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On the American Museum of Natural History Expansion

rose-center-AMNH-parkSeveral museums across New York City have recently put forward plans to grow their campuses and add new square footage for exhibitions, public programming, and archival space. While the success of these beloved institutions should be celebrated, many of these expansion plans come with potential impacts on our skyline, historic landmarks, cherished public spaces, and the surrounding neighborhoods.

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is the most recent institution to announce plans to expand. AMNH serves millions of visitors a years, a number that continues to grow rapidly. The proposed Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation would provide the Museum with more space for visitors and room to house its growing educational programs.

Although detailed designs have not been released, the expansion will potentially encroach on green space in the adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park. Though small, this park is a vital community asset. Any proposal that requires the loss of park space—even to allow beloved institutions to respond to growing user demand—must be rigorously evaluated. Continue Reading>>

Landmark Preservation Commission “Backlog” Hearing on Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn Properties

Written Testimony of the Municipal Art Society of New York
Thursday, October 8, 2015

In the nine months since the proposal to decalendar more than a hundred potential landmarks across the five boroughs was withdrawn, the Municipal Art Society and the MAS Preservation Committee have analyzed the full stock of calendared properties–some of which have been in limbo for decades–to determine which warrant designation or further examination.

Read our October 8 testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission outlining which properties in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn we support for designation as landmarks (PDF).

Community Rally for Rezoning

Community Rally for Rezoning: Wednesday, October 7.

Community Rally for Rezoning: Wednesday, October 7.

A 900-foot mega tower has been planned for East 58th Street. There’s no precedent for this type of skyscraper on a narrow, purely residential, side street.

From our recent testimony to Manhattan Community Board 5, a district seeing a large influx of super tall skyscrapers:

The fundamental problem here is outdated zoning regulations. New York City’s current zoning resolution was devised over 50 years ago and could not account for recent advances in building technologies or the changes in the real estate markets that have led to the construction of super tall towers.

Fifty years is an eternity in the lifespan of building design and construction. Fifty years before the Empire State Building topped out, the tallest structure in Manhattan was the steeple at Trinity Church. Using 1961 zoning guidelines in the era of 432 Park is like applying colonial construction standards to the 1930s skyscraper boom.

These buildings are largely being built as-of-right and without any public review, even though they will be among the tallest structures in the country.They will have a dramatic impact on the surrounding neighborhood, Central Park and the New York skyline.

Beyond Central Park, out-of context development continues to be an issue for neighborhoods throughout the city. New York City must grow and change, but new development should positively contribute to the surrounding communities.

Join us and the East River Fifties Alliance at a rally on Wednesday, October 7. 10AM. Details here or on the flyer to the right. And learn more about this citywide issue in our comprehensive Accidental Skyline portal.

Urban Resilience in the Age of Northeast Hurricanes

As Joaquin Approaches, 150 Leaders in Urban Sustainability Ask: Are we building cities to be resilient?

In the lead up to this month’s three year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy’s landfall in New York City, 150 experts from the fields of advocacy, development, government, and academia gathered to debate the state of the city’s resilience planning. The discussions, held at the Museum of the American Indian and hosted by the Municipal Art Society of New York, came just as news of the now-Category 4 Hurricane Joaquin’s trajectory turned toward the East Coast.

Of central discussion at the event—titled Talking Resilience: NYC—was the future of New York’s application to the National Disaster Resiliency Competition (NDRC), through which the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development will distribute $1 billion in funding for disaster recovery and long-term community resilience. The importance of the competition, inspired by the resilience needs identified in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, was underscored as weather reports began to roll in. Continue Reading>>

14 Years of Tribute in Light

tribute-in-light-nyc-1-600x420MAS hopes that the twin shafts of light now known around the world as the Tribute in Light, bring comfort, healing, and hope to all those marking this solemn day in our nation’s—and our city’s—history. Please visit our Tribute in Light information page for the history on MAS’s founding of Tribute in Light, a collaboration with Creative Time, the families of 9/11 victims, and hundreds of dedicated New Yorkers.

How did it start?
The idea for the lights was independently conceived by several artists and designers, who were brought together under the auspices of the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time.

Who designed it?
The Tribute in Light was designed by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian Laverdiere, Paul Myoda and lighting designer Paul Marantz.

What was MAS’s role?
MAS produced the Tribute in Light annually for its first 10 years—from the debut in March 2002 on the 6 month anniversary, through the 2011 presentation. At the occasion of the opening of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, we transferred administration of the Tribute to the museum, which has faithfully carried on its annual presentation.

Interesting Facts

  • The memorial was originally going to be called the Towers in Light, but MAS received feedback from 9/11 families that a name paying tribute to the lives lost rather than the buildings that had once stood would be a more powerful remembrance.
  • The Tribute in Light rises miles into the sky and can be seen from 60 miles away.
  • As of 2002, the two arrays cast the strongest shaft of light ever projected from earth into the night sky.

Learn more about this inspiring and healing work of art.