Using Icebergs to Mask a Cooling Economy - NBC New York

Using Icebergs to Mask a Cooling Economy

Design firm uses icebergs to hide stalled construction

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    Icebergs in the Streets of NYC

    A Manhattan architectural firm thinks it has a "cool" way to cover up construction projects in the city, and actually utilize the space. (Published Tuesday, June 22, 2010)

    A Midtown architectural firm thinks they have a  “cool” new way to disguise the hundreds of stalled construction projects throughout New York City – icebergs.

    Huge structures of plastic and steel to be built on top of construction projects that have stopped because of the economic downturn.

    “They’re made of steel a small amount of it and a unique material, a polymer which is a really light plastic,” said Jeffrey Holmes of the architectural design firm Woods Bagot.  “We use air to support it so really the building is like an iceberg made of almost nothing.”

    It is the same plastic material used to construct the Ice Cube, a structure that housed all swimming and diving events during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

    Holmes touts the icebergs as “big on volume, yet light on resources.”  The plastic used is recycled and recyclable and promotes efficient deliver, installation and performance.

    While the structures are aesthetically pleasing, Holmes said they could also serve as a temporary retail and event space and serve as a way for developers to earn revenue while waiting for the real estate market to pick up again.

    “I’d rather see an iceberg I guess than unfinished construction,” said Craig Monaco of Turtle Bay who lives next to an unfinished residential tower.

    One benefit of these iceberg structures as opposed to conventional “taxpayer” buildings, is that they can be constructed and dismantled in a matter of days, which helps to minimize future development hurdles.

    Holmes said he has discussed this concept with several developers and many have responded positively.  Given the alternative, New Yorkers also seemed to like the idea.

    “Having an iceberg there wouldn’t make me think ‘oh the economy is shaping up wonderfully,’” said Ray Arnold of the Bronx.  “But it would make me think ‘oh this is an interesting artistic piece that makes my day brighter.’”

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