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 ’s Queens Museum of Art has been undergoing its fourth and most ambitious renovation since April 2011. This $68 million renovation, 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.

MoMA PS1 Call for Ideas: Rethinking Post-Sandy Rockaway

Courtesy of MoMA PS1

Architects, artists, and designers are invited to participate in the competition to Rethink the Post-Sandy Rockaway.  MoMA PS1’s Young Architects program is seeking ideas for alternative housing models, creation of social spaces, urban interventions, new uses of public space, the rebuilding of the boardwalk, protection of the shoreline, and actions to engage local communities and to aid in the effort to rebuild from . Judges will be selecting 25 proposals to be displayed on  Beach in April. The deadline for submissions is March 15. For more information, please visit here.

Films & Architecture: “The Fifth Element”

Last week, our latest featured film showed New York in the ’60s - this time we move to the future, about 200 years from now. This film, directed and co-written by Luc Besson, shows a with flying cars and technological systems applied all around the human environment.

Enjoy and let us know your thoughts of how our cities will look in the next century!

Event: Pratt Explores the Importance of Cold War Era Pre-Fabricated Building Systems

Housing Prototype Systems; Courtesy of Pedro Alonso

Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture will present “COLD war COOL digital,” an of 20 scaled prototypes of modernist, pre-fabricated, and globally-distributed Cold War era housing systems that were created using contemporary 3D printing technologies (opening reception 2/18 at 6:15, details below). The will investigate architectural and its global influence and will connect with contemporary prototype pre-fabrication methods and digital research in housing and skyscraper design. A symposium that explores the technical, aesthetic, and political aspects of prototyping and pre-construction in architecture will be held tonight in conjunction with the exhibition.

Continue reading for more details…

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 future 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. 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 Manhattan 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.

Films & Architecture: “North by Northwest”

Our latest movie in our Films & Architecture series is another ’60s classic, this time by the master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. In North by Northwest we see a in the heyday of its architectural glory, with one scene taking place at a newly constructed United Nations building. In fact, the last scene takes place in a “house” that, under Hitchcock’s instructions, was meant to seem designed by (in reality, the house was just another set design). The film shows a variety of urban spaces, and puts special emphasis on the contrast between the densities of  urban and rural realms.

As always, enjoy and comment!

Event: Buell Center at Columbia University presents “Comments on Comments”

Courtesy of The Buell Center

How do we talk about architecture? ? Cities? Culture? Politics? And, equally important, how don’t we talk about them? Comments on Foreclosed, a forthcoming book and online archive of public reactions to Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream, a 2012 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in that was co-curated by the Buell Center, has been produced to document just this kind of public discussion and the various platforms that shape it.

On February 18th, The Buell Center will mark the completion of the book and website, www.commentsonforeclosed.com, with a public event, “Comments on Comments”.  A performance of excerpts from the archive will open a multimedia panel discussion and Q&A.  In so doing, certain gaps in the public conversation on American housing and urbanism will be identified, and systemic deficiencies called out.

Ezra Stoller: Beyond Architecture

McMath Solar Telescope, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Kitt Peak, AZ, 1962 Gelatin Silver Print © Ezra Stoller, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Now on view at the Yossi Milo Gallery through March 2, rarely-seen images by modernist architectural photographer Ezra Stroller (American, 1915-2004) captures a Post-War American landscape with stunning images of industry, technology, transportation and working class Americans. 

Beyond Architecture covers the full range of Stoller’s work, including photographs commissioned by Fortune, Architectural Forum, and House Beautiful magazines in the 1940s and for commercial projects for IBM, Upjohn Pharmaceuticals and CBS in the 1940s and 1950s. Included are photographs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s John Hancock Building, Chicago, and the Headquarters, designed by an international team of architects led by Wallace K. Harrison and including Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier.

A selection of these images after the break…

100 Norfolk Street / ODA

Courtesy of

Designed by ODA, 100 Norfolk Street expresses the unlimited potential and ambition hidden in the Block as it stands significantly taller than its neighbors. Located within the Lower east side Manhattan, 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 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 installation – 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 City”.

More images after the break…

Preservationists Prevail: Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist Landmark Spared from Destruction

by © New York Times – Tony Cenicola

Although preservationists continue to mourn the seemingly inevitable demise of Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital, a solid victory for Brutalism has finally been confirmed. Lawmakers in Goshen, New York, have passed a proposal to renovate Paul Rudolph’s iconic Orange County Government Center, authorizing $10 million in design funding. The 15-6 vote was secured by the overwhelming evidence that an upgrade would be more cost effect than County Executive Ed Diana’s fallback plan to replace two-thirds of the building and preserving only the court section. In addition, lawmakers felt the pressure of a March 12 deadline that would risk losing up to $2.7 million in federal funds to repair water damage caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

More 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.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $400 million of the aid will be used to fund New York’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 Norman Foster, as the legendary British architect has been receiving intense backlash from ’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 New York. The one day event will use the current economic and 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, , 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.