Construction Update: 56 Leonard

56 Leonard

Vertical progress is accelerating at the Herzog & de Meuron-designed 56 Leonard, which is now climbing well past the complicated lower levels; with the concrete contractor swap completed — and a new crane on-site — the increase in upwards velocity is hardly surprising. The tower has passed neighboring structures in height, and is now the most prominent building in the local vicinity; the only remaining ‘competitor’ to be surpassed is the 551-foot tall 33 Thomas Street, located two blocks to the south.

56 Leonard

Elevated view of the site

The superstructure is approaching the skyscraper’s twentieth floor, and 56 Leonard will eventually stand 56 floors and 821 feet. Developed by Alexico Group and Hines, the building is already nearly sold-out, with the final penthouse recently coming online for $18.75 million.

Completion of 56 Leonard is expected in 2016.

56 Leonard

Viewed from Leonard Street

56 Leonard

Viewed from the corner of Church and Leonard Street

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Posted in 56 Leonard | Architecture | Construction Update | Downtown | Herzog and de Meuron | Hines | New York | Residential | Tribeca

Interview: Market Trends with Douglas Elliman’s Clifford Finn

Go East! Long Island City and Brooklyn are booming.

YIMBY sat down with Clifford Finn, Executive Vice President of Douglas Elliman’s new development marketing team, to discuss his thoughts regarding what’s up and coming in New York City, the latest happenings in NoMAD, and the continued ramifications of Hurricane Sandy. YIMBY in bold.

Have you heard anything about Journal Square, and do you see it becoming more like Downtown Jersey City or Long Island City? How quickly is it going to develop?

It’s interesting. You know, in the past, Jersey City was more of a suburban mentality; that goes for the people building there, and the audience that was going there. Although many Manhattanites found their way there, a wide audience was filling those buildings; it was a little bit different than crossing the other rivers. But that’s changing, because now everybody is looking there due to the increase in land costs. Brooklyn is not a huge discount to Manhattan anymore, and Long Island City is not far behind it; everybody is looking for the next great, convenient, commutable destination, and they are setting their sights back on Jersey City and the surrounding area.

Journal Squared

Journal Squared – image via Handel Architects

Moving back to Manhattan, YIMBY attended 1182 Broadway’s opening, which is a converted building in NoMAD; what are some features that make conversions in NoMAD stand apart from new developments in the neighborhood, and what’s special about The Centurian?

In the past, conversions of this type were typically larger buildings that go condo — like 10 Madison Square West. But for rent, you either had the Sixth Avenue high-rises and the few hot buildings off that corridor, or much older conversion stock that doesn’t have the luxury standard of today’s market. And I think what sets The Centurian apart from the rest is that it’s rental, but was built with a condominium sensibility and comparable finishes.

The Centurian

The Centurian — image from the Museum of the City of New York

It seems geared towards wealthy bachelors in technology.

Well, some units were; on the typical floor-plates before you get to the upper, larger apartments, we have two loft-style layouts that don’t have a formal bedroom. And then we have two [layouts] that have formal bedrooms, and they’re all similar in size. So I think it’s not just about singles; definitely couples too, and more established people. In that neighborhood, we’re seeing a cross-section of different types of people; it really speaks to a lot of audiences.

And do you think the broad appeal of NoMAD heralds its emergence as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city?

I think that it’s one of them, because there’s a lot of similarities between NoMAD and neighborhoods like SoHo and Tribeca — but you have a park, and you’re more centrally located. It’s convenient to Midtown, Uptown, and Downtown, and it’s a great spot if you have to get out of the city quickly because it’s so close to the bridges and tunnels. You’re a little bit more centrally located, but you still have the flavor and feel that you’re not in Midtown.

1165 Broadway

A new building set for 1165 Broadway — image from Spector Group

Where would you say the neighborhood’s boundaries are? Because it’s still emerging.

Madison Square Park ends at 26th Street, so up to about 30th. I think once you cross 30th it gets much more Midtown-like. And then down to 23rd Street; below 23rd people consider it to be Flatiron. And it extends between Broadway and Park Avenue.

Sandy devastated sections of the city; do you see prices being affected in areas like the West Village and the Seaport, if measures to mitigate future events are not taken? If there is another event, do you think the double-whammy could result in a sustained drop in prices?

