected to address the transportation plan in his State of the Commonwealth speech tonight, and the Boston Globe reports that he will likely come out in support of a raise in income tax.
Brooklyn has increasingly become home to a number of internet start-ups, and now the crowd-funding site, Kickstarter, is the most recent one to put roots down in the borough. Greenpointers reported today that Kickstarter has already started construction on its new 29,000-sq-ft headquarters at the former Eberhard Faber Pencil Co. Factory in Greenpoint.
The Italian Renaissance Revival-style Hotel Bossert, once one of the swankiest hotels in Brooklyn, will soon be welcoming guests once again. Two developers, David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit of the Chetrit Group, bought the property from the Watchtower Society this past November for $81 million, and now have the go-ahead to turn the property back into a hotel. On Friday, the Board of Standards and Appeal granted the developers a variance to change the certificate of occupancy. According to Brownstoner, Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman + Associates Architects is the architect of record. But, we just heard that Selldorf Architects will lead the renovation of this 1909 building designed by Palmer & Hornbostel, which will involve preserving the facade, lobby, and reception area, updating the rooms with new design finishes and amenities, and reviving the Marine Roof back to a restaurant and lounge. If all goes well, the hotel will be up and running by this summer.
Officials broke ground today on the long anticipated restoration of New York’s High Bridge connecting the Bronx with Manhattan. Built in 1848 and today the city’s oldest bridge, the 1,200-foot-long span had long been a popular strolling bridge, even making an appearance in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country. The landmarked bridge was closed to the public in the 1970s, but after construction wraps up on the $61 million rehabilitation, strolling New Yorkers and bicyclists can once again cross high above the Harlem River—116 feet—and connect with the city’s growing waterfront Greenway. (See also: Photos of High Bridge before renovation.)
Improvements include pedestrian safety measures like accessibility ramps, viewing platforms, and new lighting. An eight-foot-tall cable mesh fence to prevent jumpers and throwing trash will also line each side, a point that drew criticism from some in the community who believe it’s unnecessary and will spoil views. In a statement released at the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called High Bridge “one of our city’s great treasures.” He continued, “It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs, and even all over the world, to see some of the most spectacular views in the city.”
After years of litigation, preservationists have lost the battle to save Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg cyclorama building, an iconic example of modern architecture from the 1960s. The bulldozers could raze this circular visitor center as early as February, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The National Park Service commissioned the glass and concrete building as part of its Mission 66 initiative—a billion-dollar program to update park services across the country—at the Gettysburg Battlefield site. The rotunda was designed specifically to house the 1883 panoramic painting of the Battle of Gettysburg by Paul Philippoteaux.