It’s a good time of year to take a look back. Below is a sampling of what I think are some of the more interesting posts on Polis. They tend to be the longer, more in-depth pieces. Of course there are plenty of pretty pictures on Polis, but you can always see those simply by scrolling through. Here are abridged posts from 2006 with links to the full items.
The Times has yet another piece about Columbia University’s plans to expand its campus in West Harlem in an area otherwise known as Manhattanville. The struggle to develop a massive 17-acre campus, designed by Renzo Piano, promises to become another Atlantic Yards shootout, or perhaps even worse, given the long standing antipathy between Columbia and Harlem. … it’s safe to say that Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger could open up his own veins and bleed on the streets, and it wouldn’t be enough for some residents of Harlem. Click here to read the entire post.
I don’t think I’ve ever been as genuinely excited about — and even felt a certain ownership of — a new building the way I am anticipating the New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery, which is about to top out and is projected to be finished in late 2007. Click here to read the entire post.
The Brooklyn Papers is reporting (via Curbed) that the planners of Brooklyn Bridge Park have nixed the idea of trolley cars before they’ve even spent $1 million to investigate ways to provide access to the waterfront, which is very isolated. … it seems the geniuses at Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Development Corporation — caving to pressure from NIMBYs in Brooklyn Hts. who don’t want “outsiders” tramping through their precious neighborhood via trolley car — say at best, there would be a trolley-like jitney bus. Click here to read the entire post.
Last night, while attending a presentation by New York architect Thomas Phifer regarding his design for the North Carolina Museum of Art, I struck up a conversation with a couple of people about how far behind the United States is when it comes to public space, urban design and contemporary architecture. Click here to read the entire post.
After decades of neglect, New York is suddenly in love with its monumental transportation hubs, even if all the grand architectural gestures in the offing won’t do much on the most basic level: make more people’s commutes easier. Today’s installment of breathtaking inanity (the new irrational exuberance) takes note of three facets of this latest craze. Click here to read the entire post.
The occasion of Katrina’s one year anniversary has naturally precipitated a lot of documentary activity, from Spike Lee’s HBO special “When the Levees Broke,” to architectural photographer Robert Polidori’s show at The Met, which I went to see recently (as well as Ecotopia at the International Center for Photography, which I’ll get to in a minute). Click here for the entire post.
One of the first posts I had on Polis was about a demonstration project last summer in Queens, where solar powered trash compactors were installed on street corners, which simultaneously prevents the above from happening and contains the smell (and on a day when it is going to be 99 degrees, this is no small matter). Click here for the entire post.
A year ago, I reported on the largest green roof in New York City being installed on top of Silvercup Studios in Long Island City near the Queensboro Bridge. Silvercup is the largest film and television studio in New York, where Sex and the City was filmed and the Sopranos still is. I was out there this afternoon and snapped a couple of pics. While green roofs are big in Chicago, they are pretty rare in New York and most other American cities. Click here to read the entire post.
It has become the contrarian fashion to say that Jane Jacobs’ contribution to urban planning didn’t address many of the problems we grapple with today, and that Robert Moses wasn’t entirely destructive and wrong. I find this to be an intellectually lazy argument. No single person could simultaneously explode an entire profession AND anticipate every possible consequence of that (such as gentrification, which did not exist at the time that she wrote her seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in 1961). Click here to read the entire post.
I happened to be in the [Columbia] architecture library yesterday and spotted Stephen Cassell who, along with Adam Yarinsky, are the founders of ARO, one of my favorite architecture firms. It seems the firm will be undertaking the Avery Hall rehab. They are not starchitects but smarchitects, intent on — hold on to your socks now — designing buildings while keeping in mind 1. the people who will use them, and 2. the surrounding environment. Click here to read the entire post.
The “Freedom Tower” fight has been settled with Larry Silverstein (for now), and we move quickly into the memorial fight. The latest estimate for building the memorial came in at an alarming $1 billion, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg jumped in to say that it should be capped at $500 million. This provided an opportunity for those who have various beefs with the design to use its cost as a wedge; namely, those who think the memorial should be above ground are now saying the design should be radically overhauled. Click here to read the entire post.
I have a piece in today’s Times about the current owners of the Corbin Building — the Collegiate Church — who want to turn this historic Lower Manhattan building into the New Amsterdam Center. Click here to read the entire post.
The Architect’s Newspaper has a comprehensive piece by David Grahame Shane about all the development that’s planned for Queens: “The Department of City Planning’s surgical approach to zoning is stimulating strategic development throughout the borough, promising a series of dynamic urban patches— as well as some awkward seams.” In this article, Shane — who teaches urban design at Columbia and Cooper Union — applies the theories he laid out in his book, Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modeling in Architecture, Uban Design, and City Theory, which I interviewed him about when the book was first published in the fall. Here are some excerpts: Click here to read the entire post.
Last week when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made another plea for development proposals for Governor’s Island and revealed Santiago Calatrava’s vision for gondolas linking Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn to the Island, I was tempted to nominate this for another edition of Breathtaking Inanity. But I quickly realized it’s meant to be just a teaser, so I didn’t bother. But today, the Times’ Nicolai Ouroussoff puts the gondolas into an urban planning context that makes this much more worthy of comment. Click here to read the entire post.
I went to the Urban Center (at the Municipal Art Society) to see the New York City Streets Renaissance “exhibit,” an undertaking of The Open Planning Project. … One of the better videos is about Hell’s Kitchen under seige by traffic. But the best video is about how neighborhood activists forced DOT to redesign Canal Park, a triangular plot of land in Tribeca, and rerouted traffic entering the Holland Tunnel. The video really shows how these efforts can be a win-win for everyone: traffic flow is far better, pedestrians are no longer being run down, and the neighborhood gets a lovely park space. Click here to read the entire post.
We think of the last five years as a unique time in the New York real estate market, but in fact, it is a very old story. The Story of New York House was first published in serial form in Scribner’s magazine in 1887. It is a lovely bit of historical fiction (although that term wasn’t yet coined), which begins in 1807 and takes place over several decades. The story, or allegory, is about the inexorable march of development followed by decline and finally transformation. Click here to read the entire post.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!