Not in the immediate future, I mean I myself live in a Zone 1 neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, and it didn’t affect the market for those neighborhoods at all.

But if there was another one?

I think it depends on if they get worse. I think that everybody feels like what happened was very inconvenient, but there was nothing truly devastating. I think the Seaport was much more affected, and that neighborhood is a little more sensitive to future impacts than the West Side. We have a lot of projects that are in flood zones, and plans have remained the same, it’s just that some components have been elevated. And that’s the way things need to be moving forward; you have to build for the tide to go through the property, and not disrupt the tower. We have to build to accommodate; I don’t think people are scared as long as they know that the issues are being addressed.

What about insurance companies?

It’s hard; again, I’m in a Zone 1 building, and our insurance premiums doubled. And that’s unfortunate, but if you have a house on the ocean, it’s a risk you take to be on the ocean. And it’s the same with living in these prime neighborhoods.

As prices in Manhattan rise, Brooklyn and Queens are becoming go-to destinations for luxury real estate. What do you see in the future for Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City; will the impending development boom keep prices steady, given the amount of supply that will soon be coming online?

No, prices are climbing, and I think they’ll continue to rise. Everything that we’ve been touching has been climbing, and I believe that the bulk of the rental marketplace out there is really what isn’t being built in Manhattan, so it’s not like it’s in addition to anything going up in Manhattan — so there isn’t an abundance of new product. Those price-points won’t exist in brand-new developments on the island, so people have to go to Queens and Brooklyn for these buildings, and I don’t see supply hitting demand — at least in any of the studies we’ve looked at. And the discount, even with future conservative growth, is respectable.

CityPoint phase I and 388 Bridge Street

CityPoint phase I and 388 Bridge Street

What about Harlem? It seems like people neglect it even though prices there are also increasing.

I think people focus on where the obvious discounts are, and when those go away, they set their sites on the next ones. It’s like Bushwick; is that the next one? No, now it’s Bensonhurst. It keeps moving farther out, and farther up; everything is cyclical. I think people were hot on Harlem a few years ago; people caught on, then the obvious discounts were gone, so the momentum shifted elsewhere. But now everything has elevated, and they are re-visiting Harlem, because what might have not seemed like a discount previously is now well-priced. I think we’re going to see a lot of movement in East Harlem in particular.

But what about all the public housing? Don’t you think that will prevent revitalization?

Yes and no. Anything that’s a destination — a building’s presence will overshadow that. I think people in New York City are accustomed to public housing being all around them. If you look at the West Side, you have the Amsterdam Houses by Lincoln Center; twenty or thirty years ago, you would never walk around back there. But now, it is completely surrounded on all four sides with extremely expensive luxury housing, and neighborhoods that didn’t exist back then. I think people are accepting, and if it’s a neighborhood on the verge, people are likely to take the discount. You don’t have to twist anybody’s arm to buy near the Amsterdam Houses today.

So, finally: If you could pick the top three neighborhoods to invest in today, which would they be?

I think one of the best — and I’m not just saying this because we have a building going up there — but I think Inwood is one of the very few sleeper neighborhoods still around, and I really like it. I still think, for different reasons, that FiDi is still comparatively undervalued. You’re starting to see the trickle-down effect from the Village and SoHo, as it heads Downtown. With North FiDi, especially; all those buildings on the border of Tribeca.

Like 56 Leonard?

Yes, 56 Leonard, 101 Leonard; they’re on Broadway, or Worth, or Leonard. They’re at the cross-roads of entering the Financial District, and we’re seeing those numbers shoot up. And as we see businesses populating the World Trade Center — plus the Fulton Center and the new malls — basically they’re going through the process of building an infrastructure that never existed Downtown, so that it can compete with other residential neighborhoods. It always catered to the business community, and I think the FiDi has been around for long enough as a residential destination that we’re just now seeing the makings of a true residential area in terms of amenities. So I like it for those reasons; it still has a lot of room to grow.

It would be difficult to pinpoint a neighborhood in Brooklyn, but I love Gowanus; I think it’s like a case-study.

56 Leonard

56 Leonard

Have you been there?

