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Archive for October, 2009

MAS Rewind: October in Review

empire state skyline nightMAS started out the month with the opening of the exhibit Re-Imagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil on October 1. It is co-sponsored by PennDesign and on view in our galleries through December 4, 2009. Click here for more information about MAS exhibits, including gallery hours. MAS was proud to present Robert A.M. Stern and Peter Malkin with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal on October 26, MAS’ annual award given to individuals and organizations that have made an extraordinary impact on the quality of New York’s built environment. For more information on this year’s honorees, click here. Continue Reading>>

LNP at Pratt Encourages Students and Community Activists to Mix It Up

Last Saturday, MAS, the Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment (GCPE), and the Pratt Institute Planning Student Association sponsored the Livable Neighborhoods Program at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Students of Pratt and other city universities, joined members of the local community for a half-day of training sessions focused on the public’s role in New York’s planning decisions. Click on the pictures below for a slideshow. Launched in 2007, the Livable Neighborhoods Program (LNP) provides New Yorkers with the tools and resources necessary to effectively plan their neighborhoods. GCPE has recognized the value of the program to train incoming students on planning processes in New York City. For more information on the LNP, visit MAS.org/lnp. [AFG_gallery id=’39’]

Go Fancy on Fifth This Weekend with MAS

rockefeller centerJoin tour leader and architectural historian Tony Robins this Sunday, November 1, for a stroll along one of the fanciest boulevards in the city. Walking from Rockefeller Center to the Plaza Hotel along a stretch of Fifth Avenue that has evolved from a posh 19th-century residential area to a major 20th-century commercial center, we’ll consider clashing images of a glamorous district — the 19th-century residential model of mansions, clubs and churches, versus the 20th-century model of skyscrapers, hotels and department stores. Fancy on Fifth: From Rockefeller Center to the Plaza Hotel Sunday, November 1, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Meet at 457 Madison Ave. at 51st St., MAP. $15, $10 MAS members. Pay at tour. Details of other upcoming MAS tours and programs through the New Year can be found at MAS.org/calendar.

Vertical Farming to Feed Our City and Our Planet

vertical farmDr. 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. Continue Reading>>

Sidewalk Sheds as Eyesores To Become a Thing of the Past

illegal advertising signage new york city buildingSidewalk 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.  Continue Reading>>

MAS to Move to Historic Steinway Building

steinway-buildingAfter 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. For more information about the building, read the press release here. 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. Click here for more information about MAS exhibits, including gallery hours.

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. See photos below and continue reading to learn more about the LPC’s activities today. Continue Reading>>

The Queens County Farm Museum, A Place That Matters

queens county farm museumDating 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. Continue Reading>>

MAS Urbanists Get Inside Look at Possible Futures Downtown

exhibition“What if you could live, work and raise sheep in the same building?” is just one of the provocative ideas raised by the proposals commissioned by the Downtown Alliance in the newly installed exhibit in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. Chris Reynolds, MAS Urbanist and Assistant VP of Planning for the Downtown Alliance, and representatives of the firms Beyer Blinder Belle and ARO/Architecture Research Office recently led a group of MAS Urbanists on a special guided tour of the exhibit. The Downtown Alliance, also known as the Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District, commissioned input from architects, urban planners, and artists for this outdoor exhibit, imagining the changes that might lead to a vibrant future for “Greenwich South,” an area roughly bounded by Broadway to the East, West Street to the East, Liberty Street to the North, and Battery Place to the South. Continue Reading>>

1520 Sedgwick Ave, A Place That Matters

1520 sedgwick ave1520 Sedgwick Ave. in the west Bronx, nominated by Mark Naison, where DJ Kool Herc initiated the “breakbeat” that played a central part in the development of hip hop. In 1973, Kool Herc (Clive Campbell), who emigrated here from Jamaica at the age of 12, held the first of many parties in the community room of the General Sedgwick Houses, where he lived with his family. The music he played that night caught everybody by surprise. Using two turntables and two copies of the same record, he cut back and forth between them to prolong the “break”–the instrumental solo in a song when percussion takes over. This gave the young dancers time to dance to the rhythms provided by the break–thus breakdancing. Herc was so good he could make his cuts without the aid of headphones. Most of the music’s worldwide fans know that hip hop started in the Bronx. 1520 Sedgwick is one of its birthplaces. The nomination for 1520 Sedgwick comes from the Bronx African American History Project at Fordham University. Log on to learn more about this important effort.

MAS Adopt-A-Monument Program: New Life for City Monuments

In response to the deterioration of many of New York City’s outdoor statues and the limited resources to preserve them, MAS initiated the Adopt-A-Monument program in 1987. Since then, and with ongoing and generous support of corporate and private donors, many of the city’s most neglected public statues have been conserved and restored to their former glory. In the short movie above, Director of MAS’ Adopt-A-Monument program, Phyllis Cohen, gives an overview of the program and tells the story of three notable restorations – the Die Lorelie Fountain in the Bronx, the Bellringers in Herald Square, and the Evangeline Blashfield Fountain in Midtown.

MAS Presents at National Trust Conference

national trust presentation coney islandMAS Kress Fellow for Historic Preservation and Public Policy, Melissa Baldock, was at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference in Nashville last week.  At the conference, Melissa showcased MAS’ ImagineConey project and our work in promoting and protecting the historic resources and character of Coney Island.  Through her poster presentation, Melissa was able to discuss these issues with many of the over 2000 conference attendees MAS’ Coney Island work. Not surprisingly, the Coney Island topic was quite popular at the conference.  Many people shared with Melissa stories of family members from Brooklyn going there decades ago, while others were interested in how planning tools have been integral in the efforts to revitalize the historic amusement area. Everyone recognized Nathan’s as an American icon that presents difficult preservation issues, but Melissa was told next time to bring Nathan’s hot dogs to share so that people could fully grasp its significance!  The poster presentation helped challenge preservationists from all over the country to think about how MAS’ visioning, planning, and preservation efforts in Coney Island could be an inspiration to their own work.