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Suzanne Labarre reports for Co.DESIGN. Image courtesy of Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio ( [Image Courtesy of Architecture Research Office] Diana Balmori, Michael Manfredi, Peter Gluck, and more top architects speak exclusively to Co.Design on how to safeguard cities against the next Hurricane Sandy. A year after Hurricane Sandy struck the United States, destroying houses and public infrastructure along the Eastern Seaboard, we reached out to several architects and posed two questions: What did you learn from Sandy? And how can architects prepare for the next storm? Their responses, edited and condensed, are below.--Eds Peter Gluck, principal of the design-build firm GLUCK+ Image from Unfortunately, architects tend to think they can profit from the damage. You wonder if they’re coming in to look at the problems or to get more work. I was appalled to hear that in the first week after Sandy, there were AIA ads for architects needed. It made my stomach turn--architects being ambulance chasers. One of the obvious things architects can do is design their buildings that are within the flood zones to withstand the flood. We’re doing a project for Duke University, which is in flood areas, on the coast. We placed the second floor, where the expensive lab equipment is located, 25 feet above sea level and the whole building is designed to withstand winds of 140 mph. Buildings on the coast need a lot of structural resistance to the wind itself. And of course, water is a big issue. We placed the science building at Duke very high above sea level and are allowing the first-floor spaces to get destroyed--the first floor is programmed such that it wouldn’t be a disaster if it got wiped out.--As told to Carey Dunne Michael A. Manfredi, founding design partner at Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/ Landscape/ Urbanism Image from From our studio research and our own work, we’ve discovered that one of the great lessons is to not rely on a single methodology for accommodating events like flooding. Our very first project at Olympia Fields was designed to accommodate torrential rains and collect water in a safe yet aesthetic manner. In other words, water collection is woven into the core of the design. In the 25 years since, our practice advocates a multidisciplinary approach to shaping sites and engaging infrastructures. At our newly completed park at Hunter’s Point South, 88% of the shoreline is now soft, which means that it is designed to absorb a severe influx of water. The roof of the park pavilion is designed and constructed to resist hurricane-force winds. This park now represents a first line of defense for the surrounding community, which sat four feet underwater a year ago during Hurricane Sandy. Infrastructure is often incorrectly perceived as hard and inflexible. These same considerations apply for landlocked sites as well. At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, our rain gardens and 10,000-square-foot green roof are able to absorb a substantial amount of water without damaging the new structure or this historic site. In this way, we can rely on soft infrastructure that acts as a giant sponge to collect and gradually release large quantities of water over time, instead of all at once. It is our belief that it is now time to design alternate strategies that support resilient and pliable sites capable of absorbing cycles of extreme, unpredictable events.--As told to Suzanne LaBarre Craig Dykers, principal of the architecture firm Snøhetta Image from It is important to look at small-scale solutions and legislative guidelines to help prevent loss of life and property. The grand and sometimes epic conceptual thinking is useful, but it should be balanced with immediacy. Simple flood protection can easily be implemented in building construction to ensure their contents are protected better. Beyond this, we must focus on landscape design that augments the natural needs of shorelines and basins where flooding may occur. Educating people who live in flood-prone zones should be more extensive than simply posting evacuation plans. In some places, there are credits given to those who design and inhabit shoreline conditions responsibly, measured by their inclusion of environmentally sensitive planning. --As told to Belinda Lanks Diana Balmori, principal of the landscape architecture studio Balmori Associates Image from We need to change to sustainable systems NOW, not in the future. That means nature-based systems that can be implemented very quickly, unlike big hard engineering infrastructure projects, and for less money. Green roofs, green streets, rain gardens, pervious paving, linear parks, floating landscapes (which we are currently working on) are all tools that are immediately implementable and do not cost billions. Architects need to learn about those soft systems, and landscape architects who do know about them need to develop a richer language and more varieties of nature-based systems. Architects pay little attention to sources of energy, and to where they are placed. Both are issues that have moved to the head of the list and cannot be treated as something the mechanical engineers alone will place in the buildings architects design.--As told to Sammy Medina John Cary, executive director of the forthcoming Autodesk Impact Design Foundation and founding editor of There's a lot to be done in terms of minding flood zones and taking those things much more seriously. In the past, we looked at hundred-year worst-case scenarios, and I think we're going to see a greater recurrence of this kind of thing as the climate changes. One thing that I don't believe is going to help a great deal is the proliferation of design competitions and contests that seem to pop up after these kinds of disasters and which frankly don't address or engage with the real needs on the ground or the kind of readiness that we need to have. We need much more practical solutions that are both preemptive and responsive when something does goes wrong.--As told to Sammy Medina Stephen Cassell, principal of the architecture firm Architecture Research Office Image from We had done a research study looking at lower Manhattan, mapping where the flood zones were, and after Sandy, all the research we did proved true--we had predicted which areas would flood. We were happy it wasn’t the worst-case scenario. It’s one thing to know intellectually what will happen--to think, OK, these are the effects of climate change--and a completely different thing to actually see the impact of a devastating storm like this. What we really learned is, we better get cracking in starting to deal with these issues. One of the most basic things architects can do is look at the levels of buildings and start building more resilient structures, asking questions about various scenarios. What’s going to happen when it floods? What about when the power goes out? Can you open the windows? Is there a place to plug in? And we need to look at the specific effects of Sandy on every type of residential building, so that our rebuilding efforts are not just based on theory but on actual data.--As told to Carey Dunne Lisa Switkin, associate partner of the landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations Image from James Corner Field Operations is involved in a number of NYC waterfront projects that were deeply affected by Hurricane Sandy, including Domino Sugar and Greenpoint Landing in Brooklyn, Hallett’s Point in Queens, South Street Seaport and Muscota Marsh in Manhattan, and Cornell University NYC Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island. A unique design concept has been developed for each site responding to storm surge, flooding, and the escalating effects of climate change with the deployment of innovative strategies and techniques such as terracing, retention and absorption, wetland creation, elevated bulkheads and walkways and use of riparian plantings and porous materials. As landscape architects, we are trained to think about larger systems and networks that go beyond project boundaries. This is especially important when considering how to make a project resilient. In addition to raising key infrastructure and utilities and developing hard systems (floodwalls, revetments, levees, and bulkheads), there are a number of soft systems (wetlands, beaches, dunes, and parklands) that can be integrated into projects to help absorb storm and flood events while also enriching biodiversity and open-space amenities. Edges between land and water are where these resilient systems need to be developed, avoiding singular "walls" where possible and seeking instead to thicken thresholds, margins, and intertidal zones.--As told to Suzanne LaBarre  
Curbed Staff writing for Curbed. Image from "Contextual" was the key word at last night's Community Board 8 meeting in Brooklyn. The board's land use committee mulled a proposal for new construction in an empty lot at 576 Carlton Avenue between Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue in the Prospect Heights Historic District. The lot has stood empty for years and the owners, who live next door to the site, want to build a 4-story single family home in the space. However, construction in a Historic District must be built to match the character of the neighborhood and this was the sticking point of the proposal. Committee members were unsure that the new building with its modern touches, including the new garage and black painted steel, would be contextual with the surrounding buildings. "It's a beautiful design," said board member Curtis Harris, "but it doesn't seem to be in context with everything else on the block."
[Photo of the site via Google Streetview]
The Brooklyn-based firm CWB Architects, which is very familiar with working in the borough's historic districts, has been contracted to design the house, and firm founder Brendan Coburn pointed out ways in which he'd incorporated elements from the surrounding homes to create the blueprint. For example, while the building will be four stories tall, the fourth floor is recessed from the façade, leaving the street wall three stories high and allowing it to blend in better with the 3-story buildings on either side of it. Coburn also designed a bi-level brick façade to align with the street walls of the adjacent buildings. The street wall of the proposed house aligns with that of 578 Carlton Street and the two-story bay window aligns with the street wall at 574 Carlton. The bay window, though made of steel, will be painted black, as will the garage door, to match the detailing of the neighboring home. In an attempt to further reassure the skeptical committee members, Coburn also mentioned that accommodating the garage would not require any sidewalk alterations because there is already a curb cut. cross-section-576-carlton.jpg Still some residents were concerned that building a new house in the lot would impact "the aesthetic of their neighborhood" and wanted to make certain the immediate neighbors were given proper notice as to what might be happening next door. To that end, the committee decided to approve the plans for presentation to the full board next week—with a few modifications. Coburn must provide proof that he gave notice of the proposal to neighbors living within 50 feet of the lot and documentation that the existing curb cut is legal. He also must commit to a contextual façade with a southern wall made of brick, and the designs need to include more greenery in the front yard. If the full board determines that the designs are suitable for the neighborhood, the architects will then present the proposal to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a public hearing next month. Between further modifications, future meetings, and construction, it will be at least another two years before the house is complete. But Coburn is patient. He knows that continual adjustments to the project are all part of the process. "Our strategy is to be appropriate and blend in," he added, "but you never know what one person's version of blending in is versus another."  
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West 57th’s Hodgepodge Block

