Roosevelt Island: it’s an opportunity to get away from New York while still being in New York. Whether you drive, bike, or take public transportation, this narrow strip of land sandwiched between Manhattan and Queens has much to offer in terms of a day’s delight. You’ve got parks, the arts, and enough photo opportunities to make your Instagram friends totally jelly. From the famous abandoned Smallpox Hospital to the flashy new buildings of Cornell Tech, here’s everything to do on your island excursion.
As a media sponsor of Archtober–NYC’s annual month-long architecture and design festival of tours, lectures, films, and exhibitions–6sqft has teamed up with the Center for Architecture to explore some of their 70+ partner organizations.
In 2012, 40 years after it was conceived by late architect Louis Kahn, Four Freedoms Park opened on four acres on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. Part park, part memorial to FDR (the first dedicated to the former president in his home state), the site was designed to celebrate the Four Freedoms that Roosevelt outlined in his 1941 State of the Union address–Freedom of speech, of worship, from want, and from fear. In addition to its unique social and cultural position, the Park is set apart architecturally–the memorial is constructed from 7,700 tons of raw granite, for example–and horticulturally–120 Little Leaf Linden trees are all perfectly aligned to form a unified sight line.
And with these distinctions comes a special team working to upkeep the grounds and memorial, educate the public, and keep the legacy of both Kahn and Roosevelt at the forefront. To learn a bit more about what it’s like to work for the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, we recently toured the park with Park Director Angela Stangenberg and Director of Strategic Partnerships & Communications Madeline Grimes, who filled us in on their day-to-day tasks, some of their challenges, and several secrets of the beautiful site.
Aerial view of Roosevelt Island. Image: Schizoform via Flickr.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that an agreement had been reached to keep over 360 Roosevelt Island apartments in the Westview housing development, currently in the Mitchell-Lama rental program, affordable for 30 more years. Without the agreement, the Westview’s owner could have removed the building from the middle-class housing program and converted all of the apartments to market rate immediately. Instead, Westview will be able to exit from the Mitchell-Lama program but tenants will be offered first-time ownership opportunities at deeply affordable and below-market prices. Simultaneously, long-term affordability protections will be provided for tenants who continue to rent.
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Columbia campus, via Pixabay
If you can’t bear the idea of living in the dorms for another year, you’re not alone. Unless you happen to go to Columbia where over 90 percent of students live on campus, there’s a high likelihood you’ll be searching for your own apartment at some point during your college years, just like 57 percent of students at NYU and 74 percent at The New School. And if you’re like most students, you’ll be looking for an apartment far from downtown that strikes the right balance between affordability, commutability, and access to services.
To help you make the smartest decision possible, 6sqft has compiled a list of affordable, student-friendly neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn. By New York City standards, all of these are both safe (e.g., reported fewer than 1.5447 crimes per 1000 people in June 2018) and within reach (e.g., on average, three-bedroom units can still be rented for less than $5,000 per month). Using July 2018 City Realty data on average neighborhood rents, we’ve broken down how much you’ll pay on average to live in a three-bedroom shared unit in each of these neighborhoods. We’ve also provided average commute times to both Union Square, which is easily walkable to NYU, The New School, and Cooper Union, and to the Columbia University campus.
Morphosis Architects’ innovative Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island officially opens, Wed, September 13, 2017
The first building of Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus officially opened on Wednesday, set to be the first net-zero university building in New York City. Known as the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center, named after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg who donated $100 million for the project, the four-story 160,000-square foot academic building will be the intellectual nerve center of Cornell Tech. Designed by Morphosis Architects, the building has a photovoltaic canopy and an aluminum-paneled facade.
Roosevelt Island, the mile-long neighborhood that lies in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, will be a stop on the NYC Ferry route that connects Astoria to Wall Street beginning in August. While this will ease access to other parts of the city for residents of the island, French architect Victor Ostojic has another idea. As Curbed reported, Ostojic published a conceptual proposal of a cantilevered glass-covered ferry terminal on the western side of the island. Located parallel to Manhattan’s East 63rd Street, the terminal would include ground-floor retail, a food court, office space and a luxury hotel on top.
In honor of the Roosevelt Island Tramway’s 40th anniversary today, we’ve pulled this wonderful piece on the history of the high-flying gondola system from our archives.
Commuting in New York City, whether for work or pleasure, is rarely an enjoyable experience. However, for some tourists and lucky city dwellers, the Roosevelt Island Tramway provides a delightful, high-flying travel alternative to the standard, and sometimes miserable, modes of NYC public transport. Running across the East River, this aerial tramway brings commuters to and from Roosevelt Island and Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and has carried over 26 million passengers since opening in 1976. It is one of the few forms of mass transit in New York City not operated by the MTA, but it still costs the same as the bus or subway and can be paid for with your NYC metro card. Like most things in our historic port town, both the tramway and the commute between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island has a history, and this one includes bridge elevators, high-rise rescue missions and French ski lifts.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedom’s Park may have opened relatively recently in 2012, but architect Louis Kahn was brewing up the design for the memorial park nearly 40 years earlier. Kahn’s death in 1974 (a somewhat tragic one which left him dead and alone in a Penn Station bathroom after a heart attack) was unfortunately accented by a dwindling reputation — Kahn’s sordid multi-family affairs had come to light upon his passing and his fading architecture practice was loaded with debt. But beyond all the scandal, Kahn also left behind a number of sketchbooks packed with complete sets of unrealized projects. One of these projects was the Four Freedom’s Park.
While plenty of accolades have been given to successful realization of the project so far after Kahn’s death, few have tracked where the architect may have pulled his inspiration for the design. That is until now. As a number of Kahn’s sketches emerge for public viewing, some are asking: Was the the design of Louis Kahn’s Four Freedom’s Park inspired by the Eye of Providence found on the U.S. dollar bill?