TRAFFIC SAFETY HAIKU
With ubiquity comes invisibility. And words can be arranged with the same economy and elegance as high quality graphic design. These two precepts are the inspiration behind the DOT’s latest spate of traffic signs. By combining a little bit of poetry with well-designed visuals, the DOT hopes to call attention to hazardous intersections. According to The New York Times City Room, twelve curbside Haiku signs have been installed in over twenty locations (PDF) around Brooklyn and Manhattan with more locations slated throughout the boroughs, all of which correspond to highly trafficked intersections near major cultural institutions. Apparently, the notion of traffic sign haiku is catching on, as City Room’s readers have responded with some entertaining, seventeen-syllable poetry of their own.
A couple months ago, a proposal to build an underground park at the site of the the abandoned Essex Street Trolley Terminal at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge began to circulate around the Internet. Dubbed “Delancey Underground,” the proposal excited interest, and, while its fate is still uncertain, the MTA definitely wants to open the space up to development. To that end, the MTA has released a video tour led by Peter Hine of the MTA’s real estate office (blogged earlier this week by Second Avenue Sagas). While leading the tour, Hine offers up some suggestions of what kinds of retail or commercial uses could inhabit the space, and he is particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of a nightclub: the former dispatch tower of the trolley terminal could serve as the DJ booth and revelers could enjoy views of active trains at the adjacent Delancey Street – Essex Street subway station. The video ends with an invitation to developers to get in touch with ideas about the “creative redevelopment and reuse” for this and other spaces belonging to the MTA throughout the city. For more information check out the MTA Real Estate Department’s website.
SUBURBAN DUNESCAPES IN TIMES SQUARE
A couple weeks ago, we spoke with Glen Weiss, former manager of the robust public art program at the Times Square Alliance. With the help of the Art Production Fund, Times Square has recently inaugurated a new series of installations “that focus on raising environmental consciousness,” the first of which is a new, 5,000-square-foot sculpture by the artist David Brooks entitled Desert Rooftops. Constructed out of asphalt-shingled rooftops, the piece evokes strip malls, McMansions and other typologies we commonly associate with suburban sprawl right in the heart of New York City. Brooks’ synthetic landscape “examines issues of the natural and built landscape by comparing the monoculture that arises from unchecked suburban and urban sprawl with that of an over-cultivated landscape.” The installation is on view now through February 5, 2012 at Times Square, at The Last Lot project space on 46th Street and 8th Avenue. More information is available at the Times Square Alliance website.
Reimagining cities has long been a favorite topic of discussion among architects and urbanists. Increasingly, the topic is capturing the attention of mainstream audiences as well. In September, The Atlantic unveiled its new online section, Atlantic Cities, which is devoted to “[exploring] the most innovative ideas and pressing issues facing today’s global cities and neighborhoods.” This week, Salon.com is widening the audience of those concerned with the future of cities even further with their new series, Dream City. The series, created to “explore the way we’re designing our cities of the future, cities in which we want to live, right now,” opened with a look at the possibilities of floating, water-borne architectures followed by a post on the removal of inner city highways. Both of these entries referenced New York City precedents: the Floating Pool and the proposed removal of the unloved Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx. We look forward to reading more.
While fun for the acrobatically-inclined child or cyclist looking for bike parking, the ubiquitous sidewalk scaffolding that protects pedestrians from falling debris at construction and demolition sites has always been an eyesore. In response to the ugliness, in 2009 the Department of Buildings invited architects and designers to submit proposals to the UrbanShed competition. The winning entry, from the team of Young-Hwan Choi, Andres Cortes and Sarrah Kahn of Agencie Group, was announced last January and their design is finally making it to the streets. For more of the coverage, check out the New York Times City Room and the Village Voice.
EVENTS and TO DOs
RAIL YARDS COMMUNITY INPUT MEETING: Now that all stakeholders have pledged to retain the final section of the High Line for recreational use, the team at Friends of the High Line are ready to move ahead with plans and designs for phase three. On December 6th, join them for a project update from representatives from the High Line design team, James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and voice your suggestions or ideas for the site. For more information about the Community Input Meeting, visit the Friends of the High Line’s website. Tuesday, December 6th, 6:30pm, at Public School 11 Auditorium, 320 West 21st Street.
EVERY STREET IN MANHATTAN
Photographer Stanley Greenberg, who spoke with us last year about his long history of documenting infrastructural spaces and systems, has embarked on a new project, the Button Agreement. Greenberg will walk every street in Manhattan. He will go on at least one walk a week, documenting the walks with photographs and maps showing which streets he’s been on. The documentation will be made public on his blog.
A book of his previous project, Time Machines, photographs of high energy physics experiments, is now available. Join Greenberg for a discussion and book signing next week in Brooklyn. Wednesday, December 7th, 7pm at BookCourt, 163 Court Street.
AIDS MEMORIAL COMPETITION: When the AIDS epidemic hit New York City in the early 1980s, St. Vincent’s hospital was at the epicenter of the crisis. St. Vincent’s has closed and the hospital is being redeveloped as luxury condominiums, but the NYC AIDS Memorial Park Campaign has succeeded in designating the triangle adjacent to the hospital a future park and memorial space. The triangle, bounded by Greenwich Avenue, West 12th Street and 7th Avenue, which has traditionally served as the loading dock for the hospital, will now serve as a “memorial park and teaching space to honor and recognize the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who have died from AIDS.” Architizer and Architectural Record have launched a competition to design the memorial park. The competition will be juried by Michael Arad, Kurt Andersen, Barry Bergdoll, Liz Diller, Ken Smith, Robert Hammond, Bill T. Jones, Richard Meier, Dr. Marjorie Hill and Suzanne Stephens. Find more information at the competition page. Deadline: January 21, 2012.
JOIN YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY BOARD!: Community boards serve a vital role in the life of New York City. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is hosting a series of informational meetings about the roles and responsibilities of community board members, the newly increased role the borough’s community boards play and how to become a board member. The meetings will be held Tuesday, December 6th, from 6:30 – 8:00pm in the Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor; Wednesday, December 14th, from 6:30 – 8:00pm, at 163 West 125th Street, Room 8C; and Thursday, January 5th, from 6:30 – 8:00pm in the Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor. RSVP to email@example.com.
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The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.