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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).  
Karissa Rosenfield reports for Archdaily. The Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) committee of the AIA New York Chapter has announced the winners of its 2014 biennial design ideas competition, QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm. In an effort to imagine the ways in which The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the Queensway could transform an abandoned railway in Central Queens into a vibrant urban greenway, entrants were challenged to design a vertical gateway for the elevated viaduct portion of a 3.5 mile stretch along the rail. Of the 120 submitted proposals from 28 countries, the jury selected the following winners to represent the diverse array of ideas generated: ENYA Prize ($5000): The Queensway Steps / Carrie Wibert of Paris, France 2nd Prize ($2500): Queens Billboard / Nikolay Martynov of Basel, Switzerland 3rd Prize ($1000): Make It! Grow It! / Song Deng and René Biberstein of Toronto, Canada Student Prize ($1000): Ebb & Flow / Jessica Shoemaker of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA Honorable Mention: Upside Down Bridge / Hyuntek Yoon of Queens, New York, USA Jury:
  • Claire Weisz, FAIA, Co-founding Partner at WXY, part of the QueensWay feasibility study team
  • Lisa Switkin, Associate Partner and Managing Director at James Corner Field Operations
  • Matthew Johnson, Senior Associate at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, project manager of the Highline project
  • Margaret Newman, FAIA, LEED AP, Chief of Staff to the Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation
  • Ting Chin, Co-founder of Linearscape, winners of the 2012 ENYA prize
  • Susan Chin, FAIA, Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space
  • Frank Lupo, FAIA, Steering Committee Member of Friends of the QueensWay
  • Andy Stone, New York City Director of The Trust for Public Land
An exhibition of these proposals and other exemplary entries will be unveiled at an opening party on July 17, 2014 at the Center for Architecture. A series of discussion panels will also accompany the exhibition. More information and updates on these upcoming events can be found here.  
Henry Melcher reports for The Architect's Newspaper.
Queens Borough President striving to save Philip Johnson folly. There is a conspicuous and almost haunting irony to what’s left of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Queens' Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The Philip Johnson–designed New York State Pavilion, with its “Astro-View Observation Towers” and “Tent of Tomorrow,” was about more than showing off New York to the world. It was about looking into the future. But today, nearly 50 years after the fairgrounds opened its gates, it’s clear that “The Future” has not been kind to the pavilion. What remains standing in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a crumbling, gated-off relic. But things may be looking up for this rusty ruin. In early February, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz led a walking-tour of the Pavilion to drum-up support for saving the structures. She was joined by elected officials, representatives from city agencies, and “People for the Pavilion”—an organization fighting to save the site. The Tent of Tomorrow's once-colorful roof is now a web of rusted cables. Much of the floor, which displayed an intricate map of New York State, has been eaten away by the elements. The metal on the adjacent Observation Towers is rusted and the concrete is chipped. Yet despite its current condition, the abandoned Pavilion retains its iconic stature and its space-age beauty. According to a recent study by the NYC Parks Department, it would cost $14 million to knock it all down, roughly $52 million to return it to its World’s Fair conditions, and upwards of $70 million to give it new use. The tour started in the Queens Theatre, an ideal spot to make the adaptive reuse case. The theater – first called “The Theaterama” – is original to the Pavilion; during the fair, it offered “360-degree panoramic film,” and works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein hung on its facade. Katz believes that 2014 offers a unique opportunity to save the Pavilion. “This is fifty years,” she said. “We need to do something about this. Otherwise, if we don’t do it now, what’s the impetus for accomplishing our goals?" While she doesn’t yet know “where the endgame is," she’s urging people at federal, state, city and local levels to work together to find a way forward. After so many decades of decay, there seems to be new momentum. The New York City Parks Department recently held listening meetings and posted an online survey to hear communities’ hopes for the Pavilion. And Katz has promised to start a task force to find options for the Pavilion’s future. “I think we all know the right direction; the right direction is to preserve this, to save this for generations to come,” said Katz.” To make it a useful part of the park, and to make sure it doesn’t fall down on people around it.”
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The Living Wins at MoMA PS1

