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North Brother Island School for Autistic Children / Ian M. Ellis & Frances Peterson

Designed by architecture students, Ian M. Ellis and Frances Peterson, their proposal for the North Brother Island School for Autistic Children in New York City aims to provide a necessary resource for the Bronx, which is heavily underserved in terms of school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The project is also designed with the intention that it will dissolve the negative stigma of the island, stabilize its naturalized growth as habitat for the birds, and introduce research and education programs to provide a cutting edge learning environment for the public, parents, and children. More images and architects’ description after the break.

WORKSHOP for Everlane / The Principles

The Principles just recently completed an interactive project, titled the “Workshop”, for the clothing brand Everlane in the Meatpacking district of New York. As part of the Everlane’s “Not-a-Shop” series, which focuses on selling only online, “the space was a physical manifestation of their primarily digital presence; replacing coded interaction with physical interaction,” described The Principals co-founder Drew Seskunas.

Video: OMA's Shohei Shigematsu, On New York City

Grand Central Terminal Drawing Competition Winners

The Architectural League of New York and the New York Transit Museum recently announced the winners of a competition to select sketches by contemporary architects for a new Grand Central Terminal sketchbook produced in collaboration with Moleskine. The sketchbook features historical images from the Transit Museum’s collections, along with twenty drawings and sketches by contemporary architects and designers who were invited to “submit a sketch or drawing that captures and/or re-imagines Grand Central, representing or evoking what this iconic building means to you.” More images and information after the break.

BIG Update: Planning Commission approves West 57th

After months of an “arduous” public reviewing process, BIG’s eye-catching West 57th apartment building in Manhattan has been approved by the City Planning Commission. The atypical design quickly gained international attention with its abruptly sloped, tetrahedral shape that rises from three stories to thirty-eight stories on an awkwardly sized single block site. Cleverly titled W57, the unique project was “born of logic”, as New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson would describe. It features a massive, football-sized courtyard with stunning Hudson River views and outdoor terraces for all 753 residents, along with a vibrant street life and close proximity to the Hudson River Park.

“Our approval will facilitate development of a significant new building with a distinctive pyramid-like shaped design and thoughtful site plan that integrates the full block site into the evolving residential, institutional, and commercial neighborhood surrounding it,” stated City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden before voting in favor of the project.

Find out what it took to get W57 passed, after the break…

"Ruins of Modernity: The Failure of Revolutionary Architecture in the 20th Century"

Including well-known speakers such as Peter Eisenman, Reinhold Martin, Joan Ockman, and Bernard Tschumi, the “Ruins of Modernity: The Failure of Revolutionary Architecture in the 20th Century” event will be taking place in New York City February 7th from 7:00pm-10:00pm. Free and open to the public, the event is part of a larger series of panels and events centered around the theme of the death of art that will take place during the month of February 2013 in NYC. The modernists’ project consisted in giving shape to an inseparable duality, wherein the role of architecture was deduced as simultaneously a reflection of modern society as well as an attempt to transform it. The event highlights and debates the thoughts proposed by architectural theorists such as Victor Hugo, Colin Rowe, and Reyner Banham while looking at how the the last century influences architecture today. For more information, please visit here.

Chelsea Market Upzoning Approved by NYC Council

Plans for Chelsea Market along 10th Avenue; Courtesy of Jamestown Properties. Via Architect's Newspaper
Plans for Chelsea Market along 10th Avenue; Courtesy of Jamestown Properties. Via Architect's Newspaper

Construction has exploded along the High Line ever since it opened: condos hover over the rehabilitated track and look out onto the Hudson, while the new location of the Whitney Museum is making headway on the southern end of the park as Google moves into its NYC headquarters to a building just a few short blows away.  Now, the historic Chelsea Market may be looking at a facelift following approval from the New York City Council for increasing density in the building by developers, Jamestown Properties. The proposed vertical extension, which has made a brief appearance on a few architecture blogs, will provide the additional in demand office and retail space in the Chelsea neighborhood.

