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Michelle Miller reports for Archdaily: New York State Pavillion / Phillip Johnson It is rare to find an architectural project whose history makes such strange bedfellows as the New York State Pavilion: a master architect and millions of exhibition patrons, roller skaters and rock stars, stray cats and Iron Man [1]. For three hours on April 22, in honor of the fifty year anniversary of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, the city of Queens will open the long shuttered gates to Phillip Johnson’s most futuristic work. The Pavilion is architecture as spectacle, and a relic of a past vision for the future.  Designed as an amphitheater and exhibition space, the New York State Pavilion was the largest and tallest at the fair, and is one of only two structures still standing.  After decades of neglect and deterioration, the future of this modern ruin is tenuous as officials and the public consider options for demolition or reuse. With the theme of “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe,”  the 1964-65 World’s Fair occupied a site of almost a square mile.  The grounds in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens had been the site of the 1939-40 World’s Fair.  While all pavilions were new, the infrastructure and overall plan were retained.  The New York State Pavilion inhabited a site in a thematic zone designated for Federal and State pavilions. Governor Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Philip Johnson to design New York State’s pavilion on the fairgrounds. Johnson had recently designed the New York State Center at Lincoln Center, home to the New York City Ballet. Prolific and ever evolving, Phillip Johnson was one of the foremost architectural practitioners and critics of the twentieth century.  Educated at Harvard in both the classics and architecture, he is perhaps best known for his role as director of the Department of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art and his residence The Glass House.  While Johnson’s earlier projects aligned closely with Modern tenets, during the 1960s he began to explore a more individual and sometimes referential style.  The futuristic aesthetic of his design for the World’s Fair reflects the trend of “Googie” architecture, which embraced space-age imagery such as the flying saucer. Johnson’s intent for the World’s Fair was to create “an unengaged free space as an example of the greatness of New York, rather than as a warehouse full of exhibit material.” [2]  To this end, Johnson designed three main components:  an open-air “Tent of Tomorrow,” a cluster of three “Astro-View” observation towers, and a cylindrical “Theaterama.” The “Tent of Tomorrow”, an ironic circus tent, encloses a  350’ by 250’ elliptical area, a form influenced by his appreciation for the Italian Baroque [3]. During the fair, this grand ovoid amphitheater hosted fashion shows, children’s rides, art shows, and informal entertainers. Upon entering the Tent, visitors traversed an enormous terrazzo road map showing New York’s cities, topography, parks and natural features, along with a marker for each location of corporate sponsor Texaco’s gas stations. Painted red and white stripes along the lower walls whimsically reinforce the circus allusion. Rising 100 feet, sixteen slip-formed hollow concrete columns, 12’8” in diameter, support a “bicycle wheel” roof with outer steel compression ring and inner tension ring. A double-diaphragm of steel cables slope gently down to a smaller central ring, giving the roof a convex shape. At the time of the fair, the cables supported colorful plastic Kalwall sheeting.  The roof was assembled on the ground and then hoisted into place.  Both the use of slip-form concrete and the roof construction were novel innovations at the time of construction. Three disk shaped observation towers reach a height of 226 feet.  A twenty second ride in a glass “Sky Streak” elevators provided an ever expanding panorama and brought visitors to the uppermost observation deck.  The next lower platform served the same function, and the lowest held a snackbar.  To Johnon, who regarded elevators as necessary evils that destroyed one’s experience of procession,  this was their only pleasant application [4]. The Theatreama, the only enclosed building onsite, featured a slide show panorama of images projects in 360 degrees.  Contemporary pop art by famous artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and James Rosenquist adorned the exterior walls. Overall, critics reacted negatively to the fair’s heavy-handed corporate influence and lack of unifying architectural scheme.  