Queens Museum of Art Expansion / Grimshaw Architects

Courtesy of Grimshaw and the Museum of Art

Originally constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair, the resilient structure of New York’s Queens Museum of Art has been undergoing its fourth and most ambitious since April 2011. This $68 million , designed by Grimshaw Architects, will double the institution’s size, expanding the museum to a total of 105,000 square feet upon its completion in October 2013.

Landfill Reclamation: Fresh Kills Park Develops as a Natural Coastal Buffer and Parkland for Staten Island

Courtesy of Department of Parks and Recreation – Draft Master Plan

Every natural disaster has an “aftershock” in which we realize the fragility of our planet and the vulnerability of what we have built and created.  We realize the threat to our lifestyles and the flaws in our design choices.  The response to in October 2012 was no different than the response to every other hurricane, earthquake, tornado , tsunami or monsoon that has wrought devastation in different parts of the world.  We recognize our impact on the climate and promise to address how our development has caused severe disruptions in the planet’s self-regulating processes.   We acknowledge how outdated our systems of design have become in light of these damaging weather patterns and promise to change the way we design cities, coastlines and parks.  We gradually learn from our mistakes and attempt to redress them with smarter choices for more sustainable and resilient design.  Most importantly, we realize that we must learn from how natural processes self-regulate and apply these conditions to the way in which we design and build our urban spaces.

Since Hurricane Sandy, early considerations of environmentalists, planners and designers have entered the colloquial vocabulary of politicians in addressing the issues of the United States’ North Atlantic Coast.  There are many issues that need to be tackled in regards to environmental development and urban design.  One of the most prominent forces of Hurricane Sandy was the storm surge that pushed an enormous amount of ocean salt water far inland, flooding whole neighborhoods in New Jersey, submerging most of Manhattan’s southern half, destroying coastal homes along Long Island and the Rockaways, and sweeping away parts of Staten Island.  Yet, despite the tremendous damage, there was a lot that we learned from the areas that resisted the hurricane’s forces and within those areas are the applications that we must address for the rehabilitation and future development of these vulnerable conditions. Ironically, one of the answers lies within Fresh Kills – Staten Island’s out-of-commission landfill, which was the largest landfill in the United States until it was shutdown in 2001.  Find out how after the break.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro Designs Telescopic ‘Culture Shed’ for New York

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group

The expandable multi-use cultural venue dubbed ‘Culture Shed’ is one of the most radical proposals to come out of New York’s Hudson Yards Development Project. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro - the -based interdisciplinary practice that played a major role in designing the High Line - in collaboration with the Rockwell Group, this 170,000 square foot cultural center will be located at the south end of the , with the main entrance located near the conclusion of the High Line at West 30th Street.

More information on the Culture Shed after the break…

Where Does Zoning Fit Into Our Future City Planning?

.GOV – Department of Planning

“Let’s dump the word “,” as in ordinances that govern how land is developed and how buildings often are designed. Land-use regulation is still needed, but increasingly has become a conceptually inappropriate term, an obsolete characterization of how we plan and shape growth.” - Roger K. Lewis 

Zoning, a concept just over a century old, is already becoming an outdated system by which the government regulates development and growth.  Exceptions and loopholes within current zoning legislation prove that city planning is pushing a zoning transformation that reflects the current and future goals and needs of city building.  To determine how zoning and land use needs to evolve we must first assess the intentions of future city building.  

Planners, architects, legislators and community activists have already begun establishing guidelines and ordinances that approach the goals of sustainability and livability.  For example, the AIA has established Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design and has made a commitment to the Decade of Design: Global Solutions Challenge. New York City has come up with Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design and its Zone Green initiative in regards to updating its zoning resolution. In addition, Philadelphia has augmented its zoning to include urban farms and community gardens and it is safe to assume that many other cities will follow this precedent.  

So what is it about current zoning codes that makes it so outdated?  Follow us after the break for more.

NYC’s Union Square in 1828

‘Painting the Town’ via Business Insider

Can you imagine the intersection of Broadway and the Bowery in lower as sparsely populated “Uptown” used as a burial ground for indigent people? Well, according to the the book Painting the Town by The Museum of the City of New York (via Ephemeral New York), this scene painted from memory by Albertis Del Orient Browere in 1885 depicts what Union Square used to look like back in 1828 – just 20 years before this area started to transform into the bustling, concrete jungle we know today. 

Compare it to an updated photo of Union Square after the break. 

