SPURA Redevelopment Sails Through City Planning. The planned 1.65 million square foot redevelopment of two blocks of the Lower East Side was approved by the Department of City Planning with no requests for changes, according to DNAinfo. The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) is a Moses-era slum clearance project that has stood vacant since the 1960s. The redevelopment would include 900 apartments, 500 of which would be designated as permanently affordable housing, as well as retail, community, and green spaces. The plan now needs approval from City Council to proceed.
Mies-En-Scène. Mies better have a big old casket, because he’s undoubtedly been doing a lot of rolling over lately. First, the project to convert the lower floors of the IBM building into an eye-rolling five-star hotel called the Langham Chicago is back on. And now the city of Detroit and HUD are fighting over the fate of the foreclosed Lafayette apartment buildings. Let’s just hope they end up in the hands of a preservationist. (Photo: Courtesy Langham Chicago)
With New Rankings, Pedaling Cleveland Forward. Despite an increased focus on sustainable transportation, Cleveland lost its spot on Bicycling Magazine’s list of the 50 most bike-friendly cities. With New York’s bike share program delayed, DC reporting increased bike ownership, and Chicago rolling out new protected lanes, efforts to promote pedaling in Cleveland have not dominated national bike news. But after landing 39th on the magazine’s list in 2011, the city was not named this year. That prompted Rust Wire to rally for Cleveland to “boldly prioritize bicycle infrastructure,” building on a recent safety ordinance considered one of the most progressive in the state. (Photo: Spacing Magazine/Flickr)
Join AN for a Glass House Conversation. Inspired by our upcoming trip to the Venice Architecture Biennale and the entry for the U.S. Pavilion, AN is hosting a convo on the Glass House Conversations site today through September 2. Talk to us about ways of affecting change in the built environment—are you an advocate of spontaneous intervention? Critical compliance within the established system? And what do these terms mean to you? (Just to stir the pot, we’re using a debate format.) Weigh in with your examples and opinions!
Rail Picking Up Steam in the East and Midwest. According to the New York Times, Amtrak is gaining riders in the northeast corridor thanks in part to arduous airport security procedures and frequent airline delays. Amtrak also beats airline shuttles in on-time arrivals and proximity to major business centers. In Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority is counting 16 months of ridership increases for both rail and bus lines. The rail system has seen 51 consecutive months of ridership growth, including a 6.2 percent jump over the last six months. Last year the CTA carried 523 million riders. [Photo: Bruce Fingerhood/Flickr]
City Set to Sell Air Rights to Build Greepoint Park. In yet another example of public private park partnerships, New York City has put out an RFP for a developer to buy air rights for land near Newtown Creek in Brooklyn, DNA.info reports. The deal would allow the city to finance a promised park on the Greenpoint waterfront and to move MTA tram tracks that currently sit on the site.
Columbus Statue Becomes a Tabletop Tchotchke. In one of the more off-beat installations to come from New York’s Public Art Fund, Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus will feature the statue of Christopher Columbus—of Columbus Circle fame—as the center piece to a pedestrian living room environment. Scaffolding is already rising around the statue’s pedestal and will eventually culminate in the platform holding a cozy lounge that will open to the public on September 20.
The Cloisters’ Tower Cluster is Back in Washington Heights. After falling a bit off the radar, the folks from Quadriad Reality are back in Washington Heights with a revised plan to build a cluster of towers just down the hill from The Cloisters, DNAinfo reports. The 34-story towers will be an anomaly in a neighborhood where the the average apartment block runs from about ten to twelve stories. Just up Broadway, Peter Gluck is planning to build a modular building, Steven Holl’s Campbell Sports Center is taking shape, and Field Operations’ contentious park has broken ground.
Moving Time on the West Coast. It’s that time again. With the economy still gasping, it’s time for struggling firms to get bought by behemoths and for other firms to split up. Among the rumors we’ve been hearing, LA firm Kanner Architects is rumored to be close to being swallowed by New York firm Ronnette Riley. Dan Meis, who only just recently left Populous to go off on his own, may soon get bought out, although we’re not sure by whom. And after Phoenix-based Will Bruder’s partners recently bought him out his firm Will Bruder + Partners is now split into two firms called WORKSBUREAU and Will Bruder Architects. Why can’t we just stay together anymore? (Image: chirastar/Flickr)
Safe Harbor? If you need to turn around an aircraft carrier, it helps to have an experienced captain on board. Maybe that’s the strategy behind RMJM’s rumored choice of Danish shipping exec Jesper Bo Hansen to lead its New York office. Hansen has spent the last two decades not in architecture but in the shipping biz, first at cargo giant Maersk and most recently at Torm. Maybe he’ll instate some ship to shore protocols at RMJM, whose financial management woes have played out publicly in recent years. As Bjarke Ingels might say, held og lykke—good luck, Jesper!
Note from Self: Architects Selling Out. Speaking at a recent literary festival in London, writer Will Self reproached the architects who helped set the stage for this summer’s games. “If you are an architect and involved in this obscenity then you should go home and consider retraining as a dentist… You might be able to use your creativity in a form that doesn’t do so much damage,” said Self, comparing the buildings to snake oil used to veneer over “people’s looming sense of the inequalities in society.” In a follow-up interview with Building Design, Self questioned why the profession’s most critical thinkers, like Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and Richard Rogers, continue to work for socially unjust clients. “It’s not because they can’t afford to pay their heating bills,” said Self.
NYU Expansion On Its Way To Bloomberg’s Desk. As was widely expected, NYU cleared its next to last major hurdle yesterday when City Council approved the university’s expansion plan. The only thing left to do is to obtain the assured signature of Mayor Bloomberg. Amidst cries of “Shame!” coming from the public seated in the balcony, the council passed a plan that was reduced in size by 26 percent from the original proposal after all the ULURP parties had weighed in.