The Omnibus Roundup – Bronx, Bike Share, Parking, Peanuts, Gowanderlust, OHNY and Art as Urban Activator

“Looking south toward the Hub” by Flickr user Jacob Uptown

This week, The New York Times new architecture critic Michael Kimmelman took a walk with NYC’s planning commissioner Amanda Burden through the South Bronx. They discuss the area’s long journey after decades of disinvestment and neglect and cite the importance of Nos Quedamos and Yolanda Garcia’s vision of what the South Bronx could become in driving its apparent resurgence, alongside the Bloomberg administration’s smart decisions about the physical elements that make a neighborhood: maintaining a street wall, ground floor retail, street trees and density. The walking tour ends with a followup to Kimmelman’s review of a new residential development in the neighborhood, Via Verde. Check out the video and the write up of the tour.


A couple of weeks ago, Janette Sadik-Khan announced that New York City was starting a new bike share program, set to open with 1000 bikes and 600 docking stations, and asked New Yorkers to suggest where to the stations should be placed. But how will the final locations be selected? The Atlantic Cities reports on the complexities of deciding exactly that. Working with Alta Bike Share, the company selected to implement the program, the city will  “first target optimal service areas using detailed data models and public suggestions, then approach community boards that govern these areas with at least three possible locations, and last allow the neighborhoods themselves to make the ultimate decision.” In order to reveal the complex methodology of locating the nodes of this new infrastructural system, the article goes on to explain in detail the three “pillars” of a successful bike share program, “high density of stations, close proximity to transit and community feedback.” The public presentations begin next week. Check out the schedule of community meetings and other events at the bike share program’s timeline, and head over to Streetsblog for up-to-date coverage as this program unfolds.

When people complain about parking in New York, the gripe isn’t usually that New York City has too many spaces. Yet, according to an article in Crain’s New York this week, Robert Moses-era zoning laws dictate that in new residential construction outside of Manhattan, the developer must build four parking spots for every ten residential units, despite New York’s comprehensive mass transit system. Building owners are losing money on predominantly empty parking garages. And even facilities that draw large crowds, like Yankee Stadium, have parking lots that remain mostly empty much of the time. The Yankee Stadium example is now prompting fears that the parking allotment for the contested Atlantic Yards Stadium in Brooklyn will also remain under-utilized. The prospect of a giant blacktop hole adds to an increasing number of concerns about the new development.

New York City is becoming increasingly dependent upon public-private partnerships to maintain its parks. Central Park and Bryant Park have both been arguably saved by such partnerships, to name only two. This week, a new park has opened, this time sponsored by Planters, of nut fame. Mr. Peanut made the requisite appearance at the opening, monocle and all. While there may be something built into the premise of corporate sponsorship of public, even semi-public parks, that smacks ominously of corporate encroachment into civic life, the results are encouraging. Planters Grove, one of three such parks sponsored by Planters and designed by Ken Smith, was built for The Wald Houses, a public housing development in the East Village. The garden allows residents of the project access to the herbs planted there, and will also be open to the larger neighborhood. Read more of the coverage in The New York Times.



This Saturday evening, Cinebeasts is hosting Gowanderlust! with Nathan Kensinger, photographer, documentary filmmaker and film festival programmer. Kensinger will be leading a “zig-zagging tour-screening” — part walking tour, part short film screening — along one of the cities most historied and fascinating industrial landscapes, the Gowanus Canal. Buy your tickets here and then join them Saturday, October 8th at sundown in front of the Bell House, 149 7th Street. A reception, including refreshments provided by Brooklyn Brewery and Cabinet Magazine, will follow at Cabinet Space. For more information, check out Cinebeasts.

The 9th annual openhousenewyork, when some of the city’s most spectacular and hard to access spaces and structures open their doors/gates/elevators/ladders/trap-doors to the public for viewings, takes place the weekend of October 14th-16th. Many talks, tours, and workshops are free; some require advance reservations (with a $5 fee). As usual, people are snatching up reservations fast, so be sure to plan your weekend soon. Here’s just a sampling of what you can find in the slate of events: the Holly Whyte Way Arcade Parade, a walking tour along the Old Croton Aqueduct (in both Manhattan and the Bronx), a walking tour on Shaping Urban Design and Policy: The East 96th Street Corridor, Brooklyn Bridge Park (previous coverage of BBP here), Elastic City’s Monumental Walk (previously), Pier Luigi Nervi’s George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal, AVAC System on Roosevelt Island (previously), the final days of the BMW Guggenheim Lab (previously), Lyn Rice Architects, Architecture Research Office (ARO), East Harlem School (previously), the Arsenal, Noguchi Museum (stay tuned for more on this next week!), the Digester Eggs at Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Little Red Lighthouse, Fresh Kills by Bus, Build It! Architecture Workshop, Urbanitis East Harlem Tour, Chris Pellettieri’s Stone Carving Workshop at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, East 4th Street Cultural District Tour (previously), El Puente South Williamsburg Walking Tour, the Eldridge Street Synagogue, Melrose Commons, or tour the city on bikes with either the NYC DOT, a historian Exploring the Street Grid, or with Velo City’s high school student guides teaching you about urban design. Download a PDF event guide here or click through to make reservations on the OHNY site.

Last weekend’s Bring to Light, New York’s second Nuit Blanche festival, brought light sculpture, installations and video to the walls, streets, alleys and public spaces of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Tomorrow, the New Museum is hosting a panel discussion to consider the potential of the Nuit Blanche model to reimagine public space and catalyze dialogue. “Illuminating the City: Site-Specific Art as Urban Activator” will start at 4pm and will feature Ethan Vogt and Ken Farmer of Nuit Blanche New York; Eva Franch, director of Storefront; Stephanie Thayer, executive director of the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn; David van der Leer, assistant curator for architecture and urban studies at the Guggenheim; with more panelists to be announced. Buy tickets or find more information here. And if you missed Bring to Light last weekend, check out photos from the event in Time OutFlavorwire and on the Bring to Light 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.