Four Architects Enlisted to Reimagine Penn Station

Penn Station via Wikipedia

In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of has challenged Santiago CalatravaDiller Scofidio + Renfro, and SOM to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area. 

The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners – the Dolan family – has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that, as NYTimes critic Michael Kimmelman states, would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in London. With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination that benefited all parties. 

More after the break…

Living Arts City: Art and Urbanism in Phnom Penh and New York

Courtesy of Parsons The New School for Design

As part of Season of Cambodia, a multidisciplinary arts festival taking place this spring in Parsons The New School for Design and Cambodian Living Arts will be presenting a two-day colloquium titled, ‘Living Arts City: Art and Urbanism in Phnom Penh and New York’. Taking place April 6-7, the event will bring together artists, performers, curators, arts managers, scholars and students in a series of facilitated workshops and discussions on how to make the arts central to a sustainable in Cambodia, in the face of rapid growth and urban development. For more information, including a complete schedule of events, please visit here.

Wang Shu Lecture at The Cooper Union

Ningbo History Museum / © Lu Hengzhong

Presented by The Architectural League of New York, the Wang Shu lecture is coming up this Tuesday, April 2nd, at The Cooper Union at 7:00pm. The 2012 Pritzker laureate will be discussing his current work and how Amateur Architecture Studio, founded by him and wife Lu Wenyu, incorporates his knowledge of everyday techniques to adapt and transform materials for contemporary projects. Some of his most important built works include the Library of Wenzheng College, Suzhou University; Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum; the Xiangshan Campus of the China Academy of Art; and the Ningbo History Museum. For more information, please visit here.

Artist Residence & Studio / Caliper Studio

© Ty Cole, Artwork © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Architects: Caliper Studio
Location: Greenwich Village, ,
Structural Engineer: Gilsanz Murray Steficek
Mep Engineer: D’Antonio Consulting Engineers
Waterproofing Consultant: James Gainfort
Landcape Design: VertNY
General Contractor: Riverside Builders
Photographs: Ty Cole

Emerging Voices 2013: PRODUCTORA

Courtesy of

Selected for this year’s Emerging Voices of the Architectural League of New York, PRODUCTORA of Mexico City will be delivering a lecture this Thursday, March 28th, at 7:00pm at the Scholastic Auditorium. PRODUCTORA was selected for their distinct design voice and their potential to influence architecture on a global scale. Being named an Emerging Voice is one of the most coveted awards in North American architecture, and the program has an excellent thirty year track record of identifying and nurturing firms that go on to have influential practices.

Other winning firms included in this year’s selection are Cao-Perrot Studio of Los Angeles and Paris, DIGSAU of Philadelphia, dlandstudio of Brooklyn, Gracia Studio of Tijuana and San Diego, MASS Design Group of Boston and Kigali, Rwanda, Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects of San Francisco, and SO-IL of . For more information on the event, please visit here.

Urban Townhouse / GLUCK+

© Raimund Koch

Architects: GLUCK+
Location: New York,
Project Team: Guido Furlanello, Peter L. Gluck, Thomas Gluck, Jason Kreuzer, Scott Scales, Jeff Straesser, Robert Holton, Shlomit Levav, AB Moburg-Davis, Jason Walls
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates P.C.
Mep Engineer: Rodkin Cardinale Consulting Engineers P.C.
Year: 2009
Photographs: Raimund Koch, Erik Freeland

Video: Skyhouse / David Hotson Architect

Skyhouse is a house in the sky, a residential penthouse located at the summit of one of the earliest surviving in and situated within the incomparable vertical cityscape of Lower Manhattan. The project involved the construction of a set of unique living spaces inside a decorative penthouse structure which had never before been used as a residence… The spaces of this residence and the vistas channeled through it ascend and descend through all four levels of the penthouse structure and into the three-dimensional cityscape surrounding it in every direction.

The Woolworth Building @ 100 Exhibtion

Woolworth Building at Night, April 24, 1913. Library of Congress

The Woolworth Building @ 100 Exhibtion, taking place at the Skyscraper Museum in until July 14, 2013, celebrates its centennial year in the process of conversion, with office space remaining below and luxury residences planned for the upper tower. Still radiant on the lower Manhattan skyline, the landmark heralds both the past and of New York as it became the preeminent silhouette on the New York skyline and took the title of world’s tallest office building in 1913 when eighty thousand incandescent bulbs illuminated the New York night. The brilliant spectacle was a career-crowning achievement for the tower’s owner, the five-and-dime store king Frank W. Woolworth, who paid for the skyscraper with his personal fortune and took a hands-on role in every decision of its design. For more information on the event, please visit here.

