Posts tagged with "New York City":

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Met Breuer exhibit will explore Ettore Sottsass’s decades of works

An upcoming exhibition at the Met Breuer will examine the works of Ettore Sottsass (1917 - 2001), the celebrated Italian architect and designer who founded the Memphis group. Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical is a retrospective of Sottsass’s extremely productive—and provocative—career, which spans more than six decades. His earlier works include iconic designs for Italian electronics manufacturer Olivetti, for whom he designed office equipment, typewriters, computers, and furniture. It was there that he produced the Olivetti Valentine typewriter, a cherry-red portable, plastic typewriter that suddenly made office furniture cool again. His functional and rational approach to these machines and furnishing systems, however, was merely transitory. He moved away from his modernist beginnings by the 1960s, favoring qualities beyond the functional. Emotional appeal, symbolism, historical references, and the human condition all began to shape Sottsass’s postmodern works. His shift in ideology coincides with his travels to the U.S., where he worked briefly at designer George Nelson’s office, as well as his trip to India in 1961. Sottsass is perhaps best known for his work with Memphis, a design collective that peaked in the 1980s and challenged the conventional design norms of that era—the streamlined, midcentury style. Memphis exemplified postmodern 1980s design: saturated colors, geometrical motifs, plastic laminate, and eccentric forms that rejected established styles. While short-lived, the design movement has seen a resurrection, with a previous exhibition at the Jewish Museum, an auction featuring David Bowie’s collection of Memphis furniture, and now the Met Breuer’s exhibition. The exhibition will be presented in a range of media—including architectural drawings, interiors, furniture, machines, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles and patterns, painting, and photography. Juxtaposed with ancient and contemporary objects that influenced Sottsass, the exhibition aims to place him within a broader design discourse. Landmark projects, including visionary projects that influenced the founding of Memphis, will be on display. His later, lesser-known work will be highlighted in dialogue with pieces by other important 20th-century designers, including Piet Mondrian, Jean Michael Frank, Gio Ponti, and Shiro Kuramata. Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical will be open to the public on July 21st, with an education program on October 1st featuring David Kelley, co-founder of IDEO, on Sottsass. See the Met Breuer website for more details.
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Louis Armstrong House Museum’s new Education Center breaks ground

The Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens, broke ground on its long-awaited expansion project, the new Education Center, today. The project is located across the street from the landmarked house of the legendary jazz musician. The new $23-million, 14,000-square-foot center will allow the museum to offer expanded programming, including concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and community events. The museum’s research collections, which are currently housed at Queens College’s library, will move into an Archival Center on the second floor. There will also be a Jazz Room for musicians to rehearse and perform their music, fulfilling the living legacy of the Louis Armstrong. In 2006, the State of New York awarded Queens College and the City University of New York (CUNY) $5 million to begin the design process, and in 2007, the Department of Cultural Affairs gave another $5 million. New York–based Caples Jefferson Architects was selected to head the design of the center. Once it is completed, the firm will seek a LEED Gold rating. The center’s facade is composed of three sections: curved window panes along the bottom, a flat, recessed middle section with a terrace above, and a green roof on the top. Its entrance is placed at an angle along the curved facade to establish a direct visual connection to the house, according to the architects’ description on their website. Openings in the roof allow light to cut through, illuminating different heights of the exhibit spaces and research rooms. “The groundbreaking for the Education Center is the next step toward creating a Louis Armstrong campus,” said Michael Cogswell, executive director of the museum, in a press release. “There is nothing else like it in the jazz world.” Louis and Lucille Armstrong purchased the house (which is the museum today) in 1943 and lived there for the entirety of their life. The site is a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark, now owned by Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by Queens College. The project is slated to finish in 2019.
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The untold story of Harlem’s gentrification and growth

Architecture should never be excused from conversations on gentrification, but building design often takes a back seat when we consider the various forces behind neighborhood change. Ultimately gentrification engages so many issues—of city planning and policy, of income and racial inequality, of housing discrimination—that it’s impossible to tackle one without bringing in the others. Through this lens, architecture becomes part of a much larger conversation about our cities, and also a powerful tool in efforts to make rapidly changing neighborhoods more equitable.

