The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Zaha Hadid's first New York City Building Revealed

    Hana R. Alberts reports for Curbed NY big rendering Zaha Hadid may have lost out on the competition to design the High Line, but now the Iraqi-British starchitect is back in the 'hood with a design for her very first New York City building. In fact, this time around, she beat out big names including Norman Foster—to whom she lost a competition to build an office tower at 425 Park Avenue—to get the gig. Hadid is known for dreaming up swooping, curving, space-age structures, and the 11-story condo building headed for 520 West 28th Street is no exception. Developed by Hudson Yards masterminds Related Companies, the site was actually quite limiting, according to New York Magazine's preview, which kept Hadid's grand swooshes in check. "You can't really go wild," she told NY Mag. Yet writer Carl Swanson observes that it still "comes off like the delightful Earth home for the weary intergalactic superrich," with two wings of uneven heights, a chevron pattern on the exterior, rounded corners, and jutting-out terraces that make the facade excitingly far from uniform. More about the 37 apartments within, and the amenities >> Within the 11 stories, Related says in a release issued this morning, will be "37 residences of up to 5,500 square feet, focusing on expansive, gracious layouts with 11-foot ceilings, thoughtful technological integration and state-of-the-art finishes and features. Designed with multiple elevator cores, a majority of the residences will have a private vestibule and entrance that adds to the intimacy of the building." There will also be a double-height entrance lobby, communal spaces, and outdoor garden. Other amenities include a substantial roof terrace, indoor pool and spa, entertainment space, and playrooms. And now, just because we can, more about Hadid's imaginative visions (which she thinks most New York City neighborhoods are too staid to handle): Hadid is a fan of Mad Men, and the developer jokingly called the split-level unit the "Don Draper apartment." Her firm is designing the ­interiors as well, including lobby walls for which they are experimenting with ­"water-jetted" marble, giving them a ­frozen-in-stone ­liquid patterning. Welcome to the ring, Zaha.

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  • Laurie Olin wins National Medal of Arts

    Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic, reports for philly.com laurie olin   Laurie Olin's most famous work was the 1988 transformation of Bryant Park in N.Y. from drug-dealing haven to serene refuge. Laurie Olin says he really meant to retire two years ago. He even had notices sent out to announce he was handing the reins of his Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm to his partners. But projects kept coming up that he couldn't resist. The grounds of the Barnes Foundation. The Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif. Dilworth Plaza in front of City Hall. So, at 75, Olin is as peripatetic as ever, jetting off to Europe and the West Coast to see clients. On Wednesday, though, he'll take a break from long-haul travels to meet President Obama and receive the National Medal of Arts, in recognition of his lifelong crusade to create tranquil oases that make cities more livable. For Olin, who favors bow ties and tends toward the self-effacing, the award is a chance "for me to swim quietly among the celebrities," who include the likes of director George Lucas, playwright Tony Kushner and soprano Renee Fleming. What he fails to stress is that he is only the fourth landscape architect (the second from Philadelphia) to receive the honor since its establishment in 1984. That puts him in the company of three of the field's most influential practitioners from the last half-century: Dan Kiley, Lawrence Halprin, and Ian McHarg, who, like Olin, spent his career teaching at Penn. Tall and lean, Olin is the product of the vast open spaces of the Pacific Northwest. Yet he "fell in love with cities" at the precise moment when places like Philadelphia and New York were hemorrhaging middle-class residents, and has always seen parks as a means of seducing people back. Olin is probably most famous for his 1988 transformation of Manhattan's Bryant Park, which had become a notorious drug-dealers' haven in the 1960s. He had personally witnessed a shooting there in 1968. But rather than fortify the space against such behavior - the popular approach at the time - Olin and his late partner, Robert Hanna, tore down walls to make it easy to saunter in from any side. The biggest surprise in Olin's elegant, Parisian-inflected renovation was the decision to furnish the park with movable cafe chairs and tables. Critics were sure they would end up in pawnshops. Instead, midtown office workers flocked to the serene refuge, the dealers fled, and Bryant Park became a template for reviving battered cities. "It was a huge turning point," says Bryan Hanes, a Philadelphia landscape architect who worked for Olin and applied the same ideas to redesigning West Philadelphia's Clark Park. Olin's commitment to openness and access also informed the new landscape he created at the Washington Monument after 9/11. Although he was obliged to secure the tourist destination, his design is so subtle that the protective elements blend seamlessly into the landscape. It's hard to tell that a gorgeously sculpted granite bench is actually a truck barrier. Olin, who is well-known for drawing by hand, often produces designs that feel almost preordained. He says he prefers to be influenced by the "genius of the place," rather than design fashions. In fact, he is actively antifashion: "It's like saying God's work is out of date." He doesn't put his personal stamp on his work, although certain touches - the meticulous craft, the rows of trees - often reappear. "He strongly believes that civic space is not necessarily a medium for individual artistic revelations," explains Richard Weller, chairman of PennDesign's landscape architecture department. Olin's light hand can also be seen in larger projects, like the Penn campus, Battery Park City and Independence Mall. He has collaborated with the best-known architects of his generation, notably with Peter Eisenman on the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. But mostly he strives to create comfortable urban refuges out of the belief that "the hardest thing to produce in our society is calm and tranquillity."

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