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Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Roosevelt Island Trellis Exterior Design Renderings - Owner Alex Razaghi Wants To Reach For The Stars To Do Something Unique, Original And Wow You

The exterior facade of Roosevelt Island's Trellis Diner


is going to look quite a bit different following the planned renovation by owners Kaie and Alex Razaghi.

During the August 21 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Real Estate Advisory Committee meeting (audio web cast of meeting here), Alex Razaghi told the RIOC Directors that he designed the new Trellis exterior facade with the aim to:
... reach for the stars and try to do something unique and original...
and he:
... took it as a personal challenge to wow the residents...
The Trellis owners presented these renderings of the planned new exterior facade to the RIOC Directors
RIOC Director Kathy Grimm asked::
... was there a reason for this sort of space ship design next to historic building...
Alex Razaghi answered he was:
...trying to create something iconic, an attraction on the Island... I wanted to do something new...  it wasn't done in terms about being next to Good Shepherd, its just about creating something unique...
RIOC's permission is needed by Trellis because the facade renovation includes a gradual incline reaching a peak approximately 3 feet over the sidewalk property of RIOC though it does not interfere with pedestrian access to the sidewalk and stays within the footprint of the premises.

RIOC seemed inclined to approve the Trellis request but needed to review the plans before granting permission.

Here's the  full discussion.

46 comments :

Nermeen said...

I'm sorry but I am not excited about Trellis AT ALL. The food and service are not good and the design doesn't belong on the Island. There is a beautiful traditional looking church right next to it, where does this design fit in? It doesn't even match the rest of the buildings around it, what is RIOC thinking? Patching up the island like that...

Mark Lyon said...

No, thanks. Not only will the neighbors who live above the unit not like the protrusions, but it's out of character with the surroundings. A plain, giant pane glass front with an attractive interior design would be far superior to the desire of another architect to make a statement on our island.

JeneCMC said...

Exciting to see architects being creative right next to a historic landmark. The design reminded me much of Philip Johnson's designed Capital Grille at the Crysler Center on 42nd Street.

OldRossie said...

This is great!

CheshireKitty said...

I have no problem with having a brand-new "exciting" structure beside a venerable old building. Think of the glass pyramidal skylight structure within the Louvre. NY is known as a center of architectural experimentation and un-stodginess. Anything to relieve the cereal box sameness of most newer developments (commercial or residential) is welcome.


On RI, we have landmarks like Good Shepherd Chapel, the Lighthouse, Blackwell House, and the Kiosk alongside designs that still seem fresh and innovative such as Motorgate atrium and the train station; the diner upgrade seems inspired by the struts and glass of the latter two. It seems to also be inspired by the Hollywood obsession with superheroes - not such an inappropriate source of inspiration considering that RI has been used as a setting for many films, including those featuring superheroes.


Maybe the diner will run with that concept for the interior renovation, which might really make Trellis into a new RI landmark destination.

APS said...

Hope they also do something about the quality of the food, not the preparation but the actual quality and the interior.

Denise K Shull said...

I wonder if he has calculated the heating and cooling costs for a building of essentially all glass....but it does look kind of cool - and would be if he also actually upgraded the menu...

Denise K Shull said...

Frank lives right above... :) . All those beautiful planters are his.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Trellis and "iconic". Those two words don't really go together. That said... who is going to pay for all this? I cannot imagine the owners having the capital to pay for this.

CheshireKitty said...

Really? If a restaurant is successful, the restaurant business is highly profitable. Even a moderately successful restaurant can be quite profitable. Either Razaghi has the money to pay for the upgrade or Kramer will pay for it as part of the Main St improvements.


The money Kramer is using to pay for the upgrades - is it RIOC money? Maybe. Someone who is familiar with the details of the Master Lease can answer that question.


So, if Kramer pays, and the money comes from the Main St upgrade money which comes from RIOC, then it may be that the Trellis upgrade ultimately is paid for by taxpayer $.

Westviewer said...

Who designed this?

Nicholas Hua Guan said...

I'm excited for this new design, there is a huge push for change on this island and there is no point to hold back, a radical new design is just what the island needs, both for keeping the island relevant and modern. To touch upon some of your comments, I have to agree with @CheshireKitty and @Denise K Shull , both bring up very good points (I'm sure they wouldn't go through a complete renovation without updating the menu) however, I do have to question the basis of @Mark Lyon's opinions. You say the neighbors won't like the design? Besides congratulating you on your job as Frank's ambassador, I have to ask, have you even -been- to Trellis? As a regular customer over the years (and by regular I mean several times a day, 5 days a week) I haven't had the pleasure of seeing you around.... ever. I humbly invite you to come to the Trellis and make your own opinions before you knock a family owned business doing their best to stay relevant.

