Will Congestion Pricing Live Up to City’s Needs?

Event: Civic Talk: Congestion Pricing
Location: Museum of the City of New York, 01.09.08
Speakers: Walter McCaffrey — Lobbyist, ex-councilmember; Michael O’Loughlin — Director, Campaign for New York’s Future; Anthony Weiner — Congressman, Bronx-Queens; Kathryn S. Wylde — President/CEO, Partnership for NYC
Moderator: Henry J. Stern — President, New York Civic
Organizers: Museum of the City of New York

Event: Congestion Pricing Public Forum
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.14.08
Speakers: Wiley Norvell — Communications Director, Transportation Alternatives; Peter Kostmayer, Hon. AIA — President, Citizens Committee for NYC; Alan J. Gerson — Manhattan District 1 Council member; Walter McCaffrey; Shirley McRae — Member, Brooklyn Community Board 2
Moderator: James Wright, AIA — Co-Chair, AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Organizers: AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Congestion Pricing

Four of the five different congestion pricing plans on the table (l-r): The Mayor’s Plan; The Alternate Congestion Pricing Plan; The East River and Harlem River Toll Plan; and The License Plate Rationing Plan.

Courtesy NYSDOT

With five plans on the table, and a $354 million federal grant at stake, the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission has just until January 31 to decide on the best congestion pricing proposal to recommend to the Governor, State Legislature, City Council, and Mayor for review. Recently, the commission made available its Interim Report to the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission outlining the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. Over the last couple of weeks, a series of discussions, public forums, and events intended to include the public in the process have taken place around the city, and advocates both for and against congestion pricing are not making the commission’s decision easy. To make it more complicated, the commission can recommend any of the plans, a modified version of the plans, or a completely new plan.

Panelists — both for and against congestion pricing — emphasized that congestion mitigation and monetary income to improve mass transit must remain the two highest priorities throughout the decision process. Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO at Partnership for NYC, argued that since only 5% of commuters to NYC come by car, the remaining 95% mass transit riders would benefit, making congestion pricing indispensable. With one million additional inhabitants expected in coming years, something needs to be done, claimed Shirley McRae, Brooklyn Community Board 2 member. According to Michael O’Loughlin, director of the Campaign for New York’s Future, congestion pricing is one way to funnel money into the infrastructure. It’s rare to see so many government officials — from President Bush to Mayor Bloomberg — agree on an initiative, so now clearly is the time to act, urged Wiley Norvell, communications director at Transportation Alternatives.

Much of the skepticism about congestion pricing lies in trusting the government to follow through on its promises. Congressman for the Bronx and Queens Anthony Weiner doesn’t think the city will receive as much money as the government is projecting. With an influx of one million new inhabitants, the already overwhelmed subways will suffer further, stated Walter McCaffrey, lobbyist and ex-councilmember. Also, there is no guarantee that the net increase in funding will end up in mass transit as promised. Instead, congestion pricing could fail just like to the lottery — a government initiative intended to filter money into education, but built-in additional taxes drained that same money out of the system. In addition, Weiner believes congestion pricing will create a larger class divide citywide, in essence making Midtown a gated community. That the 17-person commission was selected by government officials, and the public won’t be able to vote on the issue, only reinforces his theory, he contends.

Many alternatives There are many congestion pricing alternatives to the proposed five plans. To name a few, Weiner suggested reinstating the commuter tax on vehicles commuting from outside of the city. He wants to see larger fees placed on trucks, since he believes they are the root cause of congestion, and create tax incentives for overnight deliveries to ease up truck congestion during rush hour. Also, instead of charging people in the city, he wants to see gas prices raised to “charge people at the pumps.” McCaffrey thinks the city needs to crack down on policies already in place, such as “block-the-box” violations and parking permit forgery. He also blames the construction industry for blocking streets, and would like to include construction-related blockages in the proposals, possibly by limiting hours that deliveries are made. Norvell suggested that carpooling and biking incentives be built in to the plans. As the March deadline nears for the state government to vote on the commission’s suggestions, a narrower vision of congestion pricing should emerge. Just whose interests the plan will aid is yet to be seen.

