Lots of Possibility

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mayor Greg Fischer today issued a challenge to citizens — give the city your most creative ideas for redeveloping vacant lots and win $38,000 in prize money to carry out that vision.

The Lots of Possibility competition, funded by a grant from a local foundation, seeks ideas from individuals or groups to take one or more eligible vacant lots owned by the Louisville/Jefferson County Landbank Authority and the Urban Renewal Commission and put them into productive use.

It’s part of a broader strategy as the city works to implement policies and plans to reduce the number of vacant and abandoned properties that dot the city, with a high concentration in Western Louisville. The city has identified more than 6,000 vacant properties and has been razing some and foreclosing on others.

“The rules for this competition are simple — be creative and be bold,” Fischer said.

The competition is collaboration between the Department of Community Services and Revitalization, Vision Louisville and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, funded in part by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Prize money will be awarded in two areas:

  • Proposals involving construction for residential or commercial use. Proposals submitted in this category should include a long-term/permanent use of a vacant lot managed by Metro Government. Up to two winners will receive ownership of the vacant lot and $15,000 to implement their proposal.
  • Proposals involving temporary or interim use of vacant lots. This category is designed for proposals that identify innovative ways to repurpose vacant lots. Uses are not expected to be permanent at the outset, but rather to preserve the land for future potential development. Up to two winners will receive a one-year land lease (renewable for an additional year, for a total of a two-year land lease). Winners will also receive $4,000 to help implement their idea.

Entries are due Feb. 24. Six finalists in each category will be chosen by a jury and the winners will be announced in April.

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New York Expands Public Plaza Program to Create and Maintain Affordable Spaces

City Terrain
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
(Courtesy Mathews Nielsen)

Rendering of possible Bogardus Plaza update in Tribeca. (Courtesy Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects)

For the past five years under the leadership of Janette Sadik-Khan, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has re-appropriated underused street space as public plazas for pedestrians. The Bloomberg Administration–initiated projects have been well received in neighborhoods like Herald Square and Tribeca; however, some of the less affluent neighborhoods who would like to have a plaza have been hindered by the cost. Each plaza is sponsored by local businesses and fundraising for construction and regular maintenance can seem a daunting task. Until now.

Continue Reading After the Jump.

Could de Blasio Choose Anna Levin as NYC’s Next City Planner?  Could de Blasio Choose Anna Levin as NYC's Next City Planner? After a campaign insisting differentiation from his predecessor, New York City Mayor–elect Bill de Blasio (above) is not likely to choose a Bloomberg-elected official as his Chief of the Department of City Planning. The Real Deal reported that three current members of the City’s Planning Commission—Anna Levin, Michelle de la Uz, and Kenneth Knuckles—are speculated as replacements for current commissioner Amanda Burden. Levin, elected by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, is a front-runner. Her previous experiences as a commissioner and Community Board 4 Member give her grassroots appeal backed by political savvy. (Photo: Courtesy NYC Public Advocate)


After More Than A Decade, A New Office Building Opens on the World Trade Center

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Mayor Bloomberg presides over the Four World Trade Center ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Edward Reed / Courtesy NYC Mayor's Office)

Mayor Bloomberg presides over the Four World Trade Center ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Edward Reed / Courtesy NYC Mayor’s Office)

Yesterday, something remarkable happened. More than a decade after the destruction of the World Trade Center, the walls and fences surrounding a small corner of the site came down and the public was able to glimpse a new stretch of Greenwich Street—which will eventually bisect the site—as well as Fumihiko Maki‘s completed 72-story tower, Four World Trade. The minimalist tower is the first completed building on the site, though tenants will now begin building out their floors.

Watch a time-lapse construction video after the jump.

