A City Without Cars: New York’s Recovery from Automobile Dominance

© Flickr CC User Healey McFabulous

Originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Playing in Traffic“, this article by Jack Hockenberry delves into the relationship between man and vehicle, illustrating the complex dynamic created in New York – a city with over 2.1 Million registered vehicles. Contrary to the car-centric schemes of New York’s infamous former Master Planner Robert Moses, Hockenberry argues that the city is the “negative space” while vehicles are obscured by our unconscious. 

It is a curiosity of modern urban life that the more cars crowd into cities, the more they become invisible. It’s a great feature that comes standard on any model these days. Unfortunately we can’t control it from the driver’s seat—however much we would like to wave our hands and watch through our windshields as gridlocked cars disappear, liberating us from traffic imprisonment. The invisibility I am speaking about only works if you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist. The number of motorized vehicles parked or driving at any given moment on the streets of New York City is astounding. An estimated 2.1 million are registered in the city, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Yet we never fully register them visually when we’re walking on the streets. The city is the negative space and that is how our eyes increasingly navigate urban landscapes. Everything around the cars and trucks gets knitted together by the eye and, even though the vehicles are present, we have gradually learned to ignore them unless we’re standing in the direct line of moving traffic.

Spatial Relations Take Centre Stage in MoMA’s Newest Architectural Exhibition

Herzog & de Meuron’s National Stadium, Beijing. 2008. Image © Iwan Baan

What influence do art and space have on the contemporary architectural design process? MoMA‘s most recent on architecture and design Conceptions of Space strives to answer this question. Themed under the umbrella of spatial relations, Curator Pedro Gadanho ruminates on the subject in a broad and philosophical sense. The exhibition delves into the topic using an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating research from French philosopher Michel Foucault on the subject of the expanded field. The exhibition aims to explore the relationship between the development of space and its deep-seated roots in the creative arts.

Fourteen Tower Proposals Unveiled for Controversial Brooklyn Bridge Park Development

S9 Architecture’s proposal. Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation via Architects Newspaper

New York City have released images of fourteen tower proposals as part of a controversial scheme to bring affordable housing to the 85 acre Brooklyn Bridge Park, originally designed by Michael van Valkenburgh and realised in 2004. The schemes, designed to be located on “two coveted development sites” on Pier 6, have been actively met with strong opposition from local community members. The park and surrounding area has seen a number of interesting recent regeneration proposals, from an 11,000ft² beach beneath the Brooklyn Bridge to a triangular pier proposed by BIG. Read on to see the proposals in detail, including those by AsymptotePelli Clarke Pelli, Davis Brody Bond, and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).

What Happened to Manhattan’s Lowline Project?

Courtesy of James Ramsey and Dan Barasch

In 2011, the Tribeca-based design duo of James Ramsey and Dan Barasch proposed a radical project to transform an abandoned subterranean trolley terminal in Manhattan‘s Lower East Side into an underground park filled with natural light and vegetation, eventually proving their design with a full size mock-up of their design for light-capturing fiber-optic tubes. Since then, they haven’t had nearly the same level of publicity – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still working. This article by The Architects’ Newspaper catches up with Ramsey and Barasch as they attempt to make their $50 million project a reality by 2018. Read the full article here.

Designs Revealed of the Nordstrom Tower, the World’s Tallest Residential Building

Unofficial Rendering of Nordstrom Tower via New York YIMBY. Image © Otie O’Daniel

The designs of the Nordstrom Tower in New York, the world’s tallest residential building at 1,775 feet tall, have been revealed to New York YIMBY by an anonymous tipster close to the project. The project at 225 West 57th Street by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture will be one foot short of 1 World Trade Center, and with its 1,451 high roof will finally reclaim the title of United States’ tallest roof from Chicago‘s Willis Tower.

More on the Nordstrom Tower after the break

Foster + Partners Unveils New Images of 425 Park Avenue

Courtesy of

Foster + Partners has released new images of 425 Park Avenue in New York, the project which turned heads in 2012 when videos of the four competing architects presenting their proposals were released to Youtube. The new images show a slightly altered design for the glazed entrance, where a mezzanine on either side replaces what was originally a double height space in the entire lobby. The new images also give a glimpse into the building’s interiors, where curtain glass walls make the most of spectacular views across Manhattan and Central Park. Read on after the break for all the images.