A gentrification story that lends itself easily to study and dissection can be found in Harlem, an Upper Manhattan enclave that emerged as the best-known African American neighborhood in America following the Great Migration of the early 1900s. One hundred years later, the neighborhood—still a stronghold for New York’s African American community—is also home to multimillion dollar townhouses, big-box retail, a soon-to-open Whole Foods, and a dramatic uptick in white residents. What happened? The latest author to tackle the subject is Brian D. Goldstein, an assistant professor of architecture at the University of New Mexico. His book, The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem, takes a multipronged approach to tackling that loaded question.

In his book, Goldstein explains how Harlem became a sort of testing ground for government-backed redevelopment throughout the 20th century—an often-hostile effort that sowed the seeds for more grassroots, community-led development. This push and pull between the government’s ambitions and community-based organizations persisted through the decades before the neighborhood essentially become a case study for “New York City Gentrification 101.” But the most fascinating question posed again and again by Harlem residents, and echoed throughout Goldstein’s book, is what the streets of Harlem should look like, who should design them, and who gets to inhabit them.

It would be a disservice to the book to boil down the many factors at play between Harlemites and the city government to decide that fate of the neighborhood. Goldstein makes the argument that Harlem’s recent wave of gentrification is a result of effective community-led developers who brought new mixed-income housing, supermarkets, and shopping malls to the neighborhood—which in turn brought a growing middle-class, and then upper-class, population. His point, essentially, is to debunk the idea that the gentrification of Harlem was solely imposed by outside developers and investors.

Goldstein makes a convincing argument to prove this—he traces the strength of these community organizations to ARCH, a radically innovative community developer founded in the mid-1960s, then details the proliferation of community development corporations (CDCs) in the following decades. It’s worth noting, however, that if these organizations are to be “blamed” for the gentrification of Harlem, they were founded in response to a city government with Robert Moses–like tendencies to bulldoze communities and replace them with “towers in the sky,” or to ignore the needs of the neighborhood altogether. Harlem always has been a radical neighborhood in that it has flourished even as the city government treated it with disregard—and it has hardly lost that energy today.

Goldstein, an architecture professor, is sure to point out cases of innovative and notable architecture and architectural practices, of which there are many. Not all are considered successes. In 1966, when the city opened Intermediate School 201, designed as a “showcase” for modernist architecture and curricular innovations, parents protested. As Goldstein explains, “Initially, the city had touted the intermediate schools as models of racial integration, but little in the initial planning of I.S. 201 in the early 1960s suggested that administrators were pursuing that objective with conviction.” The same year, at a vacant lot known as Reclamation Site #1, a proposal for a modernist state-office-building complex designed by the African American–led firm Ifill Johnson and Hanchard caused controversy. Local activists considered the block-long project a threat to Harlem’s identity, as well as their aspirations for community control—a flyer released in 1969 asked, “What’s to be built on Reclamation Site #1? Something for black people or a state office building for white people?” Both projects illustrate that architecture in Harlem has often gone beyond simple building design—the process has long engaged questions of race, inclusion, and community needs.

So it’s a welcome history lesson that the book highlights the work of J. Max Bond Jr., an architect and the first African American director of ARCH, who pushed forward a vision “of an alternative urban future centered on [Harlem residents’] daily lives.” Bond celebrated the “black aesthetic” in architecture, integrating the language of Black Power into ARCH’s work. It’s around this time that the concept of “activist architects and planners” took hold—professionals and amateurs who saw their work as deeply integrated with radical forms of participatory democracy. In that vein, Bond established a program in 1968 to help bring African American and Latino talent into the hardly diverse world of architecture.

The strength of ARCH highlights how things shift when community-centered organizations have agency over neighborhood development. Goldstein puts it this way: “[The] concern was with representation, with the resonance between those who made decisions about the shape of New York and those impacted by such decisions.… [It] was the idea that a designer’s race or ethnicity mattered, that people of color—whether professionals or amateur activists—were particularly attuned to the needs of neighborhoods like Harlem, and that they could thus uniquely plan their future.”

But as anyone familiar with the world of New York real estate knows, much development with public interest is the result of a number of compromises. Harlem’s community development corporations, for example, were still highly reliant on outside partners and city funds, often threatening activists’ dreams of local self-determination. With ample public funding, some CDCs were able to spur large-scale, profit-oriented projects along 125th Street, Harlem’s main drag, but the projects lacked the community engagement once prioritized. The arrival of these new projects also coincided with a rush of newcomers to New York, who pushed gentrification to its limit not only uptown but in Brooklyn and Queens.

