Posts tagged with "Donald Trump":

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All eight border wall prototypes fail basic penetrability test

As the Trump administration prepares to potentially declare a national emergency to jumpstart construction of a wall along the U.S.’s southern border—as well as possibly using storm aid funds to do so—the viability of the wall itself has come under fire. In a photo obtained by NBC News, one of the steel bollard border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa, California, was easily breached using an off-the-shelf saw. The eight border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa (directly across from Tijuana in Mexico) were assembled in early 2017 after an executive order directed the Department of Homeland Security to design and build a southern border wall. Four concrete wall segment mockups, and four from mixed materials, were assembled in the desert. The 30-foot-tall prototypes were graded on their aesthetic qualities in August 2018, but testing in late 2017 has revealed that all eight may be easy to penetrate. On “Pogo Row”, a testing area near the California-Mexico border, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents were instructed to try to breach the eight border wall segments—and eventually broke through all eight. Using saws and other hand tools, teams were able to cause holes “larger than 12-inches in diameter or square,” the DHS standard definition of breaching. According to a redacted version of the CBP report obtained through a freedom of information request from the San Diego-based KPBS, replicas of each prototype’s first ten feet were tested for breaching. One (redacted) technique proved so destructive during the first test that further experimenting was postponed, as officials feared it would destabilize the structural integrity of the other models before they could be thoroughly assessed. No testing on how well the walls were able to resist tunneling appears to have been conducted, despite that being a major design criterion in the Request for Proposal. Additionally, none of the eight designs met the requirements for adaptability across the thousands of miles of the border’s rugged, varied terrain. For its part, the DHS has argued that no wall is impenetrable and that by slowing migrants trying to breach it, Border Patrol agents are given time to respond. DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman told NBC that the prototypes were only meant to inform the final design moving forward. When asked about the photo obtained by NBC yesterday, President Trump responded that, “that’s a wall designed by previous administrations.” While previous administrations have used steel bollards at the border, the prototypes tested were built by the Trump administration.
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The government shutdown is hurting construction, trade, and manufacturers

Now in its third week, the partial government shutdown is proving extremely tough for not only direct federal employees but also outside contractors who work with and rely on funding from U.S. agencies. In New York alone, that means big-name organizations like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and smaller businesses helping with capital construction efforts throughout the five boroughs. It’s estimated that over 50,000 federal contract employees in the New York metropolitan area are out of work and pay with no end in sight. While some organizations aren't running at all, others are still forcing people to work but without hope of immediate reimbursement. For example, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Sunday the MTA could lose up to $150 million each month in federal funds as long the shutdown remains. This would halt major track repair work still ongoing after Hurricane Sandy and further construction on the Second Avenue Subway, according to the New York Post. This would happen because the General Fund, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Fiscal Service, is currently compromised, meaning companies working on state and city projects sponsored through the Federal Transit Administration’s capital investment grants program will see a slow-down in reimbursement. New York will be forced to pay out-of-pocket for the above subway improvements and work on the Select Bus Service lines, among other things. Because most public building and infrastructure construction projects in New York City are managed and funded by local government agencies, work will carry on. But that doesn’t mean it will all run as smoothly as expected. As weeks pass on, it will likely become increasingly difficult to import the necessary building materials selected for these construction projects. This is not only because of President Trump’s trade war but because of international shipping delays and a slow-down in safety checks through other agencies. The Federal Maritime Commission is closed and cannot smoothly regulate cargo clearance or port activity. In addition, hazardous materials being imported into the United States might be held up as all port investigators within the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have been furloughed. What’s more, the Commerce Department can’t process requests from manufacturing companies who want an exemption from Trump’s metal tariffs. These are all big issues for U.S.-based manufacturers that can’t plan for the year ahead if they don’t have an accurate estimate of how much important imported materials will cost them and how long those products will take to reach them. Trump plans to make a televised, prime-time address tonight to discuss what he calls a humanitarian crisis at the U.S. Southern border. It’s unclear whether he’ll give an actual timeline for getting the government up and running again, though he’s repeatedly said he won’t cancel the shutdown until Congress gives him the full $5.6 billion needed to build his border wall. Until then, contractors in every city and state will have to make do with potential delays and money coming from their own bank accounts.
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United States withdraws from UNESCO (again)

