Ray LaHood to Continue as Transportation Secretarty.  Ray LaHood to Continue as Transportation Secretarty Ray LaHood will stay on as U.S. Secretary of Transportation for President Obama’s second term, a reversal from statements he made last year. Bloomberg is reporting that LaHood said he would be “sticking around for a while” during an inauguration ball last night, but he and a DOT spokesperson declined to elaborate or say how long he might remain with the administration. LaHood has been a strong proponent of high speed rail, among other forward-thinking transportation concepts gaining traction in cities across the country. He said recently at Chicago’s Urban Forum, “High-speed rail is coming to America. There’s no stopping it. We are not going back.”

 

Manhattan West’s Railyard-Spanning Platform Breaks Ground

East
Monday, January 21, 2013
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Manhattan West. (Courtesy Brookfield)

Manhattan West. (Courtesy Brookfield)

Manhattan’s far west side is about to become one of the busiest construction sites in the country. Last Tuesday morning, officials gathered at the corner of 9th Avenue and West 33rd Street to celebrate the second major groundbreaking in the Hudson Yards District, Brookfield Properties’ trio of new SOM-designed towers comprising the Manhattan West development to be built over a large rail yard serving Penn Station. The $4.5 billion project’s first phase, construction of the north portion of the railroad-spanning platform that will eventually support development, is now underway, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the second half of the platform could be underway in coming months. Excavation has been ongoing since the fall of 2012.

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.”

To Rebuild or Relocate? Cuomo Offers Options.  Houses damaged by Hurricane Sandy (Courtesy of David Sundberg) Over the last few months, there’s been much talk about rebuilding smarter after Hurricane Sandy to prepare for the next super storm. But one alternative has gone under the radar until today’s State of the State Address when New York Governor Cuomo proposed the Recreate NY-Home Buyout Program that would provide funds to buy out homeowners who wish to sell their properties and relocate elsewhere. Capital New York reported that a resident estimated that 60 percent of his Fox Beach community in Staten Island wants a buyout, and through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, that just might be possible. But for a buyout to happen, it requires a several-step process that would need the “Bloomberg administration to petition the state for grant money.” If Cuomo follows through on his proposal, residents of Fox Beach and other waterfront communities who want to relocate might get their wish. (Photo: David Sundberg/ESTO)

 

Making Room: New York Micro-Apartments on Display Beginning January 23

East
Monday, January 7, 2013
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Rendering of the "Making Room" exhibition. (Courtesy Resource Furniture)

Rendering of the “Making Room” exhibition. (Courtesy Resource Furniture)

Think you could live in just 325 square feet? While Manhattan is already famous for its cramped quarters, micro-apartments are poised to take space efficiency to the next level with Murphy beds lurking behind sofas and roll-away walls concealing closets. You’ll have a chance to test drive one of the tiny abodes at a new exhibition, Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, organized by the Museum of the City of New York and the Citizens Housing & Planning Council.

continue reading after the jump.

New York City Looks to Extend East River Ferry Service Through 2019

East
Friday, December 28, 2012
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East River Ferry service. (Branden Klayko / AN)

East River Ferry service. (Branden Klayko / AN)

After launching a year-and-a-half ago, New York City’s East River Ferry service, has wildly surpassed ridership estimates and Mayor Bloomberg is looking to extend the initial three-year trial period to 2019. So far, more than 1.6 million passengers have paid the $4 fare (or $5 if you take your bike) to ride on the fleet of 149-passenger and 399-passenger boats along the East River between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Governors Island (the NYC Economic Development Corporation predicted that 1.3 million would ride the service in its entire three-year pilot). The ferry pilot program was launched to promote economic development along the city’s waterfront, and has been seen as a boon to such waterfront projects as the Williamsburg Edge. The city has issued an RFP for a future ferry operator to take over once the current contract with BillyBey Ferry Company expires in 2014.

