When is a Center really a center? Well first of all it’s got to have a center, don’t you think? The Betances Community Center has a splendid gym holding strong in the middle of the plan, full of warm, white light modulated by the south-facing glass block wall and monitor side walls of Kalwall. Originally intended to house a boxing ring and bright orange bleacher seating, the space is now multi-purpose with the bleachers accordioned to the walls; the famous boxing program moved elsewhere. Even without the ring, the architecture packs a wallop of clarity, modesty, attention to detail, and programmatic resolution.
Yesterday, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court denied a request by the city and Vornado seeking to dismiss Justice Lucy Billings’ ruling which allied a protected natural resource with an urban landmark. In ruling that the Citizens Emergency Committee to Protect Preservation (CECPP) and Pratt professor Eric Allison had legal standing for their petition, Billings cited Save the Pine Bush v. Common Council City of Albany, a case addressing the protection of a forest Upstate under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. In deciding against the appeal, the court effectively said that they won’t hear the Manufacturers Hanover case in piecemeal. The case returns to Justice Billings’ courtroom next Wednesday where CECPP is asking for everything from reams of email correspondence between Landmarks and Vornado, to the new tenant’s lease and rental terms.
There’s a certain dorky pleasure in the reading lists of teams vying for design competitions. The big names paired with the dependable locals. The firms with very busy dance cards that everyone seems to want. The odd random people with no discernible reason to be involved. The 52 teams that responded to the Navy Pier RFQ have all those in spades. Zaha! Foster + Partners, BIG, OMA! Every prominent Chicago architect! Hoerr Schaupt Landscape Architects on no less than four teams! We’ll be watching to see who makes the next round. Amusement aside, it’s great to see so many prominent local and international designers vying to improve the iconic pier.
Just after 4:00p.m. Sunday afternoon, cryptic messages visible for miles around Manhattan were written in the sky, spelling out, among other things, “Last Chance.” Out of context to millions in the streets below, the messages were slightly unnerving and deliberately vague. Curious speculation as each giant letter was traced into the sky led many to wonder what the message actually meant: An ad? A terrorist’s warning? A persistent marriage proposal? It turns out the display was part of an art project by Kim Beck called The Sky Is the Limit/NYC and sponsored by the Friends of the High Line.
PHOTOGRAPHY OF RICHARD BARNES
The Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury
7500 N Glenoaks Blvd.
Through October 22
In Unnatural Spaces, co-curators Emily Bills and Eve Schillo present the featured work of photographer Richard Barnes at the Julius Shulman Institute at the Woodbury University School of Architecture. Showcasing highlighted works from his Unabomber (1999) and Animal Logic (2009) series, the exhibit suggests that architecture is both a willing participant in, and also an unknowing target of, presentation. The show encompasses commissioned works of Barnes ranging globally from Los Angeles to Kazakhstan, and new work such as “Revel Casino Construction,” from Atlantic City (above). Barnes is a Rome Prize recipient for photography and was featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial for his work documenting the cabin of Ted Kaczyinski. The venue, the Julius Shulman Institute, was established as a cultural destination dedicated to the promotion of photography and understanding the built environment.
Steve Jobs would have been proud. So would Richard Neutra. The Neutra VDL House in Silver Lake now has its own iPad App. Developed by Sarah Lorenzen and David Hartwell, the app includes stunning new pictures of the iconic modernist house, tons of information about Neutra, an annotated historic timeline of the home, guided virtual tours, and information about the house’s design, construction, and materiality. We especially love the 3d models, plans, and sections, which can be rotated on axis, giving you a new understanding of the house and providing some classic iPad fun.
It’s been a while since we did the once around the super block that is the World Trade Center site. We held off on WTC Updates until the Tenth Anniversary news fest subsided. Now that all eyes are on the Zuccotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, we figured it’d be a good time to take another walkabout. From an urban planning standpoint, the Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) status of Zuccotti Park has stirred up quite a bit of interest.
As the 9/11 Memorial opened only last month—and remains a highly controlled space—the only way to navigate around the site is to walk through a series of interior and exterior POPS. Right now Occupy Wall Street’s takeover of the Brookfield-owned park is getting the lion’s share of attention, but elsewhere there are little known gatherings in other POPS around Lower Manhattan that happen every day.