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Five Design Teams Re-Envision New York's Public Libraries

There are 207 branch libraries in the city of New York, each providing a number of services to city residents. From the simple lending of books to adult technical literacy classes, these institutions are as vital as they were before the advent of the internet, and their attendance numbers prove it. Between the years of 2002 and 2011, circulation in the city’s library systems increased by 59%. Library program attendance saw an increase of 40%. In spite of this, library funding was cut by 8% within this same timeframe, which has made it difficult to keep many of the system’s buildings in good repair. To spark interest and support from city leaders, The Architectural League, in collaboration with the Center for an Urban Future, instigated the design study Re-Envisioning New York's Branch Libraries.

Sponsored by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the study is the effort of five design teams chosen by the League. These teams - including MASS Design Group and SITU STUDIO - were charged with proposing exciting new library designs that follow the League’s themes of “integrating libraries into the city’s housing and community development goals, reconfiguring libraries to meet community needs, and developing new ideas for expanding the impact of branch libraries.” The teams presented their work at a January 4th symposium. See each of the proposals, as well as video footage of that symposium, after the break.

Concept for transit Outpost Performance library. Image Courtesy of team L+ Clinton Hill Branch Library concept. Image Courtesy of Andrew Berman Architect, Library Development Solutions, Neil Donnelly, AEA Consulting, Auerbach Pollock Friedlander Concept for Brighton Beach Library. Image Courtesy of team Marble Fairbanks with James Lima Planning + Development, Leah Meisterlin, and Special Project Office Conceptual drawing by MASS Design Group. Image Courtesy of the team

Video: Santiago Calatrava On His Design For Ground Zero's Only Non-Secular Building

In a film for the BBC Magazine, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava talks through his designs for the new St. Nicholas Church - the only non-secular building on the 9/11 Memorial site. The building, which broke ground last year, has been described by Calatrava as a "tiny jewel" for lower Manhattan, comprising of a white Vermont marble shrine sat beneath a translucent central cupola that is illuminated from within. The new church, of Greek Orthodox denomination, replaces a church of the same name which was destroyed during the attacks of . It is sited close to its original location on 130 Liberty Street, overlooking the National September 11 Memorial park and museum. With the building set to open in early 2016, Calatrava discusses the key conceptual ideas and references behind its unique, controversial design.

New York's Storefront Launches "Street Architecture" Competition

On the occasion of Ideas City 2015, the biennial Festival created to explore the future city and to effect change, Storefront for Art and Architecture, along with the New Museum and the New York City Department of Transportation, is launching a competition for the design and construction of an outdoor structure—a work of "Street Architecture" that facilitates new forms of collective gathering and engagement with the city.

Why Are There Still No Built Traces of New York's Tech Industry?

For many architects, the chance to make an impression on the landscape of New York City is a sign of distinction, an indication that they have "made the big time." But it's not just architects who have this desire: for decades, the city's big industrial players have also striven to leave their mark. However in this article, originally posted on New York YIMBY as "How New York City is Robbing Itself of the Tech Industry’s Built Legacy," Stephen Smith examines where it's all gone wrong for the city's latest industry players.

Strolling through the streets of Manhattan’s business neighborhoods, you can pick out the strata of the city’s built commercial heritage, deposited over generations by industries long gone. From the Garment District’s heavy pyramidal avenue office towers and side street lofts, dropped by the garment industry in the 1920s, to the modernist towers like Lever House and the Seagram Building, erected on Park and Fifth Avenues during the post-war years by the country’s giant consumer goods companies, each epoch of industry left the city with a layer of commercial architecture, enduring long after the businesses were acquired and the booms turned to bust.

But 50 or 100 years into the future, when our grandchildren and great-grandchildren stroll through the neighborhoods of Midtown South that are today thick with technology and creative firms, they are not likely to find much left over from the likes of Facebook or Google. There will be no equivalent of Grand Central or Penn Station, Terminal City or the Hotel Pennsylvania, left over from the early 20th century railroad tycoons, or SoHo’s cast iron buildings, developed by speculators seeking to feed the growing textile and dry-goods trades of the late 19th century. Perhaps unique among New York’s large industries, the tech and creative tenants that have become the darlings of the current market cycle are leaving very little behind for future generations to admire.

Interior Renders of Robert AM Stern's 520 Park Avenue, NYC's Most Expensive Apartment Building

This news article was originally published by 6sqft.

Robert A.M. Stern‘s 520 Park Avenue has already been called “the next 15 Central Park West,” and like its Stern predecessor, 520 is an ultra-luxury development with a stately façade wrapped in stone. Set to be completed in 2016, it will rise 51 stories high, but contain just 31 units, one of which is the $130 million penthouse, the city’s most expensive apartment. And though most of the attention has been on “the greatest apartment on the Upper East Side,” the fanfare has now shifted to the first batch of interior renderings for the building.

