Vision: The Plaza at 1221 Avenue of the Americas

Gensler's Visions for 1221 Avenue of the Americas, image via MIR

New renderings have cropped up for an unrealized scheme at 1221 Avenue of The Americas, one of the ‘XYZ’ buildings in Midtown Manhattan. The plan would have revitalized the plaza fronting Avenue of the Americas, creating a defining and iconic public space; unfortunately the vision has never left the drawing board. The images come from MIR’s website — which has a host of other fantastic visuals — and apparently resulted from a partnership with Gensler.

The renovation to the plaza at 1221 Avenue of the Americas would add another layer to the pedestrian sphere, as the Rockefeller Center concourse underneath the site would finally become fully integrated with the sidewalks above.

Gensler's Visions for 1221 Avenue of the Americas

Gensler’s Visions for 1221 Avenue of the Americas, image via MIR

Besides opening the underground mall to the street, the scheme would have also resulted in a more vibrant and dynamic plaza, given the ample seating created by the plan’s stepped nature. The swooping canopy is iconic in its own right, but what’s underneath would have been extremely beneficial to the Sixth Avenue corridor, as the plaza’s current format is not conducive to pedestrian congregation.

Opening up the street — creating several engaging urban layers — would also benefit the surrounds during the busy times of year, when Sixth Avenue becomes incredibly crowded. As-is, the site is generally underutilized, with December typically defined by crowded pedestrian masses across the street, next to Radio City Music Hall. Transforming what currently resembles a livestock crush into something attractive, open, and connecting would benefit both New Yorkers and tourists alike.

Gensler's Visions for 1221 Avenue of the Americas

Gensler’s Visions for 1221 Avenue of the Americas, image via MIR

While the renovations would have also included minor alterations to the lobby of 1221 Avenue of the Americas as well, the primary changes are definitely centered on the plaza. Gensler’s renderings may remain a vision, but if anything resembling the plan ever comes to fruition, it would truly give the XYZ Buildings their own equivalent of the Christmas Tree — except it would last all year long.

1221 Avenue of the Americas was recently in the news when White & Case signed a 440,000 square foot lease for the building.

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Posted in 1221 Avenue of the Americas | Architecture | Gensler | Midtown | Midtown West | MIR | New York | Office | Renderings | Vision

Permits Filed: 611 Madison Avenue

611 Madison Avenue at center, image via Google Maps

The first DOB filings are up for a new building at 611 Madison Avenue, which will replace the existing 7-story townhouse. The architect of record is Fogarty Finger, while the developer appears to be the Zurich Holding Company.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the new permits is the fact that the future 611 Madison Avenue will have fewer floors than the current building; the replacement structure will rise six stories, and 112 feet. The height increase will be notable, and signals a shift towards higher-end retail; the entirety of the development will span 27,853 feet, with offices to be located on the top two floors.

With Fogarty Finger involved as the site’s architect, the outcome is likely to be a significant improvement from the current structure, which is a bland example of a pre-war building that also involves a seemingly forgotten rooftop component.

Fogarty Finger’s plans for the recently revealed 11-51 47th Avenue in Long Island City reveal the firm’s promising take on classic design, and it would appear likely that 611 Madison will house something similarly upscale. The location is prime, especially as the property is in the shadow of 432 Park Avenue; as 57th Street continues to evolve into a super-upscale corridor, the spillover to neighboring cross-streets is inevitable.

No completion date for 611 Madison Avenue has been announced. While permits for the existing structure’s demolition remain elusive, filings for ‘facade repairs’ were approved back in 2012, possibly as a pre-cursor to the wrecking ball.

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Posted in 611 Madison Avenue | Architecture | Fogarty Finger | Midtown | Midtown East | New York | Zurich Holding Company

Revealed: 433 First Avenue

433 First Avenue, image via KPF

Renderings have been posted for NYU’s new facility at 433 First Avenue; the building will soon be home to both the NYU College of Nursing, and a portion of the University’s College of Dentistry. Per DOB filings, the architect of record is EYP, though KPF appears to have led the project’s design.

