Google Maps adds Streetviews...go check it out. Amazing!


Loisaida Street Festival: Memorial Day Weekend

I've been taking our dog over to Tompkins Square Park these days. Walking down E 6th St on the way there, I grabbed Jon's shoulder, "There's a pony."

pony ride.jpg

He thought I was crazy, but it turns out that I did see a pony.

close up pony.jpg

And it was part of the Loisaida Street Festival. It seemed to be filled with local flavor, very East Village-y, and not at all lot the loads of other festivals in NYC that are run by the same street festival company with the requisite knee-high sock vendors and fried oreos.


hispanic food.jpg

girls at festival.jpg

big chair photo.jpg

exchanging info.jpg

ecuador jersey.jpg
Jon gets into the festival mood - love that design.

There are a few more photos in the flickr set.


Diller Scofidio and the High Line

D+S IAC lecture

Last night I attended the Diller+Scofidio lecture about the High Line at the new IAC building designed by Frank Gehry.

Image by Matt

On the way in, my architect colleague pointed out the gap between the building base and the walls, and then proceeded to stick his entire foot into the gap. Whoops.

Image by Matt

The lecture was great. I have never heard them speak, but the process that led to their design solutions was actually very clear, and there were many public considerations incorporated into their design. We saw some renderings for the High Line, as well as for Lincoln Center, and I liked the design ideas. I can't wait for the High Line to open, which will be next summer, at least from Gansevoort Street to 23rd.

One idea for Lincoln Center has been implemented at my alma mater, albeit in a much more mild form for the university setting. It is the sloping park over the restaurant...only at Cornell, it is over the campus bookstore - there is grass on top of the bookstore structure, though I don't think the grass is accessible.

The park on the bookstore is interesting, though not quite successful, mostly because you can't see anything that's going on around the campus when you are in the park - and there's nothing up there to keep you up there. From the Diller+Scofidio rendering, it looks like the park will provide views of the pedestrian traffic in the larger Lincoln Center plaza, which will help the park significantly. I can also imagine people buying food from the cafe and taking it up to the park to enjoy.

I'm looking forward to seeing more.


Five Ballerinas in Manhattan

Jonathan Monk is restaging Seven Ballets in Manhattan on its 32nd anniversary, in 2007 it is called Five Ballerinas in Manhattan (pdf).

May 27 - June 2

An interview with the artist, via CreativeTime


Curators Mark Beasley and David Platzker ask Jonathan Monk:

1. To what extent is your project subject to a "built environment"?

Due to the direct development of the city as an ever changing environment, my piece is subject to this movement and I understand that this development cannot be contained. The work is only altered by external forces.

2. Is your project at all a reaction to work that has come before it? (i.e.: historical interventions in public places)

It is a direct reaction to the ‘Seven Ballets for Manhattan’ piece by Daniel Buren.

3. In terms of audience do you see your work as either 1:1 or 1 to infinite? Or, possibly both?

The audience for my piece is infinite within the context of a New York City street, although whether the audience understands what they are seeing whilst it is being seen is another matter. It will no doubt only be understood as an artwork by very few.

4. Is there an attempt to compete with the city or as a competing spectacle within a city?

I am quite sure it is impossible for the piece to compete with the city. The work will be so unspectacular it will perhaps disappear.

5. Similarly, how does the city frame your project?

The city becomes a stage set for an almost invisible intervention.

6. What's specific about this project in this place - NYC?

The specific context of NYC functions only within the framework provided by Daniel Buren. It would also be possible for the piece to be made somewhere else. This would change the meaning slightly and it would become another piece.


Sunday, May 27, 2-4pm: CHINATOWN beginning at Walker and Centre Streets
Monday, May 28, 2-4pm: EAST VILLAGE beginning near 8th Street and 3rd Avenue
Tuesday, May 29, 2-4pm: GREENWICH VILLAGE beginning near West Houston Street and 6th Avenue
Wednesday, May 30, 11am-12pm and 9-10pm: TIMES SQUARE beginning near 42nd Street and 7th Avenue
Thursday, May 31, 1-4pm: SOHO beginning at 420 West Broadway
Friday, June 1, 2-3pm: CENTRAL PARK beginning near Rockefeller Center @ 5th Ave and 50th Street
Saturday, June 2, 12-2pm: WALL STREET beginning near Greenwich and Fulton Street


The Wrong Store

Shopping is everything, is it?

It's about time

Green Taxis! Hurray.

Mass Transit

Interesting slide show of the latest innovations. The one that doesn't really say "mass" transit to me is the personal rapid transit prototype.

Architects play with public space

Atelier Bow-Wow, a small firm based in Japan, has built its practice on playing with public space and has created some very innovative spaces, inside and out.

via Architect


Another example of better scaffolding

Better scaffolding

This scaffolding is on 6th Avenue, in the Fifties. I had seen the guys whitewashing the boards when it was first built, but late one evening, I noticed the lighting that was also installed. It's just plain fluorescent lighting, but is much better than the construction light bulbs that are usually put up underneath. It's actually not bad for scaffolding. Also, the posts are placed in a way that doesn't obstruct pedestrian traffic.

Better scaffolding up close

Around Midtown

Well-used uncomfortable seating

This seating is brutal on a cold, wet day, and went unused for most of the winter, but on a sunny day in the middle of the afternoon (and no other seating in sight) these marble stools in Midtown got a lot of traffic.


Blogs of Note

I never thought BttN was going to be up here!


Good streets summary

Josh Jackson of Built Environment Blog has a great article in this month's GOOD Magazine about alternative ways to manage our streets so that they move people, not just cars. Most of the prevailing theories are summarized right here, in decongestion.

