by Jay Bond AIANY Policy Director
AIA New York has provided testimony, letters of support, and position statements on numerous issues and projects this past year, offering expertise as architects on city policy initiatives, the Charter Revision, and major building projects to the NYC Council, City Planning Commission, Charter Revision Commission, and other governmental agencies.
Task Force on Regulatory Review Reform/Charter Revision
Our Task Force on the Department of Buildings and Charter Revision worked over the last 11 months to document issues of concern architects have with city agencies that became the basis for our testimony before the Charter Revision Commission and for our meeting with Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith. During our meeting, Goldsmith invited us to participate in the Construction and Building Working Group, which was seated to assist management consultants (KPMG) in developing recommendations to streamline the processes at the Department of Buildings.
Community Board Outreach Effort
An initiative was launched in November 2009 to place architects on New York City Community Boards. We have had some success in placing members, and have expanded by providing outreach twice a year. To date, we have at least two architects on every Community Board in Manhattan. The deadline for new applications is 01.15.11 for 2011 Manhattan Board positions.
Key Terms Clarification Text Amendment
AIANY has participated in advance review of the proposed key terms clarification text amendments to the Zoning Resolution organized by the NYC Department of City Planning. Based on refined definition of the terms “development” and “building,” as well as associated terms, AIANY reviewed and commented on potential implications of these far-reaching modifications and recommended changes. The Committee on Planning and Urban Design also held a meeting that allowed City Planning to present the proposed changes to a larger audience of design professionals. We offered testimony on 12.15.10 at the City Planning Commission and expect to testify at the City Council in the coming weeks.
New York City Energy Conservation Code
We testified at the NYC Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings hearing on the NYC Energy Conservation Code. AIANY offered recommendations on language changes and general support of the amendments to the code, which regulates the design and construction of buildings for the effective use of energy. The proposed changes will ensure that the code remains as stringent as the 2010 State Energy Code and complies with the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. We understand that buildings contribute significantly to carbon emissions and climate change, and therefore we have a fundamental responsibility to improve building energy efficiency to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Statute of Repose
We are working diligently to organize support to establish time limits after which tort claims for personal injury or wrongful death may not be asserted against design professionals. Under current law, a cause of action grounded on a theory of simple negligence brought by a third party (not an owner of a building or structure) against a design professional or construction contractor is governed by a three-year statute of limitations. The cause of action does not accrue until the injury takes place — even if the plaintiff is injured 20, 30, 50, or 100 years after the design professional has completed work on the building or structure.
Forty-eight other states have enacted legislation establishing a statute of repose of seven years or more, with completion of the project serving as the accrual date for the cause of action. It is our goal to obtain similar relief for architects in New York State. We continue to research the issue to inform our strategy moving forward. While we have anecdotal evidence that there are very few cases that fall under the statute and even fewer that go to trial, we are gathering data that will strengthen the argument.
Car Share Zoning Text Amendment
On 07.27.10, AIANY wrote to the City Planning Commission in support of a citywide Car Share Zoning Text Amendment to allow car share vehicles to park in off-street parking garages and lots in suitable locations around the city.
On 06.10.10, we delivered testimony at the Government Structure Issue Forum, advocating for consistent approval policy among agencies and a coordinated review process for larger projects that require approvals from multiple agencies. AIANY recommendations on regulatory review were included in the Charter Revision Commissions Final Report for consideration by future commissions with the recommendation that the proposal be studied in greater detail.
State Budget Impasse
AIANY, the New York Building Congress, the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York, and the General Contractors Association of New York wrote an open letter demanding passage of a State budget to the Governor and members of the New York State Legislature, calling on the New York State Legislature and the Governor to pass a final budget immediately.
NYS Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act
In May, AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, wrote to the state legislature in support of The Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act (Bill #S5560AlA8011 A). The act requires state agencies, authorities, and corporations to align their infrastructure expenditures with specified smart growth criteria. This will optimize the effectiveness of limited public infrastructure funds and will encourage sustainable land use and development. The act was signed into law by the Governor in August.
Streetscape Preservation Text
We sent a letter to the Chair of the City Planning Commission supporting the objective to create a more attractive and functional streetscape in residential neighborhoods but cautioned moving ahead with the proposal before the Department of City Planning had completed its parking study.
AIANY spoke in support of Phase One development of Moynihan Station at a joint ESDC/MSDC public hearing held at the Farley Post Office. Phase One Changes include actual physical change to the fabric of the Farley Building, which will allow straphangers, commuters, and tourists to enter the station through an exciting and dignified pair of portals.
The New Domino
After hosting “The New Domino” spotlight exhibition, and a design presentation by Rafael Viñoly, FAIA, at the Center for Architecture, and visiting the site with AIA Brooklyn, 2010 AIANY President Tony Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA, and AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, wrote to City Planning Chair Amanda Burden, Hon. AIANY, FAICP, and provided testimony on behalf of the Chapter in support of The New Domino master plan.
NYSERDA Energy Code Training
AIANY will deliver training sessions to architects, engineers, and others in the real estate, construction, and design industries on the new energy code through 80 course sessions over a 30-month period. These sessions will be offered at the Center for Architecture and other locations around the city and state.
Architect in Albany Lobby Day
Last April, architects from the Chapter joined with other components of AIA New York State in meetings with members of the New York State Senate and Assembly to discuss legislative issues of importance to architects. Among the issues discussed were: Alternative Project Delivery; Non-Design Professional Ownership; Green Schools; Qualification Based Selection of Professional Design Services; Good Samaritan Act; Design Liability Reform; Smart Growth; and the Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
Second Avenue Subway
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney visited the Center for Architecture to discuss funding and timing of massive infrastructure projects happening on both sides of the East River, including the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access, and other efforts she is undertaking on behalf of her constituents on the Upper East Side and in Queens. The program was co-organized by AIANY and AIA Queens, with the support of AIA National.
AIANY testified at the City Planning Commission in support of Atelier Christian de Portzamparc’s eight-acre development on the Far West Side. The plan as proposed would: replace a large parking lot and continue the residential character of West End Avenue; extend the street grid to allow unimpeded access through the site as well as restore sightlines to the waterfront; and provide new open space and the core and shell for a new school.
National Housing Trust Fund
The Chapter sent letters to Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in support of the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) legislation pending in the Senate. The legislation calls for an infusion of $1.065 billion in capital funds into the NHTF which will support the immediate production of 10,000 homes, creating 15,000 new construction jobs and 4,000 new jobs. This part of the legislation also has the support of AIA National.