Construction Begins on the Vast Platform for New York’s Hudson Yards

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The construction of Hudson Yards, the biggest private real estate development in the history of the and currently the largest development in New York City since the Rockefeller Center, is gaining momentum. The vast infrastructural project in the heart of the city is set to enclose an active rail yard with an expansive platform, paving the way for 28 acres (and 17 million square feet) of commercial and residential space. Housing over 100 commercial units, 5000 residences, 14 acres of open public space, an enormous school and luxury hotel all on top of a working train depot, the project will directly connect to a new subway station and meet with the High Line.

BIG Selected to Design Mixed-Use Complex in San Francisco

Section Model. Image ©

In an effort to reestablish Mid-Market as an arts district in , developer Joy Ou has commissioned BIG to design a mixed-use arts, housing and hotel complex on 950 Market St. As the San Francisco Business Times reports, Group I is collaborating with the Thacher family and the nonprofit 950 Center for Art & Education to develop the project, which could potentially include a 250-room hotel, 316 residential units, a 75,000-square-foot arts complex, and 15,000 square feet of retail. The project will be BIG’s first in the Bay Area.

Sou Fujimoto Designs “Structural Waterfall” for Miami

Courtesy of Sou Fujimoto

The Design District, an 18 square-block neighborhood between ’s downtown and South Beach, has announced that the facade of its new mixed-use retail building will be designed by Sou Fujimoto. The two-floor, 17,000 square foot structure, which will feature “an elongated series of glass fins extending from the rooftop down to the open courtyard,” will create unique pedestrian arcades covered by a “structural waterfall.”

The Miami Design District, owned by Miami Design District Associates, aims to combine commerce with high-quality design, fashion, art and architecture, and has chosen Fujimoto on the merit of his past award-winning works, from House N in Tokyo, to the Musashino Art University & Library, to – most recently – his design of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London.

The World’s Largest Building Opens in China

Courtesy of The Telegraph

Although Dubai has held claim to the world’s tallest building for a few years, is now claiming to now have the worlds largest building. Measuring at 500 meters long, 400 meters wide and 100 meters high, the newly constructed Century Global Center in is reportedly capable of housing 20 Sydney Opera Houses in its 1.7 million square meter interior.

Updated Images Released for Mirvish+Gehry Toronto

© Gehry Partners LLP

David Mirvish, founder of Mirvish Productions, and Toronto-born starchitect Frank Gehry have released updated models of their massive, mixed-used project planned to transform ’s downtown arts and entertainment district. The Mirvish+Gehry vision will include a triad of residential towers perched on top a six-story, wooden podium inspired by the site’s industrial past and covered in a ‘cloud-like’ sculptural skin.

The towers, rising over 80 stories each, will house condos, a new OCADU campus, and a gallery space to house the Mirvish’s collection of modern art.

More renderings after the break…

Who Should Win the OMA vs. BIG Miami Showdown?

© BIG

The Miami Beach Convention Center, a giant box of a building constructed in 1957, is in desperate need of a makeover and two design teams have bravely accepted the challenge. Team 1 is dubbed South Beach ACE (Arts, Culture, Entertainment District) and is a collaboration between Rem Koolhaas‘s OMA firm, Tishman, UIA, MVVA, Raymond Jungles and TVS. Team 2 goes by the name of Miami Beach Square and includes BIG, West 8, Fentress, JPA and Portman CMC. Both proposals completely re-imagine 52 acres of prime beach real estate and cost over a billion dollars in public and private funds. So, who does it better? 

Vote for your favorite after the break…

Farrells to Masterplan £1bn Business District in London

© Farrells / Stanhope / ABP (Holding)

London-based practice Farrells will be teaming up with developer Stanhope and commercial developer ABP China (Holding) to regenerate London’s historic docklands into a thriving, mixed-use business district. The deal, which represents one of the first direct investment by a Chinese developer in London’s property market, will act as a platform for financial, high-tech and knowledge driven industries looking to establish their business in and European markets.

More on the Farrells’ masterplan after the break…

Parking Is Hell (But Designers Can Help)

1111 Lincoln Road. Image © Nelson Garrido/1111Lincoln Road Shot Reprinted with permission from MBeach1, LLLP

Most parking is free – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a high cost. A recent podcast from Freakonomics Radio (which you can listen to at the end of this article) examined parking in US cities, investigating the “cost of parking not paid for by drivers” – a cost paid not just by the government, but by the environment – due to congestion and pollution caused by people searching for kerbside parking. For example, in a 15 block area of Los Angeles the distance traveled by drivers looking for parking is equivalent to one trip across the per day.

