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Vanessa Quirk reports for Archdaily. In a statement released last night, Glenn Lowry, the director of the MoMA, confirmed that the American Folk Art Museum, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, will be demolished in order to make way for a re-design and expansion spearheaded by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R). In his message Glenn Lowry states: “The plans approved today are the result of a recommendation from the architects [Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the renowned interdisciplinary studio based in New York City], after a diligent and thoughtful six-month study and design process that explored all options for the site. The analysis that we undertook was lengthy and rigorous, and ultimately led us to the determination that creating a new building on the site of the former American Folk Art Museum is the only way to achieve a fully integrated campus.” The new design, which should add about 40,000 square feet of new galleries and public areas and address MoMA’s considerable congestion problem, will integrate the current building with two sites to the west of the Museum: three floors of a residential tower, designed by Jean Nouvel, at 53 West 53rd Street, as well as the site of the former American Folk Art Museum. The new design by DS+R features an expanded first floor and Sculpture Garden, which will both be open to the public for free; an upper floor that will contain more galleries and space for performance art; as well as many new access points and passageways to improve traffic flow. Critics, however, although generally understanding of the MoMA’s need for space, as well as Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s analysis of the site, remain decidedly critical of the MoMA’s decision for two major reasons: (1) the expansion still remains insufficient in terms of space (meaning much of the collection will still remain in storage); and (2) the demolition of the 3-year-old Folk Art Museum, an architectural gem for New York City, would be deplorable in any circumstances – at the hands of a reputed cultural institution such as the MoMA, it is almost unfathomable. Jerry Saltz, writing for Vulture, writes a heart-felt condemnation of MoMA – not so much for the demolition of the Folk Art Museum – but for the shortsighted and commercial nature of the expansion: “It’s a lot like the last expansion plan. Only this one is even more snazzy, with a lot more glass — sorry, “transparency to the street “— and spaces designed primarily so people can look at other people looking at other people looking at people. [...] All this avoids MoMA’s basic problem, which I’ve written about before: that the museum needs to triple the amount of space for showing its permanent collection of art made before 1980. It didn’t in 2004, and it isn’t now. [...] It kills me to write this, because I’ll be visiting MoMA for the rest of my life, but I [...] will never get to see its incredible collection shown properly. Good-bye, MoMA. I loved you.” Justin Davidson, also writing for Vulture, empathizes with DS+R’s ethical and architectural conundrum (what’s worse: to demolish Folk Art or scar it forever?); however, he contends that the resulting design remains “halfhearted”: “By the time the architects were done tinkering with their old friends’ creation, it would have been so bastardized that there was little point in keeping the remains. In an architectural version of the battlefield paradox, DS+R would have had to destroy the building in order to save it. But that hesitancy shows in the provisional design for the next phase. The client is bent on art-world domination; the architects seem halfhearted. Instead of healing the scar left by the Folk Art Museum, they have left a gleaming gap. [...] It’s possible that as the architects refine their work, MoMA will receive a similarly rejuvenating spa treatment. Maybe seeing the Picassos will get more pleasant, and the whole complex will shed its cold, corporate air. But for now the design feels less like an optimistic hosanna than a mournful chorus of compromises.” Paul Goldberger of Vanity Fair, in a characteristically eloquent article, focuses on the tragedy of losing the Folk Art Museum – not just for MoMA, but for New York City as a whole: “Lowry envisions the expansion as a way of creating much needed breathing space. ‘We are a victim of our own success,’ he told me. Fair enough. But this argument, however much it responds to a real problem, reminds me a bit of the highway engineer’s practice of solving traffic problems by building more freeways. As we have learned the hard way, more roads generally bring more traffic, perpetuating, rather than fixing, the problem. Yes, MoMA lacks the space to show enough of its great collections, and yes, it long ago lost the domestic scale that made it, once, the most beloved of all of New York’s major museums. Is there a way to fix the first problem without making the second one even worse? [...] The brooding, somber façade of the folk-art museum, made of folded planes of hammered bronze, combines monumental dignity with the image of delicate handcrafting, and it is a majestic, if physically small, architectural achievement. A city that allows such a work to disappear after barely a dozen years is a city with a flawed architectural heart. A large cultural institution that cannot find a suitable use for such a building is an institution with a flawed architectural imagination. The Williams and Tsien building is also the last remnant of something approaching reasonable scale on West 53rd Street, a block that seems ever bigger, ever more corporate, ever less diverse. Tearing down the folk-art museum may make sense by MoMA’s measure of things, but it is hard to see how it makes New York a better place.” Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times took to Twitter to express his disappointment. American Folk Art Museum, by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.  
