Lead Us Not Into Penn Station…

There may be only one proposition that every sentient being in the tri-state region would agree on: Penn Station, as we know, it has to go. As Margaret Newman, FAIA, noted at the “Transportation as Cultural Identifier: Penn 2023” on 04.19.14, the station was built under the twin erroneous assumptions that New York City and rail travel were both in conditions of irreversible decline. Penn Station is slightly smaller than Bryant Park – about 8½ acres, or 368,000 vs. 418,000 square feet – yet the number of people passing through it daily, reported Newman, is roughly equivalent to the population of Denver, some half a million. And pass through it is all most of them do: it is no place to linger, the opposite of a welcoming space, disliked as widely as its lamented predecessor was admired. As Chris Sharples, AIA, hardly needed to remind this audience, it is a place where “we use the word ‘flee’; Vincent Scully probably would use the word ‘scurry.’” “If you think it’s bad now,” added Thomas Wright of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), “you ain’t seen nothing yet,” considering the rising numbers of users at this confluence of multiple transit systems. (Some 80% of Manhattan’s entering commuters now come from west of the Hudson, feeding New Jersey Transit’s growth over the past two decades, with the Long Island Rail Road holding steady, and true high-speed rail for the Northeast Corridor a possibility.) Endure it though we all do, the situation is critical. Continue reading “Lead Us Not Into Penn Station…”

Bring Them as Eagles

Mayor Bill de Blasio came to the Great Hall of Cooper Union’s landmark Foundation Building on Thursday, 04.10.14, to deliver a speech that catalogued some of the specific initiatives of his first 100 days in office, and which anticipated the path that his administration will pursue. Particular areas of focus of his speech were education, affordable housing, pedestrian safety, and equal opportunity. The broader theme was a description of the attributes of a progressive city. New York, the mayor asserted, has been a model for other cities across the nation and can be so again. What follows are excerpts transcribed in place that may be of particular interest to architects and others in the design community. In the superb setting of the Great Hall, with its history and volumetric quality, it was hard not to be impressed, as well, by the speechwriting skill and oratory of our new mayor. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Robert Kennedy, and James Russell Lowell (“fate loves the fearless”), Mayor de Blasio’s central theme – “the Progressive City” – in many ways resonated with Lowell’s new world Voyage to Vinland, from which the famous line was taken:

Strong from self-helping;
Eyes for the present
Bring them as eagles’,
Blind to the Past.
They shall make over
Creed, law, and custom…
Fate loves the fearless;
Fools, when their roof-tree
Falls think it doomsday;
Firm stands the sky.
Over the ruin
See I the promise.

(from Voyage to Vinland; started 1851, completed 1869)

Mayor de Blasio’s remarks:

“I would like to thank all of the friends who are with us today as we mark this special occasion. We have a lot to celebrate, a lot to be thankful for. I want to thank everyone here at Cooper Union, this extraordinary treasure. This stage is renowned for over a century and a half as a place where people come together to think and to dream. An extraordinary education is offered here. Curious minds have come here over the generations, people seeking truth. It is the perfect setting to discuss all that our city is capable of. Abraham Lincoln said right here on this stage, ‘Let us have faith that right makes might.’ Continue reading “Bring Them as Eagles”

In the News

In this issue:
– Library Renovation Worth the Wait
– New Life for an Old Brownstone
– Two Designs for Supportive Housing
– Healing Space for Physicians Organization
– Venerable Surf Club Gets a Renovation and New Neighbors Continue reading “In the News”

Editor’s Note

The Spring season has started off with a number of openings. Last week’s Barcelona-related exhibitions “Polis: 7 Lessons from the European Prize for Urban Public Space [2000-2012],” and “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile” opened at the Center for Architecture and Museum of the City of New York, respectively. Join us tomorrow at the Center for Architecture for the opening of the exhibition “American Society of Landscape Architects New York Chapter 2014 Awards.”

In addition, don’t forget to reserve your seat for the AIA New York Chapter Honors and Awards Luncheon. The final reservation and payment deadline is next Wednesday, 04.09.14. We look forward to seeing you there!

Finally, please support FIGMENT NYC, the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York’s (SEAoNY) City of Dreams pavilion competition winner for this year, CDR Studio’s “Governor’s Cup.” The pavilion will be a serpentine canopy made out of 30,000 reclaimed plastic cups. CDR Studio has initiated a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 for materials, storage, transportation, the organization of workshops and work on the island, maintenance, and disassembly. Volunteers are also welcome to sign up here.

Grassroots 2014

It is my pleasure to send you the following report on our recent visit to Washington, DC, for the annual Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference.

The AIA New York Chapter delegation included Lance Jay Brown, FAIA; Abby Suckle, FAIA; Illya Azaroff, AIA; Jessica Sheridan, AIA; Venesa Alicea, AIA; Rick Bell, FAIA; and Emma Pattiz. Additional AIANY members involved in legislative efforts at the conference included Susan Chin, FAIA, and Anthony P. Schirripa, FAIA. We were also joined by AIA New York State President Raymond L. Beeler, AIA, and Burton L. Roslyn, FAIA, 2012-2015 Regional Director, among others. Continue reading “Grassroots 2014”

Ride Citi Bike? The AIANY Wants to Know Your Thoughts!

Inspired by the AIA New York Chapter’s commitment to Active Design and expanding access to transportation options in NYC, the Chapter has launched a survey to study the motivations of Citi Bike users in the city, in consultation with Transportation Alternatives and with Harris Interactive, which is doing a similar survey on Vélib’.

The results from the survey will help us better understand why people use Citi Bike. It will only take a few minutes of your time. All information will be kept confidential.

To take the survey, please click here.