NY East Side Access Project

The City of New York has been planning for years to bring the LIRR to Manhattans Grand Central Station.  The Tunnels needed to make this happen have been under construction for some years now, and the project has already gone billions over budget.  The once $6.3 billion price tag jumped in 2006 to $8.24 billion and could increase more.  Many skeptics fear the project will turn into New York's very own "Big Dig".  The project was once slated to be done by 2015, but is now scheduled to last until August 2019.  Below are some impressive images of the tunnels progress.

Images Courtesy of MTA's Flickr

How Much Water do You Consume? Info-graphic of the day

Most individuals go through life barely giving a thought as to the impact their consumption and daily habits have on our environment and in our global community. Many who live in the developed Western world take for granted the convenience of turning on the tap and receiving clean drinkable water.  We are very unaware of the millions around the world who die everyday from water born diseases and Thirst.  They are deprived of life's most basic vital resource, Water.  We may not be able to change this reality over night, but we can do more to "Respect" and appreciate the most valuable resource for sustaining life on Earth.

Check out this neat Info-graphic below, created to show what our daily impact really is. You may be surprised!

Courtesy of: Loch Ness Water Gardens


Nvidia Headquarters; Sci-Fi Films and Architecture

The New Nvidia Headquarters looks like an office building straight out of a Sci-Fi film, or perhaps the popularity of Contemporary and Avant Gard architecture is a reflection of the influence science and technology has on the craft.  Silicon Valley will soon welcome the Nvidia and the Gensler designed building to its expanding list of tech moguls.  The tech company has become part of a trend of businesses who seek to transform their work environment into into one that reflects their innovative business model in its most physical form.

The schematic renderings depict a pair of 250,000 square foot triangular mother-ships centered around collaboration, a complete contrast to the typical, dated office building commonly found throughout Silicon Valley.  The facility prides itself as being a modern workplace designed for collaboration and innovation, whose seamless transitions and exaggerated staircases spark spontaneous interactions and informal meetings.  Even the notion of a staid lobby will be transformed into an "activity-filled space that serves as the heart of the building."

The concept borrows inspiration from the logic of chip design – where the connections for information flow are deisgned first – as each of the two floor plates are centered around how people move, maximizing the opportunities to connect and enhance collaboration.  All will be housed in Two-story, triangular volumes capped with sculptural roofs composed of triangular facets that correspond to the interior layout, allowing vaulted ceilings and skylights as needed.

The new headquarters will be constructed in two phases, with ground breaking scheduled for the first building in June and completion set for July 2015.  It is unknown when the second building will be constructed.


East River Blueway Plan; NYC

The East River Greenway will finally receive the renovation New Yorker's have been waiting years for. The greenway is located on a narrow stretch of land squeezed between the FDR Drive to the West and the river to the East.  There are a few scattered public parks connected by a path that has been weathered and torn apart over the years.  The proposed "Blueway" is a collaboration between Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Boards 3 and 6, State Assembly member Brian Kavanaugh, and New York design firm WXY architecture and urban design.  WXY takes suggestions from the general public to develop a scheme that works within the framework of the existing Greenway and provides specific sites waterfront access, development of wetlands and greater connectivity to the city and its waterways.

WXY has developed site-specific strategies along the length of the East River segment. By pooling information from the community, draft plans and schematic designs have been developed to revise some of the existing infrastructure in more conscious ways. WXY's design introduces greening portions of the hardscape elements under the overpasses to soften its appearance and provide storm water and flood management.  The plans also propose developing wetlands that can work to buffer against future storm surges. Wetlands can provide habitats for wildlife, sites for ecological restoration and environmental learning centers.

Communities along the East River want to expand their access to the waterfront with boat launches, an eco-dock, facilities for environmental educations and ecological restoration projects, ferry access, restaurants and cafes, and fish cleaning facilities.  A natural beach has also attracted some attention to develop nesting grounds for wildlife.  The firm has also had to develop new access points to the water front, which include more bus stops, bike paths, safer pedestrian crossings, and additional pedestrian bridges that are ADA accessible.  The East River Blueway Plan is also coordinating with plans north and south of its focus to push for a more seamless experience along the river, closing the dead zone  gap between 38th and 59th Streets.  A competition has been organized seeking design solutions for that portion.


