The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Restitching the Bronx

    City agencies advocate removal of the reviled Moses-era Sheridan Expressway.
     
     
    The proposal would improve connection and increase waterfront access in the Bronx.
     
    Courtesy DCP
     
    Only a few weeks before administrations changed hands at the mayor’s office, New York City released a comprehensive inter-agency report seeking to overhaul the Sheridan Expressway, the short but divisive freeway that cuts through the southern Bronx. This new study, which solidifies a number of recommendations introduced last spring, is part of a larger effort to reinvigorate a part of the borough that has been split apart by the unsightly expressway, creating perilous pedestrian crossings and exposing residents to hazardous air pollution. The scope of this report is more far-reaching than simply the revamping of the Sheridan. It also calls for rezoning to allow for mixed-use development, which the agency says will lead to an increase in jobs.
     
    Plan showing the segment of the Sheridan proposed to become a boulevard.
     
    City Planning (DCP) worked collaboratively with the New York City Department of Transportation, the Economic Development Corporation, and Housing Preservation and Development to put this study together, officially titled, "The Sheridan Expressway Study: Reconnecting the Neighborhoods Around the Sheridan Expressway and Improving Access to Hunts Point." “We always knew this was a long-term plan and would span many administrations,” said Carol Samol, City Planning Bronx Director at DCP. “There are some things we can get quickly, and others that will take more time and require more major steps such as an environmental review and a public review process.”
     
     
    The proposal not only requires inter-agency teamwork, but also necessitates extensive coordination between city and state. Since the highways are operated by the state, these recommendations must be vetted and ultimately carried out by the New York State Department of Transportation. The 1.5-mile Sheridan Expressway—a remnant of Robert Moses’ failed plan to create a link between the Triborough Bridge and the New England Thruway—generally operates substantially below capacity but is often used by trucks. To relieve congestion and enhance the connection to the Greenway and Starlight and Concrete Plant parks for pedestrians, the city recommends rehabilitating the northern half of the expressway and turning it into a boulevard. The plan entails three new crossings to establish a direct path to the waterfront and also adding ramps to enable trucks to reach the industrial corridor at Hunts Point more easily.
     
     
    The city hopes that these improvements will set the ground work for the rezoning of the waterfront and attract new development, drawing more people back to the Bronx and righting a wrong from one of Moses’ most fractious urban renewal plans. “This study gave us a chance to be visionary about the neighborhood, but to also look at small changes that when all combined will have a powerful effect,” said Samol. “The South Bronx will be a better place.”
    Nicole Anderson
     
       
    Left to right: Map showing portion of the Sheridan Expressway affected by the report; Moses-era map showing portion of the highway that was never built; map showing proposed changes.
     
     
     
     
     

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  • A New Day for the New York State Pavilion?

    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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