Public Place/Public Process

Course of Action

If criticism is a method that gets to the truth, then so be it. But, when it does not, then what? The Urban Design Discussion group put together a “Public Place Public Process” to get started on engagement methods.  After all, criticism begins and ends with a public that is by many accounts in a coma.  This link opens up a 40 page summary of submissions to an Urban Design Committee. It is a PowerPoint (2.4M pdf): San Antonio Presentation.

The Urban Design discussion combines the thinking of planners, designers, and architects to accomplish one thing – to move social and environmental equity forward on the nation’s list of priorities.  The solution to the global challenge is urban.

In 2006, fifty projects identified by New York Magazine (NYM) offered a start by scrunching some of the world’s best architects into a group to stimulate the mind’s eye.

The signatures are clear in the image pictured left. There is coherence as individuality but could an advanced public process improve it as a statement ” of a larger community?”

The lack of reciprocity between the tightly defined images of the developer’s market image research and the experience of the public.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image009-Copy.jpg
New York Magazine

The following examples (1-5 or more) will require ongoing review.  As Brooklyn’s northwest coast begins to develop, we expect it to reveal a new public realm in a receding industrial waterfront.

Community pressure produced a demand for inclusionary housing bonuses to exact 20% to 30% of the units as affordable in Brooklyn and opened the gate for the first expansion of the General Exclusion Area, formally known as the Manhattan Exclusion Zone.  (Note: all maps are by Jason Lee for New York Magazine)

  1. The Edge: Stephen B. Jacobs; master plan by FXFOWLE and TEN Arquitectos, September 2008  (view NYC Construction Top Projects pdf: here) Scaled back from 1.5 million to 1….  what else?
  2. Palmer’s Dock: FXFOWLE, phase one, 2008; phase two, 2009  (Impact of tax credits on design discussion in Journal of Tax Credits pdf article: here
  3. North 8: Greenberg Farrow Architecture, spring 2007
  4. Domino Sugar Site: Rafael Vinoly Architects, no completion date.  The story at this link must be a hoax: Hoax?
  5. Schaefer Landing:  Karl Fischer Architects, 2006

SEE: Sites 6 – 17: Lower Manhattan

Self-Analysis

In 2006, New York Magazine identified 50 projects and commissioned the “world’s best architects” composite.

In 2006, the most active and closely watched areas were:

  1. Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn, 2010 & 2016 (changing) See Atlantic Yards Superblocks.
  2. The New Museum, Chelsea. It’s done. Good neighbor? Bad neighbor?
  3. 80 South Street, Downtown, future (changing) approved in 05, so now what?
  4. IAC Headquarters, High Line, 2007 (ceramic pebbles in the glass to save energy)
  5. Silvercup West, Queens, 2009
  6. Freedom Tower, Downtown, 2015!

Now approaching twenty years later for these areas time set aside for an assessment will prove instructive. Comments on the products regarding the social, economic, and environmental concerns are due. The public process used to promote the plans requires comparison with the end product requires analysis. The image source is New York Magazine 2006.

