Friends of the High Line Co-Founder Robert Hammond Stepping Down.  Robert Hammond. (Courtesy Friends of the High Line) Robert Hammond and Joshua David met at a community board meeting in 1999. The future of the then rusting and decrepit High Line was on the docket, and it was very much in doubt. The two joined forces to create Friends of the High Line, a non-profit that led the charge for the preservation and transformation of the disused line rail into a linear park. Today, Hammond announced he will step down as the organization’s executive director, saying, in a statement, “My passion has always been in starting new things, and I am looking forward to pursuing whatever my next project may be. In my heart I am an entrepreneur.”


Report: NTSB Chair Front Runner For Next Secretary of Transportation.  Report: NTSB Chair Front Runner For Next Secretary of Transportation With Ray LaHood out as President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, observers have been speculating on who might take the nation’s top transportation post. According to The Hill blog, the latest front-runner is standing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair Deborah Hersman, replacing LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has said he wants to focus on his remaining time in office. Hersman has said she is not interested in the job, and according to the Hill, the NTSB responded in a statement, “Chairman Hersman’s full attention is focused on the important work of running the NTSB.”  [Via Planetizen.]


Cuomo’s Buyback Program Could Reshape Coastline.  Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York (Courtesy of David Sundberg) New York’s Governor Cuomo is moving ahead with the buyout program he first introduced in his State of the State speech last month. The New York Times reported that Cuomo is proposing an ambitious plan to spend $400 million to purchase homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, and clear the land for wetlands, dunes, and parkland that will “help protect coastal communities from ferocious storms” in the future. The buyout offer will also extend to homeowners who live in vulnerable areas at risk of flooding, but that were not affected by Sandy. Cuomo intends on paying for the program with part of the $51 Billion Emergency aid package passed by Congress, and then will look to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the remaining funding. In the meantime, Cuomo and his aids are waiting on the approval of federal officials. More details about the plan are expected in the next two weeks. (Photo: David Sundberg/ESTO)


The Story Behind New York’s Steamy Streets.  The Story Behind New York's Steamy Streets If you’ve been to New York, you’re sure to have seen the ubiquitous orange-and-white striped chimneys spewing steam from the middle of Manhattan’s busiest streets. Slate digs into the story behind the steam, and the 105 miles of pipes that distribute the commodity to buildings around the city for heating and other purposes. According to Slate, these street chimneys are put in place when repairs are being made and excess steam is released through the system’s 3,000 manhole covers. (Photo: Eric Wüstenhagen / Flickr)


AIA Michigan Needs a New Executive Director.  Detroit, on the water. (Image courtesy Bernt Rostad via Flickr.) AIA Michigan is looking for a new executive director. The 126-year-old, Detroit-based organization needs someone to act as its “ambassador to the broader business and civic community.” Dennis M. King, the search committee chair, is accepting submissions at until the close of business Friday, March 1. More information is available at (Image: Bernt Rostad / Flickr)


FEMA Says No to Houses of Worship.  (David Sundberg / ESTO) Churches and synagogues are among the structures that suffered considerable damage from Hurricane Sandy, and while several non-profit organizations qualify for federal disaster assistance grants, houses of worship will not be eligible for aid because of a constitutional separation of church and state. A group of Jewish organizations is not giving up and continues to apply for grants. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman has presented an amendment to the Hurricane Sandy recovery appropriations bill to add houses of worship to the list of eligible organizations. (Photo: David Sundberg / ESTO)


As City Point Prepares to Start, Unions Protest.  As City Point Prepares to Start, Unions Protest With phase two of Brooklyn’s City Point development set to break ground this week, the Wall Street Journal reports on bubbling labor troubles at the COOKFOX-designed pair of residential towers that will be partially built by non-union workers. The Journal noted that while many mega-developments across New York City are being built with union labor, such as Atlantic Yards’ B2 Tower, Hudson Yards, and Hunters Point South, the City Point example “underscores how the city’s powerful construction unions are losing their grip on development projects.” More renderings after the jump.


Ray LaHood to Continue as Transportation Secretarty.  Ray LaHood to Continue as Transportation Secretarty Ray LaHood will stay on as U.S. Secretary of Transportation for President Obama’s second term, a reversal from statements he made last year. Bloomberg is reporting that LaHood said he would be “sticking around for a while” during an inauguration ball last night, but he and a DOT spokesperson declined to elaborate or say how long he might remain with the administration. LaHood has been a strong proponent of high speed rail, among other forward-thinking transportation concepts gaining traction in cities across the country. He said recently at Chicago’s Urban Forum, “High-speed rail is coming to America. There’s no stopping it. We are not going back.”


BKLYN DESIGNS Returns to DUMBO.  Courtesy of BKLYN DESIGNS For those who love all things Brooklyn branded, the exhibition, BKLYN DESIGNS, will be back in DUMBO from May 10-12—just in time for New York Design Week—with its selection of contemporary furnishings and home accessories all designed and/or manufactured in the borough where the handlebar mustaches, artisanal butchering, and DIY crafts are ubiquitous. This tradeshow, presented by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, is an opportunity for Brooklyn-based designers to showcase their wares to buyers, editors, and the public. The application to participate is available here.


To Rebuild or Relocate? Cuomo Offers Options.  Houses damaged by Hurricane Sandy (Courtesy of David Sundberg) Over the last few months, there’s been much talk about rebuilding smarter after Hurricane Sandy to prepare for the next super storm. But one alternative has gone under the radar until today’s State of the State Address when New York Governor Cuomo proposed the Recreate NY-Home Buyout Program that would provide funds to buy out homeowners who wish to sell their properties and relocate elsewhere. Capital New York reported that a resident estimated that 60 percent of his Fox Beach community in Staten Island wants a buyout, and through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, that just might be possible. But for a buyout to happen, it requires a several-step process that would need the “Bloomberg administration to petition the state for grant money.” If Cuomo follows through on his proposal, residents of Fox Beach and other waterfront communities who want to relocate might get their wish. (Photo: David Sundberg/ESTO)


Birnbaum Picks Landscape Architecture’s Most Notable Achievements of the Year.  Birnbaum Picks Landscape Architecture's Most Notable Achievements of the Year The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Charles Birnbaum is known as a passionate advocate, and occasional agitator, for the profession of landscape architecture. Blogging for the Huffington Post, Birnbaum has compiled a list of notable developments in landscape, including well known projects like LA’s Grand Park by Rios Clementi Hale to lesser known works like Sugar Beach in Montreal by Claude Cormier & Associates. It’s an engaging list, and it also includes a mention of a recent AN editorial, “Landscape Architecture’s Ascendance.AN is glad to be a part of the dialogue of this important design profession.


Architect Forced To Be Drug Mule.  Tijuana Cultural Center designed by Eugenio Velazquez (Courtesy of Goo Local Tijuana) Architecture and drug smuggling don’t usually occupy the same space in a news story, but today architect Eugenio Velazquez, a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico, was sentenced to a 6-month term for trying to bring 12.8 pounds of cocaine into the U.S. in a special lane for pre-screened, trusted motorists. Velazquez received a lighter sentence after explaining to the judge that drug traffickers had threatened to kill him and his family if he didn’t comply with their demands to smuggle the cocaine. Velazquez has designed several important buildings in Tijuana including a police headquarters and the Tijuana Cultural Center (known as El Cubo). He’s currently working on Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral and plans to move forward with the project.


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