Yes, we’re working on projects there. The thing about Gowanus is that it’s the epicenter of many other neighborhoods. It’s between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, which are two fabulous neighborhoods.

Isn’t it centered on a toxic canal?

For many years the canal was toxic and polluted, and not very attractive –

So it’s basically like Greenpoint-lite.

Yes, but that’s changing; it’s being cleaned-up and redeveloped. There is a population of young artists and creative types that have been living in that area, and it’s been one of those sleeper neighborhoods for a long time. And as pricing continues to escalate in adjacent established neighborhoods, Gowanus is on the verge of major change.

And why has it remained so undervalued; the pollution?

Well because it had a very old stigma attached to it because of the canal, so people stayed away. But at this point we’re out of land, and it’s there, and it is a very good location — and the pollution is being addressed, and re-mediation has been ongoing for years, though it has not been obvious to people. But it’s really on the way. And Whole Foods is opening a Gowanus location, and I think that says a lot.

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Posted in 1182 Broadway | Clifford Finn | DoBro | Douglas Elliman | Downtown | FiDi | Gowanus | Jersey City | Journal Square | Long Island City | Midtown | New York | Residential | The Centurian

Construction Update: 83 Walker Street

83 Walker Street

Excavation is well underway at 83 Walker Street in Tribeca, which will soon give rise to a 9-story residential building; the project’s architect is Morris Adjmi, and the developer is Abra. Plans for the site were approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission back in 2011, and per the Tribeca Citizen, construction finally resumed at the end of 2013.

The New York Observer reported on the project’s initial conception, and also captured a rendering; the same image is featured alongside the development’s construction fencing, though it is completely obscured and impossible to actually see. Still, the online version gives a frame of reference, and the aesthetics of 83 Walker Street will be superb; per Adjmi’s testimony at the Landmarks meeting, “It’s an inversion of a cast iron building … It really informs us about the nature of a cast iron building: Originally, they were built from components that were ordered from catalogs.”

83 Walker Street

83 Walker Street — via the NY Observer

Morris Adjmi has a knack for designing historic-minded structures with modern twists, and his partnership with Aldo Andreoli has resulted in several noteworthy creations, though 83 Walker Street is a solo effort. The non-traditional approach to emulating a classic cast-iron structure will hopefully result in something unique yet contextual to its Tribeca surroundings.

83 Walker Street

83 Walker Street

Permits for 83 Walker Street were approved in August of 2013, and indicate the building will have nine units, spanning 14,036 square feet, which will place the development in the ’boutique luxury’ segment of the market. Completion is expected by the summer of 2015.

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Posted in 83 Walker Street | Abra Construction | Architecture | Construction Update | Downtown | Morris Adjmi Architects | New York | Residential | Tribeca

Revealed: 101 Murray Street

101 Murray Street, to be demolished -- image via Google Maps

UPDATE: Fisher/Witkoff advise that Coop Himmelb(l)au’s design is not the design for 101 Murray and CoopHimmelb(l)au is not the architect for the project.

The planned residential re-development of 101 Murray Street has been revealed, and the design is a decided departure from typical new construction in Manhattan; soaring 860 feet, the tower’s architect is Coop Himmelb(l)au, and — per Crain’s — a partnership between the Witkoffs, Fisher Brothers, and Howard Lorber will be developing the site.

101 Murray Street

101 Murray Street — image from Coop Himmelb(l)au

101 Murray Street will be the fourth Downtown residential tower set to rise over 800 feet, joining the ranks of 30 Park Place, 56 Leonard, and 22 Thames Street, which Fisher Brothers is also developing. While the developments may have a commonality in extraordinary height, they will all have very distinct designs.

The protrusion atop 101 Murray Street is a vast departure from typical architecture in New York City, as buildings in Manhattan tend to taper as they rise. Coop Himmelb(l)au’s website dubs the building the “Skywing Tower,” and it will apparently have a counterpart in Seoul. DeSimone’s website has additional details.

Construction is a long ways off, as the existing building at 101 Murray must still be demolished; the site’s current occupant is a dormitory for St. John’s University, and it was acquired for $233 million. The article on Crain’s indicates the Skywing Tower will have 370,000 square feet of space, dedicated to condominiums.

