Monday, December 2, 2013

PANEL UPDATE: December 4 and EXHIBITION OPENING: December 10


Urban Revitalization and East Harlem Rezoning Panel Discussion


Wednesday, December 4, 2013
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Admission is FREE for CIVITAS members. Find out how to become a member.
CIVITAS's discussion series continues this December with an investigation of urban revitalization through the lens of East Harlem rezoning and updated land use policies. This panel of neighborhood leaders and experts will look specifically at projects currently under way in East Harlem, including the renovation of the former P.S. 109 into affordable live-work space for artists, and the transformation of La Marqueta, a marketplace under the Metro North railway tracks between East 111th and East 116th Streets that was once the economic and social center of the neighborhood.
Moderator:
-Karrie Jacobs - Contributing Editor, Metropolis; founding editor-in-chief, Dwell
Panelists:
-Peter Gluck - Principal, GLUCK+
-Matthew Washington - Chair, Community Board 11 and Advisory Member of CIVITAS
-Gus Rosado - Executive Director, El Barrio's Operation Fightback
All discussions in the series will take place at the National Academy
1083 Fifth Avenue at East 89th Street. map
Admission:
CIVITAS members: FREE
For tickets, call (212) 369-4880 x 201.
CIVITAS members can RSVP by calling the museum at the above number.

SAVE THE DATE: Esplanade Exhibition Opening at City Swiggers on December 10th

Join CIVITAS for a opening reception celebrating the new Reimagining the Waterfront exhibition location at City Swiggers.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
City Swiggers
320 East 86th Street
(between First and Second Avenues)
In the evening, exact time TBD
Reimagining the Waterfront is a CIVITAS-sponsored initiative to improve the East River Esplanade between East 63rd and 125th Streets. The exhibition features the eight winning proposals from the 2012 design-ideas competition, as well as historic images of the East River Esplanade and photographs of the site today.
Reimagining the Waterfront: Manhattan’s East River Esplanade was organized by the Museum of the City of New York. It was curated by Andrea Renner, the Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, and was on view at the Museum from June 6 through October 28, 2012.
For more information on the project, please visit:www.reimaginethewaterfront-civitas.com or call CIVITAS at (212) 996-0745.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

RSVP Now: Urban Revitalization and East Harlem Rezoning



New Panelist: CIVITAS Advisory Committee Member Matthew Washington


Wednesday, December 4
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Admission is FREE for CIVITAS members. Find out how to become a member.
CIVITAS's discussion series continues this December with an investigation of urban revitalization through the lens of East Harlem rezoning and updated land use policies. This panel of neighborhood leaders and experts will look specifically at projects currently under way in East Harlem, including the renovation of the former P.S. 109 into affordable live-work space for artists, and the transformation of La Marqueta, a marketplace under the Metro North railway tracks between East 111th and East 116th Streets that was once the economic and social center of the neighborhood.
Moderator:
-Karrie Jacobs - Contributing Editor, Metropolis; founding editor-in-chief, Dwell
Panelists:
-Matthew Washington - Chair, Community Board 11, Advisory Member of CIVITAS
-Peggy Shepard - Co-founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
-Gus Rosado - Executive Director, El Barrio's Operation Fightback
All discussions in the series will take place at the National Academy
1083 Fifth Avenue at East 89th Street. map
Admission:
CIVITAS members: FREE
General Admission: $15
Seniors and Students: $10
For tickets, visit the National Academy online or call (212) 369-4880 x 201.
CIVITAS members can RSVP by calling the museum at the above number.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

RSVP Now: Upcoming Lectures Sponsored by CIVITAS


Guide To NYC Urban Landscapes: A Book Talk

The Arsenal, Third Floor Gallery 
830 Fifth Avenue, 
In Central Park at 64th Street

$15 for CIVITAS members, $20 non-members. Find out how to become a member. Tickets may be purchased here.
Join us for an illustrated lecture on places and landscape design, from 19th century cemeteries to the Upper East Side's Conservatory Garden, with stops in-between.
New York City is easily recognized worldwide by its skyscrapers and densely-populated urban environment. Robin Lynnand Francis Morrone, in their newly-published Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes, point to the less obvious but equally beautiful aspects to our city's fabric - the city's low-scale open spaces, as inspiring as those found in nature.
Morrone provides an exciting insider's look at New York City's outstanding and surprising urban oases. Take a look at Morrone's blog on New York City parks to learn more about our city's valuable green spaces! http://bit.ly/UrbanLandscapes
This event is co-sponsored by Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and the Historic House Trust.

