New York is known for a lot of things—taxis, bagels, Central Park, the subway—but it is not known for privacy. Privacy, in fact, can be pretty hard to come by. Last month, BMW Guggenheim Lab launched “Public/Private,” a new interactive project that explores our individual and collective experiences of privacy in cities around the world. In order to participate, you must first enter your information: gender, age and city. Next, you evaluate the level of privacy you seek in various locations in your city: workplace, home, school, parks, streets, etc. Finally, you rate your level of satisfaction with your city. Once your results are calculated, you can compare them to those of other users living in your city, and discover how your city’s collective data matches up to other cities around the world. (more…)
Store awnings touting a beauty salon, a taco restaurant, and ten other storefronts span the block of Willoughby Street between Bridge Street and Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn. However, none of these businesses have been active within these spaces for almost three years.
This phenomenon is a result of developers deinvesting in this retail corridor as the renovation of Downtown Brooklyn gains momentum. Furthermore, due to considerable publicity over these urban development projects, more and more local retailers are being pushed out.
Nevertheless, the windows of these vacated retail establishments do not offer a glimpse of dry wall and exposed electrical wires, instead these windows act as an medium to showcase artworks in an interim setting.
This upcoming July will be the third year since MetroTech BID and Ad Hoc Art (AHA), in cooperation with Avalon Bay and United American Land, unveiled the gallery, Willoughby Windows. They selected over fifteen artists, who had ties in the street art movement, with the task of creating artworks to help galvanize the area during its time of transition. According to the organizers, “This network of visual experiences can help redefine how people visiting, working, and living in downtown Brooklyn think and interact with their environment during a time of transition.”
At the time of its debut, writers who covered this story about Willoughby Windows expected that the gallery would be a temporary exhibit, not lasting beyond 2009 when the buildings would supposedly be demolished. However, a year later in May 2010, the initiative revamped the gallery with the introduction of another assembly of street art-inclined artists. At this point, the BBC took interest in this project and covered it as part of a commentary on the recession. They managed to capture footage of pedestrians interacting with the art, a vibrant interlude by the sidewalk instead of the alternative of a completely empty block.
Several of the works are site-specific, such as Laura Lee’s installation. She deliberately chose to format her drawings within a Polaroid frame in order to establish a connection with the former one-hour photo store where she displays her artwork. The artist, Joe Iurato, stated that in regards to the surrounding neighborhood, he wanted his artwork (a painting of an Ethiopian girl) to “resonate” with the local youth and act as an inspiration for them.
Nevertheless, the development in this vicinity, despite delays, is still moving forward. According to Garrison Buxton, owner/director of Ad Hoc Art Gallery, the installations will be taken down by the end of June and then the buildings will be demolished to make way for reconstruction. Ultimately, the purpose of the Willoughby Windows exhibit was to be a temporary placeholder during a time of transition. Yet, since it became a fixture in the area for almost three years, how much permanency has it created with nearby residents? Changing neighborhood dynamics is afoot and gentrification, for better or for worse, is a key force in this issue.
The precise date of removal is not yet known so if you find yourself in Downtown Brooklyn, make sure to be on the lookout for the gallery before it’s gone!
Willoughby Windows is located on Willoughby Street between Bridge Street and Duffield Street [Map]
Get in touch with the author @iyisak
Different countries have different reserves. For the US, people often refer to America’s oil reserve which is used to reduce oil prices when global oil prices get too high. China has a pork reserve of 200,000 metric tonnes which is used to protect consumers against rising pork prices.
While the US has oil and China has pork, Singapore has its sand reserves. Singapore is quite literally a growing nation. While the country’s economic growth is well known throughout the world, less known is the fact the island nation has physically grown from 580 square kilometres in the 1960s to 710 square kilometres today. By 2030, there are plans to expand another 70 square kilometres. The growth in Singapore’s land size is because of land reclamation.
