PAU unveils carbon-neutral Sunnyside Yard masterplan in NYC

March 13, 2020 by  
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Global architecture firm Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) has revealed a masterplan for transforming over 180 acres of underutilized land in Western Queens’ Sunnyside Railyard into a thriving mixed-use neighborhood with a net carbon-neutral footprint. Developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary design team on behalf of the City of New York, the ambitious urban revitalization project seeks multiple sustainability targets, from equitable economic growth and placemaking to the implementation of on-site renewable energy and energy storage systems.  Created in partnership with New York City’s Economic Development Corporation and Amtrak, the Sunnyside Railyard masterplan envisions a mixed-use program comprising 12,000 new 100% affordable residential units, 60 acres of open public space, a new Sunnyside Station to connect Western Queens with the Greater New York region, ten schools, two libraries, over 30 childcare centers, five healthcare facilities and five million square feet of new commercial and manufacturing space to stimulate new middle-class job growth.  Walkability  and livability will be major drivers behind the design and have informed decisions to incorporate more mid-rise scale buildings, anti-displacement strategies and an abundance of connective green space. “At over 180 acres, the Yard represents our city’s most significant opportunity to realize shared progressive goals all in a carbon-neutral environment that will set a model globally for sustainable urban growth while maintaining a scale and density reflective of Western Queens,” explained Vishaan Chakrabarti, Founder of PAU. “Neighboring communities now have a unique opportunity to leverage this Plan to address long-standing needs in terms of transportation, housing , jobs, open space, social infrastructure, and environmental resilience.” Related: Striking LEED Silver-targeted tower to rise in the heart of Philadelphia A major highlight of the masterplan is the “deck” that will be built over 80% of the existing rail yard to create a new elevated neighborhood that seamlessly connects with the rail operations below. The deck will also provide a new way for people to traverse Sunnyside Station — a new regional rail hub — on foot, bike or wheelchair. To meet carbon-neutral targets, the masterplan also calls for renewable energy systems, cutting-edge building technologies such as  mass timber  and the inclusion of an institute dedicated to research and development of clean technologies. + PAU Images via PAU

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PAU unveils carbon-neutral Sunnyside Yard masterplan in NYC

Rooftop farm grows on award-winning Denizen Bushwick building

February 28, 2020 by  
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After five years of design and construction,  ODA New York  has completed Denizen Bushwick, a 1.2-million-square-foot rental development centered around community, art and green space. Set on the former site of Brooklyn’s historic Rheingold Brewery, Denizen offers 911 apartments — 20 percent of which are designated affordable housing — along with 15 mega-murals created by local artists and 100,000 square feet of outdoor space. Residents also have access to a rooftop farm with hydroponic gardens along with a variety of lush courtyards and corridors, many of which are open to the neighborhood. To create “a city within a city,” ODA New York broke up Denizen’s massive size with a 17,850-square-foot public park that bisects the development to create a green promenade. ODA’s in-house landscape team designed the parks, interior courtyards, and two roof gardens for a total of 100,000 square feet of outdoor space with rooftop amenities such as a dining area with four kitchens, and a mini-golf course, hammock garden, dog park and a fully staffed rooftop farm with garden plots available to residents. Over 250 native New York trees and over 1,200 species of shrubs and perennials have been planted atop the roof. The impressive collection of amenities continues inside the building, which offers a coffee shop, game rooms, a bowling alley, a rock-climbing wall, a boxing ring, a movie theater and more. Fifteen large-scale  murals  made by local artists punctuate the development and can be viewed from multiple courtyards; five murals are visible from publicly accessible parks.  Related: Awesome Airbnb Rental Lets You Go “Camping” in an Indoor Micro-Cabin in Brooklyn “We are proud of what has taken shape at  Bushwick ,” Eran Chen, Founding Principal of ODA, said. “Not only were we able to transform a dilapidated industrial building and turn it into a magnate for community, but we’re influencing how people connect, how cities are developed, and paving the way for architecture to be part of the solution.” Denizen Bushwick has received the ULI New York Award for Excellent in Development — Market-Rate Housing along with the 2019 SARA NY Design Award.  + ODA New York Images via ODA New York, Eric Laigne and Imagen Subliminal