Urban Revitalization and East Harlem Rezoning Discussion


Wednesday, December 4, 2013
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Admission is FREE for CIVITAS members. Find out how to become a member.

CIVITAS's discussion series continues this December with an investigation of urban revitalization through the lens of East Harlem rezoning and updated land use policies. This panel of neighborhood leaders and experts will look specifically at projects currently under way in East Harlem, including the renovation of the former P.S. 109 into affordable live-work space for artists, and the transformation of La Marqueta, a marketplace under the Metro North railway tracks between East 111th and East 116th Streets that was once the economic and social center of the neighborhood.

Moderator:
-Karrie Jacobs - Contributing Editor, Metropolis; founding editor-in-chief, Dwell
Panelists:
-Peggy Shepard - Co-founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
-Gus Rosado - Executive Director, El Barrio's Operation Fightback
- A representative from Community Board 11
All discussions in the series will take place at the National Academy
1083 Fifth Avenue at East 89th Street. map
Admission:
CIVITAS members: FREE
General Admission: $15
Seniors and Students: $10
For tickets, visit the National Academy online or call (212) 369-4880 x 201.
CIVITAS members can RSVP by calling the museum at the above number.

Save The Date: Transportation and the Second Avenue Subway Discussion

Wednesday, January 8, 2013
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

CIVITAS's discussion series concludes with a panel on the construction of the Second Avenue Subway and transportation infrastructure. How can urban design and public art transform street-level spaces to be more functional and beautify below-ground levels on a grand scale?
Moderator:
-James S. Russell - Architecture columnist,Bloomberg News
Panelists:
-Sandra Bloodworth - Director, MTA Arts for Transit
-Mitchell Joachim - Ph.D., Co-founder and Director of Research, Terreform ONE
-Cesar Pelli - NA, architect
All discussions in the series will take place at the National Academy
1083 Fifth Avenue at East 89th Street. map
Admission:
CIVITAS members: FREE
General Admission: $15
Seniors and Students: $10
For tickets, visit the National Academy online or call (212) 369-4880 x 201.
CIVITAS members can RSVP by calling the museum at the above number.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

CIVITAS I Three Upcoming Events Examine Our Urban Communities


Guide To NYC Urban Landscapes: A Book Talk

Wednesday, November 20th at 6:30 pm
The Arsenal, Third Floor Gallery
830 Fifth Avenue, in Central Park at 64th Street 
$15 for CIVITAS members, $20 non-members
New York City is easily-recognized worldwide by its skyscrapers and densely-populated urban environment. Robin Lynn and Francis Morrone in their newly-published Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes point to the less obvious-the city's low-scale open spaces, as inspiring as those found in nature. Join us for an illustrated lecture on places and landscape design, from 19th century cemeteries to the Upper East Side's Conservatory Garden, with stops in-between. Morrone provides an exciting insider's look at New York City's outstanding and surprising urban oases.
This event is co-sponsored by Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and the Historic House Trust.

Urban Revitalization and East Harlem Rezoning Discussion

Wednesday, December 4, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Admission is FREE for CIVITAS members.  Find out how to become a member.
CIVITAS's discussion series continues this December with an investigation of Urban revitalization through the lens of East Harlem rezoning and updated land use policies. This panel of neighborhood leaders and experts will look specifically at projects currently under way in East Harlem, including the renovation of the former P.S. 109 into affordable live-work space for artists, and the transformation of La Marqueta, a marketplace under the Metro North railway tracks between East 111th and East 116th Streets that was once the economic and social center of the neighborhood.
Moderator:
-Karrie Jacobs - Contributing Editor, Metropolis; founding editor-in-chief, Dwell
Panelists:
-A representative from Community Board 11
-Peggy Shepard - Co-founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
-Gus Rosado - Executive Director, El Barrio's Operation Fightback
All discussions in the series will take place at the National Academy
1083 Fifth Avenue at East 89th Street. map
Admission:
CIVITAS members: FREE
General Admission: $15
Seniors and Students: $10
For tickets, visit the National Academy online or call (212) 369-4880 x 201.
CIVITAS members can RSVP by calling the museum at the above number.

