From advocating for a new Penn Station, to commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Landmarks Law, to connecting urban entrepreneurs across the city, find out how you can get involved with our work!
MAS Focus 2015]]>
“Dan’s dedication to making New York City more livable, resilient, and innovative makes him a stand-out candidate for the Onassis Medal,” said MAS Board Chair Eugenie L. Birch. “From rebuilding Lower Manhattan to spearheading the ambitious launch of PlaNYC, Dan has brought his remarkable vision to some of the most pressing and influential projects shaping the future of our city. We are delighted to announce him as our 2015 honoree.”
“Dan’s tenure as Deputy Mayor was remarkable not just for the scope and vision of his projects, but also for the holistic approach to city-building that inspired them,” said Vin Cipolla. “A great city is made up of more than just buildings—parks, transportation networks, and job opportunities are essential to ensuring that our neighborhoods are complete and sustainable. Dan’s ability to knit together the strands of good city building embodies MAS’s core principles and we are pleased to celebrate his work this June.”
The Onassis Medal will be presented at MAS’s annual gala on June 4, 2015, at Cipriani 25 Broadway in the landmarked Cunard Building in Lower Manhattan. All proceeds from the event will support MAS in its mission to advocate for excellence in urban planning, preservation, and community engagement. Founded in 1893, MAS is one of the oldest membership organizations in New York City, and was instrumental in key battles that have shaped the future of New York, from winning passage of the first historic preservation law in the country to saving Grand Central Station from demolition in the 1970s in partnership with Mrs. Onassis herself.
“I am honored to accept the Municipal Art Society’s 2015 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal. MAS has advocated for sound, innovative planning and development in New York for more than a century and I share this organization’s belief that these tools are key to building a future worthy of our great city,” said Daniel L. Doctoroff. “Mrs. Onassis’ commitment to a more livable New York was an inspiration to me and so many others and I am grateful to the MAS board and leadership for this recognition.”
“Dan’s contributions to the fabric of New York have quickly become integral to our understanding of our city in the 21st century. From the now-bustling streets of Lower Manhattan, to the acres of green space, to the development of the Hudson Yards and High Line, and so much more, his impact can be felt in neighborhoods across the five boroughs,” said MAS Executive Director Margaret Newman. “His contributions to the city can truly be called historic and I look forward to celebrating his lasting achievements at the 2015 MAS Gala.”
About the Honoree
Daniel L. Doctoroff was President and Chief Executive Officer of Bloomberg, L.P., the leading provider of news and information to the global financial community, until December 2014. During his tenure at Bloomberg, Doctoroff led the company through the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression by pursuing an aggressive strategy of investment, focused on enhancing the company’s Terminal product, expanding into enterprise products and services, creating new businesses in government, law and energy, and building the company’s news operations, including its acquisition of Businessweek.
Prior to joining Bloomberg L.P., Doctoroff served as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York. With Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, he led the city’s dramatic economic resurgence, spearheading the effort to reverse New York’s fiscal crisis after 9/11 through a five-borough economic development strategy. This plan included the most ambitious land-use transformation in the city’s modern history; the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site; the largest affordable housing program ever launched by an American city; and the formation of new Central Business Districts and Industrial Business Zones. Doctoroff also led the creation of PlaNYC, a 127-point plan designed to create the first environmentally sustainable 21st century city that sets the course for a 30% reduction in global warming emissions by 2030.
Before joining the Bloomberg administration, Doctoroff was Managing Partner of the private equity investment firm Oak Hill Capital Partners. While at Oak Hill, he founded NYC2012, the organization that spearheaded efforts to bring the Olympic Games to the city.
Doctoroff serves on the Boards of the University of Chicago, World Resources Institute and Human Rights First. He is the founder of Target ALS, which raises funds for and has established a new model of collaboration to advance ALS research. He is a founder and chairman of Culture Shed, an innovative new cultural institution at the Hudson Yards in Manhattan. A graduate of Harvard College and The Law School at the University of Chicago, he lives in New York City with his wife, Alisa. The Doctoroffs have three grown children.
