The city will gain what amounts to a permanent, open park in the heart of one of the most densely built-up areas in the world. It is principally because of this public benefit that the commission has viewed this application with favor.
—City Planning application No. 20222, adopted March 20, 1968
Except for the highly intrusive police fencing lining a handful of streets and the occasional thrum of a drum circle, life goes on in Lower Manhattan. Tourists clog the streets in front of Century 21, craning to get a look at World Trade Center construction and the new 9/11 memorial beyond. Analysts and traders puff on cigarettes on the granite plazas outside their towering offices. Strollers abound.
The protests known as #occupywallstreet might better be called #occupyzucottipark. The plaza two blocks from the street of the protestors’ ire is well-known by now, a square to rival Rockefeller Center or the Apple Cube of Fifth Avenue in its current popularity.
It was Amanda Burden who stopped the MoMA Tower, giving Jean Nouvel’s 1,250-foot spire a haircut, and it is up to her if the project will ever snake its way onto the skyline. As The Observer revealed last month, developer Hines Interests has resubmitted plans for the shorter, stockier Torre Verre, and they await Ms. Burden’s approval. Where the head of the City Planning Department once thought the top of the tower was undignified, unworthy of sharing space with the Empire State Building, she now loves it.
When Amanda Burden and the City Planning Commission cut Jean Nouvel’s Torre Verre down to size, the architectural cogniscenti were dismayed. Hines, the project’s developer, had sworn the project would be financially infeasible 200 feet shorter. At only 1,050 feet, it would no longer rival the Empire State Building on the skyline but instead share a midtown profile with the likes of the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center and the MetLife Building. Still, even in a downturn brought on by bombastic overbuilding, real estate has a way of persevering in New York. As The Observer revealed two weeks ago, Hines is currently pursuing a new set of plans for the oft-called MoMA Tower. And here they are.
Hines declined to release new plans, and initially suggested there were none. Through a public information request, The Observer has obtained copies of architectural drawings from the City Planning Commission. While they may not be as sexy as the kind of full-color renderings architects usually prepare to wow the media , they shed plenty of light on the new shape of the project.
New York City may have brought down Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but another torrid Frenchman will not be held up by the likes of us.
Farewell to All That
In a move that could help revive debate about the future of midtown west’s grungy office stock, Edison Properties wants to build a 407-unit residential tower in the area directly south of Penn Station, currently a no man’s land of cheap office lofts and questionable pizza joints.
The New Jersey-based developer owns a parking lot Read More
The Biggest Boro
Last year, New York magazine, via the magic of stats wizard Nate Silver, declared Sunnyside, Queens, the third best neighboirhood in the city. The first two were obvious–Park Slope and the Lower East Side–but the choice of the (for how much longer?) working-class neighborhood just off the 7 train was a bit of Read More
Everybody Go Downtown
Most streets in the Financial District are a warren of glorified cow paths and back alleys that date back to the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdaam. One of the rare exceptions is Water Street, which once was at the historic water line but was built out with landfill centuries ago. Now the street spans eight Read More
The Neverending Story
One of the first pieces of Ground Zero to be rebuilt after the 9/11 attacks was just across the street. Brookfield Properties, the owner of the World Financial Center–as well as the mall that was pulverized beneath the World Trade Center–quickly rebuilt the soaring winter garden that was the heart of the Caesar Pelli-designed complex, Read More
The most talked about rezoning of the Bloomberg/Burden era has to be the 2005 transformation of Williamsburg and Greenpoint from gritty industrial backwater to haute condo clusterfuck. And yet the one that has had a far greater impact on Brooklyn, or at least its skyline, is the one undertaken a year prior in Read More
Better Faster Stronger
The real estate development world, which is full of complaints about government, rarely throws around the term “efficient” when speaking of the Department of City Planning. One of the biggest complaints is that most every developer embarking on a big project must go through what can be a months-long “pre-certification” process (though it can even Read More