December 2015
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Archive for December, 2015

“Corrected” Advertisements for New York’s New Supertall Skyscrapers

New York City’s skyline is changing with dozens of supertall skyscrapers rising across Manhattan, and now in Brooklyn. However, from the marketing materials of these new skyscrapers, one might assume that they’re singular entities, with sweeping views unobstructed by their competition. Here, we’ve “corrected” those ads:

53 West 53rd Street

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What Do New Yorkers Really Think About Penn Station?

Last updated: Tuesday, December 22

As part of MAS’s continuing advocacy around the urgent need for a new Penn Station, we took our cameras into the eye of storm and asked real Penn Station commuters what they think about our city’s decrepit, overcrowded transit hub. Over the next two weeks, MAS will share a new video every day in which riders delve into the myriad ways the current Penn Station lets us down.

To kick off the series we have a supercut video that gives you a taste of what 600,000 riders experience every day inside the rabbit warren of Penn Station.

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Eyes on the City: Governor Cuomo Considers Action on Penn

Re: Cuomo Considers Reset for Long-Delayed Penn Station Expansion, Charles Bagli, New York Times, December 15, 2015

Pennpeople

MAS has been the leading advocate for a new Penn Station for over two decades, and we are encouraged by Governor Cuomo’s interest in addressing the station’s significant shortcomings and expanding capacity. With more than 600,000 daily commuters passing through the station every day – 300% more than the station was designed to handle and more than the daily volume at all three regional airports combined – Penn Station is the transportation lynchpin to the entire northeast corridor and is critical to the continued economic success of our city, state, region, and nation.

As such, Penn Station needs a bold reinvention to secure our shared economic future. MAS believes the best path to making the necessary improvements at Penn Station is to wholly relocate Madison Square Garden as soon as possible, and this remains our objective. Governor Cuomo is reportedly considering relocating the Madison Square Garden theater, which MAS and Woods Bagot proposed in 2014. This a worthy near-term early phase project that would dramatically improve street life along Eighth Avenue as well as pedestrian access to the station. Moving Amtrak to the Farley Post office is also a great first step, which will create the opportunity to completely rebuild the concourse areas and significantly improve circulation, safety, and public spaces within the station.

However, these improvements, on their own, are not enough to fully address Penn Station’s severe overcrowding or meet the growing needs of a rapidly developing West Midtown. MAS is leading the development of a robust district plan for West Midtown, centered on a grand new Penn Station. We are eager to partner with the Governor, and other public and private stakeholders, to realize our shared vision for Penn Station and West Midtown. The economic success of the city, state, region and nation depends on it.

Lend your voice and support to MAS’s Campaign for a New Penn Station »»


Testimony: City Planning Commission Hearing on the Zoning for Quality and Affordability Proposal and the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Proposal

Delivered December 16, 2015 by Mike Ernst, Director of Planning

Good evening. My name is Mike Ernst and I am Director of Planning with the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), a 123-year old organization that fights for intelligent urban design, planning and preservation through education, dialogue and advocacy.

Housing affordability has reached crisis levels in New York. Citywide, 55% of renter households are “rent-burdened” and 30% are “extremely rent burdened.” The situation only worsens as average rents have gone up dramatically in the last decade, while incomes have not risen to match. We applaud the City for attempting to address the housing crisis through the proposed Housing New York Plan.

We support the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing proposal (MIH) as an important step toward addressing the city’s housing crisis, though we think it should be expanded to provide deeper levels of affordability.

The Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal (ZQA) includes a number of worthwhile elements that would update outdated rules concerning parking, while creating better streetscapes and more senior and affordable housing. However, we are unable to support ZQA in its present form. We hold concerns that the proposal doesn’t fully consider the impacts of increased massing and height on historic and contextual districts. Additionally, we believe that the City could draft a bolder proposal that creates affordable housing, strengthens unique neighborhoods, and reinforces the urban fabric.

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Eyes on the City: COP21 & Urban Resilience

MAS applauds the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21), which concluded this weekend with more than 190 countries signing on to the historic Paris Agreement, making commitments to cut greenhouse emissions, limit global temperature increases and, perhaps most significantly, help developing nations adapt to the negative effects of climate change.

COP21 is part of an important series of global policy setting initiatives that the U.N. is leading, including the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the upcoming Habitat III Conference. Through its involvement with the World Urban Campaign, MAS was actively engaged in advocating for the inclusion of SDG #11 (“Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”) and in facilitating civil society participation in the formation of the New Urban Agenda (both the agenda and outcome document of Habitat 3). In October, MAS partnered with The New School to organize the New York City Urban Thinkers Campus, one of only two opportunities to contribute to the WUC’s inputs to the New Urban Agenda in the United States.

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