Grimshaw’s transit-oriented public plaza breaks ground in the Bronx

Fordham Plaza. (Courtesy NYC Department of Transportation)

Fordham Plaza. (Courtesy NYC Department of Transportation)

The New York City Department of Transportation recently broke ground on the second phase of Fordham Plaza’s reconstruction in the Bronx. The revamped space will have all the standard-issue pieces of a New York City pedestrian plaza—the planters, benches, seating, trees, lights, and kiosks—but, ultimately, the plaza represents a significant investment in existing transportation infrastructure.

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Before & After> 25 of New York City’s Most Transformative Road Diets

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New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city’s continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio’s predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York’s built environment.

With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed boulders, Bloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan‘s street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it’s at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta’s redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate.

As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era.

See more transformations after the jump.

The Bruner Foundation Announces Winners of the 2013 Gold and Silver Medals for Urban Excellence

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
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Gold Medal Winner, Inspiration Kitchens (Courtesy of Inspiration Corporation/Steve Hall, Hendrich Blessing)

Gold Medal Winner, Inspiration Kitchens (Courtesy of Inspiration Corporation/Steve Hall, Hendrich Blessing)

The Bruner Foundation Inc. has named the 2013 Gold and Silver Medalists of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA). For twenty-five years, the foundation has celebrated urban projects that stand out for their “contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation’s cities” with this biennial award. A panel of six urbanists—including such experts as Cathy Simon, design principal at Perkins + Will, and Mayor Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City—selected the four Silver Medalists, and the recipient of the $50,000 Gold Medal, Inspiration Kitchens in Chicago. Read More

NYCHA’s Green Thumb: New Affordable Housing Complex Opens With Rooftop Farm

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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(Courtesy NYC Housing Development Corporation)

(Courtesy NYC Housing Development Corporation)

It has been a rocky few months for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), but the battered agency finally has some good news to report. State officials announced the opening of the Arbor House, a 124-unit affordable housing complex, located in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, that is not only LEED Platinum certified, but also features a hydroponic farm on the roof that supplies residents and the surrounding community with fresh produce. Built from local and recycled materials, the 8-story building was designed by New York-based ABS Architecture and includes a living green wall installation in the lobby, air-filtration systems, and indoor and outdoor exercise areas.

Continue reading after the jump.

New York City Breaks Ground on High Bridge Restoration

East
Friday, January 11, 2013
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(Courtesy New Yorkers for Parks)

(Courtesy New Yorkers for Parks)

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.”

On View> Lehman Collage Art Gallery Presents Space Invaders Through January 9

East
Monday, November 26, 2012
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Still Life #2, Heeseop Yoon. (Courtesy LCAG)

Still Life #2, Heeseop Yoon. (Courtesy LCAG)

Space Invaders
Lehman Collage Art Gallery
250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY
Through January 9, 2013

Space Invaders is a collaborative site-specific art installation, curated by Karin Bravin at the Lehman College Art Gallery. The spaces both inside and outside the gallery, including the walls, ceiling, floor and balcony, are used as the artists’ canvas and the art—a mix of photographs, fabric installations, text installations, drawings, sculptures and more, seem to grow into and with the space. Pieces like Heeseop Yoon’s Still-Life #2 (above) or Dewitt Godfrey’s Layman (below) also transform ordinary materials, like electrical tape and mylar, into otherworldly constructions. The work incorporates and mirrors the Gallery’s structure and also accounts the effects of exterior factors such as light and wind.

Layman, Dewitt Godfrey. (Courtesy LCAG)

Layman, Dewitt Godfrey. (Courtesy LCAG)

Slideshow> High Time for the High Bridge Pedestrian Bridge

East
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
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Construction is about to start on High Bridge. (Courtesy New Yorkers for Parks)

Construction is about to start on High Bridge. (Courtesy New Yorkers for Parks)

There’s a scene in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country, where the wicked vixen Undine Spragg insists on speeding across the High Bridge in a “horseless carriage” before making her grand entrance at a party so as to rouge her cheeks with a cold snap of air whipping up from the Harlem River. The romantic fascination accorded the then-65-year-old bridge quietly slipped from New York’s consciousness as bigger engineering marvels usurped its quiet dignity.