520 Park’s full website is now live, and not surprisingly, the residences have classic layouts, impressive Central Park views, and a host of high-end amenities.

© 2014 Zeckendorf Development LLC via 520parkavenue.com © 2014 Zeckendorf Development LLC via 520parkavenue.com © 2014 Zeckendorf Development LLC via 520parkavenue.com © 2014 Zeckendorf Development LLC via 520parkavenue.com

How Cutting Edge Technology Helped Recreate the Stella Tower's Concrete Crown

In some projects, preservation isn't just about retaining what's there, but also about putting back an element that has been forgotten to history (not always, though). This was the case at the Stella Tower in Manhattan, where as part of the building's recently completed condo conversion, JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, along with architects CetraRuddy have reinstated the dramatic Art Deco crown of Ralph Walker's 1927 design.

Stereotank Designs Heart-Beating Urban Drum for Times Square

Come February 9, New York City will be celebrating the opening of its seventh annual Valentine’s Day installation in Times Square. As part of Times Square Alliance’s heart design competition, Brooklyn- based and Venezuelan-born firm Stereotank will be constructing a heart-beating urban drum in hopes that it will bring together New Yorkers through music. 

Studio Gang Tapped to Extend American Museum of Natural History

Chicago’s Studio Gang Architects have been selected to design a new Center for Science, Education and Innovation for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Named after its largest donor, the $325 million Gilder Center will include 218,000-square-feet of existing and new space. It is slated to open on Columbus Avenue at 79th Street on the west side of the Museum campus, in conjunction with its 150th anniversary in 2019–2020.

SHoP Architects Reveal Restoration Plan for New York's Seaport District

SHoP Architects have revealed a mixed use proposal to pedestrianize New York City’s historic Seaport District. Extending the Manhattan grid out into the waterfront, the scheme seeks to harmonize pedestrian infrastructure and increase access to the shoreline, while proposing a 500-foot luxury residential tower by developer Howard Hughes Corporation that would jut out into the harbor. More about the proposal, after the break. 

2014: A Great Year for Landscape Architecture

By all accounts 2014 has been a great year for landscape architecture, and not just because of the completion of the final phase of the High Line by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations. Previously published by the Huffington Post as "2014's Notable Developments in Landscape Architecture," this roundup of the year by the President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation Charles A Birnbaum finds plenty of promising developments, marred only slightly by some more backward-looking descisions.

This year there was a cultural shift that saw landscape architecture and its practitioners achieve an unprecedented level of visibility and influence.

This year the single most notable development came courtesy of the New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman who wrote: "Great public places and works of landscape architecture deserve to be treated like great buildings."

Landscape architecture and architecture on equal footing. Let that sink in.

Why New York Shouldn't be a City for the One Percent

In recent years, it's been difficult to miss the spate of supertall, super-thin towers on the rise in Manhattan. Everyone knows the individual projects: 432 Park Avenue, One57, the Nordstrom Tower, the MoMA Tower. But, when a real estate company released renders of the New York skyline in 2018, it forced New Yorkers to consider for the first time the combined effect of all this new real estate. In this opinion article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "On New York's Skyscraper Boom and the Failure of Trickle-Down Urbanism," Joshua K Leon argues that the case for a city of the one percent doesn't stand up under scrutiny.

What would a city owned by the one-percent look like?  

New renderings for CityRealty get us part way there, illustrating how Manhattan may appear in 2018. The defining feature will be a bumper crop of especially tall, slender skyscrapers piercing the skyline like postmodern boxes, odd stalagmites, and upside-down syringes. What they share in common is sheer unadulterated scale and a core clientele of uncompromising plutocrats.  

10 Points of a Bicycling Architecture

A revolution is occurring in street design. New York, arguably the world’s bellwether city, has let everyday citizens cycle for transport. They have done that by designating one lane on most Avenues to bicyclists only, with barriers to protect them from traffic.

Now hundreds of cities are rejigging to be bicycle-friendly, while in New York there is a sense that more change is afoot. Many New Yorkers would prefer if their city were more like Copenhagen where 40% of all trips are by bike. But then Copenhagen wants more as well. Where does this stop?

If you consider that we are talking about a mode of transport that whips our hearts into shape, funnels many more people down streets than can be funneled in cars, has no pollution, and costs governments and individuals an absolute pittance, you wont ask where it stops, but how close to 100% the bike modal share can possibly go and what we must do to achieve that.

© Steven Fleming and Charlotte Morton © Steven Fleming and Charlotte Morton © Steven Fleming and Charlotte Morton Steven Fleming and Charlotte Morton's proposal for the Frederick Douglass Houses in New York. Image © Steven Fleming and Charlotte Morton

Kimmelman Reviews the One WTC: An Emblem of New York’s “Upside-Down Priorities”

Nearly a month since the official (and somewhat mundane) opening of New York’s One World Trade Center, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has published a scathing review of the SOM-designed tower, claiming it to be a “flawed” emblem of the city’s “upside-down priorities.”

