June 2013
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Archive for June, 2013

On the Beat: Geography of Modern Art

In this weekly blog series, MAS Intern and Eugene Lang College student Michaela Weitzer reports back on her adventures on MAS tours. We hope you will also share your tour experiences with us on our Facebook page, Twitter.


Popular tour guide Francis Morrone welcomes the group to his “Geography of Modern Art” tour with his enthusiastic and knowledgeable spirit as we stand huddled under the beautiful and iconic arch of Washington Square Park. Beginning the tour under the arch on the northern end of Washington Square Park perfectly highlights the theme of “changing New York”, according to Mr. Morrone. When the neighborhood Greenwich Village is mentioned most might picture the upscale neighborhood that stands now, but as stated in the tour, this area was built with a bohemian eye. We quickly learn of the world of poetry and art that Greenwich Village once housed. As our tour guide Francis Morrone admitted, he borrowed the title of this tour from Harold Rosenberg, an American writer and art critic. And as we stare at buildings that still stand from the year 1910, we learn of the low rent studios and young artists that once inhabited these hidden staples of the city. As the tour group moves across Washington Square North our attention is pointed towards buildings such as One 5th avenue. This building and others alike adequately demonstrate the unwanted changes that began in this area during the 1900’s.

As we walk across Greene Street and stop between 8th Street and Waverly, we are immediately immersed into a world of art, learning about the lives of artists like Jackson Pollack and Philip Pavia. Francis stops in front of a Sovereign Bank on 8th Street; he describes in detail the legendary social club that once existed here. Prior to Philip Pavia developing this space into a social club with a lounge and kitchen, it was an abandoned studio where artists would gather to speak of philosophy and new ideas that intrigued them. This was the intellectual generation of artists and they were extremely exclusive for each one possessed their own key to this club bursting with new thoughts. Across the street from this historic lounge sits Jackson Pollack’s old apartment where he resided well before he was famous.

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Coordinating Resilience Efforts for New York City

Road Forward Toward Resilience

Building the resilience of New York City requires ongoing collaboration between stakeholders and a collective culture shift towards preparation and education. The Municipal Art Society of New York’s ongoing resilience programs seek to accomplish these goals by creating mechanisms for coordination and building the capacity of NYC’s neighborhoods to develop innovative strategies to make their communities more resilient.

On Wednesday, June 19, 2013 MAS hosted The Road Forward: Putting Resilience into Action at The New School.  This convening provided a forum for public discussion about the over 250 recommendations outlined in the recently released Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) report: A Stronger More Resilient New York. The event began with presentations by Jamie Springer, SIRR’s Deputy Director of Communities, and Tokumbo Shobowale, SIRR’s Director of Infrastructure and Built Environment, that provided an overview of the recommendations set forth by the SIRR report.  Participants then split up into breakout discussion groups to give specific feedback and raise concerns about everything from utilities and transportation to implementation.

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First Avenue Estate Hardship Case


Since 2012, advocates have been fighting the hardship application filed on behalf of two landmarked buildings, part of the designated City and Suburban Homes’ First Avenue Estate. The complex was originally designated in April 1990.

Later that year, 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street were dedesignated by the Board of Estimate.  However, in 2006, they were redesignated by the Landmarks Commission despite the owner’s objectives. The owners applied to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for hardship, arguing the buildings could not provide a reasonable return.

City and Suburban Homes’ 1898-1915 First Avenue Estate was designated for its cultural significance. It is one of the oldest privately funded urban projects that addressed the housing problems among the nation’s working poor. City and Suburban Homes constructed model, light-court tenements that experimented with varying widths and placements of courts, stairs and halls and apartment configurations to maximize light and air.

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Special Members-Only Events with Francis Morrone

francis morrone tour-guide-new-york-city

As MAS reflects on the legacy of architecture critic and the Municipal Art Society’s very first tour guide Henry Hope Reed, we are proud to announce two summer events honoring his legacy.  On Wednesday, July 10, Urbanist members (early and mid-career New Yorkers) can join architectural historian and MAS guide Francis Morrone on an after-work walking tour of the Brooklyn Waterfront.

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Mapping the MAS Intern Landscape


Guest post by Jarrett Ley, MAS Intern

Every season brings new interns and this summer is robust at MAS. We’ve been setting up shop all around the office, filling in work-spaces and learning the ways of MAS. Moving from south to north, I’ve mapped out the MAS intern-landscape.

Stationed in Pod 1 outside of the conference room, we find two graduate school colleagues: Chris Penalosa and Brandie Moreno. Chris and Brandie are in their second year as urban planning students at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and are both serving as Editorial Interns. Together they are bringing their knowledge of communication design and architecture to the emerging discourse on resilience. Earlier this year they worked together on compiling the notes from SIRR convenings, their work continues as Brandie explores opportunities for community engagement in the implementation of SIRR’s report while Chris edits The Nature of Cities blog.

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