TED Talk: Manhattan’s Past, Present and Future

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When it comes to global cities, New York City may be one of the most prominent – but it is also relatively young. Just 400 years ago, Manhattan island was mostly covered in forests and marshes. In his talk at TEDx Long Island City, discusses the city’s radical changes in land use over the past four centuries, and begins to contemplate what the next four might look like. How can we take a city like New York and make it as efficient as the forest it replaced? In a bid to uncover the ideas that might make this possible, he introduces Manhatta 2409 – an online tool which maps/compares the historic and current land use of Manhattan and allows users to propose new uses. Learn more in the video above.

Snohetta Makes Times Square Permanently Pedestrian

Courtesy of Snøhetta

City’s Times Square has concluded the first redevelopment phase of a permanent pedestrian plaza just in time for last week’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Snøhetta’s $55 million redesign — bounded by Broadway and 7th Avenue between 42nd and 47th streets — creates an uninterrupted and cohesive surface, reinforcing the square’s iconic role as an outdoor stage for entertainment, culture and urban life.

Learn more after the break…

Should NYC Be Curbing Its Tall Buildings?

111 West 57th Street by SHoP Architects. Image Courtesy of SHoP Architects

Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman puts forward his opinion on what should be done about the new breed of supertall residential buildings threatening to place Central Park ”inside the world’s biggest chessboard”. While he accepts that they may be an important factor in bringing wealth (and tax revenue) to New York, he offers some simple changes in legislation that could protect the city’s famous skyline from abuse by high-power development firms. Read the full article here.

Bloomberg Rushes to Approve Billion-Dollar Projects Before Leaving Office

Courtesy of VisualHouse

Bloomberg’s decade long administration may be ending this January, but not before he ensures the approval of $12 billion worth of privately developed projects throughout New York City. Under Bloomberg, 40 percent of NYC has been rezoned, creating a hot-bed of new construction. From multi-million dollar research centers to multi-billion dollar neighborhoods — complete with luxury apartments, outlet malls and the western hemisphere’s largest Ferris Wheel — each one of these megaprojects will undoubtedly transform NYC in the coming decades. Check them out here.

Bloomberg’s Next Move: Leading an ‘Urban SWAT Team’

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After a 12 year mayoral run, many have been wondering what Michael Bloomberg’s next move will be. The answer: be mayor of every city (kind of). Bloomberg, along with most of his Hall team (including transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan), has shifted his focus to Bloomberg Associates, a consultancy group that – like an ‘urban SWAT team’ – offers advice to cities that call for it. For free. To learn more about Bloomberg’s newest initiative, read the full article here on The New York Times. 

300 Lafayette Street / COOKFOX

© COOKFOX

Planned to transform former gas station site at the entrance of SOHO by mid-2015, this COOKFOX-design was labeled as one of the most “erudite and captivating” presentations the Landmarks Preservation Commission has seen in years. The seven-story office and retail building is centered around the idea of connecting users to nature. Softening the building’s modern steel and glass facade will be a cloak of lush balconies topped with prime penthouse office space.

New York City in 2050 (Twenty-Seven Predictions)

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As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of ’s office, we’ve spent the past few months talking with people inside the firm and beyond about the future of the city. We asked them to come up with blue-sky ideas about the New York of 2050 without worrying too much about financial or political feasibility. Circumstances can change a great deal over almost four decades, after all, and tomorrow’s constraints might look very different than today’s. We then worked with graphic designerJosh Levi to synthesize and visualize the results — view the large version here. Our main goal: to spark conversations about long-term priorities for the city and possible ways to achieve them.

What would you add to the list? How would you change it?

Read all 27 predictions, after the break…

HAO Makes Counter-Proposal To “Save” Sugar Factory from Development in Brooklyn

Courtesy of HAO

HAO, together with community group, Williamsburg Independent People, hope to save the historic Domino Sugar Factory site and halt the current masterplan by SHoP Architects which proposes an additional 2,200 luxury apartments along the East River in Brooklyn, New York

HAO’s counter proposal seeks to adaptively reuse the existing factory buildings, including the iconic Civil War-era Domino Sugar Refinery — which has defiantly held its ground amidst heavy redevelopment in surrounding areas. Not unlike SHoP’s proposal, HAO aims to regenerate these spaces into a “world-class cultural destination” that combines public and private programs. 

“Immersive Bowl-Shaped Structure” Proposed to be High Line’s Final Gateway

© and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, courtesy of the City of New York

Friends of the , along side James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, have unveiled what could possibly be the gateway into the third and final stretch of New York’s most prized parkway. Planned to mark the northeast terminus of the High Line at Rail Yards on 10th Avenue at West 30th Street, the “immersive bowl-shaped structure,” known as “The Spur,” hopes to bring a pocket of New York’s lush woodlands to the heart of the city.