Thomas Heatherwick Opens Up About His Design For Pier 55

Last week, Thomas Heatherwick unveiled his fairytale-like designs for what will hopefully be New York's latest and most ambitious park, Pier 55 (with apologies to the High Line, New York's last "next big thing" in the public park arena). Envisaged as an undulating artificial landscape on a cloud of mushroom-like supports, Pier 55 has the internet buzzing. In this interview with FastCo Design, Heatherwick discusses the inspirations behind his latest project, explaining how everything including New York's street grid, the ruins of Pier 54 and yes, even the city's other recent global green space phenomenon, have manifested themselves in his latest madcap creation. Read the full article here for more.

Check Out These Images of New York's Skyline in 2018

If New Yorkers thought that construction during Michael Bloomberg's tenure as Mayor was frantic, then what's coming next might be quite a shock: courtesy of CityRealty, these images show the New York skyline in 2018, when many of the city's current projects will be complete. Produced from building models by TJ Quan and Ondel Hylton as a marketing ploy for Jean Nouvel's 53 West 53rd street which recently (finally) began construction, the images include all of Nouvel's illustrious future neighbors: the "Billionaire's Row" including 111 West 57th Street, 220 Central Park South, 225 West 57th Street (Nordstrom Tower) and One57; new Midtown developments such as 432 Park Avenue, 520 Park Avenue425 Park Avenue, One Vanderbilt, 610 Lexington, 15 Penn Plaza, and the Hudson Yards towers; and even the latest financial district towers, 1WTC, 30 Park Place, 125 Greenwich, and 225 Cherry Street.

View Looking West Above Long Island City. Image Courtesy of CityRealty  View over Upper East Side. Background shows supertall towers. Image Courtesy of CityRealty View looking north above Midtwon showing Central Park and supertowers planned allong "Billionaires  Row". Image Courtesy of CityRealty Courtesy of CityRealty

Heatherwick to Construct $170 Million "Pier 55" Park Off Manhattan's Hudson River Shoreline

Billionaire Barry Diller, chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp and former head of Paramount Pictures and Fox, has commissioned Thomas Heatherwick to design a $170 million “futuristic park” on Manhattan’s lower west side. Replacing the deteriorated Pier 54, the new “Pier55” will be a lush undulating landscape, raised atop 300 mushroom-shaped concrete columns placed 186 feet off of the Hudson River shoreline, that will host outdoor performances, act as a marine sanctuary for striped bass and guard the city against storms. 

Heatherwick will be collaborating with landscape architect Mathews Nielson. Read on to learn more about the project. 

Southern space looking north from Gansevoort Peninsula. Image © Pier55, Inc. and Heatherwick Studio, Renders by Luxigon Conceptual view of Pier 55's rolling landscape. Image © Pier55, Inc. and Heatherwick Studio, Renders by Luxigon Night view. Image © Pier55, Inc. and Heatherwick Studio, Renders by Luxigon Amphitheater looking southwest at the sunset. Image © Pier55, Inc. and Heatherwick Studio, Renders by Luxigon

Are Postmodern Buildings Worth Saving?

New York City is home to a plethora of Postmodernist designs — from the impressive Sony Tower to the diminuative Central Park Ballplayers' House — but most remain unprotected by traditional heritage registries. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is at the threshold of its 50th anniversary but has yet to recognize the architectural successes of 1970 up to the most recent eligible year for landmarking, 1984. The commission has been unnecessarily slow to recognize Postmodernist structures in New York City, say Paul Makovsky and Michael Gotkin writing for Metropolis Magazine, who argue that the absence of historical recognition for Postmodernism has come at a high cost, citing the recladding of Takashimaya Building on Fifth Avenue as a "wake-up call" for the Commission. 

The Other "Green Way": Why Can't New York Build More Quality Affordable Housing?

This article originally appeared on uncube magazine as "An Affordable Housing Complex in the Bronx Revisited."

Two years after the completion of Grimshaw and Dattner's acclaimed Via Verde ("Green Way"), no successors have even been proposed for this supposed model for the design and construction of new affordable housing. In this article, David Bench returns to the site, finding that the sustainable project's lack of impact is caused by a completely different type of "green."

Affordable housing is the quest of every New Yorker. The routes to finding it are mysterious and widely misunderstood, as they are made up of a myriad of buildings, programmes, and rules that have failed to keep pace with the production of luxury housing and gentrification of middle class neighbourhoods in the city. This apartment anxiety has led to such amusing and fateful reactions as the creation of the Rent is Too Damn High political party – whose name speaks for itself – and an economic narrative that propelled Bill de Blasio from a long-shot mayoral candidacy to an overwhelming majority on election day in 2013. Soon after taking office, de Blasio unveiled the most ambitious affordable housing program in generations, which aims to build or preserve 200,000 units in the next decade.