The Omnibus Roundup — Torre Verre, East River Esplanade, Public Data, A Week on the Water, D-Crit Book Club and What the Cell?

Torre Verre Image via The New York Observer

Torre Verre is back! When development firm Hines first revealed plans for a new Jean Nouvel sliver tower next to MoMA, the City Planning Commission curtailed the height by 200 feet. The most recent design boasts a modest 78 stories, down from 85, which means it will still tower over surrounding buildings but will no longer be visible from across the East River. According to Carol Willis, director of New York’s Skyscraper Museum, the decision to lower the tower was a disappointment: “We’ve done a great job in the past decade with protecting and improving the quality of experience of the ‘sidewalks of New York,’  but I think it’s a shame that the skyline seems to be losing its ambition and diversity.” Read more on the developing project, and check out a slideshow on the tower at The New York Observer.

If you’ve been keeping track of the Big Apps competition over the past few years, which asks digital innovators to make use of the current public data sets the city provides, you may have visited City-hosted sites like DataMine, which provides nearly 400 datasets of raw and geographic information from parking violations to vacant properties as a free service to the public. The Bloomberg administration supports and even prides itself on access to open data, but a recent article in Gotham Gazette points to the fact that there is no existing policy for when and how datasets are released. But steps are being taken to change that. City Councilmembers Gale Brewer and Dan Garodnick have both introduced or sponsored legislation advancing open data policies for the City of New York, and the issue has been identified as a priority in the Roadmap for the Digital City, the recent NYC Office of Media and Entertainment release outlining the early stages of an official digital strategy. See the full piece at Gotham Gazette.

NYC waterways. Photo: Librado Romero via the New York Times

Corey Kilgannon, of The New York Times’ City Room is spending “a week on the water” to meet and document some of the hundreds of New Yorkers who live and work in and around New York City’s waterways. Day one took Kilgannon from Rockaway Inlet to Jamaica Bay. Day two focused on waterfront industry, specifically looking at the “veritable tugboat repair shop” that stretches along a portion of the Kill Van Kull, and the tankers and ports that deliver and process much of what comes into the New York metropolitan area. (Read more about water-based freight in May’s “From Trucks to Tugs: Short Sea Shipping.”) On day three, Kilgannon travels to the quieter waters of Upper Manhattan, meeting “the caveman of Inwood Park” as well as some recreational users of the waterways. And day four brought him in the path of one of the many Coast Guard patrols around the city (read more about the Coast Guard in our feature “Coast Guard Sector New York“). There are a few days left in his week — stay tuned to more of “A Week on the Water” here.

East River Esplanade Image via Inhabitat

Last month, the first section of the new East River Esplanade opened, revealing a two block segment that runs Pier 11 at Wall Street to Pier 15 at South Street Seaport. Designed by landscape architect Ken Smith and SHoP Architects, the park will eventually extend up to Pier 35, making it twice as long as the High Line. Phase one offers features like chaise longues, bleacher-like steps that descend into the water, a continuous bike lane, an eco-park, a dog run, recreational piers, game tables and native coastal plants. The furniture alone has some high notes with “barstools” and railing surfaces made of dark grey stone and beautiful ipe hardwood. See the official announcement from the City here, and more coverage from The Architect’s Newspaper.


The Design Trust for Public Space is hosting its next Public Space Potluck this weekend to celebrate Bittertang’s Burble Bup, the winner of this year’s City of Dreams pavilion competition. In partnership with competition sponsors Emerging New York Architects and FIGMENT, the potluck will feature al fresco dining on Governors Island this Saturday, August 13th on Liggett’s Terrace from 1-3pm. See more info here.

This week, two teaching artists at the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) shared their story of the recent transit planning project “Fast-Tracked.” Next up for CUP is a screening of its latest documentary, a worthwhile look at how cell phone infrastructure works, why cell phone bills are billed a certain way, and who owns the air waves. The documentary was created through a collaboration between CUP, teaching artist Helki Frantzen, and high school students from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and features interviews from cell phone engineers, utility lawyers, consumer advocates, and electrophysicists, and inspections of a Verizon high-security switching station and cell phone testing labs at Consumers Union. (Read more on mobile communication networks in Michael Chen’s “Signal Space.”) The screening will be held Tuesday, August 16, at 7pm at 1 East 53rd Street (between Madison and 5th Avenues). RSVP by August 15th to or see more information here.

A slew of SVA Design Criticism MFA grads recently founded a design communications consulting firm called Superscript, which has launched a new “Architecture and Design Book Club (ADBC).” The next meeting happens next Thursday, August 18th at 6:30pm on the High Line, hosted by author and critic Alexandra Lange and will discuss William H. Whyte’s classic 1980 text The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. See more on this at Design Observer.


BMW Guggenheim Lab Image via

The BMW Guggenheim Lab continues to play host to a number of events, games and interactive exhibits worth checking out. Here are a few of the best ones coming up this week: Tonight at 7pm, celebrated thinker Saskia Sassen will question notions of comfort and “cityness” in the global city of New York. This weekend, see the exhibit on the “NY leftover bailout” which explores how “vibrant, diverse communities are created and maintained despite gentrification processes.” Or you can play “Urbanology,” an interactive game designed by Local Projects to role-play scenarios on city transformation. See the full schedule of events here, and be sure to check out our recent interviews with members of the BMW Guggenheim Lab team for more in-depth information.

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.