Preliminary design for Corlears Hook Bridge Landing
The city unveiled last week an updated design for its plan to protect an area stretching from the Lower East Side to East 25th Street from flooding. The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) presented on Thursday its preliminary design for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) to Community Board 3, as Curbed NY reported. In response to concerns from residents about the closure of East River Park during the construction period, the city’s updated design incorporates community suggestions, including a new amphitheater and an outdoor fitness area. See the plan
Yesterday, 6sqft took a closer look at the Department of Design and Construction’s Design Excellence program, a city initiative where high-profile architects design public facilities, and the fact that many of these projects are long delayed and way over budget.
The Rafael Vinoly-designed NYPD station house on Staten Island known as “The Stapler” is perhaps the worst offender: Its original cost was projected as $3 million, but when it opened in 2013 this rose to a whopping $73 million. Another station house, this one for the 40th Precinct in the Bronx, was designed by of-the-moment architect Bjarke Ingels and will cost around $50 million. On top of these hefty price tags, the architects receive equally hefty fees. Vinoly, for example, was paid $4.5 million for his Stapler design.
The idea that public projects can also be beautifully designed is a great one, but is it worth it to drain taxpayer dollars?
Lead image: Rendering of the now-built 121st Precinct station house by Rafael Vinoly. Poll images: Bjarke Ingels’ design for the 40th Precinct station house (L); Steven Holl’s design for the Queens West Library in Hunters Point (R)
Bjarke Ingels’ design for the NYPD 40th Precinct station house in the Bronx, part of the Design Excellence program
The big news last week was the Port Authority’s decision not to hold an opening ceremony for Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub (followed by their sudden flip flop), citing the fact that it was six years delayed and that final construction costs came in around $4 billion in taxpayer dollars, twice what was projected. Though the Hub has become notorious for these reasons, it’s hardly the only public project to face delays and skyrocketing costs. In fact, it’s not even close to being the worst of the lot that are draining tax payer dollars.
DNAinfo took a look at the Department of Design and Construction’s Design Excellence program, a city initiative where high-profile architects design public facilities. Take for example the NYPD station house on Staten Island known as “The Stapler.” Its original cost was projected as $3 million, but when it opened in 2013 this rose to a whopping $73 million. DDC, ironically, blames the emphasis on design for the problems, as well as a faulty budgeting process (cost estimates are calculated before actual designs are selected).
More details ahead
Employees of the Department of Design and Construction are definitely being kept on their toes this week. After uncovering a hidden vault containing the skeletal remains of at least a dozen people believed to be approximately 200 years old, workers have uncovered a second burial vault, this one filled with wood coffins. Workers tasked with upgrading 19th-century water mains under the park stumbled upon the latest burial ground Wednesday night, a day after their first finding at the corner of Waverly Place and Washington Square Park East.
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It’s pretty well known that Washington Square Park started out as a potters field, a burial ground for the poor, and later as a resting place for those who died from yellow fever. But this has always been something out of the history books. Until now.
Recently, a group of city workers in the process of upgrading water mains under the park came upon a hidden vault containing the skeletal remains of at least a dozen people believed to be approximately 200 years old. According to officials from the Department of Design and Construction, the vault is eight feet deep, 15 feet wide, and 20 feet long. While the exact details are unknown right now, a team of anthropologists and and archaeologists will be requested to evaluate and determine the age of both the remains and the vault.
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If you’ve ever walked or biked across the Manhattan Bridge, or simply tried to make your way past the off-ramp on foot, you know that it can be a heart-thumping jaunt that often requires expert maneuvering to avoid collision. A new design proposed for a triangular section of land beside the Manhattan Bridge along Forsyth Street could bring some much-needed calm to the frenetic energy of this area. Tomorrow, the Department of Design and Construction will present their plan to transform this elevated space into a public green space that’s being likened to the High Line Park.
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