But the practice of architecture and planning engaged with matters of race, equality, and empowerment persisted, and even offered a blueprint to other African American neighborhoods like West Oakland in California and Bronzeville in Chicago. In the conclusion of the book, Goldstein recounts a 2001 event in which J. Max Bond Jr., no longer with ARCH, asked, “In what image will Harlem be re-created?” It’s a question New Yorkers will never stop asking of their neighborhoods. But Goldstein illustrates well how Harlemites not only asked, but thoroughly engaged. Although the results were mixed, it’s impossible to deny how the neighborhood was radically shaped by the opinions, persistence, and ingenuity of the people who actually lived there.

The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem Brian D. Goldstein, Harvard University Press $39.95

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Bronx Children’s Museum breaks ground

The Bronx Children’s Museum is inching closer to reality: the project broke ground yesterday in Mill Pond Park, which is steps away from the Yankee Stadium. The $10.3 million, 13,800-square-foot museum also doubles as a restoration project. A historic powerhouse facility will act as the museum’s permanent home, which is slated to be LEED-certified. The museum will sit on the second floor, with the first floor providing access to the river, park, and tennis courts. The Bronx is the only borough in New York City that doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar children’s museum. Previously, the museum used a roving bus that hosted exhibits. Designed by New York–based O’Neill McVoy Architects, the Bronx Children’s Museum's design aims to catalyze its site—located between the city grid and the bank of the Harlem River—by creating an organic flow within the rectangular frame. The museum hopes to connect children to the natural world and the project's design was inspired by Jean Piaget’s concept of a child’s development from topological to projective, according to the architects’ description. Curved wooden and translucent partitions diverge, reconnect, and spiral throughout the space to create both continuity and separation between exhibition spaces. The theme of “Power” will unify all of the exhibits, which will also explore Bronx culture, arts, and community resources. In accordance with its vision to engage children with their natural environment, there will be a river habitat where visitors can build beaver dams and learn about water ecosystems. There will also be a community gallery, garden, and a greenmarket. The museum is projected to open in late 2018.
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New aluminum casting technique creates Governors Island pavilion

Update 7/17/17: This article has been updated to more clearly depict the pavilion's construction and disassembly. The seventh annual City of Dreams Pavilion, dubbed Cast & Place and designed by Team Aesop, is now open to the public on New York City’s Governors Island. The interdisciplinary team, made up of architect Josh Draper of New York–based PrePost, Lisa Ramsburg and Powell Draper of engineering consulting firm Schlaich Bergermann Partner, Edward M. Segal of Hofstra University, Max Dowd of the Cooper Union, Max Dowd of Grimshaw Architects and sculptors Scot W. Thompson and Bruce Lindsay, won the competition back in March with their design that reimagines metal waste as a resource for the future of the city. The competition is run by FIGMENT, the Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY). The brief asks designers to rethink the environmental impact of their designs and to promote sustainable design strategies in light of a future that faces the depletion of natural resources. Cast & Place’s winning design proposed using material entirely made from waste: five tons of excavated clay for the structure’s framework and 300,000 recycled aluminum cans (that would be melted and re-cast) for the structured itself. The team had previously built a small-scale prototype of the panel to test out potential challenges, as the method of fabricating crack-cast aluminum had never been done before, according to Josh Draper. The prototype proved useful, highlighting difficulties that would have been hard to anticipate otherwise. Despite the team’s expectation that they were going to use solely aluminum cans, the melted mix of food trays, foil, and cans produced an inconsistent alloy. Instead, for their final structure, standard aluminum ingots were used to ensure consistent quality and timeliness. “There were metallurgical and production issues that we couldn’t take on with our schedule and budget,” Draper said. However, he added that “this project prototyped a new method that has potential.” The original proposal also featured two side-by-side aluminum frame structures, however, only one was installed on Governors Island (which worked out well, as the site was smaller than anticipated). The fabrication of the pavilion required a new mold technique: wet clay was laid out to dry and crack in plywood frames, where it was then transferred to a steel mold and secured with sheetrock and cement. Steel straps bound the mold assembly to control escaping steam. Once the aluminum cooled and solidified, it formed one cohesive panel. When the pavilion is disassembled, it will be recycled and turned into benches and trellises for the people who backed the project on Kickstarter. “It’s the beginning of a long conversation and collaboration with the public on waste, structure, and light,” Draper said. “We wanted to create a space for contemplation, to provoke questions about what material and waste can be, to invite people to touch and wonder.” The City of Dreams Pavilion is located on the North Side of Governors Island (across from Castle Williams) and is running until October 17.
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Trump’s stake in largest federally subsidized housing complex raises questions for conflict of interest