KTG said...

I think its great that they are pushing forward, just wonder if its a little over the top. I think bigger issue is updating interior, and more elaborate facade may take away from those upgrades.
I wonder if they would be better off going for a simple exterior that would allow them to put more outside seating.a lot of places in Manhattan and Astoria have almost like garage doors that allow for restaurant to be easily opened up when weather improves.
I do agree with some of the comments on improving the food. It seems they have so many things on menu it would be impossible for them to be fresh and that must hurt the quality.

Nicholas Hua Guan said...

I'm not sure how familiar you are with the policies about outside seating, but literally every inch is a battle and the laws are very territorial. I assure you I would love the idea, but it would be futile for them to even try for it.

KTG said...

I get your point on city bureaucracy but Riverwalk & Nonno's already has it and was added for Pier NYC as well. I am sure if it makes property more appealing and profitable Related can help them work through it.

AllMy Children said...

Franks plant aren't what they use to be!!!

YetAnotherRIer said...

"I do agree with some of the comments on improving the food. It seems they have so many things on menu it would be impossible for them to be fresh and that must hurt the quality."


That's exactly it. Their menu is way too large to promise that they use fresh ingredients. I am very sure it's mostly canned or frozen ingredients otherwise they would never be able to cook everything on that menu to order. Also, I am not sure if that changed (haven't been there since Riverwalk B&G opened) but some of their cakes just underline what I just said: they are stale and old at times.


The changes of the exterior should come last. First focus on the interior, then the menu, and then use left-over capital on outdoor improvements. Maybe they should watch some of those restaurant make-over shows on TV.

Frank Farance said...

Ms. Shull, Mr. Lyon: I've been told that the facade will not rise above the base of the balcony, so the plants will still be there. I've always liked the hanging planters outside pubs in London (which has been my inspiration). AllMyChildren: It's been a bad year for my impatiens.

CheshireKitty said...

You're right - menu is way too large - but that's the diner "tradition". OTOH, it's comforting to have a reliable spot for standard American food favorites such as pastrami sandwiches, burgers, chili, etc.


They could offer the same food but with fewer choices, as you say.


As far as food prep shortcuts, many restaurants utilize them. It would be impracticable to make everything up from scratch. But, if they focused on fewer choices maybe they could stock just the ingredients needed for those dishes and not rely on prepared components needed for so many different choices. The menu, or portions of it, could change occasionally, maybe on a seasonal basis, to avoid diners becoming tired of the same few items.


If there isn't enough of a demand for cakes, then they can eliminate that part of the menu completely and just offer a selection of ice-cream. However, at the counter, there are those who may want a baked dessert such as a Danish or piece of cake or pie with coffee.


The problem in general is that the restaurant isn't "trendy" - it's a diner that hearkens back to the era of diners. There's nothing wrong with diners but it's a concept that points to the past. I also hope the owners take the opportunity of the renovation to re-think their concept and maybe also overhaul/update the menu.

rilander said...

With modern insulated glass panes, heating and cooling costs can be cut by as much as 30%!

Westviewer said...

The priorities are backwards. Something unique and original that would wow me would be to hire a chef, let the chef plan a real menu and re-vamp the interior. Then he could think about the exterior.

Mark Lyon said...

Yes, @Nicholas Hua Guan, I've eaten at Trellis on several occasions. I personally found its offerings acceptable, but not compelling enough for me to visit several times a day.

Disagreeing with their design plans is not a "knock" on a family-owned business. I have no concern with what they choose to do with their business, but the liberty crown exterior would detract from the existing architecture and doesn't seem to integrate well with other nearby designs. The design is not relevant; it's incongruous.

An exterior design that opens them up to the neighborhood is more in keeping with the recent changes to the nearby buildings. A more understated exterior (I'd advocate for a seamless glass one, and for HR to install something similar at the glassed-in sections of Eastwood (doing away with the narrow panes). For the interior, keying off of the wood decking installed across the street, coupled with good lighting and perhaps a living wall, could provide a warm interior palate and make it immediately obvious from the outside that the space is an inviting, and enjoyable place to grab a meal.

