Bloomberg Moves Forward with Controversial Seaport City

Courtesy of Mayor’s Office

Before he leaves office at the end of this year, Mayor Bloomberg has high hopes that his Post-Sandy plans will get off the ground. Most of his ideas have been met with consensus, however, one has stirred quite a bit of controversy: adding acres of land to Lower in order to create apartment/office towers-cum-levees.

Critics have launched a variety of arguments against the “Seaport City”: (1) practical feasibility – beyond the “tough regulatory hurdles,” the unpredictable nature of rising sea levels makes it difficult to predict how high these levee towers will actually need to be for them to safely withstand future storm surges; (2) economic feasibility – the plan would cost a whopping $20 billion dollars ($5 billion of which has yet too be accounted for); and (3) local character – local businesses are unlikely to care for their waterfront property suddenly becoming inland property, a transformation that would alter the character of the neighborhood entirely.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, maintains that Seaport City, a kind of Battery Park City for Lower Manhattan, will not only provide storm protection, but (unlike many other proposals) actually generate income, thus offsetting the project’s considerable price tag: “this approach would provide the protective value of a traditional levee while also providing new land on which commercial and residential buildings could be constructed, both to accommodate the City’s growth and to help finance the construction of the multi-purpose levee.” To really understand the feasibility of the project, however, the city of New York has just released a request for proposals from architects, planners and developers. More info, after the break…

‘Practical Utopias’ Exhibition

Courtesy of

Taking place at The Center for Architecture in , ‘Practical Utopias’ presents a body of recent work by American and other international firms in five cities across East Asia. Conceived as extensions or embellishments of existing capitals of finance and culture, these new cities within cities serve as focal points for future visions and global ambitions. Over the past twenty years the pace and scale of urbanization in Asia has been unprecedented in both the emerging and maturing economies of the region. Curated by Jonathan Solomon, this exhibition provides a framework for education and cultural exchange between New York and the global cities of Asia. The exhibition runs October 1 – January 18. For more information, please visit here.

Van Alen Institute Announces Ground/Work Competition Finalists

Van Alen Institute’s ground floor space at 30 West 22nd Street

Van Alen Institute announced just last week the finalists for Ground/Work: A Design Competition for Van Alen Institute’s New Street-Level Space. Continuing the Institute’s more than century-long legacy of supporting architectural innovation through design competitions, research and public programs, Ground/Work called on emerging architects to take on the task of designing an engaging and accessible venue for the Institute as it reimagines both its physical space and intellectual agenda at its City headquarters.

The selected finalists are Collective-LOK (Jon Lott, William O’Brien Jr., and Michael Kubo); EFGH (Hayley Eber, Frank Gesualdi, Spencer Lapp, Pat Ruggiero, and Ani Ivanova); and Of Possible Architectures (Vincent Appel, Ethan Lay-Sleeper, Jaime Magaliff, Paul Miller, Heather Murtagh, Franklin Romero Jr., and Emily Ruopp, in collaboration with Jay Atherton). More images and information after the break.

Marina Abramovic Launches Kickstarter to Build OMA-Designed Performance Center

, one of the most seminal performance artists of our time, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the transformation of an abandoned New York theater into an interdisciplinary performance and education center: Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI).

The institute, designed by Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas of OMA, will be dedicated to the presentation and of long durational work. Visitors will spend a minimum of six hours partaking in the Abramovic Method, a method that helps participants “develop skills for observing long durational performances through a series of exercises and environments designed to increase awareness of their physical and mental experience in the moment.” Needless to say, MAI will be unlike any other institute in existence.

A virtual tour of OMA’s design and more information after the break…

Is NYC “Landmarking Away” Its Future?

Midtown West; Courtesy of Flickr User David Boeke, Licensed via Creative Commons

A recent study by the Real Estate Board of (REBNY) concluded that by preserving 27.7% of buildings in Manhattan, “the city is landmarking away its economic future.” REBNY is challenging the Landmarks Preservation Commission, arguing it has too much power when it comes to planning decisions, and that by making business so difficult for developers it is stifling the growth of the city.

Yet not three days before releasing this study, president of REBNY Steve Spinola said in an interview with WNYC that “if you ask my members, they will tell you [the twelve years of Mayor Bloomberg's tenure] has been a great period of time for them”. The conclusion of WNYC is that the past decade has actually been a period of increased growth for developers, rather than a period of stagnation.

