De Blasio Sets 10-Year Affordable Housing Plan for NYC

ODA Chosen to Design Largest Project in New York. Image © ODA

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has addressed the “crisis of affordability” by implementing a five-borough, ten-year plan that will build and preserve 200,000 affordable units over the coming decade. Believing affordable housing to be part of “the bedrock of what makes New York City work,” Blasio hopes the plan will make New York, once again, “a place where our most vulnerable, our working people and our middle class can all thrive.” Review the plan in detail and check out one of the largest affordable housing projects planned for the city, here

The Fifth Pillar: A Case for Hip-Hop Architecture

- the father of Hip-Hop?. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia User AaronSw

The following article by Sekou Cooke was originally published in The Harvard Journal of African American Planning Policy.

Not DJ Kool Herc. Not The Sugarhill Gang. Not Crazy Legs. Not even Cornbread. The true father of hip-hop is Moses. The tyrannical, mercilessly efficient head of several City public works organizations, Robert Moses, did more in his fifty-year tenure to shape the physical and cultural conditions required for hip-hop’s birth than any other force of man or nature. His grand vision for the city indifferently bulldozed its way through private estates, middle-class neighborhoods, and slums. His legacy: 658 playgrounds, 28,000 apartment units, 2,600,000 acres of public parks, Flushing Meadows, Jones Beach, Lincoln Center, all interconnected by 416 miles of parkways and 13 bridges. Ville Radieuse made manifest, not by Le Corbusier, the visionary architect, but by “the best bill drafter in Albany.”  

This new urbanism deepened the rifts within class and culture already present in post-war New York, elevated the rich to midtown penthouses and weekend escapes to the Hamptons or the Hudson Valley, and relegated the poor to crowded subways and public housing towers—a perfect incubator for a fledgling counterculture.  One need not know all the lyrics to Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” or Melle Mel’s “White Lines” to appreciate the incendiary structures built by Moses and his policies. As the Bronx began to burn, hip-hop began to rise.

Light Matters: Richard Kelly, The Unsung Master Behind Modern Architecture’s Greatest Buildings

Seagram Building, .

Richard Kelly illuminated some of the twentieth century’s most iconic buildings: the Glass House, Seagram Building and Kimbell Art Museum, to name a few. His design strategy was surprisingly simple, but extremely successful.

Lighting for architecture has been and still often is dominated by an engineering viewpoint, resigned to determining sufficient illuminance levels for a safe and efficient working environment. With a background in stage lighting, Kelly introduced a scenographic perspective for architectural lighting. His point of view might look self-evident to today’s architectural community, but it was revolutionary for his time and has strongly influenced modern architecture.

Read more about Richard Kelly’s remarkable, and unsung, contribution to architecutre, after the break.

What If MOMA Had Expanded Underground (And Saved The American Folk Art Museum)?

Sculpture Garden, MOMA. Image © Andrew Moore, http://andrewlmoore.com/

In January of this year, the latest work by Smiljan Radic, the Chilean architect chosen to design the next Serpentine Pavilion, opened to public acclaim. The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo de Arte Precolombino), located in Santiago de Chile, is a restoration project that managed to sensitively maintain an original colonial structure  – all while increasing the space by about 70%.

Two days before the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art opened, the Museum of Metropolitan Art (MOMA) in New York issued a statement that it would demolish the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM), designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, in order to accomplish its envisioned expansion. Two weeks ago, preparations for demolition began.

Some background: MOMA had hired Diller Scofidio + Renfro a year earlier to design the expansion. The office asked for a period of six months to consider the possibilities of integrating the American Folk Art Museum into the design. After studying a vast array of options (unknown to the public) they were unable to accommodate MOMA’s shifting program needs with the AFAM building. They proposed a new circulation loop with additional gallery space and new program located where the AFAM is (was) located.

What appears here is not strictly a battle between an institution that wants to reflect the spirit of the time vs a building that is inherently specific to its place. It represents a lost design opportunity. What if the American Folk Art Museum had been considered an untouchable civic space in the city of New York, much like the The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is for the city for Santiago? Then a whole new strategy for adaptive reuse would have emerged.

“Lebbeus Woods – Architect” Returns to NYC

Unified Urban Field. Image Courtesy of Estate of

This summer, the drawings, theories and works of architect Lebbeus Woods are headed to the city that Lebbeus considered home. After a five-month stay at SFMOMA, the exhibit “Lebbeus Woods – Architect” will be at the Drawing Center in SoHo, Manhattan until mid-June. The following story and overview of the exhibition, by Samuel Medina, originally appeared at Metropolis Magazine as “Coming Home”.

It’s all too biblical an irony that Lebbeus Woods—architect of war, catastrophe, and apocalyptic doom—died as strong winds, rain, and waves barreled down on Manhattan, his home for some 40-odd years. Woods passed the morning after Hurricane Sandy flooded Lower Manhattan, almost as if the prophet had succumbed to one of his turbulent visions. But this apocryphal reading is just one way to view Woods’s work, which, as often as it was concerned with annihilation, always dared to build in the bleakest of circumstances.

