Robert Moses, Atlantic Yards & Air Pollution

East
Thursday, January 14, 2010
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Pollution predominates—not surprisingly—in heavily trafficked areas, yet another legacy of Robert Moses. (Courtesy Office of the Mayor)

Almost exactly a month ago, the Bloomberg administration released a study called the “New York City Community Air Survey.” Years in the making, it was heralded as the first comprehensive study of the city’s air quality ever undertaken, with results that are shocking if not obvious. As the map of particulate matter above shows—and as many of us already knew—the city can be a pretty gross place to live and breathe. There are plenty more maps like this, but they all basically come to two conclusions: Where there are cars and oil boilers, there is pollution. However, the wonk in us saw something particularly interesting: Outside of Manhattan—where congestion is a whole other animal (hence hope for congestion pricing)—the pollution tracks pretty heavily along the expressways built by none other than the Power Broker himself. We even built a handy GIF (after the jump!) to illustrate this. There is one notable exception, that big brown spot in the middle of Brooklyn, which is why we’re bringing this up now. Read More

Related Events?

East, East Coast
Friday, December 11, 2009
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City Council member Joel Rivera leads a rally against the Related Companies Kingsbridge Armory project on Wednesday. Council speeker Christine Quinn has taken a quieter approach with that developers Hudson Yards.

City Council member Joel Rivera leads a rally against the Related Companies Kingsbridge Armory project on Wednesday. Council speeker Christine Quinn has taken a quieter approach with that developer's Hudson Yards.

With all the ink spilled of late on the Related Companies’ faltering plans to transform the massive Kingsbridge Armory into an equally huge mall, another of the developer’s megaprojects has been lost amidst the protests: Hudson Yards. As Bronx City Council member Joel Rivera has been leading a noisy fight against the armory, demanding a living wage for workers who will someday populate its stores and food courts, speaker Christine Quinn has been more quietly negotiating with Related on adding affordable housing to the western section of the outsiszed development planned for the Far West Side. Read More

All Planning Is Local

East, East Coast
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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Stringer (far left) and Anthony Borelli, his planning director (far right), with last years fellows. (Courtesy MBPO)

Stringer (far left) and Anthony Borelli, his planning director (far right), with last year's fellows. (Courtesy MBPO)

One of the roles played by the city’s 59 community boards—besides issuing liquor licenses—is to oversee local planning issues, and while the input of the board is only advisory, it tends to weigh in the decision making of the City Planning Commission (as was the case at Hudson Yards earlier this week) and the City Council. The only problem is, the boards have no professional planners on staff. Manhattan has been blessed with a great deal of help the past three years, however, thanks to a fellowship program begun by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and today he announced it will hopefully be expanding to the entire city by next year. Read More

Good Old New York

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
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Making the streets—and buildings—safer for New Yorks seniors. (Courtesy Streetfilms)

Making the streets—and buildings—safer for New York's seniors. (Courtesy Streetfilms)

Yesterday, the city released a report, “Age Friendly New York,” [PDF] about creating a place that is more appealing to seniors. After all, New York can be hard enough as it is without a bum hip and fifth-floor walk-up. (Why else do so many of us flee for Florida in our autumn years?) The report contains the expected investments in senior centers and “social inclusion,” but roughly 40 percent of the 59 initiatives deal directly or indirectly with issues of equal concern to architects and planners, like more seats at those fancy Cemusa bus shelters, more affordable housing dedicated to seniors, and improved elevator and escalator access. “The initiatives we’re launching will go a long way towards helping older New Yorkers live more connected, vibrant, and meaningful lives,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press release. The best part is, it might even mean a nicer city for the rest of us, not to mention some much need work for the city’s designers. See all 23 initiatives after the jump. Read More

Still Waiting

West
Monday, July 6, 2009
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Back on April 19 LA County Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe told the Los Angeles Times that she was investigating the January 16 firing of former LA County Planning Chief Bruce McClendon. McClendon  told the Times that he was probably fired for protecting his staff from the efforts of County Supervisors’ aides to influence zoning and development decisions in the county. Watanabe  told the Times that the results of that investigation would be released “in the coming weeks.” Well it’s now been almost three months and the results of that investigation are apparently still not available. So what’s the wait? A call to Watanabe’s office referred us to her web site, where we found no documents relating to the investigation. So until then, we’re just left to wonder what’s going on…

Straight and Narrow at the Globe

Other
Monday, June 15, 2009
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KPFs proposed Boston Arch (Courtesy KPF).