Save The Date: Transportation and the Second Avenue Subway Panel Discussion

Wednesday, January 8, 2013
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
CIVITAS's discussion series concludes with a panel on the construction of the Second Avenue Subway and transportation infrastructure. How can urban design and public art transform street-level spaces to be more functional and beautify below-ground levels on a grand scale?
Moderator: 
-James S. Russell - Architecture columnist,Bloomberg News
Panelists:
-Sandra Bloodworth - Director, MTA Arts for Transit
-Mitchell Joachim - Ph.D., Co-founder and Director of Research, Terreform ONE
-Cesar Pelli - NA, architect
All discussions in the series will take place at the National Academy 
1083 Fifth Avenue at East 89th Street. map
Admission:
CIVITAS members: FREE
General Admission: $15
Seniors and Students: $10
For tickets, visit the National Academy online or call (212) 369-4880 x 201.
CIVITAS members can RSVP by calling the museum at the above number.

New Board Member Sharon Pope

Gorman T. Reilly

CIVITAS welcomes new board member, Sharon Pope. Sharon is a long time resident of Roosevelt Island who served for 12 years as a full board member of Community Board 8 where she chaired its Housing Committee and represented the Community Board on the Advisory Council of Metropolitan Hospital Center. She now serves as a public member of Community Board 8. 

A graduate of Morgan State University, Sharon aptly describes herself as a committed urbanist. She is a former environmental planner with the Department of City Planning. She is also a former President of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, representing the interests of some 10,000 residents and 20 different building councils. Her passion is community-based planning. For CIVITAS members she has led several informative tours of Roosevelt Island and the newly opened Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. 

What attracted Sharon to CIVITAS? Her quick response – “CIVITAS is an effective organization.” She values its commitment and tenacity in promoting lively and liveable neighborhoods. Among many compelling issues now engaging CIVITAS, she plans to devote her considerable talents as an urban planner to continuing to draw attention to the waterfront. The East River Esplanade, she explains, “can be made into a jewel of a park where residents of the Upper East Side and of East Harlem can relax and enjoy themselves.” 



To read the complete fall 2013 issue of CIVITAS News, visit http://civitasnyc.org/civitas-newsletters/

Friday, November 1, 2013

CIVITAS in action: The East River Esplanade


Hunter F. Armstrong 

With the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaching on October 29, the Upper East Side and East Harlem waterfront is in regular political discussion. CIVITAS is helping plan for the East River Esplanade’s future, and is responding to citywide policies and institutional plans. We are pushing for a larger plan for this natural and recreational resource. Otherwise, the community will be stuck with a patchwork of different proposals for the park. With so much energy and attention being focused on the East River, with the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station and other proposals, now is the time to plan smartly for the long term, and to prepare for future storms. Below is an overview of factors currently at play in our communities’ waterfront. 

Engineering Study 
In June, the NYC Parks Department and consultants presented their engineering evaluation of the wooden piles that support the Esplanade between 60th and 125th Streets. Marine borers have gradually chewed away the piles and destabilized the platform. Most potholes that resulted and pocked the Esplanade have been filled, but the overall study was critical to determine where future holes may occur. The Parks Department study stated the piles will need to be replaced by concrete piers and determined this will cost approximately $110 million over a 10-year period to maintain the Esplanade in its current, narrow footprint. If the city defers maintenance and piles are not replaced this decade, the Parks Department consultants estimated costs will balloon to exceed $400 million. 

Mayor Bloomberg’s Special Initiative for Resiliency and Rebuilding 
The Mayor created this initiative after the devastation Sandy reaped on New York. Released in June, much of the 400-page report understandably focused on neighborhoods devastated by the storm. That said, it does have major implications for our community. The plan proposes a “deployable floodwall” between 90th and 125th Street, where the storm surge gushed as far upland as Second Avenue. CIVITAS has met with the Mayor’s staff to discuss the proposal’s feasibility in a future administration, and how the community can help shape the plan. 


A rendering of the “deployable floodwall” system proposed for the waterfront between East 90th Street and East 125th Street. Rendering from the Mayor’s Resiliency Plan.


