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.
City Makes High Line Phase Three Official, Signs on the Dotted Line. Today the City and Friends of the High Line announced the acquisition of the third and final portion of the abandoned rail line from CSX, securing once and for all its future as a linear park. The section, which extends into what will become Hudson Yards, will add another half mile to the leafy line. CSX donated the line to the city. Final design work for the third phase is underway. Construction is set to begin later this year.
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.