Growing Up in the Twenties

Event: New York in the Twenties: City of the Future, part of the New York Modern lecture series
Location: The Skyscraper Museum, 01.15.08
Speaker: Carol Willis — Founder, Director, Curator, The Skyscraper Museum
Organizer: The Skyscraper Museum

Hugh Ferriss

“Apartments on Bridges,”1924, by Hugh Ferriss.

©The Metropolis of Tomorrow, 1929, courtesy The Skyscraper Museum

By 1925, NYC had surpassed London as the most populous city in the world, reaching almost 6 million inhabitants in the Manhattan and nearly 10 million in the metropolitan area. Faced with the restrictions of the 1916 zoning law and a growing concern over the ever-increasing crush of people, architects and visionaries such as Hugh Ferriss, Harvey Wiley Corbett, and Raymond Hood sought to re-imagine the city of the future, said Carol Willis, the Skyscraper Museum’s founder, director, and curator. These men abandoned the norms of classical city layouts, choosing instead to concentrate on solving the problems they felt were most pressing: increased congestion and the danger that comes from a growing population and vehicular traffic. Fueled by an obsessive interest in the future, they imagined a city where height replaced density to ease overcrowding.

Towers, elevated highways winding through mega-structures, bridges connecting buildings, and landing pads for airplanes and blimps reformed the city. Visionaries wanted to rationalize the city by separating trains, pedestrians, and vehicles. The skyscraper became the medium by which American architecture moved into a distinctly modern style, moving away from what had become “staid gothic conventions.” It was “an architecture of simple, sculptural forms,” that, by looking into the future, defined the American vision of Modernism, according to Willis. Problems in the city served as the impetus for imagining what the city might be, and what promises its specific architectural needs might hold.

Housing: Aging Baby Boomers Know What They Want; But What Do They Need?

Event: New Issue for Senior Housing: “What Will Baby Boomers Want?”
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.07.08
Speakers: Louise Braverman, AIA, NCARB — Louise Braverman, Architect; Paul Cogley, AICP — Director of Development and Projects, Churches United Corporation; Michael Gelfand, AIA — Partner, MHG Architects; Richard S. Rosen, AIA, LEED AP — Principal, Perkins Eastman
Moderator: Sarelle Weisberg, FAIA — S.T. Weisberg, Architect
Organizer: AIANY Housing Committee

The Baby Boomer generation is a product of Woodstock and marching on Washington. They are more educated than earlier, and they believe they will never age. Baby Boomers want to work longer and are determined to hold onto their independence. Boomers’ reputations are that of wealthy individuals who resist change, believe they are 10 years younger than they are, always seeking personal fulfillment in life. Perhaps that’s why architect and panel moderator Sarelle T. Weisberg, FAIA, defined this group as exponents of “creative denial.”

Architects must address Boomers’ needs when designing for the aging. Boomers want to be a part of the decision-making process when it comes to their living situations. They are not all moving to Florida or Arizona, like previous generations; they want to be close to their families, cultural events, personal resources, and their communities. They want to age in place, in a home they own that does not resemble a hospital.

There are many alternatives to current facilities for the aging. For example, universities are providing housing options so aging populations can mix with students. There is an increase in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC). Co-housing, or lifestyle-driven communities, allows for individuals with specific interests and lifestyles to take care of each other (such as retirement communities for the gay/lesbian population). Senior assisted living communities within major cities may be integrated with mixed-use developments, such as the Time Warner Center and the Chelsea Market, which have the potential to provide a variety of city resources in one location — easily accessible and not removed from society.

The Baby Boomer generation is aging quickly. It is up to designers to create environments where everyone feels as young as they think they are.

Rising Costs Threaten City’s Cultural Melting Pot

Event: Downtown Third Thursday Lecture Series
Location: Broad Street Ballroom, 01.17.08
Speaker: Pete Hamill — Journalist & Author, Downtown: My Manhattan
Organizer: Downtown Alliance

City Hall - Woolworth

A cross section through NYC reveals diversity in buildings and their inhabitants.

