Weekend Reading: Frank Gehry Talks Beekman, New Yorkers Go Crazy For Compost, PlaNYC’s Green Roof Push

Sustainable tapas. Green mezes. An EnergyStar pu-pu platter. Whatever food metaphor you favor, here are three snack-size stories to keep you sated over the weekend.

As you may have noticed, gbNYC has been in energy-saver mode over the last week-plus. This is in part because of our dedication to efficiency and sustainability in all its forms, but mostly it’s because I’ve been really busy, and Stephen is always really busy, and… well, yeah. At least we’ve got a nice backlog of stuff to cover next week, when we’ll hopefully get back on a more reasonable schedule. Until then, though, here are three stories I meant to cover, but didn’t, and now kind of am. It’s the return of your Friday Reading, but given how late on Friday this return is occurring, it’s perhaps best if we call it Weekend Reading. So let’s do that. And let’s read these stories:

  • Frank Gehry has been quite clear about how he feels about LEED — spoiler: he feels curmudgeonly in the extreme — and his typically striking Beekman Tower at 8 Spruce Street in the Financial District will not be pursuing any kind of LEED certification. That said, it’s impressive-looking enough — and Gehry is an interesting enough interview — to make it worth a gbNYC mention even without the bike racks and other LEED point-getters. The building is interesting enough in the context of the Financial District real estate ebb-and-flow, but Gehry successfully makes it sound more interesting in his conversation with the Wall Street Journal’s Peter Grant. “I am a contexualist,” Gehry says by way of putting the building in context. (Which, also: really?) “I pay a lot of attention to where I’m doing things. And I have a mind-set not to talk down to people or places. People have been telling me this is a New York building. I don’t think you would build that building anywhere else. With its stair-steps, it has a New York persona. I think I’ve nailed that part of it. That was intentional. I think it talks to the Woolworth Building. I like the juxtaposition. It sure as hell doesn’t talk down to it.”
  • Sean O’Driscoll of the Associated Press, who wrote an interesting piece about white roofs — that in turn drew some interesting comments-section criticism here at gbNYC from the estimable Anne Whitacre — is back in action with a piece on New York City’s composting underground. Which makes it sound kind of menacing, I know. It’s really just a bunch of well-meaning gardener/foodie types intent upon making the most out of their garbage. “New York has become a center for compost coops, especially after cutbacks two years ago forced the city sanitation department to drastically cut back on a program that had offered the public free compost,” O’Driscoll writes. “In its place, gardeners have come together to share each other’s decomposing waste.”
  • Green roofs: I believe I am on the record as pertains to this issue. But while I make no real bones about my sorrow at green roofs sluggish adoption in New York City, I don’t pretend not to know why that’s so. They’re expensive, and heavy, and don’t necessarily confer the sort of green building benefits that lead to fast paybacks; that they’re beautiful is enough for me, but it’s easy to see why one doesn’t see more of them in New York. That may — may, as in maybe or maybe not — change, though.  The Bloomberg administration has announced an initiative, as part of the ambitious green PlaNYC omnibus, designed to incent green roof construction (and blue roofs, and porous paving of parking lots and sidewalks) in the hopes of diverting runoff from the city’s overmatched sewer system, and thus from the city’s unappealingly sewage-rich waterways. “Bloomberg estimates the city could save $2.4 billion over 20 years if the state allows it to use this kind of green technology instead of relying on so-called grey infrastructure, such as storage tanks and tunnels,” Reuters’ Joan Gralia reports. I get suspicious whenever politicians promise savings in the 10-figure range, but you know my biases on this and it is at the very least cheaper than the proposed $6.8 billion modernization of the city’s sewer system. There’s more on this at Inhabitat, as well.

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2 Responses to Weekend Reading: Frank Gehry Talks Beekman, New Yorkers Go Crazy For Compost, PlaNYC’s Green Roof Push

  1. Stephen Del Percio Friday, October 8, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    Dave, one more piece to note from today is Krugman’s editorial about Chris Christie’s reprehensibly short-sighted decision earlier this week to axe the new mass transit tunnel under the Hudson River. It’s the most important infrastructure project anywhere in the country and if Christie gets away with killing the project, I think it says a lot about our collective ability to tackle big problems that require big solutions:


  2. David Roth Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    I’m working on a longer post about that, SDP. Or at least was planning on doing so. It’s a bad, bad move by a bad, bad governor, and while Krugman gets it right and expresses himself more economically than I probably will, I’m still hoping to do something on it. But yeah, everyone should read that column.