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Rooftop farm grows on award-winning Denizen Bushwick building

Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

February 28, 2020 by  
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Once known as one of Uganda’s most popular hotels, the Nile Safari Lodge had fallen into disrepair over the years. When it was tasked to breathe new life into the property, Kampala-based studio Localworks decided to pay homage to the building’s history by respectfully and carefully rebuilding the existing facilities instead of tearing them down and starting from scratch. Now, the fully refurbished accommodation is an incredible, solar-powered eco-retreat offering guests a direct connection to the nature surrounding the property. Located on the southern bank of the Nile River, the Nile River Lodge is enveloped in wilderness. Looking over the famed river, the lodge offers guests a chance to recharge their batteries while taking in the views. This calm atmosphere became the focal point of the green renovation process. Related: Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco-retreat Starting with the main building, the architects wanted to break open the communal spaces as much as possible. They did this by covering the existing building with a series of thick, grass-thatched roofs . The design strategy also aimed to implement new openings around the property to allow for indoor-outdoor living. The Ugandan climate is typically very hot and humid, so passive cooling strategies , such as natural light and ventilation, were used whenever possible. The wide, triangular openings and curved walkways found throughout the hotel allow guests to enjoy framed views of the river and surrounding Murchison Falls National Park from nearly anywhere onsite. At the heart of the eco-retreat is a soothing infinity pool that looks out over the river. A covered pavilion opens up to the pool and serves as the perfect spot to take in both the sunrise and the sunset. Guests will be able to enjoy down time in one of the eight cottages, all of which face the river. Although distinct in size and amenities, the cottages, referred to as bandas , are raised on stilts to reduce their impact on the landscape and generate air flow under the buildings. Made of natural materials such as wood, grass and stone, the buildings were all positioned to protect the interiors from the harsh equatorial sunlight. While passive strategies were used throughout the eco-resort, several modern features were also implemented to reduce the project’s environmental impact. Completely free of mechanical cooling systems, the lodge runs solely on solar power . + Localworks + Nile Safari Lodge Via ArchDaily Photography by Will Boase via Localworks

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Central Park to undergo $150M LEED Gold-targeted redesign

September 25, 2019 by  
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To cap the Central Park Conservancy’s 40-year renewal of Central Park, the nonprofit has unveiled designs to update the park’s north end with a LEED Gold -targeted recreational facility, a new pool, skating rink and other amenities. The $150 million project also aims to repair the site’s damaged ecology and hydrology using environmentally responsible practices. The groundbreaking for the transformative project will take place in spring 2021 and construction is expected to reach completion in 2024. Designed with input from more than a year of extensive community engagement, the redesign for Central Park’s north end will replace the Lasker Rink and Pool that were built in 1966. The position of the rink and pool will also be changed; the facilities currently obstruct access between the Harlem Meer and the scenic Ravine to the south. In repositioning the pool and the rink building, the waterway will be reestablished and will once again flow overland through the Ravine into the Meer. To reconnect visitors to the water, a curvilinear boardwalk will be installed across a series of small islands and the new freshwater marsh. Related: Sustainable Central Park with energy-producing trees unveiled for Ho Chi Minh City In addition to improved biodiversity and landscape integration, the project will feature a new facility built into the topography of the site. The LEED Gold-seeking building will be built with locally sourced, natural materials of stone, wood and glass. Demolition debris will be recycled and reused on site wherever possible. Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass punctuated by slender wood columns will let in natural daylight to reduce reliance on artificial lighting and will create a seamless visual connection to the outdoor recreation areas. The roof will be landscaped to offer additional public gathering space and mitigate the urban heat island effect. “The fundamental premise of the design derives from the restoration’s leading objective: repairing the damaged ecology and hydrology of the site, a goal that filters through every aspect of the project’s commitment to sustainability and the highest standards of environmentally responsible construction practices,” reads the Central Park Conservancy press release. “By building into the slope to insulate the interior of the pool house, orienting the structure and its overhangs to shade the interior in summer and admit sunlight in winter and providing ‘ stack ventilation ‘ through the operable glass facade, the design’s passive climate control minimizes the use of energy for heating and cooling.” + Central Park Conservancy Images via Central Park Conservancy