One potential solution which they discuss is a San Francisco project called SF Park, which makes use of sensor technology to measure the demand for parking in certain areas of the city and adjust price according to demand. In theory, this would create a small number of empty spaces on each block and dramatically reduce the time that many drivers spend cruising for parking spaces.

Though the idea is certainly an intelligent approach to the problem of kerbside parking, unsurprisingly all this talk of supply, demand and pricing sounds very much like an economist’s answer to a problem. But what can designers do to help the situation?

Perhaps, from the designer’s point of view, the real problem with kerbside parking and surface lots is that they are always seen as a provision “coupled with” a building or area of the city. There have been a number of attempts by architects – some successful and some tragically flawed – to make parking spaces less of a rupture in a city’s fabric and more of a destination in themselves. Could these point to another way?

Read about 3 examples of parking’s past, and one of its potential future, after the break…

New York City Preserves Public Housing by Leasing Infill Land

NYCHA, Public Housing. Courtesy of Flickr User agentvladimir. Licensed via Creative Commons

For the past four decades, as cities faced financial pressures, high-rise public housing met its decline.  Cities throughout the country demolished public housing that was failing financially and socially, like Chicago’s Cabrini-Green Housing Project whose demolition was completed in 2011, to make way for mixed use developments that encouraged economic and social diversity by way of the HOPE VI Program. This strategy resulted in the uprooting and relocation of former residents who faced uncertainty throughout the process.

The City Housing Authority (NYCHA) stands out among housing authorities in the United States due to its size – 179,000 units in 2,600 buildings across the city – and the fact that the buildings are relatively well maintained.  NYCHA has avoided resorting to demolitions to deal with its issues, instead resorting to special police services that costs NYCHA a purported $70 million a year.  Over the past decade NYCHA has been underfunded by approximately $750 million causing backlogs in necessary repairs.

To address the mounting costs of public housing, ’s Mayor Bloomberg has proposed an infill strategy that would attract developers onto NYCHA land and create a new layer of commercial space and residential units in public housing developments.  The goal over the next five years is to develop methods of preservation for the housing development and promote mixed-use and mixed-income developments to generate income for NYCHA.

More on the plan after the break.

City Council Approves Redevelopment of NYC’s Historic Pier 57

Courtesy of Young Woo & Associates

’s City Council have unanimously backed a proposed plan to restore and redevelop the aging giant that is Pier 57. Built in 1952, the 300,000 square foot pier was hailed by Popular Mechanics as a ‘SuperPier’ for its vast size and unconventional construction, as most of the pier’s weight is supported by ‘floating’ air-filled concrete cassions. The pier was originally used as a bus depot by the New York City Transit Authority, however it has been lying vacant since 2003. The latest decision brings a concrete end to years of speculation as to what the fate of the pier would be.

Read more about the proposal after the break…

City Point / COOKFOX

© COOKFOX

City Point is a proposed 1.8 million square foot, multi-phase, designed by New York-based practice COOKFOX for the center of the rapidly transforming Downtown . The project will create an iconic presence by acting as a cornerstone for the skyline and establishing a critical mass of new growth. The three distinct phases of City Point encompass retail space, affordable and market-rate housing, office space and a market hall, which together create a strong base for growth and integration in the core of . City Point will foster a multi-use urban environment, connect subway commuters with green spaces, and create a vibrant heart in the downtown area.

More about City Point after the break…

Fountainhead Quad City: East Moline’s Future Development Along the Mississippi River

Aerial View, Fountainhead Quad Cities; Developer J. Paul Beitler of Beitler Real Estate Services

, , will soon have an all new, highly developed waterfront mixed use area that will include park space, retail and commercial areas and luxury apartments along its Mississippi River front.  The $150 million development will be a host to 300 apartment units, senior citizen housing, condominiums, storage facilities, a sports recreational center, medical facilities along with a variety of amenities that includes neighborhood retail shops, food courts, banks, pharmacies and restaurants, hotels and a central park with a band shell.  At over 3.5 million square feet, Fountainhead Quad Cities - developed by Beitler Real Estate Services with James DeStefano of LVD Architecture as the master planner – will bring new residents to the area while attracting the thousands of motorists that pass through the region today.

More after the break.

