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Archive for April, 2017

MAS Statement on Comptroller’s POPS Audit

On April 19, 2017, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released an audit report that found rampant violations in the city’s privately owned public space. MAS joined Comptroller Stringer, as well as Council Members Ben Kallos and David Greenfield, for a press conference urging the passage of the Council Members’ legislation to improve POPS monitoring and enforcement.

MAS Statement on Audit Report on City Oversight of Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS)

The Comptroller’s audit proves that “passive monitoring” of POPS is simply not working. Between 1961 and 2000, the City granted developers 16 million extra square feet of floor area in exchange for creating 80 acres of public space. The City has a responsibility to the public to protect the terms of those agreements. Instead, it has been content to ignore POPS altogether (as in the case of the East Midtown Rezoning proposal) or hand them over to private development (as in the giveaway of public arcades along Water Street last June).

For the last decade, The Municipal Art Society and Advocates for POPS have partnered to promote and monitor POPS (apops.mas.org). But this constellation of civic assets is a vital part of New York’s public realm; that monitoring should be the responsibility of the City.

The findings of this audit lend even more urgency to the situation. We must immediately pass the two pieces of POPS legislation sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, David G. Greenfield, Daniel R. Garodnick earlier this year, which will set meaningful fines for violations and strict signage requirements for POPS. And crucially, we must create a pro-active monitoring mandate for the Department of Buildings.

It is time for the City to hold up its end of the deal.


2017 Brendan Gill Prize Winners: Nonstop Metropolis and Subway Therapy

The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has named Subway Therapy and Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas as the winners of the 2017 Brendan Gill Prize. Artists from both projects will be honored by MAS during the organization’s Celebrating the City awards ceremony on Monday, May 15, at El Museo del Barrio.

“We are delighted to honor these two works of art, which illuminate what Brendan Gill loved about urban life,” said MAS President Elizabeth Goldstein. “Together these projects reflect the constellation of perspectives and experiences that give New York its sense of variety and wonder – what Gill called ‘the energy coming up out of the sidewalks.'”

About Subway Therapy

On November 9, the day after the 2016 election, Matthew “Levee” Chavez invited commuters to express their personal feelings on sticky notes on the walls of the 14th Street Sixth Avenue and Union Square subway stations. Over the next five weeks, messages of hope, confusion, anxiety, fear, and solidarity greeted the station’s nearly 100,000 daily riders, and photographs of the installation spread across the city. The simplicity of this crowdsourced eruption of expression was provocative and moving, and spoke perfectly to a particular moment in time. Part of the collection will be preserved and displayed at the New-York Historical Society for future generations to witness.

About Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas

Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s Nonstop Metropolis presents thought-provoking essays and instantly iconic local maps that bring into focus the social history, cultural identity, and neighborhood landmarks that form the tapestry of New York’s five boroughs. By giving voice to a diverse host of collaborators across the five boroughs, the book reflects the resilience of our communities and creates a beautifully varied portrait of our urban archipelago.

About the Gill Prize

The Brendan Gill prize was established in 1987 by fellow MAS board members Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Helen Tucker, and Margot Wellington to honor the creator of a building, book, essay, musical composition, play, film, painting, sculpture, choreographic work or landscape design, accomplished in the previous year that best captures, “the energy, vigor and verve of our incomparable city.” Past recipients include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kara Walker, Michael Kimmelman, Hugh Hardy, and Sarah Jones. (For a full listing or previous recipients.)

This annual cash award is administered by MAS and named for longtime New Yorker theater and architecture critic, champion preservationist, and civic booster Brendan Gill. The recipient is chosen by the Brendan Gill Jury from nominations submitted to MAS by the general public. The esteemed 2017 Jury included Chair John Haworth, Laurie Beckelman, Randall Bourscheidt, Patricia Cruz, Gail Gregg, Suketu Mehta, Cassim Shepard, and Helen Tucker.

About Celebrating the City Awards

The 2017 Brendan Gill Prize will be presented at The Municipal Art Society’s Celebrating the City – an evening of awards and conversation honoring arts, architecture, and activism.