B.P.C. Beat


Volume 20, Number 47 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 17 – 23, 2010


Architects and engineers from 25 firms spent much of the night of November10 building sculptures from canned food at 2 World Financial Center as part of the worldwide Canstruction® event, now in its 18th year. On November 22, the World Financial Center sculptures will be dismantled and the food donated to City Harvest to feed hungry New Yorkers.

The sculptures are noteworthy for their imagination and structural ingenuity. To the uninitiated it seems miraculous that some of them stand up considering that they must be built without glue. Wire, tiebacks and tape are okay as are leveling materials no more than one-quarter inch thick.

“We’re encouraged to build our structures in our offices beforehand so we can work out any problems,” said Alberto Quinones, who for seven years served as team captain for the architecture firm of Platt Byard Dovell White. “But there are always surprises.” Wind can be a problem, Mr. Quinones said. “We had to move two ‘canstructions’ this year because of wind coming through the doors.”

Mr. Quinones said that the food is donated, sometimes by the firms and sometimes by sponsors such as Goya. Each sculpture utilizes anywhere from 1,200 to more than 9,000 cans of food. All of the labor is donated. The building teams tend to be junior members of the firms, said Mr. Quinones, and in addition to the camaraderie and fun of building, they often learn something. “I learned a huge amount about three-dimensional CAD modeling,” he remarked.

This year, the team from Ferguson & Shamamian Architects in SoHo was the first to finish on building night. Their project was a seven-foot-tall structure depicting hugging salt and pepper shakers called “A-Salt on Hunger.” It was constructed of Hershey’s chocolate syrup cans and Parrot evaporated milk.

“The most difficult thing was to figure out how the arms were going to connect,” said Joseph Zvejnieks, an illustrator for the firm and co-captain of the team. This was Mr. Zvejnieks’ fourth Canstruction® event. “Every time you do it, there are new challenges,” he said.

Prizes were awarded on Monday night. The prize for “Structural Ingenuity” went to LERA (Leslie E. Robertson Associates, structural engineers) for “FEASTer Island” — a colossal head with protruding nose and brow (each can cantilevered over others to produce this effect).

The firm, which was founded in 1923 and did the engineering for the original World Trade Center as well as for many other buildings such as the Shanghai World Financial Center and in Battery Park City, the maintenance facility for the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, must have found “can-struction” engineering to be a piece of cake.

No ice:

There will be no Battery Park City ice skating rink this year. Rink Management Services, which operated the rink last year on the ball fields between Murray and Warren Streets, told the Battery Park City Authority late in the summer that it would not be returning despite having a multi-year contract.

Last year, the rink had to be closed the day it was supposed to open because of glass that fell from the neighboring Goldman Sachs headquarters. Later in the season, boards fell from Liberty Luxe and Liberty Green under construction on the west side of the rink, causing additional shut downs. Despite the rink’s popularity with many Battery Park City residents, management lost money.

The B.P.C.A. issued a Request for Proposals for a new vendor, but received only one response — and that was for the 2011-2012 season, not for this year. Gayle Horwitz, president of the B.P.C.A., said at a meeting of Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee last week that the Authority wants to work with the community to draft an R.F.P. for a new vendor. Committee co-chair Jeff Galloway mentioned that with artificial turf on the fields (to be installed next fall) it would be possible to keep the ball fields open for team sports throughout the year instead of installing a rink in the winter. “I honestly don’t know what the community would prefer to have,” he said, adding that it might be possible to have both an ice-skating rink and other athletic events on the ball fields. The Battery Park City Committee’s Ball Fields and Community Center Task Forces will study the matter and make a recommendation.

More light:

The Battery Park City ball fields are used by three teams: the Downtown Little League, the Downtown Soccer League and a football league, the Downtown Giants. Manhattan Youth also uses the fields. Historically, the lights have been turned off at 8 p.m., but with ball field usage increasing, Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee asked that the lights be left on later to give more practice time. The Battery Park City Authority said ‘yes’ to the request and the ball fields will now be lit until 9 p.m. daily.

Traffic calming:

The Murray Street block that runs between Teardrop Park North and Teardrop Park South has three garages plus through-traffic that makes it dangerous for kids (and others) who don’t realize that the two parts of Teardrop Park are separated by a busy street. The Battery Park City Authority has just issued a contract to install traffic calming measures on the block. New paving and markings should be in place by the spring.

Bike detour:

In order to allow Port Authority crews to perform infrastructure work on the World Trade Center chiller plant, which ties into Hudson River underground water lines in Battery Park City, the Route 9A bikeway that currently parallels West Street will have to be rerouted for several months. However, it isn’t clear exactly where it’s going to go.