Locating seating on the plaza would be a wonderful thing for RIOC to allow not only for Trellis but also for Wholesome Direct and possibly even Subway (or any other future eateries). There would be some big advantages in not limiting it to one specific tenant, but it does complicate clean-up and care. Outside of special events, the empty plaza around Good Shepherd seems to be of less value to the community than it could be with adequate seating.

CheshireKitty said...

I disagree with the point on the "empty" Good Shepherd plaza. We need some open space left on RI. I have no problem with the expanse of Good Shepherd plaza - usually there are some kids playing there, people relaxing on benches etc. It's fine as it is; I would not want tables from Subways or any other eatery scattered about the plaza. Sorry.

CheshireKitty said...

The canyon-like Main St makes it difficult for plant life to survive. Despite this, Frank has done a great job over the years with having some greenery above Trellis. Remember folks, Frank is just doing this on his own to bring some greenery and color to this corner of our little "town". Many, if not most, other visible terraces have nothing, or very little, greenery.
Frank: You may want to research options and find sources online for lusher plants that might thrive in relatively low-light conditions if you want your plantings to emulate those in London which are typically quite showy/lush. You might try mixing in trailing plants like ivies or tall grasses, that are hardy and can even survive the winter, and then just add flowering plants in the spring. Maybe even RIOC people responsible for grounds/buying plants could offer some suggestions/sources etc.

Hope Dellon said...

Alas, I thought of the Louvre Pyramid too, but in a negative way: IMHO this looks like a poor imitation of a design that was original and 'iconic' 30 years ago.

wadawin said...

The dramatic new design proposed by Trellis is an important step in the transformation of Main Street. If the exterior renderings are any indication of what the interior will look like, the new Trellis restaurant will be an exciting and inviting environment for Island residents and visitors to eat good food in and congregate. The dynamics of the total structure will signal Roosevelt Island's and it's resident's determination to reinvigorate Main Street...to not allow it's retail spaces to remain empty while the meager stores that exist grow tired and worn. Trellis Restaurant will be an iconic statement that will stand out on Main Street as an expression of what smart and creative business people can accomplish on Roosevelt Island.
David Enock aka wadawin

westviewgirl said...

an order of pancakes and side of bacon with juice and coffee should not cost 12 dollars, nor should a BLT and fries cost ten dollars. They are over priced and the bathroom is just scary so just have good prices and a clean and bright place to eat is all I ask. If it takes renovations, then so be it, but will the cost of all of that be on the menu in high prices?

Westviewer said...

RIOC should require a full-size mock-up of this proposal to aid in the decision to permit this design.

Mark Lyon said...

"What is this, a restaurant for ants?"

Westviewer said...

What's your point?

CheshireKitty said...

It's a reference to a line in the movie Zoolander http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-87156/Zoolander-Cert-12.html

CheshireKitty said...

People had predicted prices would rise at Main St businesses once Kramer took over. I guess it's true. Welcome to the real world..

rilander said...

I am so tired of people knocking their food. It is a family/neighborhood eatery, not a gourmet/white tablecloth/gloved waiter 5-star Upper East Side restaurant from Zagats! People, yes the interior layout/decor, and menu are also redesigned, but those are not what need RIOC/H-R approval, which is not what the discussion was about at RIOC. And if there are positive suggestions for what you would like or don't want to see on the menu, why not tell Kaie or Alex instead of being publicly nasty. So if you don't want to eat there that's your choice, but don't be so mean to people who do.

By the same token, even though I love some of the things on the Riverwalk Bar & Grill menu, I don't think that families with young kids should be taking them there at night when all the sports loving, beer drinking people are screaming louder than the blaring music. Further, for some of our elderly and/or disabled residents, getting one of the few seats at a regular table is limited.

PeaceandPlenty said...

We have a beautiful, historic church next door. The lamp posts up and down Main Street are antique style. The new lighting being installed is barn style, hanging under a wooden overhang. And then there's this spaceship. It doesn't in any way fit in with the character and style that is being created for Main Street. Can't we have something simple, charming and quaint? If you want to wow us, wow us with restraint, great food and good service. That's more memorable than bling.

YetAnotherRIer said...

"I am so tired of people knocking their food."

Bad food is bad food. Has nothing to do with neighborhood of family. You can have a neighborhood eatery with decent food. Trellis has missed the mark on that so far. It's just a cliche diner, IMHO.

