Click here to access the new Permit Applications Database.]]>
The discussion will be held in the Betsy Head Pool gym, at 694 Thomas S Boyland Street, from 10am to 2pm. It is free and open to the public and lunch will be provided. If you are interested in volunteering to help please contact Joanna Crispe, Director of Neighborhood-Based Initiatives, at email@example.com.
Download the full flyer here (PDF) >>]]>
Devoted to the complex ecology of cities, urban culture, and the natural and built environment, the Greenacre Library was established in 1978 as The Information Exchange. Researchers will find a rich source of information in a supportive setting.
In addition to books, approximately 2,000 archival on paper publications and ephemera produced by MAS over the course of its history can be viewed in the library. For more about information resources available through MAS, see http://www.mas.org/aboutmas/researchlibrary/.
The library is free and open to the public by appointment, Monday through Friday during office hours. To schedule an appointment, please contact Erin Butler, at 212-935-3960 x1274 or firstname.lastname@example.org.]]>
The following buildings now have provisional protection through the calendaring process:
*Supported by The Municipal Art Society, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Historic Districts Council
In 2013, the LPC had calendared the Pershing Square Building, 125 Park Avenue*; Graybar Building, 420 Lexington Avenue*; Shelton Hotel, 525 Lexington Avenue*; Hotel Lexington, 511 Lexington Avenue*; and Beverly Hotel, 557 Lexington Avenue. These five items will be heard by the LPC this summer, on Tuesday, July 19th.
The Municipal Art Society is pleased to see 12 buildings on the way to individual landmark status, though we would have preferred that the full roster of our submissions fall under the protection of the Landmarks Law.]]>
(May 5, 2016 | New York, NY) – The Municipal Art Society has named Hamilton: An American Musical and In Jackson Heights as the winners of the 2016 Brendan Gill Prize. Representatives from both teams will be presented with the prestigious award by MAS President Gina Pollara and Board Chair Frederick Iseman during the organization’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 11. The event, announced on April 19, will be held at the Ford Foundation office and is oversubscribed.
“We are delighted to honor these twin works of art from 2015 that celebrated the role of immigrants in shaping the history and culture of New York City,” said MAS President Gina Pollara. “The brashly revolutionary Hamilton: An American Musical and the quietly profound In Jackson Heights together reaffirm New York’s identity as the birthplace of the American dream and a city that is made ever stronger by its diversity.”
About Hamilton: An American Musical
A masterpiece that marries hip-hop and musical theater, Hamilton ignited newfound excitement about New York City’s role in the American Revolution with the compelling story of our only immigrant founding father, Alexander Hamilton. By combining brilliant stage production, sensational soundtrack, a diverse cast, innovative choreography, and Ham4Ham free performances, the musical celebrates the important impact immigrants have had on the history of our city and country.
About In Jackson Heights
This thought-provoking and illuminating documentary depicts with great dignity the daily life of people living in New York City’s most ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhood. America’s story of immigration, assimilation, and integration is captured here in a new light through lively conversations and deeply personal recordings that give voice to the New Yorkers of all backgrounds who call Jackson Heights ‘home.’
About the Gill Prize
The Brendan Gill prize was established in 1987 by fellow MAS board members Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Helen Tucker, and Margot Wellington to honor the creator of a building, book, essay, musical composition, play, film, painting, sculpture, choreographic work or landscape design, accomplished in the previous year that best captures, “the energy, vigor and verve of our incomparable city.” Past recipients include Kara Walker, Michael Kimmelman, Louis Kahn, John Morse, Michael Van Valkenburgh, and Mike and Doug Starn. For a full listing or previous recipients please visit http://mas.org/awards/brendan-gill/.
This annual cash award is administered by MAS and named for longtime New Yorker theater and architecture critic, champion preservationist, and civic booster Brendan Gill. The recipient is chosen by the Brendan Gill Jury from nominations submitted to MAS.
The Municipal Art Society, founded in 1893, is five years older than the consolidated City of New York itself. For more than 120 years, MAS has advocated for excellence in urban planning and design, and demonstrated its commitment to historic preservation and the arts. It has had a profound impact on the built environment of New York City and counts among its successes the memorable efforts to save Grand Central Terminal and the lights of Times Square as well as the establishment of groundbreaking land-use and preservation laws that have become national models.
Ranging from its current campaigns to push for a bold, comprehensive vision for Penn Station, call attention to the cumulative impacts of the new super-tall buildings, impel equitable zoning amendments, and educate and empower local communities to affect positive change in their neighborhoods, MAS remains at the forefront of New York’s most important efforts dedicated to advancing the city’s economic vitality, cultural vibrancy, and social diversity in the public realm.