Alan G. Brake reports for The Architect's Newspaper. Experimental firm to construct low carbon, self-building pavilion for 2014 Young Architects Program. The Living, an experimental New York–based practice lead by David Benjamin, has been selected to design and build the 15th edition of MoMA PS 1’s Young Architects Program (YAP). Known for using advanced technology to mimic biological structures or respond to atmospheric conditions, The Living’s proposal, called Hy-Fi, represents a new direction for the annual pavilion program. According to Benjamin’s proposal, Hy-Fi will use pioneering, self-building technology, and will be completely recyclable and nearly carbon neutral. Using innovative organic bricks invented by Ecovative and brick molds covered reflective film, developed by 3M, the circular structure will be strong, lightweight, and have extremely low embodied carbon. The organic bricks, which are placed at the bottom of the structure in a loose and porous way, are made from corn stalks and living root structures that give them strength. “We like that it uses agricultural byproducts, rather than high value agricultural products,” said David Benjamin. “This is the first load-bearing application of this material.” Organic dyes will be added to the bricks to give them vibrant, natural colors. The reflective brick molds function as growing trays for the organic bricks, and are incorporated into the top of the structure, reflecting daylight down into the pavilion. The circular forms will act as cooling towers, and after the summer ends it will be deconstructed and the organic bricks will be composted in Queens and the reflective bricks will be returned to 3M for additional research. “This proposal was the one that connected incredible research—really out of the box thinking about sustainability—with the architectural needs of the program,” Pedro Gadnho, the MoMA architecture curator in charge of the YAP, told AN. For the museum, Hy-Fi will act as a visual beacon, a trio of a multicolored and reflective towers extending above the concrete walls of the courtyard. The other finalists for this year’s MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program were LAMAS (Wei-Han Vivian Lee and James Macgillivray), Pita + Bloom (Florencia Pita and Jackilin Hah Bloom), Fake Industries Architectural Agonism (Cristina Goberna and Urtzi Grau), Collective-LOK (Michael Kubo, Jon Lott, and William O’Brien). In it’s 15 editions, the YAP has become one the leading showcases for architectural talent in the US. “People keep coming up with new things,” Gadanho said. “It’s pretty amazing, the new possibilities, and it is a testament of the importance of showing new architectural talent.” Previous winners have included SHoP, CODA, Interboro Partners, and Ball-Nogues, among others. The pavilion serves as a shade structure and platform for the annual summer “Warm Up” concert and performance series. Hy-Fi is expected to open in late June or early July.  
Hana R. Alberts reports for Curbed. When we learned Issac & Stern was designing a 50-unit residential building on Box Street in Greenpoint, we added, "[w]hich might actually be the perfect street for one of their buildings, name-wise." So that was prescient. BuzzBuzzHome spotted the rendering above on the architects' site, and yup, it's undeniably boxy. At least the design jives with the industrial character of the area and doesn't veer into Hot Karl territory. It will total about 40,000 square feet and rise to six stories, and according to DOB records, will house ten apartments per floor, and count among its amenities bike parking and recreational roof space. The developer is Waterbridge Capital LLC, which bought the lot for $1 million in April 2013.
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End in Sight

Ian Volner reports for Architect magazine.

With newfound modeling capabilities and insight into Antoni Gaudí’s vision, the chief architect of the Basílica de la Sagrada Família aims to complete the long-stalled project by 2026.

As construction deadlines go, 130 years certainly seems like a generous allowance. But in cathedral years, that’s almost a drop in the bucket. After all, Germany’s Cologne Cathedral broke ground in 1248 and wrapped up centuries later in 1880. The still-rising Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan is already 121 years old, with no completion date in sight. Other structures, such as England’s Coventry Cathedral, were generations in the making, only to be destroyed by war, fire, or structural failure and then repaired or built anew. From the nave to the transept to the last finial of the westwork, creating a church fit for a bishop entails a long-term commitment. The fact, then, that the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain, first got underway 13 decades ago would be almost unremarkable but for the particular character of the basilica itself, and of the man who designed it. The massive church—technically not a cathedral by Catholic law, the official seat or cathedra of the bishop being the nearby Catedral de la Santa Creu—is unlike any other house of worship in the world with its well-known, spiky, fanciful, mud-castle-like ensemble of swirling towers and twisting columns. Its architect, Catalan-born Antoni Gaudí, was among the giants of European architecture and a major transitional figure at the moment when 19th-century Beaux-Arts historicism was giving way to 20th-century Modernism. Sagrada Família is the fullest expression of his highly idiosyncratic vision. Since its construction was first halted in 1936 amidst the tumult of the Spanish Civil War, the basilica’s state of incompletion has become part and parcel of its very identity: The cranes, rubble, and half-finished sculptural friezes around the site seem like permanent fixtures of the streetscape. Funding holdups, strikes, and problems deciphering Gaudí’s intentions have led to endless delays since construction resumed in 1939. Many have simply come to assume it will never be done. Toni García, a Barcelona native and culture writer for Spanish newspaper El País, joked that the state of affairs has entered the local patois: “When you want to say, ‘Oh, that’ll never happen,’ you say, ‘Sure—it’ll happen when Sagrada Família is finished.’ ”

Workers reinforce the project site to accommodate the anticipated construction of new structures, such as the Glory façade at the project’s south entrance, as well as towering additions to the existing structure.

