Why Are There Still No Built Traces of New York’s Tech Industry?

837 Washington Street. ImageImage via New York YIMBY

For many architects, the chance to make an impression on the landscape of  is a sign of distinction, an indication that they have “made the big time.” But it’s not just architects who have this desire: for decades, the city’s big industrial players have also striven to leave their mark. However in this article, originally posted on New York YIMBY as “How New York City is Robbing Itself of the Tech Industry’s Built Legacy,” Stephen Smith examines where it’s all gone wrong for the city’s latest industry players.

Strolling through the streets of Manhattan’s business neighborhoods, you can pick out the strata of the city’s built commercial heritage, deposited over generations by industries long gone. From the Garment District’s heavy pyramidal avenue office towers and side street lofts, dropped by the garment industry in the 1920s, to the modernist towers like Lever House and the Seagram Building, erected on Park and Fifth Avenues during the post-war years by the country’s giant consumer goods companies, each epoch of industry left the city with a layer of commercial architecture, enduring long after the businesses were acquired and the booms turned to bust.

But 50 or 100 years into the future, when our grandchildren and great-grandchildren stroll through the neighborhoods of Midtown South that are today thick with technology and creative firms, they are not likely to find much left over from the likes of Facebook or Google. There will be no equivalent of Grand Central or Penn Station, Terminal City or the Hotel Pennsylvania, left over from the early 20th century railroad tycoons, or SoHo’s cast iron buildings, developed by speculators seeking to feed the growing textile and dry-goods trades of the late 19th century. Perhaps unique among New York’s large industries, the tech and creative tenants that have become the darlings of the current market cycle are leaving very little behind for future generations to admire.

INABA Frames Empire State Building with Animated “New York Light” Installation

© Zhonghan Huang

From the architect.

This holiday season, wedged between two City icons – the Flatiron and Empire State building – stands the #NewYorkLight public art installation by Brooklyn-based INABA. A magnificent place to experience the Manhattan grid, the installation frames a unique and uninterrupted view of the skyline due to the clearing of Madison Square Park.

In Defense of Santiago Calatrava

Florida Polytechnic Sciencie, Innovation and Campus. Image © Alan Karchmer for

In recent years, few architects have had a tougher time in the media than Santiago Calatrava. Whether it’s his repeated legal battles over leaking roofs and peeling facades, the unceremonious death of his Chicago Spire project, or the media firestorm over his New York Transportation Hub that is $2 billion over budget, Calatrava has become a poster boy for those who criticize the supposed arrogance of today’s architects. However, in an engaging article for FastCo Design, Karrie Jacobs responds to what seems to be “a concerted effort to shore up his reputation,” coming to the defense of this “unreconstructed aesthete.” Read the article in full here.

Interior Renders of Robert AM Stern’s 520 Park Avenue, NYC’s Most Expensive Apartment Building

© 2014 Zeckendorf Development LLC via 520parkavenue.com

This news article was originally published by 6sqft.

Robert A.M. Stern‘s 520 Park Avenue has already been called “the next 15 Central Park West,” and like its Stern predecessor, 520 is an ultra-luxury development with a stately façade wrapped in stone. Set to be completed in 2016, it will rise 51 stories high, but contain just 31 units, one of which is the $130 million penthouse, the city’s most expensive apartment. And though most of the attention has been on “the greatest apartment on the Upper East Side,” the fanfare has now shifted to the first batch of interior renderings for the building.

520 Park’s full website is now live, and not surprisingly, the residences have classic layouts, impressive Central Park views, and a host of high-end amenities.

Davis Brody Bond and KieranTimberlake Chosen to Design NYU Facility

US Embassy in London / KieranTimberlake Architects

As the culmination of a five-month selection process, University (NYU) has announced that Davis Brody Bond and KieranTimberlake will be designing its major new facility along Mercer Street between Houston and Bleecker in New York. The facility’s many uses will include classrooms, teaching spaces for performing arts, a state-of-the-art sports facility, and student and faculty housing.

Collectively, the team was chosen for its high profile portfolio, which includes projects like the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the U.S. Embassy in London, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the 1983-2006 restoration and expansion of the New York Public Library.

