Overheard at Hearings

The AIA New York Chapter offers expertise on projects of citywide significance and city policy initiatives with input and recommendations on numerous issues. Over the past week, representatives of AIANY presented testimony at two important hearings.

On 02.04.15, AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, testified at the NYC City Planning Commission (CPC) hearing on the Vanderbilt Corridor rezoning and the One Vanderbilt project. The NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) proposed the rezoning of Vanderbilt Ave between East 42nd and East 43rd Streets as the first phase of the long-term East Midtown Rezoning plan. One Vanderbilt was a private submission by developer SL Green and architects KPF Associates, the scale of which would be made possible by the rezoned area.

Bell testified in favor of both the proposed rezoning and the first building proposal to benefit from the city’s efforts. The Vanderbilt Corridor will allow the development of a world-class business district. The One Vanderbilt project combines needed commercial space at a higher density with enhanced transportation connectivity. The building would not only replace outdated buildings, but also extend below-grade transit pathways. The proposal includes an extension of on-grade public space by creating a pedestrian zone on Vanderbilt Avenue that can also function as an extension of Grand Central Terminal.

When discussing new projects of this size, AIANY is also concerned with their sustainability. To achieve Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, new buildings must be held to the highest efficiency standards, and the city has to push to approve projects that meet them. This project will serve as an example for more developments to come. Read the complete testimony here.

Illya Azaroff, AIA, co-chair of the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR), testified before the New York City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency and the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services at a hearing on 02.09.15. The oversight hearing examined the city’s enhanced emergency response plans, post-Superstorm Sandy. While supportive of the laws passed after Sandy and carried out by the NYC Office of Emergency Management, AIANY had a few suggestions to better prepare communities for future disasters. Neighborhoods must have a system of social and physical resiliency if they are to withstand extreme weather events. Read the complete testimony here.

Pulse Points

  • President Obama issued an executive order on 01.30.15 to establish a federal flood risk management standard and a process for further solicitation and consideration of stakeholder input. Flood risk from sea-level rise brought about by climate change will have to be factored into the building standards of any federally-funded new and rebuilt construction projects, including those built by local governments receiving federal money. Read more in the press release here.
  • The AIA launched a campaign to share, with a unified voice, the value that architects bring to communities. Started on 02.08.15, 30-second ads will appear on major television networks and cable news outlets, to be accompanied by additional digital and print advertising. In 2016, AIA will roll out more commercial advertisements while also tracking progress and crafting the message to make the greatest impact. Read more about it at
  • On 02.02.15, an interdisciplinary panel of industry professionals came together to discuss the future of high-rise modular construction in NYC and whether it is a viable option for completing Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing goals. Read more about their findings here.
  • The Mayor’s State of the City address on 02.03.15 emphasized the need to reconsider current zonings in order to accommodate new affordable development throughout NYC. Read AIANY reactions here.

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