The Omnibus Roundup – Jamaica Bay Parks, High Line Phase 3, Sleek City Lights, Back-up Tokyo, Selling Housing and Poem Forest

Mayor Bloomberg, along with representatives of the US Department of the Interior, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York City and State Departments of Environmental Conservation, this week announced a joint project to improve parkland and water quality in and around 10,000 acres of Jamaica Bay. By coordinating the efforts of city, state and federal entities, the project aims to address the area’s ecosystem holistically, to establish research projects and education programs and to improve options for outdoor recreation. The agreement establishes a formal partnership between the National Park Service and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation that will focus on four areas: effective management of parklands, science and restoration, access and transportation, and educational outreach programs. In addition, the EPA will designate most of the Bay a “No Discharge Zone,” meaning that boats are banned from discharging sewage into 17,177 acres of open water and 2,695 acres of upland islands and salt marshes in Brooklyn and Queens. And the Rockefeller Foundation and National Grid have pledged to fund a conceptual master plan for Jamaica Bay Parks that will help guide long-term development. For more information, take a look at the City’s press release and The New York Times.


Photo by Iwan Baan | via

On November 1st, Mayor Bloomberg announced that all of the major stakeholders in the West Side Rail Yards have agreed to preserve the final section of the High Line for use as public space. CSX Transportation, a private freight rail company that still owns the undeveloped stretch of the elevated tracks, has committed to donating the remaining portion of the structure to the City; and the City, State and site developer Related Companies have all agreed to retain the structure and turn it into parkland. Meanwhile Friends of the High Line have been working hard to secure funding for phase three, helped by a recent $20 million donation from the Diller-Von Furstenberg Foundation. In his press statement, Mayor Bloomberg made it clear that this project was part of a collaboration between the City of New York and Related Companies to revitalize the West side of Manhattan in order to encourage commercial activity and in turn to promote the creation of jobs. Legal details and final negotiations are still in process, but confidence is high that a complete High Line, from Gansevoort to 34th Street, is in New York’s future. For more information, check out the Friends of the High Line website.


City Lights | photo via

Head down to Church and Warren Streets to see the latest addition to New York City’s streetscape design. In 2004, a team led by Thomas Phifer and Partners won City Lights, a juried design competition led by the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation to conceive of a new streetlight for New York. Now, thanks to a reduction in cost of energy efficient LEDs over the past seven years, these sleek new lights are starting to appear on the city’s streets. For more pictures, check out The Architect’s Newspaper Blog and Thomas Phifer’s website.


A consortium of Japanese political officials have proposed building a “back-up city” for Tokyo. — Wait, what? — After the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit northeast Japan in March, and with seismologists warning that Tokyo itself is long overdue for a major quake, people are looking for a contingency plan. The Integrated Resort, Tourism, Business and Backup City, or IRTBBC, would house 50,000 residents and a working population of 200,000 (a far cry from the 13 million that currently live in Tokyo), and would serve to take over the major functions of the capital city in the case of a crippling disaster. The plan suggests using the site of the outdated Itami Airport outside of Osaka, 300 miles away. “The idea is being able to have a back-up, a spare battery for the functions of the nation,” said Hajime Ishii of Japan’s Democratic Party. For more coverage, check out The Telegraph.



The Atlantic Cities has a a delightful collection of vintage posters that tell the story of how New York City originally sold the idea of public housing to the pubic. The New York City Housing Authority was the first of its kind in the United States. While strategies for redevelopment of housing have evolved past in the past eighty years, the posters reflect the fundamental motivations behind the founding of NYCHA in 1934, to provide safe and secure housing for low-income city residents. Check out the series of posters advertising the new program and buildings here, courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Performa 11


Making Room Symposium: Tickets are still available for Monday’s Making Room symposium, where teams of architects commissioned by the Citizens Housing & Planning Council and the Architectural League present innovative ideas for new types of housing that might better match the contemporary demographic make-up of New York and how New Yorkers choose to live now. For an introduction to Making Room, click here. For more information about the symposium, click here.

Performa 11, the fourth edition of the visual art performance biennial, is now in progress. Performa brings together dozens of arts institutions and curators to present discipline-meshing performances that explore visual art, music, dance, poetry, fashion, architecture, graphic design and the culinary arts, in public and private spaces throughout the city. There’s also a Performa magazine, online TV show, radio program, film screenings, bookshop and lounge. For a complete list of events, running now through November 21, visit the Performa 11 website.

Poem Forest: This weekend, the Poetry Society of America is hosting Poem Forest, a walk along Thain Forest’s Sweetgum Trail designed by Jon Cotner (who recently took us on a walk through Fort Greene Park). Weaving together poetry and space, the self-guided tour relates lines of poetry from all different eras and regions with fifteen specific spots chosen along the trail.


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.