Cristopher Gray reports for The New York Times. Image Ian Douglas (  [Ian Douglas for The New York Times] The developer Extell now has the go-ahead from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to cantilever a 1,400-foot tower over the Art Students League at 215 West 57th Street, which will create, certainly, a beanstalk presence on what was already a thoroughly jumbled block. Just how this short section of 57th between Broadway and Seventh Avenue became home to so many disparate institutions — the league, apartment buildings like the Osborne and car-related businesses like the old General Motors factory at Broadway — is a good question. The architectural mix, uncommon in Manhattan, came about as three distinct kinds of development moved in from three directions.        In 1880 this block was practically terra incognita, with just a few miscellaneous structures. Two blocks east, the intersection of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue was on its way to becoming a nexus of mansions, and 15 blocks south, what was still Longacre Square (soon Times Square) had emerged as a center for carriage manufacture.        Image Museum of the City of New York ( [Museum of the City of New York]
Broadway below 42nd Street had been a favored address for hotels and their cousins, apartment hotels. Beginning in the mid-1870s such buildings also came to Longacre Square; then, in the late 1870s, apartment-house development for some reason jumped to Seventh Avenue, with projects like the 1879 Van Corlear, built from 55th to 56th Street by Edward Clark as a run-up to his Dakota of 1884.
The building, long gone, was from the outside a harsh sweep of red brick, resembling a particularly punitive home for fallen women. But the interior was advanced for its time, with cross-ventilation, foyer-centered entrances and well-thought-out sleeping, entertaining and service areas.       

