Dubious FEMA Argument for Rudolph Demolition Debunked, Again. In yet another turn of the screw, Orange County, New York county executive Eddie Diana’s claim that a FEMA report proved Paul Rudolph’s Government Center sustained substantial damage from Hurricane Irene turns out to bogus at best. Dogged reporting from the Times Herald-Record reveals once again that the county executive’s numbers just don’t add up: “Diana told reporters that county officials have coaxed FEMA into raising its original estimate to $535,000 from $505,000. By contrast, the county’s consultants had estimated $10.5 million in damages.” FEMA officials blame the bulk of the damage on poor maintenance.
Times Columnist Slatalla Takes a Walk in the Garden. Remodelista has just launched a new site dedicated to the outdoor life Gardenista.com. The editor is Michelle Slatalla, a former New York Times columnist and current writer for Real Simple. With Gardenista, “we aim to make gardening accessible, the way Remodelista demystified—while celebrating—interior design,” Slatalla said.
NYPL Debate Rages On. There seems to be an air of the inevitable in the city’s plans to renovate of the New York Public Library’s main branch on Fifth Avenue. The New York Times is all over debate on whether the New York Public Library should send half of its 3 million research books to New Jersey to make way for circulation libraries after the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry and Business Library are closed. The Times got the debate rolling with an online forum last week and continued with coverage of yesterdays real world panel held at the New School.
Plotting Urban Art Around the World. Public art enthusiasts, rejoice: An online project called Mural Locator is committed to map and catalog public murals around the world. MuralLocator.org has information on murals in 40 countries, although the U.S. accounts for the bulk of the data so far. Not surprisingly most are clustered in major urban areas. Philadelphia leads the pack, boasting 76 so far. Tags in Alva, Oklahoma and Ely, Nevada attest to the diversity of locales mapped by mural locator contributors. A typical user-submitted entry includes location data, artist information and an image of the work. But it’s the description and historical context that make this tool an asset. As the catalog grows, Mural Locator could serve as a digital museum for public art worldwide.
Cooper Hewitt Open for Business. While the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s headquarters at the Carnegie Mansion is under renovation (set to reopen in 2014), the museum is popping up in locations across New York City to keep design in the eyes of the public. In the digital world, the Cooper-Hewitt launched its new online store, allowing design enthusiasts to bring a curated selection of products into their homes. The site was launched on Monday by Cooper-Hewitt director and famed industrial design Bill Moggridge at a swanky party in Manhattan’s Norwood Club hosted by the museum and party aficionado and Mediabistro founder Laurel Touby. The Cooper-Hewitt also recently launched a website detailing events happening at Design Week NYC.
Retail Reality at WTC. The Westfield Group made it official yesterday: They will be curating the 450,000 square feet of retail space at the World Trade Center, the New York Post reported. The group made a $93 million payment to the Port Authority toward the $612.5 million deal that will bring retail to the podia of Towers Four and Three, the transportation hub, and along Church & Dey streets. If all goes as planned, an additional 90,000 square feet will be added in Tower Two as well, but first an anchor tenant for Tower Three seems to be the most pressing bit of unmet business.
Bloomberg Applies Sunscreen Legislation. As if to underline, highlight, and italicize the mayor’s support for green design, today New York Mayor Bloomberg signed into law a bill that will allow sun control devices to protrude from buildings up to two-and-a-half feet. If the legislation sounds similar to the Zone Green legislation passed by City Planning back in March, that’s because it is. But the new legislation brings this particular building code in line with one of the many zoning codes encompassed by Zone Green.
Little House on the Pier? Residential plan considered for Pier 40.. A new study looks at a variety of revenue-generating makeovers for Manhattan’s Pier 40, part of the Hudson River Park and home to multiple sports fields. Commissioned by several organizations who are active users of the pier–the Pier, Park and Playground Association (P3), Greenwich Village Little League and Downtown United Soccer Club–the study concludes that a hotel/residential combo would leave the most open space while going a long way to defray what currently is a debt-filled future for the underfunded Park. But such a plan would face several hurdles, including petitioning the state legislature to change restrictions on in-park housing now part of the Hudson River Park Act. Read the all details in The Villager.
Rudolph Lives! At Least For Now. The perplexing yet bewitching jumble of concrete boxes known as Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York has been granted a reprieve. The county legislature voted 11 to 10 against a bond issue which would have funded the demolition of the Paul Rudolph designed building. Preservationists and architects have been following the project closely, and have made compelling arguments against the demolition and in favor of renovation. No word yet on whether the county will move to renovate the building, which suffers from leaks as well as damage from tropical storm Irene.
Zone Green Passes NYC Council. New York City Planning’s Zone Green initiative cleared City Council yesterday, paving the way for new regulations and variances that will help make going green that much easier. Building owners and architects will no longer have to jump through hoops to install a green roof, add solar panels, or harness the wind for power. “The new zoning recognizes what we’ve seen people designing for their projects,” Howard Slatkin the director of sustainability for City Planning told AN back in March. Today, The Times teased out the benefits of the plan through a Q&A interview with Slatkin and Rose Comapanies‘ Paul Freitag.
Gehry Hearts Asia. Frank Gehry’s first residential project in Asia, a twisty residential tower called Opus Hong Kong, is complete. Total project cost for the 12-story, 12-apartment building? A mere $27,000 a square foot, according to Swire CEO Martin Cubbon. “I would just quit everything and come and just work for them forever,” said Gehry on a recent press blitz in Hong Kong, where he praised the “interest and respect” he was afforded.
Surveying the Landscape Landscape. Good news for landscape designers, and really for everyone. According to the Business Quarterly survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the landscape profession showed improvements in key metrics which indicate the industry’s economic state of affairs. Hiring, billable hours, and new business inquiries all increased in the first quarter of 2012, showing marked improvement over the last quarter of 2011. FQ 2012 saw 71.3 percent of firms reporting stable or improved billable hours, and 76.2 percent reported stable or improved inquiries for new work. It’s not just good news for our parks and for our campuses, but it’s also good news for the economy overall.