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September 17, 2019
by Adam Roberts
At a City Council hearing on the bill last week, architects, ornithologists, and birders testified about the need to require bird-friendly glass. Image credit: Center for Architecture.

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the New York City Council, Int 1482, which would require that new construction utilize birdfriendly glass. Birds have difficulty seeing glass, which causes 90,000 to 200,000 to die each year in New York City from collisions.  

Birdfriendly glass refers to glass or coverings for glass that deter bird collisions, including fritted glass, UV reflective glass, stained glass, metal screens, insect screens, and other products. Architects already use these materials for a variety of reasons, including sustainability and privacy.  

With support from AIANY, NYCAudubon, and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the City Council rewrote the bill to add specificity. According to the current version, 90% of a building’s glass up to 75 feet would have to score 25 or less on ABC’s Threat Factor rating. This would curb collisions where they occur most frequently, at the tree line where birds fly into reflections of trees. Though some aspects of the bill could be improved, most importantly extending it to include retrofits, the rewritten bill would nonetheless put the City on the path towards solving the problem of bird collisions. 

AIANY has officially come out in support of the bill. At a City Council hearing on the bill last week, architects, ornithologists, and birders testified about the need to require bird-friendly glass. While there were some questions about what is considered bird-friendly, no one providing testimony in person expressed opposition to the bill. Notably, Melanie La Rocca, the new Commissioner of the NYC Department of Buildings, expressed her support for the bill and willingness to strongly enforce its provisions. 

As changes are made to the bill over the coming months, AIANY will continue to ensure that its members are informed of any important developments with the bill. For those architects who currently do not use birdfriendly glass, AIANY will provide opportunities for education and outreach to ensure its members are ready to implement the bill’s provisions. 

Policy Points: 

  • This week, AIANY held its inaugural City Hall Advocacy Day. Over thirty AIANY members and staff participated, meeting with Council Members and their staffs about issues facing architects and architecture in the City. It was a productive day for everyone involved, giving Council Members and opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of legislation, while allowing architects to build stronger relationships with their elected officials. 
  • The annual AIANY, ASLA-NY, and APA NY Metro Chapter Policy Conference, The Big Picture: Large-Scale Developments,” was held at the Center for Architecture last week. Panelists discussed the impacts of past, present, future, and unbuilt megadevelopments in the City, with a keynote by Rit Aggarwala, Head of Urban Systems at Sidewalk Labs. In the coming months, please be on the lookout for next year’s conference, as tickets sell out quickly. 

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