Roundup — Beaches Bounce Back, Stormproofing, Coworking, 5Pointz, and The School of Transgressive Placemaking

Rockaway Beach | Image via Oscar Rohena

Rockaway Beach | Image via Oscar Rohena

Beach season is finally upon us, and the Department of Parks and Recreation has been hard at work restoring the city’s 14 miles of coastline in time for a Memorial Day opening. City, municipal, and federal agencies — as well as plenty of volunteers — have been working around the clock to bring back the sand, rebuild infrastructure (boardwalks, lifeguard stations, railings), and move electrical conduits, gas, and water lines out of the ocean’s reach. As deputy parks commissioner, Liam Kavanagh, said, “We’re cramming two years of restoration work into four months.” Sadly, not all area beaches will be open in time, but Brooklyn Based and The New York Times have more details about the status of the city’s beaches, as well as the rest of the region’s public beaches from Margate, NJ to Stonington, CT.

In a teaser of a major address on the City’s next steps in preparing for the future storms, NY1 reports that Mayor Bloomberg’s plan will call for removable steel barriers up to twelve feet high that can be installed along the waterfront in the event of an impending storm and at least one permanent storm barrier on Newtown Creek. On the Rockaway Peninsula and Staten Island, Bloomberg is expected to push for the creation of more green infrastructure — dunes, wetlands, and man-made islands — that can temper storm surges.

Coworking space at General Assembly | Image via JM3

Coworking space at General Assembly | Image via JM3

Small commercial tenants renting space to even smaller companies just getting off the ground may have seemed fringe ten years ago, but landlords now look kindly upon the flourishing coworking scene as a field of solid current and future tenants. There are now up to 50 such spaces in Manhattan, most having opened in the last five years. AirBnB, another member of the so-called collaborative economy that helps residents rent out space in their homes short-term, has recently run into trouble in the city. A court ruled this week that renting a room through the service is a violation of the City’s hotel law, which prohibits owners or renters of apartments to rent them out for less then 29 days.

In a pilot program aimed at speeding transit across the Hudson for New Jersey commuters, customers on three bus routes to the Garden State from Port Authority Bus Terminal will soon have the option of taking a ferry across the Hudson, where a bus will meet them to continue the journey inland, skipping the traffic of the Lincoln Tunnel. Across Manhattan, the City’s newest ferry system — the East River Ferry — will add some color to its commuters’ journey this summer through Drawn to Water: A Floating Photographic Exhibition, a rotating series of installations aboard its ferries featuring work from three photographers, including Stephen Mallon, who talked with us in 2011 about the potential for photography to provoke contemplation of industry and the natural environment.

5Pointz in Long Island City | Image via Alan Houston

5Pointz in Long Island City | Image via Alan Houston

5Pointz, the Long Island City warehouse turned giant canvas for New York’s graffiti artists, will be demolished under its owner’s current plan to build two 40+ story luxury apartment buildings on the site, which now must move through the City’s ULURP process. Some artists that have made the site a mecca for street art criticized the owners for what they characterize as the family’s greed at a community hearing, others, though saddened by the loss, expressed thanks to the family for allowing the project to take place over the last two decades. One community member expressed concern over the critical artists’ sense of entitlement for a building they do not own, especially in the context of the inclusion of art walls and seven artist studios in the proposed plans.

As the number of people living on income below the federal poverty level decreased by 7% in New York City and Newark from the 2000 to 2010 census, the share of the region’s poor increased by 14% in its suburbs, according to analysis by the Brookings Institution. The shift is being helped by low wage jobs increasingly locating in the suburbs while rising housing costs in Manhattan and Brooklyn are also a prominent factor.

Barclays Cycle Hire, the London's own bank-sponsored bike share | Image via Duncan C.

Barclays Cycle Hire, the London’s own bank-sponsored bike share | Image via Duncan C.

As the first CitiBikes begin to arrive (the city’s new bike share system opens to annual members on Monday), The New York Times takes a look at the system’s forebears. New York’s system has adapted aspects from different systems across the world: bike style from London, a pricing model like DC’s, and station hardware similar to Montreal’s. While the newest transportation network in the city will likely have its hiccups, NYC’s belated adoption may be smoother than others thanks to the bumps in the road its predecessors have weathered so far. As would almost any project affecting this much of the city’s public space, the system has drawn the ire of detractors, one group of which defies the normal NIMBY tag: some street vendors who have been displaced by the bike share racks are voicing their right to street space.

The interior of the Night Heron, a speakeasy in an unused water tower created by Wanderlust collaborators | Image by Yoni Brook via the Night Heron

The interior of the Night Heron, a speakeasy in an unused water tower created by Wanderlust collaborators | Image by Yoni Brook via the Night Heron


Wanderlust, a group of urban explorers and transgressive placemakers previously covered on UO, are expanding their educational offerings on the logistics and ethics of trespassing with a four-part discussion series in June presented by Atlas Obscura. Tickets are limited so be sure to snag yours for the first session on June 4th — Broken Legs, Surveillance Cameras, and Black Mold: Safety & Security Off the Grid — and check out our conversation with Atlas Obscura founders Dylan Thuras and Joshua Foer.

In celebration of today’s 130th anniversary of the opening of the iconic East River span, Urban Folk Art Studios is opening a group art show featuring 30 local artists working across various mediums bound by their honor for the Brooklyn Bridge and their use of some of the Chocolate Brown Enamel paint used to coat it (acquired surplus from the Department of Transportation). Stop by the show’s opening tonight from 7-10pm, or visit before it closes on June 30th.

The City’s competition for apps tackling the biggest issues facing New Yorkers — this year focusing on the categories of jobs and economic mobility; energy, environment, and resilience; lifelong learning; and healthy living — is back. Submissions are due June 7th; one grand prize winner and eight general winners will be announced in late June.

Next weekend, the Municipal Art Society of New York kicks off its extensive program of summer tours with tours of Greenpoint, the Brooklyn Bridge, and LGBT Harlem. The two-hour walks explore the culture, history, and infrastructure of the city’s neighborhoods, and are led by expert guides ranging from urban geographers to writers.


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.