November 2012
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Archive for November, 2012

Post-Sandy, What Have We Learned?

Throughout New York City, Hurricane Sandy dramatically transformed the landscape and destroyed neighborhoods.  Its impact on the way that we think about our city has yet to be determined, but two projects that were proposed before the storm may serve as useful weathervanes.

The first project is a proposal to develop approximately 700 units of housing along the Gowanus Canal, a plan that has been under discussion for many years.  The development falls in a Zone A evacuation area and Councilmember Brad Lander – the councilperson for that district – has asked the developer to reconsider plans for development of the site.  The developer, the Lightstone Group, has argued that the development has carefully considered its proximity to the Gowanus and has been designed accordingly.

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MAS Announces a New Series: The Road to Resilience

MAS is continuing our work on building a resilient and livable city with the announcement of two, free programs in our new series, The Road to Resilience. On December 13th, in partnership with the Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE.) at Columbia University, MAS presents Sink or Swim: Principles and Priorities for Waterfront Restoration in a Post-Sandy Era. This program will define principles and identify priorities for long-term investments in infrastructure necessary to adapt to the increased risks posed by sea level rise and other climate change impacts in the New York metropolitan area.

Discussion will focus on the possible technical and design interventions to building waterfront resilience in addition to the associated administrative mechanics and financial implications. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, appointed to oversee the federal recovery effort in the New York area, will deliver the opening keynote.

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The Adopt-A-Monument Maintenance Program at Work

Adopt A Monument

The MAS Adopt-A-Monument and Mural programs preserve the extraordinary legacy of public art that MAS helped initiate at the turn of the 20th century.  Over three million dollars have been raised to support fifty-one restorations in all five boroughs since the inception of these programs in 1987 and 1991, respectively.  Through endowed maintenance funds, MAS maintains stewardship of these historic works of art.  A long-range plan has been established which includes yearly monitoring the condition of each sculpture, cyclical cleaning, waxing (of bronze monuments) and documenting treatments. Some pieces require relatively straightforward treatments while others involve more complicated applications.

A most telling example of the role maintenance plays in the life of a monument is seen in The Heinrich Heine Fountain (also called “Die Lorelei Fountain”), honoring the German poet whose poem, “Dei Lorelei,” immortalized the legendary siren that lured sailors to their death with her song. Its theme is one of Heine’s variations on the danger of beauty and love. The fountain, designed by Ernest Herter,  was erected in July 1899 in Joyce Kilmer Park, 161st Street and the Grand Concourse. Conserved in 1999 through a magnanimous gift by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, the fountain receives bi-annual maintenance due to its ravaged history, the fragility of the marble and its age.

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Join Us at the Annual Friends of the Arts Party

Tickets are now available for the annual Friends of the Arts Party, presented by the MAS Urbanists.  The event will be on Thursday, December 13 at Sotheby’s during the preview of the Important 20th Century Design auction.  This year’s theme is champagne and confections. As committed urban advocates, we all recognize that arts and culture play a vital role in making New York City a vibrant, dynamic, inspiring place, at the forefront of design and innovation.

Join the MAS Urbanists – mid-career professionals dedicated to our great city and to improving livability – and a lively group of art-lovers, design enthusiasts and urban champions for a celebration of the catalytic nature of the New York arts and culture landscape.

The Friends of the Arts Party was inaugurated by the Alliance for the Arts in 2003.  The party has found a new home at MAS this year as we continue to integrate the Alliance’s respected research and advocacy portfolio into MAS’s arts and cultural agenda.

MAS Submits Comments on East Midtown Environmental Review

The public review of the proposed East Midtown re-zoning began last month with a scoping hearing for the environmental review.  The purpose of this hearing is for the Department of City Planning (DCP) to gather input on the issues that need to be carefully studied in the environmental impact statement.

DCP’s website has a comprehensive description of the environmental review process.

The East Midtown re-zoning has the potential to transform one of the most important parts of New York City, roughly from 40th Street to 57th Street between 5th and 2nd Avenues.  The proposal would significantly increase the density in the most densely developed part of New York City and raises many profound questions about the future of Midtown and New York City.  MAS’s letter to DCP highlights these important issues and concerns.

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