About the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal
The Onassis Medal, MAS’s highest honor, is awarded annually to an individual or institution who, by their work and deeds, have made an outstanding contribution to New York City. Launched in 1950 as the President’s Medal, the award was renamed in 1994 in honor of Mrs. Onassis’ tireless efforts in partnership with MAS to preserve and protect New York’s great architecture. Previous honorees include Dr. Judith Rodin and David Rockefeller, Jr. of The Rockefeller Foundation (2013), Diane Von Furstenberg (2011), Channel 13/PBS (2005), Robert DeNiro (1997), and I. M. Pei (1996).
Download the full press release (PDF).]]>
Mayor de Blasio spent much of his State of the City address to discuss his administration’s housing goals.
The Mayor reiterated his goal to build or preserve 200,000 affordable units—plus an additional 160,000 market-rate units—by 2024, and proposed a number of innovative ways to meet these ambitious goals. Some highlights include:
Join us this month at the MAS Annual Members Meeting. We’ll discuss all 15 items from the MAS Watchlist 2015 – from vanishing local retail to our rapidly changing skyline.
Tomorrow, join us as we watch Mayor de Blasio deliver the State of the City. And follow us at @MASNYC as we use this year’s watchlist (PDF) to score his speech.
The busiest transit hub in the western hemisphere is over capacity, underfunded, and in need of an upgrade. But long-overdue improvements are beyond reach unless Madison Square Garden—which shares the site with Penn Station—either relocates or provides more room for commuters. Penn represents the challenge of finding resources—and the will—to fix our crumbling, aging infrastructure.
|Vanishing Local Retail
Keeping the streets affordable to a mix of businesses benefits all New Yorkers. The trend of beloved institutions shutting their doors—the Subway Inn, Rizzoli Bookstore, Café Edison, etc.—speaks to the market pressures and regulatory obstacles that threaten smaller, independent businesses. If these businesses cannot thrive in New York, then we risk undermining the economic diversity that makes the city so successful and dynamic.
|Rent Stabilized Apartments|
The future of almost one million apartments in New York City will be decided in Albany this year, as legislators negotiate the renewal of the rent stabilization law. This is not the only housing policy that will be decided upstate — the renewal of the rent control law and the 421-a tax abatement are also on the 2015 legislative agenda.
|LPC Reform |
The Landmarks Preservation Commission faces a backlog of almost 100 buildings and sites. Many of these items have been with LPC for decades, without any final determination on their landmark status. It is now up to the preservation community to address the backlog, and take steps to update and modernize the landmarking process moving forward.
|MTA Budget |
The MTA needs $15 billion to fund critical capital improvements. This year, Albany must identify ways to pay for these improvements and ensure our transit system is equipped to accommodate the growing number of commuters. All options are on the table, from tolls on the East River bridges to multiple fare hikes to the agency selling off key real estate assets around the city.
Following the decision by Mayor de Blasio to move forward on rezoning East Midtown, this year will see the Vanderbilt Corridor and One Vanderbilt project completing public review, and a new proposal for the larger East Midtown district taking shape. How these different projects evolve will have long-lasting impacts on the one of the city’s most important business hubs.
The area surrounding Cromwell and Jerome Avenues in the Bronx is the first of three neighborhoods that the City will rezone as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York Plan (the other two neighborhoods being East New York in Brooklyn and West Flushing in Queens). The plan calls for 200,000 affordable housing units within ten years, which will require unprecedented collaboration between developers, advocates, and the City.
|South Street Seaport|
The Howard Hughes Corporation is proposing big changes for the South Street Seaport, including relocating the landmarked Tin Building, adding a canopy to the new Pier 17 building, and introducing a controversial 42-story waterfront tower. What is unclear is how the developer’s proposals will address the post-Sandy reality of rising sea levels, climate change, and the federal funds already allocated for the resilience project known as The Big U.
