Forest City exec says Gehry's 8 Spruce draws 1,000 brokers

Susi Yu, a senior vice president of development at Forest City Ratner, said in an interview with Insights from The Real Deal that hundreds of apartment brokers -- by invitation only -- came over several days starting the second week in February to view her company's units at 8 Spruce Street, the tallest residential tower in the city. It has drawn intense interest through its impact on the skyline and its high-profile architect, Frank Gehry

NYC Building Permits Are Getting QR Codes

A new plan unveiled by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday will put QR codes on all NYC building permits by 2013.

New Yorkers who scan the codes will be able to learn details about ongoing projects, read complaints and violations related to the location, or click on a link to easily make complaints of their own.

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, the codes will link to a mobile version of the Department of Buildings Information System. As existing permits at 975,000 building and construction sites in New York City expire, the codes will be added to the new permits that replace them. Codes will also be added to after-hours variances and Place of Assembly certificates of operation.

While other governments have run campaigns using QR codes, New York City seems to have taken a particular liking to the barcode-like graphics. The codes are already in use on Department of Sanitation vehicles (they link to a public service announcement about recycling), and the city covered Times Square with them in June to celebrate Internet week and promote select agencies. Google Engineer Turns Subway Lines Into Musical Instruments

Alexander Chen used HTML5 and Massimo Vignelli's famous subway map to turn NYC's mass transit system into a playable musical instrument.

Manhattan denizens sometimes describe the sounds of the subway as the city's incidental music. Now programmer/designer Alexander Chen has created a more soothing version with, an interactive NYC subway map-turned-musical-instrument that uses transit lines as its strings.

Chen, who works at Google Creative Lab, used HTML5 to code's behavior: not only do crossing train lines "pluck" each other's strings, you can do the same thing with your mouse. And as for the map itself, Chen chose the classic/infamous Massimo Vignelli design as his template.


A detail from Vignelli's 1972 NYC subway map.

The choice makes sense: the "strings" in Chen's instrument need to be taut and straight, and Vignelli's ruthlessly rectilinear design (inspired by the London Tube map, which was itself inspired by electrical engineering diagrams) provides the necessary visual tension for "plucking."

But isn't just design-homage in a vacuum: using the real MTA's public API, Chen's creation polls real-time train departures and arrivals to spawn its animation. The map then accelerates through a 24-hour loop of subway activity, generating music with just enough randomness to be interesting but not distracting. The effect is not unlike that of Pulsate, another browser-based musical interactive piece we raved about.


Other subtle-but-delightful design touches: the length of the train line dynamically determines its pitch when plucked, and the white background fades to black as the 24-hour train cycle makes its way from day to night. Chen even added historical easter eggs for eagle-eyed transit buffs: "The 8 train, or the Third Ave El, was shut down in 1973. The former K train was merged into other routes. I decided to run these ghost trains between 12am-2am," he says in his blog.

As an interactive portrait-in-code of the most famous mass transit system in the world, excels. And it's a helluva lot more pleasant to listen to than the screeching sounds of the 4 train at Union Square.