KPF's proposed Boston Arch (Courtesy KPF).

This past week, the Boston Globe‘s editorial page has been enthralled with the Greenway and Don Chiofaro’s proposed Boston Arch thereon. (We’d like to think they were inspired by us.) It began with an editorial criticizing the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s apparent foot-dragging on its Greenway development study, followed by an encapsulation of the comments from said editorial–many in favor of the project–and now an op-ed calling for greater density on the Greenway. While the Globe‘s editorial board is welcome to its opinions, it should not be as disingenuous as the power brokers it attempts to lampoon. Read More

The FiveThirtyEight on Traffic

Other
Thursday, May 7, 2009
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(Bryan Christie Design for Esquire)

In a feature for Esquire, number cruncher and future predictor Nate Silver ponders the continuing decline in per capital vehicle miles traveled. Americans are driving less. Significantly less, in spite of major drops in gas prices since last year. Certainly the economy has something to do with this. Fewer people are driving to work since few people have jobs. But Silver doesn’t think the economy explains the decline. Read More

Inside Out, Outside In

Other
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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The Pembroke Hill School campus before Gisolfi's redesign.

Peter Gisolfi’s oeuvre is diverse enough to merit five separate categories in his new book Finding the Place of Architecture in the Landscape: townscape, campus, landscapes and buildings, gardens and houses, and transformation. Read More

Billboards: WAIT a minute…

Other
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
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A collection of LA signs from the site stopbillboardblight.com

A collection of LA signs from the site banbillboardblight.org

Today  AIA/LA’s Director of Government & Public Affairs, Will Wright,  testified to LA’s planning commission regarding a revised sign ordinance controlling the erection of billboards in the city. A moratorium on all new signs was passed by LA’s city council in December, while the city’s original sign ordinance—considered by many to be ineffective— was passed in 1986. Wright requested that the commission delay a vote and consider a revised  ordinance “until comprehensive visual analysis of the proposed regulations is completed.” A vote on the revised ordinance is expected in the next few weeks. Read More

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On the Right Track?

Other
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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(newtonxl/Flickr)

Yesterday afternoon in Denver, Colorado, President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law. The process of doling out the spoils begins, as we wait, and hope, for the desired economic recovery. One piece of good news for urbanites and green transportation advocates, the bill includes $8 billion for high-speed rail, according to Politico. Read More

Another Planner Down

Other
Thursday, January 22, 2009
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Just weeks after LA City Planning Commission President Jane Usher resigned, Southern California is down another major planner: The LA Times has reported that LA County’s chief planner Bruce McClendon (pictured) was just fired by County Chief Executive Officer William T. Fujioka.

McClendon told the Times that he believed the firing was likely in retaliation for becoming a whistle-blower against the Board of Supervisors. He said he had told Fujioka that supervisors’ aides often tried influencing hearing officers’ decisions on whether to permit development plans. “It was illegal, and they can go to jail for doing it,” McClendon told the Times. Read More

Showdown at the Coney Corral

Other
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
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(Courtesy DCP)

(Courtesy DCP)

(Courtesy DCP)

(Courtesy MAS)

So it comes to this. Later tonight–6:30 to be exact–the Municipal Art Society will hold its final meeting on Coney Island, where it will take comments from the community, present the work of its charrette team, and, finally, present their recommendations to the city, a copy of which AN has received. The group’s timing couldn’t be better because we have also learned that the city is to certify its own long-simmering plans for Coney on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the entire neighborhood has gone (further) to pot. Read More

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