While 101 Murray’s new design won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it will certainly be unique; the skyscraper’s impact will be diminished by the proximity of the World Trade Center and the other new residential towers, as well.

No completion date has been announced, but St. John’s will vacate the existing building this summer, paving the way for demolition.

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Posted in 101 Murray Street | Architecture | Construction Update | Coop Himmelblau | Fisher Brothers | New York | Residential | Witkoff Group

Construction Update: 56 Leonard

56 Leonard

2014 has brought rapid progress to 56 Leonard, where the new tower crane is now rising; a reader sent in elevated shots of the project, which is now climbing past its neighbors.

56 Leonard

56 Leonard

Cranes have been a particular issue at 56 Leonard — amongst other things — as the original belonged to a contractor that is no longer working on the building. The transition from old to new has been rapid, and everything should be back to speed shortly.

56 Leonard

56 Leonard

Besides dealing with financing issues for half a decade, the initial floors of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed building were exceedingly complicated; for perspective, the project began to go vertical approximately one year ago. The minor cantilevers and setbacks that characterize the lowest floors have been difficult to build, but even without glass 56 Leonard looks distinctive, and is on its way to iconic.

56 Leonard

56 Leonard crane components

The tower portion is now at the fourteenth floor, which puts it well into the mid-levels of the building. Construction has evidently sped up over the last two months, as forms have moved beyond the structure’s most Jenga-like components; floor-plans will follow standard layouts until the very top of the building, which will also be complicated.

Completion is expected in 2016.

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Posted in 56 Leonard | Architecture | Construction Update | Downtown | Herzog and de Meuron | New York | Residential | Tribeca

Construction Update: Franklin Place

Franklin Place

A new 20-story building is rising at 5 Franklin Place — dubbed ‘Franklin Place‘ — and work is well underway; the site’s developer is the El Ad Group, and the architect is ODA. The project underwent several major revisions before construction began, with previous designs by Ben Van Berkels and Richard DeMarco ultimately shelved. As construction was slated to begin during the recession, the delay is understandable.

Franklin Place

Franklin Place — images from the official site/ODA

The building’s urban form will be contextual, and Franklin Place will fit into its surroundings without any fuss. ODA’s design bridges custom brickwork with a gridded facade to create a modern take on a traditional masonry structure. The detailing harkens to Tribeca’s historic roots, and will anchor the design into the neighborhood landscape.

Franklin Place

Franklin Place

Franklin Place is nearly sold out; as of July, 80% of the 53 units were already gone. The Tribeca Citizen had an update on the site roughly one year ago, and the changes since have been significant. Besides the rise of the actual building, the ‘Wild West’-esque remnants of the previous facades have also disappeared. Renderings do not indicate that they will return, but the new design is a superior replacement anyways.

Completion of Franklin Place is expected this year.

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Posted in Architecture | Construction Update | El Ad Group | Franklin Place | New York | ODA Architects | Residential | Tribeca

15 Leonard Street Tops-Out

15 Leonard Street

The new six-unit building at 15 Leonard Street is just about topped-out, and its nine-story frame is barely noticeable. The project is immersed in its historic-minded surroundings; the initial proposal drew comparisons to Darth Vader, but what’s ultimately gone up is far from overbearing.

15 Leonard Street

15 Leonard Street

15 Leonard Street’s developer is Steven Schnall, and the architect is Turett Design. The project underwent minor revisions during the design phase, based on the NIMBY opposition, and the final product is relatively diminutive; indeed, everything in the vicinity will be relatively short compared to 56 Leonard, which is rising one block to the east. The ‘boutique luxury’ segment of the market is especially strong in Tribeca, and units at 15 Leonard will fetch high premiums, as the block is very attractive.

Each of the condominiums will be full-floor, except for the top unit, which will be a triplex.

15 Leonard Street

15 Leonard Street

The project’s topping-out comes just as several other developments get underway to the Northwest. Work is in full swing at the Sterling Mason, and foundations are underway at 460 Washington Street.

Completion of 15 Leonard is expected late this year.

