Walk Jane Jacobs Way

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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555 Hudson Street

555 Hudson Street (Courtesy naparstek.com)

In her 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jane Jacobs documented and analyzed the urban street life visible outside her home in Greenwich Village, revolutionizing the way people and planners think about cities, urban planning, and development. In honor of her legacy, the preservation group which she helped found, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), initiated a proposal for the street in front of her former home at 555 Hudson Street between Perry and West 11th Streets to be renamed “Jane Jacobs Way.” Read More

Eavesdrop NY 12

Eavesdroplet
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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The Four Seasons celebrates its 50th. Can you spot Phyllis? (Hint: Shes in Canada.) (Courtesy PaperMag.com)

The Four Seasons celebrates its 50th. Can you spot Phyllis? (Hint: She's in Canada.) (Courtesy PaperMag.com)

No Room at the In Place?
Eavesdrop was thrilled by a friend’s “plus one” at the June 11 gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building. We all know Mies and Philip’s icon, so we’ll skip the background and move on to name-dropping. The 800-person guest list was so diverse we concluded that it must have been gleaned from the reservations book. Read More

Fire On The Mountain

West
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
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It’s not every day that a scary fire burns within a few miles of a major cultural institution. Well in LA it sort of is, but that’s beside the point. A recent drive on the 405 Freeway revealed to us what all the news reports are saying: There is a biggish blaze burning just one hill over from the Getty Center on LA’s west side. The smoke is thick and brown, and on first look bulged out at the top, not unlike a mushroom cloud. Yikes. Helicopters are running regular passes over the thing, which is spreading in thin lines along the mountains facing the Getty, moving southward down the Sepulveda Pass. But fortunately it appears that firefighters have it under control (in California terms a 10-acre fire is only a mini conflagration), despite a forced evacuation of the Getty and nearby Mount St. Mary’s College. Stay tuned… We hope we don’t have to see if all that marble and granite will hold up to a good ol’ California disaster. And for now, the biggest concern of drivers on the 405 is the threat of imminent traffic. Now that’s scary.

Path Future

East, East Coast
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
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Warp speed. Next stop, the 21st Century! (Courtesy dandeluca, flickr)

Warp speed. Next stop, the 21st Century! (Courtesy dandeluca, flickr)

The Path Train has finally entered the 21st Century. Yesterday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a number of new additions that have rocketed the rail line out of its luddite solar system and into a whole new constellation of technology. The Path now boasts new, up-to-date rail cars, an upgraded website (be sure to watch the video), and… drum roll… a Twitter page! Next time you have to ride out to Jersey you can forget the hair gel and gold chains and instead grab your favorite PDA and put on those glow-in-the-dark Ray Bans. The future is now.

Inlet Assumed

East, East Coast
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
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The actual Bushwick Inlet on the day of the groundbreaking of Bushwick Inlet Park (Courtesy Victoria Monjo).

The actual Bushwick Inlet on the day of the groundbreaking of Bushwick Inlet Park. (Courtesy Victoria Monjo)

Yesterday, in a quiet ceremony attended by Mayor Bloomberg, the city broke ground on the first phase of Bushwick Inlet Park. Situated between North 9th and 10th streets along the Williamsburg waterfront, this initial stage of construction will comprise a synthetic turf athletic playing field. Turns out I was also on the Williamsburg waterfront at the time, on a tour of that neighborhood with photographer and AN Editorial Intern Victoria Monjo, capturing images for our forthcoming developers issue (see last year’s here). One of the images we captured was of Bushwick Inlet itself, which sits three or four blocks to the north of where the festivities were taking place. Eventually, park construction will extend all the way to this placid cove, where, according to the Parks Department’s initial plan, there will be a beach, planted terraces, and a performance garden, whatever that is. See the view from Kent Avenue after the jump. Read More

Everybody Wants a Bailout

East, East Coast
Monday, July 6, 2009
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Money pits.

Money pits: World Trade Center and Atlantic Yards.