It would be easy to echo the opinion of Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, who believes the actions of REBNY come down to greed, even comparing its members to Gordon Gekko, the anti-hero of the film Wall Street. But is greed really what’s behind this attack on the Landmarks Preservation Commission? Find out after the break.

Fluid Crystallization / Skylar Tibbits + Arthur Olson

Courtesy of The Self-Assembly Lab, MIT

From the architect. MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab has exhibited the Fluid Crystallization project as part of the 2013 Architectural League Prize Exhibition at the Parson’s Gallery in . The Fluid Crystallization installation – a collaboration between MIT Self-Assembly Lab director Skylar Tibbits and The Molecular Graphics Lab director investigates hierarchical and non-deterministic self-assembly with large numbers of parts in a fluid medium. 

Leaning Out: Women in Global Practice

Courtesy of AIA NY Global Dialogues & AIA NY Women in Architecture

As part of the 2013 AIA Global Dialogues, (un-covered) Connections, ‘Leaning Out: Women in Global Practice‘ will discuss what it means to be a woman in the construction industry practicing globally in our time. Taking place this Thursday, July 25th, from 6-8pm EST at the Center for Architecture in , key speakers include the most significant women in their field – over 3 generations, which will be moderated by Cathleen McGuigan – Editor-in-chief at Architectural Record. Organized by AIA NY Global Dialogues and AIA NY Women in Architecture, the main question of the event is,’What are the challenges and the opportunities that women who choose this path face and how do their successes and shortcomings affect the next generation?’ For more information, please visit here.

Three Short Films on Informal Cities

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Next City, in collaboration with AIA New York, will be presenting a series of three short films this coming Monday, July 22, about the role of informal settlements, economies and networks in rapidly urbanizing cities. As part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Informal City Dialogues, these films take viewers to Accra and Bangkok where locals are finding solutions to poverty and slum eviction. There will also be a discussion with the filmmakers at the event. The video above is one of three films that will be shown at the event, which takes place from 6-8pm EST. For more information, please visit here.

+ POOL Hits Goal, Becomes Largest Civic Project Ever Kickstarted

Courtesy of , PlayLab

+ POOL, the project (initiated by a duo of young architects) to float a public swimming pool in New York’s Hudson River, has reached its latest kickstarter goal - making it the largest civic project to ever be crowdfunded online. As Architizer’s Karen Wong reports, it’s a remarkable gamechanger for architects (a profession where success often comes well into one’s golden years) as well as public space in general: “It’s a resounding demonstration of the public’s belief in young architects to rethink public space and manifest the untapped capital of waterways to benefit the common good.” Read the full article here

‘Colombia: Transformed/Architecture=Politics’ Exhibition

Courtesy of AIA NY

Taking place at the Center for Architecture July 11-October 26, the ‘Colombia: Transformed/Architecture=Politics‘ exhibition traces significant new projects that exemplify innovative architectural forms and spaces while serving as conduits for social inclusion. With measurable results, Colombia’s largest cities—most visibly Medellin—have demonstrated how visionary approaches to urban planning and architecture can improve circumstances for the lower classes, enhance the quality of life for all, and attract business and tourism. A brief review of significant recent projects reveals an overarching commitment to design as well as a sensitivity to the role of context and the immediate needs of a population. More information on the exhibition after the break.

‘Pop-Up Hotel’ Winning Proposal / PINKCLOUD

Courtesy of

Designed by PINKCLOUD, their ‘Pop-Up Hotel’ proposal was recently selected as the winning entry in the 2013 Radical Innovation in Hospitality competition. Their concept focuses on the transformation of empty Class A office spaces into hospitality spaces through a simple setup. They intend to partner with various owner/leasing agencies around Midtown in to identify buildings in need of revitalization. A uniquely urban experience, the Pop-Up hotel will feature a variety of amenities and rooms catering to a wide diversity of clientele. More images and architects’ description after the break.