Mariner Harbor Branch Library / A*PT ARCHITECTURE

© Albert Vecerka / Esto

Architects: A*PT ARCHITECTURE
Location: Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, NY, USA
Design Team: Anna Torriani, AIA; Lorenzo Pagnamenta, AIA; Wasmiya Tan; Raffaele Stefani; Damien Romanens; Nam Suk Oh; Juan Carlos Salas Ballestin; Caterina Inderbitzin; Petya Ivanova; Felix Lederberger; Roxane Bervini; Anais Iglesias; Nuria Forques.
Area: 10000.0 ft2
Year: 2014
Photographs: Albert Vecerka / Esto

Stereotank Designs Heart-Beating Urban Drum for Times Square

©

Come February 9, City will be celebrating the opening of its seventh annual Valentine’s Day installation in Times Square. As part of Times Square Alliance’s heart design competition, Brooklyn- based and Venezuelan-born firm Stereotank will be constructing a heart-beating urban drum in hopes that it will bring together New Yorkers through music. 

Studio Gang Tapped to Extend American Museum of Natural History

. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Chicago’s Studio Gang Architects have been selected to design a new Center for Science, Education and Innovation for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Named after its largest donor, the $325 million Gilder Center will include 218,000-square-feet of existing and new space. It is slated to open on Columbus Avenue at 79th Street on the west side of the Museum campus, in conjunction with its 150th anniversary in 2019–2020.

SHoP Architects Reveal Restoration Plan for New York’s Seaport District

© SHoP Architects

SHoP Architects have revealed a mixed use proposal to pedestrianize City’s historic Seaport District. Extending the grid out into the waterfront, the scheme seeks to harmonize pedestrian infrastructure and increase access to the shoreline, while proposing a 500-foot luxury residential tower by developer Howard Hughes Corporation that would jut out into the harbor. More about the proposal, after the break.

Why New York Shouldn’t be a City for the One Percent

View above Central Park looking south towards “Billionaire’s Row” towers, with Midtown towers in background and various Financial District and Downtown Brooklyn Towers in far background. Image Courtesy of CityRealty

In recent years, it’s been difficult to miss the spate of supertall, super-thin towers on the rise in . Everyone knows the individual projects: , One57, the Nordstrom Tower, the MoMA Tower. But, when a real estate company released renders of the New York skyline in 2018, it forced New Yorkers to consider for the first time the combined effect of all this new real estate. In this opinion article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “On New York’s Skyscraper Boom and the Failure of Trickle-Down Urbanism,” Joshua K Leon argues that the case for a city of the one percent doesn’t stand up under scrutiny.

What would a city owned by the one-percent look like?

New renderings for CityRealty get us part way there, illustrating how Manhattan may appear in 2018. The defining feature will be a bumper crop of especially tall, slender skyscrapers piercing the skyline like postmodern boxes, odd stalagmites, and upside-down syringes. What they share in common is sheer unadulterated scale and a core clientele of uncompromising plutocrats.

10 Points of a Bicycling Architecture

© Steven Fleming and Charlotte Morton

A revolution is occurring in street design. New York, arguably the world’s bellwether city, has let everyday citizens cycle for transport. They have done that by designating one lane on most Avenues to bicyclists only, with barriers to protect them from traffic.

Now hundreds of cities are rejigging to be bicycle-friendly, while in there is a sense that more change is afoot. Many New Yorkers would prefer if their city were more like Copenhagen where 40% of all trips are by bike. But then Copenhagen wants more as well. Where does this stop?

If you consider that we are talking about a mode of transport that whips our hearts into shape, funnels many more people down streets than can be funneled in cars, has no pollution, and costs governments and individuals an absolute pittance, you wont ask where it stops, but how close to 100% the bike modal share can possibly go and what we must do to achieve that.

The Room at Technicolor Postworks / Rafi Segal Architecture

© Kate Joyce

Architects: Rafi Segal Architecture
Location: , NY, USA
Design Team: Rafi Segal A+U , Sara Segal
Project Manager: Bill Topazio (PostWorks)
Area: 1400.0 ft2
Photographs: Kate Joyce

New York’s $4 Billion Train Station Takes Shape

Screenshot. Image © Bedel Saget/The New York Times

Santiago Calatrava’s head-turning World Trade Center Transportation Hub has assumed its full form, nearly a decade after its design was revealed. In light of this, the New York Times has taken a critical look at just how the winged station’s budget soared. “Its colossal avian presence may yet guarantee the hub a place in the pantheon of civic design in New York. But it cannot escape another, more ignominious distinction as one of the most expensive and most delayed train stations ever built.” The complete report, here.

Kimmelman Reviews the One WTC: An Emblem of New York’s “Upside-Down Priorities”

One WTC. Image © James Ewing OTTO

Nearly a month since the official (and somewhat mundane) opening of ’s One World Trade Center, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has published a scathing review of the SOM-designed tower, claiming it to be a “flawed” emblem of the city’s “upside-down priorities.”