Download press release (PDF) »»]]>
On May 6-8, thousands of New Yorkers will walk the city’s streets for the 100th birthday of urban activist Jane Jacobs. Jane’s Walk NYC, hosted by The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), is an annual weekend-long celebration featuring 250+ free “walking conversations” throughout the five boroughs, led by urban enthusiasts and local experts who care deeply about their neighborhoods.
All of the MAS-sponsored walks combine the simple act of exploring neighborhoods with personal observations, local history, and civic engagement. A typical walk is 90 minutes and is free and open to the public.
The full list of tours is available online at http://janeswalk.org/united-states/new-york-city-ny/, including:
Members of the press, contact Meaghan Baron at email@example.com
Download press release (PDF) »»]]>
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) believes an abundance of high quality public space is essential to the well-being of our city. Truly accessible and connected public spaces that are well-designed and thoughtfully programmed add vibrancy to our streets, strengthens our civic culture, and enhances the value of neighborhoods. As such, MAS applauds the efforts of the Alliance for Downtown New York (ADNY), the Department of City Planning (DCP), and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to improve the Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) in the Water Street corridor.
Many of the POPS in this area were built during an era that subscribed to different ideas about the role of cities, principles of urban planning, and approaches to the architecture of public space than we have today. As a result, most of the POPS in the Water Street corridor are considered by many to be uninviting, lacking vibrancy, an impediment to investment, and, in some cases, unsafe. In fact, as noted in Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, a book jointly published in 2000 by MAS, DCP and Jerold S. Kayden, a qualitative assessment of the POPS in this area found that many received the worst rating. Thus, we are in favor of reimagining these POPS to ensure they are welcoming places for residents, workers, and visitors that offer space for respite and contemplation while also activating the street realm.
MAS supports the important goals the project sponsors seek through this text amendment. However, there are 525 POPS across the City of New York and many of them are also poorly designed and maintained, and could benefit from similar creative solutions initiated for the Water Street corridor. In light of this, we offer the following recommendations to enhance and expand the effectiveness of the current proposal:
Set a City-wide Precedent – The Water Street corridor represents only 3% of the total number of POPS in the city in need of activation or reimagining. We urge DCP and EDC to develop a city-wide approach that would provide all property owners the framework, tools, and incentive to improve their underperforming POPS.
Establish a Public Review Process for Deaccessioning POPS
A public review process should be established to assess on a case-by-case basis each POPS proposed to be removed from the inventory, in which there would be:
The case-by-case assessment for each deaccessioned POPS should be conducted pursuant to a Chairperson’s Certification, if not a City Planning Commission Certification.
Calculate and Ensure the Public Benefit – The 1961 Zoning Resolution allowed for the creation of POPS by granting property owners additional FAR in exchange for the inclusion of public space on their properties. As conceived, both the additional FAR and public space were intended to exist in perpetuity. The Water Street text amendment changes this important equation. Property owners who benefitted from the additional FAR but did not improve their POPS would be allowed to replace arcades with commercial, revenue-generating uses.
MAS understands that the cost to rebuild the POPS will be substantial and that developers need an economic incentive to carry out the improvements. However, it is clear that the buildings that received additional FAR are inherently more valuable than they otherwise would be. As seen in places like Times Square, we also know that well designed public places can more than triple retail rents. Thus, improvements to the POPS will provide added financial benefit to property owners. Finally, the inclusion of commercial uses in existing POPS will provide additional revenue for property owners.
As presently drafted, the text amendment does not require property owners to complete a full accounting of their costs and benefits for upgrading their POPS and eliminating or reducing public space. Given that these POPS were intended to exist in perpetuity and provide a public benefit, it is imperative that the reduction or elimination of existing public space be subject to a thorough economic analysis. Mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that, in addition to paying to upgrade their POPS and introduce commercial space in their POPS, property owners must also pay a fee if the financial benefit to the building owner exceeds the calculated value of the lost public space.
For instance, such a fee could be calculated based on the combined incremental value: 1) achieved as a result of the additional FAR constructed in excess of the permitted FAR at the time of construction and as a result of a POPS bonus scheme; and 2) projected as part of the conversion of POPS to commercial space. The City could then use the revenue from the fee to support public programming and other activities related to the remaining public spaces in the area. The City could also consider reducing the fee for property owners that commit to reserve a percentage of new retail space for below-market retail and other uses. This would support much needed arts organizations, community services, social services, and neighborhood retail while increasing the vibrancy of the Water Street corridor.
