Posts Tagged ‘nyc infrastructure’

The Big Brick Building And York

June 16, 2010

York Restoration Corporation Image

Somehow, this big, brick sore thumb stuck out and, yet, felt right at home.

It’s the age. It’s gotta be the age. It looks as if it’s been there for years and years, and somehow been grandfathered in to looking “right” in the neighborhood.

York Restoration Corporation would like to think that, like how people start to look like their pets (or vice versa), that the building’s residents have the same sort of odd draw that the building does. Or maybe, the building took on its residents’ esoteric ways? Who knows!

It’s our imagination!

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The Walk-up Lament

June 10, 2010

York Restoration Corporation Photo

They fight the good fight. They stand as tall as they can against their younger brothers. And they’re darn pretty!

These are just a few snaps of the little brick buildings who’ve held their ground against New York City’s voracious appetite for more and more space. They’re a throwback to a different time, and it’s nice to see them here and there as York Restoration Corporation strolls through Manhattan.

One guesses that the majority of these little guys will be gone in another 60 years or so. The relentless progress of time, population, as well as the inevitable contraction of elbow room and space to breathe, seems to signal the impending demise of this type of building. Low to the ground, cheerful as it is simple, it’s probably an unfortunate accident of life that entropy and decay will suck under these happy little buildings.

Unless!

Historic tags! Preservation societies! These are the groups, the banded brothers of nostalgia and walking uphill (in the snow!) both ways to and from school, who can save our brick walk-ups! Perhaps you’ve not reached that age yet, but remember: you, too will age. You, too will succumb to physics and science and yes, even nostalgia.

Remember these cute buildings as they slowly crumble with the passage of time, just as our own joints – knees especially – deteriorate, until we’re both quiet and flat underneath freshly disturbed earth.

At least we’ll have a headstone; who will know that a brick walk-up once lived here?

York Restoration Corporation Image

Every Restoration Corporation Enjoys New York’s Met Building

June 9, 2010

York Restoration Corporation shot of Metlife

This giant, foreboding wall of windows is one face of the gigantic MetLife building (nee Pan Am Building), located slightly above and behind Grand Central Station in central Manhattan.

Strangely enough, it’s not even owned by MetLife any longer. It’s owned by some group called Tishman Speyer Properties, which sounds more like a mom-and-pop apartment leasing venture than a group with the clout to buy an iconic Manhattan high-rise.

York Restoration Corporation is, sadly, not a huge fan. It reminds us of many of the generic Los Angeles sky scrapers, boxy and gray, boring and somewhat of an eye sore. All of that is multiplied, of course, by its location behind Grand Central. It stands out, (somehow gaudily) despite its generic ugliness, a throwback to the utilitarian, almost Modernist, late 60s/early 70s high rise architecture that dominated the day.

Ah well. It is very popular with tenants, supposedly, probably because of its central location and attachment to Grand Central.

Maybe someday we’ll see a replacement, but it’s highly doubtful. The MetLife building is probably here to stay.

A Roof Most Restoration Companies Would Love to Hate

June 8, 2010

Restoration Corporations Admiring a beautiful roof

Wow. That’s… one heck of a roof there.

The restoration corporation involved with that roof would have a bit of a logistical headache on its hands. Nothing impossible, of course, but time-consuming.

But, the chance to work on something that intricate and historic! It’d be a joy to loath that job.

Working on old churches is a personal favorite. I can’t quite shake my Catholic upbringing; standing in a century (or centuries) – old cathedral brings a sense of calm to the job. There’s a smell to it – candle wax, stain for the pews, the must of old books – that reminds me of youth, of being young and cared for, meals taken care of, Nickelodeon back when Nick At Night ruled the evening, and frozen pizzas.

Well, some things stay the same.

There’s an old comfort to old things. It’s nice to be reminded of that now and again.

York Restorations Enjoys Union Square

May 28, 2010

York Restoration Corporation's view of union square

After a cool day, one who threatened and menaced New Yorkers by brandishing darkening clouds and a whisper of rain, York Restoration Corporation felt the need to take a balmy visit to Union Square.

With temperatures teasing the low 90s, York Restoration Corporation sunned and sipped cold tea in Union Square’s newly wide-opened northern plaza.

This particular shot is facing west, looking at a aesthetically odd grouping of buildings. A mixture of shops, office space, and the occasional rogue apartment, the grouping’s wildly different heights and styles is a fun accident of New York’s mixture of old and new.

Next time the weather breaks and drags you out from your office, into the sun, beverage of choice in-hand, take a quick look around at the mixture of architecture, all the brick, steel, glass, sparkling, drab, crumbling, brand spanking-new, strange buildings that make up the visual white noise of living in the greatest city on Earth.

This post brought to you by York Restoration Corporation

Astor Place Building, York Restoration Corporation Salutes You

May 27, 2010

Glass Building photo courtesy of York Restoration Corporation

Today, York Restoration Corporation‘s legion of cameras walks us past the Astor Place Building. The Astor Place Building is a mid-rise steel-and-glass number near Washington Square Park and NYU. What sets it apart from its more tame steel-glass brethren is its rounded, globular, lower facade that bends and rounds itself into a circular crown. Up top, the architecture squares itself off into swanky lofts for the luckier, wealthier citizens.

The interiors conform to the dips and bows; the dens and bedrooms’ views look out over the city from behind the tinted glass walls. Natural light? They’ve got it in spades.