As of January 1, 2019, the United States has officially withdrawn from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), one of the world’s best-known global cultural heritage and preservation organizations. The withdrawal was first announced in October 2017 after UNESCO recognized the old city of Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian World Heritage Site amid fierce resistance from the United States and Israel. The old city of Hebron is home to, among other relics and cultural sites, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a sacred religious site known as the Cave of Machpelah to Jews and as the Sanctuary of Abraham to Muslims. At the time, the United States and Israel complained that the UN was engaging in “anti-Israeli bias” stemming from the recognition of Palestine as a member state of the UN in 2011. Previously, the UN had criticized Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, according to Al Jazeera. When the UN elevated Palestine to membership status in 2011–during the Obama administration—the United States stopped paying its membership dues to UNESCO in protest. By 2017 the past-due fees had grown to $570 million, The Washington Post reported, and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to initiate the process of formal withdrawal from the organization. As of 2019, the outstanding balance due to UNESCO has risen above $600 million. Following the withdrawal, Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, said, “At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations leading these issues.” The current episode marks the second time the United States has left UNESCO, following President Ronald Reagan’s withdrawal from the group in 1984 in an effort to thwart the recognition of Soviet historical sites. The United States rejoined the group in 2002 under President George W. Bush following the attacks of 9/11 amid a push to boost international solidarity by the U.S. The United States now hopes it can participate as an “observer state” on “non-politicized issues,” including the protection of World Heritage sites. The body is due to take up this new role for the United States when it next meets in April 2019.
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Government shutdown over border wall could drag on well into the new year

The United States is entering the thirteenth day of a partial government shutdown after Congress failed to reach an agreement before the December 21st deadline, with President Trump promising to veto any bill that did not include $5 billion for a border wall. On Wednesday, January 2, Trump shot down a $2.5 billion compromise bill proposed by his own vice president Mike Pence, as well as a compromise suggested by Senate Republicans that would couple border wall funding with DACA legislation offering deportation relief and work visas to young undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the United States as children. These rejections follow last week's failure to reach an agreement in Congress to stop the shutdown, with House Republicans shooting down a Democratic attempt to fund the government in the short term. This leaves nine federal agencies shuttered, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation, alongside the Departments of Agriculture, Justice, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State. FEMA announced it would be unable to process flood insurance policies, thus affecting home sales, while many workers, including Forest Service firefighters, TSA employees, air traffic controllers, and Customs and Border Protection agents have to report for work without being paid. The effect is also being felt in the country's national parks, which have been kept open without the workers to maintain them, overwhelming trash and sanitation systems. All told, approximately 800,000 federal employees and the people who rely on them are affected, with roughly 350,000 workers furloughed without pay. That border wall funding is at the center of the current shutdown is perhaps not surprising. Trump has long signaled that the border wall is the hill on which he has planted his flag. But a look at the past several years of failed negotiations on the issue between the White House and Congress, even a Republican-led one, shows just how malleable the definition of the border wall is. Even for Trump, whose cheery Christmas message was a promise that the shutdown would continue until the border wall was funded, the form of the wall has shifted from one composed of solid concrete to a transparent one to "artistically designed steel slats." Beyond the rhetoric of the current showdown, however, over the past two years, only 6 percent of the $1.7 billion allocated for the border wall has been expended by the administration. Tests of the latest prototypes also cast doubt on their effectiveness and sheer feasibility, considering the terrain and environments the wall is expected to traverse. On Thursday, when Democrats gain control of the House, they are expected to approve two bills that would halt the shutdown and maintain current levels of border security funding for measures at the U.S.–Mexico border to the tune of $1.3 billion. This funding is only designated for improving existing segments of fencing and enhancing surveillance capacities. Are the existing fences already part of the so-called border wall? What would Trump's envisioned border wall bring to the existing barriers of sheet metal, barbed-wire-topped metal fencing, and concrete columns? But it remains to be seen whether Trump will approve those bills or extend his costly political standoff. For perspective, the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 cost taxpayers millions, with $2.5 billion in back pay given to furloughed workers and $70 million lost from national park revenue alone.
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Petition aims to rename the block in front of Trump Tower after Obama

As of today, over 3,900 people have signed an online petition to name a stretch of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan after former President Barack Obama. The petition comes shortly after a portion of Rodeo Road was renamed "Obama Boulevard" by the L.A. City Council in August.

