New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has selected Tom Finkelpearl, the Queens Museum president and executive director, as the city’s next cultural affairs commissioner. De Blasio made the announcement at the museum, which recently underwent a significant renovation led by Grimshaw Architects.
New York City is more jam-packed than ever. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city’s population is 8,405,837, which is up more than 230,000 from 2010. The Bureau reports, “the increase is fueled by people continuing to move to the city, a decline in the number of people leaving the city, as well as the continued surplus of births over deaths due to life expectancy in the city reaching new record highs.” Every borough experienced population growth, but none as significantly as—duh—Brooklyn.
Some much-needed rent relief could be in store for over one million New Yorkers. The New York Observer reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed five “tenant-friendly” members to the city’s Rent Guidelines Board, which oversees rent increases for rent-stabilized units. During the mayoral campaign, then-candidate de Blasio was quite critical of the Board. At the time, he called for a rent freeze on some units and slammed their decision to allow 4 percent increases on one-year leases. As with most of his appointments thus far, de Blasio is signaling a clear break from his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. A spokesperson for the de Blasio Administration told The Observer “we plan to undertake an ambitious agenda that confronts the affordability crisis facing the city’s tenants.”
New York City will soon lose another one of its bookstores—at least temporarily. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has denied landmark status for 31 West 57th Street, the century old building that houses the truly iconic Rizolli Bookstore. This clears the way for the building’s owners to demolish the current structure and put up what is expected to be a commercial or residential tower— this is 57th Street, after all. The owners of the building are reportedly trying to find a new home for Rizolli.
Citi Bike’s week of bad news just got worse. After reports that the program was short tens of millions of dollars, and plagued with technical and maintenance problems, Citi Bike’s general manager, Justin Ginsburgh, has resigned. He is pedaling off to advise a construction firm. It’s not clear what’s next for the struggling, but popular program. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the city will not bail out the program, but it may allow Citi Bike to raise membership fees.
Tenants Drop Lawsuit Over New York City’s Controversial Plan for Private Towers on Public Housing Land
Tenants have officially withdrawn a lawsuit over a Bloomberg-era plan to allow developers to build residential towers on New York City public housing land. The Land-Lease Plan, as it is known, would have allowed the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to essentially infill open land at their housing developments with new market-rate and low-income apartments.
The Forum for Urban Design and the Institute for Urban Design—two New York City organizations that promote, well, urban design—announced that they have merged, effective immediately. The new “Forum and Institute for Urban Design” will be led by co-presidents Michael Sorkin and Alexander Garvin and consist of 400 fellows. The organization will regularly be hosting roundtables, symposia, and debates about urban planning and development in cities around the world. The first program, on April 16, will be focused on the future of subsidized housing.
“I am delighted at the long overdue union of the Institute and the Forum,” Sorkin said in a statement. “Joining forces will yield a stronger voice on behalf of a progressive vision of urban design for New York, as well as cities around the world.”
The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has announced that New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has been awarded the 2014 Brendan Gill Prize. The award will be officially presented by MAS President Vin Cipolla and Board Chair Genie Birch on March 25th. The annual cash prize is named in honor of the late New Yorker theater and architecture critic.
“Michael’s insightful candor and continuous scrutiny of New York’s architectural environment is journalism at its finest, and in solid alignment with the high standards of Brendan himself,” MAS President Vin Cipolla said in a statement. The jury was particularly impressed with Kimmelman’s calls to drastically improve Penn Station.
With Bill de Blasio making traffic regulation a priority of his fledgling administration, new visualizations of traffic injuries across New York City illustrate what the new mayor is up against in attempting to make such incidents a thing of the past. Statistician and Pratt professor Ben Wellington has used open data documenting traffic fatalities and cyclist injuries to generate heat maps of where in the city such events tended to occur in 2013.