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Katherine Clarke reports for The Real Deal. Ponte Gadea Group, the U.S. investment arm for Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, has acquired a 56,000-square-foot office and retail building at 414 West 14th Street for $94 million, according to public records filed with the city today. The group purchased the property from a partnership between the Carlyle Group and Sitt Asset Management, which acquired it for $70 million six years ago. With a reported net worth of some $57 billion, Ortega is the world’s third richest man, per Forbes magazine’s most recent ranking, and is the head of Inditex fashion group, which owns the retail chain Zara. Ponte Gadea has developed properties in other cosmopolitan cities including Miami, where it was a partner on the development of the Epic Residences & Hotel at 200 Biscayne Boulevard. Commercial brokerage Studley brokered the deal on 14th Street. A representative for the company was not immediately available for comment. Both Carlyle and Ponte Gadea declined comment. Sitt Asset could not be reached. Carlyle and Sitt Asset snapped up the six-story property in 2007 and redeveloped it into a modern office building with state-of-the-art amenities, including a roof deck for events. It has 38,583 square feet of office space and 16,587 square feet of retail, according to PropertyShark. The retail space is currently leased to tenants such as the outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia, which inked a deal for 7,500 square feet last year, and Levi’s, which signed its lease in 2010 and has the space through 2020, according to data from CoStar. The property is across the street from 401 West 14th Street, a stake in which just hit the market, The Real Deal previously reported. The stake is owned by Clarion Partners and is being marketed by Eastdil Secured.  
Mark Maurer reports for The Real Deal. Tribeca-centric developer Colonnade Group wants to convert the landmarked former warehouse for the Pearl Paint home-improvement and craft store into a mixed-use building. The developer paid $9.2 million for the five-story building at 42-46 Lispenard Street, between Church Street and Broadway, in October. Plans call for the red 13,216-square-foot building to gain ground-floor retail. Four full-floor apartments will have ceilings of at least 12 feet, with 24-foot ceilings for the penthouse. The project is set to break ground early next year, according to BuzzBuzzHome. Colonnade is at work on a three-unit residential conversion at 174 Duane Street, which would add one story to the four-story building, as previously reported.  
Reuven Blau reports for NY Daily News. Outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has touted a plan to redevelop the vacant Childs building into an amphitheater that can seat 5,000 and host 40 concerts a year. The historic, now-vacant Childs Restaurant building on the Coney Island Boardwalk is being eyed for redevelopment as a 5,000-seat concert amphitheater. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s signature effort to convert the historic Childs Restaurant into a massive amphitheater is coming down to the wire — and it’s anyone’s guess whether the outgoing captain of Kings will complete his much-desired coup de grace. The City Council is expected to hold a hearing on the complicated proposal to renovate the boardwalk building on Dec. 16. City lawmakers will likely vote on it three days later, when the council holds its last full meeting of the session. “I’m hopeful that the city council will approve it,” said Markowitz. Any delay beyond Jan. 1, however, could doom the project. In September, the Coney Island community board voted against it, arguing that the approximately $35 million in public funds earmarked for the theater and a small park nearby would be better used to help repair infrastructure that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. And the district’s incoming councilman agrees. “Coney Island cannot become a year-round destination, with jobs and economic opportunity for its residents, without infrastructure and transportation improvements,” said Mark Treyger. Critics have also argued that public money should not be going towards private development of a concert hall. Markowitz defended the plan, noting the building has sat empty for years. “It shouldn’t be held up. There’s no reason to oppose it at that location,” Markowitz said. He’s worked hard to ensure it passes. Markowitz said Monday that he talked to Council Speaker Christine Quinn  about the theater plan before he endorsed her last April — a move in which he  turned his back on then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who hails from Park  Slope. “Any major project that I have championed needs the approval of the City Council,” he said. “So would I have spoken to her? You bet!” The unusual $53 million plan calls for the city to buy the Childs building — along with an adjoining lot between W. 21 St and W. 22nd St. — from iStar Financial, the real estate investment company that acquired the historic structure from a developer after the economy tanked in 2008.According to plans, the amphitheater will seat 5,000 people with room for another 2,000 on a lawn behind it. The performance space could play host to as many as 40 concerts between May and October. Space will also be leased year-round to a yet-to-be-selected proprietor, to operate a restaurant inside the building. This is not the first time Markowitz’s hope of finding a permanent home for  his seaside concerts has faced opposition. Public protests in 2009 blocked a planned amphitheater inside Asser Levy  Park in Brighton Beach.  