Cheerleader for Brooklyn

I love this profile on the newly appointed executive director of the Brooklyn Public Libraries, Dionne Mack-Harvin.

"She views the library as a vibrant community center, not a book vault..."


Spotted around town

I noticed that more construction projects have "cleaned up" scaffolding. It's still not beautiful, but is a lot better. I noticed this particularly on "Bling Bond" (a phrase cribbed from a realtor who is "ultra-excited" about my neighborhood.)


Also in my hood, WaMu, which opened a branch office last year, has decided that it will not put up with sitting anymore. The structure had some benches on the ground floor, which fit well with the root of "bank" being the Italian banco, for bench. Well, you're not allowed to sit anymore.

Latest Economist survey on cities

There's not much new in the latest Economist survey on the world's urbanization effect - except that the moment when the world's population living in cities exceeds 50% is within the next two months - a few years earlier than projections I learned about when I was in grad school a mere five years ago. Acceleration...


Public Space + Sustainability

Design Trust for Public Space releases its latest RFP, due date July 27 2007. The focus is Designining for a Healthy NYC 2030.

Thanks Stephanie!

Good events

A couple of good events this weekend...

Liz Christy Community Garden will be having a fund-raiser in the garden (Houston and Bowery). It's a Hat Party, from 1-4 PM, so come properly attired.

GOOD Magazine is hosting a Garden in Transit kick-off on Mother's Day, May 13, for the public art project that is to take over the city from September through December 2007.

A found green roof

And it's public too! The Elevated Acre

The official site.
A member of the architecture team's flickr set

Lame excuses for not taking care of a park

Gateway National Recreational Area
has received the lowest marks in this year's ranking of national parks.

The general superintendent of the National Parks Service lamely shrugs off the criticism by saying that the park "received run-off from eight million people" and that it should not be surprisng that it's not as beautiful as Yosemite or Yellowstone.

It should be surprising! Parks like Gateway, regardless of the number of natural resources it has, would be a welcome respite for the eight million or so people who live in New York City if it is simply well-managed! So at least he gets this part right:

“Most importantly, the park needs an updated general management plan and resource stewardship plan to guide natural and cultural resource management.”

Van Alen Institute
is holding a competition for a new Gateway (deadline was May 7...)


Same old struggle with new development

Frédéric Borel’s Paris Val-de-Seine Architecture School in an old factory (NYTimes)

People think of Paris as the quintessential pedestrian city, so what happens to the rich urban experience when it attempts a new infill development along the Seine with mixed-use, institutional, mixed-income, and innovative architecture?

This article in the NYTimes outlines some of the typical issues that occur with new developments in the US - only this time. NYC should pay attention, especially as it looks to develop Willets Point in the Bronx, next to Shea Stadium under PlanYC, or perhaps even more appropriately, downtown Brooklyn where a starchitect is leading the charge.

In particular,

like La Défense, the area lacks the street life and sidewalk-level charm for which Paris is loved. At the moment there are few cafes, restaurants or small shops to speak of. “It looks good on paper as a plan, but at an experience level it leads to the same old thing: well done, well detailed, just dry,” said Brendan MacFarlane of Jakob & MacFarlane, which is building a fashion institute inside an old warehouse. “We need something richer on an urban level.”


Arch events

A couple of big events coming up...

...several straight days of architectural discussion May 29 through June 2...sounds kind of heavy but with the dynamic participants, it will probably end up being more fun than heavy.

And a triennial on architecture in Lisbon May 31 through July 31 with a couple of heavy-hitters including Zaha Hadid, Peter Eisenman, Thom Mayne, Mark Wigley, Souto de Moura, Elizabeth Diller, Carrilho da Graça, Felix Claus, Dominique Perrault, Rodolfo Machado, Emilio Tuñón, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Kengo Kuma, Saskia Sassen, Michael Sorkin and Jan Kaplicky, among many others.


BAM , Enrique Norten a No Go

Yes, the arch world is full of chatter this morning about Enrique Norten's design for a building that will house the Brooklyn Public Library in downtown Brooklyn.

Now that we got over the memorable hook "now seems likely to sink, unrealized, into the pavement," did you read through the rest of the NYT article? Namely,

“I always had this crazy vision of Brooklyn being the Left Bank of New York,” [Harvey Lichenstein] added. “It’s not so crazy anymore.”
Will this be a revolving door of potential arts projects? If you throw out enough ideas, maybe one of them will stick.


Updating "Social Life"

The Social Life of Wireless Urban Spaces : new research project


A green building leads to a green corporation?

View of cafe and atrium, from Hearst web site

Over the last month, I have had one tour of the Hearst Tower and I've heard maybe five presentations about it. The company certainly has something to be proud of, building in the heart of New York City, and building green (LEED Platinum Gold, green).

Being a media company, the inevitable next step is to launch a web site "The Daily Green" whose tagline is "the consumer's guide to a green revolution." All of this to further promoting itself as a responsible, sustainable corporation. The articles in the web site are taken from Hearst media properties, naturally. I never thought of the Hearst Corporation as a green company, but its shift in consumer perception is palpable. Did it all start with building green?

Droog Design: Climate Change

The Dutch collective Droog Design is holding a competition on climate change.

Ranging from ideas about food, heating, music, literature, fashion, architecture...anything you like in any form you wish.

Comments on Bloomberg's sustainability plan

I was away when the NYC sustainability plan was announced, and didn't have a good sense of reactions, other than what was reported by the NYT (blocked article) which was mainly lukewarm diplomatic responses from City Council members.

Here are some more reactions from today's Gotham Gazette.