The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) debacle in New Jersey over a unilateral decision to destroy a sculpture by landscape artist Athena Tacha has begun to slip into the public consciousness. The irony that the plaza piece, titled Green Acres, is to be destroyed by a department with environment in its name has not been lost on many.
Apparently, the DEP has a $1 million EPA grant burning a hole in its pocket and plans to replace the sculpture with eco-friendly pavers. The waste has not gone undetected. Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron writes in today’s column: “There is nothing wrong with the DEP’s making its property more sustainable. But why start with the little plaza when its offices are surrounded by sprawling parking lots paved with the usual impervious asphalt?” Now it remains to be seen whether the agency will be impervious to its critics.
Take a minute to imagine what you would do if you had to cram your life into 270 square feet. In a typical ranch-style home, 270 could be a master bedroom, or a small living room, or a one-car garage. Now how about 220 square feet? It might make a shed or a bedroom. Now imagine this 15 by 18 foot or 15 by 15 foot space as your home.
Though it might sound more like another Ikea advertisement, two high-rent cities—New York and San Francisco—have been playing with the concept of permitting very small “micro-apartments” to alleviate high rents. By creating smaller housing, the idea goes, prospective renters will have a less expensive option and the city will be able to increase the density of residential units without increasing building size, always a contested point in neighborhood planning.
Urban rooftop farming is on the up-and-up in New York City and across the country. Putting his official stamp of approval on the movement, New York Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the city’s largest rooftop farm, the 43,000-square-foot Brooklyn Grange atop a building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With the growing season in full swing, the plants were towering nearly as high as the Manhattan skyline in the distance.
Saturdays in August, Manhattan is made for pedestrians and cyclists. The fifth season of Summer Streets, New York City’s spectacularly popular open streets program where a major thoroughfare is closed off to traffic and opened up to just about everything else, kicks off tomorrow, August 4 from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lafayette Street and Park Avenue will play host to thousands of New Yorkers experiencing the city in a way normally only someone with a death wish might, and this year, the NYC Department of Transportation is stringing out new attractions along the nearly seven mile route.
We already knew that DDG Partners could pull together a classy “product,” as they say in real estate parlance. But now the group has upped the ante by teaming with Yayoi Kusama, the 83-year-old Japanese show-stopping pop artist. Kusama’s blockbuster at the Whitney has already spilled over into cross-marketing at Louis Vuitton with her ubiquitous dots climbing up the facade of their 57th Street Store. Downtown the artist’s Yellow Trees will sprawl across protective netting on construction scaffolding at DDGs 345meatpacking, the group’s new 14th Street project which could rival their comparatively quiet 41 Bond Street project. 345 promises to make a much splashier entrance, but with a hand laid Danish Kulumba brick facade, it could be Bond Street’s equal in craftsmanship. The public won’t see the results until September 30th, when the Kusama curtain will fall and the Kulumba will be revealed.
In a neighborhood of glass and steel, Fiterman Hall stands out. The new building, part of the CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College downtown campus, is designed by Pei Cobb Freed and sits adjacent to the World Trade Center. The 17-story building is fronted in large prefabricated red-brick panels rhythmically relieved by square glass windows revealing multilevel interior atria. At a cost of $325 million, this is not your grandmother’s little red schoolhouse.
There’s a scene in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country, where the wicked vixen Undine Spragg insists on speeding across the High Bridge in a “horseless carriage” before making her grand entrance at a party so as to rouge her cheeks with a cold snap of air whipping up from the Harlem River. The romantic fascination accorded the then-65-year-old bridge quietly slipped from New York’s consciousness as bigger engineering marvels usurped its quiet dignity.
Now approaching 165 years, renovations are about to get underway to finally restore the bridge to its former glory as a 1,200-foot-long pedestrian bridge, uniting neighborhoods of High Bridge and Washington Heights in the Bronx and Manhattan. New Yorkers for Parks stopped by the span Monday afternoon to document current conditions before construction is in full swing, giving us a hint of Undine’s views. Though controversial netting integrated into the design might mildly disrupt the vista, Monday’s photos show it the way it was, albeit slightly overgrown.
The National Building Museum‘s latest exhibit presents a new way to beat the summer heat—12 holes of mini-golf designed by prominent local architects, landscape architects, and developers. But if it’s windmills and castles you’re after, tee off elsewhere. While the course is a challenge, it offers an intriguing (and very engaging) look at Washington’s architectural history and future.
If everything had gone according to plan, New York’s highly anticipated bike-sharing system called Citi Bike would be in full swing. Unfortunately, earlier this month the city announced that a computer software glitch had pushed the opening back until August. While we can handle waiting one more month, rumors that the planned 10,000 bright blue Citi Bikes might not hit the street until next year had us alarmed.
The new Revel casino in Atlantic City may prove to be an influential model, merging entertainment with gambling and convention center facilities. Bellied up against the Atlantic City boardwalk, Revel’s designers—Arquitectonica with BLT Architects—paid special attention to how the facility interacts with its surroundings. Revel features acres of interior spaces designed by more than 65 design firms showcasing a dizzying array of finishes, from polished chrome columns to a 100-foot gold-flecked mobile.
AN recently visited the oceanside casino and spoke with Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis about what makes the building different from other casinos and why Atlantic City needs the change.