Jessica Sheridan

From the height of the Woolworth Building to the detail of City Hall, each block that breaks the street grid represents centuries of architectural evolution that defined downtown NYC. You can take a similar cross section through its populace, revealing assorted origins that make the city unique. So says author Pete Hamill in Downtown: My Manhattan, where he explores how NYC’s nature is born of it combination of classes, cultures, and lifestyles. But he’s afraid the rising cost of living may put this cultural melting pot at risk.

The local culture in NYC developed “because people who were not like each other came up against and learned from each other,” Hamill stated. Older neighborhoods still reflect the cultural complexity that created them — the varied townhouses of the village, overhead banners in Chinatown, the twisting streets of Little Italy. But even these hallmarks of a rich past face encroachment from a profit-driven archetype.

Hamill spoke fondly of his childhood in Brooklyn, and his first view of the Manhattan skyline; however, when asked what he saw as the city’s greatest current challenge he cited rising cost of living. NYC famously attracts and benefits from those struggling toward insurmountable goals — including artists, writers, and actors. Now they are being out-priced and inhibited from moving to the city because of economics. The true cost of surging high-end residential space could be deeper than simply demolition of aged brick façades, claims Hamill. The result could be a resident population narrow in class and cultural variety.

Rent stabilization and stocks of affordable or market rate housing can help to curb the issue. Hamill is reassured knowing that New Yorkers tend always to fix the city’s cultural problems in the long run. In this case, history will repeat itself, one hopes.

A Flickr of the Mouse Opens Up Architectural Realms

With so many social networking sites online, one site continues to be a constant resource for my architectural curiosities. Although photography is the focus of Flickr, I revisit the site not just to upload my personal photographs, but also to engage with its vast, international architectural community.

First, there is a great search engine. If there is a building that interests me, chances are there are photographs of it. The photographs are often snapshots taken by tourists or enthusiasts. Some photographers are professionals, and those images are great of course, but there’s always something unique to an amateur’s eye that gives an honest sense of how one meshes with architecture.

You also end up with numerous architecture-related groups. Some groups are vague (New York City; Architecture), some are lighthearted (Guess Where NYC; Altered Signs), and others are focused (New York Times New Building; Greendrinksnyc). The AIA even has a couple of groups (AIA 150: America’s Favorite Architecture; AIA175). By joining these groups, you receive updates whenever something new is posted. If there are photographs that I particularly like, I can mark them as “Favorites” so I can return to them. I can request to befriend the photographer to receive updates and contact him or her directly — same as other social networking websites.

If you haven’t checked out Flickr, be sure to set aside a few hours to get lost in its archives.

In this issue:
· Team Wins Job to Take Upper Manhattan to River
· Luxury Pad Wins LEED Platinum Certification
· Housing Designed for Art Collectors Includes Spa for Pets
· Designs to Make Motown a Global Architectural Destination
· Meier Completes Tallest Building in Czech Republic Despite Controversy
· The Journey is in the Airport

Team Wins Job to Take Upper Manhattan to River

Take Me To The River

Take Me To The River master plan.

Courtesy Nautilus International Development Consulting

The “Take Me to the River” plan will improve pedestrian access to the Hudson River from West Harlem to Washington Heights, including the Broadway corridor from 135th to 157th Streets and extending west to Riverside Park. The winning team, led by Nautilus International Development Consulting in association with Donna Walcavage Landscape Architecture + Urban Design, was recently announced by Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, the West Harlem Art Fund, and the NY State Department of State’s Division of Coastal Resources. The team will develop a set of recommendations to improve the look and maintenance of paths and sidewalks. It will also create a plan to strengthen the cultural and economic resources of West Harlem and southern Washington Heights. Members of the team also include Eng-Wong, Taub & Associates; H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture; Ernst & Young; Creative Cities; Studio L’Image; Warren Antonio James Architects; Kendal Henry Public Art & Urban Design; and VJ Associates.

Luxury Pad Wins LEED Platinum Certification

The Verdesian

The LEED Platinum Verdesian.

