June 2011
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Archive for June, 2011

Greening the Henry Street Settlement

Rain gardens, solar panels and an efficient new mechanical system were some of the big ideas generated at the Henry Street Settlement eco-charrette last week. While those measures may be the most attention-getting of the future energy retrofit, the small ones – adding roof insulation, painting the roof white and installing efficient lighting  –  will also be critical to providing major energy and cost savings.

These ideas were generated at last week’s all-day workshop, attended by a group of prominent experts (see list below) in preservation architecture, green building technology, mechanical engineering and landscape architecture. See photos below. This interdisciplinary group volunteered their Saturday to investigate how to apply sustainability measures to the historic Henry Street Settlement Headquarters. Their goal was to develop a phased plan that can save energy, save money, provide a more comfortable working environment and contribute to making New York City more sustainable.

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Memorable Architecture & Hospitality in Stapleton Heights

Photo by Ron Rice

Last Saturday’s walking tour of Stapleton Heights, lead by architectural historian Justin Ferate, began with a ride on the Staten Island Ferry and ended with  brown bag lunches and cold drinks in the garden of Belgian journalist Jacqueline Goossens.  The tour featured  expansive views of the Harbor, a walk through a  landmarked historic district.

The tour also included interior visits to two of New York’s most notable houses: the c. 1835 Ward-Nixon Mansion, long hidden from public view, and the exuberant 1888 house built by beer baron George Bechtel as a wedding gift for his daughter.

(c) Photo by Ron Rice

MAS Weighs in on Disaster Planning


MAS presented at a panel on Tuesday, June 14th, at the Second Annual Disaster Housing Summit organized by the Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Team, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the New York City Office of Emergency Management. The event convened housing, planning and emergency management professionals from across the tri-state region to discuss challenges and opportunities related to funding the recovery process and engaging the public in developing a rebuilding plan.

Our presentation highlighted the success of Imagine New York—a visioning project we developed after 9/11 to help heal, inform, and provide a voice for residents across the region.  Building on the lessons of this work, MAS provided a list of considerations for structuring public engagement after a disaster—including the need to:

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See Something, Say Something: 1375 Broadway

Jack Lubin Mural located in the lobby of 1375 Broadway

A few weeks ago, a concerned New Yorker named David Kronfeld wrote to MAS to ask about the fate of the mid-century mosaics in the lobby of 1375 Broadway, a 1928 building being renovated by new owners in the Garment District.  Mr. Kronfeld was worried that the 1962 murals by New York artist Jack Lubin were in the midst of being destroyed. In vibrantly colored tiles, the murals, dating from 1962, depict the history of the textile industry from ancient times to mid-twentieth century factories and chemical processes.

MAS jumped to action because of our interest on two fronts:  our current investigation of the future of the Garment District, and our Adopt-A-Programs which have helped to restore and maintain almost 50 monuments and murals since 1987.  We reached out to the new owner, Savanna, to see if we could help them figure out a way to retain the murals in their reconfigured lobby.

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Moynihan Station Phase I Design Release, So Far, So Good

Phase 1 Design Rendering of Moynihan Station

The Moynihan Station Development Corporation released preliminary plans for the first phase of work in transforming the Farley Post Office building into a new train hall. We praised the proposed design’s sensitivity to the landmark and animation of unused space. The plans were released as part of the federal historic preservation review called Section 106. That review allows for consulting parties, like MAS, to comment on the building design and to suggest alternatives. We submitted our comments on May 12.

The proposed design will create entries through transforming the existing windows on the Eighth Avenue façade into new doorways. Those new doors will allow for street-level access to the train hall’s platforms, which is critical to the success of the new train hall.

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