President Donald Trump’s stake in the nation’s largest federally subsidized housing complex—Starrett City in Brooklyn, New York—has raised questions from two congressional Democrats about a potential conflict of interest, as first reported by the New York Times.   Trump has a four percent ownership in the housing complex, which offers 3,500 lower and middle-income apartments subsidized through a rental assistance program. The deteriorating complex has generated Trump at least $5 million of income between January 2016 and April 15, 2017, as reported in The Washington Post. The federal government has paid more than $490 million in the complex’s rent subsidies since May 2013, with nearly $38 million since Trump took office. In a letter sent on Friday by Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the lawmakers expressed their concern that Trump could increase his profits through his involvement with the complex, despite leading the federal government (which operates the subsidies through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, known as HUD). The letter was addressed to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and those managing Trump's trust of business assets (namely, Donald Trump Jr. and Allen H. Weisselberg of The Trump Organization); it was also sent to Representative Trey Gowdy of The House Oversight Committee. “Many real estate companies receive government subsidies to support affordable housing, but unique conflicts exist with regard to Starrett City because the president is on both sides of the negotiations,” the letter read in the Times. “He oversees the government entity providing taxpayer funds and he pockets some of that money himself.” The letter also raised issues with Trump’s proposed budget cut to federal housing programs. The administration has proposed reducing HUD's budget by $7 billion, however, the project-based rental assistance program—which Starrett City falls under—is one of the few programs that will be spared major cuts to funding. Trump’s recent nominee to lead the HUD’s New York region, Lynne Patton, an event planner with no experience in housing, has also been a source of controversy. Her appointment would mean that she would be directly involved in policies related to Starrett City. “We have serious concerns that her self-described loyalty to the president and his family could influence HUD’s discretion on issues related to Starrett City,” Cummings and Jeffries said in the letter.
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Architect Peter Pran passes away

Norweigan-born architect Peter Pran, FAIA, has passed away. He was a co-founder and partner of Peter Pran + H Architects in New York City, and had previously held positions at Ellerbe Becket, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), and NBBJ. He has also been an influential educator, having taught at schools across the country including the University of Kansas, Cornell University, and the University of Illinois-Chicago, as well as schools in Japan, Italy, and Denmark. He was the subject of the 1998 NA Monograph Peter Pran: An Architecture of Poetic Movement, with supporting essays by Christian Norberg-Schulz, Kenneth Frampton, Fumihiko Maki, Juhani Pallasmaa, and Daniel Libeskind. Pran worked with Mies van der Rohe as project designer on the Berlin National Gallery in Germany, the Chicago Federal Center, and the Toronto Dominion Center. He also worked with SOM as project designer on the Sears Tower (in schematic design) and the Jeddah International Airport in Saudi Arabia. A full obituary will follow.
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Mayor de Blasio announces the Second Edition of the Inclusive Design Guidelines

The second edition of the Inclusive Design Guidelines (IDG)—a set of parameters that assist designers in ensuring their work is fully usable by any and all—has been announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Office for People with Disabilities published the first edition seven years ago. This latest version will expand on the minimum requirements laid out in the 2010 edition, which consolidated design guidelines from around the world. The publication has also been distributed across the globe, allowing New York to be seen as a city striving to make itself accessible to all. That said, as many of those with disabilities will tell you, the city still has a long way to go, especially with regards to its transportation services. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), fewer than 20 percent of subway stations are accessible to all. Change is coming, albeit slowly. A 1979 lawsuit means that by 2020, 100 stations must include elevators. That still only means that less than a quarter will be wheelchair accessible. The problem persists above ground, too. In 2014, a report by the Center for Independence of the Disabled found that 806 curb cuts of 1,066 sites surveyed south of 14th Street in Manhattan were inaccessible. Crumbling concrete, potholes, barriers, and damaged slopes (or no slopes) were the main issues. If you find somewhere that has inadequate disabled access, you can file a complaint by calling 311. (Note: Buildings built before 1987 are exempt). More information on that can be found here. However, the new IDG will continue to foster multisensory environments that, according to the Mayor's office, will "accommodate a wide range of individuals with physical and cognitive abilities of all ages." De Blasio's announcement comes in the month marking the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), the first legislation passed in the U.S. that sought to provide rights to those with physical and cognitive disabilities. “New York City is a place of inclusion where every single person who resides here should be able to navigate daily life without accessibility being a concern,” said Mayor de Blasio in a press release. “We are excited to launch this 2nd edition of inclusive design guidelines as a tool to help make our city even more welcoming, convenient, and enjoyable for ALL New Yorkers.” Meanwhile, Victor Calise, commissioner of the Office of People with Disabilities, added: “The IDG is proving to be an important tool for designers to create welcoming, Comfortable and usable environments.... Locally, the IDG is helping to make New York City the most accessible city in the world.” The IDG Second Edition can be found here.
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Iranian-controlled Midtown tower will be seized by the U.S government