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Stemming the tide

Editorial for World Architecture News. The New York Restoration Project recently announced that architecture firm Bade Stageberg Cox (BSC) had won its EDGEucation Pavilion Design Competition to create a state-of-the-art flood-resistant outdoor recreation and learning centre at Sherman Creek Park on the Harlem River shoreline in New York. With sustainable design and layout and porous building materials that complement the natural environment, BSC's winning vision, entitled Edge Portals, outfits the flood plain with permeable landscaping and learning stations. NYRP educators will expand programming with interactive curriculum that encompasses ecological field study with local youth. The Pavilion will increase access to the waterfront, promote environmental stewardship and education and revive recreational rowing, once vibrant in this part of the Harlem River. The Pavilion's site, currently known as the "Former Boat Club Site," is a flood plain zone frequently inundated by storms and tides. BSC's winning design incorporates flooding as an integral part of the life cycle of the architecture. It consists of two buildings, an open classroom and a boat storage building, situated along the site's newly constructed shoreline. The layout places the buildings on twin peninsulas at the water's edge and orients the structures towards the water, creating a direct connection with the river. "We chose to site the buildings on the peninsulas where the land interlocks with the river, directly engaging the waterfront and highlighting the relationship between the city and the river," said Tim Bade, Principal at Bade Stageberg Cox. "Together, the classroom and boathouse form a threshold between land and water," he added. To address flooding, the classroom and boat storage building are constructed with a metal skin made of expanded weathered steel panels, with slotted openings that allow water to flow in and out freely. In addition, a cistern will store and reuse storm water for garden irrigation, and a rock garden at the site’s lowest elevation will collect storm water and run-off. An opportunity for learning As well as its resilience to storms, the Pavilion also allows NYRP’s education team to embrace the natural environment and storm events as learning opportunities. The open classroom will have sustainable features that complement and interact with the natural environment, such as a rainwater skylight to provide natural light within the space and act as a rainfall gauge, and water tables at which children can conduct water testing and analyze microbial samples with microscopes. The design incorporates a ‘science cove', a waterside classroom for educational programming and active engagement with the river. This cove is created by passageways leading from the peninsulas to a floating dock. It will host a variety of activities, including seining, wildlife observation, oyster gardening, and boating instruction protected from boat wakes and river turbulence. The site will also feature benches that also act as 100-year flood markers, ‘tidal mirrors’ that capture water and mark high and low tides and a solar garden with photovoltaic panels that will power path and building lighting. Together, the buildings and landscape offer rich opportunities for boating, recreation, and the exploration of nature and science. With goals to secure funding for the project, estimated at approximately $1 million, the new site will harbor a vibrant waterfront culture that has been absent from this region for decades. NYRP launched the competition in July to ensure storm and social resilience along the Harlem River shoreline at Sherman Creek Park, which is located in a traditionally under-resourced region of New York City. In response to Mayor Bloomberg’s proposition to increase resilience of infrastructure citywide, NYRP invited eight emerging NYC-based architecture firms to participate. In September, NYRP shortlisted BSC along with three other finalists, Desai/Chia Architecture, Urban Data + Design, and WORKac. The eight firms that participated in the competition will showcase their work at an upcoming exhibition about storm-resilient design at the American Institute for Architects’ Center for Architecture starting on February 6. “We’re thrilled to see such innovative and creative proposals responding to our call for storm-resistant architecture on the banks of the Harlem River,” said Amy Freitag, NYRP Executive Director. “BSC’s thoughtful approach to providing access to the water's edge directly responds to the city's call for resilient design, making Sherman Creek Park a spectacular destination for local residents, students, rowers and anyone who seeks to discover the Northern Manhattan waterfront park,” she added. The New York Restoration Project (NYRP), founded by actor Bette Midler in 1995, is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming open space in under-resourced communities to create a greener, more sustainable New York City.  