AA Studio Designs Redevelopment of Disused Dock Building

Courtesy of AA Studio

AA Studio have revealed their plans for the development of Brooklyn‘s iconic New York Dock Company building, transforming the 230,000 square foot structure into a mixed-use complex of six commercial spaces on the ground floor, 70 residential loft apartments, and a rooftop deck and gardens above.

The design aims to be as faithful to the original structure as possible, retaining the existing poured concrete columns and walls and exposing the high concrete ceilings. As one of the earliest structures to use the technology, the retention and celebration of these features is a key aspect of the building’s .

Read on after the break for more on the design

ArchDaily, Fast Company, CLOG, and More to Lecture at “Viral Voices III: Globalization” in NYC

The AIANY Global Dialogues Committee has dedicated this year to “(dis)Covered Identities.” The theme aims to explore ways by which cultures, cities, and voices define or refine their identities through a global exchange of ideas and conversations covering multiple topics, perspectives and trends of our time. “Viral Voices” will specifically explore the impact of social media, technology, and device culture on our design process and the way we practice. How do we shape a global conversation?

Greg Lindsay, contributing writer for Fast Company and co-author of Aerotropolis with David Basulto and David Assael of will come together for a lecture discussing the relationships between social media and the profession. Following the lecture, Robyn Peterson from Mashable, Jaime Derringer from Design Milk, Diana Jou from the The Wall Street Journal, Rafi Segal from MIT Architecture / Architect/Blogger, Mark Collins from The Morpholio Project | The GSAPP CloudLab, and Kyle May from Clog will join the speakers for a panel discussion. Visit http://aianyglobaldialogues.blogspot.com/ for further information.

Four Freedoms Park: Louis Kahn’s “Ancient Temple Precinct” in NYC

Aerial Rendering Prior to Completion. Image Courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC

Built four decades after Louis Kahn’s death, New York City’s Four Freedoms Park - the architect’s posthumous memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his policies – is becoming one of the architect’s most popular urban spaces. In a recent article for the GuardianOliver Wainwright investigates what he describes as perhaps Kahn’s ”best project”. Wainwright’s spatial description of the monument is interweaved by fragments of Kahn’s personal history, building up a picture of a space with “the feel of an ancient temple precinct” and “a finely nuanced landscape”. Although Gina Pollara, who ultimately realised the plans in 2005, argues that Four Freedoms Park ”stands as a memorial not only to FDR and the New Deal, but to Kahn himself”, can a posthumous project ever be considered as an architect’s best? Read the article in full here.

VIDEO: How The Living’s Mushroom Tower Was Built

YouTube Preview Image

Our friends at The Creators Project have shared with us an awesome video of the latest MoMA PS1 installation: Hy-Fi. Designed by , who have – in a fascinating move – recently been acquired by Autodesk, the tower’s many organic, biodegradable bricks are grown from a mushroom root in five days, with no energy required and no carbon emissions. In fact, the tower will be composted after PS1′s summer program is over. Learn more about this ingenious tower from the creator David Benjamin in the video above. And check out more images of the tower after the break.

Alcohol and Urbanism, a Case Study: Breaking New York City’s Open Container Law

Brighton Beach, . Image © Rennie Jones

If there is one thing to be learned from the unsuccessful prohibition period of the 1920s, it is that we, the people, will go to great lengths to exercise our right to drink alcohol in the company of others. Our determined forefathers could have simply enjoyed a small-batch bathtub brew in the comfort of their own homes, but instead they established a system of secret places to congregate and consume collectively, even under threat of federal prosecution. Though it is no longer a felony to consume alcohol, New Yorkers are still pushing the legal limits of drinking with others, challenging the open container laws that prohibit public drinking.

Drinking is a recreational activity. It is a means of stepping beyond the realm of normal perception and seeing things differently, in the metaphorical sense (though sometimes a literal one). It is an act of recreation and repose, the parallel of peering at passerby from a park bench. In City, as in most of the United States, it is illegal for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage in any public place, “except at a block party, feast or similar function for which a permit has been obtained.” Rarely do individuals have the resources for a block party or occasion for a full-scale public feast. More likely, they simply seek to crack open a can with neighbors on their front steps or with friends in Central Park, thereby enjoying a beverage in one of the country’s most vibrant and diverse public spheres for a mere penance. Unfortunately, that is not a legal option. Even the outdoor space we own is not completely open to our discretionary use: a resident cannot drink on his own stoop because it is “a place to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access.”

