Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Jane Jacobs Way


Much of what is considered “New York” in a very “Greenwich Village” kind of way owes itself to one lady. Jane Jacobs, in her 1961 seminal book “ The Death and Life of Great American Cities” documented the urbanscape of her surrounding neighborhood in Greenwich Village. This book opened up the debate about how we perceived our cities and what urban planners, architects and designers need to consider in preserving and revitalizing neighborhoods.

Jane Jacobs passed away in 2006, however the preservation group GVSHP that she helped found continues her work and mission. They had initiated a proposal to change the name of the street outside her former home at 555 Hudson Street between W 11th and Perry to be renamed as “Jane Jacobs Way”.

The Architects Newspaper in a blog post announced today

In a released statement by the GVSHP, Executive Director Andrew Berman said, “Jane Jacobs had such a profound effect upon our city and our lives; there are few people more worthy of the honor of having a street co-named in their honor.” Approved in 2006 by the local Community Board and the full City Council, the naming will take effect early next week with the installation of the official “Jane Jacobs Way” signs.

Way to go, GVSHP. Am sure Jane Jacobs will be happy with this one !

Happy Birthday, Brooklyn Bridge!

Photo from

Tomorrow marks the 125th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge opening. When it opened in 1883, this monument was the longest suspension bridge in the world and its Gothic towers were the tallest structures in this hemisphere. Today it serves as a celebrated landmark – appreciated by locals and tourists alike.

Whenever I have friends coming into town, I like to take them for a walk across the bridge. The view of the city and the sight of so many people enjoying this monument (joggers, bikers, a wedding party I saw taking pictures there once) serves as a great NYC experience.

Birthday celebrations started last night with fireworks and a Brooklyn Philharmonic concert. The festivities continue throughout the weekend with free movies, lectures and walking tours. For details on this weekend’s Brooklyn Bridge events, click here.

Trump needs to be stopped

I’ve always been a fan of Donald Trump’s devil-may-care attitude, lies about his bald head, several failed marriages and 2 successful television seasons of a reality show. What I’m not fond of are the ugly monstrosities that Trump shoots up within a few months’ time and then calls them buildings.

What I’m especially not fond of are the buildings he puts up that destroy everything in its path. During my brief stint with the U.N. I knew a lot of colleagues that were upset about the ugly tall tower that sits right besides the Secretariat. He’s also run Conan O’Brien out of his own apartment by stealing its view. And the latest chronicle in his assault on the New York City skyline involves the death of a construction worker, tweaking city zoning guidelines and a lot of overall b.s.

I’m not sure where there’s a form available to have Trump stop, but someone needs to take charge of this campaign.

Inside the Future

Photo from

I went to an open source event at 7 World Trade Center in the Financial District. This building is kind of incredible. It feels like the future! We walked into a lobby filled with an odd blue light, which must give the many security guards headaches. Actually, maybe that’s why they were all wearing sunglasses that made them resemble Matrix agents.

After we signed in, we went through a dizzying marble maze to the elevators. The place looked more like a museum than an office building. In the elevator lobby, shelves on the marble walls held iron sculptures. The buttons to call the elevators aren’t for up and down. There’s a button for every floor. One you’ve chosen your floor, some kind of an algorithim figures out which elevator is best for you to take. Then you get into the elevator and there are no floor buttons. A female voice greets you and the elevator opens at the floors selected.

The office hosting the meeting was also pretty amazing. There was a lovely lounge with all sorts of odd-shaped couches and chairs. The conference room we met up in had a wall of glass with a spectacular view. The whole place seemed to be the perfect setting for some futuristic sci-fi flick.

2nd Avenue Theater

googlemaps_eastviltheater.jpgTwo weeks ago, I got to see the sneak preview of The Kingdom, which if you have not seen it yet, GO NOW! The movie was awesome.

Anyway, I saw it at City Cinemas Village East theater on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 12th Street. I had been to the smaller theaters here in the basement, but because this was a big blockbuster (unlike their usual independent and art house films), they had this one in the main theater. This place was INCREDIBLE!