Courtesy The Albanese Organization

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded The Verdesian, a luxury rental tower located at the northern end of Battery Park City, LEED Platinum certification. Completed in 2006, the 27-story building with 252 studio to three-bedroom residences was designed by Pelli Clark Pelli Architects, with SLCE Architects as project architect and Stedila Design for interiors. The building is said to be 40% more energy efficient than required by standard building code. Sustainable elements include continuous internal IAQ monitoring; Merv 12 filters endorsed by the American Lung Association in HVAC units; a high-performance exterior wall system with a vapor and air barrier; and a natural gas-fired micro-turbine and cooling system. The project was developed by The Albanese Organization, which completed the LEED Gold Solaire in 2003, and is currently constructing The Visionaire, a luxury condo also aiming for LEED Platinum (both Pelli Clark Pelli designs).

Housing Designed for Art Collectors Includes Spa for Pets

34 Leonard

34 Leonard.

Courtesy R Squared Real Estate Partners

Marketed as “limited edition” residences, TriBeCa’s 34 Leonard boasts that what sets it apart from other luxury housing is that its layouts were specifically designed to accommodate art collections. Designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the building has a red masonry façade, industrial-scale windows, exposed materials, and flexible spaces. The building contains 16 one- to three-bedroom residences, and a 3,086-square-foot penthouse with a wrap-around terrace. Amenities include a grill and bar/prep area on the roof deck; sunbathing area; and private spa for pets. The lobby features a three-dimensional visual illusion of trees by artist Jennifer Steinkamp.

Designs to Make Motown a Global Architectural Destination

Cadillac Centre

Cadillac Centre.

Anthony Caradonna, OPUS Architecture and Design Studio

New York and Rome-based OPUS Architecture and Design Studio has been selected to design the $150 million Cadillac Centre in Detroit composed of two 24-story towers of sculpted metal and glass rising from a 12-story base. The complex will include 84 apartments, a 30,000-square-foot market, a cinema, more than 100,000 square feet of major retail space, a 14,400-square-foot health club and spa, a 40,000-square-foot public park with water features, more than 25,000 square feet of boutiques and specialty shops, 800 parking spaces, and a 22,000-square-foot “living roof,” which will collect and filter rain water and help control energy consumption. The complex will occupy an entire block and connect to the landmarked 1927 Beaux Arts Cadillac Tower.

Meier Completes Tallest Building in Czech Republic Despite Controversy

CITY Tower

CITY Tower.

Richard Meier & Partners

A celebration is scheduled for the March 2008 opening of the Richard Meier & Partners-designed CITY Tower on the Pankrác plain close Prague’s city center. This winds up a saga that began in the 1980s when Czechoslovak Radio was slated to move in. In 1983 the building was abandoned, leaving behind an unfinished steel structure. Prague-based ECM Real Estate Investments acquired the property in 2000, and in 2006 major construction work began — including installation of a new external shell.

At 358 feet, the 530,000-square-foot structure has 27 above-ground and three underground floors, floor-to-ceiling glass, and a VIP restaurant and conference facility in the penthouse. The tower is part of ECM City, an ongoing urban regeneration project master planned by Richard Meier & Partners, which is to include a mixed-use complex and luxury apartment building. The developers have been locked in a battle with local groups over the project: two of the buildings included in the original master plan are now abandoned due to conflict over the buildings’ height, and one group filed a lawsuit claiming the buildings would violate the city’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Journey is in the Airport

Carrasco International Airport

Carrasco International Airport.

Rafael Viñoly Architects

Rafael Viñoly Architects is working on Carrasco International Airport’s new terminal in Montevideo, Uruguay. The design highlights public zones and amenities, providing these areas with open space and natural light. Arriving travelers pass through a fully glazed mezzanine level that helps orient them to the terminal space before they descend to baggage claim and other services. A public, landscaped terrace and a restaurant occupy the second floor, offering views of the runway and the main concourse. Independent access roads service departures on the first floor and arrivals on the ground level. An open atrium adjacent to the street entrance opens the ground floor to the monumental main hall, visually and spatially linking the first and last stages of a traveler’s journey. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2009.