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Posted in 15 Leonard Street | Architecture | Construction Update | Downtown | New York | Residential | Tribeca

Construction Resumes at 56 Leonard

56 Leonard

Lend Lease has secured a new concrete subcontractor for 56 Leonard Street, and construction on Herzog & de Meuron’s Tribeca masterpiece is finally beginning to resume; a worker on-site confirmed the news, adding that things should be back to speed soon. The tower’s developers are Hines and Alexico.

56 Leonard

56 Leonard

The next phase of construction will be easier than the skyscraper’s base, which is just coming into view; now that scaffolding is coming off, the first of the building’s concrete reveals are becoming visible, and they are equally attractive as the depictions in renderings. The irregular floorplates are plainly evident, and the minor cantilevers that distinguish the bottom floors are remarkable in both design and complexity.

56 Leonard

56 Leonard

While curveballs are frequent when it comes to development, the process behind 56 Leonard is so much more complicated than what typical skyscrapers have to go through, given the differences between each floor. Many developers would value-engineer the ‘interesting’ parts of the tower to oblivion, but Hines has shown an interest in actually building high-quality designs; every one of the firm’s Manhattan projects is top-notch.

Units at 56 Leonard are almost sold-out, and completion of the tower is slated for 2016. Construction on the mid-sections should progress faster than the base levels, as floors begin to follow semi-regular layouts; Herzog & de Meuron’s visionary structure will soon be visible on the Tribeca skyline.

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Posted in 56 Leonard | Architecture | Construction Update | Downtown | Herzog and de Meuron | Hines | New York | Residential

Interview with the Architects: Adjmi and Andreoli

Morris Adjmi and Aldo Andreoli, image from AA Studio

YIMBY sat down with Morris Adjmi of MA Architects and Aldo Andreoli of AA Studio to discuss the duo’s latest collaborations, including 160 Imlay and 11 North Moore – as well as the direction of design, the viability of aesthetically-fortunate affordable housing, and what Adjmi and Andreoli would create if tasked with building the tallest tower in New York.

YIMBY is in bold.

How did your collaboration begin?

Aldo: Morris and I met, and then we met the developers and decided to do the project together.

Morris: We had met originally in Italy in the late 80s – and we had a great friendship at the time, and then nothing really happened. But then we came back together for this competition; we came together in a strategic way. We each have our own office, but we work together when it makes sense.

How do you see your aesthetic evolving, and how has it grown?

M: One of the things that’s exciting for me when it comes to collaborating is – and I think any architectural project is a collaboration amongst a group of people – but in this case, I think that by collaborating we open each other’s eyes to new ways of thinking. I bring a sort of rationality and rigor, and Aldo brings fantasy – and together I think it’s a nice alchemy.

A: I think that the reason why me and Morris click so well is because I am an Italian architect that has spent more than 20 years in the United States, so I’ve acquired some American sensitivity – and Morris is an American architect that spent a lot of time in Italy, and so he acquired an Italian sensitivity. That’s why we have some kind of classic Italian background in common, but both of us are fascinated by the contemporary American materials – American materials that belong to the industrial design revolution, all the minimalist stuff. In this sense, I think we have a good, dynamic way to look at a project, in a very similar way.

What about facades; do you see yourselves straying from brick and stone?

M: I’m always fascinated by innovative materials. I’m doing a project on Laight Street that’s metal, but it looks like brick, with a plasma finish – at 71 Laight. I’ve done terracotta buildings, and am doing a mesh building – so I think as you develop you get more curious, and don’t want to do the same thing. There’s a foundation there. We’re doing a big project on 21st Street with terracotta; white-glazed terracotta. And I think there’s been a lot of advancement in glazings, so you can do anything from super-matte to super-glossy; all terracotta. The finishes are just better.

A: We explored that at 11 North Moore, actually; both me and Morris liked the idea of a completely metal facade, but the developer decided not to go with it, as he wanted it in stone. He loved the idea of a stone building.

M: Tribeca is a neighborhood with a fair amount of cast iron, but it’s nothing like SoHo – there’s a lot of masonry around that site, so it feels very comfortable with the stone, but it’s nice to see the steel at the base, as it’s modern.

The windows are impressive.

A: We approached seven, eight, nine different manufacturers, and we could only get two to produce them.

What are the dimensions?

