06.24.08

06.24.08

This is Buckminster Fuller week in the city. Panel discussions at the Center for Architecture, the opening of the Dymaxion Study Center, an installation of an authentic Fly’s Eye Dome in LaGuardia Park, and exhibitions at the Max Protetch Gallery and the Whitney Museum are just some of the happenings celebrating what would have been the architectural master’s 113th birthday. Go to the AIANY Calendar for more information and event listings.

– Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP


THE CENTER: AIANY BLOG: The AIANY Chapter has launched a new blog. The Center features opinion pieces on architectural issues relevant to NY-based designers, firms, and projects, along with spotlight debates and discussions at the Center for Architecture and AIANY, and is an informal discussion board. Be sure to check it out regularly and contribute to the dialogue.

Some of the recent debates include:

· 980 Madison Avenue. Foster + Partners is proposing a 10-story addition to the existing landmarked building. Read some of the pros and cons about the project.

· Buildings Commissioner Qualifications. NYC is still undecided about whether the Buildings Commissioner must be licensed to hold the position. Read the AIANY Policy Update.

· St. Vincent’s Hospital Expansion. Read about AIANY testimony at the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

· Work/Life Balance. This ongoing discussion is at the forefront of the AIANY Women in Architecture (WIA) Committee meetings.

To become a regular contributor to The Center, please e-mail e-Oculus.

NY Firms Design Urban Thresholds

Event: New York Designs
Location: The Urban Center, 06.05.08
Speakers: Lyn Rice, AIA — Principal, Astrid Lipka, AIA — Associate Principal, Lyn Rice Architects; Eric Bunge, AIA, Mimi Hoang — Partners, nARCHITECTS; Robert Rogers, FAIA, Jonathan Marvel, AIA — Partners, Rogers Marvel Architects; Henry Smith-Miller, Laurie Hawkinson — Partners, & Luben Dimcheff — Project Architect, Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects; Douglas Korves, AIA — Partner, Douglas Korves Architect
Organizers: The Architectural League of New York

(L-R): Sheila C. Johnson Design Center by Lyn Rice Architects; Switch Building by nARCHITECTS; Luminaire Celebrates Public Space by Rogers Marvel Architects; 322 Hicks Street by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects.

(L-R): Michael Moran; Frank Ouderman; Paul Warchol; Michael Moran, courtesy The Architectural League of New York

“Threshold,” said Henry Smith-Miller, “is the point that must be reached for a psychological or physiological effect to begin or be noticeable.” That definition of the word seems to be open to interpretation, as evidenced at second in the Architectural League of New York’s 2008 New York Designs juried lecture series. The 2008 New York Designs committee, comprised of Sunil Bald, Markus Dochantschi, Lynn Gaffney, AIA, Victoria Meyers, AIA, and Adam Yarinsky, FAIA, asked entrants to consider what limits, opportunities, and compromises shape thresholds in the city. A threshold, as outlined in the call for entries, might be literally a transitional space or overlap among materials, disciplines, cultures, and more.

Lyn Rice, AIA, and Astrid Lipka, AIA, of Lyn Rice Architects presented their Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design. The firm reinterpreted the campus to create an urban quad in the Village. Using architecture as interface, they united existing street-level lobbies of four adjacent buildings with found spaces such as a trash alley to create a new 20,000-square-foot common space. The new center contains a critique space, auditorium, design store, and an expanded gallery/exhibition area that is visually open to the street, allowing interactions between the students and public.

Eric Bunge, AIA, and Mimi Hoang of nARCHITECTS presented their Switch Building on the Lower East Side. The design interprets constraints imposed by the developer’s needs and zoning laws to create the completed seven-story building with four floor-through apartments, a duplex penthouse, and a double-height art gallery. The building’s bay windows are angled and switch back and forth, providing deep window seats on the inside. At the rear of each apartment, the living space extends out to balconies, blurring the boundary between indoors and out. The Switch Gallery has a black, hot-rolled steel-and-glass storefront and canopy that opens completely allowing art openings to extend onto the sidewalk.

Robert Rogers, FAIA, and Jonathan Marvel, AIA, surveyed their firm’s history of designing public spaces such as 55 Water Street, Streetscapes in Battery Park and on Wall Street, and the redesign, with West 8, of Governors Island. The lobby and passageway in the 78-story, black-glass Metropolitan Tower on West 57th Street is a privately owned public space. For the Luminaire Celebrates Public Space project, an illuminated feature forms the lobby desk. Its color-changing light and sculptural form animate and engage the building’s entrance; the glowing five-foot-high desk broadcasts to the street, connecting the boundary between interior and exterior.

