Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

New York’s “greenest” skyscaper is actually its biggest energy hog: New Repubic

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Energy hog tower, despite LEED certification

Must read: Bank of America’s Toxic Tower: New York’s “greenest” skyscaper is actually its biggest energy hog in New Republic.

“According to data released by New York City last fall, the Bank of America Tower produces more greenhouse gases and uses more energy per square foot than any comparably sized office building in Manhattan. It uses more than twice as much energy per square foot as the 80-year-old Empire State Building. It also performs worse than the Goldman Sachs headquarters, maybe the most similar building in New York—and one with a lower LEED rating. It’s not just an embarrassment; it symbolizes a flaw at the heart of the effort to combat climate change.”

“LEED has helped create a market for sustainability where one didn’t exist before. The problem is that real-estate developers have been able to game the system, racking up points for relatively minor measures. A USA Today series last October found developers accruing points simply by posting educational displays throughout a building and installing bike racks—and avoiding measures that might be more costly and effective.”

““What LEED designers deliver is what most LEED building owners want—namely, green publicity, not energy savings,” John Scofield, a professor of physics at Oberlin, testified before the House last year.”

See also The End of the Age of Tall Buildings.

 

You Know Things are Messed Up When Librarians Start Marching

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Most of the photos here were taken by a friend of mine, Canadian filmmaker Velcrow Ripper, at Occupy Wall Street. Reproduced here with permission. See his whole gallery of Occupy Wall Street photos.

I would like to nominate the protest sign—all the protest signs of this year’s worldwide uprisings, in general—as the pre-eminent design object of 2011. Most newsworthy, most useful, most creative, and it gives “mass-produced” a new meaning.

Vancouver begins its own Occupy protest on October 15, in solidarity as well as in protest against the wealth divide here at home. The gap between rich and poor in Canada is at its historic widest, and it’s nowhere wider than in British Columbia where more than a decade of rightwing policies and cuts have produced, among other tragedies, the worst child poverty rate in the country, and by a wide margin. Accelerating corporate ownership of our political process creates problems here too. Even if Canada’s greater regulation of banking has saved us from some of the catastrophes facing the US, the rapidly widening income gap means we are heading for trouble.

Those who mock or dismiss Occupy Wall Street—if anyone is still doing that—will probably regret it later.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

More reading:

Mark Ruffalo, The Guardian: We are the 99 percent
Paul Krugman, New York Times, Panic of the Plutocrats
Naomi Klein, The Nation, Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now
Chris Hedges, Truthdig, Why the Elites are in Trouble
Douglas Rushkoff, CNN, Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it
Tristan Markle, The Mainlander, #OccupyVancouver? Look to Hong Kong housing activists for inspiration
Joe Romm, ThinkProgress, The Other 99% of Us Can’t Buy Our Way Out of the Impending Global Ponzi Scheme Collapse

Below, by an unknown phographer, a shot of a US veteran at the protest. (Please tell me if you know who shot this.) Sign should win a prize for best ever use of black electrical tape. “2nd time I’ve fought for my country – 1st time I’ve known my enemy.”

And from CNN‘s article “Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it”:

Update: a new photo of the sign at top, which now seems to be going viral:

Condos and highrise buildings, New York vs Vancouver

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

From the Highline

From the Highline

(All photos here are of New York. Photos of Vancouver to be appended later.)

The building at left is by Gehry. Shot is taken from the Highline promenade. I’m not normally a fan of Gehry but this grouping of buildings is quite attractive and when I saw its complementary surfaces I was struck by how seldom (never) Vancouver achieves this.

From the Highline

Chelsea buildings from the Highline

Thanks to property speculation in Vancouver, up to 60% of condos in the new downtown towers are unoccupied. This statistic is based on the assessment of realtors selling in the area. These condos are bought only for investment purposes, most often by foreign buyers but also by local real estate speculators. The condo towers in question are, as a result, increasingly built for pure, cynical get-rich-quick business motives rather than out of real housing needs and certainly not out of architectural ambition. Not surprisingly the towers reflect their crassly transactional origin in their design—as tall as possible, as many units as possible, and built to a spec design rather than designed by an architect. Hang the cost of a real architect; spend more on marketing than on architectural design: this is what is increasingly referred to in Vancouver as marketecture. These generic, personalityless, utterly interchangeable buildings are not built for living in as much as they are just tiny boxes for parking money in. And it shows.

In New York, on the other hand, you see evidence—in both older and newer buildings—of architectural and design quality. It’s as if people actually care about their city, and buildings seem constructed for a market that desires beauty and that plans to actually live in the building. But New York’s political economy is different than ours, of course. It has a long history of a diversified, locally-grounded economy. BC on the other hand has always been a pioneer, banana republic-style resource extraction economy. We build nothing from the raw resources, but rather just ship them out: logs, minerals, fish, lumber, pot. We never developed a tradition of making things. Instead we quickly built a flashy, architecturally-derivative paean to our quickly-begotten pirate loot. “By Sea, Land, and Air We Prosper”—that’s the motto of the City of Vancouver. A topic for another day is the connection between far-right economics and resource extraction.