‘White Noise’ YAP MoMA PS1 Proposal / French 2Design

Courtesy of

White Noise (or The Buzz) reveals the latent potential of the community. It is the sound of the talent and value around us. The harnesses this latent value with an interactive sound environment (a collaboration with ARUP Acoustics) embedded in a playful series of figural abstractions, clad with white synthetic turf. The foregrounded backdrop of the architecture highlights the project’s main event, sharing and exchange among the people in the space, and manipulates readings of scale.

100 Norfolk Street / ODA

Courtesy of

Designed by ODA, 100 Norfolk Street expresses the unlimited potential and ambition hidden in the New York Block as it stands significantly taller than its neighbors. Located within the Lower east side , the design creates a rather unusual condition, a mid-block – freestanding building overlooking the area, offering strong light exposure for the interior residential spaces and direct views of Downtown, Midtown and the Williamsburg Bridge. More images and architects’ description after the break.

East River Blueway Plan / WXY Studio: New York City’s Plan for Flood Barrier Along East River

East River Blueway Plan / WXY Studio

The City of New York has long awaited renovations to the East River Greenway. Squeezed between the FDR Drive to the west and the river to East, there are a few scattered public parks connected by a path that has been weathered and torn apart over the years. The proposed “Blueway” is a coordinated collaboration – between Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Boards 3 and 6, State Assembly Member Brian Kavanaugh, and New York’s WXY architecture and urban design - that takes suggestions from the general public to develop a scheme that works within the framework of the existing Greenway and provides specific sites waterfront access, development of wetlands and greater connectivity to the city and its waterways.

The stretch along the Greenway, which is the focus of WXY’s scheme, runs from Midtown East at 38th street to the Brooklyn Bridge. Running along the FDR, this area expands towards the river and finds its way under the highway’s overpass. Unlike the Hudson River Parkway along the West Side Highway, the East River Greenway has meager waterfront access and few piers to facilitate its development.  A study, executed by several city departments in 2011, determined ways to improve amenities along the Greenway and proposed incorporating elements such as ambient lighting and street furniture.  Now the focus has shifted to the river itself to determine ways in which to increase its usability and accessibility   After Hurricane Sandy revealed the vulnerability of the hard edge of the East River, these same design considerations are now being used to create a resistant and effective buffer against future storm surges.

See what’s happening at the East River Blueway Plan after the break.

Situ Studio’s ‘Heartwalk’ Opens in Times Square

© Ka-Man Tse, Times Square Alliance

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Situ Studio has unveiled the fifth edition of Times Square’s annual Heartwalk – a heart-shaped “room within the city” made of salvaged Sandy debris. Inspired by the “collective experience of Hurricane Sandy and the love that binds people together during trying times,” Heartwalk begins as two weathered ribbons of wooden planks that gradually lift to form an illuminated heart enclosure in the middle of Duffy Square.

People are already falling in love, as you can see Instagram’s #heartwalktsq is filling up with images of elated New Yorkers standing within the “heart of New York City”.

More images after the break…

Governor Cuomo’s Solution for Ravaged Homes in NYC’s Coastal Region

© Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

After months of debate, the United States Congress has passed a bill that will allocate $51 billion to Hurricane Sandy relief helping the thousands who lost their homes and businesses to the devastating storm last October.   Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $400 million of the aid will be used to fund ’s buyout program, an initiative to help address the damaged homes and coastline.  The program is two-fold; in part it will help reimburse the property damage caused by the storm, but the initiative has a larger goal, which is to address the nature of coastal flooding and create a barrier that would mitigate the damage created to the coast by storm surges in the future.  Since the storm, there have been many suggestions as to how to prepare for the type of damage brought on by of 2012 and Hurricane Irene of 2011.  These suggestions range from flood gates to barrier reefs. Cuomo’s buyout program, as reported by the Architect’s Newspaper Blog, hopes to encourage residents along vulnerable flood zones to sell their land to the city for the development of a natural coast that would absorb the impact of strong winds and storm surges.

More after the break…

BIG’s West 57th “Pyramid” Wins Final Approval

Courtesy of

After an “arduous” public review and a heated debate over affordable , New York’s City Council has unanimously awarded final approval to BIG’s tetrahedral-shaped West 57th apartment building in Manhattan. As reported by Crain’s New York Business, a compromise has been made to include 173 affordable housing units within the 32-story, 750-unit residential building and the neighboring industrial building that will be converted into 100 additional rental apartments. As you may recall, the community board and Councilwoman Gail Brewer initially threatened to “torpedo the project” if the apartments were only made affordable for a 35 year period. However, Durst apparently won them over by contributing one million dollars into an affordable housing fund.

“The good news, which is the mantra of my office and community board No. 4, is there will be, yes, by law, 35 years of income-restricted affordable housing,” stated City Councilwoman Brewer, who represents the area.

