It took some negotiating, but New York City Council has approved Durst Fetner’s plans to build West 57th, a 750-unit residential development designed by Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels. Crain’s reported that the 32-story pyramidal “courtscraper,” sandwiched between 11th Avenue and the Hudson River, will consist of 750 rental apartments, with an additional 100 units in a converted industrial building.
An early point of contention stemmed from what city council viewed as an inadequate plan for income-restricted housing, which will only be affordable for 35 years. While Durst Fetner didn’t budge on this issue, they did agree to donate $1 million to an affordable housing fund.
Next week, the fifth iteration of the Times Square Alliance’s Valentine Heart installation will officially open to the public. Brooklyn-based Situ Studio revealed their installation, Heartwalk, in January, which will be built with salvaged boardwalk boards from from the Hurricane Sandy-stricken Rockaways, Long Beach, Sea Girt, NJ, and Atlantic City.
The Situ team has been busy removing hardware from the weathered planks and planing them for a smooth surface. The pre-assembled pieces will be taken to Times Square for assembly, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on February 12 at 11:00a.m. According to a statement from Situ Studio, “Visitors can enter the installation itself and literally stand in the heart of the world’s greatest city.”
The New York Department of City Planning just approved a rezoning plan of Hudson Square that could likely change the scale of the neighborhood. Developers and landlords can now raise the building height to 290 feet along wide streets, which will make Hudson Square, an 18-block area located west of Soho and south of South Village, more suitable for residential and mixed-use development. Curbed reported that preservationists advocated for landmark designation for South Village to prevent any large-scale development from spilling over into the neighborhood, but a historic district was absent from the zoning amendments. Developer Trinity Real Estate, which owns 40 percent of Hudson Square’s property, initially proposed the rezoning and has committed to making neighborhood improvements.
Happy Birthday Grand Central Terminal! Today the 49-acre train station is turning 100 and celebrating this grand ‘ole affair with performances, events, and even a LEGO model of the Beaux-Arts style station itself, courtesy the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Station Master’s Office. Designed by Reed & Stern and Warren & Wetmore, the station is believed to be the largest station by number (44) of platforms in the world.
In honor of the Centennial, some of the retail shops and restaurants are even dropping their prices to 1913 levels, so commuters can grab a piece of cheesecake at the Oyster Bar for 19 cents. The New York Times also fired up its own time machine, posting the original supplement from 1913 when Grand Central first opened to the public. (You can download the PDF here.)
Starting last night at the Lower Manhattan’s Brookfield Place World Financial Center, 24 teams of architects, engineers, and MTA employees stacked cans into the small hours of the morning for the 20th Annual NYC CANstruction Competition. Large amorphous structures—some abstract, others more recognizable—emerged out of more than 80,000 cans of food.
The firms were given 24-hours to build their sculptures, which will then go on display for 11 days at the World Financial Center, and later dismantled and donated to City Harvest to provide food for the hungry. Last year, the competition yielded 90,000 cans of food, and Lisa Sposato, Associate Director of Food Sourcing Donor Relations at City Harvest, said they’ve already received 35,000 pounds of cans. Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy delayed the competition, and a few teams had to drop out, but several of them donated their cans of food.
The much-talked-about 7 line subway extension on Manhattan’s West Side isn’t the only mega-infrastructure project making progress in New York. Construction continues far below the streets of Manhattan’s East Side as crews tunnel through bedrock for the Second Avenue Subway line. This week, the MTA released a gallery of photos showing construction progress on stations between 63rd and 73rd streets. The photos show the enormous rock caverns that will one day be subway stations being prepped with liners, rebar, and concrete casing. According to Gothamist, construction progress varies by station, with the 72nd Street station 96 percent complete and the 86th Street station 42 percent done.
Changes are brewing in East Harlem. DNAinfo reported this week that Community Board 11 just approved a new rezoning plan for a 60-block stretch that runs along Madison, Park, and Lexington avenues between East 115th and East 132nd streets.
Instead of recommending uniform changes, the proposal addresses the needs and character of each specific area in East Harlem whether it be residential, light industrial, mixed-use, or commercial. According to DNAinfo, taller buildings will be permitted “in exchange for permanently affordable housing units.” The proposal also looks at possible solutions for the foreboding Metro-North viaduct that extends over Park Avenue.
Construction of Columbia University’s 17-acre Manhattanville campus is now underway in northern Manhattan. The Wall Street Journal reported that work has already started on the foundation of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center that will house the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. This 450,000-square-foot glass building, designed by Renzo Piano, is the first of 15 new buildings to be built on the campus and is slated to open in 2016.
Future plans for Columbia’s expansion include new homes for the Columbia Business School and the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Developer and Boston Properties CEO Mortimer Zuckerman has pledged $200 million to the endowment of the institute. The tab for the entire campus should run up to $6.8 billion.
It’s been a mild winter so far in New York, and with the first onset of below-freezing temperatures, city folk are donning their heavy jackets and gloves. And while the winds whipping around the glass and steel towers of Manhattan might feel as if it’s as cold as it’s ever going to be, consider a century ago when temperatures were low enough to freeze the East River from the banks of Brooklyn to the Manhattan waterfront, still two different cities at the time, providing thrill-seeking pedestrians with an instant new crossing years before the Brooklyn Bridge was built.
The above view was engraved in 1871 and titled, “Crossing the East River on the Ice Bridge,” depicting dozens of New Yorkers walking across what would normally have been a busy maritime thoroughfare. While such a natural feat seams unlikely today, Gothamist has collected clippings to show that the phenomenon was known to occur around once a decade on the East River during the 19th century and there have been reports of similar frozen-river bridges along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers as well. For instance, in 1851, an estimated 15,000 pedestrians, horses, and sleighs crossed the frozen river.