Similar to the cluster of supertowers along 57th Street, several projects will be changing the Flatiron’s skyline. Developers are already planning three 50-story towers just four blocks south of the Empire State Building and directly north of the Madison Square Historic District. Such rapid development underlines the need for thoughtful planning, especially around our landmarks and open spaces.
|The Archdiocese of New York
Last year, the Archdiocese of New York announced that it would “consolidate” its network of 376 parishes in response to rising operating costs and shrinking congregations. This is the latest example of a trend among houses of worship looking to sell off coveted land and historic buildings to make ends meet, causing waves in development and preservation circles.
|Hudson River Park: Pier 55
The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation announced a $100 million gift to Hudson River Park Trust to build “Pier55”—a new public park and performance space on Manhattan’s lower west side—as well as a commitment to cover the new park’s maintenance, programming, and operations costs for the next 20 years. This project is one example of how park administrators are creating new open space through public-private partnerships.
|Brooklyn Public Library|
BPL has partnered with Hudson Companies to build a 20-story condo building on the site of the current branch library at Cadman Plaza. This joint venture will provide BPL with a more modern library on the ground floor, as well as an additional $40 million to be put towards maintaining and restoring other libraries in the borough. This innovative project is part of broader trend of leveraging development to pay for civic assets.
|American Museum of Natural History |
The American Museum of Natural History recently proposed an expansion of their facilities to create new spaces for exhibitions, labs and events. Similar to other museum expansions in the city like the Frick, AMNH will face extreme scrutiny, given the high profile of the museum and the fact that the expansion would result in some loss of park space.
|Bronx General Post Office|
Young Woo & Associates is seeking to redevelop the Bronx General Post Office at the Grand Concourse. The developer has already submitted plans to introduce new office space, retail, restaurants, a rooftop terrace, while preserving the WPA-era murals in the building and a US Post Office presence. This creative re-use, under design by Studio V, could serve as a test case for other underutilized post offices around the city.
|Times Square Plaza|
This fall, the City will complete its Snohetta-designed renovations of the Times Square pedestrian plaza. This as policymakers grapple with the issue of how best to govern these new public spaces. Last year, the City Council proposed a bill to license the costumed characters in Times Square as a way to prevent bad behavior from the occasional Elmo, Batman, or Cookie Monster. While that bill seems to be on hold for the moment, the pedestrian plaza conversation continues.
Use the MAS 2015 Watchlist (PDF) to track this year’s most important issues on our built environment. And, don’t forget to share your thoughts with us, at @MASNYC.]]>
Manhattan: Friday, January 30
Bronx: Friday, February 6
Brooklyn: Sunday, February 15
The Municipal Art Society is committed to making New York a more livable city for its residents. Global cities around the world allow Airbnb to promote affordable choices for travelers, visitors and residents.
MAS supports the integration of new technologies into the life of our city and Airbnb’s efforts in NYC. We hope that a solution permitting Airbnb to operate here can be explored allowing visitors to experience the diversity and variety of NYC’s neighborhoods along with an appropriate framework protecting residents and visitors alike.
We support the Hudson River Park Trust’s proposal to transform an unsound pier along the Hudson River into a new waterfront park space. We believe that the proposed Pier 55 park and performance spaces will be an exciting addition to Manhattan’s west side, and we appreciate HRPT’s promise of community involvement in programming and design choices.
This project, and the public-private partnership that will make it possible, comes at a crucial moment for New York City and New York State’s approach to parks funding. We need look no further than the crumbling Pier 54 to see the impact that decades of steady decline in maintenance dollars have had on our parks and public spaces.This proposal does more than promise the transformation of a neglected pier into a celebrated public space; it also includes a pledge by its backers to maintain the park and performance spaces for the next twenty years.
MAS applauds HRPT for devising an innovative plan to restore and enhance this stretch of our public waterfront. And we call on the city and state, not just to approve this proposal, but to treat its 20-year pledge as a call to action. Let the new Pier 55 serve as a deadline: we have two decades to get our house in order and devise a funding plan that meets the needs of all our parks, from vast Flushing Meadows to the bustling Highline to the unsung playgrounds of Bed-Stuy and Hunt’s Point.
MAS is pleased to offer its support to this project and the new civic asset it will create for our city.]]>
Penn Station: A Place That Once Made Travelers Feel Important (NY Times) »»]]>
Thanks to our members and friends, we’re ending 2014 with an incredible string of successes for MAS. We advocated with residents across our city’s neighborhoods to keep New York vibrant and resilient. We continued to lead the campaign for a new Penn Station and the next Madison Square Garden. We offered more tours than ever before—across all five boroughs—and welcomed thousands of New Yorkers to our classes and public events throughout the year!
