DEFACED Makes a Stand Against Controversial Demolition of NYC Graffiti Mecca

© DEFACED

Upon the announcement of the imminent demolition of 5 Pointz, the internationally renown mecca in Long Island City, New York, a group of young designers - Arianna Armelli, Ishaan Kumar, David Sepulveda and Wagdy Moussa – joined together to form DEFACED, “a theoretical project designed to ask the question of whether an organization for the preservation of cultural relics of New York and cities around the world can be formed and implemented.” The group focuses on the gentrification of New York City’s cityscape and its accompanying sociopolitical issues, along with the protection of cultural landmarks and districts around the world.

View from the Top: Instagrammer Climbs NYC’s Tallest Building

Photo taken from 432 Park Ave, looking West. Image © Demid Lebedev

“The higher you get the lonelier the world seems.”

Seventeen-year-old Demid Lebedev, better known by his Instagram username Demidism, recently climbed to the top of 432 Park Avenue, capturing unprecedented views from what will be New York City’s tallest residential building. “I went to heaven and back,” writes Lebedev in one of the photo’s captions. Surrounded in fog, Lebedev captures views from distinct levels of the building, which is currently in its final stage of construction. 432 Park Avenue will top out at 1,398 feet, surpassing One57 and earning the crown as the city’s tallest residential building when it opens in 2015.

Yet following his climb, Lebedev was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and reckless endangerment, local press reported.

We caught up with Lebedev to learn what it’s like to climb to the top of the city’s tallest buildings and how the city changes as it extends upward. Read what Lebedev had to say and enjoy his stunning photos after the break.

New Images Leaked of Zaha Hadid’s Luxury NYC Apartment Complex

New images have been leaked of the inside of Zaha Hadid’s  luxury apartment complex, set to be built alongside the second section of the High Line at 520 West 28th Street.

The renderings, first published by Curbed, show the layout of a typical kitchen and master bath in this 11-story sculpted glass and steel apartment. While the kitchen rendering features a curvy island and faucet in the middle, the bathroom appears to have textured walls.

Four Freedoms Park: Louis Kahn’s “Ancient Temple Precinct” in NYC

Aerial Rendering Prior to Completion. Image Courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC

Built four decades after Louis Kahn’s death, New York City’s Four Freedoms Park - the architect’s posthumous memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his policies – is becoming one of the architect’s most popular urban spaces. In a recent article for the GuardianOliver Wainwright investigates what he describes as perhaps Kahn’s ”best project”. Wainwright’s spatial description of the monument is interweaved by fragments of Kahn’s personal history, building up a picture of a space with “the feel of an ancient temple precinct” and “a finely nuanced landscape”. Although Gina Pollara, who ultimately realised the plans in 2005, argues that Four Freedoms Park ”stands as a memorial not only to FDR and the New Deal, but to Kahn himself”, can a posthumous project ever be considered as an architect’s best? Read the article in full here.

2,800 iPod Nano Screens Make Up Cornell’s Discovery Wall

Consisting of over 2,800 iPod Nano screens, “The ” at Cornell’s Medical College in Manhattan was a 2.5 year long process in digital art, conceived by Squint/Opera and accomplished in collaboration with Hirsch & Mann. From a distance, the animated screen appears as a single, unified image. But take a closer look and every single screen has its own unique text. As a permanent piece, it shows the plausibility of digital art to integrate with the existing building fabric. Watch the video above and make sure to learn more about the creative process here.

In Images: The Domino Sugar Factory’s Beautiful Decline

© Paul Raphaelson

Ten years after closing its doors, the Domino Sugar Refinery’s iconic forty-foot tall yellow sign is still legible along the waterfront, even from parts of Manhattan. The refinery, built in 1882, was once the largest in the world, producing over half of the sugar consumed in the United States. Sadly, the historic landmark will soon be demolished, making room for luxury living — and a handful of apartments for affordable housing, at mayor Bill de Blasio’s insistence. As time runs out, a photographer, photography editor, and historian are vying for the opportunity to thoroughly document the site and publish a book entitled Sweet Ruin: Fossils and Stories of the Brooklyn Domino Sugar Refinery.

The photographer, Paul Raphaelson, was recently given a day’s worth of access to the site by its owner, development company Two Trees Management. Raphaelson was able to visit and photograph three of the refinery’s buildings, capturing the sugar-coated interiors of the hauntingly cavernous spaces. He hopes to revisit the site before it’s too late to take more photographs with the guidance of his two collaborators, photography editor Stella Kramer and historian Matthew Postal. For the compelling images and more details about the future publication, keep reading after the break.

