The Omnibus Roundup — Midtown in Motion, High Line Roller Rink, Walder Resigns and Reinvent

The Department of Transportation has announced a new program to combat traffic congestion in Midtown with a $1.6 million real-time traffic management system: Midtown In Motion. Through a system of microwave sensors, cameras and EZ-Pass readers, DOT will monitor traffic congestion in a 110-square block area from Second to Sixth Avenues and from 42nd to 57th Streets. This information will be made available to city traffic engineers at the Queens Traffic Management Center (which you can learn more about in our recent feature “City of Systems: Traffic Signal“), will instantly adjust traffic lights as needed. An engineer might turn all signals green on one street at the same time or stagger the lights across an avenue. Information will also be made available to individual car drivers via mobile apps using the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN), a wireless network developed and managed by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Streetsblog points out that Midtown in Motion will only monitor vehicular travel and that no system is in place to accommodate the needs of pedestrians or to prioritize the flow of bus traffic. They also note that no community approval process was used to pass the proposal and are skeptical of the strategy’s actual ability to curb traffic. See more coverage on Streetsblog and read the City’s press release here.

High Line Rink | Image via Friends of the High Line and UNIQLO

What do you with an empty lot that’s the terminal point of an extraordinary, linear park? You build a roller skating rink! At least that’s what James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro have created, in partnership with HWKN and UNIQLO. This temporary 8,000-square-foot roller rink will last through the summer, featuring old-fashioned roller skate rental, themed events and night-time DJs. The High Line Rink will be open from July 28 through September 26. Admission will be $10 for kids, $12 for adults. See more details here.

Stay out of the Hudson! Due to a massive engine fire at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant yesterday, raw sewage has been redirected to 56 outfall sites which pour directly into open water. Since the plant’s shut-down, 120 million gallons of raw sewage have entered the waterway. Officials have banned canoeing, kayaking, swimming and fishing in the Hudson River, including advisories for Midland, Cedar Grove, Seagate and South Beach today. Harlem’s Riverbank State Park, located next to the plant, was shut down until further notice. See more coverage from The New York Times.

Jay Walder, MTA Chairman since 2009, resigned on Wednesday to take over Hong-Kong based transportation company MTR Corporation. Transportation Alternatives’ Paul Steely White commented on Walder’s contribution to the city: “Facing a daunting fiscal situation brought on by the Governor and State Legislature’s repeated budget raids, Walder kept our trains and buses serving millions of New Yorkers 24 hours every day.” The Wall Street Journal pointed to the dramatic pay bump Walder will receive — in Hong Kong he will earn more than $900,000 as base salary, a 157% increase above his current $350K salary at the MTA. Denise Richardson of General Contractors Association of New York noted that his departure really “says more about our collective unwillingness to properly fund our transportation network than it does about new opportunities for his career.” Benjamin Kabak of Second Ave. Sagas analyzed some of the probable driving forces behind Walder’s departure and continues to post updates on the latest news.

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What if you could explore and interact with user-generated video that captures each unique, interesting and sometimes crazy moment around New York City’s 90,000 blocks? That’s the mission of, a site dedicated to bringing the experience of exploring New York to the Internet. What separates it from other video sharing sites is that MyBlockNYC’s clips are superimposed on a map, infusing the typically static Google Streetview with a certain liveliness. Anyone can contribute content, from residents to tourists to professionals. Co-creator Alex Kalman wants to give users “the most intimate and human way to explore New York City without being here.” The team behind the site was recently invited to set up an interactive exhibition at MoMA’s new exhibition Talk to Me: Design and Communication Between People and Objects. Read more about the site on Design Observer.

EVENTS and TO DOs: | Courtesy Social Media Week

REINVENTNYC.GOV: As part of the City’s constant efforts towards transparency and abiding interest in crowdsourcing, the NYC Office of Media and Entertainment and the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications in partnership with General Assembly have announced the City’s “first ever digital programming event”: Reinvent Teams of designers, engineers, copywriters, photographers, interface designers, web developers and product managers can enter, by submitting a profile and examples of their work, to participate in a two-day “hackathon” to make more accessible and fun to use. The hackathon will take place from July 30-31, but all entries must be submitted by today, July 22! Find more information here.

MAPPING THE CITYSCAPE: Manhattan has seen many changes since 1811, but one thing that has stayed constant is the grid. It’s the foundation on which the city has evolved and grown– layer by layer. Just as intrepid cartographers explored and documented the island’s landscape in its nascent days, modern mappers are returning to the grid, armed with new technology to compile information about how the contemporary urban landscape has developed and how it can be further utilized. Mapping the Cityscape, the exhibition currently up at the Center for Architecture, celebrates a history of mapping NYC through a graphic examination of, “the ways in which mapping influences our perception of the environment.” Mapping the Cityscape is on view through August 27th.


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.