Within a few years the Wyoming, the Ontiora and other apartment houses also rose on Seventh, and ultimately the stone-dealer Thomas Osborne decided to try his hand at this new type of multiple dwelling. His 1885 Osborne, a veritable brownstone quarry of 14 floors at the northwest corner of 57th, was one of the biggest of the crop.       

The seed of innovation does not always find fertile ground, and The Real Estate Record and Guide saw “nothing architecturally interesting” about Osborne’s effort. A further slap in the face came when Osborne lost his vertical advertisement through foreclosure. However, it was the first of several apartment-house place markers on this block of 57th Street, including the Rodin Studios, on the southwest corner of Seventh, as well as others nearby, like the Alwyn Court at 58th Street.       

A second thread of development arrived in 1892, when the American Fine Arts Society built 215 West 57th, the structure now known as the Art Students League. The society was a consortium of art organizations that banded together in 1889, and in moving to this block extended a line of ateliers on West 57th Street, like the Rembrandt and Sherwood Studios, and also Carnegie Hall, begun at Seventh and 57th in 1889.       

A relation of the society’s was the lacy Gothic American Society of Civil Engineers, at 220 West 57th Street, built in 1897 and occupied for years by Lee’s Art Shop, which has preserved many of the interior details.       

The final part of the transformation was the northward movement of the carriage operations of Longacre Square along Broadway. This was first felt in 1902 at midblock, next to the Art Students League, with Frank Gould’s colossal, banklike indoor riding ring, long ago demolished.       

Peerless and Demarest, builders of horse-drawn and motorized vehicles, followed, and by 1910 had erected their Gothic-style white terra-cotta factory and showroom — later owned by General Motors — at the southeast corner of Broadway and 57th. At the northeast corner, Fiat took over a four-level store and showroom.       

Almost simultaneously the Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw designed a building with an unusual double façade for the L-shaped plot fronting on both Broadway and 57th.       

By this time the block had just a few available plots, including one at No. 218 on the south side for which, in 1916, Consolidated Gas had Warren & Wetmore design its three-story limestone showroom. Although a commercial enterprise, the building certainly had a civic grandeur. It was torn down years ago.       

In the 1990s the Art Students League declined two offers to build a tall building over its rear parcel. But the offer of $20 million for its air rights from Extell Development was persuasive, and now plans call for the league building to have a skinny pencil-case tower cantilevered overhead.       