Cate reports for Brownstoner. Brooklyn_Historical_Society_WTM3_Gnarly_0207 In preparation for its 150th anniversary, the Brooklyn Historical Society pursued a vision of bringing the interiors of its attractively preserved building on Pierrepont Street into the 21st century, while still respecting the past. Working with Christoff: Finio Architecture, BHS created an airy, high-tech event space, dynamic new galleries, a reconceived shop supporting Brooklyn makers, and classroom space for student and community activities. Renovations, which lasted eighteen months and finished this past October, aimed to increase BHS’s ability to serve a wide public, and offer an expanded roster of public events and education programs. The goal was to connect the past to the present and to engage the community at large. Only the first floor and basement were altered. The amazing main staircase and upper floor rooms are untouched. “After having an opportunity to carefully see how the building is used by our 21st-century audiences, understanding what we needed and wanted in order to serve our public well, we were fortunate, with the support of the City of New York, to be able to pay for a rethinking of our public space,” stated BHS President Deborah Schwartz. “We like to think we have created a perfect blend of learning and pleasure for our visitors.” A large part of this entailed rethinking and revamping the Great Hall as a contemporary auditorium for guest speakers and panels, film screenings and receptions. Before the renovation, this large room had been cut up into smaller rooms and the walls had been painted a deep maroon. This may have been historically accurate at one point but was dark when viewed from the sidewalk. The decision to paint the walls and columns white expressed the wish to modernize as well as brighten the space. Christoff: Finio’s design called for bringing back the full dimension of the Great Hall. “[The room] had been parceled up in such a way that you couldn’t appreciate the scale of the space and the rhythm of its columns and windows,” said architect Martin Finio. “The ceiling was there, but much of it was obscured by hanging ductwork and heavy lighting grids. Our impulse was to pull away as much as we could, and to put light where it hadn’t been before.” Christoff: Finio placed large rotating display boxes at each window to double as interior exhibition wall as well as vitrines announcing BHS programs to the street, giving BHS a public presence it has never had before. The design for the main gallery in the front of the building, divided from the Great Hall by an insert housing the HVAC system, AV equipment, and storage, grew out of a variation on this ambition. “We wanted to add a contemporary layer to the space that would serve 21st-century ideas about exhibition and curation, while still responding to the character and quality of the room,” Finio explained. The new gallery wall not only floats in front of the original walls and openings of the entry hall, thus preserving it, but it also provides the opportunity to run ductwork for the HVAC system. Now, cool air can be dropped down from above in warmer months — in the Great Hall, the air descends through porthole-like openings in the insert — and warm air can be fed from below during the winter. This method saves room for valuable stretches of exhibition wall and saves energy by not trying to heat and cool to the full 20-foot ceiling height. A side gallery created under the arch separating the Great Hall from the main exhibition space offers an up-close encounter with the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln. The document, one of the gems of BHS’ collection, shares a birth year with the Brooklyn Historical Society itself. On the opposite wall, a carved-wood installation brings voices from the past alive, documenting the public’s reaction to the Proclamation. Connected openly to both the galleries and Great Hall is the newly refurbished Museum Store, which now sells items made by Brooklyn artisans along with both fiction and nonfiction books, catalogues and gifts. Downstairs, the architects transformed the basement into fully functioning areas. They preserved the brick, granite, and cast iron columns that form the foundation throughout the new rooms, which include a second gallery space and a classroom where students can participate in programs as well as eat lunch. The downstairs gallery currently houses the exhibit “Landmarks of New York” by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel. The classroom provides activity space and a lunchroom for school children who tour BHS, with cubbies for their backpacks and a useful sink and counter top. “We were always very aware of the ways in which the building itself might serve in the didactic expression of Brooklyn history,” Finio said. “We wanted the building to remain authentic not only to its past, but also to its present and its future.” Brooklyn-based design group ETC (Everything Type Company) masterminded new signage throughout the interiors, including amusing silhouettes for the restrooms. The men’s and women’s rooms have been marked with figures dressed in different period attire from the various eras of BHS’s lifetime. In January, BHS will open its first major, long-term exhibit in the main gallery: “Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom,” part of a groundbreaking public history project featuring new research in partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center and the Irondale Ensemble Project. The launch signifies the culmination of so many visions: architectural, historical and curatorial. Check the Design Brooklyn blog in January for images of the finished main gallery.  
