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January 2009
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Archive for January, 2009

A Very Special Behind-the-Scenes Look at Radio City

radio city hall stage view toward audience

When Diane Lloyd arrived at Radio City Music Hall at 6:00 p.m. two nights ago, the theater was “dark”, but the lights were on for the MAS Patrons. She, and 53 others who had braved the nasty weather that night, were in for a truly rare treat. Hugh Hardy — the architect and mastermind of the building’s 1998 award-winning restoration — gave an insider’s behind-the-scenes tour of this world-famous concert hall. From the stunning art-deco lobby with its 60-foot ceilings, to the iconic auditorium, from the stage, to the smoking rooms (where no-one is allowed to smoke anymore), to the complex system hydraulic lifts underneath the stage, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all.

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Foreclosed: How Will New York’s Neighborhoods Recover?

Pressure is mounting to halt the national tide of foreclosures. New York’s housing advocates are working at the frontlines to keep people in their homes and to ensure that solutions currently being generated at the city and state level respond to New York’s unique housing and neighborhood needs. A MAS Planning Center panel discussion moderated by Eva Hanhardt of the Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment late last year, tapped the insights of Audrey Waysee, Center for New York City Neighborhoods; Josh Zinner, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project; Mark Winston-Griffith, Drum Major Institute; Patricia Kerr, Neighborhood Housing Services, Jamaica;and Ingrid Gould Ellen, Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, to confront the question: how do we stabilize neighborhoods experiencing high rates of foreclosure? Continue Reading>>

Community-Based Plan of the Month: Sunset Park Waterfront

sunset park view toward manhattan at sunsetAs the recent economic slowdown gives us the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate New York City’s planning processes, community-based plans can provide a framework for a future that works for all New Yorkers. The plans featured in this monthly column will provide examples of how inclusive planning processes work on the ground, and ideally will help inspire future community planning efforts. Sunset Park 197-a Plan Sunset Park encompasses a large stretch of Brooklyn’s East River waterfront, bordered by the Prospect Expressway to the north, Bay Ridge to the south, and the Gowanus Expressway to the east. The area has served as a maritime hub for over 100 years. The Bush Terminal was established there in 1895, and eventually grew to over 200 acres. Continue Reading>>

Call for Nominations to 2009 MASterwork Awards Extended

iac building frank gehry nycThe deadline for nominations to our 2009 MASterwork Awards has just been extended from this Friday, January 30, to noon on Friday, February 13. Each year, the Municipal Art Society honors the year’s top building projects for their excellence in architecture and urban design, and their contribution to New York’s built environment. The photo above is of Frank Gehry’s brilliant IAC Building which won a 2008 MASterwork Award for Best Building. Continue Reading>>

Beyond Tenements with Francis Morrone This Wednesday

tenement buildings nyc angleJoin architectural historian Francis Morrone this Wednesday, January 28, for the second in his four lecture series Architecture and Changing Lifestyles. New Yorkers’ lifestyles have changed continually over the years, constantly reinventing our notions of what it means to be a New Yorker. This lecture will take attendees beyond tenements to the many apartment houses the middle & upper classes constructed for themselves in New York City during the 1870s and 1880s. In four illustrated lectures, Francis Morrone examines four episodes of lifestyle change in New York history. Each of these episodes demonstrated remarkable innovation and adaptation to changing social and economic conditions, and causes us to imagine what lifestyle revolutions await us in the future. The third and final lectures in the series will be held at MAS on Wednesday, February 4, and Monday, February 9, respectively. Beyond Tenements: Apartment Houses for the Middle & Upper Classes, 1870s & 1880s Wednesday, January 28, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Reserve your place online or call 212-935-2075. For more information and tickets for other lectures in this series, click here.

Complete Works of I.M. Pei in Focus at MAS Tomorrow Night

im pei architectWhen I. M. Pei — one of the world’s most celebrated architects and a master of light, space, and geometry — was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1983, the jury said he had “given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms.” Janet Adams Strong’s new book, I. M. PEI: Complete Works attests to this statement by showcasing Pei’s transcendent, sculptural forms from more than 50 years of work. Join the author and I.M. Pei scholar, Carter Wiseman, for a presentation hosted by the Municipal Art Society’s bookstore Urban Center Books tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 27, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., about this new book that honors the tremendous influence of this master architect. Continue Reading>>

Advertising on Sidewalk Sheds Haunts the City Again

The New York City Council will hold a public hearing next Monday, January 26, at 1:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall on Intro. 623 which proposes to allow advertising on sidewalk construction sheds for a yet to be determined permit fee. The Municipal Art Society will testify against this ill-conceived plan. [Read MAS press release here.] Download our testimony, here. Outdoor advertising and sidewalk construction sheds blight our city’s streetscape. The City wisely seeks to regulate outdoor advertising with strict zoning regulations and imposes design guidelines for sidewalk construction sheds, but the City Council now wants to combine these two eyesores with a permit that would allow outdoor advertising companies to advertise on sidewalk sheds in manufacturing and commercial zoning districts. Read coverage of this issue in Metro NY, January 27, 2009. Continue Reading>>

