July 2015
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Archive for July, 2015

Letter to Mayor de Blasio re: Madison Square Garden Operating Permit

Two years ago, the City Council voted to limit the operating permit of Madison Square Garden to 10 years. The intention of the vote was to find a new home for the Garden and to facilitate improvements to Penn Station below.

The station as it stands is a sorry excuse for a transit hub. It is unsafe, unattractive, and is operating way above its intended capacity. Some 600,000 passengers use the station every day. When it was built, it was meant to serve just 200,000.

Penn Station’s future as a modern transit facility is strangled by Madison Square Garden above it. The Garden’s columns pierce the station and result in very low ceilings, making crowded conditions feel even more uncomfortable, limiting platform length and access to light and air, and prohibiting effective wayfinding. While some improvements are being planned by the railroads that own and operate the station, moving the Garden will ultimately be necessary to advance larger safety, transportation, circulation, and customer experience upgrades, and to serve surging ridership. In the last decade, the number of average weekday Penn Station riders on NJ Transit, LIRR, and Amtrak has grown by 26% and subway ridership has swelled by 34%. Going forward, NJ Transit ridership alone is expected to rise 28% by 2030.

On the occasion of the permit vote, as Public Advocate, you said this:

“A 10-year timeframe will enable active participation for all stakeholders in the creation of a more comprehensive plan for the area, provide MSG’s owners time to seek a new arena location, and allow for the Department of City Planning to reconsider the special permit in light of changing conditions in the surrounding area. We should not delay the full redevelopment of Penn Station a day beyond what is necessary to plan and secure the funding to rebuild, while allowing the arena to relocate.”

We now ask that you, as Mayor of the City of New York, and arguably the most important stakeholder when it comes to the future of West Midtown, immediately start a comprehensive planning study for the area.

Good planning takes time, especially on such a complicated site, and the city should not be caught flat-footed when the Garden’s permit is up in 2023. The Garden has moved in the past, and it will move again, but you must lead the way.

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A Message from the MAS Leadership

Media inquiries, please contact Meaghan Baron, VP for Communications and Public Affairs, mbaron@mas.org

From the MAS Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Early last year, as discussions around a new Mayoral administration were underway, I made my own transition from city government to join MAS. And there were many changes underway at MAS: a search for new offices, new Board leadership and appointments, and a considered look at the most vibrant of 21st century cities, New York, with all of its scrappiness and escalating challenges around both the environment and affordability.

It has been my great honor and privilege to serve as Executive Director during this time of substantial change. The talented and creative staff at MAS have taught me a great deal and together I think we have made a difference. However, I have felt for some time that I wanted to return to my work in architecture and design. I have spent a lifetime dedicated to building and designing for a better place, as a practicing architect, in my planning and policy work, and as an educator. It seems an appropriate time to return to private practice and to be able to engage in building again.

MAS has a rich heritage of work stretching back almost 125 years in service to the issues that make NYC such a glorious and compelling place to live. I am leaving MAS poised to move fully into the future with a larger social media network than ever before, fabulous new offices, and ongoing great work on substantial projects from a new Penn Station to managing the skyline.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to engage in energetic discussion, with our terrific members, our board, city officials, advocates, press, community, and private sector leaders. And for this I thank all of you. You have all taught me a great deal and I hope you will join me in celebrating the future as MAS continues its amazing work advocating for a stronger, better New York.


Margaret Newman FAIA
Executive Director

From the MAS Board of Directors

Dear MAS Community,

As we share with you that MAS Executive Director Margaret Newman has informed us that she will be stepping down next month to return to the architecture and design field that was her first calling, we want to wish her continued success in her notable career and thank her for her contributions and stewardship of MAS.

In her year and a half at the helm, Margaret advocated for MAS through her strong relationships with constituents at City agencies and in the development, architecture, and design communities. During her tenure, which began with her design of our new, modern offices in the landmark Look Building, MAS hosted its biggest and most successful Summit and gala to date and quadrupled its year-over-year press coverage. She guided the organization through the development and release of new reports on the future of Penn Station and the Accidental Skyline, and oversaw the creation of the “Who Gets It Done and How” toolkit for citizens to take action in city government. She played an integral role in shaping the outcomes of the East Midtown steering committee as MAS’s lead representative, and launched the Design First initiative, which will benefit from her continued engagement as a consultant in the months ahead.

The work of MAS will continue apace, including our sixth Summit, scheduled for this October, and our Next 50 project, a look at the future of preservation in New York City. Interim day-to-day management of MAS will be led by Mary Rowe, Executive Vice President, and by Robert Libbey, Vice President, Finance and Administration.

We are grateful for all of Margaret’s contributions to MAS, and look forward to all she will achieve in her return to private practice. Please join us in thanking Margaret for her incredible service to our organization and wishing her well in her next endeavor.


Fred Iseman, Chair
Vin Cipolla, President