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Surprised that’s paper? We were too when we checked out artist Christina Lihan’s free exhibit “Constructions” at the Citigroup Center at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City. Lihan, of Lihan Studio, creates replicas of famous buildings, bridges, and cityscapes by hand-cutting paper. She doesn’t paint them, but uses the thickness of watercolor paper to make these 3-dimensional. Lihan patiently cuts, folds, and forms every detail of a building to create these scenes that put architecture in a new light.

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UntappedCities-Water-St-Downtown-NYC-Runway-Biplane-Roof-Nasha VirataPhoto by ScoutingNY/WSJ

Exceptions such as the Chrysler Building aside, New York City’s office buildings are often lackluster while many the Private Owned Public Spaces (POPS), a city zoning regulation, are equally if not even more uninspired. Melvyn Kaufman, developer of many Midtown and Financial District skyscrapers disagreed. The New York Times called him an “oddball”, while others saw him as a “sly urban prankster.” Kaufman hated the International Style office lobbies, calling them “marble and travertine mausoleums” which were not just boring but also “bad for the living and terrific for the dead.” He wanted more than that and with a famous hands-on approach with his architects, he made it happen.

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Have you ever walked by a particularly strong stench at a street corner and suddenly had the urge to give it a closer smell to really dissect its nuances? Well, us neither. But a few brave pioneers have taken it upon themselves to create their own smellmaps, fascinating guides that showcase a city’s range of olfactory experiences. In this interactive New York Times map of Manhattan (from 2009 but still awesome), Jason Logan provides encyclopedic entries for each neighborhood’s smellscape.

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Video via Kickstarter

Washington D.C.-based tech start-up GreaterPlaces and civic organization DoTankDC are launching “Cards Against Urbanity” the Card Game for Horrible Places, a direct play on the famous Cards Against Humanity, a Party Game for Horrible People. The game aims to teach city planning and design by making fun of cities, suburbs, and the colorful cast of people, “because planning is hard and full of jargon and math.” While players make off-color jokes, they’re also learning about real urban planning issues and some of the terminology associated with discussing urbanism. (more…)

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Even with the scaffolding from current construction, the facade of 5 Beekman Place, previously Temple Court, is stately. But the good stuff is on the inside. The historic 5 Beekman, just off Park Place, is undergoing a long overdue renovation, being converted into hotels and condos with the addition of a 51-story adjoining tower. We’ve been following the space ever since Scouting NY posted interior shots in 2010 but the Wall Street Journal gave the latest update this week. The glass and concrete tower was designed by Gerner, Kronick + Valcarcel, Architects to reflect the turrets of 5 Beekman next door. According to WSJ, the Beekman Hotel will have 287 rooms and 68 units in the Beekman Residences condo tower. GB Lodging took over the building in early 2012, anticipating the resurgence of Lower Manhanttan thanks to the opening of the Freedom Tower and the Calatrava transit hub.

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