Webmaster

Voulpat dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat.
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed. IMG_1652 Architects Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel have completely reworked their plans to transform the Brooklyn Cinema into a four-story mixed use building since the Landmarks Preservation Commission sent them back to the drawing board almost a year ago. The new designs, in an effort to appear more contextual within the neighborhood, are much less glassy. They also involve disassembling the Cinema, turning the painted bricks around, and reconstructing the one-story building with an additional four stories of ductal concrete on top. The movie theatre will now be housed on the ground floor instead of in the basement, as was previously proposed. The Commission, which, last time around, was unsure whether or not the existing building was worth saving, finally came to a consensus—it's not. "It's painted white and just looks like ... nothing," said commissioner Michael Devonshire. Commissioner Michael Goldblum clarified that the Cinema is "beloved as an icon due to its functional history," not its architectural merit. As for the new designs, the commissioners viewed them as a clear improvement, but still weren't completely sold. Commissioner Fred Bland remarked, "[This is] such an aggressive building," and criticized the top portion as trying to respond to the reconstructed base "in a tortuous way." Commissioner Diana Chapin advised, "If you're going to take this base, let's make a cleaner top, with less detail." The architects will have to rework their plans and present to the Commission at least one more time before they gain approval.    
Curbed. Harlem-River-Bridges---High-Bridge-and-Harlem-Bridge%2C-1867-by-Harper%27s-Weekly.jpg [The High Bridge and Harlem Bridge, pictured in a 1867 issue of Harper's Weekly] The Bronx side of the Harlem River in Highbridge is a park-starved neighborhood, dominated by concrete expressways and desolate industrial lots, but soon a long-closed link will reconnect the area to greener pastures on the Manhattan side of the river. Construction crews are working to restore the 165-year-old High Bridge, the great architectural and civil engineering marvel of the Harlem River Valley that's been closed and crumbling since the 1970s, cutting off the South Bronx from Highbridge Park. Officials broke ground on a $61 million restoration earlier this year, and by next summer the landmark will reopen to the public, bringing with it a renewed interest in the waterfront area. When the bridge first opened in 1848, 35 years before the Brooklyn Bridge, it was hailed as a marvel of civil engineering. Designed by engineer John B. Jervis, who worked on the Erie Canal, the bridge rises 138-feet tall and stretches 1,450-feet long, making it the longest bridge in the United States when it was completed.
Modeled after a Roman aqueduct, the bridge cost $950,000 to build, and it was part of the Old Croton Aqueduct System, built to provide the growing metropolis with a vital supply of fresh water from Westchester's Croton River. Concern about the spread of disease, notably the repeated cholera epidemics, and memories of the Great Fire of 1835, which ruined most of lower Manhattan, also served as motivating factors for its construction.
The water traveled about 41 miles from the Croton River in Westchester across the High Bridge into Manhattan, moving entirely by gravity through pipes that were constructed below the bridge's walkway. The iconic fortified-looking High Bridge Water Tower, which dominates the adjacent Highbridge Park and overlooks the Manhattan end of the great span, was completed in 1872. It served to pump water uptown to residents living at the higher elevations of the island. MNY222777.jpg [Circa 1905. Photo via MCNY] At the time of the bridge's construction, Mayor Robert H. Morris predicted to New Yorkers that this nineteenth century descendant of Roman greatness would "endure for ages, would bear record to these ages, however distant, of a race of men who were content to incur present burdens for the benefit of a posterity they could never know." Indeed, the High Bridge became the crown jewel of the Old Croton Aqueduct System providing New York City with its first successful access to a reliable supply of fresh water and marked the beginning of a more sophisticated and progressive city. The-Speedway-and-Highbridge%2C-1906.jpg [Circa 1906] The High Bridge, however, was much more than simply a piece of public infrastructure. It also was beloved for transforming the area into a favorite destination of Manhattanities seeking an escape from the crowds and concrete of downtown, and it served as a vital crossing between the Bronx and Manhattan for nearby residents. None other than Edgar Allen Poe found the pedestrian bridge a favorite route to get across the river to and from his Bronx cottage. Throughout the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, the High Bridge and Harlem River waterfront were two of northern New York City's great attractions. People enjoyed the nearby restaurants and Fort