It’s certainly a unique look. We’re glad to have a glass/steel structure whose architects can see beyond the fascination with straight lines and ho-hum high-rises. Is it the landmark, however, that the owners claim it to be? Well, not yet. No one instructs a tourist to “take a right at the Astor Place Building,” but maybe this is just step one in its progression towards fame?

The lipstick building didn’t exactly burn up the charts on its way to semi-notoriety, either. Who knows.

Until then (if that fine day ever comes), the Astor Place remains as a pleasant, if slightly anonymous, footprint in lower Manhattan.

This post brought to you by York Restoration Corporation

NYC’s shameful practice hurts rainforest

April 19, 2010
York Restoration Corporation Rainforest Cut NYC

New York

New York City has been guilty of using durable rainforest timber in the creation of its benches and other wooden thises and thats. Bloomberg has “promised” to cut back, but really – what’s been done? We need to completely end using these woods in any city project. Completely. Any time there’s demand, even if we promise to “limit” it, someone will take an ax to an irreplaceable tree.

From the Times:

Like many other municipalities, New York City has used durable rain forest woods to build pieces of public infrastructure like benches and boardwalks. And although Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has publicly promised to limit the use of such materials, some organizations have decided that the city is not moving quickly enough.

On Monday, as the 40th Earth Day approached, two environmental organizations, Rainforest Relief and New York Climate Action Group, issued a short video (above) that called attention to the city’s use of the wood.

“The mayor’s plan is too little too late,” said Tim Doody, the New York City campaign coordinator for Rainforest Relief. “At the current rate of destruction, most of the worlds’ rain forests won’t be around by the time his plan takes effect.”

A spokesman for the mayor, Jason Post, wrote in an e-mail message Monday: “Two years ago the city eliminated the use of tropical hardwood in the construction and maintenance of park benches and began to test alternative materials for use in boardwalks, and reduced the use of the wood, to the greatest extent possible, in other applications.”

While addressing the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, Mr. Bloomberg called tropical deforestation an “ecological calamity” and pledged to reduce the city’s use of tropical hardwood by 20 percent quickly, by eliminating the use of such woods in building and maintaining park benches, using alternative materials for boardwalks and reducing use of such hardwoods in other contexts.

The mayor also commissioned several agencies to develop a plan that would further cut (pdf) the city’s spending on tropical hardwoods by 60 percent by 2020.

The environmental organizations detailed a list of sites around the city that used tropical hardwoods, including benches in Washington Square Park, decking at the High Line, the Coney Island Boardwalk, the Brooklyn Bridge walkway and subway ties at Grand Central Terminal.

Get it done, Bloomberg. So frustrating to listen to promises, and even then, those promises amount to nothing more than an assurance that they’ll “try” to lessen their use of the wood. Unbelievable.

For as many times as he supposedly tries to help the world, there’s umpteen times where he fails to change his own backyard.

If we’re going to restore New York, we shouldn’t do so at the cost of the rainforest. So hair-pulling-ly frustrating.

This post brought to you by York Restoration Corporation

Oh, it’s ugly. So, so ugly. But that’s what makes it NY.

February 17, 2010

Ugly, probably. Interesting, arguably. New York, definitely.

Lots of complaints about the architecture, here. Looks like a building swallowed the biggest Christmas tree, ever. Then, it lumbered to midtown and sat down on a brick pinwheel.

When websites are comparing your brand new building’s aesthetics to soviet-era, modernist concrete apartment blocks, you know you’ve got a polarizing structure. But hell, look around – for as many beautiful, interesting, or esoteric buildings there are littering Manhattan like the trash building up in its subway tracks, there’re 5 or 10 instances of lazy, ugly, or abhorrent architecture.

Well, it ain't purty.

And that’s part of our draw! It’s somehow reassuring to see those Robert Moses-era, slummy, low-income highrises sticking out of lower Manhattan (Harlem, too!). At the very least, it’s getting people talking about the skyline.

It’s part of why New Yorkers fought the Lollipop building’s redesign for the American Museum of Design and Craft. We sorta like ugly. Ugly’s part of us, just like we’ve got a glut of world-class clothing models, we’ve got tons and tons of ordinary, below-average, or downright fugly people driving cabs, answering phones, or begging for change.

Look, I wouldn't stay here, but obviously *someone* is

It’s the city. Get used to it; you might even learn to enjoy it, someday.

If you're new, try starting here.

This entry brought to you by York Restoration Corporation

Empire State Building’s Lobby Restored!

October 1, 2009

Empire State Building's lobby ceiling gets a fresh coat of paint

From the NY Times:

Anthony E. Malkin, the president of Malkin Holdings, which owns the building, said the lobby had become “a real letdown,” in contrast with the lobbies of two other famous skyscrapers of similar age, the Chrysler Building and 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Mr. Malkin wanted the lobby to be more of a triumphant portal than a utilitarian passageway for tourists on the way to the observation deck and workers on the way to their offices.

Amen, Mr. Malkin. Buildings are so much more than a structure in which to work, or sleep, or eat a sandwich. There’s a reason we pay architects millions to design unique, beautiful, awe-inspiring artifices.

There’s an inherent beauty to each and every building, from the welfare tenement, whose exterior is muted from years of neglect, to the Burj Dubai, who’ll be scrape the heavens and maybe confuse some angels with its transcendent loveliness.

More power to anyone out there uncovering (or recovering) their buildings’ natural allure.

This entry brought to you by York Restoration Corp