What’s your building burning? Some 10,000 buildings in New York City are stuck on the dirty stuff—heavy heating oils—to keep warm, which is polluting the air across the city. But as of the first of this month, the city has begun to phase out these feuls in favor of more environmentally-friendly and health-conscious alternatives. As part of plaNYC’s initiative to remake New York City with the cleanest air of any major U.S. city, NYC Clean Heat aims to achieve a 50 percent reduction in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by the end of 2013.
Design for the Real World REDUX
329 Broome Street, New York
Through July 15
Forty years ago, the Austrian designer and scholar Victor J. Papanek wrote in his influential book Design for the Real World, “Design, if it is to be ecologically responsible and socially responsive, must be revolutionary and radical.” His aim was to alert designers to their impact on the world, arguing for sustainable design generations before the term became a buzzword. This exhibition, organized by the Victor J. Papanek Foundation at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, in partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, will showcase four winning entries and thirteen finalists from the inaugural international competition Design for the Real World REDUX. The winning projects include a social mapping platform for local sustainability initiatives, One Laptop Per Child XO-3 Tablet computer by Fuseproject, and Planetary ONE + Terreform ONE’s Urbaneering Brooklyn 2110: Ecological City of the Future, and wind powered streetlights by Alberto Vasquez (above).
The Zoning Committee of the New York City Council is holding a hearing today for NYU’s proposed expansion. It is the last stop on the ULURP tour that has garnered some of the most contentious debate in a neighborhood that has seen more than its share of zoning upheaval over the past year. Usually the council votes in agreement with the council member representing the district. As such, all eyes were on Council Member Margaret Chin, whose Downtown district includes the Washington Square area where the expansion is being proposed. While Chin said that the plan is “unacceptable as it stands” she didn’t outright reject the plan.
Design studio Diller Scofidio+Renfro (DS+R) has certainly had a very good week. As we noted yesterday, the firm’s designs for the Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building in Washington Heights have just been released, and now today, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has announced that DS+R will be working with museum staff on the redesign of the museum’s exhibition spaces that are currently under renovation on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s actually a plane. On the corner of 60th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan, a six-seat, twin-engine Piper Seneca aircraft balances on two vertical steel posts positioned at the end of its wings, playfully rotating on its own axis and likely confusing visitors to Central Park. After doing a double take on the surreal scene, find a plaque located nearby and you’ll learn that this mysterious aircraft is actually an installation by artist Paola Pivi, whose portfolio includes scenes of zebras on snowy mountaintops and arenas of screaming people. Working with the Public Art Fund, an organization dedicated to present artists’ work throughout New York City, Paola Pivi opened her newest installation featuring the Piper Seneca, How I Roll last Wednesday, June 20th.
Mission: Small Business, Chase bank’s new program to promote new small businesses allows residents to vote for their local small businesses to be considered for a hefty $250,000 grant. Among the countless entries for the program, Brooklyn-based dlandstudio’s proposal for a new plastics recycling center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard has already received 200 votes.
Until recently, the only way to enter Central Park’s oldest and largest playground was through a chain-link fence. The great Heckscher Playground, impressive in scale and amenities, did not have an entrance to match, but a recently completed renovation to the building has retuned the structure to it’s original use with a contemporary twist blending the building’s history with contemporary needs.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the lease and operation of a cultural facility adjacent the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. Building 11, one of several buildings that housed the Coast Guard’s lighthouse operations from 1836 to 1966, was recently renovated by the city as part of a campaign to revitalize Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront.
With nine million dollars total in prizes up for grabs, The Mayor’s Challenge simply asks for innovations in city life, a subject that’s been a growing concern for countless architects, planners, and governments worldwide. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the competition last week calling for individual designers and teams to address urban challenges from sustainability to citizen empowerment. “Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward.”
Lauretta Vinciarelli was a quiet but powerful presence on the New York architecture scene since the 1980s when she began producing “imaginary architectural settings” of buildings and landscapes. I considered it a great honor to be invited to her Soho loft to look and talk about her latest work 10 years before her death in 2011. It’s too easy as an architectural journalist covering the daily rough and tumble of urban architecture to get jaundiced about the profession, but Vinciarelli’s extraordinarily beautiful and quiet drawings and paintings remind me why we still believe in the power and hope of great architecture.