The Omnibus Roundup – Moynihan, ribbon cuttings, interactive projection campaigns and printing stone

Moynihan Station by WallyG

James A. Farley Post Office, photo by Flickr user wallyg.

This week brought some activity back to the Moynihan Station project. The Empire State Development Corporation has officially selected Skidmore, Owings and Merrill for the first phase of the project, which exclusively involves interior and underground infrastructure. SOM says their design will alleviate foot traffic, improve rail signals and train capacity for the many thousands of passengers who travel through the station each year. Though renovation of the old Farley Post Office remains unfunded, this progress encourages us to imagine all that the new station might be.

Bird to the North reports on a successful experiment with traffic calming measures in Brooklyn Heights.  A widening of the sidewalk at the end of the block creates a narrow passage through which cars can pass, preventing them from speeding through the intersection to catch a green light. Not only do they slow traffic, they also make the city streets that much easier for pedestrians to get across.

In ribbon-cutting news, this week the city received its first ever officially-green-LEED certified New York Public Library. Gothamist reports on the new Battery Park City branch, located at 175 North End Avenue for anyone who wants to stop by. Then, next week brings the opening ceremony for Pier One, the first completed section of Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson and various council and assemblymen will gather at 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 22nd, just one week after the state handed over control of the project to the city.

Non-profit organization Pathways to Housing has launched an interactive projection campaign, currently traveling the streets of Manhattan. Designed by Sarkissian Mason, the video installation incorporates eye-catching projections (an image of a person sleeping on the street transitions into the door of a home that the person enters when passers-by text a given number) and the increasingly common “impulse donation” option to contribute to a cause via text message (people who interact with the installation through texting are given an option to donate a small amount to the non-profit through an additional text message). Though we haven’t experienced the campaign in person, the video (above) looks compelling.

In opposition to the usual pro-urbanism enthusiasm for high speed rail, Wired featured a piece pondering the possibility that high speed rail might lead to new sprawl by creating faster and easier commutes to urban city centers from suburbs and exurbs.

Limiting new sprawl is quite a different proposition than actively seeking to shrink a city. Check out this podcast from the New York Times that discusses how to deal with diminishing populations. In the case of Detroit, whose government can no longer afford to service certain depopulated and far-flung neighborhoods, certain philanthropic foundations have stepped in to help pay the salaries of urban planners and other city workers brought in to help manage the incredibly complex task of urban downsizing.

Italian engineer and inventor Enrico Dini, a “mad genius” according to Fast Company, is getting some attention lately for D-Shape, a machine he developed that can print stone buildings. The CAD-driven machine deposits layers of sand that are bound together with an “inorganic binding ink” that in effect creates solid stone. Potential applications of the technology are infinite, and the implications could be huge for reducing the distance between the idea and the physical. Blueprint Magazine has an extended profile of the project, including Dini’s own expectations for what D-Shape might do – a few modest goals such as completing the Sagrada Familia and building structures on the moon.

D-Shape, via Blueprint Magazine

The Roundup keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about. 

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.


Leni Schwendinger March 31, 2010

RE: Moynihan; thanks for the inspiration – for those interested in my large-scale post office light projection in 1993, and some thoughts on the new train station, please see “Postal Mortem”