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A Bright Future for Willets Point – Redevelopment on an Environmentally Marred Peninsula

The New York Economic Development Corporation and Mayor Bloomberg of NYC announced the completion of the final plan for Willets Point – a peninsula on the Flushing River in Northern Queens, . The development of Willets Point is part of the urban renewal project associated with Citi Field – the Mets’ new stadium. Nicknamed the Iron Triangle, the project will include housing for mixed incomes, retail and entertainment amenities, a hotel, a convention center, office space, parks and open space, and a new public school, all of which falls under the umbrella of LEED-certified buildings and infrastructure. As with every redevelopment plan, there are positives and negatives to restructuring the community.

Read on for more after the break.

The Willets Point Redevelopment Plan is a ten- to fifteen- year commitment to the regeneration of this district. There are many environmental concerns associated with this land. Historically, the 60-acre peninsula was used as an ash dump. It accumulated approximately 100 railroad car loads of ash per day. Since, it has also been contaminated by petroleum, paint, cleaning solvents and automotive fluids. A high water table exacerbates the environmental hazards, threatening to spread into other bodies of water. It also lies within the 100-year flood plain which requires that the grade be elevated significantly. In addition, storm water and sanitary infrastructure is lacking. Its neighbor, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was marred by the same kind of environmental damage, but was restored in the early 20th century in preparation for the 1938 World’s Fair. Now officials believe it is time for Willets Point to follow suit.

Willets Point is valuable due to its geographic location. It has the potential to become a hub for a variety of activities from entertainment, residential use, outdoor recreation, and commercial and retail use. It is regionally well connected to the subway towards Manhattan, to the LIRR towards Long Island, the highways and airports. It is already well positioned in proximity to other popular destinations such as Flushing, Corona Park, the National Tennis Center, Shea Stadium and Citi Field. The benefits are tangible – the plan promises 25,000 “person-years of construction employment”, 5,000 permanent jobs, 1,000 indirect jobs that come from the convention center, mixed-income housing, a new diverse community and hub, an estimated 30-year fiscal impact of $4.2 billion dollars, and the rebuilding of environmental infrastructure throughout the peninsula, in addition to a LEED buildings.

Despite its advantages, there are challenges to the city’s plans. According to Smriti Rao’s article in DNAinfo on New York Neighborhoods, residents and local businesses in the area are reluctant to relinquish their properties to eminent domain. It is a legitimate claim to private property but is often pushed aside for development such as these. However, Bloomberg ensures that 95 percent of the property has been or is being acquired. Is there no way that the future plans could be incorporated into the already existing architecture and infrastructure that the community there has established? It is frequent tug-of-war between the two. As the project goes out to bid, we will be able to see if and how the redevelopment unfolds and changes the district for the better.

via DNAinfo, “Mayor Unveil Massive Willets Point Redevelopment Plan” by Smriti Rao
via NYC EDCWillets Point Redevelopment Plan

Willets Point Redevelopment Plan (1) © NYC EDC
Willets Point Redevelopment Plan (2) © NYC EDC
Willets Point Redevelopment Plan (3) © NYC EDC
Willets Point Redevelopment Plan (4) © NYC EDC
Willets Point Redevelopment Plan (5) © NYC EDC

Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) / TARQUITECTOS

The Green Carceri, designed by TARQUITECTOS, arises as a natural extension of the High Line Park, connecting himself with the High Line and flying over the river, thus enabling a continuation of the public space underneath with the neighborhood to the height of the street and the docks. Winding around a series of vertical communication cores, the building allows both internal transit users and visitors to descend to the level of the street without having to enter the building. More images and architects’ description after the break.

We understand that the High Line Park can be considered as a real plant structure in the city, that with its consolidation has branched out and created new shoots and buds at their ends in the form of building program and public space. The Green Carceri would be one of these buds or branches, which are able to maintain the configuration of the branch that develops original but particularly adapted to a given functional and programmatic needs. The mixed program of the building includes a botanical research center, a library and a residential area, inserting a suspended mass of vegetation in an urban green space of significant size.