Johnson’s pavilion was an exception, receiving positive reviews from critics of the day who noted the architect’s successful marriage of lighthearted spectacle with gravitas. New York Times writer Ada Louis Huxtable called the Pavilion “a runaway success, day or night…. a sophisticated frivolity… seriously and beautifully constructed. This is ‘carnival’ with class.” [5] For several years after the fair, the Tent of Tomorrow housed art shows and music concerts.  In 1970 is was converted to a roller skating rink, but only a few years later was closed when Kalwall panels were found to be falling from the structure.  The building department ordered all panels be removed, and the structure has been abandoned every since. Johnson/Burgee architects were engaged for an interior renovation of the Pavilion in 1982.  The Theaterama was renovated in the 1980s and thrives as the Queens Theater in the Park.  A spiraling glass addition by Caples Jefferson Architects completed in 2010 provides a reception area and an additional cabaret at the foot of the observation towers. The uncertain future of the New York State Pavilion is a topic of hot debate as its fiftieth anniversary looms.  The parks department in Queens has commissioned engineering studies, held public workshops, and worked with architecture firms to image and plan for possible scenarios.  Costs range from $14 million for demolition, $43 million to stabilize the structures without allowing access, $52 million to restore it to it’s 1964 program, and $72 million to realize the reuse plan envisioned (pro-bono) by Perkins + Will.  [6] It was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places as of June 2010. A group of volunteers has dedicated time each year since 2009 to repaint the exterior and interior to the original red and white stripes with yellow trim.  Another group called People for the Pavilion raises awareness through programs, events and online efforts.  The group was founded by Salmaan Khan, who works with Friends of the High Line, and Matthew Silva, who is working on a documentary on Johnson’s project. For more information on the New York State Pavilion, see the website of the People for the Pavilion or find them on Facebook. For more on Phillip Johnson, check out his other works featured on ArchDaily here.  
Julie Strickland reports for The Real Deal: Flatiron demolition plan met by preservationist pushback. A rush to defend a pair of Flatiron buildings may shift a developer’s focus from demolition to restoration. The two buildings at 51 and 53 West 19th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, lie within the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. Given the location, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, along with community leaders and preservationists, are trying to derail developer Panasia Estate’s plans to demolish and replace the structures with new construction. “These are contributing buildings in a historic district, and it’s the obligation of this commission to protect these buildings,” Robert Tierney, chair of the LPC, said during a presentation by Panasia’s architect Smith-Miller and Hawkinson earlier this week. “To allow them to be lost would, I believe, diminish the district.” The developer’s plan would replace the five-story buildings, constructed for residential use in 1854 and later converted to commercial and manufacturing, with one 14-story building that lead architect Henry Smith-Miller said would be an improvement on the current facades, which are relatively dilapidated. But Tierney, with the backing of all but one of the LPC’s commissioners, countered that the pair are suited to restoration. Whether Panasia will change course and opt to restore the two buildings was not immediately clear. The developer did not respond to Chelsea Now’s request for comment.  
Henry Melcher reports for The Achitect's Newspaper. Art Versus Real Estate on Vestry: Tenants push for landmark status for threatened New York City loft building. The old cobblestone streets of Tribeca meet the gray asphalt of the West Side Highway at the corner of Vestry and West. The uneven din of trucks making deliveries mixes with the constant whir of traffic peeling alongside the Hudson River. It is an unofficial border between the stately brick buildings of Tribeca and the glass towers being sewn into Manhattan’s West Side. At this corner is 67 Vestry—a nine-story palazzo—that is fighting to keep its place in time. In February, RFR, the building’s current owner, filed plans for an 11-story residential project on the site. Before new condos can rise, though, a significant Tribeca building must fall. To stop that from happening, the tenants of 67 Vestry—many of whom are working artists—are trying to get their building landmarked. Sixty-Seven Vestry