Brooklyn’s grandest public space at the top of Prospect Park has always been a work in progress. Grand Army Plaza, an oval-shaped public space composed of monuments ringed by an inner and an outer roadway, was built as the main entrance to the park in 1866, serving as a buffer between nature and city and happened to be the confluence of some of Brooklyn’s busiest avenues. Over the years, a monumental archway was added, fountains came and went, and eventually the roads were widened until the lush plaza was effectively cut off from the surrounding Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. Last week, however, after months of construction to tame the out-of-control roadways, a group of civic leaders and officials gathered in what was once a busy street to celebrate the newly reclaimed plaza.
Last week, The New York World, a website produced by Columbia’s Journalism School, along with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show completed a crowd-sourced survey of New York City’s privately owned public spaces (POPS). The World consulted Jerold Kayden’s 2000 tome, Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, as a guide to gauge whether the private entities were keeping the public parks truly public and user-friendly. Kayden, who is co-chairing tomorrow’s Zoning the City conference with Commissioner Amanda Burden, has been the go-to expert on subject since Occupy Wall Streeters took over the world’s most famous POPS, Zuccotti Park. All told, nearly 150 sites out of 391 around New York City were visited and commented on for the survey.
Still riding the wave of publicity following her recent MacArthur genius grant win, Jeanne Gang gets the full star treatment from Chicago’s public TV station WTTW. This documentary, “Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit,” is all praise. Blair Kamin and Stanley Tigerman figure as her head cheerleaders. It would have been nice to have someone puncture the bubble a bit, possibly interrogating Gang about architect’s limits, rather than merely presenting the discipline (and Gang as one of its leading lights) as a environmental and societal savior. The documentary does show some engaging glimpses of Studio Gang’s working methods and office style, so there’s plenty to enjoy, even for the (mild) skeptics.
Noting the rivalry between his new home, Los Angeles, and New York while visiting the Big Apple last week, Conan O’Brien launched a new segment , the Fight to the Death Building Battle to settle the cities’ differences once and for all. Curbed spotted these epic architectural fights posted online at Team Coco’s blog, and we couldn’t help but share on this Friday afternoon, 11/11/11. While in New York, Conan pitted the Empire State Building (“weighing in at 365,000 tons of limestone”) against LA’s Scientology Book Store (“the best building they could come up with.”) Of course, the Empire State soundly won. Back in LA, he revoked his New York show as “playing to the New York crowd,” and held another match between the Empire and a trio of LA buildings: the Capitol Records Building, a Lady Foot Locker from a Venice Boulevard strip mall, and later Randy’s Donuts. Remember, whatever side you choose, as Conan pointed out, “You’re booing a building.”
The 19th annual CANstruction NYC, a massive canned food drive in the form of an exhibit and design competition, is now on display at World Financial Center at 220 Vesey Street. Over 100,000 cans of food have been configured into 26 sculptures erected overnight (literally) by teams of architects, engineers, and students mentored by designers and architects. This year’s designs ranged from video games, to city skylines, to bowling, and even three different pairs of shoes. The fanciful display will stand proud until November 21st when it will be toppled and donated to City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization, in order to feed thousands of hungry New Yorkers. The exhibition is open daily in the Winter Garden from 10:00am through 6:00pm.
Thursday was a great night for New York showroom events. AN took advantage of the beautiful fall weather and made the rounds. Here are some highlights:
Moroso Traveling Show
Moroso celebrated the NYC launch of its traveling show commemorating 60 years of great furniture-making history. Designed by Rockwell Group, the pop-up exhibition will tour New York through November 26, then continue on to Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, and Vancouver. The show features 25 pieces from the Moroso oeuvre, many positioned on raw wood displays next to a timeline illustrated with images and drawings from the company’s archives.
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By our watch here at The Architect’s Newspaper HQ, it’s 11:11:11 a.m. on 11/11/11. We’re pretty excited that the date and time looks a little like a miniature Manhattan skyline! Continuing on our theme of absurdity (previously, architectural models), check out this delightful video put together by the New York-based Koren Ensemble to commemorate this special day. Some say so many 11′s is certainly a lucky event, so be sure to make a wish when the clock strikes 11:11 the second time around.
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A 56-foot-long aluminum sculpture leaps into Sacramento’s new airport.
Whether they need a reminder that they’re late (for a very important gate!) or welcome a distraction from the hassle of modern travel, visitors to Sacramento’s International Airport will not miss Denver-based artist Lawrence Argent’s Leap sculpture. Completed last month in the new Corgan Associates-designed Terminal B, the 56-foot-long red rabbit is suspended mid-jump in the building’s three-story central atrium. An oversize “vortical suitcase” placed in the baggage claim below completes the piece. Argent worked with California-based Kreysler & Associates, a specialist in the design, engineering, and fabrication of large-scale sculptural and architectural objects, to build his vision while meeting the airport’s safety requirements.
Continue reading after the jump.
German photographer Frank Kunert is out to challenge your sense of perception and expectation with his meticulously crafted and hilariously absurd miniature scenes. His series “Photographs of Small Worlds” presents glimpses into mundane vignettes gone awry, where doors don’t meet balconies, diving boards lead to giant toilets, or an office is eerily underwater. Each model takes weeks—and sometimes months—to build, and Kunert is a perfectionist who won’t stop until every detail is just right. The end result is well worth the wait.
There was plenty of pomp for the opening of the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s BLDG 92. For the first time in 210 years, the Yard welcomed the public into its gates. The $25.6 million project includes the renovation of a building by U.S. Capitol architect Thomas U. Walter and the addition of new 24,000-square-foot community and exhibition space. D.I.R.T. Studio signed on as landscape architect. Beyer Blinder Belle and workshop/adp dreamed up a perforated sunscreen which utilizes highly pixelated imagery of an historic photograph, meshing new technology with nostalgic imagery.