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November 2008
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Archive for November, 2008

Touring Paul Rudolph Hall

mas tour group street aerialLast Friday, 30-odd MAS tour-takers boarded a train at Grand Central bound for New Haven. In two hours, the group of us were standing outside of Kahn’s Yale University Art Gallery, across the street from one of the most controversial buildings ever erected. What was formerly known as Yale’s School of Art and Architecture is hand-battered concrete, a Brutalist design that was so disliked in the 1960s that many assumed the 1969 fire was arson (it wasn’t). Now the building has been restored and rehabilitated and renamed for Paul Rudolph. A comprehensive book on Rudolph has yet to be written, but the building is an exhilarating illustration of his ability to visualize, and to manipulate space. We walked over Rudolph’s bridge across the review space while students were their having crits below, arrayed across the paprika-colored carpet (the same shade as the original). We walked through the studios and visited the library, which is filled with natural light, but focused inward to encourage studying. The school isn’t just about a modernist past. The basement shop has the most sophisticated digital model-making equipment of any architectural school in the country and is open to students 24 hours a day. And unlike most schools in New York, Yale welcomes visitors into the library and other public areas of Paul Rudolph Hall. All aboard.

Kent Barwick Awarded MAS’ Highest Honor

Departing MAS President Kent Barwick was awarded the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal at the MAS Gala Benefit earlier this month in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the city of New York. Held in a clear tent on the plaza of the iconic Seagram Building on Park Avenue and surrounded by some of New York’s most important buildings, a series of guests, including New York Governor David Paterson and a chorus line of former Rockettes, toasted Mr. Barwick and his excellence in leading the Municipal Art Society. Click on the images below to watch a slideshow of the event. [All photos: Steven Tucker] [AFG_gallery id=’12’]

Former Eyesores, New Life Comes to Columbus Circle, the Highline, and Fresh Kills

Metropolis published two articles today on several successful major redevelopment projects that MAS encouraged, such as Columbus Circle, the High Line, and Fresh Kills in Staten Island.  All at various stages of completion, these areas, former notorious eyesores on New York City landscape, are being reimaged in ways that increase open space and activate their surrounding neighborhoods. In other news, the Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected the current General Growth proposal for the South Street Seaport while there was no vote at the hearing, the Commission objected primarily to the inappropriate scale, massing and height of buildings in a historic district and the relocation of the historic Tin building. Continue Reading>>

Public Gathers to See Initial Results of Imagine Coney Charrette

Over 250 people gathered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night to see the unveiling of the initial results of the ImagineConey charrette. The charrette team, a group of world-class designers, engineers, producers and economists spent November 13 & 14 developing new ideas for amusement rides, structures, events and interim activities at Coney Island that would restore it as one of the world’s most exciting and original entertainment and amusement destinations once again. See photos below. Continue Reading>>

MAS Presents Initial Results for Imagine Coney

Today, MAS released a new concept for Coney Island that features near-term and long-term programming elements. The concept calls for Coney Island to become the main stage for New York City, providing a platform for small and large performances and events in coordination with its role as an amusement destination. See photos below. The concept, which would include a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities, could be implemented immediately (Summer 2009) and would take advantage of the parcels of undeveloped land in Coney Island, much of which is now vacant or operating as street-level parking. The concept also offers a thematic focus for the long-term redevelopment of Coney Island and creates a bridge to the point in the future when it can be implemented.
“Coney Island always has been and always should be an entertainment destination for the city and the world,” said MAS President Kent Barwick.
Continue Reading>>

Support Your Local Bookstore This Saturday

book cover paperback dreamsIn New York on a five-city tour, documentary filmmaker, Alex Beckstead screened “Paperback Dreams” in Soho last week. His new film follows two landmark Bay Area independent bookstores — Cody’s Books in Berkeley and Kepler’s Books in San Mateo — and their struggle to survive in a rapidly changing media landscape. Both stores played a central role in the free speech movement and the culture of the 1960’s because of their proximity to college campuses. The film tells a compelling and cautionary tale about the ups and downs of running great bookstores and the value they bring to their communities. During a question and answer period after the film a few New York booksellers weighed in on the state of independents in the city. Gotham Book Mart and Coliseum Books were two New York landmarks that could not survive in the current market (on a positive note, Archivia has reopened — and Idlewild, specializing in travel books, recently opened near Union Square). Cultural landmarks like Cody’s or Gotham, can be seen as a permanent part of the landscape, but the book-loving public often fails to realize how big a struggle it is for stores to survive. It is important for people to be aware of where books are bought and to understand that these transactions are connected to the shape of their communities and quality of life. When a bookstore is thriving, it can be an integral part of the intellectual and cultural life of a community. The “Paperback Dreams” program was sponsored by the Independent Booksellers of New York and McNally Jackson Books. Celebrate “America Unchained Day” on Saturday, November 22, by shopping at  Urban Center Books – the Municipal Art Society’s book store – or your local independent bookstore.