Rockefeller University 
Farther south, Rockefeller University is planning to expand with a four-block platform over the FDR Drive between 64th and 68th Streets. CIVITAS, the community board and neighbors have met with university officials and their designers to determine implications of this major expansion, which will fill in the only remaining gap over the FDR between 61st and 71st Streets. The two-story building will be over 150,000 square feet. As part of the plan, which went into the official city land use review process in September, the university proposes upgrading four Esplanade blocks with new plantings and trees, irrigation, new seating and separate areas for cyclists, walkers and benches. The redesign will keep the 1930s-era metal railing and asphalt pavers that are used throughout our city’s waterfront. CIVITAS and neighbors raised concerns about the impact on Esplanade users due to increased traffic noise and exhaust fumes that will result from capping over the highway. We also asked for better access to the waterfront via the gated campus and for additional information about the platform’s impact on the Esplanade’s underlying infrastructure. 


The proposed Rockefeller University expansion. Rendering by Rafael Vinoly Architects. 



Other Projects 
With no comprehensive community waterfront plan, smaller projects continue to occur in a piecemeal way. To mitigate impacts of their 1 million square foot facility between East 73rd and East 74th Streets, Memorial Sloan Kettering and Hunter College-CUNY will invest the funds needed to replace the deteriorated piles at Andrew Haswell Green Park, over a half-mile away. CIVITAS and other groups objected to the distance between the park improvements and the 450-foot building’s 8,500 daily visitors. CIVITAS also recently learned that sections of the Con Ed property near 73rd Street will be partially opened and returned to park land. Unfortunately, the building will remain in place mere feet from the FDR and maintain a narrow, dangerous pinchpoint for Esplanade users. 


Next Steps for Reimagining the Waterfront 
In addition to work cited in this article and keeping the community informed, CIVITAS is also keeping our award-winning 2012 exhibition from the Museum of the City of New York on public view. In September, CIVITAS installed the exhibition at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and is working with their staff and the museum to create programming for Lenox Hill’s many daily visitors. We are also developing more programs to educate park users and neighbors. The Esplanade was the first topic in our public panel series with the National Academy, which is discussed on Page 1. We feel strongly that more funding and attention is needed to address our densely built neighborhood’s park-space deficits, and we will continue to work toward improving the Esplanade. Threats like future storm surges have focused more attention on preparing for the catastrophic while planning for day to day enjoyment. 




To read the complete fall 2013 issue of CIVITAS News, visit http://civitasnyc.org/civitas-newsletters/


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Four Freedoms Park: A Story of Determination

Matt Jupin

An aerial view of the FDR Memorial, 
looking north. Photo by Steve Amiaga, 
FDR Four Freedoms Park Conservancy. 
 The opening ceremony of Four Freedoms Park last October was a moment of triumph for those who had been involved in its 39-year saga. Speakers included former President Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, Ambassador William vanden Heuvel, and Tom Brokaw was the Master of Ceremonies. Their comments reflected on President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom the memorial commemorates, the great difficulties in completing the project, and the site’s meaning for today and future generations. The Four Freedoms outlined in President Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union speech are incorporated in the architecture and perspective of the new memorial: freedom of speech and expression, of worship, from want, and from fear. 

The memorial’s history dates back to the late 1960’s, when Mayor Lindsay, with the New York State Urban Development Corporation, proposed redeveloping the narrow island in the East River, then called Welfare Island, into a residential community. In 1970, the Four Freedoms Foundation began talks with the city and state about a memorial for FDR . A New York Times editorial promoted the proposed name and location: “A plaza promenade and statue could be created at the southern end of Franklin D. Roosevelt island. It would face the sea he loved, the Atlantic he bridged, the Europe he helped to save, and the United Nations he inspired.” 

Three years later, Mayor Lindsay presided over the island’s renaming ceremony at the park’s future location. Louis Kahn was introduced as architect for the project and presented a model of the design. Funding was to come in equal parts from the state, city and private funding. Kahn described his design for the park as “a Room and a Garden.” The Room would be a large space at the southern tip of the island, partially enclosed by massive granite blocks that focused a view south. Kahn began the memorial with a 100-foot wide staircase, creating a hill at the northern end of the monument from which visitors would decend as they proceeded through the garden to the room. 