Rory Scott reports for Archdaily. 529737c5e8e44e5c50000061_leed-v4-better-than-the-leeds-that-came-before-_1266941867-citycenter-overall-view-at-night-1000x604 At the annual Greenbuild International Conference in Philadelphia last week, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) finally announced the latest version of LEED. Aiming to make a larger forward step than previous versions, LEED v4 is described by Rick Fedrizzi, the CEO and president of USGBC as a “quantum leap”. But what are the key changes in the new LEED criteria, and what effect will they have? Furthermore, what problems have they yet to address? Read on to find out. 37c6e8e44e3dd2000064_leed-v4-better-than-the-leeds-that-came-before-_1322166814-office-tower-warsaw-schmidt-hammer-lassen-architects-rendering-001-1000x750 [Office tower in Warsaw. Image © Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects] Material Transparency The most widely recognized change to the LEED system is material transparency, requiring a better understanding of the products being used in a building and where they have come from. As Beth Heider, USGBC’s 2012 chair, puts it: “if you create a really tight, energy-efficient building and fill it full of noxious materials, you’ve created the perfect gas chamber.” In the field of healthcare, material transparency is definitely seen as a positive step, but it will come with an increased workload for everyone involved: according to Healthcare Design Magazine “the process of developing environmental product declarations (EPD), healthy product declarations (HPD), and lifecycle assessments (LCA) will be challenging and time-consuming… very few products have EPDs, fewer have HPDs, and no one really knows how to do a comprehensive LCA.” Although somewhat counter-intuitively, in an attempt to make these changes easier to adjust to, LEED v4 awards credits simply for reporting the LCA of a design, rather than what that report shows. In other words, if a submitted LCA shows that a building is environmentally unfriendly, that building will still get LEED credits. Combating ‘Greenwashing’ In previous iterations of LEED, it was possible to focus on easy, cheap credits to obtain LEED status for a building, while ignoring credits that might have more impact but were hard to achieve. This led some to accuse LEED of enabling greenwashing, projects that claimed to be green when really they were doing the minimum possible to become LEED certified. In LEED v4, the USGBC has gone some way to combat this by introducing new prerequisites such as metering and recording the building’s energy and water use. These factors of building performance can no longer be ignored as difficult, time-consuming credits to achieve – they must be included to achieve LEED status. Beth Heider also adds that “while LEED 2009 weighted points to encourage projects to do less harm, LEED v4 is aspirational in weighting and developing credits to encourage projects to do more good.” Integrated design LEED v4 contains a new credit for bringing together the full construction team at an early stage in the design process. In recognition of the idea that green designs tend to be better thought through when they are designed collaboratively by people with expertise in different areas, design teams will now be rewarded for working together from the very start of the process. New Market Sectors In a bid to make LEED available to an ever-wider portion of the construction industry, they have expanded their system to include data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects. Improved Support Aware that for many projects (particularly small ones), LEED certification is a complex and expensive task, the USGBC is moving to simplify LEED credit submittal requirements, provide descriptive step-by-step reference guide materials with videos and tutorials, and is also offering a more intuitive technology platform. What Still Needs to Change? As we’ve mentioned before, the LEED system certainly isn’t perfect, and there are still criticisms that haven’t been addressed by LEED v4. One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is LEED v3, which (thanks to fears that v4 is too big a change) is still available until June 2015. Considering the fact that LEED has always been criticized for being too easy to ‘game the system’, offering two completely different systems for developers to choose between seems a retroactive step. And, perhaps most critically, LEED v4 still seems to have nothing which encourages true innovation in green building – preferring instead to emphasize their cut-and-paste rules for how to be green.
Marianne Amos reports for Fastcodesign.
© Karl Connolly Photography via
Photo by © Karl Connolly Photography
On the lower level of the Baltimore Design School, a city public school located in central Baltimore, there is a blown-up photo affixed to a wall. The black-and-white picture shows the interior of a building in disrepair, with pools of water on the floor. It's a stark reminder of what used to be here: an abandoned factory so decrepit that the HBO series The Wire used the building as a setting symbolic of post-industrial urban decay. But today, with a major architectural intervention--and a grant from Adobe--this building has become a state-of-the-art public school for training future designers.