“Replacing the twin towers with another giant office building was somehow supposed to show New York’s indomitable spirit: the defiant city transfigured from the ashes. To the contrary, 1 World Trade implies (wrongly) a metropolis bereft of fresh ideas. It looks as if it could be anywhere, which New York isn’t.” You can read Kimmelman’s complete review, here.

Peloton / Bernheimer Architecture

© Naho Kubota

Architects: Bernheimer Architecture
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Photographs: Naho Kubota , Eric Hwang

Thomas Heatherwick Opens Up About His Design For Pier 55

© Pier55, Inc. and Heatherwick Studio

Last week, Thomas Heatherwick unveiled his fairytale-like designs for what will hopefully be New York‘s latest and most ambitious park, Pier 55 (with apologies to the High Line, New York’s last ”next big thing” in the public park arena). Envisaged as an undulating artificial landscape on a cloud of mushroom-like supports, Pier 55 has the internet buzzing. In this interview with FastCo Design, Heatherwick discusses the inspirations behind his latest project, explaining how everything including New York’s street grid, the ruins of Pier 54 and yes, even the city’s other recent global green space phenomenon, have manifested themselves in his latest madcap creation. Read the full article here for more.

In Honor of Michael Graves, The Architectural League Revisits 200 Years of Drawing

Denver Library, South Elevation, 1994, pencil and colored pencil on yellow tracing paper, 14 x 26 inches. Image Courtesy of Michael Graves & Associates, photo: Ken Ek

With their “Past as Prologue“ symposium – a day of lectures celebrating fifty years of Michael Graves‘ career - approaching tomorrow, the Architectural League of New York is taking a look back at one of its seminal exhibitions which heavily featured Graves’ work. When “200 Years of American Architectural Drawing” launched in 1977, New York Times critic Ada Louise Huxtable said “By any definition… a major show,” adding “here is architecture as it comes straight from the mind and the eye and the heart, before the spoilers get to it.” In memory of the show, the Architectural League has published a selection of essays and images from the accompanying book, including the work of Graves, Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk and Richard Meier.

Check out the Architectural League’s collection of 200 Years of American Architectural  here, and don’t forget to tune in to the livestream of the Past as Prologue symposium here at 9.30 EST on Saturday.

Surface Mag Interviews Liz Diller on Architecture, Art, and Early “Aha” Moments

© Ungano + Agriodima

Below is an excerpt of the cover story of this month’s Surface magazine: an in-depth interview with Elizabeth Diller, published online for the first time here on ArchDaily.

The 35-year career of Elizabeth Diller, a founding partner of the New York–based architecture studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is a study of contrasts: conceptual and pragmatic, temporary and permanent, iconoclastic and institutional. After graduating from Cooper Union in 1979, Diller started her practice mounting temporary installations with her partner and future husband, Ricardo Scofidio, their interests leaning closer to art and theory than conventional buildings and construction. Today the duo—along with Charles Renfro, who became a partner in 2004—is responsible for some of the most important architectural projects in the country. DS+R counts Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (completed in 2006) and a makeover of New York’s Lincoln Center (finalized in 2012) among its highest-profile works. Especially influential, at least among architects and academics, has been the firm’s unbuilt Slow House (1991), a proposal for a residence on Long Island, , renowned for its examination of how we see in a media-saturated world.

One notices sharp contrasts not just in the firm’s work history but in its public reception as well. Widely lauded for repurposing a dilapidated elevated railway into New York City’s beloved High Line park (the third phase opened in September), DS+R received heavy criticism this year for its involvement in a major expansion proposal for the Museum of Modern Art. The museum’s plans included the demolition of its little-guy neighbor, the American Folk Art Museum; despite efforts to work the idiosyncratic building into the design scheme, Diller’s studio, hired to lead the expansion, ultimately acknowledged that the structure couldn’t be saved.

Surface recently met with Diller at her office in Manhattan to speak about the ensuing controversy, as well as early career experiences that have influenced her firm’s recent commissions for cultural institutions, including the current exhibition “Musings on a Glass Box” at the Cartier Foundation in Paris (through Feb. 25, 2015), a collaboration with composer David Lang and sound designer Jody Elff. Diller, 60, is pensive and surprisingly relaxed for someone whose aides are constantly interrupting her to remind her of meetings she has to attend. She speaks with an erudite inflection befitting her academic credentials and professional accolades (she is, after all, a professor at Princeton and a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient), though she smiles with the ease of an affable neighbor.