M: Some windows are 5 and a half by ten feet tall – operable windows. They’re tilt and turn, and it was actually a challenge to find a manufacturer that could do something that large. We liked the idea of this very modern and clean aesthetic overlaid with some typical Tribeca proportions and an industrial kind of feel.

With regards to 11 North Moore; did you start with a historic-minded structure, or did you have to adjust it to the Tribeca surroundings?

A: Actually, and I think it’s good to say it now – 11 North Moore is a very interesting story, because I designed and developed a building in front of it, which is 140 Franklin Street, and it’s a building from 1889 that was by the architect of the Puck Building, on Houston and Lafayette – so that architect, Albert Wagner, designed only those two buildings in New York City. With a group of Italian investors, we purchased the building in the 1990s, and turned it into residential condominiums – I did all the interiors. The owner of that building is also the owner of the lot where 11 North Moore is sitting, so what happened five years ago was that I designed a building for the location that would have required a re-zoning; it was taller. We weren’t sure exactly what we were going to do, but in the meantime I started collaborating with Morris, and we did 50 Varick, which is a photo studio complex. So basically the owner – VE Equities, that we did 250 Bowery for, and are also doing 290 West Street with – they had us design the project.

Original design for 11 North Moore

Original design for 11 North Moore – image from AA Studio

What are the facade materials?

M: Limestone, with steel along the base.

11 North Moore

11 North Moore – image from AA Studio

Do you have any new projects in Brooklyn right now?

A: We are doing 160 Imlay, which is the renovation of the New York Dock Building, in Red Hook.

M: That building is a twin of a building just to the north of it, which is a Christie’s warehouse.

A: And this is a huge building. Not vertically, but horizontally.

M: It’s 450 feet long. Or something like that.

A: It has a 30,000 square foot floor-plate, and is 230,000 square feet in total – it’s been sitting there a long time, abandoned. The same Italian developers that are doing 50 Varick, we brought them there, they bought the building, and we’re in the process of converting it to residential. We start construction in one month, and this building – we wanted to make it green.  We work with FutureGreen -

M: They’re in Red Hook, and they did the landscaping on 41 Bond, by DDG. It’s the one that has the vines going up the window, on the side. They’re also doing DDG’s building on 14th Street. So we’re working with [Futuregreen] on a couple of projects, and they’re great.

A: A lot of the elements that you see with this building are in style with The High Line, with the use of industrial material mixed with green. Native vegetation, industrial materials – what we find fascinating is that young people are coming back into the cities, because of the suburban lifestyle; there is no culture, there are no meetings. But there are concerns among the young when coming back; one is the cost of living, which is why people are leaving Manhattan and coming to Brooklyn – and we love Brooklyn, because it’s so new and dynamic, and open to creative people. Let’s make the city more livable by bringing in the green space, it’s a good compromise.

M: We’re working on 202 Coffey, also in Red Hook.

160 Imlay Street

160 Imlay Street; image from AA Studio

Are you seeing a resurgence in Red Hook post-Hurricane Sandy?

M: Yes, and I think that Red Hook is very different from Williamsburg, Bushwick, or any of the other neighborhoods; it’s kind of – actually it’s really close to the city, but it’s not easy to get to. I think there’s a particular person who will go there – people that want to be immersed in what feels sort of like a Wild West, frontier town.

A: The developer we’re working with there – who bought 160 Imlay and 202 Coffey – he’s talking with an operator that wants to build a hotel resort.

How have the properties in the flood zone been adapted?

M: The site only had a tiny bit of water, but the ground floor will be raised up. I mean we have the same issue in Chelsea; half the galleries were flooded.

How will the existing structure be integrated?

A: We want to leave as much of the concrete structure up as possible. We were actually discussing the possibility of just leaving the ceiling as-is; some people really like the texture of it.

And it’s concrete or steel?

A: It’s reinforced concrete.

Do you see yourselves designing non-luxury housing in the future – and how can ‘luxury aesthetics’ be applied to affordable developments?

