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August 2010
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Archive for August, 2010

MAS Begins Production of Tribute In Light

tribute light beams on roofAs New York prepares to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, MAS is arranging for its annual presentation of Tribute In Light. A world-renowned symbol of commemoration and healing, Tribute In Light’s majestic beams of light will illuminate the lower Manhattan sky beginning at dusk on Saturday, September 11, and fading with the dawn of Sunday, September 12. Funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, with the generous support of Con Edison, the project was co-founded by MAS and Creative Time. Tribute In Light was first presented on April 11, 2002, six months after the attacks. Continue Reading>>

Register Now for MAS Summit for New York City

Seating is limited for the MAS Summit for New York City which will feature lively debates, discussions and new ideas about the livability of our city, from sidewalks to skyline. The conference, a first for MAS, will be held on Thursday, October 21 and Friday, October 22 at the Penn Plaza Pavilion. You can register now on the recently-launched Summit website,, where you can get up-to-the-minute program updates. As of today, 88 of 400 tickets have been sold for the conference, with a roster that includes Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, Designer Yeohlee Teng, New York Times Reporter Sam Roberts, longtime and founding President of the Central Park Conservancy Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, and High Line Founder Robert Hammond, plus dozens of other thought leaders talking on a variety of important subjects. Continue Reading>>

The Big Idea – Livability

How livable a city is New York? Municipal Art Society Chairman David M. Childs and President Vin Cipolla will open the inaugural MAS Summit for New York City by posing that question to several prominent New Yorkers, who will kick off the day’s discussions. Philip K. Howard, vice-chairman of Covington & Burling LLP and MAS board member, will set the stage, followed by Ronay Menschel, chairperson for Phipps Houses, who will introduce keynote speaker Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation.

The MAS Survey on Livability

MAS President Vin Cipolla will release the results of the MAS Survey on Livability. The Municipal Art Society commissioned the Marist Institute for Public Opinion to conduct the survey of 1,000 New Yorkers to determine what they feel makes New York City livable.  The survey is supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Panelists will react to the results of the survey and discuss how the concerns of New York City residents can be addressed and how livability can be improved. Gary Zarr, principal at Phil & Company, will introduce this panel and Time Out North America president Alison Tocci will moderate the discussion. Panelists include Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, Robert McNulty, CEO of Partners for Livable Communities, and MAS Urban Fellow Mary Rowe.

New Tools for Civic Engagement: Betaville

New and developing technologies are shaping the future of New York City’s built environment. Perhaps the best example of this is Betaville, a project based on gaming technology that invites the public to have hands-on participation in re-creating real urban spaces. This unique project, which currently focuses on Lower Manhattan, was created by Carl Skelton, director of the New York University Polytechnic Institute’s Brooklyn Experimental Media Center.  MAS board member William H. Wright II will set the stage for this presentation and Norman Jacknis, director of Cisco IBSG Public Sector, will introduce Mr. Skelton who will give an overview of Betaville and its functionality. Summit participants will then be invited to use this technology in a special demonstration area.

Demographics of a Changing New York

What does it mean to have a dynamic population in New York? Why is immigration vital to our city? How do we compare to other urban environments regionally and nationally? Demographics of a Changing New York will address these questions and look at what the statistics mean to New York’s neighborhoods. The panel will be moderated by New York Times Journalist Sam Roberts. Joseph Salvo, a well known demographics expert and director of the Population Division at the New York City Department of City Planning, will present findings on population shifts and trends in the city. Panelist Gordon Campbell, president & CEO of United Way of New York City, will talk about New York’s senior population. Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, will respond from the perspective of New York’s diverse immigrant communities. Caron Nazario, a MAS CITI Youth student, will discuss livability from the youth perspective. And Vicki Been, Boxer Family professor of Law, affiliated professor of Public Policy, and faculty director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, will address what these needs mean for the questions that the city faces in terms of land use policy and economic development. *photo credit: Giles Ashford

Closing Discussion

How can we continue to create an environment that supports the varied needs of our residents? In what ways can new ideas, technology and creativity propel our city into the next decade? Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture, will introduce the Summit’s last discussion between Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin. They will take a final look at the direction of our city in the years to come and discuss how we, as the shapers of this environment, can come together to create a better New York for all who visit, work and live here.

