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Jan Gehl: "Civic Culture Needs Cultivating and Curating"

Danish architect and urban planning expert Jan Gehl has weighed in on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's threat to remove Times Square as a"kneejerk reaction" to aggressive panhandling. Recounting beloved square's evolution, Gehl argues that public spaces need more than just to exist: "Civic culture needs cultivating and curating... Public spaces like Times Square are the great equalizer in cities: Improvements in the public realm benefit everyone. The city should view the challenge of Times Square’s pedestrian plaza not as a reason for retreat, but as a call to create a diverse, dense, intense experience of public life that we can all enjoy." Read Gehl's remarks, here.

AR Issues: Why American Cities Should Give Big Jobs to the Little Guys

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the August 2015 issue, AR editor Christine Murray takes on the disheartening architectural scene in North American cities from New York to Toronto, arguing that "NYC is not where we found a new American architecture" and asking: "Why not give the young guns a tower or a Whitney, let them stretch their legs?"

The latest New York towers are more billboard than building. Like celebrity-endorsed perfume - fancy box, smelly water - the architecture matters less than the artist and his (yes, they are all men) pen’s effluent black-ink concept scrawl.

This is the nation that gave birth to the skyscraper, yet tycoons are commissioning foreign architects for its next generation of towers. New York’s recent acquisitions include a Siza and an Ando, to display alongside a collection of Nouvel, Viñoly and Gehry. Michael Sorkin takes on the towers in this edition, accusing starchitects of putting lipstick on pigs.

Exhibition Opening: Sea Level: Five Boroughs at Water's Edge

Please join us for the exhibition opening of Sea Level: Five Boroughs at Water's Edge, and a conversation with author and curator Robert Sullivan, and photographer Elizabeth Felicella. The two will engage in a wide-ranging discussion on the collaborative panorama exploring the past and future of New York City's expansive waterfront.

Symposium: Extreme Heat: Hot Cities - Adapting to a Hotter World

“Extreme Heat: Hot Cities – Adapting to a Hotter World” is a unique, day-long symposium. A broad constituency involved in building and urban design, science, research, policy, innovation, mitigation, and adaptation will come together to discuss how to address this growing risk through planning, design, and construction.

“Extreme Heat” invites architects and landscape architects, planners, engineers, and allied professionals, government, foundations, scientists, researchers, and students – in fact, all interested stakeholders – to discuss essential information and insights. The symposium will cover topics ranging from urban climatology to building materials, case studies, and recommendations for the future. It will revisit prior extreme heat events such as the 1995 Chicago and 2003 Paris category-defining heat waves, and what has changed since then.

Event: "Japanese Design Today: Unique, Evolving, Borderless - with Hiroshi Kashiwagi and Yoshifumi Nakamura"

The Japan Foundation, New York and The New School’s Parsons School of Design, Design Studies and Industrial Design programs present “Japanese Design Today: Unique, Evolving, Borderless ‐ with Hiroshi Kashiwagi and Yoshifumi Nakamura.” Hiroshi Kashiwagi, professor at Musashino Art University and architect/ furniture designer Yoshifumi Nakamura will each discuss the evolution, distinguishing characteristics, and current state of Japanese design today.

Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City / Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez

Robert Moses, the planner-politician-architect who infamously built overpasses too low for buses to bring New York’s urban poor to his beaches, is the subject of a new graphic novel by Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez titled Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City. Admirable for its candid rawness, their profile of perhaps the most polarizing and important figure in American planning history is no lionizing eulogy. The impressive triumphs of Moses’ tenure are juxtaposed with unsparing accounts of his regrettable social policies and the often-shortsighted consequences of his public infrastructure. For each groundbreaking feat of structural engineering and political mobilization, there is another story told of his callous social engineering, the consequences of which reshaped the lives of New Yorkers as much as his architecture.

World Trade Center River Wall May Be Leaking

Sounds of rushing water have been reported behind the walls of the lower concourses of the World Trade Center site. As DNAinfo reports, rumors say officials have found an underground leak within the newly built complex and fear that it may be coming from the 3,200-foot-long slurry wall that separates the site from the Hudson River. 

