All the top names in New York City architecture are vying for a piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but whether any of their designs will be realized still remains to be seen. As community groups try to block Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plans to bring affordable housing to Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s celebrated park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has unveiled 14 design proposals for two coveted development sites on Pier 6. Those proposals were unveiled just hours before a Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation meeting that was packed with community members voicing their strong opposition to any new development in the park.
Between June and August, a New York City subway platform is a pretty awful place to find yourself. Over those summer months, the subway has all the smells, crowds, and delays you’re used to with the unwelcome addition of a shockingly stubborn heat that couldn’t care less that you’re on your way to a job interview.
With tens of millions of dollars, New York City hopes to jumpstart a transformation of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood into a hub for artists and tech companies. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the city is spending $100 million to transform part of the Brooklyn Army Terminal—an old navy-supply hub—into space for light manufacturing. That investment is just one piece of the millions of dollars flowing into the neighborhood from real estate investors.
While the money will be significant, giving new life to Sunset Park’s industrial corridor will take more than artisanal pickles and startups. It will take great public space and significant improvements to the neighborhood’s streetscape. At this point, however, it’s not clear if that type of investment is in the cards.
The New York Times has published a blockbuster story on the Cuomo administration’s repeated efforts to undermine the anti-corruption commission that the governor set up himself. According to the Times, the Cuomo administration blocked efforts by the commission to subpoena the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) over “its political donations, its materials related to a valuable tax break for new housing, and its communications with public officials, including phone calls with lawmakers.” The commission also planned to note emails from Extell Development Company, which mentioned how a loophole could be used to funnel money to Cuomo through LLC’s. Ultimately, the loophole was mentioned, but Extell was not.
There’s a game of musical chairs and commissioners happening in New York City politics right now. With former Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) chair Meenakshi Srinivasan now heading the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), Mayor de Blasio has nominated Margery Perlmutter to fill the vacant role. Perlmutter—who would go to the BSA from the LPC where she is a commissioner—is a registered architect and a lawyer who focuses on land-use issues. The mayor also announced two new picks for LPC commissioners including Adi Shamir Baron, the former executive director of the Van Alen Institute, and John Gustafsson, chairman of the Board of the Historic House Trust of New York City.
As AN covered earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to bring affordable housing to Brooklyn Bridge Park has received steep opposition from local groups in neighboring Brooklyn Heights. They contend new housing development will eat up public space and that under-market housing would not provide necessary funding for park maintenance. Under a Bloomberg-era plan, revenue from private, market-rate development would help cover upkeep at the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates-designed park. Under de Blasio, 30 percent of the two proposed towers for the park–one 31 stories and the other 16–would be subsidized. The groups opposing that plan have now formalized their opposition against it.
The Architecture Lobby is a new organization that advocates for the value of architecture in the general public but also to raise awareness inside the profession of working conditions for the majority of its practitioners. It also focuses on working conditions for young designers as they leave school and enter the profession—most with little awareness of the actual conditions of their labor and pay. The lobby has just staged two actions where it publicly read its manifesto of architectural labor-first at the Venice Architecture Biennale and recently at the AIA’s national convention in Chicago. In Chicago, the lobby was thrown off the convention floor by testy AIA officials who don’t want to think about the meaning of the Lobby’s protest.