The Omnibus Roundup – Taking Vision 2020 to Task, Definitive Central Park Guide, NYC’s Chief Digital Officer and Infrastructural Opportunism

Diving deep into the politics behind the “sixth borough,” Tom Angotti takes Vision 2020 to task in a Gotham Gazette editorial questioning the bucolic wetland preservation and public recreation envisioned in the waterfront plan. “Behind the frothy rhetoric designed to garner public support, Vision 2020 is really a business plan,” Angotti says, suggesting that the waterfront plan offers little change from its 1992 predecessor, and furthers the city’s real estate driven agenda by converting coastline to high-end condos. The piece interrogates the effectiveness of public-private partnerships in creating public access, challenges the plan’s consideration of environmental impact, and even knocks MoMA’s Rising Currents exhibition. Given his critique, lets hope that Angotti and the others “in city government and the civic community looking beyond the plan” will provide meaningful suggestions for the waterfront’s future.

The definitive illustrated map of Central Park, via Central Park Nature

The definitive illustrated map of Central Park, via Central Park Nature

Creating the ultimate companion for Manhattan’s urban explorers, Central Park Nature, an organization devoted to the natural history of Central Park, has charted a “Definitive Illustrated Map” of the park. The map is the product of over two years studying the botany of Central Park and locates and labels 19,630 significant trees, as well as all paths, water bodies architectural features and recreational sites. The map is featured in this week’s New Yorker and is available for purchase on the Central Park Nature website.

Gothamist goes underground with two pieces exploring the city’s water tunnels. This explosive video from NYC Water shows the excavation of the Croton Water Filtration Plant that, with a quick blast, opens up a raw water tunnel that will flow to the taps of the Bronx and Manhattan. For a higher-res view into the city’s tunnels, check out Gothamist’s recent slideshow of photographs by Gina LeVay, from her series on the sandhogs excavating City Water Tunnel 3, which will be on view next month at the Half King Gallery.

Care to tweet your gripes to the NYC government? You soon may be able to. The Bloomberg administration announced Rachel Sterne as its first chief digital officer this week, taking a major step in an ongoing effort to update the city’s digital profile. Sterne, founder of citizen journalism site GroundReport, will draw upon her knowledge of social media to improve communication between New Yorkers and city government, beginning with a report on how the city can raise its online profile and streamline social media use. Local internet entrepreneurs see her position as recognition of their integral role in the New York economy, and hope it will invite more collaboration between technology, media and the government. For the average vocal New Yorker, it will hopefully create more platforms for communications, like the online forum the city is already planning for suggestions and complaints.

"Coupling: Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism" cover detail

“Coupling: Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism” cover detail

Infrastructure and innovation both got Presidential plugs in this week’s State of the Union. Vanguard approaches to synthesizing those two priorities will be discussed tonight at Storefront for Art and Architecture. At 7pm, check out the launch of the most recent issue of Pamphlet Architecture, entitled “Coupling: Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism.” Presenters Infranet Lab and Lateral Office (recently announced as one of the Architectural League’s 2011 Emerging Voices) have invited 10 of the issue’s contributors (including Omni-collaborators Andrew BlumInterboro PartnersDiana Balmori and Janette Kim) to outline a new methodology of action for the 21st century. From Storefront’s website:

While contemporary politics is navigating towards a better understanding of the geopolitical consequences of an increasingly globalized territory through a publicly acknowledged Infrastructural Investment, architects, simultaneously, have shifted their attention from the object to the territory. Coupling: Infrastructural Opportunism … is a collection of projects, strategies and methodologies that show us how to learn to see our built environment anew and find new opportunities for action. This event will bring together a series of this issue’s contributors and other architects and writers to deliver a series of fresh thoughts towards an Infrastructural Opportunism.

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.


Steven Romalewski January 31, 2011

Great map of Central Park. Ah, but only if the 19 thousand trees that were mapped were done so in digital, GIS format. Then the map would be so much more useful beyond its current version — the tree locations could be integrated with other data (such as the Parks Dept’s computer map files of park benches, fountains, trails, and other infrastructure), updated with relative ease, and linked to the city’s tree census. Until then, a pretty picture and an impressive one indeed, but one that is inherently limited. Too bad. Hopefully next time!