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January 2010
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Archive for January, 2010

Chinatown’s Vision: A Uniquely Diverse Approach to Community-Based Planning

pell-st-chinatownLast month, Chinatown’s neighborhood advocates placed a strong vote of confidence in the power of proactive community planning. The Chinatown Working Group — comprising over 40 community-based organizations and three community boards — has been meeting for over a year to hash out the issues that matter most to the people who live, work, and go to school in the neighborhood. The MAS Planning Center provided support to the Working Group process early on by providing area maps and timely information on community-initiated planning. The group voted to pursue a 197-a plan—one of the City’s most comprehensive planning tools. Named for the section of the City’s Charter that enables them, 197-a plans provide a way to capture a community vision and translate that vision into policies and strategies. (You can view summaries of all of the City’s adopted 197-a plans here.) The Chinatown Working Group has already begun work identifying themes and principles that will guide their work over the coming year. Continue Reading>>

New York City Unveils New Design for Sidewalk Sheds

In late October 2009, we reported that the Department of Buildings and the AIA New York Chapter had teamed up with an array of other civic organizations to organize an international design competition to re-imagine the maligned sidewalk construction shed. Yesterday, the city announced that a winning design has been chosen from three finalists. The winning design, chosen by a jury including MAS Chairman David Childs, is titled Urban Umbrella and was developed by Young-Hwan Choi, a 28-year-old student at the University of Pennsylvania. His design will improve quality of life, reduce construction impacts on businesses, increase pedestrian safety, and increase available space for pedestrians on sidewalks, while also complimenting the city’s architectural beauty. Continue Reading>>

Westbeth, A Place That Matters

westbeth west villageWestbeth was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for both its past role as the home of Bell Laboratories and its current role as a thriving artists’ housing project. Occupying the entire block bounded by West, Bank, Washington, and Bethune Streets, Westbeth is a remnant from the time when the Greenwich Village waterfront was an industrial neighborhood and is an early example of the rebirth of industrial spaces for artists’ live-work housing. The Bell Laboratories, originally known as Western Electric and part of the larger American Telegraph & Telephone Company (AT&T), moved its headquarters to a newly-constructed building on West and Bethune Streets in 1898.  Over the years, the company expanded on the block while developing some of the most important technological advances of the first half of the twentieth century.  Continue Reading>>

We Are Up and Running

steinway-hall-historic-building-new-york-cityThe Municipal Art Society has moved to the Steinway Hall Building, 111 W. 57th Street, New York, NY 10019.  Our phone and fax numbers remain the same. Urban Center Books will be open until January 23 at the Villard Houses, 457 Madison Avenue. There is currently a pre-moving sale, with all stock 40% off. If you don’t get a chance to say goodbye to the Villard Houses in person, you can read the lovely farewell to the Municipal Art Society at the Villard Houses in last week’s New York Times, available here.

Attention Young New Yorkers!

lincoln-center-tourPhoto: Urbanists get a private tour of the Lincoln Center’s new primary entryway along Columbus Avenue. If you’re a young person living or working in New York, you play a vital role in this city. More than one-third of all New Yorkers are under the age of forty and the collective influence of young New Yorkers on this city’s future will be substantial. Whether you’re a new or a native New Yorker, your voice and passion for urban living is something we at MAS recognize and share. For over ten years, MAS has offered hundreds of individuals, early in their careers, broad exposure to the critical issues of urban planning, design and public space through our Urbanist program. We invite you to join us! Continue Reading>>