Notable landmarks in Singapore built on reclaimed land include Changi Airport, much of the central business district including Marina Bay and Jurong Island which is the base of Singapore’s petroleum industry.
There are two types of sand used for Singapore’s expansion. Sea sand is primarily used for land reclamation while river bed sand is used for concrete. For Singapore’s purposes, both are equally important.
Traditionally, Singapore has imported most of its sands from closest neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia. There was commotion caused in 2007 when Indonesia banned the export of sand to Singapore, although there are doubts whether the ban was due to economic or political reasons. There are also suspicions how much of Singapore’s sand imports are legal versus black market.
In 2007 when Indonesia banned the export of sand to Singapore, the government of Singapore took action to release sand from its national reserves. During this time, Singapore was at the height of building the two Integrated Resorts at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. By releasing sand from the national reserves, this helped to keep sand cost down. However, the impact of Indonesia’s action spurred fervent debate on whether Singapore should switch a large portion of its construction from concrete to steel.
The national sand reserves are located in a remote part of east Singapore, beside the Bedok Reservoir in east Singapore. As you drive up to the reserves, the mountains of sand are quite surreal like you’re witnessing a scene out of Lawrence of Arabia. The overall facility is surrounded by high-security fences and patrol houses dot ever few hundred meters.
Though oil and pork may be more worthy reserves to talk about, Singapore’s sand reserves are definitely an interesting sight to witness.
Recently Untapped New York discovered this at Bedford Avenue and N.7th in Williamsburg. Looks like something is in the works for 2010!
I first became intrigued with public bathrooms upon seeing the reppropriation of the Astor Place women’s room into a newsstand. Then I began to notice larger stand-alone beaux-arts buildings, and began to dig further. Today, the internet is littered with information about how to find bathrooms in New York City–nyrestroom.com, nyctoiletmap.com, restroomratings.com, and the global iPhone app SitorSquat by Charmin. But in real life, restrooms are harder to come by. In NYC as of April 2009, there were 666 park bathrooms, 78 subway bathrooms and the pay-per-use self-cleaning bathrooms in Herald Square. These figures have fallen sharply over the last half-century. In contrast, Singapore, which has a land area nearly 200 sq km less than New York City, has 29,500 public toilets.
Should the provision of bathrooms be considered a public good? In Italy, cafes and similar establishments are required by law to permit anybody to use the bathroom, regardless of being a customer. Cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Gent, Belgium all have street-side options. New York City has swung the pendulum on this issue, and the history behind the present situation is typical of New York: long, complicated and wrought with political drama.
As the economy struggled in the 1970s, crime and vandalism increased in the subway system, and the majority of the bathrooms were closed to the public. In 1975, pay toilets were outlawed in response to the charge that they discriminated against women. Women always needed a stall, while men could relieve themselves anywhere, opponents argued. Other opposition included claims of discrimination against the disabled or that public restrooms would attract child molesters, vagrants and drug-dealers.
Mayors David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg have all attempted to address the dearth of toilets, which the New York Times has termed “among life’s eternal mysteries.” Plans during Mayor Guiliani’s term were scrapped for fear of contract monopolies, and then later, although money was budgeted by the city council for toilets, the administration never acted upon it. Mayor Bloomberg finally signed a deal with Cemusa to install public pay-per-use toilets and new street “furniture”–you’ve probably noticed the new fancy bus shelters and newspaper stands.
Unfortunately, the pay-per-use self-cleaning toilets at Herald Square were not popular or cost-efficient, with focus groups reporting that users had a “profound mistrust of automation in the toilet sphere.” They have been replaced with manually cleaned toilets that nonetheless still look “space-age.” My hunch is that New Yorkers just like to be scrappy or in-the-know, like this Yelp user’s rating of best bathrooms in NYC ranging from Pottery Barn to the W Hotel. Or think about Seinfeld’s George Constanza who bragged “Anywhere in the city–I’ll tell you the best public toilet.”