But now it seems that the proverbial pigs may be taking flight. In 2012, Barcelona-born architect Jordi Faulí assumed control of the project. The Construction Board of the Sagrada Família Foundation, the organization in charge of fundraising and advocacy for the project, could hardly have picked a more qualified candidate. Along with completing a doctoral thesis on the church’s design, Faulí has spent more than 20 years as a junior architect on the team overseeing the church’s construction. Shortly after his appointment as the chief architect of Sagrada Família, Faulí surprised everyone by declaring that the project would be finished far sooner than previously thought. “We anticipate finishing the six central towers around 2020, and completing the overall architectural form of the project around 2026, a hundred years after Gaudí’s death,” he said, adding this not-insignificant caveat: “provided circumstances allow us to follow the current rhythm.” However long it may last, Faulí and the project team, which has comprised as many as 300 workers, stonemasons, sculptors, bricklayers, and designers, have managed to achieve this accelerated pace by establishing a firmer idea of what the building should really be, and what tools they should use to make it possible.

Realizing the geometric complexity of Gaudí’s vision for Sagrada Família has been helped by the advent of 3D printing and modeling technology. Ultra-precise resin mock-ups made by consultants, such as 3D Systems, have assisted in guiding decisions about the project’s design and structural behavior.

Last fall, the Construction Board of the Sagrada Família Foundation released a new video showing a time-lapse projection of how construction will unfold over the next 13 years. The 76-second clip uses aerial photography and sophisticated digital imaging to show how new spires will spring up around the perimeter, how the masonry cladding will wrap around them, and how the pointed tympana will fill out the façade. The central dome will be topped by an enormous, apparently openwork, tower, completing the symbolic conceit that had been at the heart of Gaudí’s scheme: 18 individual spires to represent the prime dramatis personae of the New Testament, 12 for the apostles, four for the evangelists, one for the Holy Virgin, and another for Christ himself in the middle. is the definitive vision of the future church, the culmination of years of archival research—including the discovery of a trove of Gaudí documents in the Historic Archives of the City of Barcelona several years ago—to determine Gaudí’s intentions and to help the foundation make tough decisions about what could and couldn’t be done. “We commissioned the video when we had almost completed the investigation of the remaining parts of Gaudí’s design,” Faulí says. “For the first time, we had sufficient material to produce a virtual model.” The video also signals the vast technological leaps that have changed every aspect of the project, Faulí says. “This model couldn’t be produced before, primarily for technical reasons—advances in computer power, precise 3D scanning of the existing building, and 3D prototyping allowed us to work at a scale and a level of detail hitherto impossible to achieve.” Being able to model the building better goes hand in hand with completing it faster: the decorative details that once had to be hewn by skilled artisans are now done by fast-moving CNC (computer numeric control) cutters working from digital patterns; structural problems that would have daunted previous builders can now be solved with the click of a mouse.

An assortment of study models of the church and its components made over time by architects, modelmakers, and designers fill the model room in the basement of Sagrada Família.

Even more subjective design unknowns are now under the sway of the new computer-driven approach. Graham Lindsay, European sales director for advanced printing manufacturer and services provider 3D Systems, headquartered in Rock Hill, S.C., has been helping to develop prototype models of specific ornamental and structural units for Sagrada Família for several years. “One of the things that will happen is that we’ll print off a part in three or four different styles,” he says. “Then before they build that section, we’ll send the model to a group of well-known, renowned architects who can give some insight into what Gaudí would have thought, and they’ll discuss which part Gaudí might actually take.” The process helps assuage the concern of those who worry the current band of builders is departing from the conception of their illustrious predecessor. Such concerns do linger, however, and the project remains a contentious one. In particular, there is the tricky question of whether a building so long incomplete even should be finished, or whether Faulí and his collaborators are at risk of turning a beautiful semi-ruin into a half-baked mock-up of Gaudí’s ideal. Or worse: They could fail again to finish on schedule, leaving a mock-up that is still only partially complete. But Faulí, noting the mostly positive reaction of new visitors to the construction site, remains convinced that the final product will live up to expectations. Confidently, the architect is already looking ahead to what will follow after the 2026 deadline. “Although we aim to complete the structure in 13 years,” he says, “there will remain a host of tasks for the many artists and sculptors completing the symbolic narrative that Gaudí set out to provide.” Then, perhaps to hedge his bets, Faulí keenly muses: “Are the great cathedrals and basilicas of the world ever truly finished?”

