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July 30, 2014
by EmmaPattiz
AIANY President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, and Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, appeared on the cover of the 07.30.14 Commercial Observer.

On 07.22.14, AIANY President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, and Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, testified before the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) about One Vanderbilt Avenue. The proposed project, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and developed by SL Green, would sit just west of Grand Central Terminal. It necessitated review by LPC because of its retrieval of air rights from The Bowery Savings Bank building down the street and its close proximity to the 100-year-old landmark terminal. Although the design does not demonstrate what LPC customarily considers “harmonious” to its neighboring building, the group was largely in favor of the project and its relationship to Grand Central Terminal.

The conversation and testimonies at the hearing focused mostly on the glass-enclosed base of the building – a void-like contrast to the solid Grand Central Terminal. The dynamic façade also brought up discussion about whether tall buildings are meant to be in the background or the foreground of the city as it grows. One goal of the proposed building is to reveal new views of the southwest corner of Grand Central, currently hidden by the existing building. The new design steps back from the street while also gesturing towards the terminal.

The project also extends transit pathways underground, connecting to the subway and Grand Central, and includes street-level public space. After the East Side Access system is complete, and the number of people commuting to East Midtown significantly increases, additional access and waiting areas will be essential. A proposal with the NYC Department of City Planning to create a pedestrian public space on Vanderbilt Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, which would serve as an outdoor living room and an extension of Grand Central’s waiting space, is currently in the works as well.

AIANY determined that the project exemplifies sound planning for the city’s future. With additional commercial space, enhanced transportation connectivity, and open public areas, the project will improve the accessibility and quality of the East Midtown neighborhood and the city at large.

Read the full testimony here.

Pulse Points

  • In June, the MTA Reinvention Commission formed to bring together experts from a variety of fields to consider the challenges facing the MTA, and investment opportunities to address these challenges. This month, the commission held its first meetings and heard from a range of civic, business, and transportation experts. The commission asked for comments about growing ridership, shifting demographic trends, and a changing climate. Some of the areas of focus included: the AirTrain to La Guardia Airport, crowding on the L train, and crumbling train tunnels. On 07.16.14, AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, had the opportunity to address the commission and discuss issues related to design, resilience, and capacity. You can read his statement here.
  • On 07.17.14, Mayor Bill de Blasio named Rick Chandler as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Buildings. Chandler is a professional engineer and assistant vice-president of facilities at Hunter College. He previously served as a Borough Commissioner of Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. AIANY looks forward to connecting with Chandler when he takes his new post in September, and continuing to strengthen the relationship between the chapter and DOB. Read the press release here.
  • On 07.22.14, Mayor de Blasio announced his nomination of Margery Perlmutter as the Commissioner of the Board of Standards and Appeals. De Blasio also nominated Adi Shamir Baron and John Gustafsson as Commissioners of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Read the press release here.
  • On 07.24.14, AIANY President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, and AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, met with the new NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan.
  • On 07.28.14, AIANY President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA and AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, met with the new Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development, Vicki Been.
  • On 07.29.14 AIANY met with both Council Members Mark Treyger and Margaret Chin to discuss how their initiatives overlap with those of AIANY.
  • AIANY President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, and Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, appeared on the cover of the 07.30.14 Commercial Observer. The article, which focuses on the “Open to the Public: Civic Space Now” exhibition now on view at the Center for Architecture through 09.06.14, is also posted online here.

Emma Pattiz is the AIANY Policy Coordinator. For more information on AIANY policy initiatives and programs, please contact her at epattiz@aiany.org.

 

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