Transit Ideas Abound, Debate Lags 03
Remembering Hartley House 06
At AMNH: Oceans 2018 10
JPMORGAN CHASE’S BIG PLANS ON PARK AVE. CREATE FIRST SKIRMISH UNDER EAST MIDTOWN REZONING
Photo by Paul Schindler
The 52-story building at 270 Park Ave., owned by JPMorgan Chase but opened in 1960 as the Union Carbide headquarters, faces demolition in a plan announced by the financial giant and supported by city and state leaders.
March 8 – 21, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 5
BY PAUL SCHINDLER Last summer, after more than four years of effort — including an initial false start late in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s final term — the city approved a major rezoning plan for the East Midtown area from Grand Central Terminal north that will allow for new office tower development while providing funding for citydesignated historic landmarks, open space set-asides, and mass transit improvements. The two officials who helmed the arduous process of cobbling the plan together — Borough President Gale Brewer and then-City Councilmember Daniel Garodnick — both hailed the plan’s adoption as a model for how to bring together diverse constituencies to resolve major contested policy challenges. Now, right out of the box, the first major redevelopment project announced under the rezoning — JPMorgan Chase’s construction of a 2.5 million square-foot world headquarters at the site of its 52-story building at 270 Park Ave., between E. 47th and 48th Sts. — is drawing fire from preservation advocates as well as architectural critics. In a Feb. 21 letter to the city’s
270 PARK AVE. continued on p. 18
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Landmarks Preservation Commission, Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, voiced alarm at JPMorgan Chase’s announcement, noting, “The building was designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois of Skidmore Owings and Merrill [SOM] and is recognized as a very significant example of midcentury corporate Modernism as practiced by the masters of the form. It is especially remarkable as an acknowledged work by a female architect in the male-dominated field of architectural design. This is one of the buildings which defined New York City as the capital of the 20th Century, strongly situated in the corridors of post-war power.” Bankoff’s letter noted the widespread view among architectural critics that the building, opened in 1960 as Union Carbide’s headquarters, is a remarkable example of post-war Manhattan ambition, quoting New York magazine’s Justin Davidson terming it “one of the peaks of modernist architecture” and Vanity Fair’s Paul Goldberger seeing it as a “deserving 1960s landmark… on architectural grounds, but also for the fact that
In Court, at Rally, People with Disabilities Demand Subway Access BY JUDY L. RICHHEIMER March 5 â€” when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was due to expire â€” had been a signal date for anyone focused on national politics. Because two judicial rulings shut down that deadline, the day became just another Monday â€” on the immigration front, at least. But March 5 may yet turn out to be a watershed moment in the annals of human rights. That morning, nearly 50 activists, many in wheelchairs and electric scooters, packed the courtroom of New York State Supreme Court Justice Shlomo S. Hagler to show support for a suit seeking 100 percent accessibility in New York Cityâ€™s subways. The suit, filed last April, brought together as plaintiffs six nonprofits and three individuals, with lead plaintiff the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY (cidny.org). Prior to the hearing, advocates for people with disabilities held a spirited rally in front of the courthouse at 60 Centre St. Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, a software engineer for Google who uses a manual wheelchair (and is a plaintiff in the suit), led what he described as a call-andresponse: â€œWhat do people in wheelchairs need?â€? he shouted. â€œElevators,â€? the crowd of about 20 responded. Then the group joined in a chant repeated more than a dozen times: â€œLet us ride!â€? Oral argument for dismissal was presented by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit, and the City of New York â€” defendants in the suit. Their grounds were threefold. First, they asserted that as a state authority, they were not subject to local law (the suit was brought under the cityâ€™s 1965 Human
Photo by Judy L. Richheimer
People with disabilities and their supporters gathered outside 60 Centre St. on Monday morning, prior to the hearing. At far right, in purple cap, Sasha Blair-Goldensohn (one of the plaintiffs).
