The Omnibus Roundup – the NY Apartment, Rooftops, Concrete Coney, City Chickens and Squatters

The New York Apartment
This week, New York Magazine has a huge spread on New York City apartments and neighborhoods, in an issue dedicated to “one of the things that has most defined New York life for centuries and has become a unit of measurement for our successes and failures: the apartment.” Check out features on the history of “the New York Apartment” since 1647, writerly reminiscences of memorable homes, slideshows of famous abodes and a look at the next 20 under-the-radar micro-neighborhoods in our city.

Transit Efficiency
The watchdog group Citizens Budget Commission has released a report evaluating the MTA’s budget efficiencies, noting, surprisingly, that the subway system is one of the most efficient in the nation and offers the lowest cost per passenger trip. It’s not all good news for the agency — our bus and commuter rail systems seem to be two of the least efficient in the US. Second Ave. Sagas has more on the CBC’s findings, or you can download a PDF of the full report here.

America's Great Waters | via

America’s Great Waters | via

City Harbor: Officially Great
This week we spoke with two of people responsible for keeping our local waterways safe and functioning. It looks like they’re doing a good job — the New York/New Jersey Harbor has been designated one of “America’s Great Waters” by the America’s Great Waters Coalition, an alliance of national, regional, state and local water-related organizations. The coalition seeks to restore natural glory to selected bodies of water and, by elevating the profile of each individual ecosystem, to advance regional priorities in the national political spotlight. Other great waters include the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, the Everglades and the Chesapeake Bay, all with active remediation strategies.

City Council Passes Roof Efficiency Bills
The New York City Council just passed three new Green Building bills developed by the Green Codes Task Force to encourage more energy efficient roofs in NYC, as part of a larger effort to remove bureaucratic obstacles to green development in the city. Starting in 2012, the first bill will require that all newly constructed buildings and renovations to older buildings’ roof materials (where more than 50 percent or 500 square feet is being replaced) will be more reflective to absorb less heat in summer months and more emissive in cooler weather. Taking effect immediately, the second bill changes the building code to exclude rooftop solar installations from buildings’ height limitations. And the third adds heat and power systems to the list of allowable rooftop structures.

Coney Island Boardwalk | Photo by Flickr user blhphotography
Coney Island Boardwalk | Photo by Flickr user blhphotography

Coney Island’s Concrete- and Plastic-walk
Coney Island’s iconic boardwalk has come under threat by a recent Parks Department proposal to replace a third of the wooden boardwalk with recycled plastic lumber. On March 21st, Community Board 13 voted against that proposal, which was an alternative to an even more extreme plan to convert all 3 miles of the boardwalk into concrete. The City is basing their concrete-leaning stance on cost benefits and the need for car-ready surfaces along the boardwalk. Coney Island’s community board will receive another revised plan next month to deliberate further.

City Chickens
With urban farming on the rise in the city, Just Food has taken their City Chicken program to another level by offering community groups live chickens for egg production. The program builds coops for the groups and provides 3-20 chickens for them to raise in community gardens or other spaces across the city. Aspiring backyard chicken farmers take note: this year’s deadline for City Chicken applications is April 15th.

Coming Up
The Center for Architecture is hosting their monthly Oculus Book Talk this Monday, April 11th from 6-8pm, with Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas about Cities, to discuss the evolution of urban planning theory and practice today from the twentieth century.

Also on Monday night, Pete’s Candy Store is hosting a talk on “The Once and Future Squatter,” with the Lower East Side Squatter Homesteader Archive Project, Matt Metzgar (Director) and Peter Spagnulo (Co-founder). The evening will address current efforts by squatters and homesteaders to create a research archive “from the ground up” — collecting, preserving and organizing the evidence of an underground, insurgent movement — as well as the significance such a collection may have for scholars and the public.

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.


Georgia April 8, 2011

The New York Magazine article is excellent. Really enjoyed the short stories.

Also, Leonard Lopate covered the article on his Please Explain segment here

AK April 14, 2011

Excellent roundup. Keep up the good work!