433 First Avenue

433 First Avenue, image via KPF

NYU’s page on the site indicates the new building will span 170,000 square feet, which permits corroborate; the structure will stand eleven stories and 162 feet tall, allowing generous ceiling heights.

433 First Avenue

433 First Avenue, image via KPF

Aesthetically, 433 First Avenue will be a boon to the surrounding neighborhood, which has long been a warren of architectural neglect. The vicinity is dominated by dated towers and decrepit pre-war buildings, and the contrast presented by KPF’s creation will be a refreshing break from the developments that typify Kips Bay, which is a relative no-man’s-land, wedged between Midtown and Peter Cooper Village.

433 First Avenue

433 First Avenue, image via KPF

433 First Avenue’s facade will be glass and terra cotta, offering another example of the historic material’s recent comeback in New York City, where its usage is gaining significant visibility — perhaps most prominently at SHoP’s future 111 West 57th Street.

433 First Avenue

433 First Avenue, image via KPF

Besides integrating classic materials, the scheme for 433 First Avenue is decidedly contemporary, which is an obvious necessity given NYU’s position as a leading global academic institution. Large windows will allow ample light, and cut-outs will add variety and depth to the facade; the influx of additional students will also benefit the neighborhood’s pedestrian scene.

433 First Avenue

Construction progress

Completion of 433 First Avenue is expected later this year.

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Posted in 433 First Avenue | Architecture | Kips Bay | Kohn Pederson Fox | Midtown | New York | NYU

New Renderings: The New York Wheel

New York Wheel, image by Starneth B.V

New renderings have been posted to the website of The Staten Island Wheel, which has been approved by city planning and will soon begin construction. The development is being built by ‘New York Wheel LLC,’ and includes an adjacent outlet center that SHoP is designing, while Starneth, B.V. — the builder of the London Eye — is heading the work for the ferris wheel.

New York Wheel

New York Wheel, image by Starneth B.V

Per the official website, the wheel will “accommodate up to 1,440 people per ride, welcoming as many as 30,000 visitors per day and an anticipated 4+ million visitors per year,” which will provide a significant boost to the local economy in St. George, especially when combined with the impact of the adjoining retail.

While taking the Staten Island ferry has long been a tourist-y thing to do, the construction of the wheel and the neighboring outlet center will give visitors a reason to actually get off the boat; it will stand 630 feet tall, and the views over New York Harbor will be the best outside of those offered in Manhattan. Most importantly, the experience will be unique to St. George, as no comparable projects currently exist in North America.

New York Wheel

New York Wheel, image by Starneth B.V

Besides the wheel, the Terminal will add 340,000 square feet of retail with up to 125 designer outlets, though the building’s design will offer significantly more than a simple shopping experience; the project’s roof will be landscaped, turning it into an extension of the waterfront park. Ensuring that the Wheel and its surrounds are pedestrian-friendly is the most crucial aspect of the development, and will hopefully revitalize adjacent sections of St. George, as well.

New York Wheel

New York Wheel, image by Starneth B.V

Both the ferris wheel and the retail will be beneficial, but surprisingly, the park atop ‘The Terminal’ looks to be the development’s most impressive aspect, as it turns space that would otherwise be dead into a landscaped, attractive, and environmentally-friendly park; the entire project is aiming for LEED Platinum certification.

The New York Wheel and the neighboring outlets are expected to open in 2016, and construction is imminent.

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Posted in Architecture | New York | New York Wheel | Perkins Eastman | Renderings | Retail | St. George | Starneth B.V. | Staten Island | Staten Island Flyer

New Look: The Plaza at Hudson Yards

The Plaza at Hudson Yards -- image from Nelson Byrd Woltz

While the vertical element of Related’s Hudson Yards may be the site’s most prominent attribute, the creation of a public square at the ground-level will cement the mega-project’s iconic status, and new renderings from landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz reveal the latest plans.