‘Densify’ Discussion at the Center for Architecture

Courtesy of AIA

Presented by AIA New York, the Densify discussion is set to take place June 26th from 6:45pm-8:30pm EST at the Center for Architecture. The event looks at proposals for Manhattan’s Midtown East, that could significantly increase land use intensity at Manhattan’s densest urban core, and Micro-housing that will significantly decrease the allowable dwelling size in New York City. The program will also include interviews with the Renzo Piano Building Workshop on high-rise mix-use development in London, focusing on the Shard, and comparisons between Micro-housing in NYC and Asian precedents. For more information, please visit here.

‘Renzo Piano Building Workshop: Fragments’ Exhibition

Courtesy of Foundation

Taking place June 27 – August 2, Gagosian Gallery, in collaboration with Renzo Piano Foundation and generously supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, ‘Fragments’ is an exhibition of more than thirty years of architectural projects by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Equal parts library reading room, school classroom, and natural history gallery, the exhibition consists of twenty-four tabletop displays of scale models, drawings, photographs, and video. Each tells the involved, inspiring story of the design process of a single building, from museums, libraries, and airports to private residences. More information on the exhibition after the break.

Linda Farrow + BOFFO Building Fashion 2013 Competition

Courtesy of Linda Farrow + BOFFO

BOFFO, with eyewear brand Linda Farrow, just launched their latest Building Fashion competition which asks participants to design and build a temporary store in City for the iconic eyewear brand. Exploring the intersection of architecture and fashion through integrated store and exhibition design, a shipping container, near City’s Meatpacking district, will be redesigned inside and out providing a unique glimpse into the work of vibrant and acclaimed designers. This third annual installation series aims to once again push the limits of temporary architecture and the language of retail design.

BOFFO Building Fashion will also showcase design installations that push the limits of temporary architecture and retail spaces through fashion and architecture collaborations. The installations will be open to the public December 4-24. The deadline for project submissions is July 14. For more information, please visit here. Check out their video after the break.

+ Pool Launches ‘Tile by Tile’ Kickstarter Campaign

© Family, PlayLab

+ Pool, the ambitious project to float a public swimming pool in ’s East River, has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund “Tile by Tile,” what will be the largest crowdfunded civic project to date. Those who back the pool will be rewarded by having their name engraved on one of the pool’s 70,000 tiles.

+ Pool will filter the river water to give users a clean, safe yet natural environment to swim in and provide space for all types of “swimmers, bathers and hanger-outers” in each of its four sections. The current campaign’s primary aim is to fund an in-situ floating test lab which will, for the first time, prove the feasibility of filtering river water by testing various potential filtration systems.

Read more about the + Pool and the growing trend towards crowdfunding after the break…

‘FitNation’ Exhibition

Red Swing Project / University of Texas at Austin Architecture Students / © Blake Gordon

From Brooklyn to the Bronx, from San Antonio to Cincinnati, communities and organizations across the are tackling heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases with a dose of powerful medicine: active design. Organized by AIA New York, with the Center for Architecture, their groundbreaking ‘FitNation‘ exhibition. brings together for the first time 33 projects in 15 states and the District of Columbia that showcase the ways design, policy, and grassroots strategies are promoting physical activity as part of daily life. The event began this week and concludes on August 8. More images and information on the exhibition after the break.

‘Reimagining Lincoln Center and the High Line’ Film Screening

Taking place this Thursday, June 20th, at 7:00pm EST, Van Alen Books welcomes Diller Scofidio + Renfro for a film screening of ’Reimagining Lincoln Center and the High Line.’ The 54-minute documentary offers insights into the firm’s history, completed projects, and unique process of re-imagining the public identities of two major urban spaces. The film includes commentary from the architects as well as interviews with City planning commissioner Amanda Burden, as well as several critics and theorists. Before the film, Liz Diller and Ric Scofidio will join directors Muffie Dunn and Tom Piper for a conversation about their work, moderated by VAI executive director David Van der Leer. More more information on the event, please visit here.

Pool Pavilion / GLUCK+

© Paul Warchol

Architects: GLUCK+
Location: Lake George, , USA
Project Team: Shannon Bambenek, Richard Bednarczyk, John D’Agnone, Peter L. Gluck, Charlie Kaplan, Eric Schaefer, Robert Wall, Douglas Weibel
Year: 2009
Photographs: Paul Warchol, Amy Barkow, Erik Freeland