UNICEF Snowflake / Ingo Maurer + Baccarat

Shining in the heart of New York City at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, the UNICEF Snowflake is a special symbol for the world’s most vulnerable children. It hangs as a reminder of UNICEF’s commitment to reach a day when zero children die from preventable causes. Hanging at its location in the big city, throughout the winter season, the  largest outdoor chandelier of its kind is designed by German lighting and industrial designer Ingo Maurer, along with leading French crystal manufacturers Baccarat. The iconic UNICEF Snowflake has 12 double-sided branches adorned with 16,000 dazzling crystal prisms handcrafted in the small village of Baccarat, France. Names can be engraved upon the New York City landmark while helping children around the world in need. For more information, and to find out how you can donate, please visit here. A video of the symbol of a beacon of hope for children can be viewed after the break.

Lego Housing Units on the Street / Jaye Moon

In an effort to alleviate some of the stress and frustration associated with New York’s continued housing crisis, Jaye Moon, a Brooklyn-based street artist, decided to leave new buildings made of Legos cradled in the limbs of trees, or wrapped around their trunks. Carefully designed, the blocked geometry of her architectural construction is considered to allow for the expansion of tree limbs and to avoid damage. Catching the eye of local New Yorkers and captivating anyone who may pass by her creations, Moon says she chose Legos as a medium because they are ready-made objects that mimic industrial, mechanical uses and because they summon a certain childlike innocence and sense of play. More images and information after the break.

NYC Developers Race to the Top

© Adam Jackson
© Adam Jackson

It’s a race to the top as developers are reaching higher and higher with impressive glass skyscrapers that house exclusive apartments and panoramic views across Manhattan, level with some of the city’s tallest buildings.  Gary Barnett of Extell Development Co. is the man behind the 1,005 foot high One57 tower in Midtown Manhattan.  He announced last month that he would be developing the tallest residential building in New York City (without the help of a spire).  Adrian Smith, chosen as the architect for the job, is best known for his work on the Burj Dubai.  The new building, still in its early stages of design planning and financing, will tower over the Empire State Building at a planned 1600 feet, that’s just 176 feet shy of World Trade One, the tallest building in Manhattan.

Foster's Design for the New York Public Library Unveiled

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

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has unveiled the details of their controversial plan to renovate the 20th century, Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” on 5th Avenue. Designed Foster + Partners, the $300 million dollar proposal is a response to the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, as the library has experienced a 41% decrease in the use of collections over the last 15 years. Sensitive to concerned critics, the renovation promises to preserve the building’s legacy as it integrates a new, state-of-the-art Circulating Library into its flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street. Foster’s “library within a library” will transform seven floors of stacks, currently occupying the back of the building, into an aesthetically, technologically and environmentally advanced public space that meets the needs of our 21st century society. “We need to be respectful of the beloved, iconic building and to create a new inspiring space,” Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president, said in an interview with the New York Times. “At a time when people wonder about the future of libraries, we’re going to create the greatest library the world has ever seen.” Learn all the details and see the renderings after the break…

Alda Louis Huxtable Takes On The New York Public Library

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

The New York Public Library has a plan to save millions of dollars, improve efficiency, and reverse the cutbacks that have been plaguing it. How? By sending little-used resources off-site (after all, most people use the library for its online resources these days), the Library will consolidate three libraries into one Mid-Manhattan branch, renovating the building with a streamlined, efficient design - courtesy of Foster + Partners - to create "the largest combined research and circulating library in the country."

It sounds like a wonderful, modern solution. Ms. Alda Louis Huxtable would beg to differ.

The former New York Times architecture critic and current critic for the Wall Street Journal has come out swinging against the plan. First, she builds on the critique that others have made, that by moving volumes off-site (to New Jersey, or "Siberia, as she puts it) to make room for more modern amenities, the library will devalue its primary purpose (making resources readily accessible). To put it another way, as Scott Sherman did in his article for The Nation, it would turn the library into “a glorified internet café.” Then, Huxtable makes her own argument: that removing the current, intricate system of stacks would be an enormously complex, expensive, and hopelessly misguided structural challenge.

But, ultimately Ms. Huxtable’s argument comes down to the intrinsic architectural and cultural value of this Beaux Arts Masterpiece: “You don't "update" a masterpiece.” 