dates back to 1897 and was designed by Frederick Dinkelberg, the architect who later worked with Daniel Burnham on the Flatiron Building. The building’s first life as a coffee and tea warehouse for The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company is still apparent today. Above the building’s rusted loading docks are Romanesque openings and alongside its soot-brushed brick are floral roundels. In 1910, Frank Helmle—an architect whose firm designed the Metropolitan Life North Building—added a two-story addition to the building. And by the 1970s, 67 Vestry had been transformed into a hub for artists like John Chamberlain, Marisol, and Andy Warhol. At first glance, what is happening at 67 Vestry is not entirely surprising. When a developer sees a lucrative opportunity, they will routinely bulldoze history to make way for granite countertops and floor-to-ceiling windows. But this building, which fostered some of the city’s greatest artistic talents, is threatened by a developer who is also a prolific art collector: RFR’s co-founder and principal, Aby Rosen. In press accounts, Rosen is described as a “real estate mogul and prolific art collector,” “developer and bon vivant,” “the merry prankster of the city’s real estate and art scenes.” He’s a “Page Six staple” and a good friend of Jeff Koons. Rosen collects architectural icons like they’re pieces of art; RFR owns both the Lever House and Seagram Building. He has recently faced backlash over his plans to remove a Picasso tapestry from the Seagram’s Four Seasons restaurant. For years, Rosen has seamlessly straddled the worlds of art and real estate, but now they are colliding at the corner of Vestry and West. He owns over 100 Warhol’s and once hosted a dinner in honor of John Chamberlain. When Robert Wilson, the playwright and director, moved into the building in the early 1970s, his studio was as raw as the neighborhood. "The concrete floor was painted battleship grey and the walls were cold, bluish white. There were blue exposed light bulbs hanging throughout the space," Wilson wrote in an email to AN. "Standing in the middle of the living space, one looked out at the Hudson as if one were on a ship." It was from on board this ship, docked eight floors above the Hudson, where Wilson and Phillip Glass developed their famous opera, “Einstein on the Beach.” Tribeca has, of course, changed dramatically since then, and the tenants of 67 Vestry say they helped make that happen. “We came in and toughed it out, and that eventually created this neighborhood,” said Roland Gebhardt, a sculptor and designer who has been in the building since 1974.  Aby Rosen bought 67 Vestry in 2005 with supposed intentions to replace it with condos. Tenants—and reports from the time—say he started emptying out the building by not allowing market-rate tenants to resign their leases. This reportedly happened to Robert Wilson. When asked about his departure from the building, he would only say, “When Aby Rosen bought the building I eventually moved out.” AN could not independently verify Rosen’s actions and RFR did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story. But, today, only 14 of the building’s 25 units are occupied—and all of the tenants have rent-stabilized leases. Cathy Drew, who runs the non-profit River Project, is one of those tenants. She is not surprised by Rosen’s actions. “He may be a patron of the arts in some ways, but this is business,” she said. Since Rosen purchased the building, tenants have been quite critical of its upkeep—especially after Sandy. When the storm hit New York, it hit 67 Vestry especially hard. Tenants accused Rosen of purposefully “dragging his feet” on necessary repairs. It took weeks for the water, electric, and heating systems to come back online, and the building’s freight elevator is still out of service. When tenants are asked about where they will go, or what they will do if Rosen’s plans move forward, they say they are entirely focused on getting the building landmarked. The Landmarks Preservation Committee told AN that their application is currently under review. If landmark status is not approved, it is not clear what will rise in 67 Vestry’s place. There are no renderings for the project, but SLCE is listed as the architect of record. Since Rosen tends to work with big-name architects, another firm could oversee the final design. To Gebhardt, it is not about what comes next; it is about what is currently there. “If [Rosen] really was interested in doing something iconic, the iconic thing to do would be to preserve the icons that created the neighborhood.”
Patrick W. Ciccone reports for The Architect's Newspaper. Set in Stone: How best to restore America's first concrete building?