Rights Act, whose requirements for accommodating the disabled were more stringent than federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements). Second, the defen-
dants said the matter should not be decided in the courts. Finally, they noted the statute of limitations for relief from discrimination had passed. â€œThe judge wasnâ€™t buying their arguments,â€? opined Blair-Goldensohn after the hearing. Justice Hagler has had something of a mixed reputation among liberals â€” his landlord-friendly ruling last year on rent stabilization incensed tenant activists â€”but during this hearing, he evinced solidarity with people with disabilities. â€œItâ€™s just not plain fair,â€? Hagler said of the cityâ€™s extreme lack of subway access for the disabled, citing that, among major cities, we come in dead last on that front. On the other hand, the judge played â€œdevilâ€™s advocate,â€? as he described it, with the plaintiffsâ€™ attorneys, worried about unrealistic timelines in meeting accessibility goals. The judge called for a settlement conference, held on a date to be announced, to explore the possibility of resolving the lawsuit without going to trial. As for the March 5 hearing, Blair-Goldensohn and his attorney felt cautiously optimistic upon exiting 60 Centre St. By the next day, Blair-Goldensohn had clarified his assessment. â€œYou know, after sleeping on it, Iâ€™m pleased. Iâ€™m not ecstatic,â€? he said during a March 6 interview. But he was excited about the strong visual message sent by the presence of people in wheelchairs, both at the rally and inside the courtroom. â€œSomeone across the street [spotting the rally] could say â€˜Oh, thereâ€™s something going on here about disability. Those people are demanding their rights. Theyâ€™re pissed about something and they are saying something has to change.â€™ â€?
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Competing Transit Solutions Abound, But Not Debate Among Them BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Can the Gordian knot that is the city’s transit system crisis be untangled? At a transportation forum last week, experts, advocates, and public officials looked at the many different threads of the problems facing a system in dire straits — with both bus and subway ridership down amidst widespread complaints about delays and overcrowding — and examined possible solutions. The first proposal up came in a more than 20-minute presentation on congestion pricing — an idea that has been around for decades and, when mentioned by West Side State Senator Brad Hoylman in his introductory remarks, elicited applause, yays, and boos. Hoylman and his East Side colleague, Senator Liz Krueger, sponsored the Mar. 1 event. Alex Matthiessen is the founder and campaign director for Move NY, an organization that has worked to build support for congestion pricing. He asked that the audience — a good-sized crowd at the CUNY Graduate Center at Fifth Ave. and 34th St. — “keep an open mind [about] the plan that’s now on the table.” The latest congestion pricing iteration set for discussion in Albany came from a January report by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Fix NYC task force, a 15-member panel he put together in October. Drivers traveling into Manhattan below 60th St., dubbed the “central business district” in the proposal, could pay $11.52 once a day for the privilege. Taxis, Ubers, and other for-hire vehicles would also incur a surcharge within a designated zone. Matthiessen said the current tolling system, which imposes costs on only some of the entryways into the city, generally, and into Manhattan, specifically, “incentivizes folks to get off of those highways and get on the city streets to go through residential neighborhoods, and then sit in traffic, idling and waiting to get over to those free bridges.” Currently, drivers face no tolls crossing the East River into Manhattan on the Queensboro, Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn Bridges, but do on other tunnel and bridge entrances. Revenue from congestion pricing would be used for system improvements at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which oversees the city subway and bus lines as well as the suburban commuter rail lines. While Cuomo has said congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come, he has not put the entire Fix NYC plan in his budget, Matthiessen noted. The panel did not debate the merits of the current proposal, though Polly NYC Community Media
Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Move NY’s Alex Matthiessen, New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and Veronica Vanterpool, a mayoral appointee to the MTA board at the Mar. 1 transportation forum in Midtown.
Veronica Vanterpool, the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas, and Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the Bus Turnaround Coalition.
Trottenberg, commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation and a member of the MTA board, noted that no city officials were on the Fix NYC panel. “Keep your eye on that, folks, because one of the proposals is that they will continue to be the entity that will set all the policy for how congestion pricing might happen and where that money might go,” she said. What got more discussion were questions of, should the MTA get more funding from congestion pricing, how the agency will allocate it and if there is a risk funds could be diverted from transportation priorities. Last summer, the MTA came under fire when the Daily News reported that nearly $5 million in transit funds were diverted to three struggling ski resorts upstate. Since 2005, the MTA’s operating budget, its day-to-day spending, has doubled — from roughly $8 billion a year to just under $16 billion a year, said Nicole Gelinas, a New York Post columnist who is also a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. The agency’s revenues have also gone
up, she said, not just in fares but also in its tax haul. In 2005, according to Gelinas, taxes brought in about $2 billion and they now bring in about $5.5 billion a year. During the financial crisis in 2009, she explained, the State Legislature approved new taxes that provided $2 billion in extra money for the MTA. “But that extra money has been eaten up by these rising costs,” she said. “The danger is that without cost reform at the MTA, [congestion pricing] revenue will just be consumed by rising operating costs, just as the tax package 10 years ago that was supposed to rescue the MTA.” The MTA’s capital budget also has issues. Veronica Vanterpool, an MTA board member and former executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said that during her almost two-year tenure on the board, she saw one project’s cost jump $1.1 billion. “We have to have project budgets that are reflective of what the anticipated costs are,” she said. “This agency has to do much, much better in terms of estimating its budget costs.”
