This past week, Toby Salinger of Commercial Observer sat down with American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY) chapter leaders, President Lance Jay Brown and Executive Director Rick Bell, to discuss the importance of public space.
The 157 year old, 5,000 member organization, dedicated to design excellence, public outreach, and professional development, operates the Center for Architecture in the South Village and sponsors various public programs. Brown and Bell recently opened an exhibition in the center, titled “Open to the Public: Civic Space Now,” which focuses on zoning, redevelopment, and the threat to public areas.
Per the article:
“We must never take public space for granted,” Mr. Brown wrote in a preface to the exhibit. “When it is usurped for purposes that thwart the possibility of gathering, it is lost. When it is claimed by the people, for the people, of the people, it is found.”
The two AIANY leaders also maintain a constant presence in all zoning matters. And, beyond cheering proposed indoor public space next to Grand Central Terminal at SL Green Realty Corp.’s 1 Vanderbilt and the under-construction outdoor plazas at the Hudson Park and Boulevard at Hudson Yards, they’re hoping to advance a comprehensive conversation on the city’s 1961 Zoning Resolution. The organization’s 30-plank report from May 2013, “A Platform for the Future of the City,” calls for increased capital spending on infrastructure, full build-outs of areas with unused development rights and collaborative creation of a new long-term strategic plan for zoning changes to accommodate the city’s continuing growth.
“‘Unlocking’ is a great word—that was the goal of what we proposed,” Mr. Bell said, referring to the potential the plan could tap. But, he adds, they understand that positions like reducing parking requirements for some new developments or creating more bike lanes around the city might ruffle feathers. “There are going to be some political fights ahead that are going to lead to treatment of the Zoning Resolution as if it’s Talmudic quality.”
The full article can be found here.
AIA’s President Lance Jay Brown and Executive Director Rick Bell