A perfect storm of events led to the shelving of the Four Freedoms Park project for three decades. Governor Nelson Rockefeller, a key supporter, left office to become Vice President under the Ford Administration. Louis Kahn died of a heart attack in Penn Station while carrying the completed designs. Finally, New York City’s near-bankruptcy knocked out political support of the project. 

The Four Freedoms Foundation and other key supporters never gave up on the idea. Kahn’s designs were kept with Mitchell/ Giurgola Architects. A video produced in 1980 and narrated by Orson Welles served to keep the vision alive. A bipartisan commission established by Governor Mario Cuomo unanimously recommended the project be built in 1985, but it took another six years before earth was moved. Between 1991- 1994, the seawall was stabilized and the ground was cleared, compacted and shaped as specified in Kahn’s designs. 

Kahn’s design uses the triangular shape of the park’s site to 
draw focus to the Roosevelt statue at entrance of the ‘Room.’ 
Political support would again diminish with power shifts in Albany, freezing progress to the site for another 16 years, but enthusiastic supporters kept the project alive. A 2003 documentary by Kahn’s son, Nathaniel, helped to reinvigorate interest in the project. Two years later, Cooper Union held an exhibition on the history of Four Freedoms Park; Ambassador William vanden Heuvel committed his Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute to fundraising. The next year, seed money from Alphawood Foundation Chicago funded office operations. The executive director, Gina Pollara, worked on scoping drawings and obtaining the many permits required to build. Ambassador vanden Heuvel continued looking for funding in the private sector, along with Sally Minard, who came to the project in 2005. She recalls those crucial years of numerous applications for permits as very difficult for the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy. “The reason there aren’t many shovel-ready projects is because most developers rarely want to invest money upfront until they know the permits will be given,” Minard said in a phone interview. Mayor Bloomberg advised that the project be split into three phases. The first would build the Room, the second the Promenade, and last phase would build the grand stair and fill in the lawn and trees. 

Actually building the memorial was also daunting. 7,700 tons of granite were quarried in North Carolina, as specified by Kahn. The monumental stones were too heavy to be trucked over the single bridge to the island, so were floated to the site by barge. Five different types of cranes and 100 stone setters were needed to set the stones in place. 

The park was built for $44 million, but fundraising is not over. The Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, a 501c3 NY State Corporation is responsible for funding and maintenance with a full operations staff. The estimated budget is $2 million annually. Free public tours are given each week. The park recently hosted events such as yoga in the park, a kite-making workshop and has others planned. Revenue streams include souvenirs, and a food vendor operation is currently being tested. 

Matt Jupin is a East Harlem Resident and CIVITAS volunteer. 


To read the complete fall 2013 issue of CIVITAS News, visit http://civitasnyc.org/civitas-newsletters/


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Designing Healthy Neighborhoods from the Sidewalk Up

Tali Cantor

Pedestrian plaza at Madison Square, part of the Broadway Boulevard Project. 
Photo by NYC Department of Transportation.

Although New York City is considered an active city compared to places with greater car use, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) estimates that 80% of adults living in the city are still not maintaining the recommended 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. In fact, in NYC alone over half of adults are either obese or overweight. However you feel about the new blue additions to the city’s streets and sidewalks, CitiBike bicycle share is only one example of city efforts to improve New Yorkers’ health through physical activity.

Solutions to get New Yorkers moving, like the bicycle infrastructure, can be found through active design for the built environment. The DOHMH, and the Departments of Design and Construction, Transportation, and City Planning have promoted and implemented active design by encouraging physical activity indoors and in public spaces. 

In 2010, these agencies released a report called Active Design Guidelines. This report provides an extensive resource for designers, property developers and owners, public officials, and community members to understand design strategies focused on increasing physical activity, as well as access to transportation, open space, and fresh food.

At the building level, active design recommends architecture that integrates physical activity into daily routines, particularly through stairwell design and pedestrian circulation. Improving the stairway experience may be as basic as adding color, light, or signage. Since 2008 the NYC “Burn Calories not Electricity” campaign has provided signs with this slogan on stairwell doorways to encourage stair rather than elevator use, and Mayor Bloomberg further promoted this message by announcing a series of legislative policies to require buildings to increase stairway visibility and 
accessibility. 

