by Rick Bell FAIA Executive Director AIA New York
“Our transition is practically done. The team is on the ground.” These were the concluding comments by newly-elected NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer as he addressed a large audience of architects, engineers, and builders at the Construction Industry Breakfast Forum organized by the New York Building Congress (NYBC) at the Hilton on Thursday, 02.27.14.
After introductory remarks by NYBC Chairman Thomas Z. Scarangello, NYBC President Richard T. Anderson, and Iris Weinshall, in her capacity as co-chair of the NYBC’s Higher Education Committee, the Stringer noted: “We have a responsibility to think beyond four-year budgeting to think of long-term economic expansion.” He added, “Now it’s our generation’s turn to make these long term decisions.” Speaking of why New York can succeed in the new post-service economy, the former Manhattan Borough President noted: “Our city is the capitol of art, media, and entertainment. New York is where companies find content to fuel their businesses.”
The words echoed some of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s concerns about social equity and equal distribution of educational opportunities throughout the five boroughs. Stringer concentrated a significant part of his speech on access to technology, electronic equipment, and school coursework that “continue the growth of the high-tech sector through our public education system.” Decrying the lack of computer training in NYC public schools, he said, “One of the most direct ways is to prepare students in our public schools for college and a career through enhanced computer skills. But of the 75,000 teachers in our public school system, fewer than 100 teach computer science. It is unbelievable and unacceptable.”
He also addressed design issues, particularly of workspace, noting, “We must modernize NYC office space to create environments conducive to growth. Today’s high-tech office space represents more open and sharing work environments. The new entrepreneurs are having a lot more fun because the new shared work spaces are open and encourage collaboration.”
The audience was very receptive to an outlined vision of the future that encapsulated the Comptroller’s optimism. “Our goals are growth and expansion, putting people to work, and creating a city that will rival any in the world,” he said, concluding, “This is our moment, this is our opportunity, and we must not squander it.”