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July 7, 2010
by Rick Bell FAIA Executive Director AIA New York
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Volunteer docent Michael Bischoff, AIA, and the crowd enjoying the views in New York Harbor.

Natalya Nikolaeva

Architectural boat tours help make sense of Chicago’s Loop, providing insight into design, development, and decision-making. Such tours are now here in New York with AIANY out on the water, working with Classic Harbor Lines on a trip that circumnavigates Manhattan, departing from Chelsea Piers. More information and tickets here.

A team of AIANY volunteer docents, led by Board Vice President Abby Suckle, FAIA, has developed a narrative and map that makes the tour both entertaining and educational. The map, Around Manhattan Now, lists 144 projects from Chelsea Piers (Butler Rogers Baskett) and 100 Eleventh Avenue (Atelier Jean Nouvel & Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners) up to the Peter J. Sharpe Boat House (Robert A.M. Stern Architects). Proposed waterfront plans, including The New Domino (Rafael Viñoly Architects) and Governors Island proposals (West 8, Diller Scofidio & Renfro, and Rogers Marvel Architects) are highlighted in the context of New York’s rich architectural, mercantile, and maritime history.

Volunteers, including Michael Bischoff, AIA, Kyle Johnson, AIA, and Deborah Young, AIA, have led those aboard down the Hudson and up the East, Harlem, and Bronx Rivers. Knowledgeable New Yorkers, including land use lawyer Michael Sillerman of Kramer Levin, have added their commentary. Sillerman’s two cents on the view of Lower Manhattan: “This is a good place to talk about transfer of development rights and the setback requirements that determined skyscraper form.”

Apart from the scheduled Saturday sailings, the AIANY and Classic Harbor Lines have also been able to accommodate special requests. Walter B. Melvin Architects, a Manhattan-based architectural firm, decided to bring the whole office for a firm outing, which, according to Melvin’s business manager, Jennifer Murray, provided “a good way of seeing lots of our work at the same time.”

Whether to cool off on a hot summer day or listen to the architectural commentary, come aboard for the tour and stay to take in the pleasures of the harbor.

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