The Omnibus Roundup – Chinatown legos, Coney, Atlantic Yards, movies to see

This week we listened to some new strategies to involve community stakeholders in the design of public spaces, strategies tested in the parks of Manhattan’s Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Meanwhile, across the country in LA’s Chinatown, urban planner James Rojas has assembled an interactive city model from legos, blocks and other bright and shiny plastic building materials that recall many of our earliest childhood experiments with design, urbanism and (not) following instructions. At the public unveiling on August 8th, he invites “the public to play and dream about the future of Chinatown. The economic, social, and built environment of Chinatown is rapidly changing and the model will capture that energy through an interactive public participation process.” Legos sound like WAY more fun than the blue drafting dots still popular at many community visioning sessions.

Closer to home, it was a big week for planning resolutions in which the public input was perhaps less playful, despite the zany legacy of one site in question. We’ve been following the debate about the future of Coney Island for some time. On Wednesday, the City Council voted to approve a 27-acre redevelopment plan. Don’t expect the debate to end anytime soon though, negotiations with Thor Equities are still underway. And let’s not forget about Greenpoint/Williamsburg, Flatbush, DUMBO, and Middle Village/Glendale/Maspeth – rezoning plans passed for all, as did an amendment to the city’s Inclusionary Housing Program.

The debate is also still raging around Atlantic Yards, another controversial development proposal we like to check in on from time to time, although it looks like these days fewer and fewer people are showing up to show off rage or support.

Macro-projects will always inspire macro-anger, so for a dose of macro-optimism in a micro-intervention, check out the party at the Putting Lot tomorrow (reviewed in our forum today).

And we hope to see you Monday night at the Brecht Forum for back-in-the-day movie hour. But if the politics of mass transit don’t tickle your fancy, perhaps you’d prefer to see some feel-good flicks on the politics of money instead? If so, join the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) for Money Movin’, a look at the circulation of capital on scales large and small, from Wall Street trading floors to pawn shops in South Central L.A. They’ll be screening a selection from Andreas Hoessli’s “Wall Street” (2004) and Lisanne Skyler’s “No Loans Today” (1995).


The Roundup keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about. Images courtesy of Fifth Floor Gallery.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.