by Rick Bell FAIA Executive Director AIA New York
On Tuesday, 10.21.14, our local neighborhood association, the Friends of LaGuardia, held its annual dinner at the NoHo Star on Bleecker and Lafayette Streets. The LaGuardia Medallion was presented to Lois Rakoff, described as a “long-time friend of LaGuardia Park & the Village Community,” and to Randy Mastro and Jim Walden of the Gibson Dunn law firm, who were called “attorneys fighting for our park and open space in the Village.” A special shout-out was given to red-tailed hawks, known to be frequent visitors to LaGuardia Park. In fact guests were instructed to “wear a flash of red in honor of the red-tailed hawks.”
The president of the Friends of LaGuardia, Lawrence Goldberg, who served as master of ceremonies, brought elected officials to the lectern, including NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and NYS Senator Brad Hoylman.
A common refrain of the short speeches was the importance of open space, and the particular value of community participation in the creation, maintenance, and safeguarding of neighborhood parks. Friends of LaGuardia has been a co-sponsor of many Center for Architecture initiatives, including the Civic Space presentation of Christopher Janney’s Sonic Forest in September. Among other Center for Architecture stalwarts present were Mary Burke, FAIA, a vice president of the AIA New York State Board, architect Natalia Valencia, and Amy Stroud of HM White Site Architects.
The LaGuardia gala, the 19th annual iteration of the event, was called “A Soaring Success” on the invitation, and was organized by volunteer members of the Friends of LaGuardia Board of Directors, including Bertha Chase, Terri Cude, Barbara Devaney, Anne Hearn, Judy Magida, Connie Masullo, and Ellen Peterson-Lewis. Board member Peter DeLuca sang “God Bless America,” and was said to be our block’s answer to Tony Bennett. By the end of the festive evening celebrating parks and community, Peter’s strong voice was supplemented by the strains of a remarkable violinist. As is said, a good time was had by all.