Disaster Relief Housing For The Next “Superstorm”

Exterior Of The Prefabricated Relief Units. Image Courtesy of GOTHAMIST / JAKE DOBKIN

With hurricanes Sandy and Katrina etched into recent memory, the need for post-disaster relief housing is now. New York City and Garrison Architects have developed a modular, prefabricated housing system to relieve displaced citizens during the next “superstorm.” At only 40′ by 100′ long, they can squeeze into the city’s smallest corners – all while having kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and storage spaces. The prototype is on display in  – but you can see the entire design at the A/N Blog.

2014 MASterworks Awards for Design Excellence in NYC

BRIC Arts Media House & Urban Glass/ LEESER Architecture. Image Courtesy of MAS

The Municipal Art Society (MAS) of announced their list of honorees for the 2014 MASterworks Awards last week.  These annual awards are dedicated to buildings, completed the year previously in the city of New York, that exemplify a high standard of design, and make a significant contribution to the city’s urban environment.  This year, all of these projects are located outside of the city center and cover a wide range of programming, from an African-American heritage museum, to a pencil factory addition.

Vin Cipolla, president of MAS said that “the 2014 MASterworks winners strike a great balance between groundbreaking design and historic preservation. We are thrilled that all the winners this year are in the outer boroughs, proving that design excellence is happening throughout the city.”  See the full list of winners here, or take a look at the five major category winners after the break!

Tadao Ando Designs Luxury Residential Building in New York

Rendering of 152 Elizabeth Street, developed by Sumaida + Khurana. Image © Tadao Ando

Tadao Ando has unveiled designs of his latest project, a 7 story luxury residential project in Manhattan. The building at 152 Elizabeth Street is Ando’s first in New York, and includes his signature design features of simple cubic forms, polished in-situ concrete and curtain glass.

More on 152 Elizabeth Street after the break

Prodigy Network Announces Winners of 17John Crowdsourcing Competition

Public Space Winner: HUB / Pierre Levesque (Roof Terrace). Image Courtesy of

Prodigy Network have selected the winners of the crowdsourcing design competitions for their 17John ‘Cotel’ in New York, including winners for the design of the public interior spaces and the private rooms. The Cotel concept is intended to meet the changing needs of the modern business traveler; providing living spaces somewhere between a long-term apartment and a short term hotel, but also flexible spaces that can be used for work and meetings.

The crowdsourced competitions were run via Prodigy Network’s Design Lab website, and judging was conducted with a mixture of public voting and jury selection. “The winners of the 17John competition were intuitive to the needs of travelers, creative in the interactive spaces and understood the function of extended stay residences,” said Prodigy Network Founder Rodrigo Nino. Read on after the break to see the winning proposals.

Frick Collection to Expand With New 6 Story Gallery

Yesterday the Frick Collection announced its plans for a 6-story extension to its gallery in New York, designed by Davis Brody Bond. This article by Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times outlines the details of the extension, as the Frick adds itself to the list of post-recession cultural building projects – a list which includes the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Miami‘s Pérez Art Museum. The article also outlines the challenges the Frick will have in expanding its landmarked 1914 building. Read the article in full here.

OMA & BIG among 6 Winners in Rebuild By Design Competition

The proposed Hoboken Waterfront. Image Courtesy of OMA

Yesterday, US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced OMA, BIG and four other teams as the winner of “Rebuild by Design“, a competition aimed at rebuilding areas affected by Hurricane Sandy focusing on resilience, sustainability and and livability.

In total, HUD have allocated $920 million to the six projects in New York, New Jersey and Long Island to enable the completion of this vision.

Read more about the winning schemes after the break

10 Fires That Changed Architecture Forever

After being destroyed by fire and laying in ruins for 60 years, the Reichstag became a symbol of the new democracy in the 1990s with Norman Foster’s renovation. Image © Flickr CC User Werner Kunz

With no casualties, last week’s fire at the Glasgow School of Art, which caused significant damage to parts of the building and gutted Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s canonical library room, will be remembered as a tragic event that robbed us of one of the best examples of Art Nouveau of its time. The intention of the Glasgow School of Art is to restore the building in the hope that in generations to come, the fire will be all but forgotten, a strategy which has been largely well received by the profession.

However, in the case of other fires things have not gone so smoothly: for millennia, fire has played a big role in determining the course of architectural history - by destroying precious artifacts, but often also by allowing something new to rise from the ashes. Read on after the break as we count down the top 10 fires that changed the course of architectural .