The proposed building, like the High Line and the orthogonal of the city, is essentially linear, although this linearity revolves around a cloistered space that is reached by going through what we like to call reconstructed labyrinth that protects users from the noise of the city. The building extrudes the original High line to suit programmatic requirements that arise for the new construction with complex and varied requirements ranging from lecture halls, libraries, laboratories, meeting rooms, canteens, city farms, and housing.

All the roof of the linear structure has been landscaped just as the High Line itself, allowing New Yorkers free access for the same, continuing the existing public space. The ramps that connect each o the levels, contains greenhouses that are used as a neighborhood farms, where botanist can meet the neighbors and teach them how to maintain and organize their crops.

The building has been thought to first reduce energy consumption, and then produce energy for its use. To reduce the building’s green roof allows for better insulation, and water collection. The water collected is stored and used for watering the plants, and for the cooling of the mechanical systems. The shape of the building allows for cross ventilation to cool the building during the summer. As a way of sun control, we devised a system of “brise soleil” that are painted with Thermochromic paint, that changes color depending on the heat applied. These allows the building to auto-regulate the radiation it receives by changing color.

To produce some of the energy used in the building, we have used new concepts, that great designers are starting to apply. In other cases we have used methods that have been around for decades.The wind in Manhattan and the proximity to the river gives us the opportunity to use Magenn power’s great balloon generators, Humdinger’s cables as a façade, or Windtronics by Honeywell to produce electricity. During the summer months UGE’s solar panels help power some of the mechanical systems. As a source of heat and natural gas, we have used Jean Pain’s compost methods, and integrated them on to our roofs landscape.

Architect: TARQUITECTOS

Location: 11TH Ave, W 18th Street, City, , United States

Consultants: Raul Rodriguez, Alfredo Lafuente, Guzman de Yarza, Marta Respaldiza

Program: Botanical institute, city farms, housing, restaurant, exhibition hall, auditorium

Area: Approximately 10,000 m2

Competition Year: 2012

Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (1) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (2) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (3) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (4) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (5) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (6) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (7) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (8) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (9) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (10) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (11) Courtesy of TARQUITECTOS
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (12) competition board 01
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (13) competition board 02
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (14) competition board 03
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (15) competition board 04
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (16) competition board 05
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (17) competition board 06
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (18) competition board 07
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (19) competition board 08
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (20) competition board 09
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (21) competition board 10
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (22) competition board 11
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (23) competition board 12
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (24) competition board 13
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (25) competition board 14
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (26) competition board 15
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (27) competition board 16
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (28) competition board 17
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (29) competition board 18
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (30) competition board 19
Green Carceri (Highline 4.0) (31) competition board 20

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge / Santiago Calatrava

© Alan Karchmer

Architects: Santiago Calatrava
Location: Dallas, USA
Completion: 2012
Lenght of Bridge: 367,6 m (1,206 ft)
Height of Pylon: 136 m (446 ft)
Photographs: Alan Karchmer

© Alan Karchmer

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is a very special project for me. Not only is it a signature component of the City of Dallas’ urban revitalization efforts, but it is also the first vehicular bridge I have built in the United States.

After I was commissioned to design the bridge, I toured Dallas and noticed that the Trinity River basin was littered with industrial buildings, electrical lines and proposed new toll roads. I saw this as a lost opportunity for the City, since the river basin had the potential to be of defining importance to Dallas’ future development. The image below of my initial Master plan model dates to my first involvement with the City’s rejuvenation project in 1999. My concept of linking the City’s two river banks by a series of dramatic bridges and boardwalks across a flooded lakeside environment, sought to revitalize this under-used resource in the heart of the city, and create a recreational facility as important to Dallas as Central Park is to City.

© Alan Karchmer

The opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge marks a mighty leap towards realizing this goal. The bridge is an aesthetically stunning structure that serves as a new icon for the city’s skyline. Since the arched pylon rose out of the ground in 2010, the bridge has become a landmark for Dallas. The symbolic nature of the bridge focuses attention onto the river and its environs, and will act to spur further development of the basin. The large clear span bridge will stand center-stage reflected in the man-made lake of the flooded river basin below.

