Conditional Nay on Chelsea Market Expansion. In what many are calling an opening shot in the 2013 mayoral race, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has recommended a conditional disapproval of the Chelsea Market expansion proposal. The recommendation is in cahoots with Community Board 4 which voted to only allow the project if it provides off-site affordable housing and a 20 percent reduction in height along Tenth Avenue. As City Council Speaker Christine Quinn represents Chelsea, The New York Times coverage of the expansion been through the prism of the upcoming race, which will likely see Quinn face off with Stringer, among others. And with Google just across the street from the proposed development, big tech sector businesses will be studying the speaker’s move as closely as her local constituency.
WTC’s Glass Half Full. After fits and starts the General Services Administration finally signed on the dotted line to lease 270,000 square feet at One World Trade, pushing the tower over the symbolic 50 percent leased mark. “The fat lady sang,” Senator Charles Schumer told the New York Post. The GSA joins Condé Nast and Chinese real estate giant Vantone after a protracted negotiation that was stalled by Beltway bickering.
A Rendering, Any Way You Slice It. We can’t blame a Times caption writer for misunderstanding the renderings of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s proposed education building for Columbia University Medical Center. One corner does appear remarkably well ventilated, leading to a caption that described a view of multiple balconies as a “cutaway rendering.”
D.C. Bikeshare Encouraging Individual Bike Ownership. Counter to what one might expect, bike-sharing programs might actually help fuel bike sales, according to bike shop owners in Washington, D.C. Since it launched with 1500 bikes, Capital Bikeshare has encouraged people to try cycling, made roads safer and more bike friendly, and, ultimately, encouraged people to get their own set of wheels. The shortage of shared bikes and docking spaces–due to so much demand–is one thing encouraging individual ownership. “When I started riding Bikeshare, there was a phase when I’d see another person and we’d say hey, Bikeshare! This is awesome!” said on bikeshare member. “Now I see them and I feel like I need to pedal faster to get to the dock before them.”
And Then There Were Four at 425 Park. The Times is reporting that four finalists are competing to build a new tower at 425 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan: Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and Richard Rogers. AN previously reported an international roster of 11 firms were in the running. The new tower could be the first of many in the area, if the Department of City Planning’s proposal to up-zone the area is approved.
NYC DOT Eyeing Vanderbilt for Pedestrian Plaza.. The New York Times explored the news of Vanderbilt Avenue becoming a pedestrian plaza through a not-so-rosy Ivy filter today, featuring a photo of the Yale Club rather than the street in question. AN first reported that the “site has obvious potential for a DOT plaza” back in mid-June when we first examined the Grand Central rezoning proposal that City Planning will present to Community Boards 5 tomorrow night.
BUCKY ON FILM. There’s something about Buckminster Fuller. Already there have been a spate of documentaries about the eccentric, geodesic dome-loving designer. They include The World of Buckminster Fuller, by Robert Snyder; Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud, by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon; and A Necessary Ruin, by Evan Mather. But now we hear a rumor that filmmaker Steve Reiss is working on a full-length feature about Fuller called “Bucky,” based on a screenplay by Ron Bass. Stay tuned as we get more details. And hold on to your domes.
Design Submission. David Hecht of San Francisco firm Tannerhecht recently presented the plans for a mid-rise condo in the city’s SoMa district in a community meeting held on site at an S&M Club. No, the architects are not into bondage. In fact Hecht had originally been told the site was vacant, but it turned out that the longstanding club was still around, so instead of presenting in a community hall the plans were displayed, we hear, among leather costumes and lots of Purell bottles.
Mies Blocks on the Block in Detroit. Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Towers are up for sale. It’s a striking reminder of the symbiosis between cities and iconic architecture—one which speaks to the mercurial nature of Detroit’s real estate market since World War II. The twin high-rises were foreclosed in February, and will go up for auction later this month. All 584 apartment units will go to the highest bidder July 18, but this is no ordinary sale. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will require the lucky winner to spend more than $10 million on an 80-page list of renovations to the historic buildings, and invest $2.5 million in an escrow account for HUD to hedge their risk.
Trump Channels Moses at Jones Beach. Following a lengthy battle over design issues, Donald Trump and New York State reached a deal over his proposed $23 million catering hall to replace a destroyed Robert Moses-era restaurant at Jones Beach, the Wall Street Journal reported. The new restaurant and catering facility will be called Trump on the Ocean (shown here as a rendering). Officials at Trump told the paper that the developer has fond memories of the beach and has long been an admirer of The Power Broker.
Get ‘Em While You Can Afford ‘Em. Local hot-shot designer, Craighton Berman, has left the firm gravitytank to go solo. He’s keeping himself busy with all kinds of stuff—from illustration to design workshops. Craig, whose illustrations regularly don the pages of Dwell, designed the Coil Lamp, which graced the pages of this paper and many others. The Coil Lamp was recently added to the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Better get one before they become pricey collectibles.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving. He’s back, y’all! Without a doubt, he’ll once again spread his Nouveau Beaux Arts buildings across Chicago. Wait, what? Who are we talking about? Who else? Lucien Lagrange. After a strong decade or two spreading an upscale Disney-esque version of Paris-on-Steroids across Chicago’s skyline (see: the Waldorf Astoria, 65 East Goethe, Lincoln Park 2520), a public divorce from designer Jessica Lagrange, his namesake firm’s bankruptcy (which we’re sure had nothing to do with the divorce), his retirement, his joining VOA (just joking about retirement!), his bitter divorce from VOA, and now the recent announcement of HKS Lucien Lagrange Studio, a boutique practice within the HKS. Think of this next installment as the architecture version of a pop-up store. The question is, how long will it last?