Gowanus: Sunk or Saved?

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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The shores of the Gowanus are, for better or worse, likely to remain undeveloped for years to come (sahocevar/Flickr)

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

A Castle Near the Sand

East
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
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The Shore Theater was calendared today, the first step in the landmarks process. (vanz/Flickr)

With snowpocalypse about to descend on the city, summer feels a long way away. But there is cause for sun-soaked celebration today, as the Landmarks Preservation commission calendared the Shore Theater, the first step in the public review process to make the building an official city landmark. The calendaring is actually the first fruits to bear from the Bloomberg administration’s 13th hour deal with developer Joe Sitt. It will be months before amusements return to a saved Coney Island, but a major negotiating point for the community—and the amusement community in particular—was more landmarks in Coney to protect the area’s historic buildings from the flood of development the city’s rezoning hopes to create. So far, there are no other buildings in the docket besides the 1920s theater-and-hotel building, though, which could be cause for concern—especially after the area’s oldest building recently suffered water damage. Still, after decades of deterioration, any progress is good. In other landmarks news… Read More

BigUps for BigApps

East, East Coast
Thursday, February 4, 2010
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(Courtesy NYC.gov)

Last fall, the Bloomberg administration launched NYC BigApps, a competition to design web and phone apps using a massive cache of city data. Dozens of developers entered, including the designer of this very blog, and we’re to report that the mayor announced tonight that her team’s Big Apple Ed came in third place overall. Granted a site all about school data may not be that useful to our readers—unless you’ve got kids in the city school system, of course—but the BigApps site is worth checking out because there are plenty of cool apps dealing with buildings, parks, and even one that lets you build a “walkability shed,” determining how walkable various neighborhoods in the city are based on individual criteria. Other personal favorites include a landmarks app, a bike rack app, and one called BldgBeat. Any strike your fancy?

New and Not So New

East, East Coast
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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Bloomberg (left) and Walder check out a new 7-Train station. Hopefully it won't leak like recent MTA projects. (Courtesy Office of the Mayor)

On a day when the MTA announced that its budget shortfall may now surpass $400 million as last year’s payroll tax is bringing in even less revenue than expected, Mayor Michael Bloomberg began his day underground. He and MTA chief Jay Walder were touring a new station underway at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, the terminus of the underway 7-Train extension. At least during boom times, the project was seen as a boon to residential development on the Far West Side. Now, with construction limited and the MTA in desperate need of money, transit advocates like the Straphanger’s Campaign and the City Council continue to call for tapping capital funds—namely stimulus set-asides—to help cover the gap. And if two recent projects are any indication, maybe that’s not a bad idea. Read More

Ground Zip, Zero, Zilch

East, East Coast
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
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A photo of the World Trade Center site from January 12 shows progress on the memorial (center), 1 WTC (top left) and Tower 4 (bottom right) but not Tower 2 or Tower 3 (top right). (WTCProgress/Flickr)

That’s how much the Port Authority owes developer Larry Silverstein, after an arbitration panel’s ruling yesterday, which Silverstein Properties announced in a press release today. The developer had been seeking monetary damages and reduced rents because, Silverstein argued, the PA had delayed in turning over the sites of Tower 2 and Tower 3, also known as 200 and 175 Greenwich, designed, respectively, by Norman Foster and Richard Rogers. The arbitrators, who Silverstein tapped in July, found this not to be the case, though it is not entirely clear why as their decision has not been publicly released. Read More

Robert Moses, Atlantic Yards & Air Pollution

East
Thursday, January 14, 2010
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Pollution predominates—not surprisingly—in heavily trafficked areas, yet another legacy of Robert Moses. (Courtesy Office of the Mayor)

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

This Stinks! But for How Long?

East, East Coast
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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Newtown Creek spills into the East River and Manhattan. (Promaine/Flickr)

UPDATE:The mayor called. See more below.

It should come as no surprise that a local government supported the Superfund designation of one of its most polluted waterways. Unless that government happens to be the Bloomberg administration, which has vehemently opposed “blighting” the Gowanus Canal and environs by naming the polluted Brooklyn waterway a Superfund site. That opposition remains firmly in place. What is surprising, though, as the Brooklyn Paper reported Friday, is that the administration, in testimony submitted to the EPA on December 23, came out in favor of designating Newtown Creek, a place in constant competition with the Gowanus for most reviled in the borough. The big difference, it would appear, is that the Gowanus’ northerly sibling has but award-winning poop processors lining its banks, and not the prospect of condos. Though that prospect could be fading fast. Read More

Stimulus Potholes

East Coast, National
Monday, January 11, 2010
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Men at work. Or not... (Courtesy Fremont.gov)

In a blistering report published today, the AP contends that the roughly $20 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, né the Stimulus, dedicated to road and infrastructure spending did nothing to help create jobs over the past 10 months. The news is particularly damning because the House has proposed another $28 billion in road work in its latest jobs package, and in light of this news, those critical infrastructure projects—which are easily pegged as pork to begin will—could become the next health care debate. To wit: Read More

New (Yorker) Urbanism

East, East Coast
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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(Courtesy newyorker.com)

Rarely are New Yorker cartoons anything more than esoteric—which is why we love them, right?—but this one, from last week’s issue, struck a particular chord. We still can’t decide if its more Duany or Grimshaw. We do hope Mayor Bloomberg saw it, though, as it could provide an example for the happy future development of Willets Point or the Gowanus Canal, both of which are fighting for their futures as industrial areas. And then, while looking this cartoon up, we stumbled across another good one, which you can find after the jump. If we had a penny for every time we heard about a contractor doing this… Read More

Break On Through

East
Monday, December 21, 2009
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The good news continues for mass transit, as the MTA announced today that the first phase of construction on the extension of the 7 Train has been completed, stretching from 26th to 34th steets, where trains will be housed as they shuttle back-and-forth between the West Side and Flushing, Queens. The Bloomberg administration, which is paying for the $2.1 billion project, put together this nice video to help demonstrate the subterranean, and thus often invisible, work. It’s the kind of stuff New York mag is calling in its annual roundup a reason to love the city: our perseverance on such mighty projects, past falterings be damned. And yet, these are exactly the kinds of capital expenditures some transit advocates are hoping to cut into to stave off the MTA’s budget crunch. Will the next stop be to stop?

How Green Is It?

East, East Coast
Monday, December 7, 2009
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Maybe theyre afraid City Hall will fail an energy audit.

Maybe they're afraid City Hall will fail an energy audit.

Coming out of City Hall today, we stumbled upon a press conference reaffirming the groundbreaking green-ness of the new green buildings measures first unveiled on Earth Day and due to pass the council this week. Measures that include a new energy code and more efficient lighting, energy benchmarking and training for building operators. But one measure no longer included, according to a rather damning story in the Times this weekend, is mandatory decennial energy audits for commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet, which would be required to replace inefficient building systems if they are not up to current standards. The main culprit, as with many things these days, is the recession: Read More

Free Design Help

East, East Coast
Thursday, November 12, 2009
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Theres hope on the horizon for non-profits in need of design work (pmarella/Flickr)

There's hope on the horizon for non-profits in need of design work (pmarella/Flickr)

Design has a strong history of pro bono work, from affordable housing to electioneering, and during these tough times, a helping hand can be especially appreciated. With that in mind, more than a dozen design firms and affiliates from New York are offering their services to those in the community in need as part of a new program called DesigNYC. With the goal of creating “a better New York by design,” the group is currently seeking applicants by the end of the month for help solving a design challenge. Read More

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