In the public realm, New York City has seen design interventions and programs to increase opportunities for active recreation outdoors. Street improvements providing protected bicycle lanes, such as those on First, Second and Columbus Avenues, and the CitiBike bicycle share program encourage a healthy and efficient alternative transit. In addition, parks and open spaces with recreational facilities such as basketball courts, walking tracks, or even fitness stations offer outdoor amenities to get in shape without a gym pass. In 2011, the Make NYC Your Gym campaign included free public fitness classes and activities in city parks and public spaces to further increase opportunities for physical activity, and this summer’s “ G o P a r k ” c a m p a i g n advertised passive and active r e c r e a t i o n opportunities in these spaces as well. 

Providing access to the recommended “apple-a-day” has also been a priority for active designers. In the long term, active design sets out to fill “food deserts” with full-service grocery stores, or to use open spaces for greenmarkets and farm stands.  

The active design tools that will have the greatest impact on New Yorkers, however, are those that foster a safe and pleasant environment at the streetscape level. In summer 2013, the agencies behind the Active Design Guidelines released a follow-up report called Active Design: Shaping the Sidewalk Experience, a resource for understanding policies and programs that enhance an active, lively, and pedestrian-friendly sidewalk. 

The report is written for designers, policy makers, students, and community members who want to impact urban design for the public realm. It looks at the sidewalk as a physical space that not only protects pedestrians from vehicular traffic, but also stimulates economic development and social interactions between neighbors and friends. It identifies the “sidewalk room” as the space containing the ground plane, building wall, roadside plane, and the canopy, each of which is governed by zoning regulations that determine building scale, street furniture, lighting, trees, and curbside parking, to name just a few design elements, and create an environment that is visually interesting, connected within the street network, and safe. 

The sidewalk environments on the Upper East Side and East Harlem can be evaluated on the interactive website www.walkscore.com, which quantifies neighborhood “walkability” based on factors such as population, public transportation, and proximity to local retail and amenities. Of the 256 neighborhoods identified in NYC, the Upper East Side is ranked 20th with a high walk score of 98 out of 100 and East Harlem is ranked 43rd with a score of 93. Within these neighborhoods, however, there exist significant physical obstacles that impede pedestrian accessibility, such as the FDR Drive that acts as a barrier between the residential neighborhoods to its west and the waterfront parks along the East River Esplanade. North of 97th Street, the MetroNorth train tracks along Park Avenue physically divide East Harlem and either prevent or limit access from one side of the avenue to the other. Where the tracks rise to allow pedestrian connections below, the amount of underutilized and vacant space detracts from a lively sidewalk. 

The report includes a companion guide, which provides tools and resources to measure sidewalk success through qualitative and quantitative survey analysis, and an appendix of policies that are applicable to sidewalk design and function. For those non-designers, the city provides resources for community members to take ownership of the “sidewalk room.” This could be as easy as calling 311 to report hazardous sidewalk conditions or poorly maintained street furniture, to request street trees or benches, or else becoming more involved with the local Community Board or community-based organizations to raise concerns with like-minded neighbors. 

Creating an optimal pedestrian environment is just one way to realize active design, and it facilitates the most basic and inexpensive type of exercise - using your own two feet. So this fall, get off the train a subway stop early or aim for that extra flight of stairs, and take advantage of all the opportunities to stay healthy that are built right into the city surrounding you. 

More information on the Active Design Guidelines can be found at the website of the Department of City Planning nyc.gov/planning 


NYC Recreational and Fitness Parks 

One of the various forms of exercise 
on the East River Esplanade 
Asphalt Green 
From East 90 Street between York Avenue and FDR Drive 
FE, P 

John Jay Park 
From East 76 to East 78th Streets at Cherokee Place 
BC, FE, HB, OP, P 

St. Catherine’s Park 
From East 67th Street to East 68th Streets at 1st Avenue 
BC, FE, HB, P, RT 

Thomas Jefferson Park 
Between 1st Avenue and FDR Drive From East 111th to East 114th Streets 
BB, BF, FE, HB, OP, P, RC, RT, SF 




BC - Basketball Courts 
BF - Baseball Fields 
FE - Fitness Equipment 
HB - Handball Courts 
OP - Outdoor Pools 
P - Playgrounds 
RC - Recreation Center 
RT - Running Tracks 
SF - Soccer Fields v


To read the complete fall 2013 issue of CIVITAS News, visit http://civitasnyc.org/civitas-newsletters/



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CIVITAS Launches Discussion Series with East River Waterfront Panel


Michael Storm 


The East River Esplanade looking south from East 71st Street. Courtesy of Anton Brookes. 

