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November 2009
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Archive for November, 2009

City of Complaint: Two Centuries of New Yorkers’ Grievances

museum of compalint letters largeArtist and editor of the new book The New York City Museum of Complaint Matthew Bakkom and Tamara Coombs of MAS take us on a nostalgic, yet grumpy, journey through New York City’s archives looking at letters of complaint to the Mayor from 1751 to 1969. Ranging in subject from the removal of dead animals to lost baseballs to accusations of corruption, the book’s 132 letters not only chronicle issues affecting New Yorkers through the ages but also the development of their voice as citizens. Join us on Tuesday, December 1, at 7:00 p.m. when Bakkom will be joined by director of the NYC Municipal Archives Kenneth Cobb and celebrated writer, poet and native New Yorker Philip Lopate who will read from selected letters from the book. Reservations and prepayment are recommended. Purchase tickets online or call 212-935-2075. A reception will follow the program during which signed copies of the book will be available from the MAS bookstore, Urban Center Books. Continue Reading>>

Doug and Mike Starn Receive 2009 Brendan Gill Prize

Last Thursday, MAS proudly presented the 22nd Brendan Gill Prize to artists Mike and Doug Starn for See it split, see it change, their site-specific permanent art installation at the South Ferry subway terminal in Lower Manhattan. Commissioned by the MTA Arts for Transit Program, See it split, see it change was completed in December 2008 to wide praise. See slideshow below. The Brendan Gill Prize is named for the long-time MAS trustee, renowned New Yorker theater critic, author, and architectural preservationist. The cash prize, funded by a permanent endowment, is awarded annually to the creator of a work of art, book, sculpture, film, musical composition, or architectural design, accomplished the previous year, that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. It was established in 1986 by MAS board members Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Helen S. Tucker and Margot Wellington. Continue Reading>>

MAS Vice-President to Lead 20th Century Modernism Panel

twa saarinen interior Frank Sanchis, MAS senior vice-president, will be joined by Nina Rappaport of DOCOMOMO/New York-Tristate and editor of Constructs, Belmont Freeman of Belmont Freeman Architects, Theo Prudeon of DOCOMOMO/US, and moderator Andrew Dolkart for Preserving 20th Century Modernism, a panel discussion at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) on Wednesday, December 2 at 6:00 p.m. The panel will explore the preservation of the 20th century architecture represented by New York-area Eero Saarinen buildings such as the TWA terminal at JFK Airport, which MAS famously fought to preserve in 2003. The discussion is presented in conjunction with Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, currently on view at MCNY. Continue Reading>>

MAS Rewind: November in Review

November started with a bang here at MAS. The 2nd Jane Jacobs Forum on November 3 was heavily attended, with people coming out in droves to hear panelists Dr. Dickson Despommier of Columbia University, Nevin Cohen of the New School, Jennifer Nelkin of Gotham Greens, and architect Colin Cathcart of Kiss+Cathcart, discuss urban farming. Neal Peirce, of The Washington Post, moderated. If you missed the event, check out the video. We were very excited to have Denise Scott Brown with us on November 12, to discuss her new book, Having Word, followed by a discussion with fellow architects Sarah Whiting and Hilary Sample, moderated by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA. This evening was followed by yet another great author’s talk. On November 17, Roger Kennedy visited MAS to give an illustrated lecture on his new book When Art Worked, focusing on what artists and their work did for the United States during the Great Depression. MAS friend David Rockefeller, Jr., introduced Kennedy. On November 19, MAS was proud to award the 22nd Brendan Gill Prize to artists Mike and Doug Starn for See it split, see it change, a permanent installation at the South Ferry subway terminal. For more information on the prize click here. The end of November will see the publication of Unpacking My Library: Architect’s and Their Books, a co-publication of MAS and Yale University Press, edited by MAS’ own Jo Steffens, director of Urban Center Books. For more information on the book visit Urban Center Books. Be sure to join us next month, on December 8, for the book launch, featuring a panel discussion led by Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of design at MoMA, with architects Stan Allen, Bernard Tschumi, Tod Williams, and Billie Tsien, all of whom are featured in the book. Finally, some November tour highlights included: the Urbanists, MAS’ young members group, pub tour of Williamsburg (November 8), Powerhouse Arts District in Jersey City (November 8), Beyond Bauhaus, a tour of Midtown Manhattan and its role in modern architecture (November 14), Downtown’s Lost Neighborhood, a tour of Liberty Street down to the Battery (November 21), and Woodside Avenue, Queens (November 22). Check out our upcoming events, including a tour of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on November 29, here. With about a month and a half left at the Villard Houses, before our move to Steinway Hall, stop by to see MAS’ old haunts! Our exhibit, “Re-Imagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil,” is on view in our gallery through December 4, 2009. Click here for more information, including gallery hours. Also, MAS invites you to our Villard House holiday party farewell on December 10. Click here to sign up for the biweekly MAS e-newsletter, MAS Update, or our new, weekly events listing e-mail This Week at MAS.