“We request the New York City Mayor and City Council do the same by renaming a block of Fifth Avenue after the former president who saved our nation from the Great Recession, achieved too many other accomplishments to list, and whose two terms in office were completely scandal-free,” wrote Elizabeth Rowin, the author of the petition.

The clear controversy surrounding the appeal stems from the fact that the famed Trump Tower occupies the block, located on Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets, which petitioners want to dub “President Barack H. Obama Avenue.” If the name change were to be approved, President Trump would be constantly reminded of the president before him, a president who Trump has falsely accused of a variety of offenses over the years, ranging from lying about his citizenship to spying on Trump's campaign.

With 3,975 signatures and counting, the MoveOn.org appeal is a little ways away from reaching its goal of obtaining 4,000 signatures total.

To the dismay of the petitioners, the City Council holds that in order to get a street renamed after an important figure, the honoree must have had a meaningful connection to the community and must no longer be alive. While Obama does not meet at least one those prerequisites, petitioners and local residents hope to deliver the online form to Mayor Bill de Blasio for approval.

The New York City Council frequently votes on street co-namings, with 164 streets renamed within the past year. In December, the council voted to co-name streets after three of New York's greatest musical icons: Notorious B.I.G., the Wu-Tang Clan, and Woody Guthrie.

h/t 6sqft
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Studio Vural designs memorial to slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi

A Turkish-American architect has designed a speculative funeral memorial for the late Jamal Khashoggi. In an immersive sketch, Selim Vural, owner of the Brooklyn-based Studio Vural, envisioned a traveling memorial for the Washington Post journalist who was allegedly murdered while visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this October. Vural places the memorial in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., as a nod to President Donald Trump’s business links with the suspected murderer, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. An axonometric view of the memorial shows the design arranged in the outline of a keffiyeh, traditional Arab headgear, overtop green grass. “Our project addresses not only the criminal acts of the president but also the lack of closure of Khashoggi’s death due to his missing body,” Vural said in a statement. “The idea of a hybrid funeral/memorial arose from this duality.” Made with a pattern of polished red sheet metal, the layout references the specific keffiyeh that the Crown Prince wears. Layered on top of the metal are concrete planters, funeral flowers, and a black marble “coffin” (also a planter), rounding out a makeshift memorial that pays homage to a man who can’t be properly mourned or buried due to his missing body. “Although all planters can be interpreted as coffins of possibly other tortured journalists, this one is special, this is for Jamal,” explained Vural, “this is for his family, for his immortality, and has a sense of permanence.” In the renderings, Vural depicts the Crown Prince walking with Trump, observing the memorial which sits in front of the president’s home. The pointed planters lie in stark contrast to the round and skinny colonnade that accents the White House’s southern central facade. According to the architect, this funeral memorial aims to “bring serenity, calm, and closure to the violence and secrecy of the act” of Khashoggi's killing. It’s designed for him, but for all journalists—“heroes with pens,” as Vural noted. Last week the Committee to Protect Journalists released a report that found that at least 53 journalists had been killed worldwide in 2018. Since Khashoggi’s gruesome death was one of the most high-profile murders of the year, it’s sparked international outrage and caused potential trade tension between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The latest headlines detail that Trump doesn’t plan to punish the country for the crime in an attempt to maintain the country's long-held support for America’s foreign policy priorities, but growing global and domestic opposition to the Crown Prince may soon force Trump to change his outlook.
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Editorial: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s tenure was a national disgrace