This fall marks the inaugural series of CIVITAS’s panel and lecture programs entitled Art, Design, and the Urban Environment. It will address issues important to the quality of life on the Upper East Side and in East Harlem. The series, co-sponsored by CIVITAS and the National Academy, is an inter-disciplinary exploration of neighborhood issues that intertwines CIVITAS’s mission to improve the quality of urban life with the mission of the National Academy to sustain the visual arts. 


Pier 15 along the East River, Courtesy of SHoP.
The first panel, held on October 2nd, brought together panelists from a variety of backgrounds to explore how art and design could transform the East River Waterfront. The panelists were Cecilia Alemani, Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Curator and Director of High Line Art; Al Appleton, former Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection; Michael Marrella, Director of Waterfront and Open Space for the New York City Department of City Planning; and Charles Birnbaum, Founder and President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Subsequent panels this winter will address Urban Revitalization and East Harlem Rezoning as well as Transportation and the Second Avenue Subway. 


In advance of the first event, CIVITAS spoke with the panel’s moderator, architect Gregg Pasquarelli, to learn about his work designing the southern section of the East River Waterfront. His firm, SHoP, redesigned the waterfront underneath the FDR overpass, connecting the Battery Maritime Center to East River Park, just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, bringing the prospect of a continuous waterfront along the East Side one step closer to reality. Pasquarelli’s important role in this process has given him a unique vision for how and why the waterfront should serve our community. 

In August, CIVITAS spoke to Gregg Pasquarelli about his work on the East River waterfront. 

Gregg Pasquarelli. 
Courtesy of SHoP 
CIVITAS: In your work along the southern portion of the East River waterfront, what options did you explore in redeveloping the area? 
Gregg: When we first did the original masterplan we looked at literally dozens of different strategies from burying the FDR Drive, leaving it as a bridge, floating it as an island, building an actual barrier to raise the FDR for storm protection, putting in muscle reefs, putting in barrier islands. We looked at dozens and dozens of things that could be done:

C: The FDR Drive replaced what used to be heavy industry, so you are dealing with New York City’s post-industrial waterfront with the city contained by a freeway. 
G: Exactly. It was a kind of park or esplanade that was nestled among the infrastructure of the city. By bringing cultural, community, and recreation uses into a series of pavilions, you brought the city out onto the waterfront. And by opening up these view corridors, you brought the waterfront into the city, and you allow these cross-grain connections to bring you there. 
C: What potential do you see waterfronts bringing to the East Side? How did you see your work fulfilling this potential? 
G: In a city that’s desperate for open space, here’s a place where you can get out, you can look a mile or two up and down the river and get sunlight. Just opening it up where people feel safe and can walk there and ride their bikes there—it’s huge—the value that that brings to the quality of life of everyone that lives down in that very dense part of town. 
C: What has been the process with the city in developing the waterfront? Who is your client? 
G: Our client is the Economic Development Corporation and the NYC Department of Design and Construction. We worked quite a bit on the logistics of getting it built with the EDC but really on a lot of the design issues with the DDC. They were great clients. I think I did 114 meetings with the city over only the first two years. 
C: How did your meetings with the community affect the design and construction process when you were developing the East River waterfront? 
G: We really talked about how things were working, what was working in the area and what wasn’t working in the area. What were things that could be improved? What were things that community desired? Then we put up this whole overall idea we had and made it work so that it solved some of the community issues. 
C: The panel that you are moderating at the National Academy brings together a very diverse group of professionals to speak about the uptown stretch of the East River waterfront. How do you believe this kind of conversation can improve the area? 
G: If designers aren’t engaged in explaining that to people who do not know enough about design, I think we get horrible spaces and a waste of money. I think architects tend to be a little insular in general so the more broadly you can learn about things, the richer your designs become. It’s always inspiring to look at other kinds of professions. I’m always interested in looking at other professions, their models, how they solve problems. 
C: This panel is a part of CIVITAS’s initiative called Reimagining the Waterfront that has been leading discussions with community members about their experiences with the waterfront. How do you see community-based initiatives affecting the quality of life for these areas? 
G: Getting buy-in [from the community,] getting people to understand what design is and what it does, and how it’s performative, and what it can accomplish, is important for making any space successful. If we’re going to live in dense cities, we have got to have great public space and making great public space requires people to come together and invest in that space and invest in the understandings of how it works and what its effects are. These are extremely important things. 


