The Omnibus Roundup – Moynihan Station and Grand Central, Citi Bike and Civic Action, Scientific Ghost Towns and Secret City Sounds

Rendering of Moynihan Station Concourse | Image via of Friends of Moynihan Station.

The demolition of the original Pennsylvania Station sparked furor at the loss of a grand entrance to the city. Renovations to the current Penn Station have been on hold due to insufficient funding for years now. But hope looms on the horizon. Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye has announced that construction will soon begin on phase one of the new Moynihan Station. While phase two, turning the Farley Post Office building into a grand intercity train station, is still a long way off, phase one will widen concourses, ease access to the commuter lines and add new entrances to the concourses via the post office building. According to Foye, “the commencement of construction here later this year is gonna send a message to the development community, to investors, to Related and to Vornado and frankly to the whole community that this project’s gonna happen.” Check out the coverage at Capital New York and Second Avenue Sagas.

A few years ago, Vishaan Chakrabarti offered his take on Why Grand Central Works, and now the station is being formally honored for it. Grand Central Terminal is already a historic landmark, on both city and national registers, for its architecture. Now it joins the ranks of the Erie Canal, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Hoover Dam to become a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. According to The New York Times‘ City Room, the American Society of Civil Engineers identified several reasons for the site’s designation as “a triumph of engineering,” including its use of ramps, high platforms and separated departure areas (one floor for commuters, the other for long-distance travelers) to ease flow and boarding. The group also recognized the site’s place in real estate history for its pioneering use of selling air rights above the rail lines and storage areas, which allowed a vast train yard in the middle of the city to become some of the city’s most valuable real estate. Not to mention, the engineers’ society added, “the system still works.”

Image via NYC DOT

Mayor Bloomberg and Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit announced this week that New York City’s forthcoming bike share program will be sponsored by Citibank to the tune of $41 million, with Mastercard contributing $6.5 million to sponsor the payment system. The bright blue Citi Bikes will start appearing in about a month and a map of draft locations for the first 420 of 600 stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island City is now available on the NYC DOT’s Bike Share site. The program will be the largest in the U.S., the only one in the country that is entirely privately funded, and will deploy 10,000 bikes by August 2013. Some are frustrated by the slow roll-out, and many are questioning the price structure, in which costs escalate quickly for anyone who plans to use the bikes for more than the initial 30-45 minute free period (depending on membership level). However, the Citi Bike website states clearly that the program is intended “to be used primarily for trips under 3 miles,” making it a complement to, rather than a replacement for, other modes of transportation. For more information about pricing, how the bike share will work, and where to find upcoming bike share demos, visit the Citi Bike website.

Hobbs, NM is about to play host to a experimental, uninhabited “scientific ghost town” modeled after the quintessential modern-day American city. City Lab is a $1 billion environment, produced by Pegasus Global Holdings, that will cover about 400 acres and will include urban, suburban and rural zones designed to accommodate a population of approximately 35,000. But, in order to “allow for a true laboratory without the complication and safety issues associated with residents,” it will be entirely unpopulated. Thus, the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (CITE) will “allow new technologies to integrate into the nation’s urban, suburban and rural ‘legacy infrastructure,’ and provide detailed measurable results on their impact to the economy and its many sectors.” CITE will initially be set up to test intelligent transportation systems (ITS), green energy, alternative energy power generation (e.g. geothermal, solar), smart grid technologies, next generation wireless infrastructure,  and new first responder technology for homeland security. Read more on the CITE City website and on Boing Boing.


Image via Socrates Sculpture Park


When part one of Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City opened this past fall, we spoke to Jenny Dixon, the director of the Noguchi Museum, and Alyson Baker, the former executive director of Socrates Sculpture Park about the project. Now, the socially-engaged artists who led the design teams in part one, Natalie Jeremijenko and xClinic, Mary Miss, Rirkrit Tiravanija and George Trakas, have expanded on their ideas for part two of the exhibition, an installation at Socrates Sculpture Park that opens this weekend. Through “sculpture, site-specific installations, earthworks and participatory, social activities,” the artists will further explore concerns of sustainability, accessibility, development and neighborhood change in Long Island City, a neighborhood with a strong tradition of artistic presence and influence. Part two of Civic Action opens Sunday, May 13, 2-6pm, and will be on view through August 5. More information is available here.

Tasked with the challenge of performing and showing the secret sounds of the cities in which they live, architects, urbanists, sound artists and DJs from around the world will perform at The McKittrick Hotel on Thursday, May 17. Hosted by The Storefront for Art and Architecture and curated by Daniel Perlin, the Secret Sounds of Cities will feature the sounds of seven cities interpreted and performed by seven artists and will be followed by a dance party. The event is free and open to the public and there’s already a waitlist. Add your name to it here.

Regular Omnibus readers may have noticed our recaps of a number of interesting events put on by UnionDocs, a center for documentary arts in Williamsburg that has demonstrated a consistent and sensitive interest in creative representation and exploration of urban space and New York in particular. If you’re interested in actually making, as opposed to just appreciating, evocative non-fiction multi-media work — place-based or otherwise — now’s your chance: apply to be a part of UnionDocs’ Collaborative Studio. The Studio starts in September 2012; deadline for application is June 30th. International applicants are encouraged, with visa and residency options available.


The Roundup keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about.