The Omnibus Roundup – more art about cities, NYU 2031 and the Metropolitan Flora Project

brandpost by Johan Thornqvist

brandpost by Johan Thornqvist.

Maybe we have art on our minds more after our featured interview with Spanish artist Roberto Mollá, but we have noticed quite a lot of noteworthy city-focused illustration, installations, and video this week. Drawn! introduced us to the work of Johan Thörnqvist, who sketches charming miniature urban scenes on existing photographs. Scott Burnham posted an interesting piece on street art and urban interventions that mentions, among others, the double take-prompting street installations of Mark Jenkins, whose work is always worth revisiting. SpaceInvading (via Archinect) showed us that buildings can appear in unexpected places and at unexpected sizes. GOOD pointed us to Hyperallergic’s photo gallery of NYC street sculpture. And if you haven’t seen this video yet, take a two and half minute break to watch Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Pong and more take down New York City. A well-executed and just really cool short film by Patrick Jean:


The leak of NYU’s 2031 plan had the city buzzing a couple of weeks ago and the university was quick to say that the official strategy wouldn’t be released until April 14th. But the plan is now up and live on the NYU 2031 website, complete with interactive map and a few renderings. Explore the plan through the sections on “Why NYU Must Grow,” “Urban Sustainability,” and “Community Dialogue,” or jump in with the letter from NYU President John Sexton which describes the plan as an “overall strategic roadmap called Framework 2031.” But don’t take April 14th off the calendar —  NYU is holding an open house that evening to allow the public to see the plan and voice their opinions. Our guess is that it will be a well-attended event…

We talk a lot about ways to introduce new planting to our cityscape (think urban agriculture, Million Trees NYC, streetscape design ideas) but we don’t always discuss the impact planting of non-native species or the removal of existing flora for urban development is having on our area’s biodiversity. But scientists at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden do. Through the New York Metropolitan Flora Project, the Garden has been documenting and cataloging all plant life within a 50-mile radius of New York City over the past 20 years. The project provides an incredible database, searchable by species, location and various other keywords, that, as the project website states, can be a vital resource “for those involved in environmental efforts, from preserving rare plants, to planning parks and greenways, to repairing degraded habitats, to designing home gardens in which native plant communities are preserved or restored.”

The Garden’s science director, Gerry Moore, recently spoke to The New York Times about how invasive species and urbanization are influencing our region, the Garden’s effort to monitor the health of our flora, and the need to preserve and replenish our area’s native plant life for both the health of the plant population and that of the insects, birds, or other fauna to which they are inextricably linked.

Next Friday, April 16th, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) will be hosting Innovation and the American Metropolis, an event and topic familiar to many Omnibus readers from last week’s interview with RPA’s Tom Wright and Rob Lane. For those who can’t make it in person, RPA is offering anyone with an internet connection the opportunity to participate in the conversation. Tell them your thoughts on innovation and who you are, and they’ll feature the online responses during the regional assembly and on their website.

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.