© Alan Karchmer

The bridge is a “cable stayed” typology, reinvented by introducing an arched pylon from which cables are dynamically arrayed to support the steel framed highway deck below. The Arch is constructed from precision-engineered steel tube sections stacked one on top of the other and welded in place.

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is the first of a series of bridges designed by my office to span the Trinity River in downtown Dallas, Texas. Work continues on the design of a new sister bridge further along the Basin as part of the scheme for replacement of the Interstate Highway (IH) 30.

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge © Alan Karchmer

The Life of Gerhard Kallmann

At 97 years of age, the architect Gerhard Kallmann passed away on Tuesday in Boston.  Kallmann’s career was ignited with the design of Boston City Hall, a neo-brutalist building that received mixed feelings of criticism and praise upon its completion.  After escaping Nazi Germany in 1937, Kallmann studied at the Architectural Association in London before moving to the and teaching in Chicago and .  It was in Columbia University where Kallmann met Michael McKinnell and the two would grow to co-found Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles in 1962 – the same year they won the competition for City Hall.

More about Kallmann after the break.

In the 1960s, Boston was undergoing a revitalization effort to bring life to the city’s downtown area.  As we have shared in our AD Classics section, the City Hall’s presence is marked by an articulated massive concrete facade set beyond a large urban plaza intended to establish a relationship between the government and the public.  “Any significant building makes demands so that it cannot be taken for granted; it should be a challenge,” Kallmann told The Boston Globe in 1991.

When the building opened, architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable praised the creation, “Boston can celebrate…The city has one of the handsomest buildings around, and thus far, one of the least understood.”

As the years progressed, admiration for the building grew in the architecture realm, while Bostonians despised the foreign aesthetic.  In fact, in 1976, Boston City Hall tied for seventh with Trinity Church for the AIA’s best buildings in US history.  However, only six years ago, Mayor Thomas M. Menino proposed selling the building and relocating the city government to a waterfront parcel.

We admire Kallmann’s confidence in his vision as he responded on the 50th anniversary of the building’s competition, “It had to be awesome, not just pleasant and slick,” he told The Boston Globe. Great buildings, he said, should “remind you of ancient memories, history….It’s not a department store. It’s not an office building. Come on.”

Kallmann and his firm’s portfolio also include the  American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, the Boston Five Cent Savings Bank, the gymnasium at Phillips Exeter Academy, the Becton Dickinson corporate campus in New Jersey, and Hauser Hall and Shad Hall at Harvard. “He and his firm really set a very high standard for the architecture they did.  They had a clear vision for what design excellence is, and their buildings all reflected that, so it’s the passing of an era I would say,” said Laura Wernick, president of the Boston Society of Architects.

Sources: The New York Times and The Boston Globe

Governors Island / West 8

© West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

Despite all of the preconceived notions about City being overpopulated, noisy and constantly bustling, there are numerous pockets within the five boroughs that offer respite from the city. This design strives to be one such pocket – or island. Governors Island has a long military history that dates back to 1776. It was controlled by the U.S. Government first for the U.S. Army and later for the Coast Guard. In 2002 the island was “sold” to the people of and declared a national monument. In 2010, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson agreed on the future operations, planning and redevelopment of the island through the Trust for Governors Island. Since then, the island has been open during the summer months for visitors to enjoy the unique seclusion offered by the the old military grounds. But the Trust had bigger plans. Choosing a team of architects, urban planners, designers and landscape architects that include Rogers Marvel Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mathews Nielsen and led by West 8, plans began to unfold that would reimagine the island as a getaway for New Yorkers. Playing up to its isolation, its abundance of lawns and trees, and the views that it offers, the first phase of the plans have officially broken ground and are scheduled for completion in Fall 2013.

Check out what’s in store for Governors Island after the break.

© West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

The design and plan for Governors Island is a balance between creating new environments for New Yorkers through the island’s natural landscape and location, and reinforcing the conditions under which the island has been used over the past several years. For several summers, Governors Island has been accessible to visitors with its huge lawns, bike paths, old red brick institutional buildings, occasional art shows and concerts. The development strategy is not to take any of these things away, but to organize them through sustainable solutions, new ideas gathered from New Yorkers, and a transformation of the topography in a way that creates new vertical conditions along the southern portion of the island.

