February 2011
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Archive for February, 2011

Wifi and Livability

Internet Sign

Internet access, once a luxury, is quickly becoming a key livability issue for New York and other cities. With many government agencies providing services online and communities becoming increasingly dependent on high-speed Internet access, it is critical that we integrate access into future city planning initiatives.

Currently, in New York City, free WiFi is predominantly available in consumer/tourist hubs through a patchwork of public and private partnerships. It is through these partnerships that business improvement districts (BIDs) have been able to bring free WiFi to public spaces all around the City. These open space WiFi channels are a step in the right direction, but environmental factors make it an unreliable option for those without consistent access at home—no way to plug in a computer, glare from the sun, and lack of desk space.

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There’s More Than One Reason This Sign is Controversial

Controversial Sign Highlights NYC Signage Laws

This large commercial sign is controversial, not just because of its offensive message. Located on the northeast corner of Watts Street and Avenue of the Americas – a busy intersection at the gateway to SoHo – this oversized billboard distracts drivers and assaults the senses of pedestrians. Perhaps for this reason, the City outlawed signs of this size in 2001. Unfortunately, this one was permitted in 2000 and is still considered legal. Advertising signs that pre-dated the 2001 law were given “non-conforming” status, and permitted to remain at this otherwise illegal size into perpetuity.


LPC Designates Interiors of Modernist Bank Building

Manufacturers Trust Company Building

MAS is pleased to report that the interior of the Manufacturers Trust Company Building was designated a landmark yesterday. The transparent glass cube building, erected between 1953 and 1954, is a showcase for its interior and a departure from the more traditional, ornamental bank structures of its time. The exterior of the building was designated a landmark in 1997.

At the end of January, MAS testified in support of the designation of the interior of the building — one of the city’s most important, and visible, examples of mid-twentieth century Modern architecture.

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MAS & Fashion Center BID Map the Garment District

Garment District - Mannequin Thumnail - Photo by Giles Ashford

Just in time for Fashion Week, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) and the Fashion Center Business Improvement District (BID) have partnered to publish a set of maps documenting the most up-to-date directory of fashion related services in the Garment District. By mapping the directory, MAS and the Fashion Center BID believe that this information will be easier to access and clearer to use.

“These maps will help emerging and established designers, buyers and international visitors navigate the wealth of fashion resources housed in the district,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla. “These are the resources that make the Garment District a hub of innovation and New York City a fashion capitol of the world,” he continued.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park Landscape Designer Receives 23rd Brendan Gill Prize

Brendan Gill 2010

MAS proudly presented the 23rd Brendan Gill Prize to Michael Van Valkenburgh for his landscape design of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The private ceremony was held at the Park Avenue Armory last Monday. “Landscape is a lively and challenging medium, and Michael showed mastery of vision in reconnecting thousands of city dwellers and visitors alike to the majesty of New York Harbor,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla at the ceremony.

Van Valkenburgh and members from his design firm were in attendance, as were members of the Gill family. Many MAS board members were on hand, as well, to fete the honoree.

Also on hand were: Robert K. Steel, deputy mayor for economic development; Nanette Smith, chief of staff to First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris; Adrian Benepe, parks commissioner; Kate Levin, cultural affairs commissioner; Peter Davidson, executive director of the Empire State Development Corporation; Jackie Snyder, executive director of the Public Design Commission; Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park; and Ellen Ryan, vice president of Strategic Partnerships for Brooklyn Bridge Park.