President Donald Trump announced last week that Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke would be resigning at the end of 2018. And while even ardent supporters are finding it increasingly difficult to praise any move by the current administration, the end of Secretary Zinke’s corruption-riddled tenure at the helm of the Department of Interior is, perhaps, cause for brief, though bittersweet, celebration. America—and the world—is better off with Zinke out of office. Why? For one, over the two short years Zinke has been at the helm of the Department of Interior, he has continually treated his office like a personal piggy bank by making ridiculous purchases and indulging in a penchant for unnecessary private jet travel, all at taxpayer expense. Worse by a mile, however, is the fact that Zinke has also been hell-bent on using his position to perpetuate environmental destruction. Tasked with overseeing and maintaining roughly one-quarter of America’s land area, Zinke has instead transformed the Bureau of Land Management into a bargain bin thrift store open exclusively for the country’s grifting oil and mineral moguls. Under Trump’s direction, Zinke has scrapped Obama-era regulations and opened up for exploitation formerly off-limits public lands at break-neck speed. As a result, business is booming for the world’s extraction industries in America, indigenous rights have been superseded, deadly carbon emissions are on a precipitous rise, and environmental safeguards for clean air, water, and soil have been trampled. Under Zinke, America is having a going-out-of-business sale with public lands across the country on the auction block. A few examples: In Utah, the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments were drastically shrunk and partially sold-off; in Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve, the largest pristine landscape in the country, are being opened for oil exploration; and off the nation’s coasts, roughly 90 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf was also approved for resource extraction. All along, the plan has been to reduce environmental regulation and protections so that public lands can be mined, probed, and drilled for private profit. With global climate change reaching a new cataclysmic phase as the cost of renewable energy continues to fall, one must question why these approaches were taken at all. But as America joins Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others in a new “axis of climate evil,” the scheme becomes quite clear. To paraphrase and update a recent report from The Atlantic, cruelty—and private profit—drive many of the administration’s policy decisions. At the Department of Interior, Zinke has presided over a radical shift that has transformed the federal government into an instrument of business, stripping it of its historic role as a steward of public landscapes and, by direct extension, of the public itself. This administration’s profit-driven and deleterious impacts on our national parks and monuments have been particularly vile and will likely take generations to repair. Given ever-increasing estimates of the potential destruction that could be wrought by climate change, however, it’s unlikely whether repair will even be possible if the administration’s “America First” energy policy comes to fruition. This approach has not been without controversy, of course: Reports cite Zinke’s escalating ethics crises as a main driver for his resignation. So, although Zinke famously arrived for his first day in office on horseback, he leaves Washington running with his tail between his legs as an ascendant Democratic majority in the United States House of Representatives threatens to set its sights on one of the administration’s most blatantly corrupt individuals. The outcome proves what while it takes a supreme level of nihilistic cowardice to steal from the future only to then run from the repercussions, Trump’s administration is filled with individuals willing to do the same. Zinke’s disgraceful tenure, like those of ex-EPA head Scott Pruitt, ex-attorney general Jeff Sessions, and the current grammatically-challenged Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, proves that this particular basket of deplorables was all picked from the same rotten tree. To put it simply: If you care at all, even slightly, about the need to preserve and venerate the country’s iconic landscapes, about the public’s right to access public lands, or about the freedom to breathe clean air and drink untainted water, then Zinke’s tenure should fill you with dread and disgust. Under Zinke, the Department of Interior became a middleman between gluttonous extraction industries and the federal government’s land bank, plain and simple. Pristine landscapes have been sold off, soiled, and laid waste, indigenous rights have been superseded, and America’s vast territorial legacy has turned into a get-rich-quick scheme by an administration that sees personal profit as a professional virtue. It’s sad. There’s no silver lining, either, because Zinke’s replacement will likely pick up where the now-disgraced Montana politician is leaving off.
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DHS says it is “building wall and building wall quickly” in bizarre statement

*After a storm of ridicule on social media, DHS updated the statement linked below with improved grammar on Friday, December 14. You can find a screenshot of the original version below.  Yesterday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent out a poorly written yet rather braggadocious press release about President Donald Trump’s completed border wall projects along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as the other sectors that are closing up construction. Considering how testy Trump has been this week about securing funding for the rest of the wall, the timing of this grammatically-incorrect piece of government literature is very odd.  Titled "Walls Work," it reads:
DHS is committed to building wall and building wall quickly.
Notice the two missing articles before “wall.” It continues:
We are not replacing short, outdated and ineffective wall with similar wall. Instead under this President we are building a wall that is 30-feet high. FACT: Prior to President Trump taking office, we have never built wall that high.
Weird, but not new information. The message details just how quickly several key sections of the border wall have been constructed and where work is still being done. Citing the completed route near the El Centro Port of Entry in Calexico, California, as well as a finished 20-mile stretch across El Paso’s border in Texas among others, the release notes that as of November 21, over 31 miles of the border wall have been replaced or repaired. Another section in El Paso and a 14-mile project in San Diego are estimated to finish construction in 2019. The tone throughout the press release seems fueled by Trump's rhetoric. Much like how the president spews fast "facts" and statistics in his press and public appearances, this statement reads just as punchy and pointless.
How effective is this new border wall?
Very.
What’s next you might ask?
So much. The point of the release is not only to showcase the supposed “success” of the areas constructed thus far, but also to increase the hype around funding—which is a contentious topic this week in particular. In a televised meeting on Tuesday with House-Designate Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Trump threatened a government shutdown in the name of border security if Congress doesn’t allocate the $5 billion he wants by December 21. Today, he said that the money saved through his new trade deal with Canada and Mexico will actually help pay for the wall. Pelosi and Schumer have already called the assertion absurd. Many of the dollar figures thrown around in this error-laden statement refer to the amounts that Congress has provided for the border wall in the past, specifically in the fiscal years 2017 and 2018, but Pelosi doesn't seem keen on allowing Trump to have his way when the new Congress takes over in January. However the money is obtained, or rather if the money is obtained, according to DHS, over 120 miles of the new border wall portions will be completed or underway by the end of next September.
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As global ecocide approaches, Trump seeks more oil in Alaska