It was large and rotund, with stadium seating and lots of artwork all over. There was a vestige from a balcony box, and an orchestra pit that has been turned into more seating. At the top of the theater, there was a beautiful artistic dome, with ornate paintings and carvings, and incredibly in-depth art work. I noticed a number of Stars of David throughout the theater, so I am assuming, based also on the location, that this must have formally been a Yiddish theater, and has since been converted.

Does anyone know about the origins of this awesome movie house?

Helvetica: The Movie

Helvetica celebrates the 50th anniversary of this most ubiquitous typeface. From urban spaces to emails, Helvetica presides over our everyday and cultural landscapes, and still elicits strong reactions from designers. According to the Sept. 12 New York Times, “The film’s provocative, lively interviews with graphic designers and theorists . . . assess Helvetica’s impact on human life and thought.. . . you’re guaranteed to spend the next few days scanning the world for Helvetica like a child on a cross-country car trip playing I Spy.”

A free screening of the new documentary film, Helvetica, will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 25 in Memorial Hall on Pratt’s Brooklyn campus, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Director Gary Hustwit will introduce and take questions after the film.

Date:Tuesday, Sept. 25

Venue: Memorial Hall, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn

Time: 6:00 -8:00 p.m.

The 80-minute film features interviews with, among others, Massimo Vignelli, Matthew Carter, Erik Spiekermann, Hermann Zapf, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Beirut, Paula Scher, Jonathan Barnbrook, David Carson, Leslie Savan, David Carson, Rick Poynor, and Jonathan Hoefler.

Domino factory issue; trees have stopped growing in Brooklyn


The Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn has stopped functioning for a year or so. And just today my sister noted that there was a big ol’ sign plastered across the building with “Save Domino” on it. . . Without knowing the detailed background, I said “sugar factories aren’t exactly the most beloved of institutions.” But when I realized that they were protesting the $1.3 billion housing project; it was clearer why they were unhappy.

At this point though, I ask, is there any way the gentrification can be stopped? I’m all for the protesting and putting up a good fight. But after what’s happening on all fronts in Brooklyn and Harlem and the Lower East Side; New York City seems to be on the verge of eliminating poverty through exclusivity.

Gentrification, real estate, and increasing the gap between the have and have nots just seems like a life in the day of NYC’s neighborhoods. I just passed by another previously abandoned building that will soon be home to the East Houston street hotel.

Did You Know? from MetroBlogging

MB_didyouknow-thumb.jpgEver notice those 5-foot tall compressed nitrogen tanks on the streets around the city? With all of the crazy stuff going on in the world these days, and with New York a perennial target of people who want to do us harm, the sight of an oblong, shiny metal cannister will always produce concern among the citizenry. But, though ominous-looking, the are actually quite necessary.

The various utility companies place these tanks above ground and run lines down into the infrastructure for a number of reasons. The most common use is to pressurize pipes, lines, and wires. Below NYC is a maze of water, sewage, heat, cold, and other elements, and pressurizing these delivery systems helps to keep the lines safe from the elements.

New York of Yesteryear: Volume 1

74644_18924_cf76faade6_p.jpgAs a child, as my parents would drive me up and down the FDR, I was always fascinated with a mysterious castle-like building that stood at the southern foot of Roosevelt Island, a few yards from the water’s edge. Against the industrial backdrop of coastal Queens, the abandoned structure always looked mystifying, with it’s Gothic look and magnificent masonry. Recently, I was bored at home so I randomly decided to do some research and find out the history of this out-of-place ruin.

As it turns out, this spooky, dark building is actually a former hospital! The Renwick Smallpox Hospital operated from 1856 through 1886 as a quarantine and treatment facility for all local cases of the highly contagious disease. Once the hospital closed, it operated for another 65 years or so as a nurse’s quarters. The building may look familiar, as it’s architect and namesake, James Renwick, also designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Now abandoned for fifty years, the Renwick Hospital stands as New York City’s only landmarked ruin.

Further Reading:
Roosevelt Island
Google Maps
Short YouTube Video
Photos 1
Photos 2

[Image courtesy JPG Magazine]

Bank of America at One Bryant Park Tops Out

Today was the topping out ceremony of the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. Nearly 4 years and 3 months after our office Cook+Fox Architects started working on the project, the last structural beam has been put in place. There is a 300′ mast that will go on top of the building in the coming months. However all the structural steel for the floors is in place.

Here are some pictures from the event.


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