On Monday, dozens of designers, planners, and community organizers packed the amphitheater at the newly opened LEESER-designed BRIC House in Brooklyn‘s rapidly-growing BAM district. The attendees were there to hear the details of the latest Request For Proposals (RFP) from the Design Trust for Public Space, The Energetic City: Connectivity in the Public Realm.
The Design Trust has launched pivotal projects before, like their Five Borough Farm that is helping to redefine urban agriculture in New York City. This time, the group is seeking new ideas for public space and, according to a statement, “develop new forms of connectivity among the diverse people, systems, and built, natural, and digital environments of New York City.”
This weekend, design firm Bade Stageberg Cox will transform Times Square with the help of nearly 50 reclaimed chairs painted taxicab yellow. The chairs will be arranged like theater seats and Times Square will be the stage. “As the plaza is occupied throughout the day, the chairs’ movement and rearrangement becomes a performance about the ways in which people inhabit the public realm and shape it to suit their needs,” said the firm in a statement. The installation is part of their Street Theater series, and coincides with New York City Design Week.
Studio Gang’s first New York City tower appears to be moving forward, albeit a little shorter than originally envisioned. Initial plans called for a 213-foot tall, 180,000-square-foot office tower—known as the “Solar Carve”—that would have been 34 percent larger than what is currently allowed on the site. After it became clear that wasn’t going to fly with the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), the Carve’s developer, William Gottlieb Real Estate, withdrew its application leaving the fate of the project in jeopardy.
Before the old Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is razed to make way for the massive SHoP-designed mixed-use complex, it has been transformed into a gallery for famed artist, Kara Walker. Inside the 30,000-square-foot space, which stills smells of molasses, she has created a 75-foot-long, 35-foot-high, sugar-coated sphinx (on view through July 6th). The work, which was created in collaboration with Creative Time, is called A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, and according to Walker’s artist statement, it is “an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World.”
The New York Public Library has canceled its controversial renovation plan by Foster + Partners, according to a report in the New York Times. The plan, which would have removed the historic book stacks and turned the non-lending research library into a circulating library, was widely opposed by scholars, writers, and architectural historians.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has issued an RFP to create a network of free, outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots across all five boroughs. The network would become one of the largest in the country, and have a significant impact on the city’s streetscape. That’s because the plan transforms New York’s aging system of payphones—commonly known today as al fresco “toilets”—with what are being described by the city as public connection points.
New York City’s bike infrastructure is expanding into new territory with new greenways connecting the city in a web of safer transportation options. And as it does, the Department of Transportation is working to significantly improve the bike lanes that already exist.
Chicago‘s most famous architect has just acquired a New York City pied-à-terre. Studio Gang has opened an office on Water Street in Lower Manhattan, which will be led by Weston Walker, a design principal. “This is a natural next step for the firm,” said founding principal Jeanne Gang in a statement. “We have been working in New York for the past several years and are excited by the variety of work currently in design, along with potential engagements in the city and beyond.”
The firm is currently working on a Fire Rescue facility for the New York City Department of Design and Construction and on the “Solar Carve” tower adjacent to the High Line. That project met resistance from the community for its height. There is no word yet on how tall it will be or how it will be redesigned.
Total Reset: Institute for Public Architecture Symposium Tackles Affordable Housing in New York City
The history of affordable housing in the United States has always centered on efforts—research, architectural prototypes, and creative financing—undertaken in New York City. From early philanthropic models like the late 19th century Cobble Hill Tower Homes, the 1911 Vanderbilt-sponsored Cherokee Model Apartments, and the 1930s Amalgamated Dwellings on the Lower East Side, virtually all early advancement in housing reform in this country began in New York City.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been promising to “preserve or construct” nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing since his days as the most unlikely of mayoral contenders. Since stepping into City Hall, the mayor has repeated that pledge nearly every chance he gets. But while the affordable housing plan is one of his central policy issues, it’s still not clear how the city can hit the mayor’s magic number. That should change this week when de Blasio’s housing team releases their detailed plan of action. Before that plan is released, however, AN asked some of the city’s leading architects, advocates, and planners what they hope to see in the team’s path forward.
We heard this morning that Fred Schwartz—one of the most independent, passionate, and even fearless voices in the New York architecture world—passed away last night. Frederic Schwartz Architects was well known for its waterfront park planning and various 9/11 memorials (Fred died at 9:11p.m. last night).
In what sounds like a flashback to the turn of the 20th century, curious New Yorkers peered inquisitively at a new horseless carriage model on display at the New York International Auto Show. The old-timey vehicle is actually a high-tech electric vehicle at the center of the heated fight to ban horse carriages from Central Park in New York City.