Apple Taps Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to Revamp Historic NYC Building

© Museum of the City via ifoAppleStore

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Eckersley O’Callagha, both longstanding collaborators of ’s flagship stores, has been commissioned to transform a 93-year-old former United States Mortgage and Trust Company building on Madison Avenue into the chain’s next New York City store. Though little has been released about the design, the store’s grand opening is planned for 2015. More information can be found here

Will The +POOL Be The Largest Crowdfunded Civic Project Ever?

Courtesy of / PlayLab, Inc.

Historically, large city-changing projects have depended on the personal interests of a powerful individual: someone able to swim across both political and financial waters. But recently, projects like the High Line have shown the power and potential of projects envisioned and led by local communities.

Back in 2011 we visted our friends at CASE in their West Village office and they introduced us to a small firm across the hall: Family. While the team was working hard on a model in the middle of their large table, partner Dong-Ping Wong showed us some of their recent projects. One of them immediately caught our attention. A floating pool for Manhattan. In the form of a cross, it would sit in the East River, filtering its waters into four pools. This amazing — and seemingly crazy — idea was tantalizing.

TIME Debuts Powerful, Multimedia Story on One World Trade

© Jonathan Woods, TIME

Today, TIME unveiled “Top of America,” a multimedia site relaying the gripping story of One World Trade, the David Childs-designed skyscraper that stands 1,776-feet tall within Daniel Libeskind‘s masterplan. Beyond providing interesting tidbits of information (did you know that both an 18th century boat and an ice-age formation were found while digging out the building’s foundations?), the article, written by Josh Sanburn, is a fascinating and often deeply moving account — one that gets across the sheer force of will and the extraordinary amount of collaboration it took to raise this building into the atmosphere:

“Nine governors, two mayors, multiple architects, a headstrong developer, thousands of victims’ families and tens of thousands of neighborhood residents fought over this tiny patch of …. Almost 13 years later…. America’s brawny, soaring ­ambition—the drive that sent pioneers west, launched rockets to the moon and led us to build steel-and-glass towers that pierced the clouds—is intact. Reaching 1,776 ft. has ensured it.”

TIME’s investment into the story was considerable (and, one can speculate, motivated by a desire to rival the fantastic multimedia features of The New York Times). The site is accompanied by a special issue of TIME, a documentary film, an unprecedented 360-degree interactive photograph, and – come April – even a book. Sanburn was not only granted exclusive access to the project for about a year, but photographer Jonathan Woods is the only journalist to have ascended to the skyscraper’s top. Woods, start-up Gigapan, and mechanical engineers worked over eight months to design (on AutoCAD no less) a 13-foot long, rotating jib that could sustain a camera in the harsh conditions at the top of the tower’s 408-ft. spire; over 600 images were then digitally stitched together to create the 360-degree interactive photograph (which you can purchase here. A portion of the proceeds go to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum).

You can explore TIME’s interactive at TIME.com/wtc . Click after the break to watch some incredible videos from the project & read some particularly moving quotes from Sanburn’s article.

If the Winter Olympics Were in NYC…

© ANGEL FRANCO and RICHARD PERRY, via The New York Times

The New York Times has run a fascinating thought experiment in rendered form: What would it look like if the winter Olympics were held in ? From luges through to ski jumps over Bryant park, the ideas are certainly fantastical – but also fun lessons in scale. See them all here.

Janette Sadik-Khan: NYC’s Streets Are Not So Mean Anymore

YouTube Preview Image

Janette Sadik-Khan demonstrates how paint, lawn chairs and a bit of imagination can quickly transform city streets, creating immediate public and commercial vitality. Sadik-Khan, listed as one of Business Insider’s “50 Women Who Are Changing the World,” is responsible for re-purposing 26 acres of dense New York City car lanes into pedestrian-friendly space. “More people on foot is better for business,” she says. Despite commanding a two billion dollar budget, her economical approach as commissioner of NYC’s Department of Transportation are testaments to her design sensitivity, relying on rapid-testing and regular iteration to expand the city’s public domain.

WXY + DLand Tapped for Study and Planning of High Line-Inspired Park in Queens

Courtesy of WXY and DLANDSTUDIO

WXY Architecture + Urban Design and dlandstudio architecture & landscape have been commissioned to lead a feasibility study and planning for The QueensWay, a 3.5-mile section of abandoned railway tracks in Queens, , that will be converted into a High Line-inspired park and recreational pathways. As we reported earlier this year, the elevated railway line has been inactive since 1962 and, if transformed into a public parkway, has the capablitiy of serving more than 250,000 residents that live alongside it.

