A Vision for a Self-Reliant New York

Street view of Amsterdam Ave. in northern Manhattan featuring a mix of traditional and advanced agricultural growing techniques. Image Courtesy of Terreform

“In an era of incompetent nation states and predatory transnationals, we must ratchet up local self-reliance, and the most logical increment of organisation (and resistance) is the city.” This is how Michael Sorkin, writing in Aeon Magazine, explains his hypothetical plan to radically change the landscape of New York City, bringing a green landscape and into the former concrete jungle. The plan, called “New York City (Steady) State”, produced over six years by Sorkin’s Terreform, is not designed simply for aesthetic pleasure; it’s not even an attempt to make the city more sustainable (although sustainability is the key motivation behind the project). The project is in fact a “thought-experiment” to design a version of New York that is completely self reliant, creating its own food, energy and everything else within its own borders. Read on after the break to find out how New York could achieve self-reliance

Zoning Exception Will Not Be Made for Studio Gang’s Solar Carve

Courtesy of Solar Carve Architects

The developers behind Studio Gang’s Solar Carve have withdrawn their request for a variance that would have allowed for an increase in the tower’s rentable space. The Board of Standards and Appeals rejected the solicited exception, despite the developer’s claim that the expensive pilings necessary for the sandy, non-bedrock site adjacent to ’s High Line posed a “financial hardship.”

Studio Gang’s 213 foot tower was slated for completion in 2015. Although “the bid for additional floor has been dropped from the application,” said the project’s land use attorney, a hearing for special permitting that will allow for a modified setback is scheduled for March.

VIDEO: Liz Diller on the High Line, A Mile of Respite in the City that Never Sleeps

Liz Diller, one of the three partners of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, discusses the history of the High Line and the active design decisions which led to its success.

The elevated railroad, which was designed to penetrate city blocks rather than parallel an avenue, saw its last delivery (of frozen turkeys) in 1980. By 1999, a “very strange landscape had formed, with a whole eco system around it,” says Diller. Advocacy for the site’s preservation began with two local residents, and culminated in its reclamation with the multidisciplinary collaboration of city officials and impassioned designers (namely James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and planting designer Piet Oudolf). “The project couldn’t have happened without the right people, the right time and the right administration.”

Today, thirty-feet above the hardscape in the canopy of the New York City jungle, the High Line pauses for a meditative mile. “The high line, if it’s about anything, it’s about nothing, about doing nothing. You can walk and sit, but you can’t be productive,” comments Diller.

Skyscrapers Shedding Ice in NYC

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

As begins to thaw after record breaking winter conditions, city dwellers are forced to be on high alert for falling ice. Streets surrounding the 1,776-foot One World Trade Center have been closed following reports of ice shearing from its surface. Some blame the more energy efficient buildings for the deadly occurrence, believing that because the newer structures are able to hold in more heat their exteriors remain colder which aids the formation of ice. Materials and building form can help prevent this phenomena. You can learn more here.

Frank Gehry’s Ground Zero Performing Arts Scheme Abandoned

Original Proposal. Image © Gehry Partners

The recent hire of temporary artistic director David Lan has indicated that plans for ’s “world center for the performing arts” is moving forward in New York. The famed London director will work alongside Charcoalblue managing partner Andy Hayles to revise the original Frank Gehry-designed scheme which, according to the center’s president, was prematurely designed. This leaves Gehry’s involvement unclear, as the initial 1000-seat center will be abandoned for a scaled down, three-theater house that ranges from 150 to 550 seats. Competition for funding also remains an obstacle, in light of venues such as Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s 2017 Culture Shed. You can learn more about the center’s update here

Young Projects Play “Match-Maker” in Times Square

© Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts

Young Projects will be spending the week playing “Match-Maker” in , as the -based studio has debuted their interactive Valentine’s Day installation in the heart of Times Square. Made in collaboration with fabricator Kammetal, as part of Times Square Alliance’s sixth annual heart design competition, the interactive heart-shaped sculpture is designed to cosmically connect people based on their zodiac signs by arranging curious passerby’s at twelve points surrounding the installation.  

As Young Projects describes, “Peering through colorful, interwoven periscopes provides glimpses of each viewer’s four most ideal astrological mates, offering potentially novel connections between lonely souls or settled lovers.”

The Living Wins P.S.1 with Compostable Brick Tower

Courtesy of

The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 has selected ”Hy-Fi,” a “circular tower of organic and reflective bricks” designed by The Living (David Benjamin), as the winner of the 15th annual Young Architects Program () in New York. An exemplar of the cradle-to-cradle philosophy, the temporary installation will be built entirely from organic material via a new method of bio-design.

Six Firms Named 2014′s “New Practices New York”

Haffenden House / PARA-Project

The American Institute of America’s New York Chapter () has selected six young, and “pioneering” firms as the winners of the 2014 New Practices New York portfolio competition. The award is designed “to recognize and promote” emerging practices that are less than a decade old and based within the five boroughs of . As a result, each winner will be featured in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture from October 1, through January 15, 2015.

Without further ado, the 2014 New Practices New York winners are:

The New York City Cantilever: If You Can’t Go Up, Go Out

35XV Residences. Image Courtesy of

New York City’s notoriously space-hungry market is converting the cantilever – perhaps made most famous in Frank Lloyd Wright’s floating Fallingwater residence of 1935 – from a mere move of architectural acrobatics to a profit-generating design feature. Driven by a “more is more” mantra, developers and architects are using cantilevers to extend the reach of a building, creating unique vistas and extended floor space in a market in which both are priced at sky-high premiums.

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 and allows users to propose new uses. Learn more in the video above.

Snohetta Makes Times Square Permanently Pedestrian

Courtesy of Snøhetta

New York 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 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 waterfront 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 ’s next move will be. The answer: be of every city (kind of). Bloomberg, along with most of his New York City 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 Arup’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, 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 waterfront 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

© James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, courtesy of the City of

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.