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Situ Studio to Construct Valentine's Day Installation with Salvaged Sandy Debris

© Situ Studio
© Situ Studio

Situ Studio has been selected from eight competitors as winner of the fifth annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design, cosponsored by Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, along with Design Trust for Public Space. The young, Brooklyn-based practice won the jury over with their Heartwalk proposal made of New York and New Jersey boardwalk boards that were salvaged from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The installation will be unveiled on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, and remain on view until March 8, 2013. Learn more about Situ Studio’s winning proposal after the break.

2013 Design for Biodiversity Symposium: Architectural Approaches to Urban Ecology

Taking place February 1-2 at Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium, Milstein Hall at Cornell University, the Design for Biodiversity Symposium will focus on the extended threshold between building and environment. Since its emergence in the 1970s, the field of Urban Ecology has investigated relations between living organisms and their urban environments, and has primarily addressed the city at the scale of urban planning. Within this framework, architecture, at the building scale, has thus far not been extensively tackled. How might architecture actively support multi-species habitats? Can these habitats help us replace existing, fossil fuel dependent, mechanistic systems with low impact, ecologically integrated systems that leverage natural sources? How does reimagining the city in this way change how we think about urban form and phenomenology? And finally, what are the appropriate models to study? These questions will be answered at the event and more. For more information, please visit here.

Urban Fabric: Building New York's Garment District

URBAN FABRIC: Building New York's Garment District; Courtesy of the Skyscraper Museum © 2012
URBAN FABRIC: Building New York's Garment District; Courtesy of the Skyscraper Museum © 2012

New York’s Garment District, consisting of 18 blocks in the west side of midtown, was the city’s most well known industries in the boom of the 1920s through the early 50s.  The influx of immigrants and the geography of New York City made it a natural hub for manufacturing and trading activity.  The work began in small workshops and at home in crowded tenements and eventually grew out of these crammed space into factories and warehouses.  The industry inadvertently transformed Seventh Avenue into rows of skyscraper factories that faithfully abided to New York City’s zoning regulations.  The 125 loft buildings all shared the pyramidal forms due to step-back laws governing design.

Now, The Skyscraper Museum in New York City is celebrating this neighborhood and its influential development of business, industry and architecture and the mark that it left on the city with an exhibition called URBAN FABRIC.  It is curated by Andrew S Dolkart, the Director of the Historic Preservation Program, and will be running through February 17th.

Learn more and watch the curator’s lecture after the break.

In Progress: The New School University Center / SOM

© SOM
© SOM

Quickly rising on the corner of 14th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan, this new, multipurpose facility will soon become the “heart” of The New School – an avant-garde university in New York City. The University Center, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), combines all aspects of a traditional campus into a single, 16-story building, offering 200,000 square feet of academic space on the first seven floors and 150,000 square feet for a 600-bed dormitory on the levels above. The brass-and-glass structure, which is the largest construction project in the university’s 91-year history in Greenwich Village, is scheduled for completion in 2014. In progress images and more information after the break.

High Line-Inspired Park proposed in Queens

Rockaway Rail Branch of the LIRR; Photos Courtesy of Friends of the Queensway © 2012
Rockaway Rail Branch of the LIRR; Photos Courtesy of Friends of the Queensway © 2012

When plans for the High Line were first revealed it made quite an impression on the design community. The converted elevated rail line, long abandoned by New York City, was threatened by demolition until a group of activists fought for its revival and helped transform it into one of the most renowned public spaces in Manhattan. Now Queens, a borough with its own abandoned infrastructure is on its way to redeveloping the land for its own version of the High Line, to be known as the Queensway Cultural Gateway. In late December, the Trust for Public Land announced that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has awarded a $467,000 grant to the organization to begin a feasibility study on the 3.5 mile Long Island rail line. Early proposals reveal a new pedestrian and bike path, public green space and a cultural gateway that will celebrate Queens’ diversity in art, sculpture and food, serving the 250,000 residents that live in the neighborhoods along the route, which include Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Forest Park. Join us after the break for more.

AIA President Mickey Jacob Urges Congress to Aid Sandy Relief

© Amanda Kirkpatrick
© Amanda Kirkpatrick

In response an outrage that broke out amongst Democrats and Republicans, after House Speaker John Boehner failed to vote for Sandy relief before the end of the Congressional session two days ago, the House of Representatives have approved a $9.7 billion relief measure to aid flood victims of Hurricane Sandy. This is good news, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) recently warned that it would soon run out of funding if no measures were taken. Senate approval is likely to come later in the day and a second congressional vote is scheduled to take place on January 15 for a larger $51 billion request. Understanding the importance of issuing this federal support, AIA President Mickey Jacob has offer Congress three key objects for helping these communities recover. Read AIA President Jacob’s letter to congress and his three objectives after the break…

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

Courtesy of The Principles
Courtesy of 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...