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Tribute in Light endangers migrating birds

September 11, 2019 by  
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New York City’s annual September 11 Tribute in Light seeks to console a still-damaged city and commemorate those lost in the 2001 Twin Tower attacks. Unfortunately, the stunning beams of light also mesmerize birds , sometimes luring them to their deaths. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , the light event endangers nearly 160,000 birds each year. September is prime time for birds and other animals using the migration corridor that passes through New York City. Everything from warblers to bats to peregrine falcons flutter and swoop above the cityscape, as they have for thousands of years before there was even a single light to fly over. Related: Bird deaths from skyscrapers reaches into the hundreds of millions The Tribute in Light disrupts birds’ internal compasses. Birds rely on natural guideposts, such as light from the sun, stars and moon, and the pull of the earth’s magnetic field, to find their way to winter grounds. “When the installation was illuminated, birds aggregated in high densities, decreased flight speeds, followed circular flight paths and vocalized frequently,” the study authors wrote . “Simulations revealed a high probability of disorientation and subsequent attraction for nearby birds.” This means that while the smaller birds paused, hypnotized by lights, larger birds swooped down and snatched them for supper. Those who elude predators waste precious energy flying in circles over the light show, making them vulnerable to exhaustion and starvation. “Birds do fly for extended periods of time,” said John Rowden of the National Audubon Society. “It’s not that they can’t do it. But they’re doing it to get south of here. If they spend all their time in that small area, they won’t get to good foraging habitat , and it will compromise them for later parts of their migration.” A few scientists and a group of volunteers from the New York City chapter of the Audubon Society are keeping track of the light-dazzled birds. When they count 1,000 trapped birds, the lights are shut off for 20 minutes, allowing the birds to disperse. Ornithologist Susan Elbin is the director of conservation and science at New York City Audubon Society. As she told the New York Times , “It’s my job to turn the lights out, and I’d rather not have lights on at all, because the artificial light interferes with birds’ natural cues to navigate.” Via EcoWatch and New York Times Image via Dennis Leung

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Tribute in Light endangers migrating birds

Reclaimed NYC water towers are upcycled into a NEST playscape in Brooklyn

June 28, 2019 by  
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A giant NEST has landed on the roof of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM) — and it’s not for the birds. Brooklyn-based design and fabrication practice TRI-LOX created NEST, the museum’s new interactive playscape built out of reclaimed timber from the city’s rooftop water towers. Designed with parametric tools, the sustainable installation takes inspiration from the unique nests of the baya weaver birds — their nests are featured in the museum’s educational collection — and comprises an organic woven landscape with 1,800 square feet of space for open and creative play. Opened just in time for summer, the NEST playscape at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM) in Crown Heights caters to children ages 2 to 8. The woven wooden landscape is set on artificial turf and includes a climbable exterior and a series of ribbed tunnels and rooms that make up a permeable interior with entrances marked by bright blue paint. The reclaimed cedar slats not only make the structure easy to climb, but also partially obscure views for added playfulness. The top of the structure is crowned with a circular hammock area that directs views up toward the sky. “In exploring the museum’s educational collection, we came upon a series of incredible bird nests and let them inspire our design,” said ?Alexander Bender?, co-founder and managing partner of TRI-LOX, which was commissioned by BCM through a request for proposals in mid-2017. “One nest in particular, made by the baya weaver bird, offers an intricately woven form with rooms, tunnels and multiple entries. This concept was then transformed into a climbable playscape that retains the natural materiality of the nest and tells a story of an iconic design within our vertical urban habitat — the NYC rooftop wood water tower. We quite literally brought the water tower back to the rooftop with this project … it just had to be turned into a giant nest first.” Related: The Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s new green roof lets kids explore the wilderness in the middle of the city NEST playscape is the newest focal point for the BCM, which consists of a series of architecturally significant designs befitting its title as the world’s first children’s museum. Rafael Viñoly designed the museum’s eye-catching yellow building in 2008. Seven years later, Toshiko Mori added a pavilion on the 20,000-square-foot rooftop that was complemented with lush planting plan and a boardwalk by Future Green Studio in 2017. + TRI-LOX Photography by Arion Doerr via TRI-LOX