Gelinas added, “Whether it’s maintenance, modernization, or building something new, we have to prioritize these projects much better so that they actually benefit people who are in the city.” For the MTA’s current five-year capital plan, which ends next year, 71 percent of the expansion projects are for the suburban commuter system, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, which together account for only seven percent of total riders, Gelinas said. Later in the discussion, Trottenberg echoed that point, saying, “The MTA is investing a lot of money not in New York City but in the suburban systems, and, you know, I’m not totally against that but I think there is a misallocation.” Last month, the board approved $213 million to renovate eight subway stations. Trottenberg and Vanterpool, two of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s four appointees on the 14-member MTA board, voted against it. “We fight the good fight on the MTA board despite all this theater about who runs it,” Trottenberg said. “Just to be clear, there are 14 votes on the MTA board, the city has four of them, and we lose every time.” The evening did not only focus on the subways but also on buses. Krueger asked audience members how many care about buses, and more than half of them raised their hands. “There are a couple things I think we can do to improve bus service in New York City in the short term,” said Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the TriState Transportation Campaign and the Bus Turnaround Coalition. Transit signal priority — technology that allows a green light to stay green a little bit longer so a bus can get through TRANSIT continued on p. 11 March 8, 2018
15 Hudson Yards Hits its Height; Over Half of Condos Sold
Courtesy of Related-Oxford
Fifteen Hudson Yards (center) has already sold over half of its residences. To its left is Vessel, the 150-foot centerpiece of the Public Square and Gardens.
BY WINNIE McCROY If that spare $4 million is burning a hole in your pocket, hurry over and secure a cozy two-bedroom at 15 Hudson Yards, the 28-acre neighborhood’s first tower with for-sale residences. Related Sales recently announced the building has topped out at 900 feet, with condominium units selling briskly.
March 8, 2018
“The excitement surrounding the Hudson Yards neighborhood has far exceeded everyone’s expectations,” said Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Companies. “With more than half of the 285 residences [at 15 Hudson Yards] selling in less than a year and a half, and 92 HUDSON YARDS continued on p. 19 NYC Community Media
The Shed at Hudson Yards Announces Inaugural Programming BY WINNIE McCROY As the emerging Hudson Yards neighborhood continues to carve out its footprint on the West Side, its arts and entertainment centerpiece, The Shed, moves closer to completion. On March 6, Alex Poots, Artistic Director and CEO of The Shed, presided over a press event announcing their 2019 inaugural season, followed by a hard hat tour of the $435 million project. Perhaps the biggest reveal was the staggering donation of $45 million by Frank McCourt, Jr., to support The Shed’s mission. In thanks, The Shed’s largest and most iconic hall space will henceforth be named The McCourt. “Whether you are holding a pencil or a hammer, you are builders, and your resourcefulness and creativity is what is making this happen,” McCourt remarked to Poots, his staff, and the assembled media. “The Shed is a big idea, a place where culture of all forms and expressions can intersect, resulting in not only original but unprecedented work created by great artists like these, and those who follow. The McCourt promises to be a great room in the world of art… for artists and thinkers to come together and collaborate for a diverse audience to experience new work.” The Shed, a 200,000-square-foot structure designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with The Rockwell Group, is situated where the High Line meets W. 30th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), adjacent to 15 Hudson Yards, and bordering the Public Square and Gardens. The Shed’s most notable design feature is its telescoping outside shell that deploys over the plaza to provide a vast, 120-foot-high, temperature-controlled hall. The shell is made of ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) panels — a durable, lightweight, highly-resistant plastic that is more energy efficient and economical than glass. The design was inspired by English architect Cedric Price (19342003), whose unrealized Fun Palace project visualized an open infrastructure able to accommodate myriad presentations. The Shed was created to commission, produce, and present all manner of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture events — including hip-hop and classical music, visual art, literature, film, theater, and dance. As it expands and contracts, it can be set into many configurations to accommodate multiple events simultaneously. It will have the capacity for 1,200 seated or 2,700 standing. Flexible overlap space in the two adjoinNYC Community Media
Photos by Winnie McCroy
The Shed, as seen on March 6, with Vessel at right.
worrying about wires. Cultural programming will be held in two expansive levels of gallery space and the versatile theater/rehearsal space, all connected by switchback escalators, and a freight elevator than can handle 20,000 lbs. On the eighth floor, there is an artists’ lab and a sky-lit event space with the floor on jack-up slabs, so that the noise from a 400-person gala can’t be heard in downstairs theaters. Poots will work with leading artists from a broad range of genres and backgrounds, along with innovative thinkers from the sciences and humanities to create programming with partners from across the globe and locally, including early-career artists in residence at The Shed’s free creative lab. Artistic Director and CEO of The Shed, Alex Poots (standing), introduced the team behind the 2019 Inaugural Season of programming.