We’re Bowled Over by James Corner Field Operations’s Plans For the High Line

City Terrain, East
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
A large, green bowl, dubbed the Spur, will float above the intersection 10th Avenue and 30th Street as part of the final phase of the High Line(Image James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Courtesy the City of New York)

A large, green bowl, dubbed the Spur, will float above the intersection 10th Avenue and 30th Street (Image James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Courtesy the City of New York)

This week, Friends of the High Line revealed the design concept for the third and final section of the High Line with a tantalizing set of renderings from James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Beginning at the intersection of 10th Avenue and West 30th Street, the latest addition, known as the High Line at the Rail Yards, will wrap westward around Related Companies’ impending Hudson Yards mega-development before culminating on 34th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bike Share Round-up> Chicago Surges, New York’s Safety Record Shines, Los Angeles Lags

East, Midwest, National, West
Monday, November 11, 2013
Citibikes like this one hit New York streets in May 2013. (Jesse Chan-Norris/Flickr)

Citibikes like this one hit New York streets in May 2013. (Jesse Chan-Norris/Flickr)

We hope you’ve stretched your hamstrings—there have been a lot of developments in U.S. bike sharing programs lately, and we’re taking another whirl through them now.

Although not without hang-ups, New York’s Citi Bike has at least not killed anyone yet. People love to joke about clueless tourists riding on the sidewalk, or on heavy-traffic avenues, or “salmoning” the wrong way down one-way streets — that’s true in Chicago as well as New York — but the fact that no bikeshare has so far produced little to no traffic carnage should come as no surprise, writes Charles Komanoff for Streetsblog.

Continue reading after the jump.

New York Perspectives on Resilience at MCNY

Thursday, October 24, 2013

One year ago, Superstorm Sandy devastated New York neighborhoods and changed life in the city in profound ways. How can we begin to align our politics, our finances, and our designs to reduce the risk from future storms? Join Alexandros Washburn, author of The Nature of Urban Design: A New York Perspective on Resilience and New York’s chief urban designer, as he leads a discussion with four design, infrastructure, and environmental policy experts working in the post-Sandy trenches to improve New York City’s resilience in the face of future storms: Marc Ricks, former chief of staff to Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, who left the private sector to return to the Bloomberg Administration to help lead the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency; architect Thaddeus Pawlowksi, who began his career creating computer models of hurricane strikes and then was thrust to the frontlines of reality with the Housing Recovery Office; Dr. Nancy Kete, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation – a global leader on resilience – who develops strategies and practices for infusing resilience thinking throughout the Foundation’s work; and Kate Orff, the landscape architect who had exhibited her ideas in the Rising Currents exhibit at MoMA and is now a finalist in a HUD competition to naturally strengthen our coastlines.

Co-sponsored by The Architectural League of New York, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and Island Press and presented in conjunction with Rising Waters: Photographs from Sandy.

Reservations required.

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Art, Design, and the Urban Environment: Transportation and the Second Avenue Subway

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In the final part of the series on “Art, Design and the Urban Environment,” panelists will discuss the construction of the Second Avenue Subway as a starting point for a conversation on transportation infrastructure. How can urban design and public art transform street-level spaces to be more functional, and beautify below-ground levels on a grand scale?


Sandra Bloodworth, Director, MTA Arts for Transit; Mitchell Joachim, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Director of Research, Terreform ONE; Cesar Pelli, NA, architect; Moderated by James Russell, architecture critic, Bloomberg News

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2013 Ratensky Lecture: Carlton Brown

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Carlton Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Full Spectrum of NY/Full Spectrum South has been at the center of several progressive initiatives that promote affordable housing and mixed-use development in New York City, Jackson, Mississippi (his hometown), New Orleans and Africa. He is a graduate of Princeton University’s School of Architecture and an expert on sustainable design. Major New York City projects include the LEED-Gold Kalahari mixed-use affordable and market rate housing in the heart of Harlem praised by Mayor Bloomberg as a new design model for the city for sustainable and affordable housing. Brown was the only developer appointed to the Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board to address the important environmental issues facing the City, and has taken part in the Clinton Global Initiative as a panelist. Referencing his experience with post-Katrina housing and sustainable design in New Orleans, he will also address post-Sandy housing challenges facing the metro area.