Tod Williams Devastated Over Folk Art Museum’s Fate

© Flickr CC User Dan Nguyen

Tod Williams has broke his silence in his first interview since the Museum of Modern Art announced their decision to raze the former Folk Art Museum, expressing devastation that the building will be “reduced to a memory.”

“Yes, all buildings one day will turn to dust, but this building could have been reused,” Tod Williams. “Unfortunately, the imagination and the will were not there.”

Though has promised to preserve the building’s iconic copper-bronze facade, Williams is concerned it will forever stay in storage. 

Proposals are being suggested on how to resurrect the facade, as the New York Times reported, including a concept from Nina Libeskind, chief operating officer of Studio Daniel Libeskind, and AIA executive director Fredric M. Bell that will be presented to MoMA next week. However, Williams expressed disinterest at the idea of installing fragments of the building elsewhere. 

Preparations Begin to Demolish the American Folk Art Museum

© Flickr CC User Dan Nguyen

Preparations have commenced to demolish Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects’ American Folk Art Museum in New York. Despite international backlash from preservationists, architects and critics, the neighboring Museum of Modern Art will raze the 12-year-old structure in an effort to make way for an designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro. According to recent reports, scaffolding has arrived at the site and will soon be erected in front of the museum’s distinct, copper-bronze facade. More on the controversy, here.

The Pritzker-Profit Connection: Shigeru Ban’s Works Gaining Value in NYC

Image © Karsten Moran for The New York Times

A recent article from The New York Times confirms something we’ve all long-suspected. A Pritzker translates into bucks. Demand for Shigeru Ban’s Manhattan buildings has soared since his awarding of the prize. The New York Times reports that page views of the Metal Shutter Houses, for example, have quadrupled on the listings site Streeteasy.com. Why? The Pritzker name carries weight:

“In this second age of high-flying real estate, brand-name architecture and globe-trotting wealth, the identity of a designer has taken on ever-increasing value to ensure that a project’s multimillion-dollar homes stand out. Anyone can install waterfall showers and Wolf ranges. A Pritzker is harder to come by.”

“Though Mr. Ban’s Pritzker could make it costlier to hire him in the future, some developers find a laureate worth the expense. ‘You can save a lot on plans, because you only have to change 10 percent of the project, instead of 90 percent; the vision is just so complete,’ the developer Aby Rosen said. ‘And you also save a ton on the marketing. People want to write about these Pritzker projects, and an article is way better than an ad.’”

But what does it mean when architecture – particularly the architecture of a socially-conscious designer like Ban – becomes a brand-name item? As Laura Ilonemi writes, “the begins to perpetuate an environment that is unhealthy to architecture: too strong a divide is created between winners and non-winners of the same calibre. [...] Sought-after commissions, and other opportunities perhaps better suited to other candidates, may well go to winners, helping to reinforce the trend of ‘designer buildings’ in much the same vein as designer label consumer goods and products. ”

As one real estate agent, representing a resident of the Metal Shutter Houses, put it: “It’s like buying an Hermès bag but better.” Is, in the end, the Pritzker nothing more than a branding tool? Should it be more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Barclays Center to be Topped with Massive Green Roof

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Developers Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and Greenland Group have decided to realize SHoP Architects’ original plan to top Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with a 130,000 square foot green roof. Though the design was first disregarded due to budget cuts, the developers have deemed it necessary to enhance the marketability the Atlantic Yards’ three residential towers – the first is currently underway – and dampen the noise from loud concerts. Little details have been released about the green roof’s design, however rumor has it that it might not be open to the public as it was originally intended. 

SOM Chosen to Design New Learning Facility for Barnard College

John Jay College of Criminal Justice / . Image © Eduard Hueber

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has been chosen to design a new teaching and learning facility for – Columbia University’s world-renowned liberal arts college for women. The selection committee chose SOM after deeming them the best candidate in three categories: “a history of creative and innovative architecture,” a proven recorded on similar academic projects, and “an internal commitment to woman’s leadership reflected by women holding key roles in the firm.”

The BIG U: BIG’s New York City Vision for “Rebuild by Design”

Render for The BIG U, “The Harbor Berm,” an elevated path through the park. Image Courtesy of rebuildbydesign.org

Yesterday BIG, along with 9 other teams including OMA and WXY, unveiled their proposals for “Rebuild by Design,” a competition which tasks teams with improving the resiliency of waterfront communities through locally-responsive, innovative design. Each proposal was required to be “flexible, easily phased, and able to integrate with existing projects in progress.” As Henk Ovink, the Principal of ”” as well as the Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, stated: “ is not about making a plan, but about changing a culture.” The winners will be announced later this spring.