George Amusement Park atop the bluffs of Highbridge Park, and regattas drew crowds of spectators, as did the riverside walkway and carriage path, which later became the Harlem River Drive. In 1899, Jesse Lynch Williams of Scribner's Magazine wrote: "There is a different feeling in the air up along this best-known end of the city's water-front. The small, unimportant looking winding river, long distance views, wooded hills, green terraces, and even the great solid masonry of High Bridge...help to make you feel the spirit of freedom and outdoors and relaxation. This is the tired city's playground." William-Henry-Jackson%2C-Manhattan-above-182nd-Street-%28Washington-and-High-Bridges%29%2C-1895.jpg [Famed photographer William Henry Jackson, known for his images of the American west, documented the High Bridge in the 1890s] Writers and artists made the trip uptown to record their interpretations of the valley's sights and sounds, and the High Bridge even made a cameo in Edith Wharton's 1913 novel, Custom of the Country, in which the heroine, Undine Spragg, rides uptown to attend a dinner party. MNY240415.jpg [The High Bridge in 1929, with the new steel span. Photo via MCNY] Despite the continued popularity of the High Bridge as a travel destination, by the 1910s concern had grown about the danger its piers posed to river traffic. Its mighty granite arches were viewed by the Army Corps of Engineers as a serious impediment to shipping. Calls were made to remove some of the center piers, then they decided to petition for the complete demolition of the bridge. After a long and contested public debate, a compromise was reached in 1927, and the city approved the removal of the five center arches. A single steel arch with a 360-foot wide lateral clearance replaced the masonry arches. When the bridge reopened with its altered appearance in 1928, the Times wrote: "High Bridge, decked with flags and echoing with speeches, was opened to traffic again on Saturday. But what strange traffic! No other bridge about the city carries any just like it: waters from the Old Croton Aqueduct, pedestrians crossing to the Bronx, promenaders taking advantage on a summer's evening, as they have for almost a century, of the cool breezes and fine prospect, couples arm in arm. No clanking cars, no honking motors! . . . As the steel span symbolizes the future, so the old arches stand as a link with the past." 3722207206_20aff06252_b.jpg [Overgrown High Bridge in 2009. Photo by Barry Yanowitz/Curbed Flickr pool] Things started to go south in the mid-twentieth century. Increased industrial activity had polluted the river, and the construction of the Major Deegan Expressway and Harlem River Drive all but eliminated public enjoyment of the waterfront by the 1950s. The following decades saw increased rates of poverty, unemployment and crime in northern Manhattan and the southern Bronx. The decline in public consciousness and interest in the High Bridge was not helped by the fact that the great span itself ceased to provide fresh water to the city by 1958; new supplies of water from the development and expansion of the Catskill and Delaware aqueduct systems replaced the Old Croton system. The city lacked both the funds and interest to maintain and police it, so access to the pedestrian walkway was closed in 1960, and the span itself was closed in 1970, the same year the bridge was landmarked. In 1972, the bridge and water tower were both placed on the National Register of Historic Places, but the bridge continued to decay, and arsonists destroyed part of the Water Tower in 1984. View-of-the-High-Bridge-and-Bronx-Skyline-from-Highbridge-Park%2C-2012-by-Duane-Bailey-Castro.jpg [View of the High Bridge from Highbridge Park in 2012. Photo by Duane Bailey-Castro] The 21st century brought a new era for the bridge. In 2001, the High Bridge Coalition was founded to focus on the rehabilitation and reopening of New York City's oldest bridge. The group also sought to cleanup and expand neighboring parks and improve public access to the Harlem River waterfront. The coalition formed partnerships with the Parks Department, which owns the bridge, and the Department of Transportation, which conducted early structural assessments of the span as well as offered preliminary estimates of the cost to restore it. The city's political leaders began to lend their support, and in 2001, the 130-acre Highbridge Park was renovated for $739,000. The first federal funds for restoration were secured in 2006, and the following year, Mayor Bloomberg committed to the restoration of the High Bridge as part of PlaNYC. 3---High-Bridge%2C-2012.jpg [Photo by Duane Bailey-Castro] In January 2013, ground finally broke on the long awaited restoration, which includes structural improvements, dust and soot removal, the repainting of the steel arch, the resetting of its brick deck, safety fencing, and new lights for evening use. A member of the Parks Department recently told the Times that the bridge is "really the centerpiece of the Harlem River corridor" and exemplifies how much the city is committed to revitalizing the waterway and surrounding neighborhoods.  