Next year, we will continue to promote New York’s economic and cultural vitality. Your support will help us preserve the character and authenticity that makes New York great, as we press for growth that is balanced and community-focused. Thank you for being there with us.
Make a year-end gift to MAS »»]]>
Since we launched the program two years ago during Grand Central’s Centennial year of operation, four docent classes have completed a rigorous, 5-week course in the history of New York City, and brought their own research, insights, enthusiasm, and personality to nearly 16,000 tour-takers on more than one thousand tours. Their dedication to MAS and urban literacy is an inspiration to all of us.
This week, we celebrated the docents’ years of service at a very fitting place – a restaurant themed after a famous train.
We hope you’ll join them on a tour soon – and discover the many secrets of Grand Central.
About the docents | Photos from a recent tour & the docents’ celebration | All MAS tours
Read MAS’s letter in response to the now-tabled proposal (PDF) »»
Learn more in the New York Times »»
The Adopt-A-Mural Program was initiated on January 17, 1991–precisely the night that the Gulf War broke out and the air bombardment of Iraq led by the U.S. coalition began. That evening a panel of WPA scholars and friends assembled in the MAS Urban Center Gallery to discuss the extraordinary artistic achievements of the WPA and the important need to rescue many of those works from the late 1930s and 40s that had been neglected or painted over, such as the mural by the Russian-born Ilya Bolotowsky for the circular day room in Goldwater Hospital (Hospital for Chronic Diseases) on Roosevelt Island painted in 1941. The Gulf War ended four weeks later on Feb 28. But it took ten years, three mayoral administrations, countless bureaucratic changes within city agencies, and the steadfast consistency of our partners at Public Design Commission (formerly Art Commission) to return the Bolotowsky mural to public view in July 2001. It also took the shared generosity of the Judith Rothschild Foundation, Robert W. Wilson and Mike and Janet Slosberg and the Hospital itself to make this restoration possible.
Bolotowsky created four known murals for New York City while on the WPA. This one is the largest. The mural for the Williamsburg Housing Project, 1937, exists but was transferred to the Brooklyn Museum after it was restored in 1989. The mural designed for the Hall Of Medical Science, New York World’s Fair, 1938-39, was destroyed. The small mosaic created for Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, 1940, remains above a water fountain in the school’s hallway. When a mural survives on the original site, it is a happy moment.
None of us who doggedly and devotedly stayed with this project over the years ever anticipated just how marvelous the Bolotowsky mural would be. It is a masterpiece of American Modernism.
For decades the mural lay hidden under seven coats of paint: speckled white, yellow, green, green, pink and a very ugly brown. It is suspected that sometime in the 1950s Bolotowsky’s mural fell victim to changing tastes or zeal to freshen up the hospital. The administration now certainly recognizes the beauty of the mural and was very helpful when we were restoring it seven years ago and remains so.
Luca Bonetti, the Swiss-born, Italian trained conservator skillfully carried out the conservation, with his staff, guided by the knowledgeable Andrew Bolotowsky, Ilya’s son, who had long championed that his father’s mural be preserved. Jackson Pollack, found a scaled down version of Bolotowsky’s mural with WPA material; Lee Krasner, his wife, saved it and donated it to the Guggenheim. Andrew photographed the scale version to use for an acrylic reproduction which his father was working on before his untimely death in 1981. This was all very lucky because the reproduction enabled Luca to restore the mural exactly as it was created.
The conservator, working with 5 assistants chipped off the first 3 layers of paint with chisels, a painstaking process for a 350 square foot mural. For the next 4 layers he applied a paint removing solvent paste with a brush and then peeled off the layers with a special paper. Then they injected an adhesive where the canvas base of the mural was detaching from the wall.
Bolotowsky was founder of the American Abstract Artists in 1936, a group that included Mondrian. They created purely abstract art in a style known as Neo-Plastic. When Bolotowsky wrote his proposal for the WPA commission for the hospital (known as the Hospital for Chronic Diseases in 1939), he said “the most suited design for a hospital mural should contain no definite subject matter but should be generally soothing in its line and color.” The painting begins at waist height, for the seated patients. He wanted them to feel the universe was bigger as they sat in their wheelchairs. When I went there the year before the hospital closed I asked a patient sitting in the room for lunch what he thought about the mural. He replied “I think it’s very nice; you don’t have to know what it is but it’s something pleasant to look at. Bolotowsky would have been pleased.