The Bronx, A Place That Matters

greetings from bronx signGreetings from the Bronx — the birthplace of hip hop, the breathtaking site of the New York Botanical Garden and home base for the 2009 World Series Champions, the Yankees. Now the Bronx has even more to celebrate, as six of the borough’s notable locations will be recognized on December 3rd by Place Matters. The six honorees are: 52 Park in Longwood is a popular urban oasis run by the NYC Parks Department with the help of 52 People for Progress (52PFP). When the South Bronx experienced its bleakest period in the 1970s, the open space at 52 Park became a danger zone. Since 1980, 52PFP, a volunteer group formed by local residents Al Quiñones, Fred Demera, Eduardo Rivera and Victoria Medina, has committed itself to maintaining a safe and welcoming public park. Continue Reading>>

CITI Youth Interns Hit the Ground Running

citi youth interns 2009-2010 In a cramped meeting room in Washington Heights, a high school student scurries to set up a laptop and projector. Searching for a free surface in an already packed room, she makes her best effort to connect cords and load her presentation quickly before the committee chairperson calls to order the community board meeting, the student’s very first. The student, Nicole Lugo, is one of over thirty students who have been selected to work at their community board as part of the MAS Planning Center’s CITI Youth program. Across the city, students like Nicole are attending their local community board meetings—projecting maps and creating presentations that correspond to the items being discussed. Continue Reading>>

Remembering Wade Thompson

wade-and-amanda-thompsonPhoto: Wade with daughter Amanda at the 2007 MAS gala when he received the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal for his work to save the Park Avenue Armory. Wade F. B. Thompson, MAS’ dedicated colleague and irreplaceable board member, passed away peacefully last week, after a long battle with cancer. Wade joined the board of MAS in 1991 and immediately became active on a committee to save the Seventh Regiment Armory, now the Park Avenue Armory. “Wade was a visionary who cared deeply about his adopted city and contributed enormously to its well-being,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla. “MAS is indebted to him for his dedication to our work and his personal commitment to the Park Avenue Armory restoration. We were privileged to have Wade serve as an active Board Member for the past 16 years and will miss him greatly. Our thoughts go out to his wife Angela and his family.” Continue Reading>>

Video: Jane Jacobs Forum – Designing Urban Farms to Feed Our City

On November 3, the 2nd Annual Jane Jacobs Forum focused on the question of whether New York can (and should) try to become more sustainable and grow its own food. Expert panelists Dr. Dickson Despommiers of Columbia University, Nevin Cohen of the New School, Jennifer Nelkin of Gotham Greens, Dan Albert of Weber Thompson architects and Colin Cathcart of Kiss+Cathcart architects discuss how this could happen answering questions posed by moderator Neal Peirce of The Washington Post. For more information about the forum and related issues, visit Jane Jacobs Forum 2009. The annual Jane Jacobs Forum is sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The Liz Christy Bowery Houston Garden, A Place That Matters

liz-christy bowery houston gardenWhen Houston Street was widened in the 1930s to accommodate the 6th Avenue subway line, the demolition of buildings on both sides of the street resulted in irregular lots that remained vacant for decades. In 1973, Mott Street resident and artist Liz Christy had a vision for at least one of these empty, rubble-strewn parcels. With the help of friends and neighbors, Christy set out to transform the corner of Bowery and East Houston Street into an urban oasis. Together, Christy, and a group of volunteers who called themselves the “Green Guerillas” cleared the corner site of debris and began planting a garden. The following spring, the department of Housing Preservation and Development leased the property to the Green Guerillas for a monthly fee of just $1, and thus it became the first community garden in New York City. The Guerillas’ Bowery Houston Farm and Garden was immediately recognized as a success, winning the Citizens Committee of New York City’s Mollie Parnis “Dress Up Your Neighborhood Award” in 1974. Continue Reading>>

MAS and Partners Submit Brief to NY Supreme Court

The Municipal Art Society of New York, along with six civic organizations, today filed a brief with the New York Supreme Court as amici curiae, or friends of the court, to assist the court in resolving the issues presented in Protect the Village Historic District, et. al, v. New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, et. al. The case arises from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) determination that St. Vincent’s met the judicial test for hardship and could proceed with the demolition of its Edward and Theresa O’Toole Building, on Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th streets. The Commission reached its preliminary determination in October of 2008, and issued its Final Notice to Proceed in May of 2009. Continue Reading>>

Denise Scott Brown: 40 Years of Evolving Architectural Imagination

denise-scott-brownPioneering architect, planner and theorist Denise Scott Brown brings her singular perspective to MAS on November 12 for what is sure to be a lively evening. Ms. Brown, who was educated in the 1940s and 1950s at Witwatersrand University in South Africa, the Architectural Association, and the University of Pennsylvania, has taught and led her Philadelphia firm, Venturi Scott Brown and Associates since the 1960s in collaboration with Robert Venturi. “I have come to feel like a grandmother in architecture, a guardian of its institutional memory who knows its pitfalls and where the bodies are buried.” – Denise Scott Brown Following a short talk about her new book, Having Words, Denise Scott Brown will be joined by architects Sarah Whiting and Hilary Sample for a panel discussion moderated by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA. Denise Scott Brown: 40 Years of Evolving Architectural Imagination Thursday, November 12, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., at MAS, 457 Madison Avenue Free, but reservations required. Reserve your place online or call 212-935-2075. MAP. This program is underwritten by Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown.