All posts in East
Being John Malkovich
NYC Department of Buildings fines owner who split two condo into 20 apartments
Councilmember Ben Kallos likened the firetrap half floors to the 1999 film Being John Malkovich where John Cusack's character takes a job at Lester Corp, which is on the short-ceilinged seven-and-a-half floor of an office building in Manhattan. (Kallos does not represent the district that includes the building in question)
"It was funny in fiction, but a horror story in real life," he told the Post.
The Harsh Truth
Sojourner Truth added to women's suffrage statue in Central Park, academics criticize decision
“If Sojourner Truth is added in a manner that simply shows her working together with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Stanton’s home, it could obscure the substantial differences between white and black suffrage activists, and would be misleading.”That’s an excerpt from a letter sent to the Fund that was signed by 20 leading academics on African American history and black culture, including professors from Barnard College, NYU, Brown, and Yale, among others. Leslie Podell, creator of “The Sojourner Truth Project” signed as well. They noted that while Truth did have a relationship with Stanton and Anthony and that they did all attend the May 1867 meeting of the Equal Rights Association, it’s not actually known whether or not they all were at Stanton’s house at the same time. It was previously announced that the design of sculptor Meredith Bergmann, which featured just Stanton and Anthony, was approved as the official suffragette statue by the Public Design Commission (PDC) if the Fund made an effort to acknowledge women of color and their role in the movement in a future project. A model of the statue is now on view at the New York Historical Society through August 26. Though the addition of Truth to the piece shows that leadership behind the project is listening, their move feels less than transparent to some. Hyperallergic spoke with Todd Fine, president of the Washington Street Advocacy Group and co-organizer of the letter with Jacob Morris of the Harlem Historical Society. He said he’s confused as to why the nonprofit didn’t include an image of the new proposal with the public statement. That would have given people the opportunity to weigh in on the final product before it was presented to the PDC. According to the article, the Fund has already submitted the new idea. Those in opposition don't want the process to be rushed, or that a new design be chosen in haste. Either way, the piece is expected to be placed in Central Park one year from next Monday, so a dialogue to redesign it must begin now. And the signees want to talk.
“We believe that there may be elegant ways to memorialize the full scope of the suffrage movement to incorporate these challenging differences,” the letter reads, “but they will require careful consideration, explicitly including black community voices and scholars of this history.”
In an ongoing effort to reimagine the transit nexus at Broadway Junction in East New York and its surrounding built environment, officials in Brooklyn have released preliminary ideas of what the area could look like. City leaders convened the Broadway Junction Working Group for the first time in October 2017 and, working with WXY Architecture + Urban Design, have since assembled a list of recommendations for improvements to the area in terms of transit equity, economic development, neighborhood amenities, and public space. With a series of interconnected subway stations that services the A, C, J, Z, and L lines, the area presents a significant opportunity to provide, as the recommendations suggest, “more good jobs, new retail and services, and active streets and public spaces—with an improved and accessible transit hub at its core.”
Currently, Broadway Junction suffers from a variety of factors that inhibit its potential as a hub of economic and social activity. Poor lighting under the elevated subway structures, as well as numerous parking lots in the immediate vicinity of the stations, make the surrounding blocks particularly hostile to people. With the integration of seating, greenery, public programming, and new infrastructural elements under the tracks, city officials and WXY hope to open up Broadway Junction’s public spaces for use by residents of the surrounding communities.
Overall, the plan calls for a mixed-use district that responds to the needs of the neighborhood without risking the widespread displacement of small businesses and residents that often accompanies major transit-related development projects. With the resources of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) at their disposal, business owners will be able to take advantage of commercial tenant legal services, business training courses, and other services. There will also be an effort to render the streetscape safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. Improvements to road circulation and various traffic-calming measures will ensure that those who drive, take transit, or walk in the area will be able to interact under less dangerous conditions. The subway stations at the junction will also be retrofitted to be more accessible to passengers with disabilities.
The Broadway Junction Working Group is supported by the Department of City Planning (DCP), the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR), among other agencies.
Some survivors and activists oppose Orlando's Pulse memorial and museum
While efforts to build the National Pulse Memorial and Museum at the site of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, are moving forward, certain LGBTQ activists, survivors, and loved ones of victims are voicing opposition to the plan. Last month, organizers who are against the onePULSE Foundation’s initiative to establish the museum formed the Community Coalition Against a Pulse Museum (CCAPM), which aims to develop an alternative vision for how to remember the victims of the deadliest anti-LGBTQ act of violence in U.S. history.
As AN reported earlier this year, six major architecture firms have already been shortlisted from an initial 68 submissions for onePULSE’s international design competition. The finalists include Diller Scofidio + Renfro, MASS Design Group, MVRDV, and Studio Libeskind. While no winner has been announced yet, the process of soliciting proposals and selecting the designer has progressed steadily since the shooting in June 2016. The foundation’s plan for the site includes using the original nightclub building and constructing an additional 30,000-square-foot museum nearby. There is also an effort to integrate the memorial and museum into a broader urban design plan that would connect the former nightclub to downtown Orlando. If this is executed, visitors will be able to walk along the planned Orlando Health Survivors Walk, leading them to various sites involved in the aftermath of the shooting.
As for CCAPM, activists argue that funds used for the construction of the museum building should be directed towards victims’ families and survivors of the incident, not towards a tourist attraction. According to the organization’s website, opponents of the construction project maintain that: “All funds raised should be used to expand existing services and ensure that all survivors get the financial support, medical services, community support programs, and mental health care they need for life.”
The museum is expected to cost $45 million, including $40 million in construction costs and additional funds for staff salaries. As the Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this summer, onePULSE’s proposed budget includes a $150,000 annual salary for Barbara Poma, who established the Pulse nightclub in 2004 in memory of her brother, a victim of the AIDS epidemic. Poma is now the CEO of the onePULSE foundation.
“Once I heard that [Poma] didn’t want to sell Pulse to the city, I objected,” Casiano said. “I’ve stayed quiet for three years.[...]But seeing everything that’s going on, I can’t stay quiet anymore.”#NoPulseMuseumhttps://t.co/MT7PeoLyj1— NoPulseMuseum (@NoPulseMuseum) August 15, 2019
With an exhibition of the proposed designs set to open at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando this October, there is no sign that onePULSE will significantly alter its plan to construct the museum. According to NBC News, the foundation responded to continuing allegations that it is profiting off of victims’ traumatic experiences by assuring that it is listening to all concerns closely: “We respect the thoughts and opinions of everyone in the community who was affected by this tragic event and are taking them all into consideration on how we move forward.”
The memorial and museum are slated to officially open in 2022.