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The original design of all grand U.S. railroad stations fit the architectural design foundation “form follows function.” Unfortunately the years have not been kind to these railroad stations. Real estate developers have coveted the rail yard property for non-transportation development. In some cases these rail yards have yielded to interstates, highways, and streets. This has transformed the depot (waiting room, ticket offices, etc.) into just “a nice old building that used to serve the traveling public.”
Minneapolis hosted the Major League Baseball All Star Game this year, and many of the 41,000 people in attendance used some new public transit to get there. In May the city opened Target Field Station—a multimodal transit hub and public space at the foot of the Twins’ Target Field that designers Perkins Eastman hope will catalyze development.
Archtober Building of the Day #17
East 34th Street Ferry Terminal
E 35th Street at FDR Drive
Public architecture is alive. The 34th Street Ferry Terminal, designed by KVA Architects, integrates structure, social use, the natural environment, and digital technology to realize an architecture that is sensitive and responsive to its surroundings. This approach, called “soft” or “resilient” infrastructure, creates a dynamic civic space in which flows of water, people, and information are manifested in the structure. Inspired by Walt Whitman’s 1900 poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” the design emphasizes the fecundity of the waterfront and the multiple uses of the pier, not only that of the commuter but also that of the wanderer, viewer, or fisherman. Technology accentuates elements of nature so that the commuter might slow down, absorbing the light, water, and the beautiful terminal, before entering or re-entering the city.
The project itself required responsiveness and adaptability on behalf of the architects. Over the fourteen years it took to complete the project, the plan underwent radical changes. Originally planning to build an encased glass structure, the terminal is now an open air, cloud-like canopy made of Teflon-coated PTFE and supported by slender triangulated steel columns. One of the flaws of the original pier structure, which they reclaimed, was that it was higher up than the point of entry onto the boats, and required stairs. Creating a second, narrower, and accessible pier opened up the opportunity to frame the water and create a second row of seats for viewing. The architects used this structural obstacle to create a place for visitors to observe and experience the water without standing on the edge of the pier.
The reflection from the water within this “frame” creates a dappling, caustic effect on the underbelly of the pier and roof canopy. The steel, undulating walls are perforated to repeat this visual effect, called a moiré pattern. KVA used sensory technology to repeat the naturally occuring beams of light between the building and the water in its LED system. The canopy roof has three “oculi” with LED lights around the perimeter. When people move across the pier, the LEDs light up in a pattern that reflects the pattern of movement, from the east to the west, or west to the east, of both the pier and the oculi. When the tides flow from the north to the south, or from the south to the north (the East River is a tidal strait, not a river), the LEDs brighten in a pattern that reflect the movement of the water at that moment.
Whitman’s poem, written in 1900, calls attention to the future of the ferry passage:
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling back to the sea of the ebb-tide.”
The project started in 2000, 100 years after the poem was written. Since 2000, development on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront has proliferated. The structure survived Hurricane Sandy, and can stand up to winds twice that strength. The terminal itself was created through digital fabrication, technology that enabled an undulating, steel structure that could not have been built twenty years ago. Where will the terminal, the ferry system, and the New York City waterfront be in the next 100 years?
Board the East River Ferry to the Schaefer Landing-South Williamsburg terminal, located at 440 Kent Avenue at South 10th Street, to arrive at the Building of the Day Tour tomorrow, Navy Green Supportive Housing.
Julia Christie is a Public Information Assistant at the Center for Architecture.
In the last few years, urban bike sharing has popped up all across the United States: in cities like Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago among others. Finally Seattle is getting it’s first bike sharing program, Pronto Cycle Share, today.
By now, you probably know about Citi Bike‘s woes in New York City: the damaged equipment, the broken seats, and—what else?—oh, right the money problems. But with a bailout reportedly imminent, and expansion likely next year, things are starting to looking up for the bike share system. And that’s not all—the blue bikes aren’t just expanding around New York, they’re headed down to the palm tree-lined streets of Miami as well.
The 7 member vision42design jury met on October 3 and spent the day looking at nearly 200 digital design proposals to transform New York City’s 42nd Street. They easily decided on a list of ten projects that they considered the most outstanding. In a more contested second round of discussions, the jury was able to narrow these projects to a short list of three professional projects and a student-designed project to move onto the second round of the competition.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation wants to transform a gritty site underneath Interstate 93 in Boston into a public space that people actually want to visit—or at least park their car. BostInno reported that the $6 million project, called “Infra-Space 1”, is part of MassDot’s wider initiative to give new life (and lighting) to vacant lots underneath the city’s elevated infrastructure.
Philadelphia is getting tantalizingly close to transforming its 40th Street Trolley terminal into an inviting public plaza. Plans to remake the one-acre space have been in the works for about a decade, but things officially got started in 2012 when the University City District (UCD)—a collection of businesses and institutions near the terminal—was awarded a William Penn Foundation planning grant for the project.
By 2019, two new Staten Island Ferry vessels should be crisscrossing the New York Harbor. Outside of the Whitehall Ferry Terminal this morning, United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that New York City had been awarded a $191 million grant to design and construct these vessels that will be more agile and storm-resilient than what’s in the ferry’s current fleet. These funds will also allow the city to invest in resiliency measures at the ferry’s terminals and at surrounding public transit systems. This federal grant was just one component of the U.S. DOT’s latest round of Sandy-related funding, which provides over $3 billion for resiliency measures for the East Coast’s public transit systems. Roughly 90 percent of this money is allocated for projects in New York State and New Jersey.
Bridges. They can be grand and majestic, awe-inspiring symbols of engineering ingenuity, city-defining pieces of infrastructure, and, as you may have heard by now, at serious risk of collapsing. To stop that from happening, engineers basically have two options: repair or replace. Both of those strategies are currently pursued in the New York City region.
Bicycling magazine may have named New York City the nation’s best city for cycling—surprising many from calmer towns—but even more stunning is their selection of the worst place to pedal: nearby Suffolk county. Don’t worry Suf-folks, it’s not strictly personal. You’re way of life is symbolic of our national transportation imbalance. “Really, right now, the worst city is in the suburbs,” said Bicycling’s editor in chief Bill Strickland. “We picked Suffolk to be emblematic of that.” And urbanists wonder why they get tagged as elitists.
The federal Department of Transportation has issued its latest round of its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for cities and states around the country. The grant program was created in 2009 through President Obama’s economic stimulus package and has since provided $3.5 billion to 270 projects. While the DOT has not officially announced the recipients of these new grants, which total $600 million, multiple politicians have been touting the money heading to their districts. Here are some of the projects we know about so far.