October 2009
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Archive for October, 2009

Vertical Farming to Feed Our City and Our Planet

vertical farm

Dr. Dickson Despommier, panelist at the upcoming 2nd Annual Jane Jacobs Forum Re-Imagining New York: Designing Urban Farms to Feed our City, recently spoke to Tamara Coombs of MAS about why he sees urban “vertical farms” as key to the future, not just of cities, but of the planet.

Ten years ago, Columbia University microbiology professor Despommier began investigating different approaches to agriculture that would feed the additional 3 billion people that are estimated to be born in the next 50 years. This research project, which he conducted with the help of his students, has grown into a popular website The Vertical Farm Project, an op-ed in The New York Times and a new book coming out next year, and garnered attention from municipalities (Newark, NJ), architecture and engineering companies, and the Obama administration along the way.

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Sidewalk Sheds as Eyesores To Become a Thing of the Past

illegal advertising signage new york city building

Sidewalk sheds are required whenever renovation or new construction takes place on a building, or a Department of Buildings inspector suspects an unsafe condition exists. These sidewalks sheds are erected in order to protect pedestrians and typically remain in place for nearly a year, sometimes even longer. Currently there are more than 6,000 sidewalk sheds standing in New York City, spanning more than a million linear feet.

The Department of Buildings and AIA New York Chapter have teamed up with an array of other civic organizations to organize an international design competition called UrbanShed that seeks a brighter future for this unique New York City structure. Contestants had been asked to design a sidewalk shed that is sustainable, economical and attractive. 

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MAS to Move to Historic Steinway Building


After more than 25 years in the Villard Houses on Madison Avenue, the Municipal Art Society is moving its headquarters to the Steinway Hall Building at 111 West 57th Street, as of February 2010. MAS President Vin Cipolla remarked earlier this week, “Having a new home in such a storied building coincides perfectly with our plans to reaffirm our mission of advocacy for all New Yorkers. I am excited to call 111 West 57th Street MAS’ new home, and look forward to many productive years there.”

MAS signed a lease for the entire 16th floor at 111 West 57th Street, located between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue. The 17-story office building is owned by Steinway & Sons. Built in 1925, 111 West 57th Street was designed by legendary architects Warren and Wetmore.

Plans are underway for the continuation of our exhibition programming and our bookstore operations.

Please stop by the Villard Houses to view our current exhibit, Re-Imagining cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil, co-sponsored by PennDesign. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, is on display at MAS through Friday, December 4.

LPC Sets Sight on Expanding Historic Districts

Today is another large Designation Day at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The focus of today’s hearing is expanding some of the city’s existing historic districts to include worthy buildings that were excluded from the original designations.

The Crown Heights North Phase II district will expand the original district designated in 2007 by approximately 600 buildings, protecting more of the neighborhood’s wonderful residential and institutional buildings. The SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District Extension has been on the community’s wish list for decades. The original district, designated in 1973, stops abruptly at the east side of West Broadway and the west side of Crosby Street, leaving out several wonderful cast-iron and masonry buildings. An extension to the Upper East Side Historic District Extension likewise is being considered by the LPC in order to protect many wonderful buildings on Lexington Avenue and its adjacent side streets that were excluded from its original 1981 designation. Finally, the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II is much better known as a portion of the proposed South Village Historic District.Located south of the Greenwich Village Historic District (designated in 1969), this proposed expansion would include many Federal-style and Greek Revival rowhouses as well as richly ornamented tenement buildings that relate to the neighborhood’s immigrant heritage.

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The Queens County Farm Museum, A Place That Matters

queens county farm museum

Dating from 1697, the Queens County Farm Museum at 73-50 Little Neck Parkway in Queens, is the longest continuously farmed plot of land in all of New York State. Spanning 47 acres, the site is also home to the largest remaining parcel of working farmland in New York City.

The focal point of the farm museum is the “Jacob Adriance Farmhouse.” The oldest portion the house was built in 1772 and originally consisted of just three rooms. According to the 1976 landmark designation report, the design of this section of the house “reflects a mixture of Dutch colonial and New England influences common in old homes of Long Island where the two cultures met.” However, the house was altered through a sequence of additions as the property changed hands throughout the 19th century.

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