Foster Responds to Kimmelman’s “Offensive” Diatribe Regarding the New York Public Library

The ’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

When applying “major surgery” to a beloved, 20th century “masterpiece”, you’re going to face some harsh criticism. Such is the case for , as the legendary British architect has been receiving intense backlash from New York’s toughest critics for his proposed renovation to the New York Public Library. First, the late Ada Louise Huxtable exclaimed, “You don’t “update” a masterpiece.” Now, the New York Time’s architecture critic Michael Kimmelman claims the design is “not worthy” of Foster and believes the rising budget to be suspect.

More on Kimmelman’s critique and Foster’s response after the break…

‘The City That Never Was’ Symposium

© Ricardo Espinosa

Organized by Christopher Marcinkoski and Javier Arpa, in cooperation with the Architectural League of New York, ‘The City That Never Was’ symposium will be taking place Friday, February 22, from 9:00am-5:30pm EST at the Scholastic Building in . The one day event will use the current economic and housing crisis in Spain as a lens to reconsider how planners, designers, politicians, and financiers conceive of and realize large-scale contemporary urbanization and settlement. It will be organized through four primary themes — infrastructure, waste, landscape, and instant urbanism – in order to explore new possibilities for how future patterns of urbanization can be conceived, financed, planned, deployed, and inhabited. For more details, including the complete itinerary and speaker information, please visit here.

Martin Barry: Collaborative Ideas for More Livable Cities Lecture

Courtesy of NYU

Martin Barry, founder and director of reSITE in Prague and associate at W Architecture and Architecture in New York, will give an evening lecture at 6:30pm EST on February 7th. Taking place at the NYU Silver Center, his lecture will focus on how organization is advocating for more transparent, contemporary and sustainable in Czech cities. Martin will discuss the outcomes of reSITE 2012 and describe their plans for reSITE Festival and Conference to take place in June 2013. The event is presented by NYU Department of Art History & Urban Design and Architecture Studies with Czech House NYU. For more information, please visit here.

 

adAPT NYC Competition Announces Micro Apartment Winner and Finalists

adAPT NYC Winner / Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS; Images via CURBED

In an effort to address housing concerns throughout the city, New York City held the adAPT NYC Competition in search for a micro-unit apartment building that would be developed into a new housing model for the “small household population”.  The winner and five finalists were announced earlier this week, revealing a sharp focus on consolidating various living areas to save space and resolving to give multi-functionality where ever possible.  There is also an emphasis on community in each of the proposals, making up for the small units with more public amenities within the building.  Join us after the break to take a closer look at the projects.

What Cities Can Do with Vacant Lots

Glenwood Green Acres; © Tony Fischer Photography

The bursting of the bubble wreaked havoc on cities across the United States causing widespread blight in once-thriving community economies.  Foreclosed, abandoned and condemned homes continue to pockmark neighborhoods and communities, adding to the of populous but affected cities like Philadelphia.  The Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia approximates that there are nearly 40,000 vacant lots throughout the city of brotherly love, about 74% of which are privately owned, making them virtually inaccessible to rehabilitation.  But the city has a strong drive to amend these conditions.  With organizations like DesignPhiladelphia’s “Not a Vacant Lot” and the city’s Redevelopment Authority, some of this land is being put to good use. 

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Winner of adAPT NYC Competition

“My Micro NY” Winter © nycmayorsoffice/Flickr

New York City Mayor has announced the winner of adAPT NYC - a city-sponsored competition that challenged developer-led teams to design an innovative micro-apartment that responds to 21st century problems. With an all time high of 8.4 million people, and an expected million more by 2030, New York City’s shortfall of affordable one and two person apartments is continuing to grow at a staggering rate. In an effort to solve this imbalance, the winner of adAPT NYC will build an experimental project on a piece of city-owned land in Kips Bay, Manhattan, that has been alleviated from the 1987 density restriction that requires all new apartments to be greater than 400 square feet.

“The growth rate for one- and two-person households greatly exceeds that of households with three or more people, and addressing that housing challenge requires us to think creatively and beyond our current regulations,” said Bloomberg.

So, who won adAPT NYC? Find out after the break!

Brookfield’s Manhattan West Breaks Ground

; Courtesy of Brookfield Development

City’s Midtown West will be experiencing a large makeover over the coming years.  Shortly after Hudson Yards broke ground in late 2012, Brookfield Properties initiated the first phase of its 5.4 million-square-foot master plan for Manhattan West on the corner of 33rd Street and 9th Ave.  Hovering over Penn Station’s Railroad tracks, an engineering feat will support two 60-story towers that will encompass residential and commercial functions, as well as public and community space.