Brooklyn’s grandest public space at the top of Prospect Park has always been a work in progress. Grand Army Plaza, an oval-shaped public space composed of monuments ringed by an inner and an outer roadway, was built as the main entrance to the park in 1866, serving as a buffer between nature and city and happened to be the confluence of some of Brooklyn’s busiest avenues. Over the years, a monumental archway was added, fountains came and went, and eventually the roads were widened until the lush plaza was effectively cut off from the surrounding Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. Last week, however, after months of construction to tame the out-of-control roadways, a group of civic leaders and officials gathered in what was once a busy street to celebrate the newly reclaimed plaza.
Last week, The New York World, a website produced by Columbia’s Journalism School, along with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show completed a crowd-sourced survey of New York City’s privately owned public spaces (POPS). The World consulted Jerold Kayden’s 2000 tome, Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, as a guide to gauge whether the private entities were keeping the public parks truly public and user-friendly. Kayden, who is co-chairing tomorrow’s Zoning the City conference with Commissioner Amanda Burden, has been the go-to expert on subject since Occupy Wall Streeters took over the world’s most famous POPS, Zuccotti Park. All told, nearly 150 sites out of 391 around New York City were visited and commented on for the survey.
Noting the rivalry between his new home, Los Angeles, and New York while visiting the Big Apple last week, Conan O’Brien launched a new segment , the Fight to the Death Building Battle to settle the cities’ differences once and for all. Curbed spotted these epic architectural fights posted online at Team Coco’s blog, and we couldn’t help but share on this Friday afternoon, 11/11/11. While in New York, Conan pitted the Empire State Building (“weighing in at 365,000 tons of limestone”) against LA’s Scientology Book Store (“the best building they could come up with.”) Of course, the Empire State soundly won. Back in LA, he revoked his New York show as “playing to the New York crowd,” and held another match between the Empire and a trio of LA buildings: the Capitol Records Building, a Lady Foot Locker from a Venice Boulevard strip mall, and later Randy’s Donuts. Remember, whatever side you choose, as Conan pointed out, “You’re booing a building.”
The 19th annual CANstruction NYC, a massive canned food drive in the form of an exhibit and design competition, is now on display at World Financial Center at 220 Vesey Street. Over 100,000 cans of food have been configured into 26 sculptures erected overnight (literally) by teams of architects, engineers, and students mentored by designers and architects. This year’s designs ranged from video games, to city skylines, to bowling, and even three different pairs of shoes. The fanciful display will stand proud until November 21st when it will be toppled and donated to City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization, in order to feed thousands of hungry New Yorkers. The exhibition is open daily in the Winter Garden from 10:00am through 6:00pm.
Thursday was a great night for New York showroom events. AN took advantage of the beautiful fall weather and made the rounds. Here are some highlights:
Moroso Traveling Show
Moroso celebrated the NYC launch of its traveling show commemorating 60 years of great furniture-making history. Designed by Rockwell Group, the pop-up exhibition will tour New York through November 26, then continue on to Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, and Vancouver. The show features 25 pieces from the Moroso oeuvre, many positioned on raw wood displays next to a timeline illustrated with images and drawings from the company’s archives.
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There was plenty of pomp for the opening of the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s BLDG 92. For the first time in 210 years, the Yard welcomed the public into its gates. The $25.6 million project includes the renovation of a building by U.S. Capitol architect Thomas U. Walter and the addition of new 24,000-square-foot community and exhibition space. D.I.R.T. Studio signed on as landscape architect. Beyer Blinder Belle and workshop/adp dreamed up a perforated sunscreen which utilizes highly pixelated imagery of an historic photograph, meshing new technology with nostalgic imagery.
After rejecting two plans for the Museum of the American Revolution at Valley Forge, the American Revolution Center (ARC) made a land swap with the National Park Service to secure a prime location in Center City Philadelphia. In exchange for donating their 78-acre property at the Valley Forge site, the Park Service will give the museum nearly two-thirds of the space of the former National Park Visitors Center near Independence Mall on Third Street. ARC selected Robert A.M. Stern to design the $150 million building. Stern told ThePhiladelphia Inquirer he plans to use “the language of traditional Philadelphia architecture.” The 1970s era building designed by Cambridge Seven and its redbrick modernist bell tower holding the Bicentennial Bell, a gift to United States from Queen Elizabeth II, will be demolished, and critics worry the future of the bell itself is uncertain.
New Galleries of the Art of the Arab
Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and
Later South Asia
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent galleries opened November 1
After a hiatus of nearly eight years, the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of Islamic Art and its extensive collection—one of the most comprehensive gatherings of this material in the world—will permanently return to view this November in a completely renovated space of fifteen galleries. The suite of galleries was constructed by a fleet of Moroccan craftsmen (in action above) recruited specifically for their experience and the precision of their work. Nearly as impressive as the handiwork of different trades is the team of planners, architects, and scholars who collaborated with them. Nadia Erzini, Achva Benzinberg Stein, and other experts worked with Metropolitan’s own curators to create spaces of contextual authenticity. The galleries are arranged geographically, further highlighting the rich and complex diversity of the Islamic world and its distinct cultures within.
Attention Zoning Wonks! In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Zoning Resolution, City Planning is hosting the Zoning the City Conference on November 15. Mayor Bloomberg will open the conference, while planning commissioner Amanda Burden will moderate with Harvard planning guru Jerold Kayden (a recent AN commentator). AN plans to blog live from the event and City Planning will be tweeting away @ZoningTheCity. The event, co-sponsored with Harvard and Baruch’s Newman Institute, has already been dubbed “the Woodstock of Planning” by one at least one registrant.