Things are changing fast in New York — granted when haven’t they? — but the next few years in particular seem filled with promise to bring fresh architectural and design ideas and monuments that will transform this place into something new.

Here are a few things we’re looking forward to in the coming years.

#1 Cool Scaffolding

In case you missed the big news, New York is getting nicely designed scaffolding in January 2012 to replace that awkward, ugly and alienating stuff that we’re forced to endure on a daily basis.

This new stuff looks so lovely that we can hear the price of everything in New York skyrocket as we type this.

In what we like to describe as a very gothic Santiago Calatrava-ish design, these “urban umbrellas” look airy, mostly transparent and they’re even painted white!

The downside is where will street artists post their art? We’re hoping they find a way.

#2 MoMA Takes on the Foreclosure Crisis

Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream opens on February 15, and it sounds like one of the season’s must-see exhibitions.

The press release explains that it ” … is an exploration of new architectural possibilities for cities and suburbs in the aftermath of the recent foreclosure crisis. During summer 2011, five interdisciplinary teams of architects, urban planners, ecologists, engineers and landscape designers worked in public workshops at MoMA PS1 to envision new housing and transportation infrastructures that could catalyze urban transformation, particularly in the country’s suburbs.”


#3 Occupy Design

Occupy Wall Street mesmerized New York all fall but what it suggested culture-wise was that protest design had finally evolved past the 1960s into something more decentralized, amorphous and (as yet) undecided. There were no central bank of symbols, no unified sensibility and everyone was invited to contribute.

As the New York Times explained it, “As a leaderless movement that is cellular rather than hierarchical in structure, Occupy has depended on the internet and social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, to fuel its growth. The different elements of its design identity have been defined by the ingenuity with which its supporters have used those technologies.”

One wonders what 2012 has in store for us and how the energy of Occupy will influence the world around us.

#4 Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards

Barclays Center (yes, we know, awful name) is opening in the fall of 2012 and while a sports stadium isn’t always an ideal place to experience good design, we’re curious to see what this downtown Brooklyn arena is like.

Soon the rest of the Atlantic Yards will open and we’re curious to see what this area will become. SHoP architects is designing one of the residential towers but we haven’t seen anything iconic yet that will transform the borough but we’re willing to be surprised.

Btw, some awesome public art could really help this project.

#5 UN Facelift

When the United Nations was designed eons ago it was cool, sleek and modern. Today, it’s a dump. I’ve served as an NGO rep at the UN years ago and I can tell you first hand that it’s ugly and hasn’t aged well inside. Thankfully others agree and the building is getting much needed renovations.

One of the most curious is the UN North Delegates Lounge, which is being made over by a team of Dutch designers including Hella Jongerius, architect Rem “I designed the Chinese propaganda ministry” Koolhaas and graphic designer Irma Boom.

And who knows, maybe the UN will also get that new tower they’ve been talking about forever.

#6 City’s First Gay Hotel

If there is anything this city loves it is a good gimmick. So this summer when the city’s first gay hotel or “gay urban resort,” appropriately named The Out NYC, opens on 42nd Street this may create a new era of niche tourism and architecture.

Will this be a franchise? Will a gay architectural style emerge? Doesn’t this thing look like something from a video game?

I will admit that it made me throw up in my mouth a little that an image of Lady Gaga was in one of the architectural renderings on their website. Perhaps it’s all in the hopes that gay tourists will go gaga over this new concept.

#7 Computerized Everything Hotel

Ok, this one may be cheating since this place has already opened but we haven’t stayed there yet so we technically haven’t “seen” it yet.

Yotel New York opened in Times Square in the middle of 2011 and it looks like the lap of “affordable luxury” (whatever that is). Dezeen explains that “visitors check in at computerised kiosks while their luggage is stored or retrieved by a giant robotic arm.”

Designed by London architects Softroom and New York studio Rockwell Group, this sleek sushi restaurant-owned hotel follows in the footsteps of a chain of airport hotels that combine “Japanese capsule accommodation with first-class airline cabins.” Tell me that doesn’t sound pure awesome.

#8 Fulton Street Pantheon

I’ll admit that it may not be a pantheon but this transit hub is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that needs some serious transport modernization. Having an airy open space with some style can help transform this boring area of Lower Manhattan into something a little more welcoming and hell, who knows, it may even help jump start the nightlife in this area (though we doubt it).

It’s slated to open in the summer of 2014 (what’s taking them so long!) and we can’t wait.

Yes, we know that the final oculus is a scaled down version of the original ambitious design but it’s all still a good sign that future transit-related architecture may be more light-filled and less dark and dreary. Check out tons of renderings here.

#9 Snøhetta’s Times Square Plan

It’s really hard to figure out what kind of difference the plan by the Norwegian firm of Snøhetta will make on the axis mundi that is Times Square but these architects know their stuff so we’re looking forward to it.

Construction begins in late 2012, so this will be yet another reason to avoid the clusterfuck that is Times Square. Though if you’re staying at Yotel New York, you may not have a choice.

We should also mention that these architects are also working on a dance studio/trapeze facility (yes, TRAPEZE) on Williamsburg’s waterfront that we are EAGERLY anticipating. Just imagine those of us at Hyperallergic taking lunch breaks to practice our trapeze skillz. Heaven.

#10 Midtown Architecture Outside the Box

And finally, we know this a long time away (it’s expected to be completed in 2016) but Danish architecture firm Big is designing a new eco-friendly condo on West 57th Street that is a welcome edition to the cityscape. Not a boxy structure with surface decore, their plan for the site on the Hudson River would provide optimal light and views to residents.

Looks like a win win IMHO. Though anyone who knows architecture in this city knows that what architects “want” to make isn’t always what ends up as the finished product for the developer.

Let’s see what happens.

Top icon designed by Travis Ladue and via his personal website.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

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