The Omnibus Roundup – mayoral control, city of water, augmented reality, predatory equity

Governors Island

Nothing screams “Summertime!” like the adjourning of an Albany legislative session. This time, State Senators left more than just the usual state politics soap opera in limbo. Mayor Bloomberg’s control of city’s schools is also unresolved.

OK, perhaps there are more summery things to mention, like the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance‘s City of Water Day on Governor’s Island. Beyond the simple pleasures of a free day of floating, ferrying, paddling, rowing, splashing, canoeing, and kayaking, seize the opportunity to reimagine an intensified use of New York’s water and waterfront. And check out the new water taxi beach location while you’re out there.

The possibilities of our waterways and waterfront extend beyond transit and recreation, as we learned in our East River Power feature way back in February. We continue to be intrigued by the prospect of power-generating turbines in our urban waterways, and we’re psyched to see that tidal power is picking up in recognition as part of the slate of alternative energy solutions. Last week, Metropolis Magazine profiled the turbine-carrying, pier-interfacing docking stations that Richard Garber and Brian Novello recently envisioned in their submission to Metropolis’ Next Generation design competition. If you dig this design, check out Garber and his GRO architects partner Nicole Robertson design for the wayfinding potential of New York’s ubiquitous temporary scaffolding, presented last year at the League.

The photographs in Josh Melnick’s The 8 Train (get out and see it – it closes tomorrow) allow us to shamelessly stare at the cross-section of faces we encounter during the 5 to 10 percent of our waking day spent riding the subway. “Augmented reality applications” will obviate the need for any pretense to step across that threshold of anonymity. Like X-ray vision, we’ll point and shoot our mobile devices at our neighbors to tune in to everything digital they radiate: enhanced interconnectedness or hovering social-networking raincloud, depending on your perspective.

Predatory Equity involves overleveraged borrowing to purchase rent-controlled real estate that might turn a profit when higher paying tenants displace their rent-controlled counterparts. Warehousing is another controversial real estate practice that keeps vacant buildings dormant until surrounding neighborhood gentrification justifies the cost of their redevelopment. City activists ask why the city’s roster of empty dwellings might not be used to meet affordable housing needs instead.

And obviously, we’re always all ears for plucky and innovative design activism. Treehugger reviews Alistair Fuad-Luke’s eco-design slanted Design Activism: Beautiful Strangeness for a Sustainable World.

Alright, people, now get out there and enjoy the weekend before it starts raining again.


The Roundup keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about.

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