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January 12, 2010
by Rick Bell FAIA Executive Director AIA New York
Bloomberg-Inaugural

(Left): Mayor Bloomberg taking the oath of office; (Right): 2010 AIANY President Tony Schirripa, AIA, IIDA (left), and AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, at the inaugural.

Rick Bell (left); Olsen Tartufo

The third inaugural of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took place on Friday, January 1 at City Hall Park. Remarks were brief, perhaps because of the biting cold and the lack of the stars whose presence had lengthened the event four years before. The Mayor started with a reference to the people’s party that took place on New Year’s Eve at Times Square: “Last night the final moments of 2009 passed into history, and as they did, Americans from across the country looked to New York to ring in a new year, a new decade, and a new beginning. And that is only right, because our city has always led the nation, not just in celebrating holidays, but in pioneering the most innovative and ambitious new ideas.” He noted the historic achievements and leadership of New Yorkers, saying, “We have built the country’s largest affordable housing program and adopted its most sweeping public health agenda. We have pursued the boldest sustainability agenda on the planet. And we have made the greatest city in the world even greater.”

A central theme of the inauguration was the importance of immigration reform to New York and its economy. Mayor Bloomberg called our city “the world capital of opportunity and entrepreneurism,” and a place where “innovation occurs when people look with fresh ideas at old problems, and then work together to solve them.” Rhetorical flourishes in the speech gave hope to the environmentalists, builders, and architects present, including newly inaugurated AIA New York Chapter President Tony Schirripa, AIA, IIDA, whose theme this year addresses architects as leaders. The Mayor said: “We will find innovative new ways to create jobs in the industries of the future, from bioscience and arts and culture, to green technology that fights global warming and local asthma at the same time,” and “the future starts here, it starts now, and it starts with us.”

While the city’s Active Design Guidelines, a successful collaboration between several mayoral agencies, was not specifically called out in the short speech, its upcoming launch the evening of January 27 at the Center for Architecture, was anticipated. The Mayor said, “Conventional wisdom holds that by a third term, mayors run out of energy and ideas — but we have proved the conventional wisdom wrong time and again, and, I promise you, we will do it once more.”

From my perspective, the best embellishment in the inaugural speech was the Mayor’s concluding quote of the analogy from E.B. White’s Here is New York: “New York is to the nation what the white church spire is to the village — the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying the way is up.” Before the Staten Island P.S. 22 chorus broke into a G-rated rendition of the Jay-Z song “Run This Town” (from Blueprint 3), the Mayor ended, “On this first day of the year, the first day of the decade, and the first day of the future of this great city — the way is still up.”

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