Why New York City Is Getting So Many ‘Banal, Sheer Towers’

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The technology that allows developers to build the tall and skinny towers that are coming to dominate New York City’s skyline is not new; what is new, though, is the seemingly ceaseless demand for the trophy spaces housed in these towers. With apartments at the tippy-top of the city’s newest sky-grazing towers beginning to fetch upwards of nine figures, the buildings are coming to represent the polarized economy as well as a new era in building. In charting the rise of the “supertall” tower, The Guardian reflects on skyscraper building practices in New York City throughout time, and how they have determined the sincerity of the skyline. (They, as a British publication, only mildly rub in that planning officials in London negotiate the size and shape of every building with developers.) Here now, the seven best lines from The Guardian’s takedown of egotism in construction.

1) “…And the buildings are not, as in Dubai or Shanghai’s Pudong district, being constructed where nothing else had stood. They are, instead, crowding into already dense neighbourhoods where light and air are at a premium, and quality-of-life issues are on the minds of everyone except, perhaps, the billionaires buying the cloud-hung condos as investment properties.”

2) “In 2013, Warren St John, a writer who lives near Central Park, began campaigning for a moratorium on new skyscrapers immediately south of the park; his concern was that playgrounds and ballfields would increasingly be in shadow. The city’s outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire, wasn’t about to block construction of condos for his plutocratic peers; more surprisingly, the city’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, a populist, hasn’t addressed the issue either.”

3) “The setback requirements [of 1916], generally ensuring large reductions in floor area above the 10th storey, and further reductions higher up, led to one of the most distinctive building types of the 20th century: the wedding-cake tower, with the striations required by law inspiring jazz-age architects to greatness.”

4) “But in 1961 the city revised the zoning laws again, making the wedding-cake towers period pieces. Instead, entranced by Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building on Park Avenue, a masterpiece of bronze metal set back in a handsome plaza, officials switched to a zoning code that encourages standalone towers … The city was overtaken by banal, sheer towers set in plazas that offered very little to the public and, given the height of the new buildings, were often in shadow.”

5) “The real generator of form now is the winner-take-all economy—and with it, the demand for sky-high condos at sky-high prices.”

6) “…the demand for $20m to $100m condos, with views in all directions and no next-door neighbours, has given rise to a new building type—making the revised skyline the physical manifestation of New York’s income disparities.”

7) “Not only are these new towers casting long shadows on Central Park; they are turning the New York skyline, for most of the 20th century a kind of ziggurat with the Empire State Building as its peak, into a jumble.”

Source: http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/01/20/why_new_york_city_is_getting_so_many_banal_sheer_towers.php

LaGuardia Airport rail link highlights NY Gov. Cuomo’s transportation and infrastructure plan

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NEW YORK — Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans Tuesday to fulfill a long-held dream for New York City travelers: a rail link to LaGuardia Airport, one of the busiest airports in the nation.

The plan calls for an elevated AirTrain that would connect the airport, located in relative isolation in Queens along the Flushing Bay waterfront, with a busy transit hub 1.5 miles away. Cuomo said the train would link the airport to the Willets Point station, which sits opposite the Mets’ ballpark and serves the Long Island Rail Road commuter rail and the No. 7 subway line.

“You can’t get to LaGuardia by train. That really is inexcusable, and that is going to change,” Cuomo said in a speech to a gathering of the business group Association for a Better New York in Manhattan.

The governor’s aides said the project would cost approximately $450 million to build — about $300 million per mile — and should be completed within five years. A start date for construction has not been set, and the Legislature must sign off on the project.

Cuomo said the AirTrain would be built next to the Grand Central Parkway because construction there would not disrupt many existing neighborhoods, though it was not immediately clear how the land would be obtained. The construction would be managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the area’s major airports, with coordination with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to the governor’s aides.

Similar AirTrain links already exist at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, and transit advocates have long pushed for a dedicated train, or an extension of an existing subway line, to LaGuardia. Currently, the only mass transit option for LaGuardia is public bus, a rarity among major metropolitan airports.

Cuomo made the announcement during the last of a series of speeches across the state in recent days to preview his State of the State address, which he is scheduled to deliver Wednesday in Albany.

He also repeated his call to modernize the area’s airports, highlighting Vice President Joe Biden’s recent remark comparing LaGuardia to a “Third World country.” Cuomo had previously announced a design competition to modernize both LaGuardia and Kennedy airports and plans to expand a pair of smaller suburban airports to relieve some of the burden from the busy city facilities.

He also called for expanded ferry service to LaGuardia and Kennedy and for a new selection of gate area restaurants — including an outpost of Peter Luger, the famed Brooklyn steakhouse and a personal favorite.

“As governor, you get a few prerogatives,” he said to laughter.

Cuomo said the wide-ranging plan — which also includes new subway cars, new commuter rail stops in the Bronx and a replacement for the decaying Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River — would be paid for with a mixture of state funds, the Port Authority budget and some of a recent $5 billion bank settlement to the state.

Source: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/travel/289189191.html

Work on 432 Park Avenue Ceases Briefly Due to Falling Construction Debris

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As uncovered by Curbed, construction workers at Rafael Viñoly‘s 1,396 foot (426 meter) tall 432 Park Avenue were served with a full stop work order last week by the New York City Department of Buildings, after an 8 foot (2.4 meter) long section of steel pipework was dropped from a construction hoist on the building’s 81st floor.


Fortunately nobody was hurt as the pipe landed across the street in front of an occupied building. The Department of Buildings’ website also shows that the stop work order on the building was lifted after just a day, once the hoists being used had been inspected by the installation company.

However, the incident has done nothing for the building’s reputation among New Yorkers, as Andy Cush took the opportunity to let fly on Gawker’s Justice blog: ”Between the Manute Bol-sized hunks of material raining from this investment opportunity for global plutocrats… and the specter of a Central Park that’s bathed in the shadows of Billionaires’ Row, one thing is clear: even when their aeries high above the city sit unfinished and unoccupied, midtown belongs to the rich.”

Source: http://www.archdaily.com/589177/work-on-432-park-avenue-ceases-briefly-after-falling-construction-debris/

The most expensive residence ever purchased in NYC

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A mystery buyer­ has set a New York record, paying more than $100 million for a duplex occupying the top floors—the 89th and 90th—of a skyscraper on “Billionaires’ Row.’’

The “incredibly secretive’’ buyer shelled out $100,471,452.77 for the residence on West 57th Street—the most anyone has ever paid for a city apartment, a source said.

The previous record was set in 2012, according to website StreetEasy, when a Russian fertilizer czar bought the penthouse at 15 Central Park West that had been owned by ex-Citi­group honcho Sandy Weil.

It cost the manure magnate $88 million.

ONE57 was designed by award-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc—but has been reviled by many for casting a giant shadow across Central Park.

At more than 1,000 feet tall, it was briefly the tallest residential building in Manhattan. But that record has since been eclipsed by 432 Park Ave., which bills itself as the highest apartment tower in the Western Hemisphere.

ONE57 boasts walls of glass that frame Central Park. About half the buyers are foreigners.

While the building was under construction, Hurricane Sandy snapped a crane, stopping traffic for six days as it dangled over the roof for days.

Source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-most-expensive-residence-ever-purchased-in-nyc-2015-01-18