6sqft has reported previously on the increasing alarm caused by New York City’s future skyline and its growing army of skyscrapers-to-be, with community groups expressing deep concern about the shadows cast across the city’s parks by the tall towers. The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has been leading the pack when it comes to thorough analysis of the issue, which they see as having its roots not only in the sheer height of the new buildings but in a lack of regulation of how and where they rise in the larger context of the city. This “accidental skyline” effect reflects the fact that New York City currently has no restrictions on the shadows a tower may cast–the city doesn’t limit height, it only regulates FAR (floor area ratio). At this week’s MAS Summit for New York City, the organization released its third Accidental Skyline report, calling for immediate reform in light of an unprecedented boom in as-of-right–and seemingly out-of-scale–development. MAS president Elizabeth Goldstein said, “New York doesn’t have to settle for an ‘accidental skyline.’”
In mid-20th century America–particularly in New York City–a roaring economy emboldened by our ascendant international stature filled many a scholar of public infrastructure with eagerness to execute grand ideas. This proposal to drain the East River to alleviate traffic congestion, for example.
Another ambitious but unrealized plan–one that would make it a lot easier to get to New Jersey–was championed in 1934 by one Norman Sper, “noted publicist and engineering scholar,” as detailed in Modern Mechanix magazine. In order to address New York City’s traffic and housing problems, Sper proposed that if we were to “plug up the Hudson river at both ends of Manhattan,” and dam and fill the resulting space, the ten square miles gained would provide land to build thousands of additional buildings, as well as to add streets and twice the number of avenues to alleviate an increasingly menacing gridlock.
As of 8 a.m. Sunday morning, the old, traffic-snarling Kosciuszko Bridge is no more. The decaying bridge, which was officially closed in April when the eastbound span of its replacement opened, crumbled and fell to the ground in a matter of minutes in a process known as “energetic felling, the city’s first ever implosion of a major bridge using explosives.
Out with the old: The new Kosciuszko Bridge in the foreground, with the old bridge behind it. Image: Wikimedia commons.
The long-delayed demolition of two old sections of the Kosciuszko Bridge has been scheduled for this Sunday, October 1, according to AM New York. The demolition will herald the first stage of the $825 million construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge. The first section of the new bridge was opened to eastbound and westbound traffic in April. The implosion of the 78-year-old bridge–still subject to change depending on weather conditions–has been scheduled for 8 a.m. according to Councilman Stephen Levin’s office.
Over the past two decades, the Jersey City waterfront has seen a huge boom in both residential and commercial development, revealing an entirely new skyline of tall, glassy towers. And now real estate investor Mack-Cali wants to embrace this waterfront location in the way that new large-scale developments are doing in Manhattan (Waterline Square) and Brooklyn (Domino Sugar Factory). The firm’s $75 million plan will piggyback on next month’s opening of a new New York Waterway ferry station there and transform the waterfront promenade in front of their 4.3 million-square-foot Harborside office complex into a “one-of-a-kind cultural district” that will include a beer garden, European-style food hall known as The Marketplace, and the Harborside Atrium, an interconnected series of pedestrian routes and lobbies throughout the buildings that will also serve as cultural event space.
Rendering via DFA
Local creative studio DFA is proposing a 712-foot public observation tower in Central Park that would double as a sustainable filtration system to clean the decommissioned and hazardous Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and turn it into a non-toxic, useable freshwater pond. The firm says their idea is “in response to [the] growing demand for public bird’s eye views in the world’s tallest cities and an increasing need for innovative environmental cleanup strategies.” Though meant to be temporary, the prefabricated tower would be the world’s tallest timber structure if completed, featuring a 56-foot-wide viewing platform and a glass oculus that showcases the tower’s functional elements.
Photo: Pier 55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio.
Barry Diller, the billionaire chairman of IAC, announced he’s killing the $250 million project that promised to bring a futuristic offshore park and cultural site to the Hudson River’s dilapidated Pier 54. 6sqft previously covered the unfolding saga of the ill-fated project, known as Pier 55 (or sometimes as “Diller Park”), as opposing factions continually blocked its progress and were eventually revealed to be funded by prominent New York real estate developer Douglas Durst. According to the New York Times, Diller said Wednesday that his commitment to build the undulating pier would be coming to an end—an inglorious one for a bold plan that some, and certainly Diller himself, saw as a new Manhattan waterfront icon to rival the nearby High Line.
If you love architecture and urban design from historic to contemporary, there has never been a better time to join Open House New York for a rare weekend of access to typically off limits sites. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, this year’s OHNY will take place on Saturday, October 14 and Sunday, October 15, opening up more than 200 buildings and projects across the five boroughs for tours and talks with architects, urban planners, preservationists, and city leaders. OHNY has just released a sneak preview of the program, which includes a tour of SHoP Architects’ American Copper Buildings and their iconic skybridge, a peek inside the artifacts and archival gems at the New York Transit Museum Archives, the Bridge at Cornell Tech at the university’s new Roosevelt Island Campus, and the new global headquarters of West Elm.
Rendering: Only If + One Architecture
Back in June, the Regional Plan Association (RPA), an urban research and advocacy organization, in conjunction with the Rockefeller Foundation, announced a design competition asking for proposals that would transform various areas of the New York metropolitan region. One of the four ideas chosen to receive $45,000 was a transportation alternative that would serve the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. As 6sqft reported, the proposal, developed by New York-based firm Only If along with Netherlands-based firm One Architecture, focuses on using a light rail to move passengers between the outer boroughs to alleviate some of the overcrowding that has plagued the current subway system with delays. On August 4, the organizations held an event at Fort Tilden to mark the opening of a public presentation of the selected proposals. “4C: Four Corridors: Foreseeing the Region of the Future” spotlighted this plan to strengthen the Triboro Corridor, a plan to address the future of the suburbs, and more.
As a way to promote inter-religious coexistence and cultural exchange, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and Buro Koray Duman Architects have collaborated to create a design proposal for an Islamic cultural center, the first Muslim-sponsored multi-faith community center in New York City. According to ArchDaily, the design for the center, called Cordoba House, is based on the historic “Kulliye,” an Ottoman Islamic center, and features a vertical landscape design. It will stretch 100,000 square feet and include recreation, culinary, art, retail and administrative spaces.