NYIT Students Turn Plastic Bottles Into Disaster Relief

Last week’s devastating typhoon in the Philippines has reminded designers of the ongoing challenge of creating safe, temporary shelters when natural disasters hit. Crates of food and water are some of the first types of aid delivered to these ravaged areas; so what if these resources could be designed to also provide shelter and minimize waste? The New York Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture asked just that question and came up with a solution: SodaBIB, a new type of shipping pallet that would allow commonly used plastic bottles to be used for shelter.

Calatrava Reveals Design for Church on 9/11 Memorial Site

Courtesy of Tribeca Citizen

The site of has seen significant change in the last decade, from the addition of David Childs’s redesign of the One World Trade Center to Santiago Calatrava’s PATH station. It looks like the site’s transformation is set to continue – Calatrava recently revealed images of the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, to be rebuilt across Liberty Street from Handel Architects’ September 11 Memorial. The images, showing a distinctly Orthodox Christian design, have already begun to attract criticism in the debate over placing religious institutions around the World .

CTBUH Crowns One World Trade as Tallest Building in US

One World Trade Center as seen from the Hudson River. Image © Joe Mabel via Wikipedia

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat () has official ruled Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s One World Trade Center (1WTC) as the tallest building in the . The decision comes after a long debate questioned whether or not the tower’s 408 foot spire should count towards its overall height.

As CTBUH explained: “Due to design changes that resulted in the removal of the architectural cladding around the mast at the top of the structure, it became unclear whether the structure was in fact a ‘spire’ – a vertical element that completes the architectural expression of the building and is intended as permanent, or whether it was an antenna – a piece of functional-technical equipment that was subject to change.”

Green Infrastructure: Not Enough For Storm Protection

WXY Studio’s East River Blueway Plan. Image Courtesy of WXY Studio

Since Hurricane Sandy struck New York, much has been made of “green infrastructure” and its potential to defend cities against waves and floods. Now though, two articles, from the New York Times and Grist, claim that would actually protects us very little. But, since engineered “gray” solutions, such as storm-walls, also have their limitations (namely just moving the surge elsewhere), it seems the solution is a combination of both “gray” and “green” (moving the surge to where it can safely release its energy). Read the original articles here and here.

First Section of Santiago Calatrava’s PATH Station Opens in NYC

Image via New York Daily News © Mark Bonifacio

A portion of Santiago Calatrava’s $4 billion station has opened. According to NY Daily News, the Western Concourse will now relieve New Yorkers from “cramped sidewalks and temporary bridges” crossing West St. with a 600-foot underground passage lined in “bright white marble” that connects the World Trade Center to the neighboring office complex formerly known as the World Financial Center. Once complete in 2015, the controversial transit hub will double as a massive shopping and retail complex, which aims to “transform” the cultural experience of lower Manhattan. 

Heatherwick Tapped to Design $75 Million Icon for NYC

UK Pavilion for Shanghai World Expo 2010 / . Image © Daniele Mattioli

Related Companies founder Stephen Ross has commissioned London designer and architect Thomas Heatherwick to design what could be, according to the Wall Street Journal, “one of the most expensive works of public art in the world.” Planned to be the centerpiece of Related’s Hudson Yards project in Manhattan’s West Side, the estimated $75 million artwork and its surrounding 4-acre public space aims to become “new icon for the city.”

Banksy Critiques One World Trade as “Shyscraper”

Center as seen from the Hudson River. Image © Joe Mabel via Wikipedia

Banksy, the pseudonymous United Kingdom-based graffiti artist who is currently making his rounds in , has proclaimed the One World Trade Center as the city’s “biggest eyesore.” In a brief op-ed piece, Banksy describes the SOM-designed tower as a “shy skyscraper,” one that declares New York’s “glory days” are gone.

“You really need to put up a better building in front of it right away,” stated Banksy. “… because you currently have under construction a one thousand foot tall sign that reads, New York – we lost our nerve.”

Criticism of the One World Trade isn’t new, as many leading critics have bashed its design for being “meh” - a watered-down version of Daniel Libeskind’s original proposal

Read Bansky’s full op-ed, after the break.  

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Design Ice Rink for NYC

Courtesy of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects / Dbox

After sitting derelict for years, the Kate Wollman Memorial Rink in Brooklyn’s is poised for something of a rebirth. Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s plans for a sports complex, known as Lakeside, is expected to restore the rink’s role as the park’s chief attraction. recently stopped by the site to explore the project as it nears completion – click here to read his thoughts on what he calls one of the last “parting gifts of the Bloomberg era to the city.”

White Arkitekter Wins FAR ROC Design Competition

View from Pier. Image © White Arkitekter

Stockholm-based White Arkitekter, along with partners  and , has been announced as the winner of the two-phase “For a Resilient Rockaway” (FAR ROC) design competition in New York. Selected from a shortlist of four and an international pool of 117, White Arkitekter’s “untraditional” proposal aims to transform an 80-acre shoreline site in the Rockaways into a resilient and affordable community through a series of small interventions that can be tested, adjusted, or redesigned overtime during the development process.