All posts by Tracy A. Marciano

Tracy is an architectural historian based in New York. She received a BA from New York University, MS from Pratt Institute School of Architecture in Historic Preservation, and attended Columbia University for graduate studies in landscape design for urban environments. Her photography was used in 'Historic Preservation and the Livable City', published in 2011. She is currently a Research Fellow for the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health, a think tank based in London focused on how improved mental health can be achieved through better urban design.

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Design, Products

If you don’t have your nonna cooking for you, good news is here. Slow cooking, which first appeared kitchens in the 1950s, has been redesigned for a new generation of chefs. The updated crock pot, or “Oliver” as it’s been named, uses a new setup that releases ingredients slowly and churns out better results than the brown mush we’ve all come to expect from the gadgets.

Read more about Oliver

Architecture, Green Design, Upstate

Black has always been in style for New Yorkers, and our penchant for the commanding hue continues with this discreet, minimalist cabin in the woods by Studio Padron and design think tank SMITH. Built entirely from mature red oak trees that were removed during construction of the property’s main house, the tiny abode uses materials that would have otherwise been discarded. Duality is also a strong design principle of the project and it creates a refined balance in the one-room library and guest house.

Check out the stunning photos

Featured Story

Features, History, Policy

prohibition repeal day

The last time a political outcome stunned the country with such a polarizing impact was in 1919, when the 18th amendment—prohibiting the production, sale, and distribution of alcohol—was ratified. After a 70-year campaign led by several groups known as The Drys, who insisted alcohol corrupted society, the ban on alcohol arrived in 1920 and was enforced by the Volstead Act.

But the Noble Experiment did little to keep people from drinking. Indeed, Prohibition led citizens to dream up creative ways to circumvent the law, turning the ban into a profitable black market where mobsters, rum-runners, moonshiners, speakeasies, the invention of cocktails, and innovative ways to market alcohol took the country by storm. Prohibition in many ways fueled the roaring twenties, and it made things especially exciting in New York City.

December 5th marks the 83rd anniversary of Repeal Day, when 13 long years of Prohibition finally came to a close.

Read on about Prohibition and the Repeal

History

Presidential election of 1864. Political drawing by Thomas Nash

This election has been turbulent to say the least, erupting into contentious rhetoric, violence at rallies, and collective anxiety. But this isn’t the first time the U.S. has experienced such uproar from an election. In 1864, in the throws of the Civil War, incumbent Republican Abraham Lincoln was running for re-election against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top War general. Although both candidates wanted to bring the Civil War to an end, Lincoln wanted to also abolish slavery, while McClellan felt slavery was fundamental to economic stability and should be reinstated as a way to bring Confederate states back into the Union. Here in New York, this battle led to a plot to burn the city to the ground.

What led to this dramatic twist in the election?

Featured Story

Architecture, Art, Features, History, Landmarks Preservation Commission

In 1984, a series of grime-covered windows at 714 Fifth Avenue caught the attention of an architectural historian by the name of Andrew Dolkart. Seemingly innocuous, and almost industrial in aesthetic—at least from afar—the glass panes would later become the foundation for a preservation victory.

more this way

Featured Story

Architecture, Art, Features, History

These days if an architect were to ask a developer “What’s your sign?” they probably wouldn’t be taken very seriously. But in the early 1900s, it was an entirely different story.

A century ago, wealthy industrialists, bankers, businessmen and civic planners were erecting opulent buildings with the help of top architects and artists. And in addition to elaborate ornamentation, celestial ceilings with zodiac symbols were also requested in a number of iconic building designs. Ahead we point out six historic New York area buildings where you can still encounter these astral vestiges.

Where to find Zodiac signs in NYC

Featured Story

Architecture, Art, Features, History, Midtown West

In 1932, Mexican artist Diego Rivera was commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller to add a mural to the soaring lobby of Rockefeller Center. Despite being known for his petulant temper and loyalty to Communism, Rivera was still one of the most highly sought after artists of his time, lauded for his creative genius and his detailed paintings. But politics, artistic vision, power and wealth collided in 1934 when a displeased Rockefeller had the very mural he commissioned from Rivera chiseled off the wall the night before it was to be completed.

read about the mysterious mural here

ideas from abroad, Starchitecture, Urban Design

Bjarke Ingels, Urban Rigger, Kim Loudrup shipping container architecture, affordable student housing

When college students arrive to the big city they often bring with them dreams of glamorous apartments, but they soon get hit the reality of a cramped dorm room covered by student loans or an awkward apartment shared with several strangers. Over in Denmark, where 40,000 beds are needed to accommodate an exploding student population, Kim Loudrup realized the enormity of the student housing shortage (inventory and affordability) and partnered with the country’s prodigal son Bjarke Ingels on a new, sustainable student housing design made from floating shipping containers. Called Urban Rigger, they hope this modular idea can extend to other waterfront cities and even solve other housing problems like the refugee crisis.

Could this idea take off here?

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