According to the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, starting November 19, the Route 9A bikeway between West Thames and Vesey Streets will be relocated to the Battery Park City North Cove esplanade. But a slide that the New York State Department of Transportation showed at the November Community Board 1 Battery Park City Committee meeting depicted the detour as running between Murray and Albany Streets, snaking its way past 1, 2 and 4 World Financial Center. An e-mail on November 15 to the state D.O.T. asking for clarification on the discrepancy was answered by a spokesman who said, “This is a Port Authority proposed detour to be approved by the Battery Park City Authority, the New York City D.O.T. and the New York State D.O.T. The exact detour has not been finalized.”

The N.Y.S.D.O.T. spokesman suggested getting more information from the Port Authority. The L.M.C.C.C. says the bikeway relocation is expected to remain on the esplanade through approximately spring 2011. It adds, “Signs along the route will help guide cyclists.” That’s good, so people will know where to go. Right now, that seems to be up in the air. Either that, or it’s a closely guarded secret.

November 18:

The problem with New York City is that there’s too much to do here. Take the evening of November 18, for instance. Battery Park City residents can attend a reception with free wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres at Izzy & Nat’s deli, 311 South End Ave., where Gateway Plaza resident Glenn Plaskin’s book “Katie Up and Down the Hall” will be for sale with the proceeds going to Deb DiIorio’s animal rescue charity, AmsterDog. Ms. DiIorio is also a Gateway Plaza resident, so there should be lots of neighborhood folks at that one, which runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (See last week’s “Battery Park City Beat” for details.) Also on November 18, Poets House at 10 River Terrace will host National Book Award-winning poet Gerald Stern, who will read from his “Early Collected Poems 1965-1992” and discuss his work with Ross Gay, the author of the poetry collection “Against Which.” That’s at 7 p.m. and costs $10 or $7 for students and seniors. It’s free to Poets House members. Go to www.poetshouse.com for more information.

Meanwhile, down at the Ritz-Carlton that night, the New York Democratic Committee will be holding a cocktail reception to honor Douglas Durst, Edward C. Wallace and Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin. That runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with tickets starting at $125. The Ritz-Carlton is at 2 West St. If you want to go to the reception, call Alison Walsh at 646-214-3397. That same night at the Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St., there will be a symposium from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. called “How to Make New York Seafood Local Again.” As a press release notes, “Three hundred years ago, New York Harbor and its surroundings comprised a productive estuary supporting bountiful fisheries for oysters, shad, sturgeon, striped bass, herring, tuna and pretty much every fish and shellfish a New Yorker would want to eat.” Now, of course, despite the fishermen who line the Battery Park City esplanade near Wagner Park, fish are scarcer in the Hudson River and no one should eat too many of them because of PCB contamination. The panelists will include biologist and historian John Waldman and writers Mark Kurlansky (“The Big Oyster”), Carl Safina (“Song for the Blue Ocean”) and Bruce Franklin (“The Most Important Fish in the Sea.”) The panel will be moderated by Paul Greenberg (“Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.”) Tickets are $10 for Seaport New York members and $15 for non-members. E-mail reservations@seany.org or call 212-748-8786 for more information.


If you want to have company for Thanksgiving but cooking for crowds is not your thing, Izzy & Nat’s at 311 South End Ave. has a Thanksgiving dinner package that serves eight. It includes a whole turkey, endive salad, giblet gravy, cranberry relish, stuffing, green beans and garlic mashed potatoes. The cost is $199 — and Izzy’s includes a free chocolate babka with orders of $100 or more. You can add a pie to your order for an extra $19 (apple, pumpkin or pecan). Call 212-619-5100 to order and to learn about some other “specials” on Izzy’s Thanksgiving Day menu. Battery Place Market at 77 Battery Place is offering a Thanksgiving menu with roasted turkey as the centerpiece accompanied by candied sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, acorn squash with butter and sage or Brussels sprouts with baby onions, a choice of two stuffings, cranberry relish, gravy and pumpkin pie. The cost ranges from $149 to $219, depending on the size of the turkey. Free delivery is available in southern Battery Park City until 7 p.m. Wednesday night and until 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Call 212-786-0077 to place an order or for more information. Also, keep in mind that Steamers Landing, SouthWest NY and Merchants Café will be open on Thanksgiving Day from noon to 9 p.m. At 4 p.m., SouthWest NY (located at 2 World Financial Center) will have a community table seating so that no one need spend Thanksgiving eating alone. The cost of $25.95 includes the meal plus coffee, tea, soda and a free glass of house wine. Call 212-945-0528 to reserve a place at the community table.

To comment on “Battery Park City Beat” or to leave Battery Park City information for possible use in the column, e-mail TereseLoeb@mac.com.