Now approaching 165 years, renovations are about to get underway to finally restore the bridge to its former glory as a 1,200-foot-long pedestrian bridge, uniting neighborhoods of High Bridge and Washington Heights in the Bronx and Manhattan. New Yorkers for Parks stopped by the span Monday afternoon to document current conditions before construction is in full swing, giving us a hint of Undine’s views. Though controversial netting integrated into the design might mildly disrupt the vista, Monday’s photos show it the way it was, albeit slightly overgrown.

View a slideshow of High Bridge after the jump.

Flowers and Recycled Planters Transform a Step Street in the Bronx

City Terrain, East
Friday, October 15, 2010
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Dedication ceremony for the Bronx's ARTfarm.

The dedication ceremony for the Bronx’s ARTfarm brought together students from PS 73, NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, lead architect Valeria Bianco, and Bronx Museum executive director Holly Block.

A formal dedication for a creative urban intervention called ARTfarm brings flowers and greenery to a formerly barren step street in the Bronx.  Architects Valeria Bianco, Christian Gonsalves, Shagun Singh, and Justin Taylor designed and built the project  with help from Architecture for Humanity and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

More info and photos after the jump.

Parks Department Coopting NYC Skaters?

East
Thursday, September 2, 2010
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On Tuesday, the Parks Department cut the ribbon on the River Avenue pocket parks in the Bronx. It is the latest piece of the sprawling, long-overdue parks system promised by the Bloomberg administration in exchange for the parks sacrificed and taxes forgone in the name of the House That Steinbrenner Built (God rest his soul). But that is not what is truly interesting about the River Avenue park. What is is that it contains a skatepark. The fourth one to open this summer, in fact, preceded by new ramps and half-pipes at Hudson River Park (above), Flushing Meadows, and Robert Venable Park in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood. A very popular park opened last year as the first piece of the McCarren Park pool’s redevelopment. (This reporter saw young scalawags jumping the fence to get in even before it was finished, so eager were they to ollie about.) The Parks Department now has 11 skateparks under management, with more on the way. Read More

A Hub-bub in the Bronx

East, East Coast
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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The city wants to turn the two lots bisected by the subway into a new mixed-use commercial center—a hub for the Hub.

Of all five boroughs, the Bronx arguably fell the furthest during New York City’s 1970s collapse (the decade that saw the infamous burning) while it has not seen nearly the revival of Brooklyn or Queens in recent years. There’s the new Yankees Stadium, and the Grand Concourse remains resurgent, but there is still much to be done. The city’s Economic Development Corporation is hoping to nudge things along just a bit east at the Hub, an architecturally and historically rich area centered around the intersection of 149th Street, Third Avenue, and Melrose Avenue. On two lots covering 112,000 square feet where the 2/5 Trains shoot out of the ground, the city is hoping to create a new mixed-use retail center that can anchor the area’s continued redevelopment. Read More

Kingsbridge Conundrum

East, East Coast
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
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That's a lot of empty space to fill. (Courtesy Bing Maps)

What to do with the Kingsbridge Armory, empty for more than two decades? That was the question the Related Companies answered with a proposal for a new mall, which was resoundingly rebuffed last year by the City Council, in part because that mall would have lacked union labor. The question of what to do with the mall was implicit in Related’s offer, as well, the suggestion being that without the mall, the massive nearly 600,000-square-foot building would continue to sit empty for more decades. Well, Bronx Borough President Rueben Diaz, Jr., one of the pols that led the fight against the mall, thinks he has an answer of his own, as the Observer reports, or at least he hopes the taskforce he’s appointed to come up with a solution does. As Diaz put it in a statement: Read More

Bowled Over by Bronx Architecture

East
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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The Lehman College Art Gallery has launched a new wesbite chronicling the architecture of the Bronx.

The Lehman College Art Gallery has launched a new wesbite chronicling the architecture of the Bronx.

The Bronx isn’t exactly known for its architecture, excepting maybe the Grand Concourse, but the Lehman College Art Gallery is hoping to change that perception with a new and very impressive website chronicling the borough’s vast architectural heritage. (The gallery happens to be located in one of those hidden treasures, a campus building that was Marcel Breuer’s first project in the city.) The site, called simply Bronx Architecture, chronicles some 75 notable buildings scattered about the borough, ranging from the notable (the Bronx County Building, the Hall of Justice, the Kingsbridge Armory, new Yankee Stadium) to the obscure (Villa Charlotte Bronte, the Institute for Special Education, Williamsbridge Reservoir Keeper’s House). Read More

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