The renderings look to be missing the most visually significant aspect of the plaza, which is a sculptural element that Related Chairman Stephen Ross has described as greater than “the Christmas tree [at] Rockefeller Center, but 365 days a year. It will be to this city what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.”

The Plaza at Hudson Yards

The Plaza at Hudson Yards — image from Nelson Byrd Woltz

Nevertheless, the images give a glimpse of what the pedestrian experience will be like when traversing the Hudson Yards, and the thoughtfulness and interactivity of the site is impressive. Per Nelson Byrd Woltz’ page on the project, “landscape design for Hudson Yards employs spectacle, fountains, art, and horticulture to set it apart from its neighbors,” and the description looks spot-0n; Thomas Heatherwick‘s mark on the park is also apparent, as flowing stairs — one of his trademarks — are incorporated into the plaza.

The Plaza at Hudson Yards

The Plaza at Hudson Yards — image from Nelson Byrd Woltz

Even with the admitted spectacle, the landscaping will help develop a context for the surrounding buildings, as the new neighborhood is literally sprouting from nothing. While the renderings do not offer a complete perspective, the most notable beneficiary of the park’s aesthetics appears to be the ‘Culture Shed’ at the base of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed ‘D’ tower.

Besides providing a visual anchor to the pedestrian realm, integrating the Shed into the new park is important because it will be the only truly human-scaled structure of the Hudson Yards, providing a link between the ground-level plaza, The High Line, and the skyscrapers that will tower above.

The Plaza at Hudson Yards

The Plaza at Hudson Yards — image from Nelson Byrd Woltz

Work on the new plaza will begin shortly; the first office towers are already rising, and completion of the park should occur well before 2020.

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Posted in Architecture | Hudson Yards | Midtown | Midtown West | Nelson Byrd Woltz | New York | Parks | Related

Revealed: 693 Fifth Avenue’s Makeover

693 Fifth Avenue -- video by Neoscape

The former Takashimaya department store at 693 Fifth Avenue is in for a makeover, revealed in a video posted by Thor Equities, which will be renovating the building; the film was created by Neoscape. The original structure was built in 1993, and per Crain’s, has 44,500 square feet of space on the first six floors.

Thor’s video outlines several exterior options for the project, which has one of the best locations of any retail development in the world. Per the graphics, 200,000 pedestrians traverse the sidewalks in front of 693 Fifth Avenue every day. Takashimaya vacated the space in 2010 after declaring bankruptcy, and the building traded to Thor for $140 million.

693 Fifth Avenue

693 Fifth Avenue — video by Neoscape

If the video is accurate, much of the existing structure’s facade will be removed; it seems that older retail buildings are particularly vulnerable to modernization, as enormous glass windows and space for LED-signage is key to visibility, especially on well-trafficked thoroughfares.

Unfortunately, windows and signs leave little room for detailing, and the result is cookie-cutter architecture. Further south, Thor is planning another major retail development, at 520 Fifth Avenue; the end-result at both locations will be apparently be quite similar.

693 Fifth Avenue

Possible configuration for 693 Fifth Avenue — video by Neoscape

Completion of the changes at 693 Fifth Avenue hinges on Thor finding a retail tenant, and the space currently remains vacant; once an occupant is secured, the building’s transformation can begin.

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Posted in 693 Fifth Avenue | Architecture | Midtown | Midtown East | New York | Thor Equities

Construction Update: City Tech, 285 Jay Street

City Tech -- 285 Jay Street

The redevelopment of the New York City College of Technology’s Klitgord Center at 285 Jay Street is making significant progress; demolition of the old structure is complete, and excavation for the replacement 8-story building is well underway. The school is colloquially known as City Tech, and its newest addition will span 365,000 square feet in total; Perkins Eastman is the architect of record.