American concrete begins in Brooklyn. The New York and Long Island Stone Contracting Company, formed in 1869, was the first U.S. company to produce concrete, and its headquarters, located at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street in Gowanus, is the earliest concrete building in New York City, dating from 1872. The Coignet Building—as it is colloquially known, for the name of its early concrete product, coignet stone—has become one of the most watched New York City landmarks in peril. Designated in 2006—likely sparing it from demolition—the building stood alone for years as brownfield remediation plans for the Whole Foods Brooklyn site dragged on. It was a frequent target for photographers looking for a slice of Detroit-like decay in the otherwise booming borough, and with the Whole Foods complex now complete, the Coignet Building is all the more prominent as a near ruin penned against the gleaming new grocery. Whole Foods is bound by a 2011 covenant with the building’s owner (who formerly owned the entire site where the grocery now sits) to restore the building’s exterior. Those who have been closely watching the building’s decay had expected any plans for its restoration to go to a hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission. However, with no fanfare, the New York Department of Buildings in early February issued permits for work on the site, following Landmarks’ 2013 issuing of a staff-level certificate of no effect for the proposed work, which means that there will be no public comment. News of the Coignet Building’s restoration should be welcome. However, the building has arguably suffered through attempted demolition by neglect in the past decade, and the Landmarks permit allows for “removing and replacing in-kind severely deteriorated cast stone units” including the “cornice, quoins, columns, pilasters, window surrounds, door surrounds, sills, and the entryway pediments, architraves and friezes”—i.e. much of the exposed original coignet stone on the building whose decay is directly attributable to this neglect. The building is of extreme historical importance for its role in materials history—it is the Genesis 1:1 of American concrete production. The Coignet Building’s significance is indisputably tied to the material from which it is constructed, the artificial stone produced at the concrete manufacturing yards located behind it, where Whole Foods now sits. Besides the Coignet Building, only three other known locations across New York feature the company’s concrete: the Cleft Ridge Span in Prospect Park, select locations in the arches of St. Patrick Cathedral in Midtown, and three surviving houses on Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn. Any replacement of the original material at the Coignet Building should be held to an extraordinary high standard. Kate Daly, the executive director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and one of the researchers responsible for the discovery of the building’s significance and subsequent designation, maintains that alarm is not warranted, as Landmarks plans to work closely with the architects to evaluate the condition of the original material. However, an earlier iteration of drawings submitted to Landmarks by BL Architects—a firm with no consequential technical preservation experience in New York City—clearly indicates much of the building for replacement based only on a visual inspection. Though one hopes that Landmarks staff will hold the architects’ feet to the fire on the matter, as Daly promises, it is extremely disappointing that they will not be required to do so in public before the commission, or to submit a more detailed analysis of existing conditions as a condition for the building permit. The Landmarks approval conditions stipulate that the architects submit material samples for replacement in kind for concrete units that are deteriorated beyond repair. This issue is fraught with enormous questions of authenticity—should replacement simply match the appearance of the coignet stone, or does replacement in kind mean using the original concrete production process, presumably different from modern methods of producing cast stone? Since coignet stone belonged to a wider category of substitute stone denounced in the nineteenth century by Ruskinian adherents as sham imitations of stone, this question goes to the very nature of the material. (Indeed, Coignet company literature touted that its “artificial stone” was superior to nature’s own product.) The lack of care for the building (and the awkward abutment of the new Whole Foods complex around it) are ironic given the homilies to the sustainability inside the grocery store: prominently placed signs tout that the building is made from the reclaimed bricks and salvaged boardwalks destroyed in Sandy, and that it is located on a “remediated brownfield site to protect the environment” and “reduce blight.” Restoring the building in the most careful fashion likely would cost Whole Foods the least, as the building is eligible for historic tax credits worth up to 40 percent of project costs. This is a path that, to my knowledge, Whole Foods has chosen not to pursue, costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. Indeed, the building’s apparent decay may be illusory. The exposed coignet stone is covered in a later stucco coating that easily flakes off to the touch, and, besides cracks in the underlying stone, may actually be in reasonable shape. Having closely watched the building crumble, we must even more closely watch its nominal restoration.  