Predictions from the Past: New York 2012 and LA 2013

in 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner’s Predictions; and LA’s predictions from 1988 for 2013

Throughout history, people have spent a great deal of time pondering what the future holds.  Scientific discovery and technological innovation – along with rebellious androids, zombies, flying cars, hover crafts, visiting aliens – have been consistently used as stereotypes that emerge in predictions for our imagined future.  And while Hollywood was busy exploring dystopian scenarios of this near-future, architects were composing utopian images of an optimistic vision for cities.

Architects have built careers upon predicting what cities can potentially become – developing forms, functions, plans and visions of possibilities in the social, political, economic and cultural realms through architecture. In 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner of NYC predicted a culturally diverse, economically viable, global city for New York in 2012.  In 1988, Los Angeles Times Magazine gave its 25-year forecast for in 2013, predicting what a life for a family would be like, filled with robots, electric cars, smart houses and an abundance of video-conferencing. Find out how their predictions fared after the break.

Exhibition for Frank Gehry Prints and Sculpture

© Chris Santa Maria

On view now until April 13, is the Stamberg Aferiat + Associates designed exhibition for Frank Gehry prints and a sculpture for the -based artists’ workshop Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl in New York City. The exhibition celebrates architecture, a more than ten-year collaboration with the renowned architect, and their one-year anniversary in a designed space by architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat. The exhibit features a newly editioned sculpture and an enlarging of Gehry’s Marques de Riscal Winery image. More images and description of the exhibition after the break.

Air: A Hot Commodity in New York City

The air rights to 140 West 58th Street were bought by the developer of the 90-story One57. Image via The Times

“There’s a price on everything in New York, and the air is no exception.” - Ross F. Moskowitz, Strock & Strock & Lavan

All of us are familiar with the practice of buying and selling property in the form of land, residential and commercial space, but the buying and selling of the air surrounding these spaces is a concept well-understood by few. With the recovery of the condominium market in , residential development is at an all-time high, and this means taller and even more luxurious towers are fighting each other tooth and nail for the best possible views of the city. Because of this, the price of air above and around these potential developments is becoming more and more expensive, since a room with a view is worth a whole lot more than one without. Is it possible that these empty, vertical pockets are now worth more than the ground below them?

Read more about New York City’s air rights to find out.

Postcard from Roosevelt Island, New York

© Hassan Bagheri

This text was provided by San Francisco-based writer Kenneth Caldwell. Photos by Hassan Bagheri.

One friend said, “It looks a bit austere.” At first glance, it probably is. But like so many great minimal environments, it asks for patience and generosity. You give, and in turn it gives back.

This is also what the artists Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and, more recently, Olafur Eliasson ask. Trust them with your time and you may be rewarded with a small measure of serenity—perhaps even with the connection between art and the divine that Dominique de Menil was so focused on.

Designed by Louis Kahn, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is an outdoor sanctuary at the southern tip of what is now called , created as a memorial to FDR. The park opened last fall. Kahn’s gift took 40 years to be realized, but it presents a path for human beings to treat each other to peace.

Continue reading after the break…

‘Frank Gehry At Work’ Exhibition

Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Feely Fine Art, LLC.

On display at Leslie Feely Fine Art in from April 11 to June 30, 2013, the Frank Gehry At Work exhibition features a selection of over 30 diverse process models by Gehry, which are drawn from significant constructions and concepts of the architect’s prolific career. These organic forms, which consist of a wide array of materials, stand as testament to Gehry’s tactile approach, enhancing our perception of this sculptural architect and his work,  illuminating the subtleties of Gehry’s thought—and working—process. More images and information on the exhibition after the break.

Beyond New York: Organic vs Geometrical Context Lecture

Basket Apartments in Paris by OFIS Architects / © Tomaz Gregoric

Coming up this Friday, March 8th, at the Center for Architecture in , the ‘Beyond New York: Organic vs Geometrical Context’ lecture is part of the Architecture Dialogue Committee’s on-going series to introduce the next generation of architects not practicing in New York City. For this event, they have invited Spela Videcnik from OFIS arhitekti of Ljubljana, Slovenia to share insights about architectural and from 6:00pm-8:00pm. Videcnik, who is currently teaching Architectural Design at Harvard’s GSD, will present OFIS’s design approach through their most recently built projects, such as the Basket Apartments (Paris) and The Cultural Centre for Space Technologies (Slovenia), and how these different geometries inform their current work. For more information, please visit here.

Queens Museum of Art Expansion / Grimshaw Architects

Courtesy of Grimshaw and the Queens 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 Hurricane Sandy 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 ’ North Atlantic Coast.  There are many issues that need to be tackled in regards to environmental development and .  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 and Rockwell Group

The expandable multi-use 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 New York-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 Hudson Yards, 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?

NYC.GOV – Department of Planning

“Let’s dump the word “zoning,” as in zoning ordinances that govern how land is developed and how buildings often are designed. Land-use regulation is still needed, but zoning 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 goals and needs of city building.  To determine how zoning and 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.