The Omnibus Roundup – Adolfo Carrión, greening, Create Change artists, City-Go-Round, and R-O-B the robot

This week’s must-read for urbanists is Andrea Bernstein’s measured account of Adolfo Carrión Jr.’s national “listening tour” of best practices in urban areas around the nation. The article assembles various public radio pieces related to the Obama administration’s newly created Office of Urban Affairs, which Carrión leads, and weaves in threads of the former Bronx Borough President’s long-term political aspirations as well as the limits to federal power to act on urban issues.

Coming on the heels of a vote – the first in the nation – to green the five boroughs’ existing building stock, the City Council also voted to zone in fresher food: offering density bonuses designed to “encourage landlords to rent to supermarkets or grocery stores by deducting the square footage of such stores from buildings’ allowable size, or floor-area ratio (FAR). That incentive should make grocery stores increasingly attractive tenants for developers looking to increase their return-on-investment.”

Tomorrow is your LAST CHANCE to check out the Create Change Artist Residency Exhibition co-organized by the Laundromat Project and SUPERFRONT. The Laundromat Project invites jury-selected artists of color to create “socially-relevant works using the space of their local laundromat to meet and engage their neighbors.” And SUPERFRONT is a contemporary architecture gallery and event space in Bed-Stuy that promotes experimentation and radical thought through residencies, exhibits, discussions. All three of the artists in residence have taken up urban issues: Carlos A. Martinez has built a traveling photo booth that invites the residents of Jackson Heights to discuss ways to improve the neighborhood. Tracee Worley has created a toll free number and accompanying website that “lets laundry patrons across the country purge secret shames, scandals, and betrayals by leaving an anonymous voicemail. And Michael Premo, whom Omni-readers might remember from his work on Brooklyn at Eye Level, worked on a project with Rachel Falcone that “explores the concept of home and community through a collection of audio portraits of his neighbors’ ongoing efforts to maintain or obtain affordable housing.” Check it out.

And today, the civic-minded developers at Front Seat launched City-Go-Round, which “helps you find useful transit applications (apps) near you… [and] encourages public transit agencies to open their data to software developers.” The site is also sure to win the ire of those transit agencies that are not particularly interested in opening up their data. And that list, while shrinking, is long. The MTA may have had a slight change of heart on this issue, but it seems no amount of software developer know-how can save Rector Street station. Today the cash-strapped agency is moving to make good on its threats to slash bus and subway routes, including shuttering four stations and permanently retiring the W and the Z lines.

There are only a few more weeks to visit Pike Loop, a temporary installation presented by Storefront down at Pike Street between Division and East Broadway. Bundle up and head downtown. The installation will be there until early January, but if you missed seeing R-O-B the robot build it, no worries, check out the time lapse (embedded above) to see him in action.


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