The Next Great Public Space

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(Exterior View of the New World Trade PATH Station. Image by Craig Nevill-Manning)

In March, Santiago Calatrava’s creaturelike Path Station will open to the public in what has become a long anticipated unveiling. New York has waited over Fourteen Years for this great step toward healing after the September 11th attacks, and this piece of hallowed ground will march one step closer toward the repair of The City in becoming New York’s Next Great Public Space.

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(Inside the New World Trade Center PATH Station, from AM New York. Opening 2016)

Architecture takes a long time. And this project, upon opening, needs to be understood across the broader spectrum of Urban Design. There have been many articles about budget overruns (it is vastly over budget) and pointed critiques about its alien design and “out of context” nature to the World Trade Center site as a whole (it can be interpreted that way). Though on the flip side, this structure is aiming to unify and bring together a collective psyche which was battered both by the trauma of a terrorist event and the long road to recovery, if recovery is even possible. In short form, the building is an instantaneous visual symbol of Hope and will offer positive attributes to The City’s Urban Infrastructure. It will become New York’s next great transit hall, aligning itself with the lost public space, the ghost of Penn Station yore. It will become A new welcome mat which The City, and nation, deserves.

The opening of The New Transit Hub to The Public will take place this March, 2016. You can read more about it HERE:

WTC Website: A map of Transit Stops and a video of the new interconnecting PATH station.

World Trade Center Oculus Will Open First Week of March, From Curbed.

The Serpent of The Trade, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

2016 Trends in Our Changing City

Hello readers to 2016 and our annual segment for the upcoming year in Our Changing City. We like to highlight a few of the building trends shaping our New York environment which we will be eagerly watching:

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(East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. Proposed land berm by Rebuild by Design)

Reshaping the waterfront’s edge has been a major topic of discussion amongst planners and residents alike. After the destruction from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, initiatives have been underway to shore up the Southern tip of Manhattan to prevent widespread flooding in the next major Hurricane event. Architects and City Planners have been hard at work in The Lower East Side to review plans along the Rivers Edge for a land berm and improved East River Park which will buffer the mostly Lower Income and low lying neighborhoods from the Next Superstorm. You can read more about the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project HERE (Note: This is a long Urban Land Planning document and very technical).

The Proliferation of Supertall Buildings will continue their ascent into the Manhattan skyline. Many of these towers are now past their design and permitting stages and are actual construction sites. Dramatic changes to the skyline should appear around the Southern end of Central Park (Central Park Tower/Nordstrom Tower) as well as the World Trade Center Site (3 World Trade by Richard Rogers). Boxy and relatively unadorned in appearance, they will make their marks as companions to the skyline, rather than showstoppers. The real exclamation points will likely be at Hudson Yards where the North Tower will ascend to a pinnacle with a dramatic skydeck sometime later this year. We’re also anticipating SHoP Architects’ 111 W 57th St. Tower at the Southern end of Central Park. It will be the skinniest and most dramatic of the Supertalls.

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(SHoP’s 111 West 57th St. Rendering by SHoP Architects)

The expansion of New York at its Perimeter Cities “Urban Clusters” (Williamsburg, Long Island City, Barclays Center, Jersey City, Queens and central Brooklyn) is creating large, and relatively innocuous, urban centers of activity. Formations of dense silhouettes on the skyline; they are signifiers of New York’s continuing development. As in the past, as well as the future, We advocate for thoughtfulness in design for these new cities. Glass boxes housing people is not a solution to neighborhood creation. We are hoping that a better example is taking shape at the Domino Sugar Development, another cluster soon to rise at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge.

We anticipate the opening of The Hills on Governors Island in 2016. The creation of public space for the greater community at large is always a positive advancement, as long as the space is egalitarian and democratic in nature. The Hills is unique to New York and will become a major public asset once it is open to All.

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(The Hills on Governors Island, soon to come. Image by West 8)

We welcome the continuation of investment in New York’s Infrastructure and transportation systems. Visible progress will be made when Santiago Calatrava’s transportation hub at the World Trade Center site is opened sometime this Spring. It’s creature like form is a stark contrast to the typical New York building and will become an instant landmark. We hope that the massive budget overruns will be worth the dollars spent, as a welcoming and inviting Transportation Center is added value to an Urban Core. This segment is written against the current backdrop of New York’s mayor reigniting the conversation about making Penn Station a respectable point of entry to the future visitors of New York.

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(Another breath of life for a tired place: Penn Station. Image from Andrew Cuomo’s Office)

And larger scale developments, such as Essex Crossing, while not necessarily daring in design, continue to densify the core of New York. Currently under construction, its mixed use of market rate & senior housing, a new Essex Crossing Market and services for the underserved Lower East Side communities are a welcome addition to a dialogue which oftentimes focuses on the higher end of the spectrum.

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(The Market Line, currently under construction, at Essex Crossing. Image by ubiquitous SHoP Architects)

So here we have a few of the stories which we will be following in 2016, always alongside the smaller one’s which compose the fabric of The City. New York’s building landscape is one which is constantly evolving. Sometimes we note it is for the better. Oftentimes, as we note, it can be for the worse. Our interest will continue to lie in between the intentions of idea making and the reality of the built environment, as it is this environment which is ultimately perceived, experienced, and recorded in our Collective Public Memory.