Greenpoint Northside Waterfront

Manhattan/Brooklyn Heights

  1. The Edge Stephen B. Jacobs; Master Plan FXFOWLE and TEN Arquitectos, Sept. 2008
  2. Palmer’s Dock FXFOWLE, phase one, 2008; phase two, 2009
  3. North 8: Greenberg Farrow Architecture, spring 2007
  4. Domino Sugar Site: Rafael Viñoly Architects, Park opened in 2018, ArchDigest: FEMA flood plan ArchRecRev (payportal)
  5. Schaefer Landing: Karl Fischer Architects, 2006
  6. Freedom Tower, David Childs/SOM; World Trade Center Transit Hub Santiago Calatrava; Tower 2, Sir Norman Foster; visitor center, 2011
  7. 101 Warren Street; SOM, Ismael Leyva Architects, 2007
  8. William Beaver House; Developer André Balazs, no completion date
  9. Staten Island Whitehall Ferry Terminal; Fred Schwartz, 2005
  10. Battery Maritime Building; Renovation, Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, 2006
  11. Beekman Street Tower l Gehry Partners, Ismael Leyva Architects
  12. 80 South Street: Santiago Calatrava
  13. Pier 17; Beyer Blinder Belle, no completion date
  14. Drawing Center; Architect TBA, 2011.
  15. East River Waterfront; SHoP and Richard Rogers Ken Smith Landscape Architects, 2009
  16. Brooklyn Bridge Park; Michael Van Valkenburgh, 2012
  17. One Brooklyn Bridge Park/360 Furman Street Creative Design Associates, fall 2007
Upper West Side
  1. Javits Center; Rogers FXFOWLE Epstein, 2010.
  2. West Side Rail Yards No completion date.
  3. Moynihan Station David Childs/SOM, late 2010
  4. High Line; Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, phase one, 2008; phase two, 2009
  5. Chelsea Arts Tower Kosser & Garry Architects, Gluckman Mayner Architects, HOK, Fall 2006.
  6. Vesta 24; Garrett Gourlay Architects and James D’Auria Associates, April 2006.
  7. Marianne Boesky Gallery Deborah Berke & Partners Architects, September 2006.
  8. West 23rd Street building Neil M. Denari Architects, Marc Rosenbaum, Gruzen Samton, 2008.
  9. General Theological Seminary Tower The Polshek Partnership, no completion date.
  10. High Line 519; ROY Co., late 2006
  11. West 19th Street building Ateliers Jean Nouvel, no completion date.
  12. IAC Headquarters Gehry Partners, March 2007.
  13. 516 West 19th Street Selldorf Architects, 2008
  14. The Caledonia Handel Architects, 2008.
  15. Chelsea Market Residence Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects
  16. The Standard, NY The Polshek Partnership, 2007. High Line Club Developers Charles Blaichman and André Balazs, no completion date
  17. Pier 57 Michel De Fournier and Gensler, no completion date
  18. Dia High Line; Roger Duffy/SOM, 2008.

The health and prosperity of the world are at stake in this century. Planning, architecture, urban design, and engineering must become one discipline. It must take power to build connections to a far broader set of responsibilities. The need to produce so we don’t fail our kids, and their kids are now. Are the steps taken by these projects enough?

Are public agencies overwhelmed? Can they force the building of the city that should be built, or managing the one that can be built by those this limited imagination and concise term interests. Our public bodies have enormous authority. They miss opportunities to correct imbalances, leverage resources, and eliminate errors for the lack of political will and the ability to take power?

Anyone what to upgrade this with a starchitecture review?

New Building on 21st

The map (left) is clipped from the NYC zoning maps 16d and 22c to show the location of the Terraces R5B district concerning the Quality Housing Apartment Building in the R7A District on the west side of East 21st Street. Zoning (Exhibit Record (I, II, III, etc.) CRFN No. 2017000, 2017001)

222 East 21st Street or 571 Ocean Avenue: In a brief look at past work of this developer and architect, there are concerns regarding the use of materials and the lack of detailing and the possibility that a brick façade and other contextual elements will be poorly done. If you are interested in doing some homework representing AKNA, use the Contact link.

Two reasons for compiling the following information for review so far:

  1. Do whatever AKNA can do to assure the developer and architect will produce a development that meets or exceeds Quality Housing Standards. (see below)
  2. Establish a relationship with city agencies (HPD, DoB, EPA), local organizations (FDC, CD14, CAMBA), and the City Council to encourage this result.  Why? The quality of the 21st facade is important.

Questions that need answers:

  1. Who at HPD, DoB, will be conducting reviews and inspections?
  2. Will it be 80/20 Inclusionary Housing?  The plan is for 115 Units.
  3. What is the history and reputation of the Developer and the Architect?

More detail is available below. Articles on the project  “The Real Deal”

The New Apartment Building

The reported nine-story, 115-unit mixed-use building image is misleading. Nevertheless, new housing construction will begin soon on East 21st Street through-lot between Church Avenue and Albemarle Road. (see YIMBY).