Sou Fujimoto Will Design the 2013 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

The Serpentine Gallery chose multi-award-winning Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.  He will be the thirteenth and, at 41, youngest architect to accept the invitation to design a temporary structure for the Serpentine Gallery, the most ambitious architectural program of its kind worldwide.  Past Pavilions have included designs by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei (2012), Frank Gehry (2008), Oscar Niemeyer (2003) and Zaha Hadid (2000).

Widely acknowledged as one of the most important architects coming to prominence worldwide, Sou Fujimoto is the leading light of an exciting generation of artists who are re-inventing our relationship with the built environment.  Inspired by organic structures, such as the forest, the nest and cave, Fujimoto's signature buildings inhabit a space between nature and artificiality.  Fujimoto has completed the majority of his buildings in Japan, with commissions ranging from the domestic, such as Final Wooden House, T House and House N, to the institutional, such as the Musashino Art Museum and Library at Musashino Art University.

Occupying 350 square-meters of lawn in front of the Serpentine Gallery, Sou Fujimoto's intricately arranged, lattice structure of 20mm steel poles will have a lightweight and semitransparent appearance that will allow it to blend, cloud-like, into the landscape and against the classical backdrop of the Gallery's colonnaded East wing.  Designed as a flexible, multi-purpose social space- with a cafe sited inside, visitors will be encouraged to enter and interact with the pavilion in different ways throughout its four-month tenure in London's Kensington Gardens.

In His own words Sou Fujimoto: "For the 2013 Pavilion I proposed an architectural landscape: a transparent terrain that encourages people to interact with and explore the site in diverse ways.  Within the pastoral context of Kensington Gardens, I envisage the vivid greenery of the surrounding plant life woven together with a constructed geometry.  A new form of environment will be created, where the natural and the man-made merge; not solely architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two."

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Expansion

Steven Holl Architects was unanimously selected by the Kennedy Center board of trustees to design the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Expansion Project. Mr. Holl remarked, "It is a great honor to design the extension to the Kennedy Center, a 'Living Memorial."  in that spirit ours is part of a vital architecture, providing much needed rehearsal space, and classrooms with natural light and ventilation."

Steven Holl's initial concept for the project includes three connected pavilions that will house classrooms, rehearsal rooms, lecture space, multipurpose rooms, and limited office space.  In the initial concept, one pavilion will float on the Potomac River and offer an outdoor stage.  Public gardens will fill out the space, fusing the Kennedy Center with the landscape and river.  The exteriors will utilize translucent Okalux, glass and Carrara marble, the same Italian marble which clads the original facility.  The silhouette of the current building will be preserved by connecting the new structure underground and via the main plaza.

A formal design will be created and announced in the coming months.  Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser stated, "The Kennedy Center has the largest arts education program in the country without having any dedicated facilities to serve these growing programs.  Kaiser is pleased to know that  the center will now have spaces specifically designed those functions, to help fulfill their mission of bringing arts education to students across Washington and to millions of people across the country.  The project is expected to cost approximately $100 million.  Kennedy Chairman David M. Rubenstein will donate $50 million toward the design and construction of the new building.  The design and construction costs for the expansion project will be paid for entirely with private funds.


NYC's West 57th "Pyramid" Wins Final Approval

New York's City Council unanimously awarded final approval to BIG's West 57th apartment building in Midtown Manhattan.  The company received approval after an long and arduous public review process, involving heated debates over affordable housing.  A compromise was made to include 173 affordable housing units within the 32-story, 750-unit residential building and the neighboring industrial building that will be converted into 100 additional rental apartments.

The project initially faced immediate opposition and an inevitable shut-down by the community board and Councilwoman Gail Brewer, if the apartments were only made affordable for a 35 year period.  However, the developers won them over by contributing one million dollars into an affordable housing fund.  Therefore there will be by law, 35 years of income-restricted affordable housing.

The sleek tetrahedral shaped building bares a steeply sloped facade featuring a massive football-sized courtyard with beautiful Hudson River views and outdoor terraces for all 750 residents, along with a vibrant street life and close proximity to the Hudson River Park.  Work has already began with a move in date expected for Spring of 2015.