The NYC Department of City Planning released a series of proposed changes to the Zoning Resolution that would remove barriers that constrain housing production, encourage better quality buildings, promote senior housing, and reduce unnecessary parking requirements.

Citizen Architect: Getting Your Voice Heard

Nancy Aber Goshow, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a citizen architect. By participating in civic dialogues of citywide importance and engaging policy makers on issues that matter to architects and the general public alike, Goshow uses her expertise to influence positive change in the built environment.

At the 02.20.15 AIANY Women in Architecture (WIA) Breakfast Leadership program, Goshow, founding partner of Goshow Architects, explained her involvement in a momentous city initiative, East Midtown Rezoning, and where she found her voice in the conversation. She walked audience members through the seemingly complex Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process, and encouraged the architects in the room to engage in public matters that affect them. Architects have a vast knowledge that is directly applicable to some of NYC’s most pressing policy and planning challenges.

Goshow is not opposed to the NYC Department of City Planning proposal to rezone East Midtown, allowing for increased height and density in the city’s most central business district (for AIANY’s official position statement in favor of the proposal click here). As a member of Community Board 5 and a neighborhood resident, she is enthusiastic about drawing more business and visitors to this particular part of the city. When speaking about the proposal, however, her primary focus was on the need to include high sustainability standards to new developments – it would be difficult for her to wholeheartedly endorse a project that does not wholeheartedly embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with designing a model sustainable building.

Often the only person in the room speaking out on behalf of super-insulated buildings and comprehensive sustainability requirements, Goshow managed to get the attention of City Council members and City Planning commissioners. Supportive of more supertall buildings, Goshow pressed that they should be the best performing buildings possible as we move to achieve Mayor de Blasio’s 80×50 goals.

Whatever the political focus might be, architects who advocate are better for the profession and the city at large.

Pulse Points

  • On 02.17.15, Mayor de Blasio announced the release of the New York City Panel on Climate Change’s report, Building the Knowledge Base for Climate Resiliency. The report focuses on increasing the current and future resiliency of communities, systems, and infrastructure around New York City and the broader metropolitan region. Read it here.
  • Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan, released in May 2014, identifies the need to modernize zoning regulations that are outdated and often impede the production of new affordable housing. On 02.20.15, the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) released a series of proposed changes to the Zoning Resolution. The amendments have four primary goals: remove barriers that constrain housing production and raise costs; encourage better quality buildings that contribute to the fabric of neighborhoods; promote senior housing to address the affordable housing needs of an aging population; and reduce unnecessary parking requirements to avoid excessive costs that hamper the creation of affordable and senior housing. See DCP proposal here. Read more in Crain’s here.
  • The second in a series of events related to the presidential theme of Tomas Rossant, AIA, “Dialogues from the Edge of Practice” will take place on 03.10.15 at the Center for Architecture. “Edge Sustainability: The Future of Architecture in a Changing Climate” will focus on how the practice and teaching of architecture need to undergo a paradigm shift to properly respond to the changing climate and ambitious 80×50 goals set by Mayor de Blasio. Four themes will be addressed: education; mandates and policy; branding and visioning; and owner interests. This event was preceded by a think-tank roundtable discussion with New York City’s top leaders in sustainability on 02.17.15.

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