Tobias Salinger reports for Curbed. A new pedestrian plaza will connect Jay Street in Historic Dumbo to the larger network of development-funded waterfront parks along the East River. Representatives for Brooklyn Bridge Park presented their proposal to the Landmarks Preservation Commission Tuesday morning for a community space composed of salvaged cobblestones, large granite seats, bike racks and a 15-foot wide concrete bridge over the water to the adjacent piers. The commission approved the project for the now-vacant intersection of Jay and John Streets, putting it on track for completion by the end of the year. The development will be paid for through discretionary funds from Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin. A picture of the existing intersection replete with bikes not attached to racks and an uninviting dead end provoked an audible groan from the commissioners, and they were impressed to learn that cobblestones and railroad tracks from the area's industrial past will be incorporated into the design by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. "I see very little to object to in this proposal and lots to be excited about," said Commissioner Elizabeth Ryan. New shrubbery and evergreen trees will add greenery to the site's edges, along with metal railings to keep children and dogs from falling into the river. "We're hoping to construct all of these spaces at once in this year," said the park's senior project manager, Leigh Trucks. Speakers from the Dumbo Business Improvement District and the Historic Districts Council also spoke in support of the plan, though Nadezhda Williams of the council said she's worried that the potential trees might block views of the water. Who needs trees in a park anyway? The context of the site in the historic district. This map show how the site connects to the rest of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Nicole Anderson reports for The Architect's Newspaper.

Just before New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, moved into city hall, City Planning took steps to implement lasting changes to the land use process, leaving a final stamp on the city it has drastically reshaped over the last 12 years under Mayor Bloomberg’s governance. This updated process is designed to accelerate the time it takes for applicants seeking approval for new developments. The agency’s new rules target the period when a project is first introduced to City Planning, leading up to an applicant’s certification to enter the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. This phase, often delayed by redundancies, has historically been vague and unstructured, putting a strain on both the developers carrying the projects and on the architects trying to solidify designs. “Before we had formal standards, you would get one piece of advice and then it would shift in the next application. Now that we have formal standards, we know what we’re aiming for: transparency of where they are in the process. What will happen next and what we will have to do next to move the project forward. Not just call up a planner,” said Carol Samol, director of BluePrint and City Planning Bronx Borough Office. Before instituting these changes, the agency conducted a voluntary pilot program with 90 applicants over 16 months to test out the new rules of reviewing land use and environmental review applications. “The regulatory process in New York was traditionally and until recently the most complicated in the nation. It is a combination of things—which comes from both the nature of individual agency and the successive reviews from agencies,” said Rick Bell, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects New York. “We have been trying to concentrate our efforts in the AIA on the cumbersome nature of the process.” Bell, among other stakeholders and practitioners, was asked by City Planning to provide their feedback on the review process. To simplify and speed up the pre-certification process, City Planning has launched a formal tracking system to follow an applicant from the “moment an applicant walks in the door” to make sure all requirements are being met. There is also a set of new standards to create reasonable time frames to help guide the projects along. For instance, a new rule stipulates that if the agency fails to act at a certain point, the project is allowed to proceed to the next stage with the application. “The worst possible scenario for an architect is to realize that something isn’t possible,” said Bell. “How early in the game can you get a sense of the general shape and form the building will take? The idea is that you don’t wait until the end of the process to find out what you’re doing.”  