Image by Ziger Snead via Image by Ziger Snead via
Photos by Ziger Snead.
Baltimore Design School--or BDS--is the first of its kind in the city, a public middle and high school dedicated to students interested in architecture, graphic design, and fashion. The school was founded a few years ago, but its permanent home in a mammoth, 110,000-square-foot former clothing factory only opened this fall after a $26.85 million overhaul. Built in 1914, the four-story structure was the machine shop for a global supplier of bottle caps before housing a clothing manufacturer. A private developer purchased the building in the 1980s and, as happened with so many industrial buildings in American cities, it was soon abandoned and left to sit empty for decades. The owner seemingly locked the place up with little notice: Coffee cups were left on tables; clothing and sewing supplies were arranged as if a worker had just stepped away for lunch. Baltimore architect Steve Ziger, whose firm Ziger/Snead provided design services for the project, believes the renovation teaches students a valuable lesson about the power of design to renew a building and, by extension, a community. “This is a building that was definitely a blight on this neighborhood," says Ziger, who is also a founding board member of the school.
© Karl Connolly Photography via
Photo by © Karl Connolly Photography
Adobe Youth Voices, the software company’s philanthropic arm, donated a lab of computers with the full Adobe Creative Suite and, in January, will train teachers on incorporating student-driven media into their instruction. This is Adobe's first such partnership with a single school--they usually partner with entire school districts--but the unique nature of BDS and its design-focused curriculum inspired the grant. “We often find that educators have a lot of challenges around finding the time to emphasize creativity in the classroom," says Patricia Cogley, senior program manager for Adobe Youth Voices. "The opportunity to work in a school where that’s the underlying philosophy was very exciting for us.” The total package, which also includes support from a partnership with the nearby Maryland Institute College of Art, is valued at more than $80,000. Students begin their school day in the main hallway with 17-foot-ceilings soaring above their heads. All around them, says Ziger, are lessons in structure, tension, proportion, and compression: Sealed concrete walls, some with old cracks still visible; tall support pillars in the middle of rooms; exposed pipes snaking along the ceilings. Tyler, a ninth-grade architecture major, says that's what he loves about the building. “All the lighting and space--it's not like a new building," he says. "There's some history to it.”
© Karl Connolly Photography via
Photo by © Karl Connolly Photography
Ziger believes exposing the building's underpinnings in this way will inspire fledgling designers. “Had we fixed every space and put in ceilings and designed it--it doesn't leave it open to the students' imaginations. Being open-ended we thought was more important in this environment.” This was also more challenging for Ziger and his team. “[This kind of project] takes more time because you have to coordinate everything, because everything's visible. It's actually a more deliberate design by being exposed. If it's concealed, anything goes. That's another lesson for the students.”
 © Karl Connolly Photography via
Photo by © Karl Connolly Photography
Just as compelling as the restoration of the building is the design of the financing that allowed this project to happen. In a city otherwise struggling to maintain even the basic infrastructure of its public schools, the multimillion dollar renovation was made possible by a unique public/private partnership involving a private developer, the BDS school board, and the Baltimore City Public Schools. It was funded through a combination of bonds, tax credits, and loans guaranteed by the school system. At the end of a 20-year lease term, the school system will take over the facility. Design is interspersed throughout the curriculum as well as the building. Students take art and design classes every day, and design thinking and creative problem-solving are interwoven into regular classes like math and social studies. Middle-schoolers get a firm grounding in art and design basics before choosing a specialization in architecture, graphic design, or fashion in high school. On a recent Friday morning, a group of ninth-graders brainstormed with Ziger about design interventions for the student art gallery, a rectangular space on the main level that's still bare of artwork or decoration. One of them, an architecture major named Victorious, said, “We could actually build things.” Exactly.  