Following nine years of legal battle, the federal government can now seize a skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan that is linked to Iran, a jury found on Thursday. The jury ruled in favor of the United States in its effort to seize 650 Fifth Avenue, of which the Alavi Foundation, an Iranian nonprofit foundation accused of violating U.S sanctions against Iran, controls 60 percent. The government accused the organization of money laundering through its partnership with Assa Corporation, a shell company for an Iran-owned bank that owns the other 40 percent of the building. "For over a decade, hiding in plain sight, this 36-story Manhattan office tower secretly served as a front for the Iranian government and as a gateway for millions of dollars to be funneled to Iran in clear violation of U.S. sanctions laws," acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said in a statement and covered by Patch New York. The 36-story office building is in a prime location and is valued at more than $500 million. It brings in millions of dollars in rental income annually, and Nike had signed a 15-year contract to rent seven floors last year. It would be the largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture in U.S history, according to federal prosecutors. The government plans to sell the building and has also agreed to distribute the proceeds to the families of the victims of Iran-linked terrorist attacks (including September 11), as reported in the New York Times. The government first took action in 2008 against Assa Corporation, and in 2009, prosecutors filed a complaint against Alavi, saying that it was directed by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In 2013, Federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest ordered both Alavi and Assa to forfeit their shares, however, in 2016, Alavi’s case went back to trial on the grounds that it was unclear whether the nonprofit knew its partner was directly controlled by Iran. The ruling last week saw the judge convinced that the nonprofit had taken “directives from Iranian government officials, and its day-to-day operators have been appointed by Iranian officials to ensure conformity with the interests of the government of Iran,” the Times reported. Defense lawyers for Alavi are expected to appeal the decision.
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Cuomo declares state of emergency for New York’s subway system

The cheek of it. Governor Andrew Cuomo waltzes into a press conference and announces he is going to save the subway. After years of denying the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) the funds to upgrade the subway, Cuomo on Thursday declared that the system was in a state of emergency and pledged $1 billion to fix the issue. But a knight in shining armor he is not. New Yorkers know how overdue this is, and so does he.

According to the New York Times, Cuomo fled the scene immediately, revealing no details as to where that money would come from. The New York State Governor will also reportedly sign an executive order to usher in repair work and new gear to bring the subway up to speed.

The announcement comes after an A Train derailed earlier this week, leaving 17 hospitalized and others with minor injuries. Other subway horror stories abound. This is the culmination of a beleaguered 112-year-old system that has been crying out for help for decades since its popularity boomed in the early 1990s. As more and more use the system, the worse it gets. In 2007, 94 percent of 1 Trains were on time. Fast forward ten years and that performance meter has dropped to 70 percent. That's better than the rest of the subway's lines which, on average, are punctual 59 percent of the time. The problem is overcrowding (which accounts for more than a third of delays today) and, of course, this means more delayed passengers angrily tweeting venting their frustration—so the more we hear about it. (The Architect's Newspaper recently spotted this poster at the 49th Street N/Q/R/W subway stop.) Signals, way outdated and faulty beyond belief, are also the source of other delays, as are faulty tracks and switches.

Though ironically delayed, Cuomo's rhetoric will be welcomed by subway riders more accustomed to hearing about train traffic ahead of them. “We need new ideas, delivered faster," the governor told reporters and entrepreneurs who attended the speech. “It will no longer be a tortured exercise to do business with the MTA,” Cuomo continued, announcing an ideas competition to improve the subway.