Henry Smith-Miller’s residential project at 322 Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights mediates the threshold between historical context and new building. Situated in a historic residential neighborhood of diverse brick building types, the angled and inflected brick façade breaks its mass to remain constant with the neighborhood’s scale. The building stretches from lot line to lot line, and Oriel windows — “innies and outies” — punctuate the façade recalling brownstone bay windows. The rear of the building opens up in a more traditionally Modern glass-and-steel façade.

Weinzapfel Shares Outlook on Design, Practice

Event: Public Lecture Series: Beyond the AIA Firm Award: an Evening with Jane Weinzapfel
Location: Center for Architecture, 06.16.08
Speaker: Jane Weinzapfel, FAIA — Principal, Leers Weinzapfel Associates
Organizer: AIANY Women in Architecture (WIA) Committee
Sponsors: Champion: Studio Daniel Libeskind; Supporters: Gensler; Humanscale; James McCullar & Associates; Friends: Costas Kondylis & Partners; Forest City Ratner Companies; Frank Williams & Associates; Hugo S. Subotovsky A.I.A. Architects; Mancini Duffy; Magnusson Architecture and Planning; Rawlings Architects; RicciGreene Associates; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Syska Hennessy Group; Trespa North America; Universal Contracting Group

University of Pennsylvania Gateway Complex, Philadelphia, PA.

©Peter Aaron/Esto

Leers Weinzapfel Associates, the first women-owned architecture firm to be awarded the AIA Firm Award in 2007, is guided by two goals: to create architecture that has improves the public realm, and to encourage an inclusive, collaborative workplace that fosters individual growth. Founded in 1982 by Andrea Leers, FAIA, and Jane Weinzapfel, FAIA, the firm has produced award-laden work in its 26 years, including many seemingly unglamorous infrastructure projects. The University of Pennsylvania Gateway Complex houses a giant chiller plant yet forms a landmark that echoes curves of a nearby river and roads. The Princeton University Chilled Water Plant incorporates translucent and fritted glass to bring natural light into equipment floors. Both projects show how the firm solves complex, technically demanding design problems with tailor-made responses. This has led to community and civic projects, as well as campus work for institutions such as the University of Cincinnati, Harvard University, and Smith College.

With some 35 employees, the firm is set up in an open office environment with the principals sitting among the staff. Every year the staff goes on a design retreat to one of the buildings the firm designed, where they reflect on recent work as well as the business’s future. The firm values every employee’s ideas, and makes an effort to understand each individual’s role in the design process, according to Weinzapfel. She feels it is important for designers to find their voice — especially for women architects. She and Leers asked clients and friends how they were perceived, and was surprised to find that they were perceived as women first. That said, they argue it’s good for institutions to have women in roles of leadership, and collaboration relies on the inclusion of many different voices.

As for work/life balance challenges, the firm believes that a full life indeed matters. Weinzapfel took two-and-a-half years away from the practice to start a family, and Leers continues to teach at architecture schools. It is a priority to allow women employees, including key leaders, the option of flexible schedules, and to encourage and support men to be just as involved in raising their children.

Weinzapfel was one of the first two women architecture students to graduate from the University of Arizona. She pays tribute for her and Leer’s spelling success to their upbringing. “We grew up with a voice at the dining table,” she said.

The Unnatural: How Diller Marches to a Different Drummer

Event: “Unnatural” in Architecture by Elizabeth Diller
Location: National Arts Club, 06.16.08
Speakers: Elizabeth Diller — Principal, Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Douglas Friedlander — Chair of the Architectural Committee of the National Arts Club (introduction)
Organizer: The National Arts Club, Architectural Committee

Poss Family Mediatheque at The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, one of Elizabeth Diller’s favorite unreal spaces.

Photo by Iwan Baan, courtesy The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston

In an era when “natural” is touted in everything from food to design, it’s refreshing to hear someone come out in favor of its opposite. “The unnatural doesn’t necessarily have to be bad,” declared Elizabeth Diller in a recent talk about her firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s (DS+R) work. “It’s not necessarily fake, it’s just a different kind of natural.”