The Beam / MVRDV and de Alzua+

Courtesy of MVRDV

Development corporation ADIM Nord with MVRDV and de Alzua+ have been announced the winners of an competition in the French town of Villeneuve d’Ascq. Dubbed ‘The Beam’, the winning proposal will transform a cluster of disused lots and a former petrol station into a dense, pedestrianized haven, whose 15,000 square meters of offices, retail space and lodging will hover over the adjacent motorway as a icon of a larger urban regeneration effort for the town center.

More information on The Beam after the break…

Foster + Partners Approved for Mixed-Use Development on London’s Albert Embankment

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners have received the green light from the Lambeth Council for three towers on the 20-21 Albert Embankment in . Ranging from 15 to 27 stories, the curved steel and glass structures will provide the area with 253 apartments, including affordable homes for senior living, along with offices, restaurants and a residents’ bar, gym, pool and spa.

Grant Brooker, Senior Partner at Foster + Partners: “We are absolutely delighted that 20-21 Albert Embankment has received planning permission – working alongside our clients at St. James and with great support from Lambeth and the GLA, we hope to transform this important and highly visible site into a vibrant riverside community that sets a benchmark for the regeneration of this part of the river.”

More after the break…

Santa Monica Shortlists Three Teams for Mixed-Use Development

Project Site via BING and Architects’ Newspaper

Gehry’s chiseled, 244 foot tower is not the only mixed-use proposal currently being considered by the city of , as officials have selected three international teams led by prominent architects to submit proposals for a “significant” and “signature” development on a 2.5 acre site downtown. Located on Arizona Avenue between 4th and 5th streets, the parcel is currently occupied by a parking lot and two banks. Although the city did not specify a size constraint, the proposed designs will be expected to fit within the surrounding context and include an appropriate mix of of retail, office, hotel and residential space.

The following teams have been asked to submit proposals in May:

Gehry Designs Mixed-Use Tower for Downtown Santa Monica

© Gehry Partners

Developers M. David Paul Associates and the Worthe Real Estate Group have commissioned Frank Gehry to design a mixed-use hotel and residential tower in his hometown of Santa Monica, . The 22-story “Ocean Avenue Project” aims to stimulate the coastal city’s economy with street-level restaurant and retail space below a 125-room hotel and 22-unit condominium tower topped with a rooftop observation deck. As for accommodating the car-centric lifestyle of the West Coast, resident and visitor parking will be available in a three-story subterranean garage beneath the tower. In addition, the developers plan to integrate a 36,000 square foot museum campus that will add a perk to the development just North of its two-acre site.

Although this project looks promising, the 244-foot, Gehry-esque tower is currently pending approval from the City. A vote by the end of March will decide its fate.

More images of the “Ocean Avenue Project” after the break…

Where Does Zoning Fit Into Our Future City Planning?

NYC.GOV – Department of Planning

“Let’s dump the word “zoning,” as in zoning ordinances that govern how land is developed and how buildings often are designed. Land-use regulation is still needed, but zoning increasingly has become a conceptually inappropriate term, an obsolete characterization of how we plan and shape growth.” - Roger K. Lewis 

Zoning, a concept just over a century old, is already becoming an outdated system by which the government regulates development and growth.  Exceptions and loopholes within current zoning legislation prove that is pushing a zoning transformation that reflects the current and future goals and needs of city building.  To determine how zoning and needs to evolve we must first assess the intentions of future city building.  

Planners, architects, legislators and community activists have already begun establishing guidelines and ordinances that approach the goals of sustainability and livability.  For example, the AIA has established Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design and has made a commitment to the Decade of Design: Global Solutions Challenge. New York City has come up with Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design and its Zone Green initiative in regards to updating its zoning resolution. In addition, Philadelphia has augmented its zoning to include urban farms and community gardens and it is safe to assume that many other cities will follow this precedent.  

So what is it about current zoning codes that makes it so outdated?  Follow us after the break for more.

Video: Izu Book Cafe / Atelier Bow-Wow

Two Izu retirees hired architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima to design them a home equipped with a neighborhood bookshop and cafe. The Japanese practice stepped up to the challenge and constructed an elegant, curved structure whose white walls and wooden ceiling hug the hundred degree undulating street on which its located and embraces the wooded forest it backs to. The home – which features two bedrooms, a kitchen, cafe, bookshop and atelier – is accessed beneath a bridged part of the structure and organized as a sequence. Take a tour through this interesting space with this short made by JA+U Magazine.