New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been promising to “preserve or construct” nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing since his days as the most unlikely of mayoral contenders. Since stepping into City Hall, the mayor has repeated that pledge nearly every chance he gets. But while the affordable housing plan is one of his central policy issues, it’s still not clear how the city can hit the mayor’s magic number. That should change this week when de Blasio’s housing team releases their detailed plan of action. Before that plan is released, however, AN asked some of the city’s leading architects, advocates, and planners what they hope to see in the team’s path forward. David Burney Former Commissioner Department of Design and Construction “While we all expect the mayor to focus on mandatory inclusionary zoning as a means of increasing the supply of affordable housing, I am hopeful that other possibilities will not be overlooked. We need affordable housing, but in the right places—in the neighborhoods that need it. We also need to develop that housing near to transit. One unfortunate policy of the Bloomberg administration was the down zoning of neighborhoods close to public transit—where we need more density not less. Hopefully the new administration will take a fresh look at that downzoning. Another proposal that deserves attention is the one from Michael Lappin and Mark Willis to help small builder/developers build affordable rental housing on small lots, using a participatory loan program.” Karen Kubey Executive Director Institute for Public Architecture “Affordable housing is at the core of a livable city and design in the public interest. New Yorkers need an ambitious, achievable housing plan, one that provides not only more affordable apartments, but also a wide range of housing models and an investment in quality, lasting architecture. In line with this, the Institute for Public Architecture recently launched ‘Total Reset,’ a long-term initiative supporting efforts to improve public and affordable housing in New York. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for making affordable housing a priority again for New York City.” Bill Stein Principal Dattner Architects “From a design point of view—while maintaining all the regulations and requirements—any way that the approval and review process by various agencies can be simplified and streamlined would go a long way toward developing more affordable housing more quickly. From a broader perspective, I hope the plan encourages some degree of innovation and experimentation in building types and housing types. … Finding sites is a key challenge for affordable housing in New York City. Sites that are available tend to be more difficult and expensive to develop: irregular dimensions, significant topography, other environmental factors, etc. The administration’s housing plan can help address this challenge by the creative use of underutilized land, whether through a program for NYCHA sites, rezoning where appropriate or enhanced incentives for mixed use/mixed income developments.” Adam Friedman Director Pratt Center for Community Development “There are three things that we are particularly focused on: First of all, mandatory inclusionary housing, which we would argue should be citywide above a certain density. Second, a strategy for legalizing what are now accessory dwelling units. Third, something we would not want to see is more rezoning of manufacturing to residential. A lot of that has already been done under the Bloomberg Administration and we want to understand why so much of that hasn’t been developed. And we would want to make sure the prospect of those zoning changes includes a strategy for retaining those jobs.” Andrew Berman Executive Director Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation “The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation strongly supports efforts to keep our neighborhoods and New York City a diverse and affordable place to live. We hope that the Mayor’s plan will do that while respecting the scale and character of our communities and those qualities, which draw people to our neighborhoods and make them wonderful places to live. We hope that the Mayor will not buy into the REBNY canard that unfettered development and a weakening of historic preservation and zoning protections will somehow make New York City more affordable, as opposed to simply lining developers’ pockets and destroying some of our city’s most beloved landmarks and neighborhoods.” Jaron Benjamin Executive Director Metropolitan Council on Housing "We're hoping the mayor targets, one, preserving our existing affordable housing. Two, he’s looking looking at responsible ways to involve the NYCHA communities in what happens. And three, we’re hoping that Mayor de Blasio, unlike his predecessor, really looks at responsible ways to build affordable housing. And finally, we’re going to look at how he plans to reduce the ranks of the homeless."
Posts tagged with "Department of Design and Construction":
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped civil engineer Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora as Department of Design and Construction Commissioner. Peña-More comes to the DDC from Columbia University, where he teaches civil engineering, environmental engineering, engineering mechanics, and computer science. According to a press release from the mayor's office, "Dr. Peña-Mora will be charged with building public works big and small, ranging from making streets safer as part of the Vision Zero initiative, to renovating and constructing municipal facilities." At the announcement, the incoming commissioner said, “Our standards will continue to be high. We will strengthen resiliency, efficiency, and safety in every project we oversee. We hope to build a new generation of streets, public works, and buildings that weave our diverse communities closer together and enrich the fabric of this city.” Before he was a professor at the university, Peña-Mora led the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. While in that role, he faced criticism for his leadership style. In 2012, he was forced to step down. At the time, the New York Times reported, “A majority of the faculty members and the department chairmen who served under him complained that he was expanding the engineering school too fast, overloading professors with too many students, making promises he did not honor and prioritizing fund-raising over research.”
Last May New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new initiative, NYC X Design, to promote New York's design community, an economic sector that includes more than 40,000 designers of various disciplines, according to official figures. As an outgrowth of NYC X Design, today the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) launched a new pilot project called Built/NYC, which provides $400,000 in capital funding for custom furniture, lighting, or textile designs in up to 20 city building projects. Council Speaker Quinn's office provided the funding for the project, and at a press conference today held at the NoHo design store, The Future Perfect, Speaker Quinn argued that the initiative would support both local designers and local manufacturers and help maintain a diverse economy. Interested designers can respond to an new RFQ, which would place them on a pre-qualified list to be considered for custom pieces for projects like new libraries, community centers, or fire houses (architects for the building projects sit on the selection committee). According to Victoria Milne, Director of creative services for DDC, designers will retain copyright to the designs, allowing them to potentially sell their objects to other municipalities or to bring them to market through a manufacturer. Industrial and interior designer Harry Allen praised the program for giving opportunities to local designers. He said that New York is "an amazing creative city, but also a hard city." Built/NYC will serve as a new way for industrial, lighting, and textile designers to break into public work. Quinn demonstrated her love of design by complimenting Allen on his slip-on Converse Jack Purcell shoes and she gushed about the wares on display at the The Future Perfect. She warned the assembled reporters to be careful in the store. "If you break it, you buy it," she joked.