Her firm has long treaded the border between the natural and the artificial. Take the Blur Building, a technologically conjured fogbank at Lake Neuchâtel for the Swiss Expo 2002. The ephemeral “building” redefined what architecture could be, putting a focus on the visitors’ transient experiences instead of creating an enduring physical form.

To promote social contact in the densely foggy environment with limited visibility, the firm designed an intelligent raincoat for visitors that would blush pink when someone with a similar personality profile drew near, Diller explained. Although the wearable technology was never developed, the designers’ fascination with the natural phenomenon of blushing continued. As part of a renovation of Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, they designed an “intelligent skin” lined with wood veneer and resin translucent enough for light to shine through, creating a warm glow. When the house lights come down, the lighting under the veneer will glow briefly, “blushing,” so that “momentarily attention is stolen from the stage and brought to the architecture,” she said. Audiences will first get to see the effect at a gala this December.

Designs such as The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) and the unbuilt Slow House play with the artificial framing effect of windows. At the ICA, views of the harbor are slowly doled out, glimpse by glimpse. A favorite spot for Diller is the Mediatheque, a vertiginously sloped computer room that draws the eye to a patch of undulating waves framed by a window at the end of the space. Devoid of context, the view’s impact almost begins to appear unreal. “When we opened, some elderly gentleman stood at the top and said, ‘Wow, this is the biggest screensaver I’ve ever seen,'” she recalled.

Unlike such eye-grabbing experiments, DS+R and Field Operations’ design for the High Line called for a light touch, she said. As documented by Joel Sternfeld’s photographs, the long-abandoned elevated railway had the eerie charm of an industrial ruin being reclaimed by nature. The architects’ goal was to preserve that feeling of a natural oasis in the midst of the city, so they designed slender paved areas weaving through vegetation, inspired by the look of plants pushing up between cracks in old, crumbling concrete. They never anticipated the development frenzy that the High Line would trigger, and that worried them, she said, along with concerns about potential overuse of the park once it opens.

“We had this strange feeling of doubt that we’re losing the very thing that we love, that melancholic, very beautiful postindustrial feel of this abandoned railroad that we wanted to turn into something that was a kind of contemplation about the nature of nature,” she said. But in the end, “we began to realize that this kind of growth is very much part of what cities are about and the High Line will ultimately be a blend of the natural and the cultural. The notion of ‘nature’ really does need to be rethought…. We foresee a future of the High Line where nature and culture will find a really smooth and interesting interface that we can’t entirely predict.”

NYC Transit Enters a New Dimension

BIM modeling was used as part of a program initiated by the MTA.

Rendering by Shani Gurevich, Assoc. AIA, electrical program, CPM.

The MTA New York City Transit is transitioning to BIM. With the launch of a pilot program to train a small group of architects and engineers in the software, the training strategy assumed no previous knowledge and put participants to work on a real project — the rehabilitation of a substation in Brooklyn — in just five weeks.

As a participant, I found the pilot highlighted some of the major issues facing the two fields when working together on any project. In one instance, architects and engineers found that they were working on the same concrete wall in separate files without knowing it. This caused a small row as they each tried to mark “their territory.” Jurisdiction over different materials between architects and structural engineers became a hot topic for debate when it came to finishes that could be considered both aesthetic and structural. The disagreement could have been avoided if more time was spent communicating.

In an age when technological devices — computers, cell phones, fax machines — make human contact so effortless, it is hard to believe communication is still a challenge. Barriers still need to be broken between architects and engineers. As the first members of our organization to use BIM, we have been able to affect the day-to-day culture of our agency. Because BIM is much more interactive and complex than typical CAD programs, the extent to which we rely on each other is special, not only in generating work, but also in learning from each other’s talents.

Columbia University Expansion… from a Cooper Union Point of View

Scale model of Cooper Union architecture students’ vision for Columbia University.

Courtesy The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

After studying the 19.7-acre Manhattanville design conceived by Renzo Piano Building Workshop with master planning by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, fourth-year design students at The Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture were asked to re-analyze the site and design an alternative master plan. Throughout the semester, they researched it’s topography, history, and sociological character, and collaboratively fabricated a scaled site model to test their designs.

e-Oculus had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Lebbeus Woods, Adjunct Professor Christoph a. Kumpusch, and students Christopher M. Pounds, Anna Kostreva, Raye C. Levine, Dennis Murphy, and Tom Brooksbank to discuss their projects.

e-Oculus: Why did you choose the Manhattanville site, and how was the studio organized to develop the program?