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Susan Morris Picks the Winners at the 2013 Architecture & Design Film Festival

East, Features, On View
Friday, October 18, 2013
Still from the film Away from All Suns!

Still from the film Away from All Suns!

2013 Architecture & Design Film Festival
Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street
New York
212 941-2001

“Erecting a building is like making a movie….both processes involve blending light and movement into space and time. A model is like a script: at best it’s a promise and at worst it’s a safeguard. And, as with a script, a moment comes when you have to test your model against reality. You must start shooting the film, start erecting the building.”
The Interior Passage

We can see these starts when the two art forms come together in the 4th annual Architecture & Design Film Festival at the Tribeca Cinemas where 25 films will be screened through October 20. This year, the trend is toward process films that chronicle movements and initiatives (planning, education, preservation), portraits of buildings more than individuals, and Modernism referenced even when it’s not the direct subject.

Continue reading after the jump.

City Council Takes Legal Action to Halt NYCHA’s Infill Strategy

Friday, October 11, 2013
The Carver Houses (Courtesy Bing Maps)

The Carver Houses (Courtesy Bing Maps)

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) just faced another hurdle in its controversial plan, known as its “infill strategy,” to lease swathes of land in public housing developments to private developers. The deal would allow for the construction of new market-rate apartment buildings, along with a handfull of affordable housing units, in eight projects throughout Manhattan. But New York City Council and a group of tenants filed a lawsuit on Thursday to prevent the plan from moving forward. This past spring, the struggling agency issued a Request for Proposal seeking ideas from developers. The lawsuit slips in right before NYCHA’s November 18th deadline for proposals. The New York Times reported that the plaintiffs said that the agency failed to include City Council on the “decision-making regarding the plan to build on public housing grounds.” And moreover, government officials pointed out that the Bloomberg administration didn’t follow the standard protocol, which requires that agency officials go through City Council for approval.

In a statement to Times, NYCHA said: “It’s unfortunate that the City Council is attempting to block a proposal that would generate significant revenue for the New York City Housing Authority — money that would go directly into developments and repairs for residents.”

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Coastal Climate Resilience: Strategies & Scenarios for Urban Waterfronts

Friday, October 11, 2013

What are strategies to make urban waterfronts more resilient to increasing coastal hazards?
What is New York City pursuing in its plan for recovery and resilience?
How can communities throughout the region use scenario planning to evaluate approaches?

Join us for the first public presentation of the results of a year-long study, Urban Waterfront Adaptive Strategies: Coastal Climate Resilience, by the New York City Department of City Planning funded through a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. This guide to potential strategies for increasing the resilience of urban communities to coastal flooding and sea level rise was already underway when Hurricane Sandy arrived. We will hear about Mayor Bloomberg’s plan, A Stronger, More Resilient New York, and how the Special Initiative on Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) built off Urban Waterfront Adaptive Strategies to develop a multi-layered plan to protect the city from coastal storms and climate change. Since then the New York-Connecticut Sustainable Communities Coalition, under the direction of the Regional Plan Association, has also explored how to use scenario planning to analyze strategies in the larger region.

Sponsors: NY Metro Chapter, American Planning Association (APA)
Regional Planning Association (RPA)

Speakers: Mary Kimball, AICP, Project Manager, Urban Waterfront Adaptive
Strategies, New York City Department of City Planning, Waterfront
and Open Space Planning
Michael L. Marrella, AICP, Director, Waterfront and Open Space Planning,
New York City Department of City Planning
Robert J. Pirani, AICP, Vice President for Environmental and Energy
Programs, Regional Plan Association
Daniel Zarrilli, Director of Resilience, Mayor’s Office of Long Term
Sustainability and Planning, City of New York

Moderator: Bonnie A. Harken, AIA, APA, President, Nautilus International
Development Consulting, Inc. and NY Metro Chapter APA
representative on the Urban Waterfront Adaptive Strategies
Advisory Group

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