The project could encompass 102,800 square feet and rise 80 feet in height. The proposed community facility space provides a floor area bonus, and its 58-car parking garage meets the 50% minimum. According to filed permits (building information system), The Real Deal notes that the project’s average apartment size of 712 square feet is indicative of rentals. The reported project height of nine stores exceeds limits defined by the R7A and may be presented this way to produce the appearance of a give back to community objections. (See R7A description below)

Nevertheless, the project could add about 300 new neighbors to the area and add density. The density issue triggers the attention of watchdog allies from the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, CAMBA, and other housing advocates regarding the enforcement of housing quality standards and rental housing affordability.

According to property records, the developer Bentley Zhao bought the property (through an LLC) in March for $11.5 million. The same developer also filed plans for a nine-story condominium building in Sheepshead Bay earlier this year.

The site (picture above) is cited as a safety hazard. It contains the skeleton of an abandoned construction project. Complaints and violations date back 10 years and include rusted and leaning steel beams and structurally unsound fencing. Active violations include working without permits and other construction violations and according to Property Shark. The site is also described as a hazardous waste generator or transporter with a site address of 571 Ocean Avenue, which would be the address and suggests the hazardous materials issue is not resolved.  Contact Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting.  A particular concern would be asbestos made airborne in site preparation.

Established in 1987, the Quality Housing Program intends to maintain the architectural character of New York City neighborhoods. The program rules concern height, bulk, lot coverage, street line, and more. Quality Housing is mandatory in contextual R6-R10 districts but only optional in non-contextual R6-R10 districts.

The contextual Quality Housing regulations are mandatory in this R7A district. Typically, they produce high lot coverage, seven- and eight-story apartment building, and blend existing buildings in established neighborhoods. R7A districts are mapped along Prospect Park South and Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, Jackson Heights in Queens, and Harlem and along the avenues in the East Village in Manhattan. The floor area ratio (FAR) in R7A districts is 4.0. Above a base height of 40 to 65 feet, the building must set back to a depth of 10 feet on a wide street and 15 feet on a narrow street before rising to a maximum height of 80 feet. To preserve the traditional streetscape, the street wall of a new building can be no closer to the street line, than any building within 150 feet on the same block but need not be farther than 15 feet. Buildings must have interior amenities for the residents pursuant to the Quality Housing Program. Off-street parking is not allowed in front of a building. Parking is required for 50% of all dwelling units.

Corridor Floor Area Deduction

Quality Housing grants two corridor deductions from the total floor area. Section 28-14 allows a 50% deduction of corridor floor area if there is a 20 square foot window in the corridor. Section 28-31 allows a 50% deduction if the dwelling units served by the corridor are less than the allowance in the section’s table. For instance, if a corridor serves 10 units or less, 50% of the corridor’s floor area is deductible offering some design flexibility trade-offs.

Recreational Floor Area Deduction

Quality Housing mandates the inclusion of recreational space as a percentage of residential floor area. For instance, R6 and R7 districts are required to include 3.3% of the residential floor area be recreational area. Section 28-21 states that no more than the required amount of recreational space in the table shall be excluded from the definition of floor area. Recreational areas can include space like gymnasiums, a popular building asset exempt from floor area.

For more see: http://www.decodernyc.com/why-opt-in-to-quality-housing/#sthash.3LhXeOQT.dpuf

Other Sources (some may have been moved):

http://bklyner.com/nine-story-apartment-tower-rise-flatbush-stalled-construction-site/ http://www.decodernyc.com/why-opt-in-to-quality-housing/
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/zoning/districts-tools/r7.page

The Website shows some of the projects first hand and the GC that worked the buildings

SHIMING TAM
S M TAM ARCHITECT, PLLC
5816 FORT HAMILTON PARKWAY M1
BROOKLYN NY 11219 S M TAM ARCHITECT, PLLC
SHIMINGTAMPC@AOL.COM
Business Phone: 718-765-1122Business Fax:     718-765-0813

$43M Sheepshead Bay Condo

Bentley Zhao developed building

Zhao’s New Empire Real Estate Development also operates an EB-5 regional center  
By Will Parker | March 30, 2017, 8:30 AM
Bentley Zhao and rendering for 2128 Ocean Avenue

Zhao filed an offering plan for a 56-unit condominium at 2128 Ocean Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, an application with the New York State Attorney General’s office shows. Zhao is shooting for a $43 million sellout of the 73,000 square-foot effort after buying the lot from Yu Xi-Liu last June for $3.9 million. The previous owners demolished a one-story garage at the site, but Zhao is yet to file new building permits.