A: I think this is a good question – we’re just starting a new 50,000 square foot residential project in Red Hook, and I’m thinking about how I don’t want the project to be called luxury; I think a building should have all the components that enable a human to live well, which means that things we call luxury should be in it. A nice-sized bathroom, a well-designed kitchen, good materials that can be cleaned easily, a fair amount of light – and good mechanicals, like air conditioning. I feel one of the advantages of the explosion of luxurious condominiums is that young people are now aware of the advantages of living with these kind of amenities that are part of a civilized way of living. I travel enough in the third world to see the middle classes trying to achieve this kind of lifestyle, so it’s interesting to try now with contemporary materials – with the development of factories like IKEA – to make what only used to be luxurious, something that every social class wants. Many times we approach and work with Italian manufacturers of luxurious kitchens, but in the end we work with IKEA because they work, they are nice and good looking, and they cost one tenth the price. I think that the future of architecture and design, for sure, is in achieving a good result without having to pay exorbitant prices.

M: Also I think good design should be democratic; Bloomberg has done a lot of great things for the city, and I think that the luxury market has really propelled real estate to new heights. I think also, it’s made real estate so expensive in Manhattan – because people want to be in New York, or around New York – so it created a situation where neighborhoods that were not places people would go, suddenly became popular and great; people were priced out of Manhattan so they moved to Williamsburg, or DUMBO, Bushwick, or whatever. I think the side story is that all these other neighborhoods became more relevant, but I think what’s more important is that good design can transcend those class divisions or distinctions and become universal, especially for affordable housing. I think that space may be smaller but the quality of spaces will be equal.

How can  affordable design become more attractive?

M: I think good clients make good projects; the architects only take it so far. I think developers see – and they certainly see in the luxury market – that good design, and bringing in architects with names and reputation, has helped them to market those projects, and realize significant increases in value. I think the same thing will happen in the other segments of the market if the developers are aware of the benefits – and I think there are benefits.

If you were tasked with building the tallest skyscraper in New York, what would it look like?

A: I think one of the beauties of a tall building in New York is the view, so I’d definitely consider using lots of glass. I’d love to show the structure, in order to show the power of the enginerring; like Jean Nouvel’s MoMA Tower.

M: That was amazing.

A: The strength of the exposed structure really fascinated me. I would love to see that building built, and it’s very inspiring to me; I would like to go in that direction. I think there is an intrinsic beauty in concentrating human life in a vertical city, so I don’t see anything wrong about it, which is why I’m so fascinated by New York – and that’s why New York has been copied everywhere. Maybe my ideal city would not be quite as dense, but the fact that man has the possibility of living in tall towers is fascinating. I hope it will happen – I would love to design a tower.

M: You know, somebody from a real estate magazine asked me not too long ago, if I was interested in doing a tower. And I said no. But the more I think about it, I’m fascinated with the idea of doing something tall. The problem I see with these really tall towers is just how much the elevators and stairs get in the way; they eat up the floor-plan, and the structure. I think it would be interesting to do something where the entire core is the structure, and everything outward of that would be supported by the core, and column-free, and maybe have some sort of tensile structure. Who knows.

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Posted in 11 North Moore Street | 160 Imlay Street | Adjmi and Andreoli | Architecture | Interview | New York | Renderings | Residential

Stop-Work Order Halts 56 Leonard Street

56 Leonard - image via YIMBY reader Richard

The city has issued a stop-work order at 56 Leonard Street, and the violation looks like it has to do with the site’s scaffolding – in DOB words, ‘work without permit’. YIMBY reader Richard reports that workers have been absent from the site for the past week, and his view overlooking the site is above; indeed, it appears that all construction activity has temporarily ceased.

A YIMBY reader sent in an additional tip that the project’s concrete contractor has been dismissed, and a new subcontractor is actively being sought; whether this is because the first few floors have taken 8 months to complete remains to be seen, but there is clearly a shake-up in the works.

Many projects receive stop-work orders over the course of their rise, so the problem is far from abnormal – especially at a site like 56 Leonard, which has so much scaffolding because of the irregular floorplates. The forms and metal-work must be kept in place for 90 days post-concrete pouring, and the process of building Herzog & de Meuron’s Tribeca masterpiece is far from simple.

Once 56 Leonard resumes construction, it should begin to rise at a faster pace; forms have now passed the most complicated of the lower levels, and the tower’s mid-sections have relatively uniform layouts.

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Posted in 56 Leonard

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