Architecture News: The Astor Place Redux

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If all goes according to plan, the East Village should finally see construction crews flee and a new Astor Place emerge sometime next winter—that according to a recent press release from the city. The $16 million project, managed by the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and designed by local firm Weisz + Yoes Architecture, will radically alter the famous intersection. According to the architecture firm’s website, the layout will develop a multi-purpose urban precinct featuring three linked plazas along the axis of Fourth Avenue.

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The iconic cube, an art installation by Bernard Rosenthal that’s officially called The Alamo, has been moved from the traffic island and will find itself in another plaza across the street from its original location. Additionally, the Peter Cooper Triangle will be expanded, with multiple exits and entrances included, not to mention widened sidewalks. The fence around the Peter Cooper monument will be no more, as visitors will be allowed to sit at the foot of the statue. 

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New plantings, raised flowerbeds, and seating areas have been designed by the Department of Parks and Recreation, who will be tasked with maintaining the green space. The design also boasts sustainability strategies with the many new trees reducing stormwater runoff and providing shade for the space’s visitors. Updated drainage will also help combat rising water levels whenever a major storm hits the city.

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According to Curbed, construction stalled a bit early this spring because the MTA had to approve new work orders in and around the planned subway stop. However, the press release indicates pedestrians can expect more sidewalk closings in the near future, so the holdup wasn’t a terrible hindrance. Perhaps the best piece of recent news on this project comes from Bedford and Bowery, which reported here that the Peter Cooper statue has re-emerged from storage—a sure sign of palpable progress!

For more renderings of this project, visit Curbed New York here.


Interior Design Watch: Four Amazing Ways to Break Up a Room


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One of the most common trends popping up on countless floor plans these days is the presence of a large, open space that serves as an apartment’s versatile living/dining area. Most buyers love walking into a tremendous room that spans hundreds of square feet of gorgeous hardwood floors with massive amounts of light shining inside through floor-to-ceiling windows. But once the contract has been signed and keys have been exchanged, figuring out how to tastefully fill that space can sometimes be a bit daunting.

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When published this story on design firm Axis Mundi’s outstanding interior decorating work in a Greenwich Village luxury home, we took particular notice of the bronze and mirrored glass screen that break up the entry way and the lounge. The sculpture was entirely built from materials salvaged from Gio Ponti’s Alitalia Fifth Avenue showroom by Urban Archeology, and it does an artful job of splitting this space into two rooms without making it feel any smaller.

We know that New York homeowners like to make use of every last square foot. For inspiration, here are three other examples—from the practical and easy to far-reaching and ambitious—of fun ways people have found to break up a space.

1. Fireplace/TV Combo Partition

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This homeowner instantly turned an empty section of their home into a warm and cozy entertainment room with a gas fireplace and flatscreen TV combination wall partition. It’s a wonderful transformation of what was once a single room into two, but without the constricting feelings brought on by a complete new wall. Ortal Heat has a bevy of photos depicting more intriguing and tasteful fireplace options here.

2. Bare-Wood Modular Partition

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German-based company Edelweiss Industrial Design has produced “Cell,” a modular partition system with variable transparency. Made from simple plywood and plastic fasteners, an interior decorator can customize a pattern perfect for any space. Available in beige or white, the dividers can be bunched close together for privacy, or stretched far apart, creating an intimate transparency between newly formed rooms. Give the product a look—and maybe put in an order—here.

3. Pixelated Wall of Lego Bricks

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Okay, this one might not be coming to a NYC apartment any time soon, but you have to take a look nonetheless. Another German-based creative team, NPire, built a room divider in their office out of some 55,000 Lego bricks. The wall has an arched doorway and a star-shaped window that’s a replica of the company’s logo. The project cost about $2,800, and though this wasn’t actually built inside a home, a similar design could also be a great entryway into a kids’ playroom, or just a fun, eye-popping conversation starter for grownups.


Architecture News: NYC Skyscrapers are Flaring Out


There’s quite an interesting trend emerging in skyscraper architecture that will soon be on full display in two new local buildings. In spite of appearances, this trend doesn’t seem to have anything to do with improved structural safety or a building’s battles against high winds, or even just about aesthetics. Instead, the impetus behind creating top-heavy, flaring skyscrapers is simply to provide more luxury living spaces.

With some penthouse apartment prices in New York City passing the $100 million mark, it makes perfect sense to create more of these units and more opportunities for sales. Of course, the high-end market puts a premium on dwellings among the upper floors for the incredible views, and buyers at this tier are not necessarily as concerned with apartment square footage. So, instead of one large penthouse apartment at the top, the architects behind 101 Tribeca—pictured above and projected to be NYC’s largest residential building—and 45 East 22nd Street—pictured below—have included enough room for multiple units on the uppermost handful of floors, without excessively compromising square-footage.


Many critics have applauded these new dynamic designs because they make intriguing use of what would normally be negative space. Plus, residents won’t have that drab feeling of living in a building where every floor is exactly the same.

Those in the know might have seen this coming to New York a while back, when the Danish architecture company BIG received Vancouver City Council approval to put up their fifty-two-story flaring tower last year. This project—pictured below—will be the Canadian city’s fourth-largest building, helping create a new identity for a residential section that is located on the city’s outskirts.