© West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

To address these basic design principles of levels of landscape architecture, engineering, architecture, and operations and maintenance, the team looked at these aspects to organize the planning of the project: program, topography, views, circulation, paving, edging, furnishings, planting and park buildings. When facing the existing conditions of the island, the team looked at the organizing principles of the site. The public buildings, along with the ferry landing, are clustered to the north of the island with additional buildings around its perimeter leaving an open lawn in the center. Within this void, the topography is planned, laid out in swooping paths, carving out hills that form a new topography. Circulation paths and paving fit between the green and planted spaces creating a lush and accessible park. The scale of the paths are suited for their uses and change dimension for the anticipated traffic from pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists. Such changes in scale also ensure that some paths will be more intimate while others can become points of gathering.

© West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

Overlaid on this framework is a variety of programs inspired by New Yorkers’ suggestions and inherent properties of the island. Fields, bike paths, open lawns for spontaneous activities, a kayak launch, access to the water, festivals, fountains and shore side access for many passive activities such as bird watching and yoga, all with accessible views of New York City and New Jersey are just some of activities and programs planned for in the design. It is just as important to program the spaces as it is to allow the spaces to develop organically and flexibly over time. Part of the design keeps 20 acres of lawn free, as these spaces are most flexible for a variety of uses. The rolling topography of some of these lawns will become custom play areas that include monkey bars, slides, climbing areas, hammocks and swings for children and adults. The grounds are crisscrossed with a different bike routes and offer free bike rentals to visitors. Areas are designated throughout the park for art installations, sculptures and site-specific work that will change over time. Water access points will be introduced, allowing visitors to walk out over the water, access water taxis and the ferries, and use the kayak launches.

© West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

The principle behind altering the typology is driven by function and program. Grading the ground of Governors Island provides adequate drainage for the site, while also creating vistas of the surrounding city and creating isolated and intimate moments within the rolling hill of the landscape. The changes in elevation also adds variation to the scale of the spaces; the hills become dividers between areas around the lawn. Such measures also extend to the overlooks and promenades within the park. These areas are designed to be elevated seven feet above grade. This creates broader views of the harbor, creates a topology that creates areas for seating and separates biking and active paths from passive activities, and raises tree roots above the future flood elevation line, ensuring decades of growth. This strategy will vary throughout different locations along the island. In some areas, the current grade elevation and the trees along it will be preserved. In other areas, where the grade will be raised, a wetland will be developed below.

© West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

The foundation of the park – the plants and trees that will inhabit the island – are organized according to five planting strategies: using native plants of different plant communities that thrive and create habitats throughout the four seasons, plant to micro-climatic conditions, collect and reuse stormwater and gray water, plant more under the best soil conditions, and use the shading of the plants to organize activities in the park. The intention is also to create biodiversity through a range of habitats in order to attract native animals, birds, insects and fish to the site.

© West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

Three main buildings are also planned for the site to serve the needs of the visitors. Soissons Ferry Pavilion is located towards the north shore of the island where the ferry lands out of Manhattan. It will serve as an indoor waiting area for the ferry. The Shell, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will be located on the promenade and will have a sheltered space for sitting, dining, and relaxing in the shade along the water. Yankee Landing will be the arrival point from Brooklyn at the eastern end of the island. Designed by Rogers Marvel Architects, the two structures are a sheltered space for waiting, information and bicycle pickup.

Be sure to check out The Way It Works, a pdf organized by govislandpark.com to give an in-depth look at the design strategies and intentions of the design team. Click here for a detailed look at the areas that are part of the plan.

© West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

Governors Island / West 8 (1) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +
Governors Island / West 8 (2) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +
Governors Island / West 8 (3) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +
Governors Island / West 8 (4) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +
Governors Island / West 8 (5) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +
Governors Island / West 8 (6) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +
Governors Island / West 8 (7) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +
Governors Island / West 8 (8) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +
Governors Island / West 8 (9) © West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +