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Sharon McHugh reports for World Architecture News. 23478_3_snofarroc3 [Images: Snohetta and Doug & Wolf.] These days libraries are so much more then repositories for books and information. They are also vital community hubs where neighbors gather to discuss important topics of the day or just to see one another.  During Hurricane Sandy, New York’s Far Rockaway Library in Queens served as a refuge from the storm and was the ‘go-to place’ to receive critical updates on neighbors and friends. Taking its cue from the idea that a library is a catalyst for community transformation, Snohetta’s newly revealed design for the Far Rockaway Library envisions a more encompassing progamme than a typical library with more community services planned. The new library will replace the existing one and double its area. The simple 'tent like' structure is clad in fritted, colored glass with a gradient of color reminiscent of the sky off the coast of Long Island. The transparency and translucency of the facade provides an awareness of the activities within while offering the occupants a good degree of privacy.   Entry is at the corner though a tall pyramidal opening. 23478_1_snofarroc1 The interior spaces are organized around an inverted pyramidal atrium that allows light to penetrate the ground floor whilst providing a view of the sky from within the building. The clear entry and the building’s transparency help orient the visitor to and through the building.  In response to Hurricane Sandy the building is sited at an elevation exceeding the new FEMA flood zone guidelines. 23478_2_snofarroc2 The project, which is currently in design development and is designed to meet LEED Silver Certification, has received the Public Design Commission of the City of New York’s recognition for outstanding public projects, the Annual Award for Excellence in Design. As part of New York City’s Percent for Arts programme, Snohetta will be collaborating with an artist to create a site specific artwork within the library.    
Editorial by World Architecture News. 23479_2_farroc4 [Images: White arkitekter.] White arkitekter, ARUP and Gensler have been announced as the winning team in a two-stage international competition for the resilient redevelopment of an 80+ acre site on the Rockaway Peninsula, Arverne East in New York. The competition was launched in April 2013 following the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy which ravaged the area in October 2012, leaving many people without adequate housing. The other shortlisted firms included Ennead Architects, Lateral Office and Seeding Office. The competition was hugely popular, gaining 117 entries from around the world, and a public exhibition of the finalist submissions will go on display this November at the AIA New York Center for Architecture. The brief given by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development was to create innovative ideas for resilient development strategies with a blueprint for future redevelopment further along the coastline. The competition was posted by WAN’s Business Information Service. 23479_4_farroc1 Project Architect at White arkitekter Sander Schuur commented: “Arverne East is a place with a strong identity. Thousands of residents of Arverne East lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy. But the disaster also led to a stronger sense of community in the area. The essence of White’s proposal is to channel the resident’s involvement and provide them with new tools to act and react in the community’s interest. With our Scandinavian approach, we believe we can strengthen and enrich the community and provide the opportunity for the community to realise their dreams.” 23479_3_farroc2 Rather than a static approach, White arkitekter’s winning concept melds to the forces of nature ‘like a surfer to the waves’, reacting organically to unpredictable weather conditions. The team proposes a series of active interventions at small scale such as artificial islands which will absorb wave impact, interacting with nature rather than attempting to counteract these extreme conditions. Also included in the successful plan are residential developments, retirement communities, landscaped parks, and public and commercial opportunities. 23479_1_farroc3 The Far Rockaway Library by Snohetta is currently in design development.    
Sara Polsky reports for Curbed.
[Renderings by Hayes Davidson.]
Named for one of Manhattan's first roads, The Greenwich Lane is a 200-unit condo project in the West Village that's hoping to do a few big things: revitalize the block between 11th and 12th streets off of Seventh Avenue, be environmentally friendly, combine historic structures with new construction, and offer, to verge into brokerbabble territory, "an unheard-of level of character and service." Sales haven't quite begun, but we expect the launch will happen within the next few days, because the building has just unveiled its full website, with lots of renderings and building details to explore. The Greenwich Lane, where prices will range from around $2 million to $20+ million, is probably hoping to replicate the sell-out of 130 West 12th Street—both projects consist of buildings that were once part of St. Vincent's Hospital and have gone condo after an epic battle over preservation. The Greenwich Lane is a bit more complicated than 130 West 12th Street, though: it consists of five apartment buildings and five townhouses spread across West 11th and West 12th Streets for a total of 200 units, 1BRs through 6BRs. The five townhouse are new construction, as is apartment building 155 West 11th Street. The other four apartment buildings have preserved and/or restored facades with new construction innards, and while FXFOWLE designed the whole project, each of the four dates from a different period and thus has a different aesthetic. (160 West 12th Street, for example, claims "Bauhaus-like details," while 150 West 12th Street has a more European look.) The interior design is by Thomas O'Brien.
The building is big on its green qualifications, which include a pre-certification of LEED Gold status, according to the website. The eco-obsessiveness extends into the realm of amenities, with electric vehicle charging stations and a system for collecting storm water to be reused for cooling systems and irrigation within the building.
As for the non-environmentally-focused amenities, they include a shared landscaped garden, designed by M. Paul Friedman & Partners, between the buildings, a fitness floor with a golf room and 25-meter pool (among other offerings), "a suite of social and entertaining rooms," underground parking, playroom, catering kitchen, and screening room. There's hardly a need to interact with the outside world.    
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 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.