Put in place to oversee to all this is the new chairman of the MTA, Joseph J. Lhota. "The governor has made it clear he wants a new MTA, a new approach," he said. “We know what we need to do. He mentioned the subway’s aging signal system. We live in a digital age. Our signal system isn’t even analog. It’s mechanical.”

Lhota now has 30 days to change the turn the MTA into an agency that "performs a function." In addition to this, Lhota, who only heard about the $1 billion pledge at the conference himself, must review the MTA's capital plan within 60 days. Though deriding the subway system as it is, Lhota is optimistic. "I know what the subway system was, and it can be the crown jewel of New York,” he said. “No idea is too crazy. No idea is too ambitious.”

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Feniosky Peña-Mora steps down as NYC DDC commissioner

Feniosky Peña-Mora has stepped down as commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC), a position he has held since 2014. He will return to Columbia University as a professor, where he was previously the dean of the university’s engineering department. The DDC oversees the design and construction of all of the city’s public buildings such as libraries, fire stations, and infrastructure projects like sewers and water mains. In March, Peña-Mora and Chief Architect Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo unveiled guiding principles for the revamped capital construction program Design and Construction Excellence 2.0. In a letter obtained by DNAinfo, Peña-Mora wrote to his colleagues, "It has been my great honor to work with each and every one of you, and I will always cherish my days leading this wonderful agency.” "Together we’ve also made great strides in project delivery, processing record numbers of payments and change orders faster than ever, which means we’re working more efficiently for our clients, consultants, and contractors," Peña-Mora continued. "The agency’s successes have led to City government placing more faith in it, and adding new responsibilities." Mayor de Blasio offered the following statement:
I deeply appreciate Feniosky Peña-Mora’s extraordinary service to New York City. From his work awarding nearly $1.2 billion in M/WBE contracts, to instituting wide reforms that have already made the agency more responsive, to improving our response to Hurricane Sandy, he made our City a better place. He navigated the agency through a period of robust growth, overseeing more than 860 construction starts and completions valued at more than $9 billion—all while winning more than 80 design awards and helping 1,600 students participate in DDC engineering programs. This is impressive stuff. While I am sorry to see him go, we did know this day would come. Indeed, he put off his return to Columbia, where he is a tenured professor, for an additional year to continue to serve the city. As we search for an equally strong candidate to run this critical agency, I thank Feniosky Peña-Mora’s for his service.
He is the latest city official involved in the problem-riddled Build it Back program to step away, and also came under fire for his hiring of a councilman's wife and for awarding city contracts in a quid-pro-quo for extremely positive press coverage.
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New Penn Station concourse is now open to the public

The West End Concourse of the revamped Moynihan Train Hall is now open to the public. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's (SOM) New York office, the work is the first phase of a wider project that sees Penn Station engulf the James A. Farley Building.
SOM's work gives commuters greater access to 17 of Penn's 21 tracks; it also increases the overall floor area of the station complex. As a result, pedestrian accessibility into the concourse itself has been improved, with people now able to enter from Eighth Avenue—a boost for those looking to live or work at Hudson Yards.
Phase Two of the project will see more extensive work done to the Moynihan Train Hall. This will include a new lavish skylight comprised of the building's original steel trusses. SOM has been spearheading the move to rejuvenate the Penn Station for some time. In 1999 the firm submitted a proposal that saw a parabolic, glass-and-steel canopy cover a multi-level concourse that allowed travelers to view the trains beneath. Eight years later, SOM presented further plans, this time with a higher glass and steel roof structure. In 2010, the practice's New York arm was awarded the commission to design Penn Station's West End Concourse. Now those plans will be moving forward, with a $1.6 billion price tag.
"Our design for Moynihan Train Hall culminates a long-held vision to create a new transportation hub that serves not only as a suitable entry and departure point to our magnificent city, but also a destination unto itself," stated Roger Duffy, design partner at SOM in a press release. "We are honored to have been involved with this project since its inception and look forward to continuing to make Moynihan Train Hall a new landmark for New York City."
According to the same press release, in revealing the plans yesterday, Governor Cuomo said: "The state-of-the-art infrastructure, technology upgrades, and wayfinding improvements of the expanded West End concourse will provide immediate relief for passengers enduring increasing congestion and overcrowding in Penn Station and help New Yorkers get to where they need to go better and faster."