New York City Mayor Threatens to Remove Times Square

Frustrated with the congestion of panhandlers, Mayor Bill de Blasio has shocked New York City dwellers by threatening to remove their beloved Times Square. As New York Times' architecture critic Michael Kimmelman reports, this comes at a time when dwellers fear that quality of life is declining in the city: "Entertaining the demolition of the plazas, the mayor sends a message that New York can’t support the sort of great pedestrian hubs that thrive in competing cities around the globe." Blasio said he will look into the "pros and cons" of returning Times Square to traffic. Read Kimmelman's full report on Blasio's threats, here

Launch of Google Sunroof Brings Valuable Solar Power Data to the Mainstream

Google is in the unique position to truly understand what people want. As millions key in their questions, the search giant is actively working to provide better answers. When it comes to questions about solar energy, Google wondered, “If people are lost trying to get answers about solar, why don’t we give them a map?” And so, the tech company announced the beta launch of Project Sunroof: a tool “to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone.”

In a post on Google’s Green Blog, engineer Carl Elkin addressed common misconceptions about the viability of solar energy for the average owner by saying “many of them are missing out on a chance to save money and be green.” Sunroof hopes to be the answer that gives people clear, easy to understand answers.

Zaha Hadid Unveils High Line Installation

With the construction of their High Line-adjacent residential building 520 West 28th Street, Zaha Hadid Architects have constructed a temporary construction shelter to protect pedestrians in the event of any falling construction materials. However, as is often the case with Zaha Hadid designs, this is a construction shelter unlike any other, serving as a protective shelter but also as an artistic installation.

Named Allongé, the installation is "is inspired by the connectivity and dynamism of movement along the High Line," allowing visitors to the High Line to move through 34 meters (112 feet) of sweeping metallic fabric supported by a curvilinear steel frame, offering a spatial experience that foreshadows the presence of Hadid's building at the site.

The New LaGuardia Airport is "Lackluster and Uninspired"

Two weeks ago, New York Governer Andrew Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a plan to transform LaGuardia airport into "a globally-renowned, 21st century airport that is worthy of the city and state of New York." However the redesign is not universally popular. In this article originally titled "The New LaGuardia Airport: Not Functional, Not Inspiring, Not an Icon," - the first of his regular column over at 6sqft - architecture critic Carter B. Horsley explains why "Queens deserves better."

The recent announcement by Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden of plans to “rebuild” La Guardia Airport at a cost of $4 billion was described in a Page One caption in The Post as “the end of an error,” a reference to the airport’s reputation that became tarnished over the years. Last October, Biden remarked that if someone had taken him to LaGuardia, he’d think he was in “some Third World country.”

Since its opening in 1939, when it accommodated “flying boats” at its Marine Air Terminal, the airport has not kept up with the growth of jumbo jets and air travel in general, but in the days of the Super Constellation passenger planes with their triple-tails and sloping noses, it was a very nice Art Deco place.

The published renderings that accompanied the announcement were not terribly reassuring, as they depicted a very long curved terminal with gangly tentacles raised over plane taxiways that hinted at torsos of praying mantises: an awkward rather than a graceful vault.

© Governor Andrew Cuomo © Governor Andrew Cuomo © Governor Andrew Cuomo © Governor Andrew Cuomo

Inside Santiago Calatrava's WTC Transportation Hub in New York

© Michael Muraz
© Michael Muraz

Toronto-based architectural photographer Michael Muraz has shared with us some of the first images seen inside Santiago Calatrava's nearly complete World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Set to open this year, the "glorious" birdlike structure boasts a 355-foot-long operable "Oculus" - a "slice of the New York sky - that floods the hub's interior with natural light, all the way down 60-feet below street level to the PATH train platform. 

Though its been shamed for being years overdue and $2 billion over budget (making it the world's most expensive transit hub), the completed project is turning heads. Take a look for yourself after the break. 

