November 2008
« Oct   Dec »

Archive for November, 2008

Touring Paul Rudolph Hall

mas tour group street aerial

Last 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.

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. The Commission also designated seven new landmarks (New York Times; New York Post)

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.

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 dreams

In 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.

Wednesday: Walking Tour With Brownfields Experts in Greenpoint-Williamsburg

soil water pollution map williamsburg greenpoint

Recently, 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.

About Lenny: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.