2015 Urban Morphology Roundup

Thank you readers for your continued interest in our blog throughout 2015. Gordon’s Urban Morphology has grown substantially in readership over our prior year as we continue to highlight subjects in New York’s built environment which have galvanized The City in one way or another.

Continuing the tradition from last year, here is our Round-Up of our most popular posts based on user clicks:

 

VISUALHOUSE NEW YORK 2030

VISUALHOUSE NEW YORK 2030

Our most popular post of 2015: Readers imaginations soared to the heights of the Supertall Skyscrapers in Imagination City


Cantilevered Condo

Our most controversial post which touched on the provocative positions which Architecture can take:  The F#ck You Building on The Fringes of Delancey


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The blandness of the Essex Crossing Development, sold to the public as a development which was once much more attractive: A Bait and Switch in The Lower East Side


Fountain View 2 WTC

The redesign of Two World Trade Center, and the impressions this change left us had us lament in Hunchback of The Trade


Nordstrom Spire

And New York’s next great Supertall had its top lopped off in The Central Park Spire, Revisited


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While our most poignant post revisited a piece of Tenement history, befallen by the wrecking ball in Two Tenements, Down


 So, there you have 2015’s top posts. Thanks again for your readership and stay tuned for 2016 where we’ll continue to strive to bring fresh perspectives on our Changing City. Happy New Year from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

The Nightmare at Christmas

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(A Nightmare on West 57th Street. Image by Mark Foster Gage Architects. 2015)

Hopefully part satire, and most likely a commentary on the gaudiness of the Billionaire’s row towers sprouting up along Central Park South; this image of a Theoretical Tower on West 57th Street has grabbed the attention of New Yorkers. Mainly because it sows seeds of confusion amongst the population. What IS this giant decorative monolith?

“Is this really getting built”

“Gotham on steroids”

“New York’s largest Christmas Ornament”

The rendering, understandably, can be taken in the lighter context as a theoretical work of urban critique. The pastiche is completely over the top and unnecessary from an architectural standpoint. Perhaps it is the perfect counterpoint to the banal glass boxes rising all across the City. In this respect, this Modern Gothic is a welcome relief, purely as an image, or as a historio-futuristic reference.

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(The Nightmare Tower, Perched over Central Park. 2015)

As a real building though, and as a building which should be taken seriously; This mismatch of scale and styles is one for the paperbacks. The Theoretical Nightmare Tower to forget, at the end of 2015.

More on the provocative tower proposal can be found here:

Mark Foster Gage takes architecture to new heights, from Arch Daily

Elaborate Gargoyle Skyscraper, from Dezeen

The Anonymous Building

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(The Anonymous Building, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Rendering via J&A Concrete. 2015)

The Anonymous Building rises on the Brooklyn waterfront. Modernization and Development with no context to Place. New York, New York. Anywhere, USA.

The Gentrification movement has had its grip on large swaths of The City, most notably now, in Williamsburg, where local offender “The Egde” condominium continues to sprout glass boxes without a connection to surroundings. Only views to the outside skyline can be had for a price of admission, and a token concession of affordable units allocated to those lucky enough to win the lottery.

The Anonymous Building has crept into our public consciousness as an Architecture which lacks any clear distinction, or personality; In many respects, an architecture of reluctance. Though a lack of assertion is not always a bad thing. There are countless ways a responsible “background” building can stand its ground as a contributor to its surroundings, usually with thought and connectivity to landscape.

The Anonymous Building, in its desire to be nothing in particular, has become an agent of compromise in our expanding New York. Sheer scale and demand have outpaced the ability (or desire) for meaningful Design to adapt to our rapidly changing Urban Context. So much so, that the solution has become an Architecture that disappears from memory. The Anonymous Building, Anywhere, USA.

More info on The Anonymous Building can be found HERE:

Third Edge Tower, Now Rising. From Curbed

40 Story, 554 Residential Unit Tower Rising. From YIMBY

 

Chopping Block : The Provident Loan Building (Updated)

Gordon's Urban Morphology

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(The Provident Loan Building, as it may be in the future, Houston and Essex Streets, New York)

Note: This is an updated commentary to our prior post in early 2015: The Provident Loan Building, whose demise was rumored to be approaching, has been apparently saved and reincorporated into the plan for another condominium tower. This rendering, while outdated and not current, reflects the massing and relationship of the tower to the historic Provident Loan Building below. While not a blockbuster, we’re confident that a solid piece of Urban Design will evolve from this plan, since the New Designer is Rogers Partners Architects.

Satisfying, in many ways, because there is finally an interest in adapting old buildings while recognizing the potential value they may bring to both The Cityscape and development in general. Following a model of adaptation in much older cities (such as London, Paris and Rome), the project recognizes the contribution…

View original post 348 more words

Time Lapse NYC

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(Time Lapse Image of Lower New York, 1779. By Reuben Hernandez)

A video depicts Lower Manhattan’s evolution from a natural habitat to The Center of Urban density in one continuous time lapse. The video, by Reuben Hernandez for The New York Times, captures the spirit of Urban Morphology spanning multiple decades. A landmass undergoes change from its point of settlement to over 500 years later, with buildings appearing and disappearing as the pace of development continues.

This video is the centerpiece animation for the elevator ride to the Skydeck of the One World Trade Center Observatory.

To see the video of New York and its growth, click HERE.