October 2013
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Archive for October, 2013

50 Years After the Demolition of Penn Station

Save Penn Station

Fifty years ago this week, on October 28th, 1963, demolition began on the original McKim, Mead & White Penn Station with the ceremonial removal of a nearly three-ton eagle from the 33rd Street Entrance.  The main clock at the station was set at 10:53 to mark the short lifespan of the building.  The building had opened in 1910 and stood for only 53 years. The next day, members of the Action Group for Better Architecture in New York – or AGBANY – who had been working to save the building, wore black armbands and held a vigil in the rain.  Over the next three years, as trains underneath continued to run, the headhouse of Penn Station, a masterpiece of Beaux Arts architecture, was systematically torn down.

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2013 Jane Jacobs Medalists Announced

MAS proudly congratulates the recipients of The Rockefeller Foundation’s 2013 Jane Jacobs Medal — Bette Midler and Ian Marvy. The Medals, administered by MAS, are awarded annually to recipients whose work creates new ways of seeing and understanding New York City, challenges traditional assumptions and creatively uses the urban environment to make New York City a place of hope and expectation.

The Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal was created in 2007 to honor the author and activist who died in April 2006 at the age of 89. The Rockefeller Foundation’s relationship with Jane Jacobs dates to the 1950s, when the Foundation made a grant to the then-obscure writer from Greenwich Village for the research and writing of the book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Now more than fifty years later, Jane Jacobs’ work remains one of the most influential books ever written on urban design.

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Battle over the Aluminaire House Rages On

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Eighty-two years after its debut, the saga of the Aluminaire House continues: On October 15, 2013, a Certificate of Appropriateness to reconstruct the modern icon within the boundaries of the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District was presented before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. A sizable crowd of architects, historians, preservationists, community residents, and politicians packed the hearing room to voice their opinions.

The Aluminaire House is the first all-metal prefabricated house built in the United States. It was designed by Albert Frey, a former apprentice to Le Corbusier, and A. Lawrence Kocher and was first unveiled at the 1931 Architectural and Allied Arts Exposition. Constructed in just ten days, the three-story, aluminum sheathed structure was an innovative model for an affordable housing unit, easy to produce and maintain. By 1932, the Aluminaire House was already considered a modern architectural icon and was featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s “Modern Architecture: International Exhibition” curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock.

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MAS Testifies at Landmarks Preservation Commission on 215 West 57th Street

art students league of ny

On October 22, after a long and lively public hearing, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted (6-1) to approve a cantilever over the landmarked Art Students League building. The cantilever is part of Extell’s 215 West 57th Street development, a 1,400 foot tall building that will house a hotel and condos above Nordstrom’s. This building is essentially as-of-right except for the applications to cantilever over the landmark and restore storefronts on the landmarked 1780 and 1790 Broadway buildings.

Almost 30 people testified at the hearing. The opponents included MAS, the Landmarks Conservancy, HDC, Landmarks West, some neighborhood residents and individual members of the Art Students League (ASL). The speakers in favor included staff and members of ASL, a representative of the Hotel Union, AIA New York chapter, and a devoted Nordstrom’s shopper.

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Exciting Innovations and New Findings on Livability Announced at MAS Summit for New York City

By Eugenie L. Birch, Chair and Vin Cipolla, President, MAS


More than one thousand people gathered at Jazz at Lincoln Center last Thursday and Friday, October 17 and 18 to be part of important discussions on livability and resilience at MAS’ fourth annual Summit for New York City. The days’ themes were Innovation and Leadership–and the audience heard from global thought-leaders and city-builders on important issues affecting New York City and cities around the globe. More than 100 speakers, presenters and moderators joined in the discussion on stage. And, upwards of one thousand watched online from the U.S. and around the world, including New Zealand, India, South Africa and across Europe.

Our speakers presented so many exciting and innovative ideas, findings on livability and new initiatives over the two days. We want to share some of the highlights—you can see more on our website at MAS.org.

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