© Michael Muraz © Michael Muraz © Michael Muraz © Michael Muraz

How Bjarke Ingels is Reshaping New York City's Architecture

Bjarke Ingels has become know for his “promiscuous hybrids" that are reshaping skylines worldwide. Now, after news of BIG's redesign of the 2 World Trade Center, Ingels is being credited for single-handedly transforming New York City's architecture. At the New York Times' Cities of Tomorrow conference last week, architecture critic Michael Kimmelman sat down with the 40-year-old Danish architect to discuss just how BIG is changing New York

Rendering the City Accessible

The way our buildings and public spaces are planned has a significant impact on our quality of life. In the latest edition of The UrbanistMonocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," Tom Edwards and his team explore urban accessibility and inclusivity: from how best to create and incorporate inclusive design, to a cab service in Hong Kong which has been designed especially for wheelchair passengers. They also discover what happens when technology and sound come together to create a map of the city, and why New York has introduced mental respite centres.

The Top 10 Most Impactful Skylines

Emporis, a German company that collects and distributes information on construction and the built environment, has released a ranking of the world’s 100 most visually impactful skylines, using statistical analysis to address a topic often made frustratingly subjective by civic pride. 

To create the rankings, Emporis used data from its archives to determine the number of high-rise buildings in the cities it studied, and applied a points system that gave each building a numerical value determined by the number of floors it has. To standardize their ranking process, the points system ignores spires and other ornament, and does not include television or antenna towers, masts, bridges, or similar architecture. 

Of the top 10 most impactful skylines, seven are in Asia, while North and South America combined have the other three. Notably, cities filled with rich architectural history fail to make the list, or fall surprisingly low in the rankings; London is number 44, Paris is ranked 66, and Rome does not make the cut. 

To see the top ten skylines, read on after the break, and click here to see Emporis' complete list.

Photographer Max Touhey Gives a Rare Glimpse Inside Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center

Currently under renovation in order to turn its soaring shell into a hotel, Eero Saarinen's iconic TWA Flight Center has been off limits to the public since 2001. However last week, while a team of digital preservationists were making scans of the swooping curves of the building's interior, photographer Max Touhey was allowed access, camera in hand, to catalog the building's mid-century elegance. The photoset, published in full on Curbed NY, shows the building in a generally good condition considering its decade-long slumber. Read on after the break for a selection of these images.

© Max Touhey for Curbed NY © Max Touhey for Curbed NY © Max Touhey for Curbed NY © Max Touhey for Curbed NY

VIA 57 West: Challenging Form and Urban Development in Manhattan

Join the CTBUH New York City Chapter for a discussion on the VIA 57 West building. Guest speakers Bjarke Ingels (BIG), Aine Brazil (Thornton Tomasetti), and Jeff Crompton (Hunter Roberts) will discuss the architecture, engineering and the construction process behind this unique structure. VIA stands tall at 467 feet and is one of the most architecturally distinctive buildings constructed in New York City. The building provides a dramatic visual gateway to Manhattan’s skyline along the Hudson River. VIA is a hybrid between the European perimeter block and a traditional Manhattan high-rise development. The building’s unique shape combines the advantages of both: the compactness and efficiency of a courtyard building providing density, a sense of intimacy, and expansive views. The form of the building shifts depending on the viewer’s vantage point. While appearing like a pyramid from the West Side Highway, it turns into a dramatic glass spire when seen from West 58th Street.

New York's Lowline Launch Campaign to Develop the World's First Subterranean Park

The New York Lowline, a project which was first announced in 2011 and was rekindled last year, have now launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to make their dream of using solar technology to "transform an historic trolley terminal into the world's first underground park" closer to a reality. Their proposal, which seeks to unlock the potential of underused subterranean urban spaces, would see the creation of a living, green public space built beneath the streets of New York City. They are currently seeking funding to build a long-term solar device testing laboratory and public exhibition in order to test and present their designs.

via Kickstarter via Kickstarter via Kickstarter via Kickstarter