Jose Luis Gabriel Cruz reports for Archdaily. Image courtesy of HAO ( [Courtesy of HAO] HAO, together with community group, Williamsburg Independent People, hope to save the historic Domino Sugar Factory site and halt the current masterplan by SHoP Architectswhich proposes an additional 2,200 luxury apartments along the East River waterfront inBrooklyn, New York. HAO’s counter proposal seeks to adaptively reuse the existing factory buildings, including the iconic Civil War-era Domino Sugar Refinery — which has defiantly held its ground amidst heavy redevelopment in surrounding areas. Not unlike SHoP’s proposal, HAO aims to regenerate these spaces into a “world-class cultural destination” that combines public and private programs. Image courtesy of HAO ( [Courtesy of HAO] The difference, however, is in scale. The current master plan envisions five residential towers that rise 600 feet to, according to SHoP, create “a new skyline for Brooklyn — one that relates to the height of the Williamsburg Bridge and scales down to meet the neighborhood.” Image courtesy of HAO ( [Courtesy of HAO] The counter proposal is a defiantly smaller scale — adapting to the average building heights of the surrounding area – reminiscent of Beijing’s 798 Art District with Bauhaus-inspired, sawtooth-like roof-scoops. “We explored possibilities that would open up the site and create a vibrant, mixed and cultural destination. We believe that, destinations like the 798 Art District and the Tate Modern, the Domino Sugar Factory has the potential to attract millions of visitors every year.” 5290661ee8e44ece5800024e_hao-makes-counter-proposal-to-save-sugar-factory-and-stop-luxury-apartments-in-brooklyn-s-waterfront_rendering-theater-530x313 [Courtesy of HAO] HAO’s counter proposal captures approximately 700,000 square feet of publicly accessible gallery space (surpassing even the MoMA by 70,000 square feet). The proposal divides the site into two general zones: a green energy technology center, educational, community and hotel-driven programming are located near the south; to the north, publicly accessible private museum space, exhibition and theater space. Image courtesy of HAO ( [Courtesy of HAO] For now, the counter proposal is merely an alternative. HAO and local Brooklynites, however, believe that to create a sustainable and revitalized Williamsburg, the city should reconsider caving in to mega-luxury-developments. Review SHoP’s master plan and learn more about the counter proposals at
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God in the Details

Sam Lubell reports for The Architect's Newspaper.

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[Tom Bonner] No architect in LA has mended more of the city’s historic icons than Brenda Levin. Gems in her portfolio include the Griffith Observatory, City Hall, the Wiltern Theater, the Bradbury Building, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, and Dodger Stadium, to name just a few. And still none seem quite as spectacular as the newly-renovated Wilshire Boulevard Temple. After a two-year renovation, the ornate Byzantine/Moorish/Romanesque synagogue in the city’s mid-Wilshire district sparkles. Built in 1929, the temple had never had a renovation. When much of its congregation moved to a new facility on the city’s west side in 1988 the deterioration progressed faster. Many wanted to stop investing in the temple altogether, but luckily the synagogue’s Senior Rabbi, Steven Leder, pushed hard for a new campus plan that included fixing up their original house of worship. In 2009, Levin and Associates, with a team that included Matt Construction, began the process, with construction beginning in 2011. The synagogue is still undergoing a capital campaign, which has thus far raised $123 million, to pay for the $50 million renovation and the larger master plan.
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“A lot of people think a renovation means a new coat of paint,” said Levin. Oh how wrong they are. Basically every surface in the temple was touched, she added. Detailing everything that was fixed up is like reciting a laundry list, so it’s best to observe what needed the most work. That includes the building’s suspect sheer walls, its interior plaster, its giant and spectacular coffered dome, its rose window, and its sanctuary murals by famous Hollywood artist Hugo Ballin. The interior dome’s plaster surrounds were either cleaned or replicated, then repainted, while the building’s copper outer dome was repaired. The stained glass inside the stone rosary window was removed, taken apart, cleaned, repaired, and re-leaded. The murals were painstakingly touched up, with new paint made slightly lighter to differentiate it from original work. On the building’s exterior, marble bands, which had calcified, were repaired and honed, while the marble base was replaced. Detailed cast stone and concrete was repaired and reinforced. Carbon fiber helps support the sheer walls, the columns, and the roof.