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 Manhattan 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…

NYC’s Plan to Mitigate Future Storms

East River Blueway Plan proposed by WXY Studios provides a natural waterfront along the existing and vulnerable in NYC’s Lower East Side

Immediately after Hurricane Sandy hit the North American Eastern seaboard last October, embarked on a debate to find ways in which the city could protect itself from future storms that climate scientists predict will escalate in frequency.  Engineers, architects, scientists from myriad disciplines came up with internationally inspired proposals, including sea walls, floating barrier islands, reefs and wetlands, to apply to this particular application. Diverse in scope, the ideas have gone through the ringer of feasibility and have left many wondering if we should we build to defend or build to adapt.

On Tuesday, NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan that includes $20 billion worth of both:  a proposal of removable flood walls, levees, gates and other defenses that would be implemented with adaptive measures, such as marshes, along with the extensive flood-proofing of homes and hospitals.  

What does this plan entail and what can we imagine for the future of NYC? Find out after the break.

Calatrava to Build World’s Most Expensive Transportation Hub

WTC © Joe Woolhead

The World Trade Center Complex in Lower Manhattan is slowly progressing, now more than a decade after .  The Memorial was unveiled on the ten-year anniversary of , while the Freedom Tower is well on its way to completion, proudly displaying the spire that was mounted just a few weeks ago.  The site still is – and will be for many years to come – a maddening array of construction equipment, scaffolding and cranes that are working busily at the various components of WTC’s rebuilding.  Yet while all this development is moving forward, the cost of the construction is ballooning.

According to an article in The Observer, the site now boasts one of the most expensive office buildings in the world – the Freedom Tower – and one of the most expensive parking garages in history – the Vehicle Security Center.  And to add to this grandiose display of New York City’s perseverance over tragedy, Santiago Calatrava’s Transit Hub – Port Authority’s PATH station to New Jersey – has become an exceedingly controversial point of contention for its skyrocketing budget, now reported at $3.47 billion still two years away from completion.  This may be one of the most expensive transportation hubs in the world, considering that its passenger volume does not justify this expense as much as its location might.

Join us after the break for more.

Council Approves Cornell’s Net-Zero Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island

© Kilograph

City Council has approved Cornell’s two-million-square-foot tech campus planned to break ground in 2014 on ’s Roosevelt Island. Masterplanned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), the ambitious carbon positive campus will offer housing for 2,000 full-time graduate students, world-class education facilities, a hotel, a corporate co-location building, and more than an acre of public open space. Construction will commence with the first, state-of-the-art academic building that will be designed by Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis, who will incorporate the latest environmental advances, such as geothermal and solar power, to achieve net-zero energy for the landmark structure.

New York City Preserves Public Housing by Leasing Infill Land

NYCHA, Public Housing. Courtesy of Flickr User agentvladimir. Licensed via Creative Commons

For the past four decades, as cities faced financial pressures, high-rise public housing met its decline.  Cities throughout the country demolished public housing that was failing financially and socially, like Chicago’s Cabrini-Green Housing Project whose demolition was completed in 2011, to make way for mixed use developments that encouraged economic and social diversity by way of the HOPE VI Program. This strategy resulted in the uprooting and relocation of former residents who faced uncertainty throughout the process.

The Housing Authority (NYCHA) stands out among housing authorities in the United States due to its size – 179,000 units in 2,600 buildings across the city – and the fact that the buildings are relatively well maintained.  NYCHA has avoided resorting to demolitions to deal with its issues, instead resorting to special police services that costs NYCHA a purported $70 million a year.  Over the past decade NYCHA has been underfunded by approximately $750 million causing backlogs in necessary repairs.

To address the mounting costs of public housing, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has proposed an infill strategy that would attract developers onto NYCHA land and create a new layer of commercial space and residential units in public housing developments.  The goal over the next five years is to develop methods of preservation for the housing development and promote mixed-use and mixed-income developments to generate income for NYCHA.

More on the plan after the break.

Local Economies Suffer as Foreign Investments Dominate London and NYC

Belgravia, one of ’s priciest and most deserted neighborhoods © Herry Lawford

An interesting phenomenon is taking place in London: the priciest tiers of its housing market are increasingly being driven by overseas investment, primarily from the Far East. The most interesting – and perhaps most concerning – aspect of these investments is that at least 37% those who buy property in the most expensive neighborhoods of central London do not intend to use that property as a primary residence. This results in upscale neighborhoods and residential properties that are largely abandoned and contribute almost nothing to the local economy of the city. Parts of Manhattan are experiencing similar behavior, leading us to ask the question “what is happening to our cities as they become more and more globalized and how will this trend affect city economies around the world?”

Read more after the break…