Lebbeus Woods: We picked a site that Columbia University is trying to expand into over the next 25 years, and we used it as an opportunity to imagine what a 21st century campus might be like. It’s not a critique of the Columbia plan; it’s really an independent piece of research. So we’ve taken a master planning approach, and we decided to adopt a matrix idea.

During the first part of the semester, we held an in-studio competition. There were seven teams of four students each. Each team proposed their matrix. We had a distinguished jury, which included Steven Holl, AIA, Diana Agrest, FAIA, Michael Bell, and several faculty members, and they chose what they felt was the best matrix, which is the one we developed. The reason they thought it was best was because it was based on the idea of movement on and above the site, connecting different existing levels. This scheme took advantage the site’s verticality — the elevated train and subway to the east, the highway to the west, plus the general topography which has a hilly quality to it.

Then, the rest of the semester was spent developing concepts or programs that can plug into the matrix. So the overall landscape can be looked at as an evolving landscape, because the idea a 21st century institution for education is something that evolves. It’s a living, organic structure.

Continues…

6 Month Rule Will Hurt Architecture Profession

In theory, the Intern Development Program (IDP), helps emerging designers obtain a varied experience in the practice of architecture. In addition to the Architect Registration Exams, the three-years-worth of required hours are supposed to extend the education of designers and prepare them for the pitfalls of licensure. The system is also set up to let employers know what is required of them when they train their interns. Unfortunately, practice is never as smooth as the principles. Ask any intern or recently licensed professional, and you will get an earful of what barriers they had to overcome to complete and file their hours. Part of the reason fewer designers are getting licensed, I believe, is because of the complicated and costly bureaucracy that many do not see as necessary for practice.

This Saturday, 06.28.08, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) will vote on an initiative that will make the IDP process even more difficult. Resolution 2008-07, which includes the “6 Month Rule,” will require interns to file their training units every six months. Training units not reported in a timely manner will expire on a rolling clock after eight months. The National Associates Committee has voiced opposition, and now the AIA National Board has announced a formal position against the resolution as well.

A rolling clock should not be a deciding factor on whether or not one’s experience is valid. While NCARB may be trying to prevent interns from filing all of their hours at once, the organization should focus more on how to help designers become architects. There are many ways it can do this, from establishing guidelines for designers who were educated and/or practiced abroad, to requiring that firms set up committees or programs that help interns complete their hours. It could establish more scholarships to help pay NCARB fees, and work toward making the training unit forms Mac-friendly, not just PC-based. Ultimately, NCARB should help the profession thrive, not hinder its growth.

To read more, the Boston Society of Architects and the AIA Emerging Professionals website have the information well organized online. There is an active discussion thread debating the pros and cons of the initiative on the AIA Archiblog. And the AIA has published FAQ’s on the resolution.

In this issue:
· New FABulous Off-Broadway District Planned for East Village
· House Built for Lions is Now Home for Lemurs
· NYC School Passes the LEED Test
· Mixed-Use, Mid-Rise Completed in Central Harlem
· Two Park Avenue (1926) to Get Art Deco Update
· Yale: Gwathmey Traces Rudolph’s Footsteps
· Regeneration Building Prods Researchers to Work Together
· New-Build on Shanghai’s Bund


New FABulous Off-Broadway District Planned for East Village

The Fourth Arts Block.

Artefactory

A new cultural destination with seven different capital projects is in the works. The Fourth Arts Block (FAB) a non-profit organization founded in 2001, recently held a ceremonial ground breaking for projects including renovation work ranging from moderate to gut rehabilitation on East 4th Street, between Second Avenue and the Bowery. The space for cultural activity on the block will increase over 90% to 99,000 square feet with the addition of three theaters, two dance studios, and three rehearsal spaces.

Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners is leading the landscape design for the overall streetscape, which will include new tree plantings, historic-looking lampposts, and improved lighting on building façades and from buildings onto the sidewalk. Superstructures Engineers & Architects has led design on several exterior renovations and stabilizations. Mitchell Kurtz Architect, Duke Beeson Architect, Charles Rose Architects, and Robert Biviano are leading the renovations and design for the New York Theatre Workshop and La MaMa’s buildings, a multi-arts building, a youth arts center, and Teatro Circulo, respectively. In addition, WORKac is designing new office space for CreativeTime, a non-profit organization that commissions and presents public arts projects.


