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July 16, 2014
by EmmaPattiz
Jessica Yager, Policy Director, NYU Furman Center; Jonathan J. Marvel, FAIA, Principal and Founder, Marvel Architects; Howard Slatkin, Director of Strategic Planning and Sustainability, NYC Department of City Planning; and Laurie J. Schoeman, Program Officer, Technical Services, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. discussed recent research and policy that will change the way New York City apartment buildings prepare for disaster at Affording Resilience: Housing Retrofits for Climate Threats Panel on 07.15.14. Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, LEED AP, Partner, Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, moderated the conversation.

On 07.02.14 a small group of architects, landscape architects, and engineers met with NYC Department of Design + Construction (DDC) Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora at the DDC offices in Long Island City. It was the second such roundtable discussion organized by AIANY, and part of the new commissioner’s “listening tour.” Also present were additional upper-level DDC staff members who have previously worked with many of the design professionals in attendance.

Commissioner Peña-Mora assured the group that Mayor de Blasio wants to make sure that DDC continues its Design and Construction Excellence program. The Design Excellence program has been around for 10 years, and there is a substantial body of work as a result. The commissioner, however, would like to improve upon it in a number of ways, and is enthusiastic about hearing from participants and prospective participants on how it can continue to grow.One of Peña-Mora’s primary concerns is responsiveness. He would like to decrease the timeline for completion of projects. He asked how design professionals in the room could shorten their design process, and what they think DDC could do to help. DDC frequently receives complaints from NYC Council Members who get frustrated when they provide funding for a project that is not completed in a timely way, so efficiency of delivery was a focus of the meeting.

In addition, the conversation touched on the need to diversify talent and ideas. The work of design professionals should be for the public, but firms often lose money when working with the city. DDC projects are often considered investments for firms, which are ultimately bigger financial burdens for small firms than large ones. DDC is concerned about maintaining relationships with small, medium, and large firms, and also emerging and MWBE firms.

Other topics of conversation included issues related to obtaining permits for work that is properly resilient and sustainable, and the current fee structures employed by DDC.

DDC and AIANY are going to continue this conversation in hopes of further advancing the interdisciplinary and interagency relationships.

Pulse Points

  • On 07.14.14, the Urban Green Council released High Cholesterol Buildings, a report that outlines the long-term problems caused by poor building envelopes. Certain techniques that might seem healthy today do little to promote sustainability in the future. For more information, read the report here.
  • On 07.14.14, AIA National has agreed to support theNational Institute of Buildings Services’ (NIBS) new National Performance-Based Design Guide (NPBDG), a tool for use by facility owners and building industry professionals together. NPBDG offers four levels of building performance, so building owners can work with their design team to select preferred levels. NPBDG can be viewed online here.
  • On 07.15.14, AIANY and the NYU Furman Center presented the panel discussion Affording Resilience: Housing Reform for Climate Threats, organized in conjunction with the “Affording Resilience: Housing Reform for Climate Threats” exhibition on view at the Center for Architecture through 08.07.14, and the release of the related NYU Furman Center report. Building on a January design workshop, presentations and the moderated conversation addressed creative designs and potential policies for resiliency retrofits, including responses to regulatory and financial barriers faced by affordable housing.
  • Even in the off session, lobbying continues at the state level. AIANY is going to continue pushing for certain priorities, including The Good Samaritan Act (S.3942-A Hannon/A.4380-B Englebright) and Due Process for Design Professionals (S.5525 Lanza/A.8491 Cusick).

Emma Pattiz is the Policy Coordinator at the AIA New York Chapter.

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