City Tech -- 285 Jay Street

City Tech — 285 Jay Street

Located at the corner of Jay and Tillary Streets, City Tech’s expansion promises to activate a sliver of Downtown Brooklyn that has remained relatively desolate. Student populations are prone to inducing 24-hour activity on streets, and creating neighborhoods that actually feel alive; while City Tech’s continued growth is a boon for DoBro, incentivizing additional academic-centric development would further enhance pedestrian activity.

City Tech -- 285 Jay Street

City Tech — 285 Jay Street, excavation proceeding

City Tech’s newest building will have a range of facilities; via Perkins’ Eastman, it will “predominantly house laboratories, classrooms, faculty offices, clinic and support spaces,” in addition to “student life/recreation areas, a 1,000-seat auditorium, and [an] 800-seat spectator gymnasium.”

The new 285 Jay Street will offer a comprehensive program for City Tech’s students, and while the building’s design may be slightly awkward, its effect on the neighborhood will be beneficial. Besides the project’s cantilever — which heralds the trend’s arrival in Brooklyn — an awkward orange semi-cylinder will be integrated into the structure’s first floor. While the City Tech building will be ‘educational,’ the apparent homage to Fisher Price may be lost on college-aged students.

City Tech -- 285 Jay Street

City Tech — 285 Jay Street

Completion of 285 Jay Street is expected in the spring of 2017.

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Posted in Academic | Architecture | Brooklyn | City Tech | Construction Update | DoBro | New York | Perkins Eastman

Revealed: 405 East 60th Street

405 East 60th Street today, image via Google Maps

The first renderings for 405 East 60th Street on the Upper East Side have been posted on SLCE’s website; the building will be developed and occupied by Ronald McDonald House — which serves pediatric cancer patients — though plans have been on-hold for several years.

405 East 60th Street

405 East 60th Street — image via SLCE

The Ronald McDonald House is currently located at 405 East 73rd Street; the charity’s move will be minor, keeping it on the Upper East Side. RMH’s website has additional details on the organization’s mission, but maintaining proximity to treatment facilities is crucial. At both its former and current location, patients are close to thirteen treatment facilities, providing access to some of the best healthcare in the world.

While the eastern edge of the Upper East Side has traditionally been a nexus for healthcare, local NIMBYs would rather scuttle plans for state-of-the-art facilities; the battle over Memorial Sloan Kettering’s new cancer treatment center was vigorously opposed by neighborhood activists, though Kettering’s facility was ultimately approved. Besides MSK’s new building, another outpost for New York Presbyterian will soon rise at 445 East 68th Street.

Renderings of the new Ronald McDonald House depict a 16-story structure that will be fairly simple, with aesthetics characterized by large, floor-to-ceiling windows. 405 East 60th Street traversed ULURP early last decade, and the site has all the allowances needed for the new development, though DOB permits were disapproved in 2008. Nevertheless, those documents revealed the new RMH will have slightly over 90,000 square feet of space, with 74 units.

405 East 60th Street

405 East 60th Street — image via SLCE

Recent filings – approved on the 14th — indicate the existing 405 East 60th Street will see “facade and roof repairs,” possibly as a pre-cursor to demolition. No completion date for the re-development has been announced, but per SLCE, construction was initially planned for 2010.

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Posted in 405 East 60th Street | Architecture | Hospitals | New York | Ronald McDonald House | SLCE | Upper East Side

Revealed: 520 Fifth Avenue

520 Fifth Avenue -- demolition underway

Thor Equities’ demolition and redevelopment at 520 Fifth Avenue now has a rendering, via the developer’s page on the project. Additional information posted on TOWN broker Paul Macapagal’s website reveals the retail podium will be topped by hotels and residences, rising 39 stories in total, though whether that is the final figure remains to be seen. Delving into the DOB reveals Kaufman as the architect of record.

520 Fifth Avenue

520 Fifth Avenue — image via Thor

While no documents for the high-rise portion are on-file with the Department of Buildings, Macapagal’s site also describes the tower as a hotel/condominium mix, with 96 residences in total. The low-rise component will have approximately 60,000 square feet of space, spread over 6 floors.