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Squaring up

World Architecture News. 250 Bowery is a recently completed 40,000 sq ft new condominium building designed in a strategic partnership by Aldo Andreoli of AA STUDIO and Morris Adjmi of MA Architects. The building is located on the east side of the Bowery, between Houston and Prince Street in New York. The Bowery is the street that separates NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) from the Lower East Side. From the Civil War time until a few years ago, The Bowery was still considered the street of the homeless, the prostitutes and the drug addicts and was known for its flophouses. In the spirit of social reform, the first YMCA opened on the Bowery in 1873. Due in part to the presence of the music club CBGB, the Bowery also became known as one of the centres of Punk culture in the 1970s and 1980s. The CBGB was the club that saw the first performances, among other less famous bands, of the "Talking Heads", The "Ramones" and Patty Smith. But the vagrant population of the Bowery declined after the 1970s, in part because of the city's effort to disperse it. Since the 1990s the entire Lower East Side has been seeing a revival. The construction of 40 Bond designed by Herzog and De Meuron and developed by Ian Schrager was the beginning of the gentrification of this area into a hip downtown condo location. Bond Street is now considered one of the most prestigious addresses in town, with the construction of 25 Bond designed by BKSK and 31 Bond by DDG. As of July 2005, gentrification has been contributing to ongoing change along the Bowery. In particular, the number of high-rise condominiums is growing. In 2006, Avalon Bay Communities opened its first luxury apartment complex on the Bowery. That same year, the SANAA-designed facility for the New Museum of Contemporary Art opened between Stanton and Prince Street. A few years after SANAA's project the Bowery witnessed the construction of the new gallery Sperone-Westwater, designed by Sir Norman Foster and located just one block north of the New Museum. Cooper Square, located just three blocks north on the same street, have seen in the last few years, the construction of the new Cooper Union classroom and laboratory building, designed by Tom Mayne of MorphSis. Three Pritzker Prize winners have designed buildings just a few blocks away from the Bowery in the last four years, which sent a powerful message for the architectural potential of this area of downtown. 250 Bowery is located on the western side of the street, between Houston and Prince Streets. A well-known downtown developer purchased this site in 2004. He wanted to build a Condo-Hotel, a formula that was very fashionable before the recession. Problems in the excavation of the foundations delayed the construction, and when the sub-prime mortgages crisis hit the market the building went into default. Boutique condominium The site was purchased in 2010 by two young developers (VE Equities), who decided to build a boutique condominium on the distressed site. The selected architects were Aldo Andreoli of AA STUDIO and Morris Adjmi of MA Architects, who had just formed a new partnership. 250 Bowery as a condominium project was conceived during the recession, and this is the reason why the developers requested the design of smaller units, which are easier to sell in a difficult market. The previous design for a condo-hotel included a façade in Corten steel with slanted windows, a very costly design for a new building to be constructed immediately after one of the worst real estate recessions in the history of the US. The close presence of two landmarks such as the New Museum and the Sperone-Westwater gallery, two buildings designed more for being seen then for efficiency, was another important consideration during the conceptual phase of the design. The program was also calling for the design of four duplex penthouses to be built on the top two floors of the new building. This idea (together with the creation of private terraces on the roof of the building) maximised the return for the sale of these units, allowing the developer to charge a premium not only for the top floor, but also for the one below. As an additional financial consideration, the architects were asked to locate the scissors staircases and the elevator core in the southern portion of the building, in order to keep the commercial space on the ground floor open and column-free, thereby adding to its commercial value. Usually in New York developers don't want to spend additional money on the facades facing the lot lines (as they will be hidden by the construction of neighboring buildings) or the ones in the back of the building (since they are not visible from the street). A square façade Another important aspect was that the size of the building frontage and the allowed maximum height almost corresponded, therefore forcing the geometry of the façade to be squared (85' x 85'). In order to face these challenges the architects decided to choose a façade design incorporating a rigorous grid of squares within squares. The tradition of the Bowery as a commercial street, and its proximity to the iconic cast-iron district of Soho were the deciding factors behind shaping the building to look like a contemporary warehouse. But cast-iron is too expensive a material to use in a new condominium development in 2013 in New York, so in order to achieve the same look, the architects selected Alucobond for the construction of the façade, a versatile composite aluminium panelling system that is available in many custom colors which can be forged in different shapes. The result is a slightly reflective metal appearance very similar to steel. The warehouse look is also emphasized by the design of the windows, divided into nine panes and operable with a tilt. The architects convinced the developers to construct a similar façade on the back of the building, where the views of downtown are memorable and the apartments are quieter than on the Bowery itself. The two architects also have further collaboration projects in the pipeline, such as a 24-storey office building in Verona, Italy and the conversion of a 230,000 sq ft warehouse building in Brooklyn. Both designers enjoy reinterpreting historic forms as a basis to create something modern, while at the same time respecting the relationship to the city and its past.  

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