Brooklyn-based Garrison Architects, a firm well-known for its sustainable modular buildings, and American Manufactured Structures and Services, have collaborated on the design of a prefabricated disaster relief housing prototype, which will be displayed in Downtown Brooklyn this summer, as part of an effort to help rebuild post-Hurricane Sandy with a focus on sustainability. The three-story, three-unit modular test structure will be situated next to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) on Cadman Plaza. The ground floor will be a handicap-accessible 480-square-foot one-bedroom unit, and the upper two floors will consist of two separate 822-square-foot three-bedroom apartments. The preassembled and pre-furnished units will be 12-feet wide by 40-feet long. Once shipped to the site, they simply need to be clipped together and connected to utilities. They also feature balconies that help lower solar-heat gain, provide larger windows, and supply more habitable space. Garrison Architects principal Jim Garrison told the New York Post that the units can stand alone but are also “designed to operate as a row house and be deployed on a city block.” The prefab structures will cost about $1.14 million paid for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and will include gardens in back and parking in front. They can be assembled to form a secure perimeter around an urban street and can be outfitted with photovoltaics to generate their own electricity. Garrison said that the design, which complies with all city codes, would eventually be utilized for high-density, four-story urban housing. OEM and the Department of Design and Construction have been working since the “What If NYC” design competition in 2008 to create a prototype for disaster housing. When Sandy hit four years later, nothing was prepared. Now, after the establishment of more detailed requirements for local codes, the project is ready to go. Construction is expected to begin soon and test residents will move in for several months to offer feedback on how the units work so the design can be modified. View more technical drawings of the structure here.
The New York City Department of Design and Construction is now managing the majority of capital construction for the Department of Sanitation and the Department of Parks. DDC spokesperson John Ryan Martine confirmed that the agency is now officially responsible, adding that the shift was in response to a request from City Hall to facilitate consolidation. The DDC already works closely with both departments. For example, DDC will be responsible for the design and renovation of Tavern on the Green. Recently, Sanitation ceded responsibility to DDC for construction of its controversial garage at Spring Street designed by Dattner and WXY. "This means that for Parks, we will manage the design and construction of their comfort stations (bathrooms) and other buildings such as pool houses and storage facilities," Martine said in an email. "For Sanitation, we will manage the design and construction for things such as sheds, storage facilities, garages, plants, etc." Martine added that when appropriate DDC would use in-house architects from the agency's Design and Construction Excellence program, but that would be determined on per project basis. The change jibes with similar consolidation efforts dealing with construction throughout the administration. In his State of the City Speech, Mayor Bloomberg outlined a plan to streamline the inspection process for buildings. Similarly, last summer, a pilot program from the DOB brought together a half dozen agencies under one roof to process architects' applications and plans. Martin noted that since the DDC's inception in 1996 the plan was always to consolidate the design and construction efforts to help various departments focus on their mission.
While it was nearly hot enough to fry in egg in Times Square Tuesday, things have since cooled off a bit, and not simply because the temperature dropped back into double digits. Today the city's Department of Transportation began installing in the public plazas Molly Dilworth's 18-month installation, "Cool Water, Hot Island," which will not only prettify the eight newish plazas with an abstracted heat map of the city but also reflect some sunlight, making for a more comfortable experience. Meanwhile, DOT along with the Department of Design and Construction announced that it had selected Nordic knockouts Snøhetta as the lead designer for the long-term transformation of the square. The selection of Snøhetta is not exactly a surprise, as it is one of the eight firms in the city's Design + Construction Excellence program, from which DOT had already said it would make its choice because it streamlines the design process as the firms are prequalified. Yet it was Snøhetta's experience outside the city that helped win it the commission. “It is a classic New York story that reconstruction of the ‘Crossroads of the World’ will be led by a firm with an international reputation for creative vision and excellence,” DDC commissioner David Burney said in a statement. Snøhetta's preference for public art, landscape design, and sustainability may have played a role in its winning the commission. Still, the nature of the project is rather new to the firm, most of its successes having come through buildings such as the Library of Alexandria and Oslo Opera House, though both are incredibly public in their nature, so Snøhetta should prove a good, and certainly interesting fit, as its work at Ground Zero has shown. Joining the Oslo- and New York-based firm on the design team are WXY Architecture and Design, Weidlinger Associates (engineers), Mathews Nielsen (landscape), Billings Jackson Design (industrial), and Bexel (audio-visual), all of whom are Excellence program participants. The design work is just beginning, with no time line or budget yet set for its unveiling, according to a DOT spokesperson, though the plan remains to begin construction in 2012. The firms will be responsible for improving the pedestrian experience in the plazas as well as the infrastructure for the various events held in Times Square throughout the year. "Our goal is to improve the quality and atmosphere of this historic site for pedestrians and bicyclists while also allowing for efficient transportation flow for the betterment of the city,” said Craig Dykers, head of Snohetta's New York office and its co-founder. And in more Molly Dilworth news, online art gallery Art We Love is selling a series of seven prints for 15 bucks a pop.