House Built for Lions is Now Home for Lemurs

The Lion House.

Photo by Bob Zucker, courtesy FXFOWLE Architects

Exotic plant life, birds, crocodiles, hissing cockroaches, and different species of lemurs from Madagascar have a new home in the Bronx Zoo’s recently restored Lion House. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which manages the zoo, and the NYC Department of Design and Construction selected FXFOWLE Architects to integrate the new “Madagascar!” exhibition and convert the Lion House to a set piece for the zoo. Heins & LaFarge designed the 20,000-square-foot Beaux Arts building in 1903 as part of the original campus at Astor Court. As the first project to come out of the zoo’s 2001 master plan, the Lion House needed to represent the next generation of the zoo experience, function as a publicly accessible building, and exemplify the WCS’s conservation mission. Programmatically, the project integrates varying degrees of public and private access within the constrained footprint. The Lion House is the first designated landmark building in NYC to be certified “green” by the USGBC, and is projected to receive a LEED Gold certification.


NYC School Passes the LEED Test

Poly Prep Country Day School.

Photo by Jonathan Wallen

Poly Prep Lower School, located Park Slope, Brooklyn, is the first NYC school to be awarded a LEED Silver plaque — for Platt Byard Dovell White’s new addition to the school. The project, which received approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, incorporated characteristics of the 1892 Hulbert Mansion into the design featuring eight new classrooms, a multi-purpose gymnasium, and a sky-lit dance studio. The mansion was reconfigured to include larger homerooms, a new dining room, central library, double-height music room, and additional art studios. An entrance lobby off a newly landscaped playground leads to a glass-enclosed stair linking the addition to the mansion. Green features include: a 30% reduction in potable water consumption; 70% of the school’s energy is being provided from renewable sources for at least two years; demand control ventilation in high activity spaces; and landscape materials were selected to minimize heat island effect.


Mixed-Use, Mid-Rise Completed in Central Harlem

Salem House.

Photo by John Bartlestone

Construction of Salem House, a $9.5 million, 60,000-square-foot, mixed-use facility designed by RKT&B Architects is complete. Located in Central Harlem, the seven-story structure combines affordable housing with commercial and community facilities. The primary façade is an aluminum-and-glass window wall system, and alternates with red brick panels with punched window openings. The segmented façade treatment is intended to bring the scale of the 130-foot-wide building down to that of the narrow adjacent structures along Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. The Salem United Methodist City Society in partnership with the Phipps Houses Group commissioned the project.


Two Park Avenue (1926) to Get Art Deco Update

The lobby of Two Park Avenue.

Fifield Piaker Elman Architects

The American Art Deco building at Two Park Avenue, designed by Ely Jacques Kahn and built in 1926, is getting a new lobby designed by Fifield Piaker Elman Architects (FPE). The building’s new owners, Morgan Stanley and L&L Holdings, commissioned FPE to reverse a series of earlier renovations to the building, which is a designated landmark. Inspired by Kahn’s existing ornamental detailing, FPE is introducing elements such as new light fixtures with custom bronze sconces to illuminate the original ceiling mosaic and vaulted alcoves, and accent the marble walls. A new concierge desk, bronze-clad doors, and decorative bronze grilles have been designed to match Kahn’s aesthetic while functioning for contemporary use.


Yale: Gwathmey Traces Rudolph’s Footsteps

Model of Yale arts complex showing York Street Elevation.

Photograph by Jock Potel, courtesy Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects

Yale University’s major new building comprising the renovated Art & Architecture building (to be renamed Paul Rudolph Hall), the Jeffrey Loria Center for the History of Art, and the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, will open this August. Designed by Charles Gwathmey, FAIA, of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, who received his MArch from Yale in 1962 while Rudolph was chairman of the Department of Architecture, will enable continuous links between the Department of the History of Art and the School of Architecture.

As part of the master plan for the Yale Arts Area, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates restored Rudolph’s historic building, and introduced state-of-the-art technology, air conditioning, and LEED standards into a new facility serving Yale’s art history department. The firm intended the building to have its own identity, create an expanded art, drama, and architecture library with a street-level presence, and respect the surrounding streetscape. The Jeffrey Loria Center for the History of Art is added to the north side of Paul Rudolph Hall, reflecting Rudolph’s original plan to expand the building to the north.


Regeneration Building Prods Researchers to Work Together

Institute for Regeneration Medicine.

