On Monday, December 3, the “Jewel of Park Avenue” at 230 Park, aka The Helmsley Building, really began to sparkle as building-owner Monday Properties unveiled a new LED lighting display to a crowd huddled at the base of the building, staring upward with anticipation as rush hour traffic swirled around. Monday Properties President and CEO Anthony Westreich and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer stood together to push a giant red button, officially triggering the light show, which flickered into action, turning heads of passers by for blocks around as a live violinist provided musical accompaniment.
With the current rise of smartphones and tablet technology, it is easy for coin-operated payphones to be cast aside as archaic tools of urban communication, but with over 11,000 functioning payphones dotted across New York City alone, these sidewalk staples have become ubiquitous in the urban landscape. And as was a lesson during Hurricane Sandy and other disasters, the payphone can serve as a reliable back-up when cell phone batteries die.
But can the payphone be updated to thrive in the 21st century? New York City is enlisting designers to rethink the role of payphones in today’s New York City, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially announcing the “Reinvent Payphones” competition last week.
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At Miami Basel, a digitally fabricated pavilion marries classic origami techniques with advanced technology
For this year’s inaugural Miami Project Fair, the design team at FXFOWLE Architects, led by Sarah Gerber, created a temporary architectural pavilion, the FXFOWLE Lounge, from both cutting-edge technology and good-old-fashioned manual labor. The 24-foot-long pavilion embodies the “duality of this very high-tech and sophisticated fabrication and this very low-tech material and assembly process,” said designer Lucio Santos. Over the next few days, the sculpture will be housed in a lounge and bar area outfitted with beanbag chairs and a carbon fiber bar that FXFOWLE also designed for the event.
In past years, architects such as David Adjaye, Marc Fornes & THEVERYMANY, and Rachely Rotem and Phu Hoang (now of Modu), have designed temporary pavilions for Miami Basel—introducing their work to a wider audience. This project is “a first” Santos said, but this might be changing for FXFOWLE, which is trying to branch out on the digital side of architecture.
A sliver of a house was completed in late October in the unlikeliest of locations, a leftover space between two buildings in the once Jewish ghetto of downtown Warsaw. At slightly under four feet across at its widest point—and a mere 28 inches at its narrowest—the Keret House, envisioned by Polish architect Jakub Szczensy of Centrala, stands firmly among the world’s slimmest buildings. The unconventional house was commissioned by Israeli writer Etgar Keret, whose mother survived Nazi occupied Warsaw on the very street of the Keret House.
A modern interpretation of a Christmas tree designed by French firm 1024 Architecture lighting Grand Place, the main public square in Brussels, Belgium has some locals seeing stars. Standing 82 feet tall, ABIES-Electronicus, as the modern tree installation is named, is billed as an eco-friendly equivalent of chopping down a living tree, but some politicians in the city say it represents a “war on Christmas” as the symbols of the holiday are abstracted away from tradition. The mayor dismissed the charges, noting this year’s holiday theme was about light, and noting that a nativity scene is set up nearby.