The United States Department of the Interior issued a notice late last month signaling its intent to "jump-start development" in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A), part of a 23-million-acre stretch of oil-rich natural habitat that makes up the largest tract of undisturbed land in the United States. The notice, the latest effort by the Trump administration to increase oil exploration and mining activities on ecologically sensitive federal and tribal landscapes, “envisions clean and safe development in the NPR-A while avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.”  The Washington Post reported that it will take “about a year” to create a new plan for extracting oil reserves from NPR-A, according to Joe Balash, assistant secretary of land and minerals at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The 11-million-acre NPR-A site represents roughly half of a larger wildlife refuge originally set aside by President Warren G. Harding in 1923. It also falls within the ancestral homelands of the Gwich’in Nation of Alaskan Natives, an indigenous community that uses NPR-A lands to hunt porcupine caribou herds that frequent the area.  Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, told The Washington Post, “The [Trump] administration has made my people a target. We will not stand down. We will fight to protect the porcupine caribou herd…every step of the way.” The preserve represents a vital habitat for the porcupine caribou that use the area to birth and nurse their young, and for the many migratory bird species that roost in the region over the summer. It is estimated that NPR-A and surrounding tribal lands could hold up to 8.7 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic feet of gas. BLM has started a 45-day comment and review period for the proposed plan, which comes after new oil and gas auctions in Wyoming, Montana, and Utah, according to reports.  Those efforts follow President Trump’s downsizing of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which President Obama previously had increased in size, and come on the heels of a new federal mandate that calls for oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to the east of NPR-A, as well.  The increasing scale and rapid pace of resource extraction under the Trump Administration represent the culmination of a nearly 40-year effort to open these lands to exploitation and comes as the administration scrambles to set into motion a last-ditch move to negotiate lucrative land leases with private parties. Once those leases are set, it will be harder to prevent resource extraction in those areas, even under a different administration, so current officials are racing against time to sell off the rights in the event voters do not re-elect the president in 2020.  This admittedly short-sighted effort is representative of the administration’s push to refashion the Department of Interior into a broker between the federal government, which controls millions of acres of pristine but resource-rich lands, and profit-driven private industry. The trend also represents a larger belief that business interests run ahead of environmental concerns, a priority that was highlighted over the weekend as the United States joined Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait in rejecting a 2017 report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that calls for “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” in order to reduce the amount of global temperature rise associated with anthropogenic climate change.
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Trump reportedly pressured architect to remove braille from Trump Tower elevators

Barbara Res, the former vice president of construction for the Trump Organization, recently published an op-ed in the New York Daily News, which alleges that Donald Trump once pressured an architect to remove the braille signage from the elevators in Trump Tower in New York City. Res, who supervised the construction of the Manhattan skyscraper in the early 1980s, recalled being present as one of its architects showed Trump the newly installed elevator cabs. She says Trump was puzzled by the little raised dots on the button panel and demanded that they be taken off. When informed that braille was required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the future president of the United States became furious. “Get rid of the [expletive] braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower,” she remembered him shouting. “The more the architect protested, the angrier Trump got…As a general rule, Trump thought architects and engineers were weak as compared to construction people. And he loved to torment weak people,” wrote Res, a professional engineer. She went on to explain that this was a typical "Trump-style win-win," which allowed him to belittle a subordinate while setting up a scapegoat for any repercussions his "ridiculous orders" may bring. Although Res did not identify the architect, many have speculated that it was Der Scutt, the tower’s lead designer, who died in 2010. The firm responsible for the project, Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell, changed principals several times in the years that followed and filed for bankruptcy in 2015, making it difficult to corroborate the story. However, as noted by Snopes, a fact-checking website, neither the White House nor the Trump Organization have refuted it. For those familiar with president’s history of ableist comments, his organization’s suspected housing discrimination, and his administration’s hard-line position against health and safety regulations, these new allegations come as no surprise.
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New York City launches interactive map of its privately owned public spaces