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Paris bans up to 60% of cars amidst record heat wave

June 28, 2019 by  
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As France suffers through a record heat wave, air pollution rates intensify. The solution? A Parisian car ban for less eco-friendly automobiles — as much as 60 percent of total vehicles in the city — until the hot weather breaks. The car ban has been creeping up on Parisians since 2017, when Paris issued a system of “Crit’Air” colored stickers with numbers ranging from 0 to 5. The worst polluters, diesels made in the year 2000 or earlier, get the 5 ranking and have been banned from central Paris since July 2017. This July, the ban extends to cars with level 4 stickers: diesel cars registered from 2001-2005, pre-2004 motorbikes and trucks from 2006-2009. These vehicles aren’t allowed within Paris’ A86 ring road area weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Related: Amsterdam announces plan to ban all polluting cars by 2030 But during this hot weather, level 3 vehicles are temporarily banned from A86. This affects 60 percent of Parisian drivers. Only hydrogen or electric vehicles, petrol cars registered after 2006 and diesels from 2011 or later can legally drive during the heat wave. Hydrogen and electric cars warrant a green sticker with the coveted 0 ranking. Many drivers are upset. Some are risking the fines — €68 for cars and motorbikes and up to €135 for trucks. “You have to face reality, which is the increase in air pollution when there is a heat wave, like the one we are experiencing at the moment,” France’s Minister of Ecological Transition, François de Rugy, told the French press. Other anti-air pollution measures include offering more free residential parking to encourage public transport usage and significantly reducing speed limits on motorways. Christophe Najdovski, deputy transport director for the city of Paris , told the French press, “The quality of the air is improving in Ile-de-France, but we want to speed up the process. It’s a question of public health .” Via Reuters Image via Pedro Szekely

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New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

May 10, 2019 by  
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Despite its irrefutable success — founded in 1891 and now receiving one million visitors a year — the New York Botanical Garden’s staff tirelessly finds innovative ways to stimulate visitors’ connection to nature. This year, it launched a new artist residency program, inviting internationally acclaimed visual artist Michele Oka Doner and sought-after composer Angélica Negrón to be the first participants. “People come to nature in different ways,” Barbara Corcoran, NYBG’s vice president for continuing and public education, told Inhabitat. “Some people come to the garden and they’re very observant, they really see the plants, they read the labels, and they have quite a good knowledge. They’re gardeners themselves or they’re naturalists.” Others might need extra help connecting. “ Music and art are two ways to do that,” she said. Carrie Rebora Barratt, who became CEO and president of the garden in 2018, came up with the residency idea. Her training as an art historian and museum administrator and her previous position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art had shown her the value of artist residencies. Michele Oka Doner Love of nature fuels Michele Oka Doner’s five decades of artwork. This is apparent as soon as you walk into her SoHo studio. “It’s like a treasure trove of nature,” Corcoran said. “She’s a collector of natural objects and archaeological finds like fossils and little bird skulls, like dozens of them, and old stone tools and shells and nature books. So this is like a laboratory. When you go there, you really get to see what she’s all about.” Doner’s past works include “A Walk on the Beach,” composed of 9,000 bronze starfish, sand dollars, coral and other sea-inspired sculptures embedded in the concourse at Miami International Airport. Her installation at the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory in Munich includes 400 shamanistic sculptures . She’s still developing her ideas for the site-specific work she’ll create at the New York Botanical Garden . Related: Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls On June 12, Doner will give a free talk at the garden called “Ecstatic Nutrition: The Trees of My Life” about three trees that greatly influenced her. “It kicks off our Wellness Wednesdays, which we have through the summer,” Corcoran said.  “Michele is a close observer of nature and a fine storyteller. She has this kind of enchantment with the natural world and its sacredness, and it really comes across. I think it will be very inspiring to hear her talk.” Angélica Negrón Composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón is a classically trained violinist who is well-known for her electronic music. Much of her work includes nontraditional instruments, such as toys, music boxes and electrodes hooked up to vegetables. A YouTube video shows Negrón in a market, lining up vegetables on a shelf to gauge their aesthetic as well as musical potential.  “I try to find vegetables or fruits that match the textures of the songs. I do love cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, vegetables that have kind of design element. I call it a vegetable synth,” she said in the video. “I try to coordinate it so it all looks like part of the same instrument.” Corcoran said that both artists are interested in science and technology. Negrón has met with a New York Botanical Garden scientist and horticulturalist to learn more about tree communication. “ Trees communicate largely through their roots,” Corcoran said. “That’s all very fascinating to her.” Negrón has already performed twice at the garden, delighting the public with her vegetable synth. “She assigns each vegetable with a different note,” Corcoran explained. “And then when she touches them, the water in those fruits and plants and vegetables conduct the electricity that creates the notes. By tapping different vegetables, she creates a musical piece.” She also adds in acoustic and electronic instruments and found sounds for a result Corcoran describes as “soothing and mesmerizing.” Negrón’s residency will culminate in November with a world-premiere performance in the Thain Family Forest. “We’ll have several choruses here,” Corcoran said. “So it’s a mix of live choral music with sounds that are coming from the trees. I think that’s going to be a real artistic happening that you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in New York in the fall. Plus, it’s in the old growth forest at a beautiful time of year.” Visiting the garden The New York Botanical Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round, plus occasional holiday Mondays. In addition to leisurely strolling and soaking up the beauty, there’s always something going on. Activities range from the extremely practical — learning to repot orchids — to something as celebratory as the Brazil-themed World Pride Night in June. The botanical garden is a vital center for plant research. Its herbarium contains 7.8 million specimens, and it employs about 200 PhD-level scientists and support staff who travel the world to collect plants and bring them back for study. But most of all, it’s a place where busy urbanites can spend time in nature . “It’s a real oasis for people,” Corcoran said. “And I think now more than ever, people need that.” + New York Botanical Garden Images via NYBG and Ben Hider / NYBG

