The Chelsea Hotel management and architect Gene Kaufman launched a charm offensive last night in the hotel’s “Grand Ballroom.” Patti Smith came to sing and read poetry to a small media and arts crowd. Tonight, Smith will return to perform for residents. The artist is a longtime hotel alum who launched her career from Room 203. Kaufman and his client, hotel owner Joseph Chetrit, have been taking a beating in the press and in the courts for their renovations of 127 year-old hotel. Smith reached out to Kaufman, helping him to make good on a promise that the hotel would continue to foster the arts.
The Greatest Grid:
The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Through April 6, 2012
In 1807, to head off health threats and a growing lack of habitable space, New York City’s Common Council commissioned a three-year project to organize massive land development north of Houston Street. The Museum of the City of New York presents The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011 in honor of the bicentennial of the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan for New York, which established the iconic street grid from Houston to 155th Street. Along with the original, hand-drawn map of New York’s grid plan, other historic documents demonstrate the city’s physical development due to the grid’s application and evolution over time. Co-presented by the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Public Library, and The Architectural League of New York, and sponsored by the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, The Greatest Grid will be on display until April 6.
It was the opening shot heard ’round the Village–and the East Village, and SoHo. An overflow crowd gathered at the Center for Architecture last night to rally the troops opposing NYU’s twenty year expansion plan. It certainly wasn’t the usual black-clad crowd found at the Center. No, these were some good old fashioned Village rabble rousers.
The event was organized by the Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who assured the crowd that the NYU Core plan is “not a done deal.” On Tuesday, the university certified proposals with City Planning, thus kicking off the ULURP process for what is likely to become one of the most contentious development debates of 2012. The proposal is, after all, in the heart of Jane Jacobs country.
Just across the street from the Center are the remains of Robert Moses’ failed attempt to build the Lower Manhattan Expressway through SoHo after Jacobs and Co. put a halt to the plan. Parcels of land assembled by the Department of Transportation to accommodate the failed highway are now parkland commonly known as the DOT strips. A substantial portion of the 1.3 million square feet NYU wants to build in the area would be placed beneath the strips. The university has proposed designating the strips as parkland after the construction is complete, with the new green space designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
No matter the promises, this was not a crowd that trusts the university. The term “Midtown Zoning” got thrown about with on-message regularity. As did square footage metaphors, such as “bigger than the Waldorf-Astoria,” “the size of the Empire State Building,” and “three Jacob Javits Convention Centers.”
Council Member Margaret Chin was on hand to listen, but not to state her pro or con position–despite pressure from the crowd.
This month’s Community Board 2 subcommittee meetings will no doubt be unusually crowded as they’re all dealing with the proposal. If you want to see some New York zoning theater in action, here’s a selected breakdown:
Land Use: Mon., 1/9 6PM at The Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Pl.
Traffic and Transportation: Tues., 1/10 @ 6:30 NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Pl. room 520
Parks: Thurs., 1/12 @ 6:30PM at NYU Silver Bldg. 32 Waverly Pl. room 520
Full Board: Thurs., 1/19 @ 6:00PM 116 West 11th Street, Auditorium
Anne Tyng, the Philadelphia architect and design professor, passed away on December 27. Born in 1920, Tyng was best known as a close collaborator—and even muse—of Louis Kahn, but she herself was an extraordinary figure. She established her career with theoretical writings that reflected a deep interest in mathematics and design, themes that she explored in Simultaneousness, Randomness and Order, her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania, and pursued throughout her professional life.
Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry, an exhibition that opened last year at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, was an elegant summation of her theoretical research on design and of her professional and academic career. Several of Tyng’s geometric designs from the ICA show were later exhibited at the Graham Foundation in Chicago, a longtime supporter of her work.
The Architect’s Newspaper will publish a more extensive obituary written by Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss in our next issue.
Amidst the event saturated month of Archtober and the holiday hubbub that followed, the Center for Architecture‘s fall show, Buildings = Energy, got a bit lost in the shuffle. But there’s still time to check it out through January 12. Earlier this month Margaret O. Castillo took AN on a tour of the exhibit, the last under her tenure as AIANY chapter president. The show drives home several green points that Castillo has been hammering at all year, primarily the fact that buildings consume energy–a lot of it. Eighty percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, and in New York City alone they use 94 percent of the power. The exhibit takes a holistic approach focusing on the amount of energy needed to extract and make materials, to the energy used to build, and the energy consumed by the completed structure.
Before all eyes and ears were focused on the mayor’s announcement about Cornell and their EDC project upriver, AN was downtown for a much quieter opening of yet another EDC project. Without fanfare, the SHoP-designed Pier 15 opened to the public today. With the exception of another photographer and a family visiting from Spain, we were the only ones at the pier when the security guard unhooked the chain.