"I don't think that families with young kids should be taking them there [B&G] at night"

No kid should be at any diner or restaurant at "night". I have been bringing my kids to the B&R since it opened and I guess my definition of "night" when it comes to kids is different? We are usually out of there by 9pm latest.

Frank Farance said...

rilander: I agree, simply Trellis is a diner, I expect diner food. Diners are popular in NYC (read: lots of other people are spending money there), and their menus are about the same. Go to the Bel-Air or the Neptune in Astoria (both rated Best in NYC by Daily News at some point) and compare food/menu to Trellis. In response to YetAnotherRIer, I don't recall the Daily News complaining that either of them had large menus. Diner managers will tell you about managing their panty. If you look at the daily specials in Trellis, you'll see some good dishes - but they're only available that day, and there is a limited quantity ... sounds fresh to me.


As for Riverwalk B&G, I was there recently and the menu is still mostly bar food ... the Healthy Lemon Chicken was still the only option, can't eat chicken wings or burgers every day. Nonno's has some reasonable food, such as their burritos (yeah, really). And the Japanese restaurant is always good, but pricey.


As for kids, there are very few options at Riverwalk B&G (and it's pretty expensive), Trellis or Nonno's seem to be better for kids/families.


As for the "spaceship" aspect of the design, one must give Alex credit for advocating something original and different. My personal concerns about the renovations are: (1) keeping the menu roughly the same, i.e., I still want a diner; (2) better bathroom facilities; (3) minimal price changes, e.g., kids can still have a Good Deal; (4) roofing doesn't obstruct balcony. :-)

CheshireKitty said...

Yes. The price is too high. At El Greco Diner - listed as one of the City's best on Gothamist blog http://gothamist.com/2013/02/27/the_best_diners_in_new_york_city.php

breakfast special #5 (yum) is only $9.25. http://elgrecodiner.com/images/BREAKFAST2.gif

CheshireKitty said...

A rather sad July 2013 tour of 10 Chelsea diners - looking,for the most part in vain,for a decent slice of pie: http://firstwefeast.com/eat/the-death-of-pie/s/82662/


The heyday of diners is over.


I have to agree with Frank, though, that it would be nice if Kaie and Alex could keep the diner concept (standard American food) but somehow update/re-imagine the menu.

CheshireKitty said...

The City is filled with "incongruous" architectural contrasts: It's what makes it unique and interesting. There are brash "statement" buildings alongside "tasteful" buildings. On the same block, you can have a dozen different styles - and lamp-post styles also vary.

The Trellis owners want an exciting update - it isn't only a modernization, it's, as they say, style-forward, or futuristic.

I don't have a problem with the proposed design springing up beside the venerable church and across the street from the updated Eastwood arcade: It'll make for a more interesting streetscape, bringing an element of edginess/fantasy to our island.

NotMyKid said...

I concur. Bad food!

Frank Farance said...

NotMyKid: Heard Officer Fernandez has replaced Officer Sitaris from the 114th Pct for evening patrol. Certainly a bad choice, wouldn't you agree?

NotMyKid said...

I know officer sitaris was nearing retirement. I don't know if he is following through with that or how close he actually was to retire.

I don't think Fernandez is a bad choice. He knows the island, proactive and knows who the perps are.

Frank Farance said...

NotMyKid: There was dissatisfaction previously, which is why the community asked for a different officer. As for "knowing who the perps are", it sounded like that was part of the problem, he was part of the abuse, right?

NotMyKid said...

Frank, what on earth are you saying! What abuse? He was and still is a hard working officer. It's either you want little crime on the island or you want crime, which one is it?. I know officer Fernandez on a personal level and he is th most calm and level headed person I ever met. Saying he was part of some abuse is absurd.

Regardless, I highly doubt that the rumornof him returning are true.

Up_Front said...

The entire concept is out-of-place and quite frankly obscene. I implore the owner of Trellis to dump the drawing in the nearby East River.

Up_Front said...

Did not mean to sound harsh. Have known/met Kaie Razaghi, many moons ago ... a very fine warm gentleman, and his equally friendly staff. Looking at the drawing: (frontal view) the large sharp triangular on the left side ... could be scaled down considerably and a milder color change chosen. Thus, softening the entire structure as it relates to the Good Shepherd much admired "ICONIC Center Piece" of RI. Have a pleasant day.