The Omnibus Roundup – Redistricting Queens, Mapping Energy, Picturing New York, Documenting Innovation and Taking Care of Trees

Several Asian-American groups in Queens have criticized the fact that the existing State Senate and Assembly districts split a cohesive Asian-American community along the border of Queens and Nassau counties. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “identifying communities and keeping them whole are among the most important goals for the redistricting process.” And according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian voters are under-represented at the State level because their communities straddle legislative and county boundaries. Many groups disagree, citing that the common interests of Queens voters outweigh the common interests of ethnic communities that live on both sides of the county line. Read the full article at Gotham Gazette.

Modi Research Group / Columbia University | click image to access interactive map

In an effort to show the ways in which New York City dwellers consume energy, Vijay Modi, professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University, and his student Bianca Howard have generated an interactive map that demonstrates energy consumption throughout the five boroughs at the block level. The map invites its users to explore the differences in energy consumption patterns throughout the city. It’s no surprise that Midtown Manhattan is the biggest consumer in the city that never sleeps. But it is more than a little alarming when Modi explains that Manhattan uses more energy than Kenya, and that the entirety of New York State consumes more than the whole Sub-Saharan region, a statistic that he hopes will change as awareness grows.

For more than thirty years, Steven Siegel has photographed and filmed the changing streetscapes of the five boroughs of New York City. The folks at Gothamist have been diligently mining his photo and film archives and interpret his images as documenting a fundamental shift from “from utter destruction to Disneyfication.” Siegel promises to continue recording these changes, and we promise to keep checking out his body of work as it evolves.

For another series of artful and informative perspectives, check out this collection of short documentaries by leading filmmakers, each one spotlighting innovative people and projects addressing a broad range of challenges — a topic and approach near and dear to the Omnibus’ heart. Gary Hustwit — whom we interviewed about his urban design documentary Urbanized — is among the filmmakers, working with Jessica Edwards on a profile of the Delaware County Landfill in Upstate New York, an extremely efficient facility able to divert 70% of incoming waste through recycling and composting and able to convert the landfill gas it captures into enough electricity to power almost 400 homes. And among the projects featured is the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, a place we’ve been following since we first visited the Nature Walk designed by George Trakas that rings the facility and provides a generous and beautiful public space as well as access to the water.

As one of many PlaNYC initiatives, the MillionTrees program’s goal was to plant and care for more than one million trees across New York City in order to enhance the emotional and physical well being of city dwellers and the health of the urban environment that surrounds them. Although over 500,000 trees have now been planted, severe weather conditions and the challenges of ongoing stewardship have constrained the organization’s budget and plans for the program. Although MillionTrees has been successful in planting, the burden of maintenance has suffered from budget cuts. The New York City administration is preparing to plant another 500,000 and it is relying on many volunteers, community residents and neighborhood non-profit groups to help.

This Friday and Saturday, the Center for Architecture in partnership with MUSE Film and Television will be screening international productions on architecture extracted from the 2011 Montreal International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). Be sure to check out these innovative films filled with historical, political and poetic dimensions. For more information about the event, visit the Center for Architecture’s event page.


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.