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Over the course of the project the giant sanctuary was filled with a ten-story scaffold, which Levin recalls standing on top of to make sure that colors and paint were just right. “There’s never just one color,” she said. “It’s always five layers mashed together.” In addition to all the fixes, a few new elements were added, such as improved lighting and audio, located behind new grills that were designed to blend with the historic interior.  New air conditioning was installed. The temple’s bimah was lowered and extended by two feet, and a new courtyard was added to the east, where there was once a no-man’s land of mechanical equipment and parking. Many more changes are in store: Levin is leading a master plan that will include two new schools, a new banquet facility, still more public spaces, and the restoration of much of the synagogue’s existing facilities. “It’s the best room in Los Angeles,” said Levin. “It’s so welcoming and theatrical.” And thanks to her work and the perseverance of a Rabbi, what was once crumbling is now majestic.  
Jessica Dailey reports for Curbed. Image from A 1950's factory building formerly owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses has been approved for a condo conversion. The Brooklyn Eagle reports that the Landmarks Preservation Commission signed off on a design by Aufgang Architects and developer Shelly Listokin, who purchased the building at 200 Water Street, along with 173 and 177 Front Street, last year. The project will add two new floors to the building, originally a Brillo pad factory, and it will create 15 new condos. Aufgang's original plans called for reconstructing the façade with mew bricks, but the commission vetoed that idea, so the existing façade will remain largely intact. The addition will be set back to create a terrace and reduce visibility from the street. At 177 Front Street, which sits outside of the historic district, Listokin filed plans for a 12-story, 105 unit building.  
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Possible changes afoot for NYC skyline

Sharon McHugh reports for World Architecture News. Image Ted via Flickr ( [Image: Ted via Flickr] Two decisions came down last week that may affect New York City’s skyline.  One was the defeat of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to densify development in east mid-town Manhattan. The other was Governor Mario Cuomo’s signing of legislation that will permit the cash-starved Hudson River Park Trust to sell air rights to developers within a block of the five mile long park, which borders the Hudson River. The midtown east plan called for a 72-block rezoning of the area near Grand Central Station that would have brought signature Class A office buildings to the business heart of Manhattan, where most of the buildings in the area date to World War II.  The sale of air rights there also would have generated an estimated $500m for transit upgrades in the area. Building owners in the neighborhood were generally in favor of the rezoning plan as they have been clamoring to make upgrades to their buildings or replace them altogether with gleaming new towers (which they are prohibited from doing under the current zoning) rather than run the risk of losing tenants to newer office buildings in other parts of town, like Hudson Yards on the Far West Side and the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. The plan, while dead for now, may be revived when Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio takes office in 2014.  But don’t expect it to be the sweeping, visionary, state-of-the-art plan put forth by the Bloomberg Administration. Councilman Daniel Garodnick, whose district includes midtown east, told Crains: “The public realm plan is aspirational and it is unclear at this point whether some of its most visionary improvements can even be executed.” In his campaign speeches, De Blasio made it clear that he thinks ‘developers have gotten a pass under the Bloomberg Administration’ and that the upper rungs of New York’s Society have been the key beneficiaries.  Only time will tell if De Blasio will use such initiatives as rezoning midtown east to build affordable housing in the city, which is sorely needed and is a cause high on his agenda. On the West Side of Manhattan, the Hudson River Park Trust was given a lifeline from New York Governor Mario Cuomo, with the signing of legislation last week that will allow the Trust to sell its air rights.  Those air rights, which the Trust estimates  to total 1.6 million sq ft, could bring substantial monies to its coffers and allow it to make the estimated $118m of basic repairs to Pier 40, a roughly 15-acre area with ball fields, sports facilities, a 775,000 sq ft building used as offices and a parking garage.  Without the needed repairs Pier 40 might have to close, said Trust’s president, Madlyn Wils. While the legislation bodes well for the Trust’s rescue, the larger question is whether the sale of its air rights - which may result in towers along the Hudson River - is good for the neighborhood or practicable from an environmental standpoint. The area targeted for the air rights sale includes Greenwich Village, which is comprised mostly of four- and five-storey buildings.  Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, is concerned that new high rise towers would be out character for the neighborhood and would block views of the Hudson River. The area in question is ranked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as one of the most vulnerable and future storm-prone areas in the country.  Making note of that fact, Laura Haight, a senior environmental associate with New York Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), told Crains: “Governor Cuomo has rightly called for plans to ensure that the State of New York is better prepared for and more resilient to future severe storms. It would foolhardy to encourage development in such a storm-vulnerable location.”