The new 520 Fifth Avenue replaces two pre-war structures; though the glass box in renderings is optimized for modern retail, it seems to make no attempt at integrating into the neighborhood’s urban fabric. At the very least, the old structures possessed character and individuality.

520 Fifth may be located south of the thoroughfare’s most luxurious stretch, there is no reason that the most expensive shopping district on the planet should have banal, “anytown” architecture; perhaps the eventual hotel and condominium addition above the podium will have some trace of humanity in its design, though it seems doubtful.

Ultimately, fault lies with the city, and archaic zoning. Demolition of the old buildings is nearly complete, and with the podium’s permits approved, construction is imminent.

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Posted in Architecture | Construction Update | Midtown | New York | Residential | Retail

Interview: Pelli Clarke Pelli’s Brookfield Place

The Pavilion at Brookfield Place -- image courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli

Brookfield Place — formerly the World Financial Center, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects in 1988 — is undergoing a major renovation, with plans to transform the shopping center into lower Lower Manhattan’s premier retail destination. YIMBY spoke with Craig Copeland — Associate Partner at Pelli Clarke Pelli — and discussed the site’s new identity.

YIMBY in bold.

What were the major challenges in renovating the space?

Designing a public, contemporary, and seamless transition from the beloved and existing Winter Garden to the new World Trade Center and PATH. On the one hand, the WG was designed 25 years earlier, and is an expression of its respective architectural time, when historical referencing was very important. The WG has colorfully patterned stone paving, and an expressive structural truss-work forming a grand barrel vault, emulating Joseph Paxton’s historical Crystal Palace. The new Pavilion was more abstractly conceived, with no intention of making any direct historical references. The basalt stone paving of the Pavilion was selected to be a beautiful warm gray tone, a neutral field from which the very expressive, brightly painted and lit basket columns rise.

Another challenge was working on an incredibly constricted site immediately adjacent to the World Trade Center.  We had to coordinate tremendously complex sub-grade conditions with The Port Authority, particularly given that the entire north end of the foundation cantilevers over the PATH tube.

Brookfield Place

The Pavilion at Brookfield Place — image courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli

Did Sandy cause any problems — and did you have to consider the flood potential in the pavilion’s new design?

Only at the concourse level that connects to the PATH, almost 50 feet below grade — we did not have to consider the flood potential in the Pavilion design.

What differentiates the new space from the old, and what features do you think will be crucial in drawing new luxury retailers?

We selected materials and forms that were simple and expressive in form, not in patterning or historical reference — we also made a conscience effort to rebuild with finishes that were generally brighter, and to reshape all of the newer spaces to be more open, and infused with daylight.  The most apparent and positive results of the first completed phases can be experienced by the public in the north and south lobbies of Tower Four, as well as the Pavilion and Concourse.

How do you see the context of Brookfield Place evolving with the completion of the new World Trade Center, and its associated retail? 

Brookfield Place will be well positioned to serve the new and very changed needs of Battery Park City.  For starters, the neighborhood demographics have shifted from a predominantly financial office environment to a diverse working and living population.  The retail and marketplaces will cater to the broader 24-7 neighborhood.  The public spaces will be much more accessible from ground level.

Brookfield Place

The Pavilion at Brookfield Place — image courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli

What’s your favorite feature about the new space — and what are some changes that aren’t visible to the eye, that are nonetheless important?

The expressive basket columns; while performing the tremendous feat of holding up the entire roof and hanging glass curtain wall from two relatively small points, the columns are graceful and ever-changing as one moves through the space, and as light moves from day to night.  The diagonally weaving network of structural piping also recalls the trunks of the Winter Garden palm trees, an unintentional but seemingly fitting connection of new and existing.

Brookfield Place -- image courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli

The Pavilion at Brookfield Place — image courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli

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Posted in Architecture | Brookfield | Brookfield Place | Construction Update | Downtown | FiDi | New York | Pelli Clarke Pelli

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