Rafael Viñoly Architects

Rafael Viñoly Architects’ design for the Institute for Regeneration Medicine (IRM) building on the University of California at San Francisco Parnassus campus has been approved. The curved, terraced building follows the slope of a narrow hillside. Its horizontal form allows the building to operate as a continuous lab across its four split-levels, encouraging physical and visual connectivity among its users. Exterior ramps along the north façade connect the lab floors in continuous circulation. Landscaped green roofs offer garden amenities for the offices, and break rooms serve as social hubs. IRM reaches out to three nearby research and medical buildings via a pedestrian bridge, connecting it to the center of the campus research community. Walkways anticipate future pedestrian route improvements. The building is expected to be completed in 2010, and expects LEED Silver in line with university policy. It will also follow Labs21 environmental performance criteria.


New-Build on Shanghai’s Bund

Peninsula Shanghai Hotel & Apartments.

BBG-BBGM

A recent ceremony marked the topping out of the new Peninsula Shanghai Hotel & Apartments designed by BBG-BBGM. The project consists of a hotel with approximately 235 guestrooms and suites, high-end retail space, 39 luxury residential units, and amenities that include a grand ballroom and meeting complex, jazz lounge, and rooftop restaurant. Located in the newly redeveloped Waitanyuan neighborhood on Shanghai’s historic Bund, the design combines traditional art-deco detailing and contextual scale with materials such as bronze and granite that reflect the neighborhood’s historic architecture. The hotel, the only new development on the Bund, is expected to be complete in the fall of 2009.

In this issue:
· White House Blocks OSHA Crane Safety Regulations
· NYC Plaza Program Debuts
· AIANYS Opposes Senate and Assembly Ruling on Corporate Practice
· AIA Report Examines Sustainability Incentives


White House Blocks OSHA Crane Safety Regulations
Susan Podziba, a public policy mediator, was hired by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2003 to unite union and industry representatives of the Cranes and Derricks Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (C-DAC) to update federal crane and derrick regulations. Once a new standard was agreed upon, the next step was for OSHA to publish it in the Federal Register as its proposed rule, and after a period for public comment, it would become law. However, four years later, OSHA has yet to publish the rule, despite claiming that the revised crane standard is a priority.

In an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times (“Safety Starts at the Top,” 06.12.08), Podziba claims that OSHA planned to publish the rule this August; however, the White House chief of staff, Johshua Bolten, recently informed administrative agencies that no proposed rules were to be published after June 1 except under “extraordinary” circumstances, and that no draft rules could be made final after November 1. Podziba strongly encourages the administrator of OSHA, Edwin G. Foulke Jr., to request, and if necessary demand, an exception to both deadlines.


NYC Plaza Program Debuts
Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC calls for the creation of a new plaza in every NYC community to ensure that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of quality open space. The “NYC Plaza Program” aims to design and build public plazas in partnership with local non-profit organizations. It will find at least one opportunity in each of the city’s 59 community districts to reclaim underutilized street spaces and transform them into successful plazas that express each neighborhood’s character and scale. Partnerships are at the core of this new program. In collaboration with the Department of Small Business Services, the NYC Department of Transportation will work with community-based organizations to design, build, manage, and maintain these plazas.


AIANYS Opposes Senate and Assembly Ruling on Corporate Practice
Many states allow design professionals to form regular or business corporations. However, under current NY law, architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and land surveying firms must be owned 100% by licensed design professionals. Recently amended by both the Senate and the Assembly, AIANYS believes the Corporate Practice of Design Firms Initiative places restrictive ownership provisions on design professional firms, subjecting them to competitive disadvantages. If enacted, design firms would be allowed to offer key personnel such as business managers, human resource managers, or computer information and other specialists up to 25% equity interest in the firm. For more information and to fill out a form letter for legislators, go to the AIA Government Advocacy Center.


AIA Report Examines Sustainability Incentives
State and local governments are using a variety of incentive-based techniques to encourage green building practices, but some efforts have encountered challenges such as the high costs of new incentive programs, and shortcomings in resources, and application. To help communities overcome these obstacles, the AIA commissioned a report, Local Leaders in Sustainability — Green Incentives, that examines many types of incentive programs, details the inherent barriers to success, and highlights best practice examples from around the country. The report identifies some of the most attractive incentives: tax incentives, density/floor area ratio bonuses, and expedited permitting.