Daniel Geiger reports for Crain's New York Business. 257-West-57th-Street-Manhattan Extell Development received an OK to build over this structure, at 257 W. 57th St., in Manhattan. Photo by CoStar Group. The Landmarks Preservation Commission approves Extell Development's plan to cantilever its new residential tower over the neighboring American Fine Arts Society Building. It will include NYC's first Nordstrom and a hotel. Extell Development received approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday to cantilever a new super-tall, luxury residential tower that the company plans to build over a neighboring landmark on West 57th Street. With the city's OK, Extell will now be able to extend the tower, 215 W. 57th St., 28 feet to the east so that it overhangs the American Fine Arts Society Building. The tower, which Extell Development has stated could rise 1,400 feet or taller, will begin cantilevering at 195 feet, which the Landmarks Commission felt was situated sufficiently above the stately, but squat, four-story American Fine Arts Society Building. "I think it's not only an extremely important project for the city, but also important for what it doesn't do, which is that it ultimately will not have a negative impact on the landmark," said Robert Tierney, the commission's chairman. "Here we have a very narrow exposure to something that I believe will have a very negligible effect." Gary Barnett, chief executive of Extell and one of the city's most prolific developers in recent years, said the cantilever was essential to the building's construction. "It allows us to move the core of the building to the east," Mr. Barnett said. Moving the building's elevators, staircases and other infrastructure to the periphery of the development site was essential for Mr. Barnett's plan to have a Nordstrom department store in the new building's base, which will require open, unimpeded floors. Mr. Barnett trumpeted the economic benefits that will come as a result of the new building. "The Nordstrom and a hotel we also plan to have here will create 1,000 permanent jobs and create more tax revenue for the city," Mr. Barnett said. Critics, however, have lambasted the proposed tower as the latest in a string of gaudy, super-tall luxury condos that cater to the ultra-wealthy and are emblematic of a growing wealth disparity in the city.  
Jessica Dailey reports for Curbed. 450px-GraceChurchBroadway.JPG                   Air rights of landmarked buildings are a valuable commodity in city where developers are always trying to build bigger and taller, but for landmarks located in a neighborhood where there's limited high-rise development, air rights are basically money that they can't use. Current city regulations only allow landmarks to sell their air rights to a developer next door, across the street, or catty-corner. Special districts have loosened these restrictions in recent years—and if the Midtown East Rezoning passes, landmarks within the area will be able to sell to any building in the area—but the Journal reports that now a group wants to make it possible for nonprofit owners of landmark buildings to sell their air rights to a building anywhere in the city. The group, called Iconplans, was founded by former grocery store executive Lawrence Daitch and real estate expert Michael Lipstein. Under their plan, 180 nonprofit owners would contribute their air rights to a bank, and Iconplans would sell them to developers, taking a 10 percent cut. According to a report they commissioned, the system would generated $600 million of revenue for the involved landmarks. Many landmarks, like Grace Church in Greenwich Village, are on board with the idea, and many city groups and officials expressed interest in exploring the plan further. Many say its a great way for landmarks to obtain money for upkeep—Grace Church, for example, needs millions of dollars worth of repairs and currently can not sell its air rights—but others worry that it "cause a glut of development in neighborhoods that aren't ready for it."
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed. All renderings ©COOKFOX COOKFOX's crazy cantilevered building proposal for 39-41 West 23 Street divided the Landmarks Commission when it was presented last month. A revised version of the design, simplified and toned down slightly, was presented yesterday and, although not every member of the Commission was convinced that the building is appropriate for a historic district, enough were that the plans were granted approval. The building, to be constructed on the site of another controversial proposal, the Pope Hat building (which never ended up happening), retained the basic premise of its original design—a nine-story base with a cantilevered section and secondary facade. Changes to the plans include a darker, bronze terracotta (it was originally white) and a simplified, more defined top for the secondary facade.
       
Landmarks Commission Chair Robert Tierney remarked that the proposal was "not only appropriate, but a striking addition" to the historic district. Commissioner Fred Bland called the proposal "exhilarating" and "a future landmark."
