Happy Tuesday! Here’s a fresh batch of this week’s news stories, including royal renovations and transit hub design commissions. Let’s get into it:
King Charles won’t move into Buckingham Palace until major renovation concludes
The largest renovation at Buckingham Palace since World War II is keeping King Charles, who will be formally crowned on May 6, 2023, and Camilla, Queen Consort, hunkered down at the neighboring Clarence House—the royal couple’s primary residence for the past two decades—for at least another five years. The extensive refurbishment project at the monarchy’s main residence is about halfway through its 10-year project timeline to overhaul new wiring, plumbing, and heating throughout the 18th-century palace in Westminster, London.
As reported by The Daily Mail, the ongoing $418 million (£370 million), renovation project will preserve historic wallpaper and replace 10 miles of water pipes and 20 miles of baseboard, protecting the interiors from the potential fire and water damage. The palace has also reportedly not been subject to a decorative refresh since 1952, the same year that Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne at the age of 25 following the sudden death of her father, King George VI.
The refurbishment, which began several years prior to the death of Queen Elizabeth, is the first in decades. While King Charles and Camilla can’t rest their heads each night inside the walls of the palace they’ll be able to use the building and property for work and to hold meetings as renovation work continues. Queen Elizabeth decamped from Buckingham Palace in March 2022, living and conducting official business (when not at Balmoral Castle in Scotland) at Windsor Castle up until her passing.
H/t to The Daily Mail
Ukrainian art museum launches NFT collection to support cultural heritage
As fighting in Ukraine continues with cultural landmarks including libraries, museums, and universities being destroyed on a daily basis, the Kharkiv Art Museum, located in the country’s northeast, is stepping up with an auction campaign to raise money to fund the operation and preservation of numerous cultural heritage sites across the county. Through a partnership with blockchain and cryptocurrency provider Binance, the museum will auction off Art without Borders, a series of 15 NFT designs taken from the institution’s collection, including works by Albrecht Dürer, Georg Jacob Johann van Os, and Ivan Aivazovsky. The raised funds will help keep the museum running and allow it to keep staff employed.
Each of the art works is delegated into one of the three categories Gold, Silver, and Bronze; the highest starting bid for Gold is set at $1,000 BUSD. BUSD is the Binance currency which is a stablecoin with a set 1:1 ratio equivalent to the value of the U.S. dollar. The auction will last one week.
MTA Arts & Design selects Yayoi Kusama and Kiki Smith for Grand Central Madison arts commission
When New York’s Long Island Rail Road trains pull into Grand Central Terminal for the first time this winter, commuters will be greeted by large-scale art installations by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, renowned for her bold polka dot installations and mirrored infinity rooms, and German-born American artist Kiki Smith.
The two contemporary artists were chosen via a competitive artist selection process to realize site-specific designs that will be installed throughout the new, 700,000-square-foot Grand Central Madison terminal tucked below the iconic Grand Central Terminal. While the designs have not yet been released, a press statement released by MTA Arts & Design, the entity that commissions artwork for all MTA-led projects, said that the site-specific works will be realized as large-scale mosaics. The Percent for Art Law passed in 1982 requires that one percent of the budget for city-funded construction projects be allocated to public art.
“Grand Central Terminal is a world-renowned icon because the people who came before us were determined to create something special — not just a transportation facility, but a place of beauty,” remarked MTA Chair & CEO Janno Lieber in the agency’s press release. “The new LIRR Grand Central Madison facility below the existing terminal carries this tradition forward with art that elevates the travel experience and creates a sense of place. These 2,400 square feet of floor-to-ceiling mosaics are permanent gifts to the people of New York.”
Skanska tapped to lead $150 million rehabilitation of New York City’s Williamsburg Bridge
The 2,793-foot-long Williamsburg Bridge, which shuttles vehicles, trains, and pedestrians across the East River from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, will undergo an extensive reconstruction helmed by Stockholm-headquartered global construction and development giant Skanska. According to a press release, the firm will carry out a number of upgrades across the 119-year-old steel structure including repairs to its body, floor beams, trusses, transit stringers, and towers.
Skanska previously rehabilitated the iconic suspension bridge in a multiyear project that strengthened 3.3 million pounds of steel on the structure’s main towers and also involved deleading and repainting its trusses.
Construction will start on the latest rehabilitation effort this month and is expected to take just over three years, with a completion date estimated for 2025.