The Omnibus Roundup – airport writers, S.I. trek, light rail, city stimulus & the Yankee facade

It’s been a busy week packing, moving and unpacking. And as much as we’ll miss our special Brooklyn canal and the weird infrastructural happenings of Midtown East, we’re settling into Soho and are certain to find some local obsessions at the intersection of design and the built environment to cover in this neck of the woods.

If JFK airport had a writer-in-residence, what would she write about? Poetic treatises on the ebb and flow within the top international gateway to the USA? The ghosts of art exhibit debacles past? The difficulty and expense of getting to Manhattan, despite the Airtrain? The new FAA rules for Hudson flyovers? Well, in case the Port Authority (which controls JFK, LGA and Newark airports, along with Stewart and Teterboro) decides to try a writer on for size, they’ll soon have a precedent from across the pond. Heathrow Airport has contracted Alain de Botton, author of the Architecture of Happiness, to render his observations of the world’s busiest airport in prose.

Another of our principal obsessions is, of course, urban exploration. So if thinking about airports depresses you and you’d rather buy into the whole “staycation” trend this Labor day weekend, join the folks of Hey! I’m Walking Here! for a 20-mile trek through the landscape of that other island. Hopefully, this will whet your appetite for a meet-up we got planned along the Staten Island Railway later this month. Stay tuned.

Speaking of rail systems in both the city’s past and future, the proposal for light rail between Red Hook and Downtown Brooklyn is gaining ground, and if the project ever happens, it may just find a way to resurrect Red Hook’s trolley tracks.

That sounds stimulus-worthy but far from shovel-ready. But even if longer-term projects were being funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, cities are still getting the short end of the stick. Streetsblog has a nice write-up of Vice President Biden’s admission that stimulus aid to cities is imperfect:

Congress’ decision to route stimulus money through governors has sparked open confrontations between urban mayors and governors over how to distribute funds to the most needy areas. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was particularly direct in urging that the stimulus provide direct aid to cities, bypassing the politicization that often dominates decision-making in state capitals.

Politicization, is that what we’re calling it these days? We’re about ready for some interesting primaries in local races in a couple weeks, from city council to the heated contest to be elected what may be the last public advocate.

While pondering that, check out some raw footage, posted today by the Daily News, of the tearing down of the old Yankee stadium’s facade.


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.