Grand Central has always been more than a train station. It’s an architectural and cultural touchstone for New York City. Even the most hurried commuter will stop to admire the building’s impressive scale and immaculate detail, before making their next transfer or stepping onto the crowded Midtown streets.
The Oculus book talk on the new book, How to Study Public Life, at the Center for Architecture with Jan Gehl and his co-author Birgitte Svarre was like seeing the documentary The Human Scale come to life—only with a sense of humor.
Gehl’s urban theories have gained a lot of traction, not least in New York City. Jeanette Sadik-Khan went to Gehl’s native Copenhagen two weeks into her job as commissioner of NYC’s Department of Transportation (along with fellow commissioner of City Planning, Amanda Burden) and experienced the city’s pedestrian-over-cars public plazas, rode bicycles on protected bike lanes, and absorbed the lessons of the city that is repeatedly named the most livable in the world.
New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city’s continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio’s predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York’s built environment.
With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed boulders, Bloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan‘s street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it’s at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta’s redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate.
As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era.
Diller, Scofidio + Renfro announced today that their reorganization of the Museum of Modern Art will include the replacement of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s former American Folk Art Museum at 45 West 53rd street. Liz Diller said in her briefing that DS+R hoped to save the Folk Art building and repurpose it into a usable exhibit space or a connecting bridge between the new Jean Nouvel tower (which will have three floors of MoMA galleries) and the older parts of MoMA. However, “saving” the structure with its misaligned floors (to MOMA existing galleries) would mean compromising the integrity of the Williams Tsien structure.
One can imagine the logic of DS+R’s decision, but Williams and Tsien are, like any architects, sad to see the demise of their 2001 building that Herbert Muschamp said “transcend(s) cultural categories even as it helps define them.”
Buildings will soon rise to new heights alongManhattan’s Hudson River Park. Governor Cuomo just signed legislation to allow the cash-strapped park to sell 1.6 million square feet in air rights to developers. The bill will enable developers to build new projects one block from the five-mile waterfront park, which can now include commercial tenants, schools, performing art organizations and venues, and TV film and media studios.
Yesterday, something remarkable happened. More than a decade after the destruction of the World Trade Center, the walls and fences surrounding a small corner of the site came down and the public was able to glimpse a new stretch of Greenwich Street—which will eventually bisect the site—as well as Fumihiko Maki‘s completed 72-story tower, Four World Trade. The minimalist tower is the first completed building on the site, though tenants will now begin building out their floors.
A new “class A” office building adjacent to the High Line, 510 West 22nd Street, is now in the planning stage and the developers have released a video of its designer, Rick Cook of COOKFOX Architects, describing the building. But is anyone worried that the High Line may become a dark walkway through forest of buildings? Not Cook, who bases his design on the public qualities of the old elevated rail line that transformed 10th Avenue from the “end of the world to the center of the universe.” But has there been a bigger boon to real estate development in New York since Central Park?
A new condo tower designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill was announced late last year, but details of the super-tall tower have been scant. The 88-story tower at 215 West 57th Street will be one of New York City’s tallest buildings, reaching up to 1,550 feet. That means it will top the Empire State Building’s measly 1,454 feet and come in second only to the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center. (If you’re paying attention to the spire / antenna semantics game ongoing at One World Trade, AS+GG’s new tower would beat its midtown rival by a little over 200 feet.) Adrian Smith is no stranger to designing soaring skyscrapers—he designed Dubai’s Burj Khalifa while working at SOM, still the tallest tower in the world. The architects declined to comment further about the tower.
2013 Architecture & Design Film Festival
54 Varick Street
“Erecting a building is like making a movie….both processes involve blending light and movement into space and time. A model is like a script: at best it’s a promise and at worst it’s a safeguard. And, as with a script, a moment comes when you have to test your model against reality. You must start shooting the film, start erecting the building.”
—The Interior Passage
We can see these starts when the two art forms come together in the 4th annual Architecture & Design Film Festival at the Tribeca Cinemas where 25 films will be screened through October 20. This year, the trend is toward process films that chronicle movements and initiatives (planning, education, preservation), portraits of buildings more than individuals, and Modernism referenced even when it’s not the direct subject.