The Omnibus Roundup – keys, heavy things, Jackson Heights and transit congestion


In the past, keys to a city were reserved for the heroic and the honored. Now, thanks to artist Paul Ramírez Jonas, you can bestow a key to New York City upon your own personal hero. Through June 27th, “Key to the City” will distribute 35,000 free keys from their kiosk in Times Square that will unlock 20 sites scattered throughout the five boroughs. What these keys allow you to see has not yet been revealed – some may open up special exhibitions, others to sites rarely made available to the general public.

For a public art piece that has more instant gratification, Miranda July, writer, filmmaker, performance artist, and now sculptor, has recently installed her “Eleven Heavy Things in Union Square, which is making its American debut after premiering at the Venice Biennale. The eleven pieces encourage interaction from all park users, and will be up until October 3rd.

While Queens may be the largest borough in size, and second largest in population, it is often overlooked by tourists or even by city residents in the other four boroughs. City Councilman Daniel Dromm is hoping to change that with a new month-long initiative entitled “June in Jackson Heights.” Throughout this month, the diversity and cultural energy of the neighborhood will be showcased through musical performances, a poetry festival, exhibitions in vacant storefronts, and informal events to be determined — local artists and performers have an open invitation to join in the festivities.

Traffic congestion and what to do about it is a never-ending struggle in New York City. But one man, Charles Komanoff, has an idea for how to increase efficiency on Manhattan’s streets — and he has done his homework. Komanoff has spent the past three years studying the patterns and intricacies of every mode of transportation in the city and created an immense spreadsheet documenting his findings. His research and calculations led to a sophisticated plan involving tiered payment for cars and subway riders, increased taxi fares, and free bus service. But we’ve seen how congestion pricing has been received in the past, and we know full well that the various modes of transportation in our fair city are far from integrated. But even if the implementation of Komanoff’s ideas is out of reach, his impressive body of research is worth our attention.

Speaking of alleviating transit congestion, Rachel Maddow recently satisfied her “inner infrastructure geek” by visiting the Sandhogs working on the Second Avenue Subway line, which will eventually help relieve the crowding on the 4/5/6 line — a line that serves, according to Maddow, more riders every day than the subways of Chicago, Boston and Washington D.C. combined! Check out her look at the boring machine, the “launch box” and her interview with Michael Horodniceanu, the president of capital construction for the MTA, below: (via Planetizen)

Among all the various fairs and markets that pop up in the city throughout the summer, this weekend is your only chance to check out the Renegade Craft Fair in McCarren Park, which features over 300 indie artists. After that, head a bit further into Brooklyn for for the Bushwick Open Studios festival, featuring another 300 shows in 150 locations throughout Bushwick and the surrounding neighborhoods. One place however that you’ll no longer be able to check out is the BKLYN Yard, which announced that it had been forced out by their landlord, after four years of hosting parties, shows, and food trucks at their site along Gowanus Canal. Notified at the beginning of May that they had to vacate the premises and cancel their summer schedule, they are hoping to take their party elsewhere in the city.

Top photo: Eleven Heavy Things, photo by Spike Jones via Deitch Projects.

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.