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Old March 19th, 2007, 09:03 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Jersey City Tries to Upgrade Image with Architecture

Jersey City using architecture - proposed Koolhaas tower - to upgrade its image
By JANET FRANKSTON LORIN
4 March 2007

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - With its prime location across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, Jersey City has been drawing new residents and businesses for years with its stunning views of the New York skyline and cheaper rents.

But now New Jersey's second largest city is commanding something more than a quick commute to Manhattan: the cachet of an avant-garde 52-story condominium and hotel tower to anchor an arts district, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Rem Koolhaas.

He announced plans last week for a 1.2 million-square-foot building with an unusual design: three rectangular slabs stacked perpendicular to each other. City officials have called it a 600-foot-tall piece of art.

The new building will replace a brick 130-year-old former tobacco factory, now being demolished. Developers with the Athena Group and BLDG Management Co., both of New York, said its 300 condominium units are expected to have a price range of $500,000 to $1 million.

Like many cities around the world, Jersey City is trying to use architecture to upgrade its image, said Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for the New Yorker magazine.

"Architecture is increasingly one of those bootstraps that cities use to bootstrap themselves up a couple of notches," he said. "It shows that Jersey City has reached a new level and it makes sense to do something like this today."

Robert Ivy, editor-in-chief of the Architectural Record, agreed.

"Developers and cities are realizing that architects have the power to draw attention, international attention, to their location. That was true in Milwaukee, and in Bilbao, and it's going to be true in Jersey City," he said, referring to Santiago Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum and Frank Gehry's design for the Guggenheim Museum in Spain.

In other words, design can change perception, he said. Imaginative or poetic buildings change the entire perceived personality of a city.

"I have no way of knowing whether Koolhaas' building can do that, but really great buildings can do that," he said.

Koolhaas' $400 million building, to be complete in three or four years, will add to Jersey City's emerging real estate portfolio.

The city already has a sleek and elegant new office tower designed by Cesar Pelli for Goldman Sachs, the tallest building in New Jersey. Goldberger described it a 2004 New Yorker magazine critique as "the anchor of a new city, a kind of Shanghai on the Hudson, that has sprung up over the past decade on what was once industrial land."

The city has also approved plans for a second Goldman Sachs tower, designed by famed architect I.M. Pei, but it won't be built until the first tower is filled, said Jersey City's planning director Robert Cotter.

The Koolhaas tower will put Jersey City on the world map for other reasons, said Hilary Ballon, a professor of architectural history at Columbia University. "People will want to see a Koolhaas building," she said. "It's not that he's just a famous architect. It's what his work stands for."

The Dutch architect, a winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architectural Prize, has also designed the Prada store in New York, the Casa da Musica concert hall in Porto, Portugal, and the China Central Television Headquarters, under construction in Beijing.

He said in an interview with The Associated Press that he wants the Jersey City building, with its mix of uses, to inspire social interaction, life and energy. Besides condos and a hotel, it will include artist lofts and studios, gallery and retail space, as well as several levels of public space.

"We are creating something slightly more memorable and slightly more energetic," he said. "What New Jersey lacks is some visible evidence of a new beginning."

That new beginning began creeping across the Hudson two decades ago with the Newport, a 600-acre project by the New York development family LeFrak, which has more of a suburban feel and includes its own PATH stop as well as office space, housing and a shopping mall.

The more urban Koolhaas building wouldn't have been possible 20 years ago, said Michael Beyard, a senior fellow with the Urban Land Institute, a Washington-based think tank that promotes responsible development. He said the building will raise the value and importance of Jersey City's location.

"As the value is added, as the area becomes more acceptable as a destination for residential, office and retailing, the value of the property continues to rise," he said.

More is likely to follow, said Architectural Record's Ivy. He said Koolhaas' name alone will draw attention.

"Let's say the intellectual investment will attract scrutiny and perhaps attract others to join the party," he said.
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 04:57 PM   #2
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I heard about this its sad theyre tearing down the Facotry they could turn those into lofts and build the tower somewehre else
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 05:04 PM   #3
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nice! i cant wait for the development on this side of the river to take off!
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Old March 22nd, 2007, 05:14 PM   #4
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I passby the site everyday.
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 02:50 AM   #5
TalB
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No offense, but I would rather have Jersey City preserve its identity rather than look like another wierd Chineese city, though this doesn't mean that I am offending the Chineese.
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Old March 30th, 2007, 07:29 PM   #6
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