Battle of the Skyline

skyline night midtownCurrently there is a debate about whether the proposed 15 Penn Plaza development should go forward as planned. Vornado Realty Trust wants to build a skyscraper at 15 Penn Plaza (where the Hotel Pennsylvania now stands), which would rival the Empire State Building in prominence in the city’s skyline. Vornado’s skyscraper, which was approved by the City Planning Commission in June, would be only 34 feet shorter than the Empire State Building. Because of the two buildings’ close proximity, 900 feet apart, 15 Penn Plaza would partially obstruct views of the Empire State Building. Some fear Vornado’s building will crowd “the distinctive skyline in the city,” as Malkin Properties President Anthony Malkin, who owns the Empire State Building, said in yesterday’s New York Observer. To read the full article, click here. Although MAS does not oppose the project, we submitted testimony on 15 Penn Plaza in June to the City Planning Commission, raising concern for the need for a comprehensive transportation plan in the area, considering the influx of people that the proposed development would bring to the already congested Penn Station neighborhood. “Now that the project is before the City Council, MAS thinks that it is an appropriate time to discuss the impact 15 Penn Plaza will have on the Empire State Building and on our skyline,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla. “The viewsheds and view corridors of certain iconic buildings should be considered in these cases,” he continued. So what do you think?  

Art Works: When Art Builds Community

New York’s dynamic and diverse arts and cultural organizations contribute significantly to the livability of the neighborhoods they inhabit. They provide opportunities for nurturing creativity and artistic expression; they reinforce placemaking; they stimulate economic activity; and, in many cases, they provide a rich cultural connection for residents.  This panel will explore the symbiotic relationship between arts institutions and their communities.  The panel will be moderated by author and filmmaker Carole Rifkind, following an introduction by Susan K. Freedman, president of the Public Art Fund.   Panelists for the Art Works: When Art Builds Community discussion include Anne Pasternak, president and artistic director of Creative Time; Thelma Golden, director and chief curator for the Studio Museum of Harlem, Lisa Phillips, director of the New Museum of Art, Randall Bourscheidt, president of Alliance for the Arts, and Ethel Sheffer, principal at Insight Associates. *photo credit: Giles Ashford

Garment District: Fashioning a Future

MAS is looking at the planning, economic, and sustainability issues affecting New York City’s Garment District ecosystem. This panel of design professionals, practitioners, and government officials will discuss ideas for shaping the District’s future as a vital hub for entrepreneurship, creativity, and commerce.  The session will be moderated by Designer Yeohlee Teng, of YEOHLEE, Inc., with an introduction by Interior Designer Kitty Hawks. Panelists include Madelyn Wils, executive vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Jerome Chou, director of programs at the Design Trust for Public Space, Theory Founder and Co-CEO Andrew Rosen, and Joe Ferrara,director of the Garment Center Supplier Association.

Sustainable Housing for New York’s Future

Developing sustainable and affordable housing is essential to expanding New York City’s creative capital.  This presentation, discussing Sustainable Housing for New York’s Future, will delve into the most significant issues facing New York City’s housing stock and assess new ways to make good housing realistic and accessible. Jerilyn Perine, executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, will moderate the panel, following an introduction by Charles A. Platt, of Platt Byard Dovell and White Architects, LLP.  Panelists include Julia Vitullo-Martin, senior fellow at the Regional Plan Association and director of the Center for Urban Innovation, Paul Freitag, managing director of development at Jonathan Rose Companies, Sheena Wright, president and CEO of Abyssinian Development Corporation, and Bomee Jung, program director for Enterprise Green Communities. *photo credit: Giles Ashford

MASterworks Design Awards

Seven provocative and innovative architecture and urban design projects have been chosen as the 2010 winners of The Municipal Art Society of New York’s MASterworks Design Awards sponsored by Helaba, Landesbank Hessen-Thuringen The winners include Cooper Union’s 41 Cooper Square building designed by Thom Mayne as Best New Building, the Empire State Building lobby restoration project as Best Historical Restoration, and the High Line as a Neighborhood Catalyst. Organized annually by The Municipal Art Society (MAS) and sponsored by international banking and investment group Helaba, Landesbank Hessen-Thuringen, the MASterworks Awards recognize excellence in architecture and urban design completed within the last year across New York City.