Here in New York, these new towers aren’t going to help create a skyline, but they’re sure to go a long way in redefining it.

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Architecture News: Old Garages: The New Frontier?

10. Architecture News- Old Garages- The New Frontier?



The idea of converting an old two-car garage on the side of a home into an apartment—maybe for the homeowner’s privacy-starved teenage child—isn’t a radically new one. But two architects recently got their hands on a Clinton Hill, Brooklyn garage and took this particular remodeling concept to a whole new level.


While keeping the exterior of the one-and-a-half-story building the same, grooved and metallic pull-down door and all, Kit and Philipp von Dalwig stretched into the farthest reaches of their imagination and completely renovated the interior. There’s a living room, a modern kitchen and bathroom, two bedrooms, even a garden. The new home has a winding staircase reflective of the modern décor, too. Believe it or not, there’s even plenty of natural light filling the space as well, compliments of a skylight and windows located in the rear of the structure.


It took the Dalwigs quite a while to accomplish this feat—it’s been some four years since they initially spotted the property and conceived of the renovation. But the end result certainly indicates the time and effort paid off. With New York City’s demand for more and more space seemingly unrelenting, are luxury garage homes the next big thing?


  • Check out a full slideshow of this incredible garage renovation at
  • See another inspiring garage makeover on Apartment Therapy.

Architecture News: A Kickstarter for Cool Buildings

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Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have revolutionized the way creative types raise money, with everyone from writers to filmmakers and video game designers using the sites to effectively reel in seed funding and get their dream projects off the ground. So it’s no surprise someone finally said “Hey, why don’t we do this for architecture?”

A new site called Make Architecture Happen is aiming to do just that for innovative, sustainable construction by allowing consumers and design enthusiasts to help projects they’d like to see happen. The vision is creative projects, especially those that might not ordinarily attract traditional investment dollars, will have a chance to succeed when people around the world get on board to make small donations.

Here’s how it works: Architects upload their vision, fans browse the site and then choose to donate to projects they want to support. Early projects seeking funds on the site include everything from a community church in South Africa, to an urban garden in Boston, to a prototype for an eco-friendly residence in Egypt.

See all the projects, or upload your own on Make Architecture Happen’s website.


Architecture News: Time to Print That House

3-D Print Canal House
Photo courtesy 3-D Print Canal House

3-D printing has been the buzz-term of the tech world for the past few years, with creative innovators designing custom machines that can print out everything, from iPad accessories, to car parts, jewelry and even food, at unbelievably fast speeds. So how long before we have a 3-D printed house?

The answer: not long at all.

Dutch architect Hans Vermuelen and his team at DUS Architects recently started construction on what they claim will be the world’s first 3-D printed house. Vermuelen’s team built their own printer— no surprise, it’s the largest such printer in the world—which churns out the building’s parts piece by piece, all large black blocks made from melted plastic. The pieces of the house will then be assembled like giant Lego blocks, with interlocking segments, eventually creating a replica of a classic Dutch canal house.

The architects hope their Amsterdam structure can serve as a blueprint for future construction methods that will cut out the time, energy and cost it takes to assemble and transport individual construction pieces.

Unfortunately you can’t print out your own 3-D house in minutes just yet. Vermuelen’s masterpiece will take a full three years to build, and is scheduled to be complete by 2017.


Swimming in the Subways

OXO Architect's Ghost Stations Swimming Pool Renderings
OXO Architect's Ghost Stations Swimming Pool Renderings
(Images: Manal Rachdi OXO Architects / Nicolas Laisne Architect)

If you thought the High Line was the world’s coolest reclaimed urban space, you may need to reconsider. Once again, Paris is poised to give NYC a run for its money in the realm of repurposed spaces. The City of Lights’ so-called “Ghost Stations” – abounded Metro train tunnels that have sat unused since before World War I – have long been an object of fascination for urban infrastructure aficionados. Like New York, Paris is rapidly running out of undeveloped land aboveground, so the mysterious tunnels may soon become an integral part of the city’s urban landscape.

OXO Architect's Ghost Stations Swimming Pool Renderings
(Images: Manal Rachdi OXO Architects / Nicolas Laisne Architect)

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, a former environment minister currently running for mayor of Paris, has unveiled an ambitious proposal to turn the subway tunnels into a series of sleek underground hotspots. The innovative mayoral candidate enlisted OXO Architects, a future-focused Parisian firm, to design a series of renderings depicting what the ghost stations would look like when re-imagined as art galleries, restaurants, clubs, concert halls, swimming pools and even underground parks a la the proposed “Low Line” on New York’s Lower East Side. The dreamy designs, with leafy green expanses, imitation sunlight, and, yes – lots of white subway tile, have stirred up attention around the world and caused many a Parisian design-lover to give Kosciusko-Morizet’s candidacy a second look.


It remains to be seen whether Parisians will really abandon their en plein air ambiance and breezy cafes for subterranean settings, but if OXO can produce real-life venues that match their eye-catching designs, you’d have to imagine they’ll be a hit.