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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 Survey on Livability

We presented findings from the MAS’s Survey on Livability, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, and threaded them throughout the two days. New Yorkers told us that employment continues to be their highest concern, followed by affordability—of housing and goods and services—and the need for promoting local business and economic development. New Yorkers care about the city’s infrastructure, and their opinions continue to reveal deep needs in boroughs other than Manhattan. Not surprisingly, 75% of all polled think the city needs a new Penn Station. These findings will shape MAS’s work over the coming year. To read the findings, click here.

Penn 2023

Thursday morning saw the release of Penn 2023, co-authored by MAS and the Regional Plan Association (RPA). The report outlines the case for a new Penn Station and describes principles to help guide development and illustrate the necessary elements for a new transit hub. The report is the first in a series to be released by RPA and MAS. Subsequent reports will look at potential sites for a new Madison Square Garden and outline the economic feasibility and benefits of a new Penn Station.

East Midtown Rezoning


Deputy Mayor Robert Steel announced the release of Places for People: A Public Realm Vision Plan for East Midtown, commissioned by the NYC Department of Transportation and the Department of City Planning in response to calls from Council Member Garodnick, Manhattan community boards, MAS and others for public space improvements. An all-star team from Jonathan Rose Companies, Gehl Architects and Skanska oversaw the plan that Daniel Hernandez, project director for the Jonathan Rose Companies, explained to the rapt audience. The report includes ideas generated at three public workshops, and identifies priorities for enhancing East Midtown’s streetscapes and public spaces.

CityBuilders Global Network

MAS president, Vin Cipolla announced the creation of the CityBuilders Global Network that connects practitioners-activists, entrepreneurs, designers, and community innovators working at the local–or granular– level to make their cities both more livable and resilient. From animating urban forests in Bandung to transforming the sewage canals of Mumbai into pleasurable water courses, city builders are making their communities safer, more beautiful, more economically vibrant, and more fun. The CityBuilders Global Network is connecting them with each other to teach, learn and share. Local partners around the globe will organize and host regional programming and events. MAS will play a curatorial role in this effort. And, in launching the project is a digital platform created in collaboration with partner-initiative Cities For People, with support from the J.W. McDonnell Foundation—stay tuned for its unveiling.

Penn and Beyond—Four Architectural Firms Envisioning a New Penn Station

This past July, the New York City Council voted to limit Madison Square Garden’s permit to operate above Penn Station to just 10 more years. A major victory in the campaign to build the Penn Station our city deserves, it was an important acknowledgment by our City Council that we can’t maintain the status quo at Penn Station. We now have a tremendous opportunity to ensure that the most heavily trafficked rail station in North America receives the investment, and imagination, necessary to improve Midtown Manhattan and truly serve the people of our city, region, and the entire Northeast Corridor. If we get this right, a new Penn Station will be the kind of project which will define our city for the next century.

What could this new transit hub look like? In May, MAS asked some of the world’s best design firms to reimagine a new Penn Station and Midtown West that embodied the ingenuity, creativity and spirit of our city. Four firms–Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects and SOM–rose to the challenge. These four firms presented their brilliant visions for Penn and Midtown West, as well as briefed us on some of the other exciting projects they’re working on, in a series of short keynotes throughout the Summit called “Penn and Beyond.” Their work continues to remind us of the powerful role that ambitious planning and design can accomplish in making cities, and neighborhoods, more livable and resilient. This is the extraordinary potential of a new Penn Station.

Street Design Manual


Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation announced the publication of the Street Design Manual–DOT’s comprehensive resource for street design standards, guidelines, and policies. Drawing from a wide ranging set of resources and experience to present a coherent set of choices for street design, the manual includes ubiquitous features, such as standard sidewalk concrete and street lights, to newer design elements like pedestrian safety islands, bus bulbs, and protected bicycle lanes. Building on the first edition released in May 2009 and updated in July 2010, this edition includes updates based on user feedback and a comprehensive inter- and intra-agency review. Highlights include: how street projects are planned, designed, and implemented; expanded content on stormwater-capturing infrastructure, and information on the planning, design, and implementation of landscape projects; updated light pole and fixture options; an expanded furniture chapter, as well as other chapter updates.