Wednesday: Walking Tour With Brownfields Experts in Greenpoint-Williamsburg

soil water pollution map williamsburg greenpointRecently, with the help of the Newtown Creek Alliance and HabitatMap, residents of east Greenpoint and Williamsburg have learned about contaminant plumes of chlorinated solvents (TCE & PCE) in their neighborhood’s soil and groundwater. Caused by local industry such as dry cleaners and soap manufacturers, these pollutants have been linked to the development of autoimmune diseases, birth defects, nervous system disorders, infertility, and cancer. On Wednesday morning, brownfields experts Lenny Siegel and Peter Strauss will lead a walking tour of the area. They will also answer questions about hazardous vapor intrusion in homes, the health effects of TCE/PCE exposure, and how to get the Meeker Ave. Plumes mitigated and remediated. Visit HabitatMap’s interactive map for more information on the contaminated area. For a larger version of the map above, visit the Newtown Creek Alliance. Where & When: Meet at the corner of Kingsland Ave. & Norman Ave. at 9:00am on Wednesday 11/19 (MAP) More about Lenny Siegel after the jump.   <span >About Lenny Siegel Lenny Siegel has been Executive Director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight (formerly CAREER/PRO) since 1994. He has been director of the Pacific Studies Center, in Mountain View, since 1970. He is one of the environmental movement’s leading experts on military facility contamination, and he has served on numerous advisory committees in that area. His organization runs Internet forums both on military environmental issues and brownfields. He is a member of several advisory committees, including the California Brownfields Revitalization Advisory Group, the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council’s work team on Perchlorate, and the Moffett Field (former Moffett Naval Air Station) Restoration Advisory Board. He has served on U.S. EPA’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on All Appropriate Inquiry, the ASTM/ISR Steering Committee on Brownfields Restoration, and the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Federal Facilities Working Group.

Tuesday: New York For Sale Book Party

new york for sale tom angotti guidePlease join the Community-Based Planning Task Force Executive Committee, the Municipal Art Society Planning Center, and Urban Center Books in celebrating the release of Executive Committee member Tom Angotti’s new book: <span >New York For Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate. Too many books focus merely on the problems of center cities or propose planning solutions only applicable in greenfield sites. Angotti chronicles a significant alternative – the 100 or more community-based plans developed in New York City since the 1960s. This is an important and compelling story of ‘urban policy from the bottom up – Ann Fosyth, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University reviewing New York For Sale. Angotti, who serves as Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development, will present his compelling new book on community-based planning and the market forces that drive New York City real estate. Reception to follow. November 18, 6:30-8:00pm, at the Urban Center, 457 Madison Ave. Free. Reservations are strongly recommended due to limited capacity. Call 212-935-2075.

Public Offers Novel Concepts for Coney Island

fireworks night sky pinkThe public has weighed in on what they want to see in Coney Island, and the ideas offer a refreshing burst of (uninhibited) creativity. As part of its initiative to develop new ideas for the design and programming of Coney Island, the Municipal Art Society launched a call for public input. This effort complements a broader initiative, titled ImagineConey, that features a charrette (an intense design workshop) with international amusement experts, leaders of Broadway theater in New York City, and former Disney executives. MAS hopes that by leveraging global ideas and creativity it can help identify the novel uses that will spark new life in Coney Island and build on the remarkable strides Mayor Bloomberg has made toward a revitalized Coney Island. The design and amusement team is now participating in the charrette, and the results will be publicly presented on Monday, November 17. A selection of the top public ideas for Coney Island follow. The quotes are the text submitted on the website or at the public meetings.
  • Create a Venice, CA-style Muscle Beach “Set aside a stretch of the beach/boardwalk for a muscle beach type experience, where people can enjoy a work out — to see and be seen. This alone will attract many people to Coney and send a fun, healthy message that is in keeping with the times and resonates with the side-show aspect to the old Coney.” Also suggested: a bathing suit contest for guys and gals.
Continue Reading>>

Friday Links Roundup

new york manhattan skyline sunrise smallAs expected, both the Willets Point and Hunters Point South (rendering shown here via EDC) plans got approval from the City Council yesterday. Atlantic Yards Report has an interesting comparison of the Willets Point and Atlantic Yards plans in regards to affordable housing. In other AY news, this week we learned that Barclay’s is sticking around, despite the fact that developer Bruce Ratner will not break ground on the project this month, as previously planned. Streetsblog reports on a companion piece to the City Planning Commission’s proposed bicycle zoning amendment: the Bikes in Buildings Bill, introduced by Council Member David Yassky this week. Also bike-related: the City is getting some spiffy, new, Danish-designed bike racks. Term limits, they just bring people together. To file a lawsuit, that is.

Imagine Coney Presentation Monday at BAM

ideation coney island pointsJoin MAS on Monday, November 17, 6:30 p.m. at BAM Cafe when representatives of the world-class design team MAS has convened to develop new ideas for Coney Island’s future will present the initial results of ImagineConey. Yesterday and today, the design team of architects, engineers, amusement designers and producers – including experts who have worked with Broadway Theater, Disney Corporation and other international amusement parks – are gathering at the New York Aquarium for a two-day intense design workshop – known as a charrette – to develop bold new ideas for Coney Island based on input given online and at two public workshops. ImagineConey Initial Presentation Monday, November 17, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. At BAM Cafe, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Street, Brooklyn NY MAP The presentation is free, but reservations are recommended due to limited space. RSVP online or call 212-935-2075. For more information about ImagineConey, visit

New York for Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate

new york for sale tom angotti guideOn Tuesday, November 18, at 6:30 p.m., Urban Center Books and the MAS Planning Center will co-host a book talk by author, planner, academic, and activist Tom Angotti on his latest book, New York for Sale, chronicling the rise of grassroots planning in New York, and drawing heavily on the Atlas of Community-Based Plans. “Too many books focus merely on the problems of center cities or propose planning solutions only applicable in greenfield sites. Angotti chronicles a significant alternative – the 100 or more community-based plans developed in New York City since the 1960s. This is an important and compelling story of ‘urban policy from the bottom up.” – Ann Fosyth, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University reviewing New York For Sale. Angotti, who serves as Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development, and is a founding member of the Community-Based Planning Task Force, will present his compelling new book on how community-based planning confronts the market forces that drive New York City real estate. Reception to follow. New York for Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate Tuesday, November 18, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. At the The Municipal Art Society, 457 Madison Avenue,at East 51st Street. Free, but reservations are strongly recommended due to limited capacity. RSVP to 212-935-2075.