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February 2009
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Archive for February, 2009

Night & Light in the City with Howard Brandston

Noted lighting designer Howard Brandston, whose commissions include the Statue of Liberty and Battery Park City, will be leading a free walking tour on Thursday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. to examine how different kinds of electric light can highlight architecture and increase livability or decrease visibility and hamper livability. Mr. Brandston says that lighting in the city can affect a citizen’s perception of color and peripheral vision, its impact on crime and property values, and how different kinds of lighting is appropriate in different circumstances.

Will NYC Ever See the Stars Again?

street lamp illuminationThe glow of outdoor lighting that has followed urban growth has overwhelmed our view of the stars.  This light pollution does not provide any useful light, wastes significant amounts of energy, harms surrounding ecosystems and contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. The problems of this light pollution can be mitigated by using outdoor lighting that is efficient and designed to illuminate the ground and not the night sky.  It is probably impossible to create a fully dark sky here in NYC, but we can help the situation by simply installing lighting only when and where needed and by always directing it down towards the ground. Billboards can be lit from the top down rather than by shining a light on them from the bottom up.  Parking lots and ball parks can use fully shielded fixtures that shine the light on the playing field rather then the sky above. Continue Reading>>

MAS to Hold Public Briefing on New DOB Rule

zoning building height street recessionThe City may be changing the way the Department of Buildings does business. Under a potential new rule, the agency would post on their web site diagrams of proposed new buildings or major enlargements. The diagrams will depict the size and scale of new building projects. The new rule will also institute a 30-day period in which the public can review and challenge the development approval. According to the city, this new time period is intended to “prevent confusion and unnecessary or unintended costs for development in New York City.” The city is holding a public hearing on Friday, March 6 at 3:00 p.m., at 280 Broadway, 3rd  Floor Conference Room. The proposal is scheduled to take effect only three days later — Monday, March 9. We invite you to join the Municipal Art Society of New York for a briefing on the rule, on Tuesday, March 3 at 8:30 a.m. David Schnakenberg, Menapace Legal Fellow and Eve Baron, Director of the MAS Planning Center, will present an outline of the rule, discuss some of the consequences and invite the community to share concerns, comments and ask questions. Continue Reading>>

Crisis, Confidence & the Architect, March 3

Architect and author Adam Kalkin will present his recent book Quik Build: Adam Kalkin’s ABC of Container Architecture on Tuesday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m., hosted by the Municipal Art Society’s bookstore Urban Center Books. His presentation will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Alastair Gordon, and featuring Barry Bergdoll, K. Michael Hayes and Mr. Kalkin, on the evolving identity of the architect through periods of crisis and confidence. Kalkin’s iconic Quik House is one of the most viable pre-fabricated systems available today, providing  spacious dwelling and customized elements with the most efficient reduction of both energy waste and cost. Projects include his Refugee Village and FEMA housing concepts. Quik Build: Adam Kalkin’s ABC of Container Architecture will be sold exclusively through Urban Center Books the night of the lecture. A special “scented” edition will be available in limited quantities. Continue Reading>>

MAS Names David Childs as New Chairman

Internationally acclaimed architect David M. Childs has been named Chairman of the Municipal Art Society, succeeding the incumbent Philip K. Howard. Mr. Childs, who served as a design partner and Chairman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, and has been a board member of MAS since 1986, will work alongside new President Vin Cipolla, a nationally recognized leader in the preservation, arts and business communities, who joined the organization in January of this year. Mr. Howard will assume the role of Chairman Emeritus. “We are honored that David Childs will serve as Chairman of MAS as the organization enters a new phase of growth and influence in New York City,” said Mr. Howard. “He (Mr. Childs) is an urban champion, and, as Chair, will provide powerful leadership for MAS in its mission to achieve intelligent urban planning, design and preservation.” “I am excited to take on this new role at MAS, which has been a tireless advocate for New York City and those who love it,” said Mr. Childs. “MAS has an opportunity to provide invaluable guidance as the city evolves to meet new challenges and to further establish its position as a model for sustainable urban development and living.” Continue Reading>>