New Yorkers and open space enthusiasts have something to celebrate, as the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) has released a map of the more than 550 privately owned public spaces (POPS) in the city. POPS have been an integral part of New York City’s zoning process since their introduction in the 1961 zoning code as an incentive to developers; in exchange for building public plazas, arcades, or outdoor spaces, the city allows private developers to add extra floor area to their buildings or grants other waivers. According to the DCP, POPS exist at over 350 buildings and account for more than 3.8 million square feet of open space. With the new searchable map, interested visitors can gather information on the location, amenities, hours of operation, year of construction, and designers behind each and every privately owned public space. Most of the aforementioned spaces are in Manhattan, and while Brooklyn and Queens only contain a smattering of such public areas, the DCP expects this number to grow dramatically as development in these boroughs increases. Despite the significance of POPS in Manhattan, they’re not untouchable. A furor arose in October of last year as the owner of 200 Water Street at the southern tip of Manhattan sought to convert half of their public plaza space into retail. Even the release of the DCP’s mapping tool wouldn’t have happened without pushback against developers who were misusing the extra space afforded by POPS. The city has been engaged in a tug-of-war with the Trump Organization since the 1980s over the removal of a 22-foot-long stone bench from the lobby of the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and East 56th Street. After Trump added two sales counters hawking Trump-branded merchandise to the public lobby, the city issued a series of fines, and the City Council ultimately passed legislation in 2017 to guard against the future misuse of POPS. Up until that point, nearly half of all POPS were being improperly used but the city lacked a stringent inspection protocol to verify this. A three-year inspection schedule, along with new signage requirements and the map released this week, arose directly from that vote to tighten POPS regulations.
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Costas Kondylis, architect of Trump’s New York City towers, dies at 78

Architect Costas Kondylis, the prolific designer behind over 86 buildings in Manhattan, died Friday at age 78, according to The Real Deal. The cause of death has not yet been announced. Kondylis was best known as one of Donald Trump’s closest and most frequent collaborators in New York City. He designed the 90-story Trump World Tower, formerly the world’s tallest residential structure, in Midtown East for the real estate mogul as well as the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle, and several buildings at Trump Place on Riverside Boulevard. While Kondylis’s extensive resume reveals a handful of projects associated with Trump, the architect’s 50 years designing in New York included countless high-rise designs for various local developers Born in Central Africa, Kondylis studied in his parent’s home country of Greece before earning a graduate degree at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. After finishing his second masters at Columbia University in 1967, he began working for Davis Brody & Associates. While employed by Philip Birnbaum & Associates, he designed his first notable building, Manhattan Place Condo, in 1984. As one of the first high-rise condo projects in the city, as well as one of the few to focus on luxury design at the time, it caught the eye of Trump who was then expanding his New York building empire. Five years later, Kondylis launched his own firm, Costas Kondylis and Partners in 1989. During this busy time in his career, he designed 65 buildings—one building every six weeks—from 2000 to 2007, TRD reported. Once the practice dissolved two decades later, Kondylis started his own firm, Kondylis Design. It’s argued that Kondylis influenced the New York skyline more than any other architect in history. His more recent projects, Silver Towers, River Place, and Atelier, all towering residential properties, have helped shape the newly-developed far west side of Manhattan. He was largely recognized as the “developer’s architect,” a term he grew to embrace, having worked well with everyone from Silverstein Properties to Moinian Group to Vornado Realty Trust and Related Companies. Though his work was usually on time and on budget, it wasn’t highly favored by critics who saw his large-scale structures as too conventional. Larry Silverstein told The New York Times in a 2007 interview that Kondylis’s name is almost synonymous with the city’s condominium architecture. “He designs an attractive, buildable, functional building,” he said. “If I’m going to do a residential building in New York, the most natural thing in the world is to pick up the phone and call Costas.” Kondylis repeatedly stated that his primary goal was always to please the client. He was regarded as one of the most professional, humble, and patient architects in the business despite criticism or praise of his work.  Kondylis died last week in his home and is survived by his two daughters, Alexia and Katherine. A service in his honor is scheduled for October.