Jose Luis Gabriel Cruz reports for Archdaily. Seven months after the New York City Council approved Cornell University’s two million square foot technology campus in Roosevelt Island, new information has been released — along with a series of new renders. Envisioned as “a campus built for the next century,” Cornell Tech’s first set of buildings has tapped into the talent of some of the most respected architecture firms in the city: Morphosis‘ Pritzker Prize-winning Thom Mayne, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture, Handel Architects, and Skidmore Owings & Merrill. Three buildings have undergone design development since the approval of SOM’s original master plan: the First Academic Building (Morphosis), the Colocation Building (Weiss/Manfredi Architecture), and the 350-unit residential tower (Handel Architects). These facilities will be connected by a quarter-mile-long ‘tech walk’, designed by James Corner’s Field Operations, which serves as a spine that weaves together the ensemble of buildings whilst functioning as a public pedestrian space that spans the campus’ twelve acres. The First Academic Building Sustainable practices are core design principles for the new campus, with design schemes aiming to generate enough energy to run the First Academic Building. Per the latest images, the academic and co-location building’s roofs will both feature solar cells. “It’s literally a lily pad and the building is under this thing,” describes Mayne. In attempts to create a visual axial connection to the existing Manhattan grid, the First Academic Building’s entry aligns with 57th street from across the East River. “The lack of privacy,” Mayne adds, “is a radical promotion of transparency.” During a December city council meeting, officials from Cornell, along with all of the architects, discussed the topic of flexibility. The exponential advances in technology and engineering have left many laboratories obsolete, thus requiring building interiors to become easily adaptable. The Co-Location Building “This particular building,” explains Marion Weiss, “is an invention,” designed to be a concentrated hothouse of academia and industry. By splitting the building in two and allowing the exterior landscape to seamlessly spill into its core, students and entrepreneurs will share spaces meant to foster interaction with the larger, more public tech community. The Residential Tower Handel Architects — the latest recruitment in the roster of architects — is still in the process of designing the residential tower, projected to house students, faculty and staff in a mixture of micro-units, one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. Planned amenities include a gym, bike room, lounge, roof deck, multi-purpose collaboration and media rooms. The images depicting the residential towers do not represent the current or final design.    
Rebecca reports for Brownstoner. Two Trees’ Domino proposal has cleared another level of the land use review process. On the last day of the year, Tuesday, outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz approved the plan along with a few minor modifications, such as variances for zoning, commercial space and affordable housing. “We are extremely grateful for Borough President Markowitz’s support for the Domino Sugar project over the past year and approval of our plans this week,” said Two Trees’ Jed Walentas in an emailed statement. “We look forward to working with new Borough President Eric Adams and Brooklyn leaders over the next few years to bring more affordable housing, local jobs, and much needed public open space to South Williamsburg.” Next up, Domino will need approval from the City Planning Commission and the City Council to get full ULURP certification.  
Cate reports for Brownstoner. The full City Council Thursday approved the proposal championed by outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to turn Childs restaurant into an entertainment complex and public park. The $53,000,000 project, now called the Seaside Park and Community Art Center, will involve restoring the landmarked façade and building a 5,000 seat amphitheater, park and playground. “By restoring this iconic section of the Boardwalk, Coney Island’s revitalization will continue, providing multiple cultural and educational benefits, as well as economic and residential advantages,” said the owner of the complex, iStar Financial, in an emailed statement. Coney Island’s Community Board 13 voted against the plan, although their land use committee was in favor. The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously supports it.  