Here is just a small sample of visually interesting buildings seen mostly in Lower Manhattan. Like them or not—and they’re not all perfect by any means—they evidence more care, design skill and creativity than the developer-designed mediocrity sprouting up all over Vancouver. Much of the current opposition to highrises has to do with the fact that these bland, cynical, tall-for-profit monstrosities are inimical to neighbourhoods. They bring a weird silent soullessness to every neighbourhood they’re plonked in. As architect Bing Thom pointed out recently, the housing stock downtown is utterly distorted by these economics—it’s designed for zero children and zero schools, it encourages only temporary inhabitation by people desperate to get into the real estate market, there’s no pleasurable pedestrian activity around them, and they’re simply unsustainable if what you want is a real city. And we’ll be stuck with this hulking mediocrity forever. Or until it’s underwater.

From the Highline

From the Highline

Certainly, comparing New York and Vancouver is comparing apples and oranges. New York sprang up before the invention of the car, it has an abundance of dense (and often not overly tall) housing, a history of rent control, excellent transit, and it enjoyed the kind of settlement pattern and diverse local industry that produces a workable layout and a natural form of density. That is New York’s pre-existing advantage. Vancouver was born of a succession of gold rushes (gold, fish, lumber, minerals… now real estate, drugs) and wears this political economy on its sleeve.

Many of these shots were taken from the Highline, the extremely successful and already beloved elevated park/promenade made from New York’s disused elevated train line. Which was reminiscent of the viaducts in Vancouver. On a warm September night the Highline was packed with people enjoying the view of the city amongst plantings of native grasses and plants.

Building seen from 10th Ave

Addition

Chelsea

NYC

NYC

 

Stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

I was there by accident. These people were not.

Apparently it’s “anything goes” in fashion right now, but that’s been true for a while. Anyway, it’s never really “anything goes” – there are always those weird, arbitrarily-imposed rules. But it does feel like a confusing, shifting mishmash right now. Like the economy.

Seen after stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Seen after stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Seen after stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Seen after stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Seen after stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Seen after stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Seen after stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

Seen after stumbling upon NY Fashion Week by accident

NY Fashion Week

Donald Judd’s loft at 101 Spring Street

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Donald Judd loft, Soho, NYC

This is artist Donald Judd’s loft in Soho, maintained as a museum but only open infrequently during current restorations. It was one of the first artist’s lofts in Soho – not to mention in New York – and is now almost the paradigmatic example of loft living. Judd bought the entire 1870′s industrial building for 70,000 in 1968 and moved in with his family. One of the central figures in minimalist art, Judd lived his own aesthetic in a space he referred to as “permanent installation.” His interest in industrial materials and engineering methods is evident here in the lack of any attempt to domesticate the space as well as in the simple, unadorned furniture he built for it. The NYT ran an article a while ago which included an interview with Judd’s son Flavin, who was 6 months old when he moved into this loft and who nostalgically described the Soho of the 60s and 70s as a small town smelling fragrantly of the cigars manufactured nearby. These days there’s a certain huffiness out there about modernism and minimalism’s supposed kid-unfriendliness, but Flavin Judd remembers this space – ground zero of minimalism – happily and even nostalgically (there’s a small image of the Judds at home, below). “There were “the best Swedish breakfasts on the second floor — 50 people would come over — ham, cheese, weird flatbreads, salmon,” Flavin Judd said. “It was a great place to grow up.” To read the whole story, which includes information on the heritage restoration of the whole building, see the NYT. See also this blog’s previous post on minimalism.vs. maximalism in interiors. There’s a good shot of the a reproduction of Judd’s famous daybed on AT , and lastly, Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change by Sharon Zukin provides an interesting portrait and social history of artist’s lofts, including 101 Spring Street. According to the Judd Foundation website, tours of the Spring St. building and loft are suspended during restoration.

Donald Judd's Loft

Donald Judd Loft, Spring Street, Soho

101 Spring street. Donald Judd's building.

donald judd daybed

Judd kitchen

Donald Judd, table with storage

Judd kitchen

101 Spring street. Donald Judd's building.

Judd loft, bedroom

Donald Judd loft, bed platform detail

Photos from the NYT and from DiscoContinental on Flickr. Take a fun quiz (is it a Judd or a piece of cheap furniture?) here.

New York loft with stripes

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

Probably everyone and his/her dog has seen this NYC loft apartment by now, and possibly also blogged about it, but this is one of those places that is so hypnotizing I can’t stop looking at it. It’s on the top floor of a former industrial building on Broadway in NYC and not surprisingly it belongs to an architect couple. It is filled with Jean Prouvé and Hans Wegner furniture among other great things, but it’s the beautiful diamond-patterned Berber rug and the striped pillows that make it. There’s something about these minimalist, monochomatic stripes and geometries that produce a mesmerized quasi-autistic trance, while at the same time they are also pleasingly reminiscent of the traditional striped textiles of both Sweden and Greece. Modernism’s long-standing relationship with simple agrarian-based weaving is not surprising. Without the wood and textiles this would just be another cool – even cold – white loft.

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

NYC loft from OWI, Office of Word and Image

Via OWI.