In this issue:
· AIA Launches Walk The Walk
· New Institute to Manage LEED AP Program
· Professional Practice Committee Offers Tri-State Practice Requirements Matrix

AIA Launches Walk The Walk
“Walk the Walk” is a multi-faceted campaign launched by AIA National to promote sustainable design among consumers, business owners, and member architects. The program intends to inform the marketplace on the benefits of more energy-efficient homes and buildings, in line with the AIA’s goal of making all buildings carbon neutral by 2030, and helping the U.S. design and construction industry reduce fossil fuel consumption in buildings. The AIA offers two environmental toolkits:

· SustAIAnability 2030 Toolkit — encouraging city leaders to promote a 50% fossil fuel reduction by 2010 and carbon neutrality by 2030.

· 50to50 Toolkit — a set of 50 strategies, tools, and techniques to help designers achieve significant reductions in energy use and carbon emissions for the buildings they design.

New Institute to Manage LEED AP Program
A new addition to the green building community, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), shares the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) mission to transform the building industry and achieve a sustainable built environment. GBCI was formed to provide balanced, objective management of the LEED Professional Accreditation program, including exam development, registration, and delivery. The USGBC will continue to handle development of the LEED Rating Systems and offer LEED-based education programs. Nothing will change for current LEED Accredited Professionals except that LEED AP Directory listings can now be updated at the GBCI website.

Professional Practice Committee Offers Tri-State Practice Requirements Matrix
The AIANY Professional Practice Committee is offering a comparison of key state requirements affecting the practice of architecture in NY, NJ, and CT. For example, members may be surprised to learn that each state has different requirements governing document retention and firm ownership.

The Tri-State Matrix is a simple outline. You must consult with state authorities and/or legal counsel for up-to-date, detailed information. The committee welcomes comments to the co-chairs, Daniel Garbowit, AIA, or Mark Behm, Assoc. AIA. Professional Practice Committee meetings are typically held on the third Thursday of every month from 8:30-10:00am at the Center for Architecture.

Launch New Architecture & Design Social Network

Designer Pages is a user-generated application for sourcing products and collaborating on design. Product suppliers can post and update listings; buyers can request additional information; and designers may save products to their accounts to assemble a self-maintained online materials library. Virtual forums allow for product discussion as well as offer a place for collaborators to come together. “There are too many products for a designer to catalog, and too many firms for a supplier to reach,” explains Jacob Slevin, co-founder of Designer Pages. “Our social application facilitates the free exchange of information to benefit the entire community.” And it offers an opportunity to eliminate the need for bulky product catalogs.

2008 AIA Honor Award recipients include the following New York and adjacent Chapter members: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art by Steven Holl Architects in the category of Architecture; the Central Park South Apartment by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects for Interior Architecture; and Zuccotti Park by Cooper, Robertson & Partners for Regional and Urban Design…

AIA Westchester/Mid-Hudson High Honor Awards include: Single Family Residences: Barry Price Architecture (Switchback House); Municipal/Community Planning: Raymond Beeler Architect (Syosset Public Library)… Award Projects include: Single Family Residences: Kaehler/Moore Architects (Rye Residence); The office of Carol J.W. Kurth (5 Star House & Errico Residence); Interior Architecture: Gallin Design Studio (East River Loft); Historic Preservation: Robert Siegel Architects (Renovation of Dance Conservatory at SUNY Purchase)…

Engineering News-Record awarded Daniel Nall, P.E., FAIA, director of advanced technologies for Flack+Kurtz, an Award of Excellence for his development of the 150,000-sqare-foot under-floor cooling system for the atrium lobby of the Hearst Tower… Building Design + Construction awarded Top 40 Under 40 Awards to David Koren, Assoc. AIA, associate principal and director of marketing at Perkins Eastman; Peter Weingarten, AIA, associate principal and director of international projects at FXFowle Architects; Andrea Lamberti, AIA, project director at Rafael Viñoly Architects; Marijke Smit, senior associate at Perkins Eastman; Nayan B. Trivedi, senior associate at Leslie E. Robertson Associates; and Roger L. Klein, AIA, principal and director of architectural design at Swanke Hayden Connell Architects…

David Cooper, AIA, will become the President & CEO of Flack + Kurtz effective 07.01.08… John Newcomb has joined TEN Arquitectos as Chief Executive Officer…