Bentley Zhao’s New Empire

New Empire is based in Sunset Park, where Zhao also operates the New Empire EB-5 Regional Center from the company’s 3rd Avenue headquarters. The investment center’s website shows that the EB-5 portion of 2128 Ocean Avenue’s capital stack is already fully funded. Details on the website reveal that unit sizes at the project will average 890 square feet and range from studios to three bedrooms. In addition to EB-5 money, New Empire obtained an $18.5 million loan from Banco Popular North America in September.

Zhao’s ambitions and current portfolio go beyond South Brooklyn, however. New Empire plans a 49-story condo tower at 131 East 47th Street in Manhattan, a 122-unit project. Demolition of 19th-century rowhouses at the site commenced last spring. SLCE Architects is designing the new building, which will be at least partly funded with EB-5. Gary Barnett’s Extell Development sold the site to Zhao for $81 million in 2015.

New Empire is also raising EB-5 funds for a 105-unit condo in Prospect Park South, dubbed “Ocean Tower,” for a condo at 269 4th Avenue in Park Slope and at a boutique, seven-unit build at 409 West 45th Street in Hell’s Kitchen.

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Embed Density

highwater

We live in a culture that embeds information and where the most important things tend to go unsaid. All of us put information into machines that will retrieve data on practically anything imaginable, from an alarm clock to an AI for more complex decision-making. Perhaps this will release the unsaid portions about the vital function of cities in human life.

A recent Rolling Stone article by Jeff Goodell (Flooded City) does not make this point directly but exhibits its results with great clarity. Goodell talks about flooding in New York involving high or low ground impacts with storm surge or microburst variables. The unsaid stuff defines a vast combination of intellectual and architectural ramparts outlined as plans in various locations throughout New York City.

A talking head presentation at the New America Civic Hall (9.15.16) proved to be very un-civic but managed to remain polite. All New Yorkers will look at a sea rise map, make a quick am “I in or out” assessment and log that in for a personal assessment of risk. Unfortunately, many of the people attending were either outside the lines. Those who were wet on the map had an obvious self-interest with the prospect of land poverty but could not express them over all the talk of the new walls, ramparts, bounded rationality, and cognitive dissonance presentation about investments in resilience.

Promises

I suggest how to escape the Chicken Little problems the “flooded city” approach creates. The last half of the American century has offered two promises (maybe three). The first is the promise to eliminate disadvantage as discovered by the individual, the family, community, and nation. The American vocabulary, literature, art, law, and architecture present an exquisite language born of the poetry and forums of each for change and communication. The framers of the Constitution strengthen us. We have been given the tools, created the space, and found ways to speak truth to power. We are skilled in dialogue. We remain encouraged by each battle for social justice and civil society. We are routinely encouraged to confront the world’s history in ways that will keep that promise alive.

While not as refined, the second promise adds powerful new energy to the promise of eliminating disadvantage.  It is the promise of sustainability. From the Club of Rome to its reflective twenty-five-year reunion at the Smithsonian, a more accurate word, Resilience, now communicates the correct challenge and implies a variety of post-trauma conditions. We now deploy resilience officers throughout the world, but their task is not to look at high water and low land. The resilience mission is different – find ways to draw a line in the sand. It matters far less about where there will be high water until we know how to draw that line in the sand. There is no crystal ball. Pointing to facts is all that scientists can do. Describe where a part of the sky has fallen. Right now, that is more useful than why to avoid tragedy.

rollingstonegoodell

Historically, there is the “duck and cover” hedge and the old MAD way to a resilience challenge. The worldview of mutually assured destruction is also composed of private investors who are very active in their demand for public dollars to drive down risk. We need a much broader outline of ways to invest publically in resilience that may come down to clearly explaining the difference between the circle and the grid in urban design as we see it in the national highway system and the urban crisis.

The content embedded in the promises leading to eliminating disadvantage through fairness and sustainability can help define the architecture presented as walls and ramparts that encircle something. In this design, there is an inside and an outside. Without injecting these two promises into the process, the design of the walls and ramparts will damage more than any violent fire or storm.