Commissioner Roberta Washington, on the other hand, commented, "I like it, I just don't think this building is appropriate for this historic district." Commissioner Michael Devonshire, who, at the last hearing, called the cantilever "a self-conscious, distractive, architectural gimmick," sensed that the battle was lost and conceded, as if he had a choice, that he was "willing to approve it." "With the caveat," he added, "that we may look back in five years and say, 'how did we ever let this happen?'"      
zapata24th_10_12.jpg                     After the complete rapture that was 688 Broadway, it would have been pretty tough to get the Landmarks Preservation Commission all that excited about another building yesterday. As it turned out, the Carlos Zapata-designed 22 West 24th Street didn't have much of a chance in the first place. After a presentation in which Zapata laid out his firm's methods of analyzing and incorporating the verticality and horizontality of the adjacent buildings, followed by scathing testimony from Community Board 5, the Drive to Protect the Ladies Mile District, and the Historical District Council, the LPC came down firmly on the side of the latter three groups. "It's very curious," said one commissioner, "that analysis of the adjacent buildings, which are representative of the context of the neighborhood, should produce a design so devoid of that context." He then put it more succinctly: "So flat." Zapata was sent back to the drawing board.
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed. Carlos Zapata's Pope Hat Building was one of the wackiest designs we've seen around these parts—in a historic district, no less—so it was with some sadness that we watched the plans for it slowly fizzle out over the years. But the site's new owner of the 39-41 West 23rd Street, Anbau Enterprises, who purchased it in 2010 for $18.5 million, still intends to build condos there, and luckily for us and everyone else who loves a good crazy building, they have retained the services of COOKFOX Architects for the redesign. COOKFOX's new designs are less wacky than Zapata's Pope Hat, but still plenty wacky in their own right, featuring a base that rises up, stops, sets back, rotates 90 degrees, and continues up with a large cantilevered section, making the entire building look like two three-dimensional puzzle pieces, or perhaps a building wearing another building on its head. Unlike, the Pope Hat, however, which had a "curvilinear, sculptural form enclosed in a glass skin," the new form will be "more structural and rectilinear," which the architects felt to be more appropriate for the district. The façade includes elements of terracotta, limestone, granite, percolated glass, and zinc, and COOKFOX's signature green planted terraces. The developers and architects are also attaching to a project a much more traditional restoration of a building at 35 West 23rd Street, possibly as an attempt to quell the furor over proposing such a distinct, modern building in a historic district.
        
The Commissioners, for the most part, were happy to see the Pope Hat replaced—to hear them tell it now, they had never liked that design in the first place, although the building was approved at one point. They were, however, not even close to coming to an agreement on the appropriateness of the new design. Some Commissioners found the plans approvable as they were, while others found that they had fundamental philosophical issues with the approach COOKFOX took to the designs. The harshest criticism came from commissioner Michael Devonshire, who "[found] the cantilever to be a self-conscious, distractive, architectural gimmick." Commissioner Elizabeth Ryan called the designs "not contextual," and, although she didn't hate the cantilever, didn't think that the Ladies Mile Historic District is the place for it. Commissioner Fred Bland, on the other hand, called the building "extremely contextual," and "beautiful," and commissioner Michael Goldblum remarked: "I find myself seduced and then I wonder if I should be."
Having received a number of mixed messages from the Commission, Rick Cook and team will have to pick and choose from the criticism and make some changes before returned to the LPC at a later date.    
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed.
Screen%20shot%202013-10-15%20at%2012.54.58%20PM.jpg
The Landmarks Preservation Commission was sort of surprisingly okay with SHoP Architects' proposed 1,350-foot residential tower at 107 West 57th Street, the site of the landmarked Steinway Building (which will also be restored), when it was presented two weeks ago. While the commissioners did have a few concerns, the were for the most part related to the Steinway Building and not to the tower itself. At a second presentation this morning, SHoP addressed those concerns, revising their plans to demolish a much smaller portion of the structure taking up the Steinway Building's back courtyard and replacing the glass of the 57th Street atrium facade with a much clearer single-layered glass, so that observers at street level would be able to look through and see the landmarked building. The plans were approved, and so the 1,350-foot climb begins.
