February 2009
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Archive for February, 2009

Will NYC Ever See the Stars Again?

street lamp illumination

The glow of outdoor lighting that has followed urban growth has overwhelmed our view of the stars.  This light pollution does not provide any useful light, wastes significant amounts of energy, harms surrounding ecosystems and contributes to carbon dioxide emissions.

The problems of this light pollution can be mitigated by using outdoor lighting that is efficient and designed to illuminate the ground and not the night sky.  It is probably impossible to create a fully dark sky here in NYC, but we can help the situation by simply installing lighting only when and where needed and by always directing it down towards the ground. Billboards can be lit from the top down rather than by shining a light on them from the bottom up.  Parking lots and ball parks can use fully shielded fixtures that shine the light on the playing field rather then the sky above.

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MAS to Hold Public Briefing on New DOB Rule

zoning building height street recession

The City may be changing the way the Department of Buildings does business. Under a potential new rule, the agency would post on their web site diagrams of proposed new buildings or major enlargements. The diagrams will depict the size and scale of new building projects. The new rule will also institute a 30-day period in which the public can review and challenge the development approval. According to the city, this new time period is intended to “prevent confusion and unnecessary or unintended costs for development in New York City.”

The city is holding a public hearing on Friday, March 6 at 3:00 p.m., at 280 Broadway, 3rd  Floor Conference Room. The proposal is scheduled to take effect only three days later — Monday, March 9.

We invite you to join the Municipal Art Society of New York for a briefing on the rule, on Tuesday, March 3 at 8:30 a.m. David Schnakenberg, Menapace Legal Fellow and Eve Baron, Director of the MAS Planning Center, will present an outline of the rule, discuss some of the consequences and invite the community to share concerns, comments and ask questions.

This is an informal presentation. In addition to your comments and questions, please BYO Bagel (we’ll supply the coffee). Tuesday, March 3 at 8:30 a.m. at 457 Madison Avenue. This is a free event, but reservations are encouraged. RSVP to 212-935-2075.

Crisis, Confidence & the Architect, March 3

Architect and author Adam Kalkin will present his recent book Quik Build: Adam Kalkin’s ABC of Container Architecture on Tuesday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m., hosted by the Municipal Art Society’s bookstore Urban Center Books. His presentation will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Alastair Gordon, and featuring Barry Bergdoll, K. Michael Hayes and Mr. Kalkin, on the evolving identity of the architect through periods of crisis and confidence.

Kalkin’s iconic Quik House is one of the most viable pre-fabricated systems available today, providing  spacious dwelling and customized elements with the most efficient reduction of both energy waste and cost. Projects include his Refugee Village and FEMA housing concepts.

Quik Build: Adam Kalkin’s ABC of Container Architecture will be sold exclusively through Urban Center Books the night of the lecture. A special “scented” edition will be available in limited quantities.

MAS Names David Childs as New Chairman

Internationally acclaimed architect David M. Childs has been named Chairman of the Municipal Art Society, succeeding the incumbent Philip K. Howard. Mr. Childs, who served as a design partner and Chairman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, and has been a board member of MAS since 1986, will work alongside new President Vin Cipolla, a nationally recognized leader in the preservation, arts and business communities, who joined the organization in January of this year. Mr. Howard will assume the role of Chairman Emeritus.

“We are honored that David Childs will serve as Chairman of MAS as the organization enters a new phase of growth and influence in New York City,” said Mr. Howard. “He (Mr. Childs) is an urban champion, and, as Chair, will provide powerful leadership for MAS in its mission to achieve intelligent urban planning, design and preservation.”

“I am excited to take on this new role at MAS, which has been a tireless advocate for New York City and those who love it,” said Mr. Childs. “MAS has an opportunity to provide invaluable guidance as the city evolves to meet new challenges and to further establish its position as a model for sustainable urban development and living.”

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South Bronx Hero Shows the City ‘the Way’

yolanda garcia way street

The bright sun reflected off the many new buildings of Melrose Commons in the South Bronx, as elected officials, activists, developers, friends, family, and other admirers gathered on East 157th Street to honor the memory of Yolanda Garcia yesterday. Third Avenue between 156th and 157th Streets is now known as “Yolanda Garcia Way.”

Ms. Garcia’s family owned a carpet shop in the Melrose section of the Bronx, where she was working in the early 1990s when she learned of a City urban renewal plan that called for displacing local residents and creating low-density housing. Incensed that those residents who stayed in the South Bronx despite decades of disinvestment were going to be displaced, Ms. Garcia founded Nos Quedamos/We Stay. This grassroots group was dedicated to rethinking the plan, including the community in the process, and preventing displacement. The resulting Melrose Commons plan helped to create over 1,500 units of affordable housing in the area, kept thousands of residents from being displaced, and even brought green building principles to the South Bronx.

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