Walking the line. Watch artist Simon Faithfull travel both built and unbuilt environments along “the exact longitude of the Greenwich Meridian,” using a GPS device in his documentary project “0˚00 Navigation.” Above is an excerpt through London, but you can also watch the whole thing here. (h/t Polis.)
At the city gates. In this short article at the Sustainable Cities Collective, Chuck Wolfe muses over what a “city gate” would be in a modern city, contending that Google streetview is one form of a modern gate incarnation. Is a physical gate just an ornament of memories, or do we need the architectural drama only a physical threshold can provide?
Art heals blight. As Elizabeth Currid-Halkett notes in the NY Times, art as a revitalization tool works, but not always. It takes more than just cheap rent and abandoned factory lofts to cultivate the next Soho. Take the case of Red Hook’s art scene from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: art, given its mercurial nature, may be best left alone, like the somewhat-isolated Brooklyn neighborhood.
A map for Captain Planet. SkyTruth, a nonprofit environmental monitoring group, recently launched a real-time, interactive alert system that digitally maps domestic pollution events, such as toxic spills and air & water pollution. More at the LA Times blog.
Youth Space. Pharell Williams speaks to Wallpaper* about his plans for a new youth center in partnership with architect Chad Oppenheim. Both Keihl’s and Williams’ charity From One Hand to Another will support the creative vision in raising funds for the Virginia Beach project. The design draws conceptually from the construction of a treehouse with plans to be a uniquely green project and a safe place for children to learn and grow.
Telly Transformations. Caroline Quentin presents a new BBC Two series entitled Restoration Home, a program that follows renovation of old buildings as they transform into sleek homes. Look forward to documentation of behind the scenes “nostalgia, architecture, and murder” as Olly Grant of the Telegraph details.
Bad Air. If riding with speeding traffic weren’t enough to worry about when cycling through the city, Scientific American reports on just how dirty street air really is from car and truck exhaust. In short, city air is a toxic cocktail of pollution that can pose a heart risk to urban cyclists. Time to clean up our streets?
Chelsea Touch-ups. The new owner of Hotel Chelsea, Joseph Chetrit, hired architect Gene Kaufman to work on plans for expansion and renovation of the historic New York property according to the Wall Street Journal. Residents have little to worry about, though, as the hotel is a registered landmark which brings extra oversight. That being said, as the project begins, expect significant upgrades to the lobby and infrastructural repairs along with a potential additional restaurant.
The Environmental Protection Agency balked at the Bloomberg administration’s controversial proposal to clean up the Gowanus Canal, favoring its own Superfund program in an announcement today, as had been expected. In a statement, regional administrator Judith Enck said that, after much consultation with concerned parties, the EPA “determined that a Superfund designation is the best path to a cleanup of this heavily contaminated and long neglected urban waterway.” The Bloomberg administration opposed the designation for fear it would stigmatize the waterway and drive off developers who were planning projects on the polluted canal’s shores. Read More
Almost exactly a month ago, the Bloomberg administration released a study called the “New York City Community Air Survey.” Years in the making, it was heralded as the first comprehensive study of the city’s air quality ever undertaken, with results that are shocking if not obvious. As the map of particulate matter above shows—and as many of us already knew—the city can be a pretty gross place to live and breathe. There are plenty more maps like this, but they all basically come to two conclusions: Where there are cars and oil boilers, there is pollution. However, the wonk in us saw something particularly interesting: Outside of Manhattan—where congestion is a whole other animal (hence hope for congestion pricing)—the pollution tracks pretty heavily along the expressways built by none other than the Power Broker himself. We even built a handy GIF (after the jump!) to illustrate this. There is one notable exception, that big brown spot in the middle of Brooklyn, which is why we’re bringing this up now. Read More
On Monday, we reported on the Bloomberg administration’s continued vociferous resistance to Superfund listing for the Gowanus Canal. While the main complaint by the mayor was that the Superfund stigma would poison the area for development for decades to come, we did not mention—at least not this time—that a major concern is also that the city could be held liable for some portion of the Superfund cleanup because of a number of polluting properties on the canal. That seems all the more likely now—as does the potential for listing—as the Post reported yesterday that the city has been sent a notice for its liabilities. According to the tab, “The city’s responsibility comes through previous/current ownership of an asphalt plant, incinerator, a pumping station, storage yard, and Department of Transportation garage.” In an interesting new twist, the Navy was also served with a notice for at least nine “facilities where the Navy directed and oversaw government contractors which owned and/or operated facilities adjacent to the canal.”
For the 53rd Venice Art Biennial, Jorge Otero-Pailos, a professor of preservation at Columbia, made a cast of the pollution on a wall of the Doge’s Palace on the Palazzo San Marco. Trained as a conservationist, he painted liquid latex directly onto the wall and then carefully removed the cast in one sheet. The result, The Ethics of Dust, Doge’s Palace, Venice, 2009, seen in this video, is a luminous scrim that preserves the residue accrued overtime.
Such pollution is typically seen negatively, but Otero-Pailos sees it as a record of human activity and questions the impulse to erase these traces of the past.
When developers began proposing sizable developments for the shores of the Gowanus Canal a few years ago, at best it was viewed as yet another gonzo deal conceived of those frothy boom years. At worst, it was a bad joke. After all, this is the same body of water known to carry STDs. And so, when the federal EPA agreed to consider the contaminated body of water for Superfund status, that could only be a good thing, right? Read More