MAS Calls for 2009 Brendan Gill Prize Nominations

sufjian stevens 2008 gill prizeMAS members are invited to submit nominations for the 2009 Brendan Gill Prize now through Friday, April 10. The prize is awarded annually to the creator of a specific work — a book, essay, musical composition, play, painting, sculpture, architectural design, film or choreographic work — completed in the previous year that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. The 2008 prize went to singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens for his multimedia musical composition The BQE. To learn more about the Brendan Gill Prize, visit www.mas.org/brendan-gill. Continue Reading>>

New at Urban Center Books:
The Disappearing Face of New York

A visual tour so saturated with realism you can smell the knishes neatly displayed in the window of the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, a visual tour comprised of hundreds of images of unique 19th and 20th-century retail graphics and neon signs still in use and inspiring us to purchase to this very day. But for how long? New book Store Front:The Disappearing Face of New York asks the question: are New York City’s local merchants a dying breed, or an enduring group of diehards hell-bent on retaining the traditions of a glorious past? According to authors Jim and Karla Murray, the influx of big box retailers and chain stores poses a serious threat to these humble institutions, and neighborhood modernization and the anonymity it brings are replacing the unique appearance and character of what were once incredibly colorful streets. Continue Reading>>

Question via Facebook: What’s up with Moynihan Station?

penn stationRecently, we were asked the following question on our Facebook pageWith all the talk about President Obama’s Economic Stimulus Package and its billions of dollars for public works projects, what’s happening with the Moynihan Station project?MAS remains a strong supporter of Moynihan Station. The project will increase capacity at the over-crowded (and miserable) Penn Station, which is the nation’s busiest transportation hub, with nearly half a million people passing through it every day. We don’t know whether the project will receive money from President Obama’s stimulus package, but it certainly seems to be eligible. Continue Reading>>

Five New Items Added to LPC Calendar

On Tuesday, February 17th, the LPC took the first step in the landmark designation process when it “calendared” five new items. The collection of potential new landmarks includes the Ridgewood Theater in Queens, the Brooklyn Union Gas Company Building, the West-Park Presbyterian Church, the Fort Washington Presbyterian Church and the proposed Audubon Park Historic District in Manhattan. Check out the slide show above to learn more about the five new proposed landmarks.

South Bronx Hero Shows the City ‘the Way’

yolanda garcia way streetThe bright sun reflected off the many new buildings of Melrose Commons in the South Bronx, as elected officials, activists, developers, friends, family, and other admirers gathered on East 157th Street to honor the memory of Yolanda Garcia yesterday. Third Avenue between 156th and 157th Streets is now known as “Yolanda Garcia Way.” Ms. Garcia’s family owned a carpet shop in the Melrose section of the Bronx, where she was working in the early 1990s when she learned of a City urban renewal plan that called for displacing local residents and creating low-density housing. Incensed that those residents who stayed in the South Bronx despite decades of disinvestment were going to be displaced, Ms. Garcia founded Nos Quedamos/We Stay. This grassroots group was dedicated to rethinking the plan, including the community in the process, and preventing displacement. The resulting Melrose Commons plan helped to create over 1,500 units of affordable housing in the area, kept thousands of residents from being displaced, and even brought green building principles to the South Bronx. Continue Reading>>

Tuesday: Public and Design Professionals to Present ImagineConey Submissions

imagineconey rendering beach night Please join us for the final ImagineConey program this Tuesday, February 17, at 6.30 p.m. at MAS to see presentations of submissions to the ImagineConey initiative by members of the public and design professionals. Presenters will include Frederick Schwartz, Philip Tusa, Henry Jones and others. MAS staff will also present the results of the design workshop (charrette) held last November in which an international team of designers, economists and creative producers participated. The event is free, but reservations are strongly recommended. Imagining Coney: Bold Ideas, Technicolor Dreams, and Fanciful Concepts Tuesday, February 17, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., at the Municipal Art Society A review of over 350 ideas submitted from around the world by the general public and professional designers.

The Great Hall at Cooper Union:
A Place That Matters on Lincoln’s 200th

great hall cooper union 1864 The Great Hall at Cooper Union, located at 7 East 7th Street in Manhattan, was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for its vital role as a platform for free speech.  We celebrate the Great Hall today, the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, because of its association with this great president. Continue Reading>>