To read the complete fall 2013 issue of CIVITAS News, visit http://civitasnyc.org/civitas-newsletters/


Monday, October 28, 2013

Support CIVITAS and Become a Member Today


Since 1981, CIVITAS has worked to improve the livability and character of the Upper East Side and East Harlem neighborhoods. We count on your membership support to continue to serve you and the future residents of our community in improving streets, public space, and environmental quality. Please renew your membership or become a member today by visiting our website.
You can help make the East River Esplanade a truly enjoyable park where the community can appreciate the waterfront. We don’t need to have West Side envy over the Hudson River waterfront.
It continues to be up to all of us with other community partners to push for improving the Esplanade park and to encourage the City to create a more ambitious long-term vision for our stretch of waterfront. We are especially eager for your help to build on CIVITAS’s Reimagining the Waterfront initiative to improve the East River Esplanade from 63rd to 125th Streets.Our design ideas competition and companion exhibition were well received, generating ideas and drawing international attention to the state of the park. CIVITAS is focused on the next phase to zero in on specific areas for exciting upgrades and programming. Over 200,000 people live within a short walk of our waterfront in areas that have among the lowest open space per person in the city. With improved access and better design, the waterfront could be a great park—please help to make this possible with your contribution.
Did you know that the Upper East Side has poor air quality resulting from high levels of sulfur dioxide? East Harlem has among the lowest recycling rates in NYC. Education is the answer to both of these issues, and CIVITAS is stepping in to fill gaps in awareness.
This air pollution results from the burning of No. 6 heating oil. Through community meetings and door-to-door outreach, CIVITAS has reached hundreds of residents, co-op board officers and apartment building managers to educate them about switching heating oil to improve our air quality. Similarly, we’re organizing outreach to increase recycling awareness and educate residents about available training and support for building staff. We are also working on programming in schools to educate children and teens about recycling and the city’s initiatives.
Do you want community-driven land use policies for your neighborhood? Care about the state of trees and sidewalks in your neighborhood?
Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to provide the technical analysis necessary for therezoning plan for 60 blocks in East Harlem, including the blighted upper Park Avenue corridor.Passage of this rezoning, which is being considered by the NYC Department of City Planning, will help ensure that changes benefit the neighborhood and reflect community priorities. This builds on our earlier successful efforts that resulted in a major rezoning in 2003.
We’re also working with residents and community groups to advocate for best planning outcomes for our neighborhood. Our efforts are focused on developing visionary strategies for growth, development, streetscapes and parks access.
You may wish to learn more and engage further with the issues CIVITAS works on by joining us at one of the high-level panel discussions we are jointly presenting with the National Academy on December 4, and January 8, 2014. We are excited to bring our core themes to an even larger audience and into dialogue with artists, thought leaders, and policy makers. We very much hope to see you there! Admission will be free for our members.
In other news, we are so pleased to wish our outgoing executive director, Hunter Armstrong, all the very best as he has accepted an exciting new role with a national non-profit. We thank Hunter for his outstanding service to our community. Deputy director Lauren O’Toole, who has worked closely with Hunter for some time, will be interim executive director.

Genie Rice, Chairman

Felipe Ventegeat, President

Jeanne McAnaney, Membership Chair
P.S. Your support makes a very real difference - CIVITAS is the only community-based non-profit working on these issues in both the Upper East Side and East Harlem, and we can’t do it without your help. Please join or renew your current membership at our website.
P.P.S. We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter; please contribute today so that we can continue sending this to you! And don’t forget to join us at the National Academy – free admission to the panel discussions for CIVITAS members.