In this issue:
· Queens Plaza Becomes a Garden Gateway
· New School Breaks Ground in One of the Bronx’s Neediest Neighborhoods
· Bushwick Builds Low-Impact Architecture
· From Clustered to Spinal: The Parrish is Re-Conceptualized
· Classic Ames Building Becomes Modern Ames Hotel

Queens Plaza Becomes a Garden Gateway


Queens Plaza.

Wallace Roberts & Todd

Construction has begun on infrastructure improvements, designed by Wallace Roberts & Todd, transforming Queens Plaza in Long Island City from a tangle of urban infrastructure into an immersive green landscape. Spanning one mile from 1.5 acres of landscaped open space to the water’s edge below the Queensboro Bridge, the project aims to restore the connection among communities and with the East River. Phase I of the Queens Plaza Streetscape Improvement Project extends from Queens Plaza North to Queens Plaza South, and from Northern Boulevard/Queens Plaza East to 21st Street. It will realign and rationalize the traffic network, enhance the environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improve the streetscape with new sidewalks, native and non-invasive plantings, widened and landscaped medians, and improved lighting. Artist-designed benches and pavers, and a continuous protected bikeway and pedestrian walkway will line the open space. Phase II will continue improvements from 21st Street to the East River at Vernon Boulevard.

The Queens Plaza and the adjacent Jackson Avenue projects, with landscapes designed by Stantec Consulting Service, started construction last fall. They are being funded with $23.7 million in City capital, $19.7 million in Federal money, and $33 million in Federal stimulus-related funds. The improvements are part of the city’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan and are overseen by the NYC Economic Development Corporation. The Queens Plaza project received an AIANY Project Merit Award in 2008.

New School Breaks Ground in One of the Bronx’s Neediest Neighborhoods


New Settlement Community Campus.

Dattner Architects/ESKW Architects

The NYC School Construction Authority and Department of Education has begun construction on the New Settlement Community Campus, a 172,000-square-foot, pre-K-12th grade public school and community center in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx. Designed by Dattner Architects and Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects (ESKW Architects), the four-story building will be composed of two volumes — a primary school and an intermediate/high school. The project’s key architectural element is the interplay of the volumes and expression of the two wings set at a roughly 90-degree angle. Although predominantly brick, zinc panels, and a curtain wall are used to express special functions and provide visual interest and scale. The library, auditorium, and gymnasium (with an indoor pool) will serve the entire school as well as the community. The project is the culmination of two decades of commitment to the rehabilitation of Mount Eden by the Settlement Housing Fund and its subsidiary, New Settlement Apartments.

Bushwick Builds Low-Impact Architecture


Façade on Wyckoff Avenue, Bushwick.

Andre Kikoski Architect

Andre Kikoski Architect has designed a new 10,000-square-foot space in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Designed for Cayuga Capital Management, which has some 40 other properties in this industrial area in transition, the project includes two buildings with a courtyard — one planned for a gourmet grocery and wine shop, and the other for a performance space and/or restaurant. When folded up, the industrial security gates become awnings for the shops. The main design feature is the approximately 100-foot-long wall made of raw concrete columns with steel panels that are laser-cut with a dotted gradient pattern. The wall has an outer layer of Cor-Ten steel and an inner layer of stainless steel with a strip of white LEDs sandwiched between. The metal metal layers are punctured with holes that vary in diameter; when they align, the building becomes translucent. The architect sees this project as a prototype for adaptively re-using buildings through low-impact architecture.

From Clustered to Spinal: The Parrish is Re-Conceptualized


Museum façade and gallery view.

Herzog & de Meuron

The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, Long Island, recently unveiled a re-conceptualized design for a new museum designed by Herzog & de Meuron on a 14-acre site. The new design will be a horizontal structure nestled in the landscape. Two parallel wings are joined by a central circulation spine that runs the length of the building. The museum is sited in a north-south orientation to take advantage of natural northern light. The poured-in-place concrete walls will be deeply recessed under a white corrugated metal roof, and will incorporate large sections of glass that permit views through the museum and into the surrounding landscape — a meadow of native grasses and wildflowers. A shaded porch surrounding the building will provide public gathering areas. With more than 37,300 square feet of space, and 12,000 square feet of unencumbered flexible galleries, the design more than doubles the museum’s current exhibition space.

The new museum will include educational and multi-purpose spaces, a café and kitchen, administrative offices, and onsite storage. The design team includes Reed Hilderbrand Associates as landscape architect, ARUP London as lighting designer, and Nelson, Pope & Voorhis for civil and environmental engineering, with East Hampton-based architect Douglas Moyer serving as executive architect.

Classic Ames Building Becomes Modern Ames Hotel


The Ames Hotel.

The Morgan Hotel Group

When the Ames Building, designed by Shelpley, Rutan and Coolidge, was completed in 1889, it was the tallest building in Boston and considered to be the city’s first skyscraper — it remains one of the tallest masonry buildings on the East Coast. Located on the edge of the Financial District, the Romanesque-Byzantine-inspired, 14-story structure will re-open this fall as the Ames Hotel operated by The Morgan Hotel Group. The historic restoration is by Cambridge Seven Associates, and NY-based The Rockwell Group is designing the interiors (this is the firm’s first project in Boston). The boutique hotel has 113 guest rooms, including one apartment and six deluxe one-bedroom suites, with a bar and dining area on each floor. The design provides a modern framework for the lobby, with its mosaic, barrel-vaulted ceiling, and marble-and-brass staircase, and the renovated guest rooms. Woodward, a two-story restaurant and bar, is Victorian-inspired, and features a curated “cabinet of curiosities” that mixes with the room’s modern accents.