The MAS looks forward to seeing these changes incorporated into this proposal, and to working with DCP and EDC toward a city-wide approach for improving all POPS.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
“Proposed amendment to section 2-21 of the rules relating to the installation of public communication structures to provide free WiFi and phone service, pursuant to a city-wide
franchise, to replace existing public pay telephones.”
The Municipal Art Society of New York finds the proposed rules amendment to be appropriate. The standards for the approval of the installation of public communications structures (PCS) are similar to the existing approval for public pay telephones (PPT). In fact, PCS devices will replace existing PPT locations offering free rather than paid phone service. In the instance where a new location is desired, it will be presented to the local Community Board for review. The PCS kiosks will not be installed in historic paving or directly in front of individual landmark buildings, and advertising panels are prohibited in residential districts.
Like the telephone service of a previous era, free Wi-Fi is a public utility — one that should benefit all New Yorkers equally.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
Today is a critically important day for the future of Penn Station, our city and the tri-state region. Developer responses to New York State’s request for proposals to upgrade Penn Station and Moynihan Station are due at 4:00 PM today. The Municipal Art Society and Regional Plan Association commend Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in focusing the public’s attention and motivating the private sector to improve this vital transit hub. As Governor Cuomo stated in January, Penn Station is a miserable warren. We welcome his efforts to bring light and air into the station.
But we need to do more.
In the weeks and months ahead, the people charged with evaluating these responses will make decisions that have the potential to profoundly improve the livability and economic prospects of the entire region. Penn Station is the lynchpin of the entire Northeast Corridor, which moves a workforce that annually contributes more than $50 billion to the U.S. economy. Seven million jobs are located within five miles of the corridor. In the summer of 2015, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx underscored the importance of this portion of the corridor by bringing the federal and New York and New Jersey state governments together to commit to building the urgently needed Gateway tunnels under the Hudson River. Penn Station itself, built to accommodate 200,000 daily riders, handles some 500,000 passengers every single day. And ridership is projected to increase, putting even greater strain on both the network and station.
Anyone who has ever been inside Penn Station has experienced its long list of deficiencies: low-slung ceilings, rundown public spaces, poor signage, limited amenities, cramped corridors, narrow platforms and frequent train delays. As a result, residents and commuters do their best to limit the amount of time they spend in the station and immediate neighborhood, depriving the area of economic activity.
The plans submitted by development teams will improve the experience at the transit hub, but by themselves, the enhancements won’t go far enough. In order to materially improve Penn Station and unlock the economic development potential of our region, much more needs to be done. Specifically, MAS and RPA call on Governor Cuomo to commit to the following:
The improvements contemplated as part of the Empire Station Complex solicitation address very real and urgent needs of the present, and they need to move forward. But as Governor Cuomo said at his January 6 news conference, “New York’s tomorrow depends on what we do today.” To that end, it is imperative that we not simply address today’s immediate needs at Penn Station, but holistically and intentionally plan for the long-term future of our city and region.]]>
The Ford Foundation’s philanthropic mission is “to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.” An icon from the moment of its completion in 1967, the organization’s headquarters in New York became an individual landmark as soon as it was eligible. Written nearly 20 years ago, the designation report describes the unusual interior by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates: “It was the rare corporate client that would sacrifice so much rentable area, and turn so much over to a landscaped atrium. When asked why Ford did it, Roche replied “for no reason other than to make a public gesture.””
And so, the Municipal Art Society appreciates the purpose-built intention of this space, and the effort to further the Ford Foundation’s mission through the proposal at hand.
The most significant intervention, and the most troubling for our Preservation Committee, is the wheelchair lift. First, the new walkway along the southern façade alters the relationship of the atrium softscape to the 42nd Street exterior. The lift itself has an enormous impact, though the material selection of cor-ten steel and clear glass seeks to minimize the intrusion. The slope of the granite retaining wall is a great improvement over the previous scheme presented to our Committee on April 1st. Similarly, the ramping of the northern path to expand the wheelchair accessible area is a positive move, though the stepped scheme of the garden, an important characteristic, is compromised.
We are also concerned about the removal of the planter at the 42nd Street entrance. This feature does not inhibit passage, and therefore its elimination seems an unnecessary interference with the landmark design. Likewise, it has been argued that all the existing and new entrances must accommodate a single 36-inch door with a 32-inch fixed sidelight, in order to reduce the number of stanchions required for automation of those doors. Again, this would appear to be avoidable, as the existing double doors can be automated or replaced in kind, and operated by a single stanchion. The fixed sidelight interrupts the rhythm of the curtain wall façade, and is not needed to achieve accessibility.