The Concourse Plaza Hotel, A Place That Matters

concourse plaza hotel bronxThe Concourse Plaza Hotel, located at 900 Grand Concourse in the Bronx, was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for its unique role as host to the history of the Bronx. The hotel also played an important part in a number of American presidential campaigns. The Grand Concourse was designed in the late 19th century by Louis Aloys Risse and completed in 1909. The first hotel in the borough, the Concourse Plaza, was built in 1922 on this wide tree-lined boulevard, often considered the Champs-Élysées of the Bronx. The Plaza’s political legacy was established from the very day of its opening. Signaling the importance of the event, New York State Governor Alfred E. Smith made the keynote address at the hotel’s glamorous debut. Continue Reading>>

ImagineConey Exhibit Opens February 3

imagine coney island brooklyn new york historic preservationOver 350 ideas to reinvent Coney Island have been submitted from around the world to the MAS initiative ImagineConey. These ideas, together with results of two public workshops and a charrette – an intense design workshop – will be on display at the MAS Urban Center Galleries from Wednesday February 4 through Wednesday, March 11. Join us at the exhibit opening on Tuesday, February 3, 6.30 – 8:00 p.m. To supplement the exhibit, MAS is also holding two public programs:A Serious Business: The Future of Amusements in an Urban Economy, on Wednesday, February 11, 6.30 – 8:00 p.m., at which a panel will discuss the future of amusement parks in New York; and Imagining Coney: Bold Ideas, Technicolor Dreams, and Fanciful Concepts, on Tuesday, February 17, 6.30 – 8:00 p.m., when the public’s submissions to ImagineConey from around the world will be presented.  Call 212-935-2075 to RSVP for both programs. Continue Reading>>

Dean of Architecture Critics

Ada Louise Huxtable’s On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change, published by Walker & Company, is a hefty new collection of her essays and newspaper columns from the past five decades of criticism. It tells the story of revolutionary upheavals in taste, from the triumph of an austere modernism to an often frivolous postmodernism to the endless variety of choices that exist today. Ada Louise Huxtable has a keen eye for what is valuable and enduring, silly, or meretricious. This is particularly evident in her columns on New York City, where she came of age fighting preservationist battles, and where she continues to cast a loving but skeptical eye on new development schemes. On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change, Walker Publishing Company, Inc., New York, October 2008, 496 pages. On sale now at Urban Center Books, the architecture bookstore of the Municipal Art Society. MAS and Architectural League members are invited to join President Emeritus Kent Barwick and Ada Louise Huxtable for A Conversation: On Architecture next Wednesday, January 21, 2009. Purchase tickets online. This is strictly a members-only event.

PIDGIN 6 Launch Party Next Friday

pidgin magazine coverPIDGIN, a magazine publication of the graduate students of the Princeton School of Architecture (SOA), features the work of students, faculty, staff, & friends providing a “snapshot” of what is going on in the minds and hard-drives at SOA. It is an incubator for emerging ideas and includes papers, photographs, film stills, projects, tips, provocations, critiques, drawings and almost anything that communicates architectural ideas and transports them into the larger world. Next Friday, January 23, a panel featuring Stan Allen, Glen Cummings, Jeffrey Inaba, and founding editor Marc McQuade, will address the role of small architecture publications in the world of architectural design and academia. The first 100 copies of PIDGIN are free! Sponsored by Urban Center Books, the architecture bookstore of the Municipal Art Society. PIDGIN Discussion & Launch Party Friday, January 23, 3009 Discussion 7:00 – 8:00 p.m., Launch Party 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. At the Municipal Art Society, 457 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022 MAP

Over 150 Attend Meeting in Coney Island; MAS Lays Out Next Steps

Over 150 Coney Island residents and fans attended last night’s ImagineConey meeting, held at Our Lady of Solace Church on Mermaid Avenue. See slideshow below. MAS planning committee members presented the public’s submissions to ImagineConey as well as the results of a charrette held in November. MAS also outlined the critical next steps we believe must be taken for Coney Island: New York City Should Buy the Land for an Amusement Area. At current land values, it is unrealistic to expect private developers to construct amusements in Coney Island. Building on it’s successful effort to purchase a parcel last November, New York City should purchase enough land for a Coney Island Amusement Area of sufficient scale that could then be managed by a private, third-party entity overseeing a mix of large, small and mid-scale operators. Refine Vision for a Viable Coney Island. Building on the strategic plan developed by the city, key stakeholders should develop a specific master plan for Coney Island that incorporates 25 acres of amusements, excluding retail and hotel uses, to support a minimum of 3.4 million visitors annually. The refined vision should include a signature, iconic ride that re-establishes Coney Island as world-class destination and enough rides to support up to 15,000 visitors at any one time. Continue Reading>>