Preservationists who have waged a battle against Foster + Partners’ planned renovations of the New York Public Library received bad news Tuesday: The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the library’s application for changes to its Beaux-Arts exterior, mostly on the side facing Bryant Park, in a six-to-two vote.
The $300 million renovation calls for removing seven floors of stacks beneath the famous Rose Main Reading Room to accommodate a large workspace and the collections from the Mid-Manhattan and the Innovative Science, Industry, and Business Libraries. This might be a major step forward for the library, but the approval process is not yet over. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Landmarks Commission can only vote on changes proposed to the landmarked exterior—the decision about the stacks is out of their hands.
The Cloisters museum and gardens, the Metropolitan Museum’s outpost for Medieval architecture and art in northern Manhattan, faces the tree-lined cliffs of the Palisades across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The view is picturesque, uninterrupted by the built environment—nary a single building in sight. But soon, a 143-foot-high office complex designed by HOK could rise above the treetops, a change some say will spoil the idyllic natural view. The New York Times reported that LG Electronics USA’s plan to build an eight-story headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, has sparked protests from environmental groups, the Met, and Larry Rockefeller—whose grandfather donated four acres of land for the museum and park in New York and purchased 700 acres along the cliffs on the other side of the river to keep the view unmarred.
Manhattan’s far west side is about to become one of the busiest construction sites in the country. Last Tuesday morning, officials gathered at the corner of 9th Avenue and West 33rd Street to celebrate the second major groundbreaking in the Hudson Yards District, Brookfield Properties’ trio of new SOM-designed towers comprising the Manhattan West development to be built over a large rail yard serving Penn Station. The $4.5 billion project’s first phase, construction of the north portion of the railroad-spanning platform that will eventually support development, is now underway, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the second half of the platform could be underway in coming months. Excavation has been ongoing since the fall of 2012.
Congregation members of the Lincoln Square Synagogue stepped inside their new $50 million facility this weekend. It is the first new synagogue to be built from the ground up in New York City in five decades according to DNA Info. The four-story structure, designed by Cetra Ruddy, has a 450-seat sanctuary, a large ballroom in the basement level, classrooms, an in-house kosher catering company, and a prayer space. Senior Rabbi Shaul Robinson told DNA Info that the old synagogue “didn’t age well” and “was cramped and restrained.” There will be no dearth of space in this new 52,000-square-foot facility.
Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge
It seems as if a day can’t go by without a new announcement from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Paper reported Tuesday that park planners are pushing for a free bouldering wall to be built beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The proposal calls for a ten to 12-foot-tall climbing wall at Plymouth and Washington streets. This fits within a larger vision to develop the park area by Main Street by expanding lawn space, designing a new entry plaza, and relocating the dog run.
This news comes right after philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz announced he was abandoning plans to build a velodrome, a complex for cyclists, in the park. As planners delved into the project, they found that the mounting costs of construction exceeded Rechnitz’s $50 million budget and growing concerns about flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy added another layer of complexity to the design. Rechnitz, however, is still on the hunt for the right location for his velodrome in New York.
Brooklyn has increasingly become home to a number of internet start-ups, and now the crowd-funding site, Kickstarter, is the most recent one to put roots down in the borough. Greenpointers reported today that Kickstarter has already started construction on its new 29,000-sq-ft headquarters at the former Eberhard Faber Pencil Co. Factory in Greenpoint.
The Italian Renaissance Revival-style Hotel Bossert, once one of the swankiest hotels in Brooklyn, will soon be welcoming guests once again. Two developers, David Bistricer and Joseph Chetrit of the Chetrit Group, bought the property from the Watchtower Society this past November for $81 million, and now have the go-ahead to turn the property back into a hotel. On Friday, the Board of Standards and Appeal granted the developers a variance to change the certificate of occupancy. According to Brownstoner, Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman + Associates Architects is the architect of record. But, we just heard that Selldorf Architects will lead the renovation of this 1909 building designed by Palmer & Hornbostel, which will involve preserving the facade, lobby, and reception area, updating the rooms with new design finishes and amenities, and reviving the Marine Roof back to a restaurant and lounge. If all goes well, the hotel will be up and running by this summer.
Officials broke ground today on the long anticipated restoration of New York’s High Bridge connecting the Bronx with Manhattan. Built in 1848 and today the city’s oldest bridge, the 1,200-foot-long span had long been a popular strolling bridge, even making an appearance in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country. The landmarked bridge was closed to the public in the 1970s, but after construction wraps up on the $61 million rehabilitation, strolling New Yorkers and bicyclists can once again cross high above the Harlem River—116 feet—and connect with the city’s growing waterfront Greenway. (See also: Photos of High Bridge before renovation.)
Improvements include pedestrian safety measures like accessibility ramps, viewing platforms, and new lighting. An eight-foot-tall cable mesh fence to prevent jumpers and throwing trash will also line each side, a point that drew criticism from some in the community who believe it’s unnecessary and will spoil views. In a statement released at the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called High Bridge “one of our city’s great treasures.” He continued, “It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs, and even all over the world, to see some of the most spectacular views in the city.”
Beginning on January 22, Pelli Clarke Pelli’s glass Winter Garden at Manhattan’s World Financial Center will be twinkling with strands of LED lights. Lighting artist and theater designer Anne Militello designed the Light Cycles installation, inspired by the jewel-tone color of lights found in nature such as the Aurora Borealis. LED lights will be attached to strings of mirrored discs hanging from the ten-story barrel-vaulted ceiling. The lights will feature “shifting movements and patterns” programmed by the artist. According to the World Financial Center, “Like charms on a bracelet, the jeweled discs entrance through a softly evolving manipulation of color and texture.” The installation runs through March 30, 2013.