More on the Ms. Huxtable incendiary critique of The New York Public Library’s Central Plan, after the break...

StreetFest Competition - IDEAS CITY 2013

Storefront for Art and Architecture, jointly with the New Museum and Architizer, recently launched the StreetFest Competition – IDEAS CITY 2013. As the world’s resources continue to be endangered, depleted, and destroyed, we all need to imagine new solutions and develop innovative approaches and practices. Created to explore the future city and to effect change, the biennial festival will take place in downtown New York from May 1-4, 2013 with the theme, ‘Untapped Capital’. On May 4, one winning entry will occupy a designated outdoor space along the Bowery near the New Museum. The deadline for submissions is February 9. To register and for more information, please visit here.

Staten Island: A Microcosm of New York’s Post-Sandy Controversies

Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen
Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

The power and destruction of Hurricane Sandy made New Yorkers acknowledge just how vulnerable the city is to natural disaster.  The storm pummeled Queens’ and Brooklyn’s shores, destroyed and flooded homes while Manhattan’s lower half was submerged and plunged into darkness for a week.  But arguably, Staten Island, New York City’s Forgotten Borough, received the brunt of the storm and the slowest level of recovery.  In the midst of the controversial clean-up, the New York City Economic Development Corporation decided to plow through the tragedy with pursuant talks of the planned developments on the St. George waterfront in Staten Island.  While some residents may be offended that the subject of the talks was not of the EDC’s recovery programs, the real controversy is the way in which the EDC is planning to go forward with its proposal.  It is planning to build the world’s largest ferris wheel along a vulnerable coast line that just saw damage from one of the worst storms to hit NYC in recent history. Read more on this development after the break.

'Hong Kong at 15: Redefining the Public Realm' Exhibition

The American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office are opening the “Hong Kong at 15: Redefining the Public Realm” exhibition this Monday, December 10th at 7:00pm and will be on exhibit until January 23rd. Taking place at the Center for Architecture in New York, the exhibit features architectural projects built in Hong Kong designed by New York architects, and highlights the 15 year milestone of Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty and highlights the contribution of New York architects to the design of Hong Kong. Fueled by a famously free economy, and reputation as a gateway to China, Hong Kong has continued to grow over the past 15 years with the city’s architects and engineers producing highly sophisticated solutions to the challenged faced in the city. For more information about the event, please visit here.

2013 Folly Competition

The Architectural League and Socrates Sculpture Park is currently inviting architects to submit proposals for the 2013 Folly Competition, a design/build studio residency, and chance to build an installation at Socrates Sculpture Park, a unique urban waterfront park in Queens, NY. Socrates and the League welcome proposals from all emerging architects and designers for large-scale projects and installations that explore contemporary interpretations of the architectural folly. The deadline for submissions is January 7. For more information, please visit here.

NYC Plans On Designer Shipping Containers for Next Disaster

Puma City Shipping Container Store  © Danny Bright
Puma City Shipping Container Store © Danny Bright

Shipping container architecture has gained a lot of ground over the past few years for its simplicity, affordability and flexibility.  Yes the very same containers that make transatlantic voyages and are carted around hitched to trucks have become a tool for architects to design restaurants, to serve as retail or pavilions and even homes.  According to an article by Matt Chaban on the New York Observer, NYC plans to prepare for the next disaster with apartments built out of shipping containers to be used as disaster relief shelters. Join us after the break for more.

Modular Residential Tower To Be Built at Atlantic Yards

© SHoP Architects
© SHoP Architects

Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) just announced that they will be partnering with Skanska, one of the world’s largest construction and development groups, for the B2 project. This project is making headlines because it will be the first residential tower that is part of the Atlantic Yards Development in Brooklyn using modular construction. FCRC plans to break ground on the 32-story building on December 18th and anticipates that the building will open in 2014. While high-rise modular technology has been initially developed for use at Atlantic Yards, this new industry has the potential to create modular components for construction projects across New York City and worldwide, becoming the first major manufacturing expansion in New York City since manufacturing began its decline over a generation ago. More information after the break.