In sum, we very much appreciate the worthy charge of the Ford Foundation and its built expression in the atrium, this “public gesture.” We ask that the Landmarks Preservation Commission guide the project team toward achieving the important goal of accessibility, while persisting in the excellent stewardship of this extraordinary landmark.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
65 Schofield Street House*
Green-Wood Cemetery Fort Hamilton Parkway Entrance and Chapel
Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House*
57 Sullivan Street House
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Parish House and Rectory*
Pepsi Cola Sign*
J. Williams Ahles House
Vanderbilt Mausoleum and Cemetery*
St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church and Rectory (as part of the Park Slope Historic District Extension II)*
* MAS supported designation
Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan reaffirmed the Commission’s “steadfast commitment… to address the backlog,” a process which is expected to conclude by the end of the 2016 calendar year. MAS will continue to follow the backlog hearings over the next several months.]]>
Visit us on Twitter and Facebook and tell us: What’s your favorite NYC landmark? What would like to see designated this year?
And check back tomorrow for a post about the newest NYC landmarks—11 properties designated off the LPC backlog this week. Cheers to 50 years of historic preservation!]]>
The Municipal Art Society (MAS) finds that the proposed Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation addresses the expansion needs of the American Museum of Natural History (the Museum) and the design by Jeanne Gang to be an improvement over the existing disparate assemblage of non-historic buildings that make up the west wing of the Museum. At the same time, we are aware that Theodore Roosevelt Park has become an important public asset to the neighboring communities and that the footprint of the proposed addition will encroach upon the existing park.
Looking to the future, and taking into account that a recent addition to the Museum built in 2001 will be demolished to accommodate the new Gilder Center, MAS feels strongly that the Museum must develop a well-considered master plan that sets out its vision, programmatic goals, and mechanisms for the protection and improvement of the park and its accessibility for the entire approximately 18-acre superblock site.
MAS appreciates the effort the Museum has made to present information and respond to our questions in an expeditious manner. We will focus our comments today on the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process.
With respect to Open Space:
With respect to Hazardous Materials:
With respect to Natural Resources:
With respect to Historic Resources:
With respect to Construction Impacts:
With respect to Alternatives:
Thank you for your time and consideration this evening. We look forward to a continued dialogue with the Museum, the public, and other involved agencies throughout this process.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
Tickets are $15 for AIA members or $20 for non-members, and include one drink.
Visit the event page to register and see below for more information!>>
When: 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM FRIDAY, APRIL 8
Where: At the AIA’s Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY 10012
How do you spend your Friday evening? Do you join those who pack NYC’s cultural institutions like sardines or those crowds over populating film theaters? When the Center for Architecture, one of the City’s premier cultural institutions, hosts a pair of NYC’s most interesting and provocatively creative thinkers, it will certainly lift your spirits.
This series of dialogues about design pairs a notable architect with a recognized critic, journalist, curator, or architectural historian to discuss current architecture and other design issues. Since you shouldn’t start Friday night without an adequate drink, we’ll provide a custom-crafted cocktails inspired by the architect’s work and created in-situ for this event. Join us in growing the tradition of “Delight Night” in New York’s weekend cultural scene—no Blight Night here.
Bing Thom, AIA, CM, AIBC Architect, FRAIC, Principal and Creative Director, Bing Thom Architects
Gina Pollara, President, The Municipal Art Society Society
Bing Thom is one of Canada’s most admired and accomplished architects. Born in Hong Kong and immigrating to Canada as a child, Thom received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of British Columbia and his Master of Architecture degree from the University of California at Berkeley. A student of the 60’s, Thom travelled Asia and helped pioneer one of the first academic programs in Ethnic Studies in North America during his time in Berkeley. He worked in the offices of Fumihiko Maki and Arthur Erickson before starting his own firm, Bing Thom Architects (BTA), in 1982.
With close personal and professional ties to Asia and North America, BTA’s 40+ person office is shaped by the wide-range of experience brought by professionals from 15 different countries who collectively speak 14 languages. Among BTA’s successes are Surrey Central City, an internationally award winning mixed-use project combining a university campus, shopping centre and office tower; the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia; Pacific Canada Pavilion at the Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Centre; Trinity River East, Tarrant County College’s new downtown campus in Fort Worth, Texas; the City Centre Library in Surrey, Canada; and Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington DC. BTA’s newest projects include the design of Woodridge Public Library in Washington DC; MacEwan University’s Centre for Arts and Communication in Edmonton, Canada; the Xiqu Centre in Hong Kong, which will be a new home for Chinese Opera and the inaugural project in the multi-venue West Kowloon Cultural District; and University of Chicago’s new Hong Kong campus for the Booth School of Business.