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NYCs new eco-park and urban beach is designed to help clean the waterfront

May 3, 2019 by  
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New York City has just welcomed yet another gem to its growing number of waterfront parks — Pier 35, the long-awaited East River Waterfront project designed by Manhattan-based firm SHoP Architects in partnership with Ken Smith Workshop. Built to anchor the north side of the East River esplanade, Pier 35 consists of a new eco-park that not only offers a passive recreational space for the local community but also an innovative habitat restoration section, called Mussel Beach, that will encourage the growth of water-filtering mussels. The park also features a massive folded wall of mesh metal that will be covered in climbing vines to create a “green” billboard visible from afar. Opened this month, the 28,000-square-foot park stretches two miles along the waterfront between the Battery Maritime Building and Montgomery Street in the Lower East Side. Created in collaboration with the local community, Pier 35 revitalizes an often-overlooked section of the East River esplanade with a landscaped lawn and dunes; a raised porch with custom swings overlooking the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges; and an inclined, folded green screen that rises to 35 feet in height and over 300 feet in length and will be overlaid with vines. Built of metal and weathered steel wall panels as a nod to the East River’s industrial history, the screen wall was installed to hide views of the adjacent Sanitation Department shed at Pier 36. Thanks to a grant from the New York Department of State’s Division of Coastal Resources, Pier 35 also features Mussel Beach, an ecological prototype that mimics the historic East River shoreline and creates an inclined space that not only offers visitors a close look at the daily rising and falling of the tides but also a specially designed habitat for mussels , which naturally filter and clean the water. Related: The humble mussel is as important and threatened as bees “As we work toward finalizing community-led resiliency plans along the East River, I am thrilled to see active open space come online at Pier 35,” said councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “Along with ecological projects, this section of the waterfront is a much-needed amenity what will someday be part of a continuous and protective esplanade along Manhattan’s East Side. We’ll be improving our coastline in the years ahead and much of it will be inaccessible during renovation, so the community needs as much alternative open space as it can get. I thank my colleagues in government that championed this project.” + SHoP Architects Images via SHoP Architects