The Extell project would not be possible without the commission’s astonishing move of making a landmark of the Broadway frontage of the Shaw building while leaving the 57th Street bay, essentially identical to the one on Broadway, up for grabs. And grabbed it the developer has; the site is now cleared.       

We have, then, a New York block, a sort of architectural loom on which three distinct strands coming from three directions were woven into a single fabric — where from now on it appears the only place to go may be straight up.


Hana R. Alberts reports for Curbed. jarmulowsky-facade-october-2013 The landmarked Jarmulosky Bank Building is getting converted to a hotel (potentially by Ace, though that's not confirmed), and work has finally begun on the site. Bowery Boogie notes that the façade is now shrouded in scaffolding. And, now that DOB permits have been approved, the vacant lot next door at 60 Canal Street/8 Allen Street will, in fact, be home to a six-story annex to the hotel, courtesy of the same architect, Ron Castellano. The 1912-built, 12-story Beaux Arts beauty has a ton of history, and the renovation will gussy up the limestone and terracotta façade created by architects Rouse & Goldstone.
Image via
Sadly, it's not getting its cupola back, but the extensive makeover (final product, right) will also add historically appropriate wood doors, balconies, and two stories to the roof. Plus, a stolen clock will be replaced.
Eliot Brown reports for The Wall Street Journal. Image courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (via [Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture] For years, luxury builder Extell Development Co. has been planning a soaring tower on 57th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. Now we get to see what it looks like. Last month, the developer included renderings of the tower as part of a presentation to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, showing a glassy skyscraper that reaches up to 1,423 feet. That would be about 40% taller than Extell’s One57, a super-luxury tower opening in coming months a block to the east. The new tower would be the tallest residential building in the country. A spokesman for Extell, George Arzt, said the renderings showed a “work in progress,” and the building is “not a finished product.” Still, the renderings give a sense of the general look of the Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture-designed tower, and show what could be next on the so-called “billionaires’ row” emerging on 57th Street. The street has seen a surge of plans for skinny towers aimed at the ultra-rich. In addition to One57, the 1,396-foot 432 Park Avenue tower is under way, where a buyer has agreed to pay $95 million for a penthouse, according to the developers. Another even-skinnier tower reaching about 1,350 feet is planned for the strip. The new Extell building—which hasn’t yet secured financing—is slated to have a Nordstrom’s department store at its base, topped by a hotel. The bulk of the height would be a slim tower just for apartments, according to the presentation to the commission. One unusual feature: the building would cantilever 28 feet to the east over a landmark property, the Art Students League of New York building. This is in part due to a deal recently struck with Vornado Realty Trust, which is seeking to build a condo tower of its own one block to the north, according to people familiar with the matter. For years, Extell had been holding up the Vornado tower, which would have obstructed views from Extell’s tower. But under a deal reached last month, Vornado is moving its tower to the west, and Extell moved its to the east, in part by creating the cantilever, so both can have views of the park, the people said.  
Hana R. Alberts reports for Curbed.  
Alan G. Brake reports for The Architect's Newspaper.
[James Ewing / Courtesy Park Avenue Armory.]
A dazzling new performance space has opened on the Upper East Side. The Board of Officers Room at the Park Avenue Armory, a riot of color, pattern, and intricately carved wood, has been meticulously restored for chamber-scaled concerts, installations, and events by Herzog & de Meuron and Platt Byard Dovell. Originally designed by the Herter Brothers—the leading interior designers of their day—the Board of Officers Room is an important example of the American Aesthetic Movement, paneled in fiery red Honduran mahogany with elaborate floral stenciling above.
01-park-avenue-armory-nyc-herzog-demeuron-architecture-archpaper02-park-avenue-armory-nyc-herzog-demeuron-architecture-archpaper03-park-avenue-armory-nyc-herzog-demeuron-architecture-archpaper Led by Herzog & de Meuron senior partner Ascan Mergenthaler, the process of restoring the room was one of “de-layering,” removing grime, earlier alternations, and repairing damage caused by time, neglect, and water (the rooms had been on the World Monuments Fund’s list of endangered cultural sites). Relying on the latest thinking in preservation practice, the design team meticulously restored existing finishes and inserted contemporary reinterpretations of the Herter designs where there were gaps. While this approach is sympathetic to the intentions of the original designers and draws a line between what is old and new, the results are so harmonious that the distinctions will likely be lost on visitors. Dazzling metal and glass chandeliers have been restored. Herzog & de Meuron’s most noticeable contemporary insertion is chainmail curtains, which moderate the light streaming through the massive windows.
[James Ewing / Courtesy Park Avenue Armory.]  
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Brooklyn Bridge Park Update