Paulina Tam  reports for PreservationNation Blog.   Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona. Credit: Mike Hendren, Flickr. A meteor crater in Winslow, near the eastern border of Arizona. To those who dream of going to space but haven’t been able to visit the stars, Meteor Crater Visitors Center in Winslow, Arizona, gives visitors a chance to see a piece of otherworldly history: a 550-feet deep meteorite crater created approximately 50,000 years ago. This natural national landmark left quite an impression on astronauts training for the Apollo Missions in the 1960s, who came to the site to learn how to identify craters and collect moon rocks. Also leaving a lasting impression at the Visitors Center: a glass-less window in a brick wall that frames the wide Arizonian landscape with its bare yet striking simplicity, designed by the late American architect Philip Johnson. Johnson also helped designed the Meteor Crater Center’s pavilion. "The Park Service was still struggling to revive itself after war during the late 1940s, when the designs were submitted for a modern building at Meteor Crater," writes Sarah Allaback, author of Mission 66 Visitor Centers: The History of a Building Type. Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona. Credit: Brian Turner. "The commission went to Philip Johnson, co-organizer of the 1932 International Style exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and, more recently, architect of the ‘glass house’ (1949) in New Caanan, Connecticut," Allaback writes. "Johnson’s work must have seemed fittingly futuristic to his clients at Meteor Crater." However, over the years the site has added various extensions such as a Museum (Discovery Center) in 1956, a two-story apartment for workers in 1960, and a Retail and Food Service Building in 1962, making it unclear which parts of Johnson’s original designs still remained and whether any of them molded with any of the modern constructions. Now renovations are approaching for the landmark, and with them come a multitude of decisions for the pavilion. A master plan for renovation maps out a construction series that will illustrate the Visitors Center’s future for the next 10 to 20 years, says Robyn Messerschmidt, Vice President of Administration at the Center. The first step would be the Center’s admissions building, where Johnson’s work is located. Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona. Credit: albertobastos, Flickr. "It [is] very military looking and it’s even been said it looks like a prison, so we’re trying to make it look appealing so people will come in," says Messerschmidt. “One of the major problems that we have is that people don’t understand what we have beyond the point, and so having a more appealing entrance will get people more excited about what they’re about to see inside." She adds that the first phase of construction should be finished by the end of August and September. Earlier in the first phase, David Green, a scientific advisor of the Barringer Crater Company, a privately owned organization that owns the Meteor Crater, came out to make sure everything was running smoothly and to make sure they weren’t doing anything that might disturb the crater’s original integrity. New changes will come but the old will mostly stay intact, says Messerschmidt. Guided rim tours and three-sectioned observation decks, each allowing the viewer a different view of the crater, are in place to give viewers a chance to see the crater in its entirety while protecting it from foot traffic. A glass viewing area will enclose the Visitors Center, essentially enveloping Johnson’s work inside it too, says Messerschmidt. Meteor Crater, Winslow Arizona. Credit: mousenerdbot, Flickr. Demion Clinco, a National Trust Advisor for Arizona, and Andie Zelnio, architect and board member of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, believe that since the Center is privately owned and previous changes have already changed much of Johnson’s original designs, further renovations would, in effect, eliminate Johnson’s work. "We believe [Johnson’s original design] is an important building, a forgotten treasure by one of our country’s most significant architects and Philip Johnson’s only work in the state of Arizona,” say Clinco and Zelnio in an email. “During our visit to the site in May, it appears that the plaza and portions of the Visitors Center retain aspects of Johnson’s signature work, but further scholarship is needed to determine the facts." As fences encase the construction zone and heavy machinery move into the landscape, Johnson’s future is left uncertain. His only view is towards the wide Arizonian desert, and only the sands of time will determine whether his work will remain.      
Sara Polsky reports for Curbed.
Developer DDG is increasingly prolific, with 41 Bond, 345 Meatpacking, and Soho's former chocolate factory under its belt. Now the firm is moving on to two triangular Tribeca parking lots, between White and Franklin streets on Sixth Avenue. Tribeca Citizen has already dubbed the building - just presented to Community Board 1's Landmarks Committee - the Two Triangles Building because of the shape of the lots. The proposed building, shown above, has a four-layered facade, with fritted glass, reclaimed brick, metal, and interior glazing. On the Franklin Street side, the building will come to the cornice height of neighbor 102 Franklin; on the White Street side, it will be stepped back. The penthouse will be dark so as not to be noticeable.
UPDATE: DDG reps sent along the above clearer rendering of the project. The building is tentatively slated to have 11 residential units and retail space.
Of course, the CB had some questions about that penthouse >>
One of the subcommittee's main concerns when architect Peter Guthrie presented the plan was whether the building would "turn into a big black box at night" because of the fritted glass and the dark penthouse. Neighbors also wondered about the safety of neighboring buildings still doing repairs from Hurricane Sandy and about the amount of light that would be left in the air shaft between buildings once DDG's project is completed. DDG has a few other plans for the building's exterior: potted street trees (which require MTA approval, according to Tribeca Citizen) and cables with ivy on them along the facade.  The Glassy New Building Coming to Sixth Ave. [Tribeca Citizen]