Ferris Wheels and Holey Skyscrapers: New Construction Projects in NYC

For my first entry on this site, I debated starting with appropriately small news or beginning with a bang- I chose the latter, as it has recently become known that Michael Bloomberg, in his final weeks as the mayor of New York City, has approved go-aheads and tax breaks for about 12 billion dollars worth  of construction projects in the Big Apple. Who knows why- probably an effort to secure his legacy. However, these megaprojects are often risky investments, as many are never completed or even begun. For instance, Santiago Calatrava’s ambitious Chicago Spire was abandoned shortly after the foundation was completed, and I was particularly disappointed when Renzo Piano’s Trans National Place- located in my local city, Boston- was cancelled. I took a look at some of the larger NYC projects, and took a guess as to whether or not they would actually reach fruition.

1. Domino development

Domino

The area of New York’s out-of-use Domino sugar plant is in need of development- it’s a question of finding the right architect, design, and cost. Rafael Vinoly’s original plan was criticized for being ugly and for blocking the neighborhood behind’s view of the waterfront (both valid points). The new design, by SHoP, is still ugly (in my opinion) and solves the second problem in the least creative way possible: a giant hole in the middle of each skyscraper. To the low-rise Williamsburg neighborhood behind, it will look like four pairs of Godzilla’s boxy glass pants emerging from the Hudson. The only point going for the project is how badly something is needed on the decrepit site, but I think that it will never reach completion due to how ugly, boring, uncreative, and expensive ($1.5 bil) it is.

2. St. George outlet mall and observation wheel

St. George

Ah, the old mall-and-ferris-wheel combination- there’s not much room to go wrong here. On the Staten Island waterfront, the ferris wheel should draw visitors for its views of Manhattan. The mall has a clean, modern, ecofriendly design that should not draw public distaste or controversy. The development is also one of the cheapest of the new projects at 580 million dollars. Therefore, I don’t think it will be too long before this is fully constructed.

3. Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards

This project is visually imposing- sixteen new, large skyscrapers not far from the Empire State Building. They are by no means bad architecture- the forms are spectacular and will add vibrancy to the skyline, and the excellent urban planning adds plenty of green space and pedestrian areas. My main complaint is that it looks like every building has the exact same facade, like all these unique forms are wrapped in the same high-tech cellophane. Another issue that might arise is an issue faced by the Domino development- it will block waterfront views of the area behind it. However, I think that what will sink this project is the price tag. Bloomberg has recently given the $1.2 billion project a $120 million tax break, but incoming mayor Bill de Blaiso has announced intentions to cut back on them.

4. Greenpoint Landing

 Greenpoint landing

These residential towers appear to be wrapped in the same cellophane as those of Hudson Yards. They are very run-of-the-mill in appearance- the only thing setting them apart from other such projects is the scale, with ten towers and 5000 housing units. It is this scale that is drawing a lot of anger from New Yorkers. The root of this anger is the people who currently live in Greenpoint Landing, who will see their old neighborhood destroyed by the new development. Bloomberg has received many requests to halt construction, and de Blaiso probably will too. This opposition to the project, as well as the cost of $2 billion, will most likely spell the end for the development.

 

I’m interested to hear the opinions of others about these projects, especially if you live in New York!

 

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