Jessica Dailey reports for Curbed. [A rendering of the renovated Empire Stores and the theater at the historic Tobacco Warehouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park.] Thursday October 31st marked the start of construction to turn the empty Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park into a new home for the theater group St. Ann's Warehouse. The development includes an 18,000-square-foot building by Marvel Architects that will hold a flexible performance space and a 1,000-square-foot multi-use community space. The building's lobby will face the water, with the preserved arches framing the park. A 7,600-square-foot triangle space will turned into an open-air, walled birch tree grove by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Park officials also said that construction will soon start on the parkland expansions at Main Street and John Street. Next year, the John Street site will also see work begin on a 47-unit apartment building with cultural and retail space on the ground floor. [A rendering of the new Empire Stores Rooftop at Brooklyn Bridge Park.] [A rendering of the new Tobacco Warehouse theater, managed by St. Ann's Warehouse, at Brooklyn Bridge Park.] [ A map showing all elements of Brooklyn Bridge Park.]  

Jonathan Allen Reuters reports for Chicago Tribune.


[Credit: Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons] The former home of Tammany Hall, which became a byword for patronage and corruption as the headquarters of New York City's powerful Democratic political machine, has been declared a historic landmark. A vote to protect the four-story neo-Georgian building in Union Square was held on Tuesday by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission. The building was completed in 1929, only a couple of years before Tammany began losing its grip on city politics and its power to control elections. It served as the final headquarters of the political machine that dominated 19th-century and early 20th-century New York City politics. "The architecture is interesting, evocative and referential, but the history of Tammany makes it stand out," commission chairman Robert Tierney said in a statement. The Tammany Society was founded in the late 1780s as a social club but quickly morphed into a powerful vote-delivering machine. It courted the city's exploding immigrant populations, particularly those from Ireland, with jobs, hand-outs and legal services that sometimes amounted to bribing the authorities, in exchange for votes for Tammany candidates. In 1925 Tammany helped elect Mayor Jimmy Walker, a popular figure whose tenure was known for its proliferation of speak-easies, which illegally served alcohol during Prohibition, until the 1929 stock-market crash. Walker was forced to resign in 1932 amid a corruption scandal. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who for decades opposed Tammany as a New York politician and governor, was elected U.S. president the same year and swiftly ended Tammany's federal patronage. Before the year was out, Fiorello LaGuardia, a non-Tammany candidate, was elected New York City mayor. Tammany Hall never recovered its footing. The colonnaded building now houses a film school, a theater and shops.  
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Woolworth Building can get minor makeover

Joe Anuta reports for Crain's New York Business. Woolworth-Building The Landmarks Preservation Commission gave Alchemy Properties the go-ahead to make over a portion of the Woolworth Building. Photo by Buck Ennis. Alchemy Properties, which is transforming the upper floors of the landmark tower into luxury condos, received a key city approval to move forward with its conversion plans. The developer transforming a portion of the Woolworth Building into luxury units announced Thursday it received a key approval from the city to modify the landmarked structure. The city Landmarks Preservation Commission gave Alchemy Properties the go-ahead to construct two pavilions on the 29th floor and alter portions of the exterior of the property, located at 233 Broadway between Barclay Street and Park Place, as part of its ongoing effort to renovate the top 30 floors of the building, transforming the space into ultra-luxury residential condominiums. "We have proposed subtle changes for the Woolworth Building, which will help to preserve and restore it to its true New York City landmark form," said Kenneth Horn, president of Alchemy Properties, in a press statement. Mr. Horn hopes to begin selling units at the property, dubbed The Woolworth Tower Residences, in mid-2014. The crown jewel of the project will be a five-story penthouse at the top of the century-old skyscraper. Alchemy will also make additions to the rooftop and replace some windows. It plans to install a new canopy that will hang over a new entrance on Park Place dedicated to residents. The developer purchased the top portion of the skyscraper for $68 million in August 2012.