Playing House: Amanda Burden Smitten With Tiny Apartments

East, Eavesdroplet
Friday, December 21, 2012
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(Courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office)

Amanda Burden stands in a full-scale floor plan of a Micro Apartment with HPD Deputy Wambua and Mayor Bloomberg. (Courtesy of NYC Mayor’s Office)

Do radically small apartments automatically beget a transient population and all that entails? That’s the fear of residents in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, the pilot site for a new building that will be 75 percent micro-units, or apartments that total about 300 square feet each. Community Board 6 finds it hard to imagine that anyone other than students or elves would be game, but City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden is charmed by the diminutive plans, stating at a recent presentation, “I think you’ll all agree that the apartment behind me is some place that one and two [person] households would be delighted to live in.”

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Forest City Breaks Ground at Atlantic Yards’ B2 Tower, Shows Off Modular Design

East
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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The B2 Tower sits next to Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards. (Courtesy SHoP)

The B2 Tower sits next to Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards. (Courtesy SHoP)

At Tuesday’s groundbreaking of B2, the first 32-story residential tower to be built at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New Yorkers got a sneak peek at how the world’s tallest modular building will be constructed. Just beyond the podium stood what officials call the “chassis,” a steel framed box that makes up an essential structural element of the building. “You don’t need to compromise on design when it comes to modular,” said Developer Bruce Ratner.

Continue reading after the jump.

Three Piers Down And Three To Go For Brooklyn Bridge Park

East
Thursday, December 13, 2012
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Mayor Bloomberg at the opening of Pier 5 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Nicole Anderson / AN)

Mayor Bloomberg at the opening of Pier 5 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Nicole Anderson / AN)

It has been a busy few weeks at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Last week, AN got a preview of the Squibb Pedestrian Bridge, which will be completed before the end of the year, and today, Mayor Bloomberg announced the opening of the new sports fields on Pier 5 and the nearby Picnic Peninsula, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Regina Myer, the President of Brooklyn Bridge Park, told the crowd that they have been advocating for these recreation fields since the mid-1980s, which will now be used for a variety of field sports including soccer, lacrosse, rugby, flag football, and cricket.

This $26 million project spans 5-acres and offers turf fields supported by shock pad and organic infill made of sand and coconut fibers, shade sails on the northern and southern sides of the pier, and lighting for evening games. In addition to field recreation, there will be an area reserved for fishing with bait and preparation tables provided and a 30-foot promenade on the periphery of the field.

Continue reading after the jump.

MAS Proposes 17 Midtown East Landmarks to Avoid “Out With The Old, In With The New”

East
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
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Yale Club.

Yale Club. (Courtesy MAS)

In response to the New York City Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone Midtown East, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) has asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to give landmark status to 17 buildings in the 78-block area concentrated around Grand Central Terminal. It is a last ditch effort to preserve several prominent structures—with styles ranging Beaux Arts and Renaissance Revival to Neo-Gothic and Mid-Century Modern—before Midtown gets the green light to raze old structures and erect new (and taller) buildings that provide modern features for tenants who “want open space plans” wrote the DCP in its proposal. The New York Times described the re-zoning as part of the Bloomberg administration’s vision to re-vamp midtown and turn it into a more competitive business district.

Some notable buildings that have made MAS’ list include the New York Health & Racquet Club in Gothic Revival Style, the Graybar Building with Art Deco accents, the Neo-Gothic Swedish Seamen’s Church, and the Yale Club noted for its neo-classical façade.

Check the full list after the jump.

Boston’s City Hall Hits The Road

East
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
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Boston's City Hall To Go Truck. (Courtesy Isabel Leon/City of Boston via WBUR)

Boston’s City Hall To Go Truck. (Courtesy Isabel Leon/City of Boston via WBUR)

What’s on today’s lunch menu? Well for Boston residents it may be a library card, a dog license, or even registration to vote. With Boston’s food-truck-inspired “City Hall To Go” municipal services are no longer bound to one location. A menu of seasonal services are now rolling to locations throughout the city to serve residents less able to travel to the actual city hall or navigate their website. Citizens can also report complaints at the truck.

Continue reading after the jump.

New York City Asks Designers to Reinvent the Payphone

East
Monday, December 10, 2012
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A mock-up of City 24/7 new NYC phone booth. (Courtesy NYC Department of Telecommunications)

A mock-up of City 24/7 new NYC phone booth. (Courtesy NYC Department of Telecommunications)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

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