Andrew, a professional flutist, would return to the hospital annually to give concerts to the patients and to keep an eye on his father’s wonderful mural.
Phyllis Samitz Cohen
Director, Adopt-A- Monument/Mural program
The 2015 BRENDAN GILL PRIZE
Call for Nominations
Dear MAS Members and Friends,
Nominations are now open for the 27th Annual Brendan Gill Prize, MAS’s signature award honoring art and culture in our city! The Gill Prize, which includes an endowed cash award, is awarded each year to the creator of a specific work: a book, essay, musical composition, play, painting, sculpture, architectural design, film, or choreographic piece that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. The nominee may be an individual or a group, a renowned artist or an emerging talent—the Gill Prize strives to bring attention to the constellation of artistic experiences that enrich our contemporary urban life.
All works submitted for consideration must have been produced and completed in 2014. The award celebrates a singular contribution or project, rather than a lifetime of achievement. The winner will be selected by the Brendan Gill jury, an esteemed group of nine experts intimately involved in the arts and literature of the city. The winner of the 2015 Gill Prize will be honored at a ceremony and reception during the MAS Annual Meeting this spring!
Please submit your nomination form via email to firstname.lastname@example.org before December 16, 2014. If preferred, hard copies with background material can be mailed to MAS at 488 Madison Avenue, Suite 1900, New York, NY, 10022, Attention: Phyllis Cohen. Download the nomination form now!
|Download the Nomination Form (PDF)|
Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for arts and culture with our organization. For more information, please visit mas.org/brendan-gill or call 212.935.3960 x1224.
2014 Michael Kimmelman for his New York Times articles on Penn Station
2013 Louis Kahn (posthumously) for Four Freedoms Park
2011 John Morse for Curbside Haiku
2010 Michael Van Valkenburgh for Brooklyn Bridge Park
2009 Mike and Doug Starn for See it change, see it split
2008 Sufjan Stevens for the BQE
2007 Sarah Jones for Bridge & Tunnel
2006 Christo and Jeanne-Claude for The Gates, Central Park
2005 Yoshio Taniguchi and the new Museum of Modern Art.
The report is the second in a series by the Alliance for a New Penn Station. The first report, Penn 2023, released in October 2013, summarized a new vision for West Midtown, including a comprehensive plan for the district; a completed Moynihan Station; an expansion of Penn’s transit capacity achieved through the Gateway Program and an expansion of Penn Station to the south; and construction of a new Madison Square Garden on a new site. Both reports offer analysis on the transit emergency in Penn Station, a facility originally designed to serve 200,000 riders a day, but that now serves some half a million, more than the daily impact at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark airports combined.
The report was released on the first day of the 2014 MAS Summit for New York City, which featured a panel called “Penn 2023: Where Will the Garden Go?” You can view a video of the panel discussion here.
Recommendations for Madison Square Garden
The Alliance’s analysis identified the Morgan Post Office and Annex as the most suitable future space for Madison Square Garden. The two block lot, bounded by 28th and 30th streets and 10th and 11th avenues, would allow for the construction of a safer, more modern Penn Station, the creation of new opportunities for retail, open space, and pedestrian amenities, as well as an improved stadium facility and new programming opportunities.
Also examined in depth are options for moving Penn Station to the Farley Post Office Annex located on 8th Avenue across the street from the current Garden and leaving Madison Square Garden in place atop Penn Station. The Farley option was found to be an exceptionally challenging site, sitting on top of landmarked property and active rail lines, and restricting opportunities for commercial development.
The Alliance also looked at leaving Madison Square Garden in place. This option greatly diminishes the opportunities for track and platform improvements at Penn Station, but available improvements could bring much needed light and air into the station, and better connect Madison Square Garden to the surrounding area.
Future reports by the Alliance for a New Penn Station will focus on the underutilized cultural richness of the Penn district and the numerous transportation, economic and development issues in West Midtown.
Read the report »»]]>