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Bringing a ruin back to life

Chris Bentley reports for The Architect's Newspaper: Born Again: Destroyed by fire, St. Louis church finds new life as an art park. In 2001, an electrical fire ravaged St. Louis’ National Memorial Church of God in Christ, destroying all of the historic structure except for its perimeter walls. Rebuilding the interior from scratch was not possible. Instead, as part of a broader plan to revitalize the Grand Center neighborhood, a local nonprofit hired New York–based Gluckman Mayner Architects with Michael Van Valkenburgh to help local architects John C. Guenther and Powers Bowersox resurrect the ruins. The congregation sold the Spring Avenue property to the nonprofit Grand Center. Since the fire, the church has played host to a series of installations. German artists Rainer Kehres and Sebastian Hungerer stitched together pieces of old lamps donated by neighbors, constructing a scaffold that served as a roof for the Spring Avenue church. They named the piece “CHORUS.” With a bit of restoration work, Gluckman Mayner Principal Richard Gluckman said the church could become a permanent space for public art and recreation. They plan to touch up some of the stone, and replace the structure’s wide flange shoring with something “more detailed and less intrusive,” said Gluckman. But the design team is not going to replace the roof or restore any interiors. “It’s intended to be a ruin, basically. A restructured ruin,” he added. “It’s memorializing a moment in time, and providing a public amenity.” Temporary diagonal bracing holds up the walls now, but the plan is to replace that with a cantilevered structural steel frame that could also serve as a trellis for climbing vines and other plants. The design lowers the threshold of the original church windows along the north wall to meet the new ground plane of stone and gravel. More park and public art gallery than building, the church could become part of the infrastructure of the Grand Center arts and culture district. “It’s sort of a tabula rasa for clever art installations,” said Gluckman. One such installation is an acoustic work by Ann Hamilton that emits “music that once filled the site” through 36 in-ground speakers. A historic and predominantly African-American neighborhood in midtown St. Louis, Grand Center is rife with vacant land, but also theaters and a vibrant art scene. The Spring Avenue church project is a soft-spoken addition to the larger cultural district, intended to support chance meetings and creative installations. “It’s this unusual combo of landscape architecture, architectural fragment, and artwork,” said Gluckman. “In some ways it’s more accessible because it’s un-programmed space.” Most of the site is an open lawn. Monitored cameras and minimal architectural lighting could provide security for the 24-hour park, but the designers are wary of overloading the space. They have not determined if the church itself will remain open at night. The project won an AIA St. Louis Award of Merit last year. Still seeking funds both public and private, the team hopes to start construction this year.
James Taylor Foster reports for Archdaily: Foster + Partners’ New York Public Library Redesign in State of Limbo. Foster + Partner’s controversial renovation plans for the New York Public Library (NYPL) are currently in a state of limbo while the city decides their course of action. Foster’s proposal for the 20th century Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” on 5th Avenue 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. Although 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”, Robin Progrebin of the New York Times, has reported that Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, is letting the $150 million in capital funds set aside for the project sit idle while cost analysis is undertaken. The Committee to Save the New York Public Library, who oppose the renovation works, have “forwarded about 3,000 email letters from supporters imploring the mayor to reconsider the plan”. From a design point of view, “the library has maintained that the stacks in their current state are unworkable because they lack humidity and temperature control.” Foster + Partners are reportedly reworking the design. According to Tony Marx, President of the NYPL, the library is “simply taking the time to get it right.” Find out more about Foster’s designs for the New York Public Library on ArchDaily here.  
Rory Stott reports for Archdaily. Building off of the success of their crowdfunded BD Bacatá building in Colombia, the real estate group Prodigy Network has announced a plan to bring this same funding method to New York, with an apartment hotel in Manhattan named 17 John. The project, a glassy rooftop extension to the existing art deco building at 17 John Street, has much in common with Prodigy Network’s past projects: the same funding method as their skyscraper in Bogotá as well as the same designer, Winka Dubbeldam, head of the New York practice Archi-Techtonics. Dubbeldam also previously helped them to crowdsource ideas for the future development of Bogotá in the “My Ideal City” project. However, when applied to the USA, this funding paradigm – which is so promising in Colombia – becomes twisted beyond recognition. Upon close inspection, 17 John more resembles the standard developer’s model than anything else – and the claims of ethical superiority begin to melt away. From the beginning, Prodigy Network’s funding method has stretched the definition of “crowdfunding”. This is not the sort of funding you might find on Kickstarter, where ‘backers’ usually offer anything between $5-$1,000 for a non-financial reward. The BD Bacatá tower, for example, was sold off in chunks of $20,000; rather than being a ‘backer’, those putting forth funds are investors, who expect a return on their investment. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. A blog post by the prodigy network explains the social logic of this strategy: in traditional investment, “affluent individuals” with disposable income of around $20,000-$2 million are limited to investment options such as stocks or small property purchases, where they can expect a return of around 6%. On the other hand, “ultra high net worth individuals” have the option of “investment grade commercial real estate”, with returns of anything up to 29%. “This paradigm is the basis for the conflict between the 1 percent and the 99 percent”, they claim, as the richer you are the easier it is to profit from investment. Their strategy, however, splits a high-return investment into bite-sized portions aimed at the lower end of the investment market. In Colombia, this strategy seems to have paid off, with a long running advertising campaign aimed at Colombia’s growing middle class – not just members of the 99 percent, but local people with an interest in investing in Colombia. This is the foundation for the popularity of crowdfunding for developers: it offers a socially responsible way of funding buildings, which contributes to the local economy. By turning around the standard paradigm of ‘developers versus communities’, the crowdfunding approach has the potential to be a true game-changer in the building of democratic cities – and even serves as a neat PR hook into the bargain. But this strategy does not travel well. In the first place, 17 John has been split into chunks of not $20,000, but $100,000, cutting out a significant portion of the “affluent individuals” which their strategy previously targeted. What’s more, strict rules in the USA governing investments mean that their campaign has a limited reach: as reported by the Wall Street Journal, investment opportunities must either be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or only be available to “accredited investors.” That’s around 8.5 million Americans with an annual income over $200,000 or a net worth of at least $1 million. Prodigy Network have opted for the latter, meaning that they have opened this investment opportunity from the 1 percent… to the 2.7 percent. Hardly a dramatic social change. What’s more, as the US investment regulations place no such restrictions on overseas investors, 17 John is likely to attract internationals hoping to make easy money on New York real estate, investors who will subsequently remove this money from the local economy. At 17 John, the social benefits of crowdfunding are hollowed out; what we are left with is no more than the veneer of PR. There are many different forms of crowdfunding which may benefit society, but this one doesn’t seem to be on the list – a fact that hits home when one reads the terms and conditions on Prodigy Network’s website:
“Prodigy Network’s investments and/or services do not constitute “Crowdfunding” as described in Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act).”
Rowley Amato reports for Curbed. The long deteriorated Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue on the Lower East Side has been closed since 2007, but that hasn't stopped the synagogue from waging a veritable war with itself, as the historic building flip-flopped between courting developers and seeking to strip itself of landmark status under the leadership of Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum. Last year, the synagogue finally withdrew its hardship application following an intense conversation between Rabbi Greenbaum and the leader of the preservation efforts.
Originally built in 1850 as a Baptist church, the Gothic Revival building was purchased by Beth Hamedrash Hagadol—one of the oldest Eastern European congregations in the United States—in 1885 for $45,000. In 1967, the building was granted landmark status, with the Landmarks Commission finding that "Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest, and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City." While efforts to save the gorgeous, 164-year-old building are ongoing,  the fine folks at Bowery Boogie and the Landmarks Conservancy takes us inside the crumbling sanctuary in this series of photographs, revealing a long, proud history that's faded, though certainly not forgotten.
 
Shannon Ayala reports for Curbed. 57th-street-towers The shadows that the so-called many "Central Park supertowers"-to-be will cast onto the city's venerated green lung have stirred up a debate about height limits for buildings. It's a heated topic, so naturally hundreds of people packed a hall at the 42nd Street library last night to hear arguments about what to make of the shadows—and what to do in light of them. Four of the towers are going up on West 57th Street, with three others set to rise nearby: 432 Park Avenue, MoMA's Tower Verre, and the Zeckendorfs' project on 60th Street that will be "like a 15 Central Park West." At the meeting, politicians suggested revising Midtown's zoning laws and making public commentary part of the mandatory review process through which each proposed skyscraper must pass. "The whole issue revolves around zoning," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Brewer built on her case, in part, by recalling her role in a successful campaign to scale down the Time Warner Center to reduce its shadows on Central Park 26 years ago.