With the news today, reported by The Observer, that Larry Silverstein has begun legal proceedings against the Port Authority to end the gridlock at Ground Zero, as well as the developments two weeks prior at Atlantic Yards, it seems obvious to us what’s going on here. Having witnessed the financial titans across town receive hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money, these developers now want theirs. Granted, so did Larry Flint and the porn industry, but the comparison bears consideration. Read More

Still Waiting

West
Monday, July 6, 2009
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Back on April 19 LA County Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe told the Los Angeles Times that she was investigating the January 16 firing of former LA County Planning Chief Bruce McClendon. McClendon  told the Times that he was probably fired for protecting his staff from the efforts of County Supervisors’ aides to influence zoning and development decisions in the county. Watanabe  told the Times that the results of that investigation would be released “in the coming weeks.” Well it’s now been almost three months and the results of that investigation are apparently still not available. So what’s the wait? A call to Watanabe’s office referred us to her web site, where we found no documents relating to the investigation. So until then, we’re just left to wonder what’s going on…

Prospecting for Landmarks

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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Last week, Prospect Height’s became the city’s newest landmark district. At 850-odd buildings, it is the largest district to be created since the Upper West Side Historic District was created in 1990. Clearly, a lot of work went into the three-year effort championed by locals and the Municipal Art Society and driven largely by the nearby Atlantic Yards project and the undue development it spurred on one of Brooklyn’s last unprotected brownstone neighborhoods. To highlight just how hard it is, but also what a triumph, MAS put together this thoughtful little video. Hopefully it will inspire you to do something civic minded as well on this patriotic weekend or beyond.

Eminent Decision at Coney?

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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How much longer will Coney Island lay in ruin? (TheMikeD/Flickr)

How much longer will Coney Island lay in ruin? (TheMikeD/Flickr)

When the City Planning Commission barely altered the city’s plans–plans that remain diametrically opposed to those of chief landholder Joe Sitt–we couldn’t help but wonder whether the Bloomberg administration would some how grossly undermine its plan, or let it fall on the sword at the City Council, at least part of which is firmly under the sway of Sitt. Thus far, the Bloomberg administration has yet to allow a single one of its nearly 100 rezoning fail at the council, often crafting 11th hour deals. Would, could things be different this time? Read More

The Bigger Apple?

East
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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(sabatoa/flickr)

(sabatoa/flickr)

Lately, it seems like there have been a lot of going away parties for friends leaving New York to escape the high cost of living or to find jobs elsewhere. But maybe that’s just me. Yesterday, the Census Bureau released figures from 2007-2008 showing a surge in new residents in New York, as well as in other cities. Read More

Filed Under: 

FOGA Cut by How Much?

West
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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A model of Gehry's new offices in El Segundo

We knew that Gehry Partners had trimmed its staff recently due to the recession. But according to a story in Architectural Record, the cuts are much worse than we thought. Tony Illia writes that the company has reduced its staff from 250 a year ago to 112 now. That’s more than a 50 percent chop! Many of the cuts are due to the losses of projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, and the delay of projects like Grand Avenue in Los Angeles. Still the firm is still set to move into roomier new digs in El Segundo (pictured above)  later this year. Should be.. spacious. Still the story says the firm is working on new projects like a Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi,  the Beekman tower in Lower Manhattan, and the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington.

Cooper-Hewitt Director-in-Waiting

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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Smithsonian Sec Wayne Clough, Design Award winner Scott Stowell, Cooper Hewitt trustee John Maeda, then deputy director Caroline Baumann, design award winner Charles Harrison, and chairman of the board Paul Herzan at Octobers gala for the Natinal design Awards.

Smithsonian Sec Wayne Clough, Design Award winner Scott Stowell, Cooper-Hewitt trustee John Maeda, then deputy director Caroline Baumann, design award winner Charles Harrison, and chairman of the board Paul Herzan at October's gala for the Natinal Design Awards.

Last November, Paul Thompson announced he was giving up directing the Cooper-Hewitt and heading back to London to take over at the Royal College of Art. Ever since then, the speculative interest has been anything but wild, and frankly tepid, about who was going to lead the nation’s only and reputedly arduously bureaucratic National Design Museum, the only New York museum in the Smithsonian’s crown. MoMA’s Paola Antonelli? Cincinnati’s Aaron Betsky? Design’s Everywoman Chee Pearlman? Why not, Mark Robbins? Those who have been watching were expecting an answer, after hearing for months about the interviews. Well, we can now wait some more as the museum has just announced that longtime deputy director Caroline Baumann, who joined the museum as development director in 2001, has been named acting director, effective July 13.

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