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The best online secondhand clothing shops

May 3, 2019 by  
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People are buying clothes and adding to their wardrobes like never before. This growth has been a boom for the fashion industry , but it has also lead to more and more clothes ending up in landfills around the world. One solution to help curb clothing waste is to buy secondhand clothing — and the rise of online thrift stores is making that easier than ever. Not only is buying secondhand clothing good for your wallet and the planet, but it is also possible to find quality items without leaving the comfort of your home. From common name brands to vintage and unique labels, here are all of the best places to buy (or sell) secondhand clothes. Vinted Vinted is a great website to sell and purchase secondhand clothing. If you are looking to sell some unwanted items in your closet, simply open an account online to get started. Vinted will create a custom page for your item, complete with a description and photos you provide. Once someone purchases the item, Vinted will send you a packaging label to send the product on its way. It’s easy for sellers to share their closets on social media as well. Related: 6 of the best places to donate your things Vinted also has plenty of clothing options for women, men and children. The prices are very affordable, and each item comes with at least one picture showing the condition. The product description also informs you of the brand, size, location of the seller, how many people viewed the page and when it was uploaded. Buyers and sellers can easily communicate, make bargains and leave feedback on one another to help future Vinted users make informed decisions. Poshmark Poshmark is similar to Vinted in that you can buy and sell secondhand clothing using its resources. One big difference between the two is that Poshmark is very brand-oriented. If you are looking for a specific brand, say Coach or Nike, then Poshmark makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for. Poshmark is also fully integrated with social media, so you can share whatever you are trying to sell with your online followers. If you have a large social media presence, this can work to your advantage and help you sell things faster. You can also leave feedback for particular sellers if you like your purchase. ThredUP ThredUP is primarily geared toward women and children and features a slew of amazing sales. You can also find great deals on shoes, handbags and accessories , plus a line of secondhand maternity clothes. ThredUP also features the ability to shop by discount, which makes it super easy to find the best deals online. ThredUP claims to be the largest online thrift store in the entire world. The company has thousands of products online at any given moment, and they inspect each piece of clothing for quality. ThredUP also has a program called Goody Box, in which they send you clothing based on your style. You only get charged for things you keep. Ebay Ebay is known for selling an assortment of goods, but you may not realize that you can purchase secondhand clothing on the site as well. In fact, the company has a tab on its homepage for fashion, where you can find all sorts of clothing items and accessories. You have to dig a little deeper to find secondhand clothing, but Ebay makes it easy by offering a pre-owned filter. You can sell your old clothes, shoes and accessories on Ebay, too. Related: Introducing ReTuna, the world’s first secondhand shopping mall ASOS Marketplace ASOS Marketplace has become a great resource for independent and vintage brands. If you have trouble finding a brand that has gone out of business or is only in select shops, ASOS Marketplace is the site for you. The company offers products for men and women and features both new and used clothing from around the world. The company also allows people to set up their own boutique online, though they have some strict guidelines before they will approve you. This includes having a certain number of clothing items on sale at all times and following their photography guidelines. Depop Depop actually started as a social network where customers could purchase fashion items from a magazine. The company has since added the ability to sell from its app and website, which has broadened its appeal. What separates Depop from everyone else on this list is its social networking element. With Depop, users share their purchasing ideas, inspiring others with their fashion trends. Swap Swap is another popular online thrift store similar to ThredUP. The company hand-inspects all of the items and sells everything from men’s and women’s clothing to toys and maternity-wear. Swap offers many popular brands and makes it easy to find the best deal. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, the company also offers hassle-free returns, which pays for shipping and gives you a full refund within 30 days of purchase. Related: The sustainable wardobe — it’s more accessible than you think Patagonia Worn Wear Patagonia Worn Wear is a great example of a company doing its best to keep its products in circulation as long as possible. The program works by customers trading in their old Patagonia clothing at local stores. The company then washes and repairs the clothing and puts it online for resale. Patagonia offers secondhand clothing for men, women and children, plus used gear and backpacks. Screenshot images via Inhabitat; images via RawPixel and Depop

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