The shadow debate escalated when Community Board 5 organized a "Sunshine" task force late last year to consider them; it organized last night's packed forum. Gary Barnett, chief of mega-developer Extell, which is behind One57 and the Nordstrom Tower, defended his projects, emphasizing the economic returns and job creation the high-end buildings will bring to the city. "This is the wrong issue at the wrong time," he said. He added that the new towers will generally be skinny anyway. "It will be a long, slender shadow," he said. "It will only be for a few minutes." His argument deepened: the shadows won't impact the park's vegetation, and there are already trees that put the south park of the park in shadow during some of the day. Meanwhile, an analysis by the Municipal Art Society shows the longest shadows will stretch from 57th Street to as far as 67th Street across the park at 4pm in the fall. (Shadows are longest in fall and spring.) The report also shows the new shadows would more than double the length of the existing shadows that jut out from the southern end of the park. A landscape architect, Judith Heintz, pointed out that the same problem would not happen along Central Park North. Warren St. John, who wrote New York Times op-ed "Shadows Over Central Park" in October, made a personal plea on stage, telling a story about bringing his daughter to Heckscher Playground when a shadow seemed to make everyone there leave. "It was a very sort of lonely feeling," he said. "Shadows make the park less pleasant." Addressing responses that he was part of a NIMBY group, he explained, "This is about the backyard of New York City. Not any one person's private space." He also touched on a major theme of the night, that of the "select few," or super rich, who will live in these towers at the expense of park-goers who will be—literally—overshadowed. Barnett took offense at the jabs tossed around about the "elite." "We could be a little more inclusive," he said. "There's no reason for us to knock other people." Margaret Newman, MAS's executive director, brought up examples of anti-shadow codes in cities like San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale (warning: PDF!), where buildings at certain heights require shadow review. Architect and urban planner Michael Kwartler noted the NYC's laws  actually do require (warning: another PDF!) a shadow assessment if the shadow will impact a vegetated area. But, he equivocated, "shadows are temperate. They move. ... It depends on the situation."  
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Playing it cool in New York

Sharon McHugh reports for World Architecture News. A Brooklyn brownstone receives a successful Passive House makeover. Retrofitting older buildings for contemporary use is a vital part of architectural practice. In the book, Old Buildings New Forms by Monacelli Press (2013), author Francoise Astorg Bollack makes the case that today’s best innovations in architecture are not in new construction but in the reuse of older buildings.  By inserting, wrapping, and weaving new life into older structures one can get transformative results. The Tighthouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn is one such project that makes the case for the remarkable transformation that can occur by reusing older buildings. Designed by Julie Torres Moskovitz  of the environmentally-focused practice Fabrica718, Tighthouse is one of the greenest homes in America and the first certified Passivhaus in New York. In 2012, Torres Moskovitz transformed a 1920s brownstone into an energy efficient and modern machine for living by encasing the exterior walls of a rundown traditional 3-storey brick row house with a new high performance wrapper that has 20inch-thick insulation and an outermost layer of grey stucco, making the formerly 'leaky' house air tight. New triple glazed argon gas Schuco windows add to the buildings already aggressive energy performance while giving the traditional brownstoner a decidedly modern look and remaining sympathetic to the original structure in its detailing and the proportioning of the openings. Inside, each window on the parlor level is sealed with an Intello Plus membrane and Tescon Profill tape. Torres Moskovitz told Dwell magazine, which recently featured the house, that what she has done is akin to 'gift-wrapping'. The interiors of the house are sparse, in part the aesthetic choice of its 'iPhone' generation owners, but also because the construction dollars were spent on crafting the house’s energy efficient envelope. At the rear of the house are large north facing windows - generally an energy-loser in this part of the world - but the energy modeling for the house, which weighs options and trade-offs, allowed the windows to be used with no loss in overall performance and with the additional benefit of directing natural light deep into the core of the house, making for a cheerful interior. The house was completed in 2012. After the first year of occupancy the family of four’s annual heating and cooling costs ($512) are almost a fifth that of similar homes in New York. With Tighthouse, Torres Moskovitz pushed the envelope to deliver unprecedented energy performance in a region that is cold and dark for much of the year while her iPhone-generation clients pushed her to achieve these remarkable results. Prior to meeting her clients, Torres Moskovitz reportedly knew little about passive house standards. Now she is a convert and an expert - being one of the few certified Passive House professionals in North America and the author of The Greenest Home: Superinsulated and Passive House Design published by Princeton Architectural Press (2013).