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 real estate…. 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 were held in New York City? From luges through Times Square 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

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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 ’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 , , 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 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 FDR in NYC’s Lower East Side

Immediately after hit the North American Eastern seaboard last October, City 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 (), 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 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 New York City 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…

Four Architects Enlisted to Reimagine Penn Station

Penn Station via Wikipedia

In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has challenged Santiago CalatravaDiller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area. 

The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners – the Dolan family – has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that, as NYTimes critic Michael Kimmelman states, would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in . With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination that benefited all parties. 

More after the break…

Bloomberg Breaks Ground at Post-Sandy Housing Development in Queens

Hunter’s Point South Development © nycmayorsoffice

Despite ’s recent bout with nature, Mayor Bloomberg is undeterred from developing housing along ’s long stretch of waterfront, taking into account that proper measures are taken for storm and flooding mitigation.  The latest in large scale developments comes to Hunter’s Point South in the neighborhood of Long Island City in Queens.  The first of such a scale since the 1970s development of Co-Op City in the Bronx, plans will include two phases of design and construction. The first phase, designed by SHoP Architects with Ismael Leyva Architects will bring two residential towers with 925 permanently affordable apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail space, infrastructural installations, a five-acre waterfront park, and a 1,100-seat school.

Join us after the break for more on this large scale development in Long Island City.

New York Firm Designs ‘Cloud’ of Recycled Plastic Bottles

Non-profit art organization FIGMENT asked the question “What would an art pavilion made out of recycled materials and based around the idea of “The City of Dreams” look like to you?”  STUDIOKCA decided that it looks like an earthly cloud made of recycled water bottles; “A place to dream, in the ‘city of dreams’.”

This competition-winning cumulus, entitled ‘Head In The Clouds’, is campaigning to be the central pavilion at FIGMENT’s free art festival on Governor’s island in NYC this summer. The cloudy-centerpiece will contain a stage for events and provide a place for the 200,000 festival-goers to dream and contemplate the changing light.

Support their Kickstarter campaign here and continue reading after the break for more info…

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…

NYC Developers Race to the Top

© 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 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.

Post-Hurricane Sandy: Solutions for a Resilient City

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

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, as communities band together to clean up the devastation and utility companies work tirelessly to restore the infrastructure that keeps running, planners and policy makers are debating the next steps to making the city as resilient to as we once thought it was. We have at our hands a range of options to debate and design and the political leverage to make some of these solutions a reality. The question now is, which option or combination of options is most suitable for protecting and its boroughs? Follow us after the break for more.

Winners announced of the 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative Competition for Freshkills Park

Scene-Sensor // Crossing Social and Ecological Flows / James Murray and Shota Vashakmadze; Courtesy of LAGI

Winners of the 2012 Land Art Generator Initiative Competition for Freshkills Park in Staten Island, are out.  With 4 placed winners and a long list of shortlisted projects, the range of ideas shows how designers are exploring many different options for sustainable energy infrastructure.

The Winners:

  • First: Scene-Sensor // Crossing Social and Ecological Flows byJames Murray and Shota Vashakmadze
  • Second: Fresh Hills by Matthew Rosenberg, Structural Engineering Consultant: Matt Melnyk, Production Assistants: Emmy Maruta, Robbie Eleazer
  • Third: Pivot by Yunxin Hu and Ben Smith
  • Fourth: 99 Red Balloons by Emeka Nnadi, Scott Rosin, Meaghan Hunter, Danielle Loeb, Kara McDowell, Indrajit Mitra, Narges Ayat and Denis Fleury

 

Check out the projects after the break!

Cornell releases preliminary renderings of NYC Tech Campus

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The central campus esplanade with large open space, a key feature of the proposed campus plan. © Kilograph

To celebrate the start of a seven-month land use review process, has released preliminary renderings of the first academic building planned for Tech – the new world-class technology and entrepreneurship campus in City that was masterplanned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM).

The modern campus strives to rethink academic workspace, prioritize environmental performance, and exploit the unique urban condition of Roosevelt Island. In May, Pritzker Prize laureate Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis, was appointed as architect of the first landmark building, which will set the stage for the carbon positive campus.

Continue after the break to learn more.