Oculus - Spring 2014 - (Page 43)

last words LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Bridging Two Cities he opening of the Brooklyn Bridge on May 23, 1883, physically united the separate and distinct City of New York and City of Brooklyn. Work started in January 1870 and, when completed, cost an astronomical $15.1 million. According to David McCullough in The Great Bridge, 20 lives were lost during its construction. The spectacular umbilical infrastructure displaced the ferries that had inspired Walt Whitman in 1856: "A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them." Ken Jackson wrote in The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn that by 1860 there were 33 million passengers a year making the ferry crossing. But it was the Consolidation of 1898 that changed our multicentered region into one characterized as Manhattan-centric, where Brooklyn's power as the third largest U.S. city in its own right has been forgotten. Before the ballot to unify the city, a vote only narrowly approved by the citizens of what became Kings County, the population of Brooklyn had been doubling every decade. The Manhattan Municipal Building, completed in 1913, served as a pedestrian and trolley portal between the newly united city's two largest boroughs. It was the winning entry in a competition organized by the NYC Commissioner of Bridges. McKim, Mead & White's triumphal arch was designed to greet pedestrians and vehicles at the foot of Chambers Street. The gilded copper statue of Civic Fame by Adolph Weinman stands 25 feet tall atop the 40-story structure allegorically describing the city's aspirations. Weinman's model, Audrey Munson, also posed for the Brooklyn and Manhattan sculpture by Daniel Chester French located at the Brooklyn Museum. The first conference of the Center for Architecture took place at Baruch College on November 16, 2001, and was called "1=5: Creating a MultiCentered City." In the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack, speakers posited exponential growth for downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, St. George, and the Bronx Hub. Some of the outlines have been built, from Metrotech to Queens West. Others are awaited. The late Margaret ©Zoë Seibel T Bell on the Brooklyn Bridge. Cities may be looked upon as large assemblies, of which all the inhabitants are members; their populace exercises a prodigious influence upon the magistrates, and frequently executes its own wishes without their intervention. -from Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835 We need a dramatic new approach - rebuilding our communities from the bottom-up, from the neighborhoods up. And just like before, the world will watch as we succeed. All along the way, we will remember what makes New York, New York. A city that fights injustice and inequality - not just because it honors our values, but because it strengthens our people. A city of five boroughs - all created equal. -from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's Inauguration Speech, 2014 Civic Spirit: Civic Visions Helfand, FAIA, 2001 AIANY President, wrote: "At the start of this new century, we are searching for ways to accommodate continued growth and more equitably distribute benefits. The obvious solution is to look again at a decentralized model." What defines civic equitability in the 21st century? NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said at his swearing-in in January: "Every day you get the opportunity to do good. It doesn't get any better than that." Reformers and do-gooders noted in Mayor de Blasio's inaugural remarks included Jacob Riis, Frances Perkins, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Al Smith. Our city, the New York of Fiorello LaGuardia - and Franklin Roosevelt - is not the White City of civic monuments in a millennial park. Nor is it the Emerald City of green-backed skyscrapers gesticulating for more air and space. It is a city that harmoniously bridges brown and black, yellow and white, working together to create the architecture of well-being described in the AIANY's "Platform for the Future of the City" (available at www.aiany.org). As former President Bill Clinton most eloquently said at the City Hall inauguration of his former HUD Regional Director Bill de Blasio: "This inequality problem bedevils the entire country, and, I can tell you from my work, much of the world. It is not just a moral outrage, but impedes our ability to tackle problems like climate change. We cannot go forward if we don't do it together. This is a gift we could give not only to New Yorkers, not only to the state, but to the country and, indeed, increasingly to the entire world. We are going to share the future." When the Progressive Coalition of the New York City Council met at the Center for Architecture in December 2013 to celebrate the election results, the work needed to create a city of social and environmental justice was articulately described. To join the skills of architects and designers to the challenges put forward, we aspire to be with our new mayor at the center of this debate. Rick Bell, FAIA Executive Director, AIA New York Chapter Spring 2014 Oculus 43 http://www.aiany.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Spring 2014

Letter From the President
Letter From the Editor
Center for Architecture
Some Blocks Over
Opener: Open to the Public: Civic Space Now
The Search for the Soul of Cities
A Different Tale of Two Cities
Public Space Reasserts Its Political Role
Gatherings of One
Time to Welcome Woonerfs
Redesigning the Crossroads of the World
A Magical Place on the Water
How to Remember a Plague
Sustainable Models for a Just City
In Print
50-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Spring 2014

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