Future articles and public discussions should take a lesson from Elizabeth Kolbert. Her extraordinary review of the science of global change over the last half-billion years defines our entry into the Anthropocene epoch, the knowledge of which might save us all.

Elizabeth Kolbert is author of Pulitzer Prize-winning, The Sixth Extinction


The Isle de-Jean Charles

It is time to get dangerously practical about the local impact of global problems. I would apply the Isle de-Jean Charles Climate Change Refugees (video here) to a New York City example: The action taken in Louisiana occurred when they were down to the last two percent of their land. (get the untold story on the 98%). Can New York or any other city afford to set that standard or hedge that bet that way?

Un-rough the math here,  $100 million in relocation funds for 20 households applied to the 35,000 families in, let’s say, Canarsie, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. The bill would come to $175 billion. Resettlement at 20HH/year would take a millennium. At 500 HH/year, the cost would be $2.5 billion/year, and it would take 70 years. So buy the property, strip it of its toxins, wait for the ocean to come and you have an artificial reef over the foundations, counter the acidity and make seafood.

An investment of this kind protects the future. It would prevent the “land poverty” plan currently in play to reflect the ramparts’ tragedy, not the ocean’s. For a place like Canarsie, or the Rockaways (the natural rampart), the test should be whether a quid pro quo is in place, or just another caveat emptor slap in the face, aimed at people of color.

Truth to power, you cannot get that pitiful amount today for a place like Canarsie. The policy for change remains in the MAD world of catastrophic resolution. The Chicken Little approach does not have a chance unless you do one simple thing. Put that line in the sand and be a little scary.  Draw the wall, present its ramparts across the landscape of NYC or any other place on the planet, and have the courage to ask and answer two questions.  

Who’s In? Who’s out? Straight up, without weapons, humans are not built to kill, with no claws or fangs. Still, when one group of humans is forced to say to another group facing a life-threatening condition, “you are not selected” now or even in the evolutionary sense, I do not know which group is worse off.

Rex L. Curry

A third promise awaits development given an implementation plan.  The positive side of the formation of ramparts and walls is the opportunity to recognize a dense, contained urban life offering new forms of growth. The challenge is to put a stop to the grid humans have drawn on the earth.  The grid is a symbol of the infinite. The sphere or circle is limited. The fuel of unlimited growth within this circle (ramparts and all) is to develop methods for all that enters the encircled urban world will leave in a non-toxic form. Today over 80% of what flows out is toxic.

Today the planners, engineers, architects, and climate scientists assess the impact of the sea rise, storm surges, and microbursts pounding down the Hudson River Valley on the city’s property. The Flooded City article points out the big picture these professionals paint for owners and policymakers.

For example, a rise in sea level far less than a meter places 71,500 buildings and $100 billion of property in NYC’s high-risk flood zones. Sea rise is not a complex assessment. Remote earth sensing devices can measure elevation to less than a meter. Some devices calculate small fluctuations in gravitational forces, and for any area in question, they can do so in time. The ramparts and walls encircling vulnerable properties using these tools also exhibit various wrongheaded priorities of great value for reforms and the discussion of fairness.

The below-ground world of tunnels and conduits (vehicles, gas, power, clean, gray, and black water) of New York City is not climate-proof. Yet, given the positives of the walls and ramparts, the capacity to fragment infrastructure systems to function independently is implied. Still, the policy is dishonest unless the question “who is in and out” is answered.

Global processes are geologically instantaneous events in the context of the last half-billion years. They occur daily but remain well outside of human experience. We are unlikely to “duck and cover” or step back from the waves of an unobservable rise of the ocean at the base of a massive river basin. Creating the incentives to do so is the challenge of our time.

Nevertheless, insisting on acquiring and removing toxins from NYC’s waterfront and flood-prone zones may be the best plan of action for no other reason than it will take a century to accomplish. The planning work as it stands today favors protecting property in the short term. It emanates from the boardrooms and public conferences in the old way.  It is about producing jobs through relatively high yield, short-term investments under the heading of resiliency. The discussion of the chemical, biological, and most importantly, financial toxins encircled by these old ways requires a sharper focus by its critics.