Megan Riesz reports for The Brooklyn Paper. City preservationists are slapping the just-opened Gowanus Whole Foods Market with a fine today for failing to keep up the long-abandoned historic building the high-end supermarket sits on either side of, according to a city spokeswoman. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will hit Whole Foods with a $3,000 fine for failing to maintain the dilapidated Coignet building at the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street, despite a promise to fix it, according to commission spokeswoman Elisabeth DeBourbon. Locals who have been calling on the organic grocery giant to fix up the landmarked concrete-and-brick structure for years cheered the decision. “Anytime there’s accountability, I’m going to be happy,” said Gowanus resident and musician Martin Bisi, who has documented the building’s decay, including the disappearance this week of a crumbling banister on its front steps. “Hopefully this will be enough of a deterrent where it will motivate Whole Foods to keep it up.” A few grand is pocket change to the grocery giant, which took in $11.7-billion in revenue in 2012. The city gave the retailer a permit on Aug. 1 to repair and restore the landmark, but that work has not yet begun, DeBourbon said. A Whole Foods spokesman said he was not aware of a violation, though he had heard construction workers talked to the city about plans to revamp the Coignet façade. Neighbors have accused Whole Foods of letting the Coignet building rot since the company bought the property in 2005. The loss of the right banister was only the latest in a long line of blows to the building, including the recent appearance of a large crack on its base that neighbors said was caused by construction on the supermarket. “Every time I walk by, it just seems more dilapidated,” said Joe Mariano, a member of the activist group Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus. “It’s just crumbling away.” Whole Foods has categorically denied that it has played any part in the disintegration of the former New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company headquarters. “I do not think that the building is in any different condition — except that it has been sitting there for 10 years,” Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra said. The Coignet building may have been the first concrete building in the city when it was erected in 1873. It was designated a landmark in 2006.
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed. 6 Cortlandt Alley, the condo development previously known as 372 Broadway, finally had its date with the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday, and the meeting went about as well as these things usually go with they focus on multi-story glass additions on top of old buildings: not all that well. "It's too busy up there and draws your attention to it," commented commissioner Joan Gerner, while commissioner Fred Bland advised that the addition "has to be more recessive." The overall consensus was that while a two-story addition could actually be approvable in this case, this one would need to blend in to the existing building more. The redesigned storefront was also not a big hit with the commissioners. Architects TRA Studio will have to rework the already long-delayed project a bit, and present again at some point in the future.  
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed. Only one building (technically, that building is three buildings) in the Two Trees Domino Sugar Factory development is under the purview of the Landmarks Preservation Commission—the individually landmarked Domino Sugar Refinery (third from the left). At a public hearing yesterday, the Commission took a look at architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle's designs for that structure, and the reviews were mixed. In a previous Domino development plan, back when the site was owned by the Community Preservation Corp. and the Katan Group, the Refinery was supposed to go residential. Now it will be turned into office space for tech companies, a switch that is being lauded by politicians. The previous design, also by Beyer Blinder Belle, was approved by the LPC three years ago, but did not include the four-story glass addition (two stories on the Kent Avenue side) that proved to be a point of contention at yesterday's hearing. "The proposal before the Commission today contains more square footage than the prior approval due to the retention of the building's core and a second rooftop addition," said the Historic Districts Council's  Nadezhda Williams. "Keeping the bulk of the additions to the back portion of the building where it interferes with only the least distinguished piece of the building would much more preferable than disturbing the main view of the individual landmark and its iconic chimney."
Although Commission chair Robert Tierney called the proposal "extremely appropriate and impressive" (marking quite possibly the first time that a four-story glass addition on top of an individual landmark has ever been referred to as "appropriate"), not all of the commissioners agreed. Commissioner Michael Devonshire commented that the addition would obscure the masonry on the (shorter) Kent Avenue side, and other commissioners remarked that it appeared to "float" above the building. Commissioner Margery Perlmutter thought that the addition was simultaneously too big and too small, in that it is one third the size of the existing building, but also that it would be "struggling against its massive neighbors." All in all, some confusing advice for the architects, but since the Commission did not approve the Modified Certificate of Appropriateness, Beyer Blinder Belle will have to make some revisions and present again at a later date.