BIG’s proposal, The BIG U, is rooted in the firm’s signature concepts of social infrastructure and hedonistic sustainability. It envisions a 10-mile protective system that encircles Manhattan, protecting the city from floods and storm water while simultaneously providing public realms specific to the needs of the city’s diverse communities. Bjarke Ingels states: “We asked ourselves: What if we could envision the resilience infrastructure for Lower Manhattan in a way that wouldn’t be like a wall between the city and the water, but rather a string of pearls of social and environmental amenities tailored to their specific neighborhoods, that also happens to shield their various communities from flooding. Social infrastructure understood as a big overall strategy rooted in the local communities.”

More on the BIG U, after the break…

Emerging Architects Austin+Mergold Win Folly 2014

SuralArk Sketch. Image Courtesy of Austin + Mergold

Socrates Sculpture Park and The Architectural League of New York have announced that Austin+Mergold have won “Folly 2014” – an annual competition among emerging architects to design and build a large-scale project for public exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City – with their project SuralArk, an installation that is “part ship, part house.”

The annual “Folly” program strives to give emerging architects and designers the opportunity to build public projects that explore the boundaries between architecture and sculpture. This year’s proposal beat out 171 submissions from 17 countries; it was selected by a jury made up of Chris Doyle, Artist; John Hatfield, Socrates Sculpture Park; Enrique Norten, TEN Arquitectos; Lisa Switkin, James Corner Field Operations; and Ada Tolla, LOT-EK.

SuralArk will open on May 11th through August 3rd. Learn more about the project after the break.

Robert A.M. Stern Tops NYC Tower with $100 Million Penthouse

© Zeckendorf Development LLC and Seventh Art; Courtesy of Curbed NY

Robert A.M. Stern’s luxury 520 Park Avenue condominium tower, which is set to take its place on Manhattan skyline by 2017, will be topped with a 12,400 square foot triplex priced at $100 million – the city’s priciest unit. The penthouse will be one of 31 expansive residences offered in the limestone-clad building which, according to the a recent press release, will be “evocative of the great apartment buildings of the 1920′s and 1930′s.”  Developers William and Arthur Zeckendorf gained approval for the 51-story skyscraper by purchasing $30.4 million in air rights from the neighboring Christ Church. 

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 United States 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.

Foster + Partners’ New York Public Library Redesign in State of Limbo

© dbox, Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Foster + Partner’s controversial renovation plans for the (NYPL) are currently in a state of limbo while the city decides their course of action. Foster’s proposal for the 20th century Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” on 5th Avenue is a response to the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, as the library has experienced a 41% decrease in the use of collections over the last 15 years. 

Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transit Hub Fails to Impress

© , LLC

“How can a $3.94 billion building be made to look cheap?” A small part of Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub has been opened to the public, and the critics aren’t impressed. According to the  Times’ article by David Dunlap, the buildings “chunky fixtures” and “rough workmanship” “detract from what is meant to be breathtaking grandeur.” Read more, here.

Tadao Ando to Design First New York City Building

© Tadao Ando Architect & Associates

Tadao Ando has been commissioned to design his first building. Though little information has been released, the residential development firm Sumaida + Khurana has closed a deal with the Japanese architect to design a 32,000 square foot, eight-unit, luxury condominium building at 152 Elizabeth Street in Nolita. Construction is expected to begin later this year and the building will be completed in 2016.

TIME Debuts Powerful, Multimedia Story on One World Trade

© Jonathan Woods, TIME

Today, TIME unveiled “Top of America,” a multimedia site relaying the gripping story of One World Trade, the David Childs-designed skyscraper that stands 1,776-feet tall within Daniel Libeskind‘s masterplan. Beyond providing interesting tidbits of information (did you know that both an 18th century boat and an ice-age formation were found while digging out the building’s foundations?), the article, written by Josh Sanburn, is a fascinating and often deeply moving account — one that gets across the sheer force of will and the extraordinary amount of collaboration it took to raise this building into the atmosphere:

“Nine governors, two mayors, multiple architects, a headstrong developer, thousands of victims’ families and tens of thousands of neighborhood residents fought over this tiny patch of real estate…. Almost 13 years later…. America’s brawny, soaring ­ambition—the drive that sent pioneers west, launched rockets to the moon and led us to build steel-and- towers that pierced the clouds—is intact. Reaching 1,776 ft. has ensured it.”

TIME’s investment into the story was considerable (and, one can speculate, motivated by a desire to rival the fantastic multimedia features of The New York Times). The site is accompanied by a special issue of TIME, a documentary film, an unprecedented 360-degree interactive photograph, and – come April – even a book. Sanburn was not only granted exclusive access to the project for about a year, but photographer Jonathan Woods is the only journalist to have ascended to the skyscraper’s top. Woods, start-up Gigapan, and mechanical engineers worked over eight months to design (on AutoCAD no less) a 13-foot long, rotating jib that could sustain a camera in the harsh conditions at the top of the tower’s 408-ft. spire; over 600 images were then digitally stitched together to create the 360-degree interactive photograph (which you can purchase here. A portion of the proceeds go to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum).

You can explore TIME’s interactive at TIME.com/wtc . Click after the break to watch some incredible videos from the project & read some particularly moving quotes from Sanburn’s article.