2015 Opportunity Agenda: Restoring Economic Opportunity

At the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) breakfast meeting on 01.20.15, Governor Cuomo announced part of his “2015 Opportunity Agenda” – a plan to update New York’s infrastructure. He addressed initiatives to modernize New York’s airports, expand public transportation, and invest in statewide infrastructure repairs and maintenance.

One of Cuomo’s priorities for 2015 is to address the need to overhaul New York’s regional airports. In addition to finding ways to link the area airports together, the governor launched a Master Plan Design Competition to reimagine LaGuardia and JFK airports. He compiled a seven-member committee to advise him and the Port Authority on the top airport redesigns. See the complete list of panelists and design criteria here.

Governor Cuomo is also working with the MTA on improvement projects to transportation systems in the five boroughs and surrounding suburbs, including upgrades to Metro-North. The MTA and the Port Authority have begun work on an AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport, providing access to the airport by rail. View renderings of the new AirTrain line here.

During his presentation, Cuomo also shared his intentions for widespread Design-Build implementation. In an effort to create an efficient and economical way of completing state projects, he will expand the use of Design-Build procurement methods. Design-Build, currently used by 45 other states, was used for the recent Tappan Zee Bridge project, which came in under budget and saved the state money. If NYC agencies follow state action, this could mean significant changes for the architectural community.

Read more about Governor Cuomo’s presentation and his Opportunity Agenda here.

Pulse Points

  • New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on 01.22.15 on federal corruption charges. Investigators charged that Silver did not properly disclose payments received from a law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes. On 01.27.15, Assembly Democrats announced that Majority Leader Joseph Morelle will become Interim Speaker on 02.01.15. The Assembly will elect a new permanent Speaker on 02.10.15.
  • On 01.21.15, Mayor de Blasio announced his nominations of Kim Lee Vauss, AIA, for the Architect seat, and Wellington Chen as a Lay Member of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Mayor also announced the appointment of Ethel Sheffer, FAICP, as the mayor’s representative on the Public Design Commission (PDC), and his nomination of Hank Willis Thomas for the Painter seat of the PDC. Read the press release here.
  • Mayor de Blasio and NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that more than 50 Vision Zero street design projects are complete. Changes include widened sidewalks, pedestrian refuge medians, protected bike lanes, and narrower crossings. 2014 was the safest year for pedestrians in NYC since 1910. Read more here.
  • In 2014, NYC financed the creation and preservation of more than 17,300 affordable units, exceeding its projections. The new and preserved units are enough to house almost 42,000 New Yorkers. Read more here.
  • On 01.22.15, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) introduced Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG), a new tool for evaluating sustainable and effective waterfront transformation. WEDG offers a ratings system for waterfront projects. The WEDG exhibition at the Center for Archiecture, on view through 02.21.15, describes credit categories and offers case studies.
  • After a roundtable discussion on the future of modular construction, industry thought leaders will speak at the first “Dialogues from the Edge of Practice” public program on 02.02.15 at the Center for Architecture. “Edge Construction: The Future of Modular” will focus on how architects have pushed the boundaries of the profession and expanded into the design of alternative construction means and methods.
  • The AIANY Board voted to commit to helping New York City reduce carbon emissions by 80% over the next 35 years. As a practical step, the Board recommends a bylaws change to create a new board position to oversee all related sustainability advocacy and programming initiatives.

Emma Pattiz is the AIANY Policy Coordinator. For more information on AIANY policy initiatives and programs, please contact her at