Thom’s commitment to using great architecture to improve the urban context and social condition has been recognized by a range of honours including the Order of Canada, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding contributions to architecture and community, and the RAIC Gold Medal. Dedicated to helping the next generation of architects, Bing is a popular lecturer in Canada and abroad and is the privileged recipient of Honorary Degree of Laws from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, as well as an honorary professorship from Tongji University in Shanghai.
Gina Pollara became the president and CEO of The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) in February 2016. For more than 120 years, MAS has advocated for excellence in urban planning and design, demonstrated its commitment to historic preservation and the arts, and educated and empowered local communities to affect change in their neighborhoods.
Prior to her job at MAS, Pollara provided strategic urban and design planning as well as fundraising and organizational development to a number of public and private organizations including: Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, Bing Thom Architects, The River Project and the Hudson River Foundation, and Arts Letters and Numbers.
From August 2006 to December 2013, Pollara served as Executive Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC, the organization established to raise the funds and construct the memorial designed by the architect Louis I. Kahn for the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York City. Construction on the $45.5 million project began March 29, 2010; the Park was dedicated on October 17, 2012.
As Associate Director of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archives of The Cooper Union from 2001 to 2006, she co-curated a number of exhibitions including the seminal one on the FDR Memorial in January/February 2005. From 1993 to 2001, Pollara designed and managed construction of a number of New York City apartments and residential additions for various firms.
Pollara is an advocate for the preservation, promotion and use of historic records. She was instrumental in establishing the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archive, and she has been an archival consultant to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The General Society Library for Mechanics and Tradesmen, and the Mayor’s Office of the City of New York for the Bloomberg Administration as well as many private collectors.
She is a board member of The Four Freedoms Park Conservancy and the New York Preservation Archive Project, and is on the Advisory Board of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Memorial. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art as well as a Bachelor of Art Degree from Bennington College.]]>
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) believes abundant high-quality public space is essential to the welfare of our city. Truly accessible public spaces that are well designed and thoughtfully programmed add vibrancy to our streets, strengthen our civic culture, and enhance the value of neighborhoods. As such, MAS applauds the efforts of the Alliance for Downtown New York (ADNY), the Department of City Planning (DCP), and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to improve Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) in the Water Street corridor.
Many of the POPS in this area were built during an era that subscribed to different principles of urban planning and architecture of public space than we employ today. As a result, most of the POPS in the Water Street corridor are considered uninviting, lifeless, impediments to investment, and, in some cases, unsafe. Thus, we are in favor of reimagining these POPS to ensure they are welcoming places for residents, workers, and visitors that offer space for respite and contemplation while also activating the streetscape.
MAS supports the important goals the project sponsors seek through this text amendment. However, there are 525 POPS across the City of New York and many of them are also poorly designed and maintained, and thus could benefit from the same creative solutions initiated for the Water Street corridor. In light of this, we offer the following recommendations to enhance and expand the effectiveness of the current proposal:
Calculate and Ensure the Public Benefit – The 1961 Zoning Resolution allowed for the creation of POPS by granting property owners additional FAR in exchange for the inclusion of public space on their properties. As conceived, both the additional FAR and the public space were intended to exist in perpetuity. In other words, there was recognition at the time that additional FAR permanently increased a building’s value, and that value was to be offset by a permanent increase in public space. The Water Street text amendment changes this important equation: Property owners retain their additional FAR, but are now allowed to replace POPS with new commercial, revenue-generating uses.
As presently drafted, the text amendment does not require any economic analysis that would provide a full accounting of the costs and benefits of altering POPS. It is imperative that the reduction or elimination of existing public space be subject to a thorough and transparent economic analysis so that the original equation of equitable trade is maintained. It is not enough to claim that access to retail venues somehow provides an equivalent public benefit. Mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that there is, in fact, an equitable exchange.
Set a City-wide Precedent – The Water Street corridor represents only 3% of the total number of POPS in the city in need of activation or reimagining. Rather than insisting these changes won’t set a precedent, we urge DCP and EDC to do just that – use this opportunity to develop a full set of economic and regulatory parameters that can be employed city-wide to provide all property owners with the framework, tools, and incentives to improve their underperforming POPS while maintaining the original equation of exchange.
The City has evolved since 1961, and the pressures on public space are greater than ever before. MAS looks forward to working with DCP and EDC on a pro-active city-wide approach for equitably reimagining and improving all POPS.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>