ing galleries allows for an expanded hall audience up to 3,000. The entire ceiling is a theatrical deck with rigging and structural capacity throughout. When the telescoping shell is rolled back on its rails, the plaza offers nearly 20,000 square feet ideal for outdoor events, with the eastern facade able to serve as a backdrop for projection. And when using the adapted gantry crane technology to close the outer shell, The
Shed can still provide 17,000 square feet of space for programming. Fixed components include an eightlevel base of column-free spaces with polished concrete floors, gallery walls, and baffled ceilings with five-foot castellated beams. The theaters boast soundproof ceilings, blackout walls, and a pipe grid on the ceiling to support scenery or lighting from above. In-floor hookups will allow artists to “plug and play” without
INAUGURAL PROGRAMMING ANNOUNCED Poots and his team have unveiled the first seven commissions of The Shed’s 2019 Inaugural Season, welcoming art curator and critic Hans Ulrich Obrist as senior program advisor. They include “Soundtrack of America,” a new proTHE SHED continued on p. 20 March 8, 2018
Vigil Remembers Hartley House, Hopes
At the March 3 vigil, Michelle Diaz held up photos of Hartley House from the 1960s.
BY NATHAN DiCAMILLO For Hell’s Kitchen natives, Hartley House was their second childhood home. The recently shuttered settlement house at 413 W. 46th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) was a place where Tom Wagner found an outlet for youthful energy and creative expression. “This was when kids roamed the streets,” Wagner recalled of decades past, “when you could get two candies for a penny.” His father left him at an early age, and he lived with his grandparents and his mother. He has fond recollections of working in woodshop class with “Mr. Pete,” and participated in arts and crafts classes as well as gym. Memories such as these were shared by Wagner and about 20 other Hell’s Kitchen residents who gathered outside Hartley House on the early evening of Sat., March 3 to hold a candlelight vigil — because the brownstone settlement house, serving the Hell’s Kitchen community since 1897, is being sold.
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With aging infrastructure, the nonprofit’s board of directors concluded the Hartley House mission was more important than the cost of maintenance. “It was a really difficult, emotional decision to sell the property — but unfortunately, the buildings are 120 years old and they come with their 120-year-old problems,” Nicole Cicogna, Executive Director of Hartley House, said. “It’s no longer strengthening the mission of the organization.” The privately funded nonprofit plans to reduce expenses by relocating to a sustainable facility in Hell’s Kitchen so that it can use those extra funds to expand its mission. The staff has moved into temporary offices at 1441 Broadway (btw. W. 40th & 41st Sts.), but Hartley House’s services will continue uninterrupted — including an after school program at Manhattan High School (317 W. 52nd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) and Bingo at Fountain House (425 W. 47th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). Case Management for seniors will continue in client homes, and various sites throughout the neighborhood will still offer immigration and adult education services (as they have in the past). At Saturday’s vigil, residents brought hot chocolate and graham crackers in honor of how Hartley House used to offer them the same snack — for three cents, or for free if you had nothing — when they were kids coming in from the cold. Michelle Diaz, a fifth generation Hell’s Kitchen resident, organized the vigil. Her great-grandparents came to the area in the 1860s. “I remember that I was in the backyard with my sister and her boyfriend and we would go up to the gym to play dodgeball two or three nights a week,” Diaz said. When Diaz heard of the buildings closing, she invited residents to the vigil through facebook.com/
Photo by Nathan DiCamillo
GenerationHK — the “Generation Hell’s Kitchen” Facebook page. “There was no money in the heart of the city,” recalled James McDonnell, who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and lives in the same apartment complex his grandparents moved into in 1929. “They provided a safe environment,” said McDonnell of the Harley House of his youth. “They had a Hartley Farm upstate that was free and a way to get out of the city, providing a spirit of community that we would not have gotten being inner city kids… It was an oasis and shelter from the trials and tribulations of New York City.” McDonnell wants the building to be landmarked, so that the city is forced to keep it running. Joan Noveck came to Hartley House when she was five. “It was a wholesome atmosphere… you got integrated with the community,” she said. Noveck hopes to see a developer come to revamp the building. Through this transition, Hartley House has been in contact with both Community Board 4 (CB4) District Manager Jesse Bodine and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (whose District 3 area of coverage includes Hell’s Kitchen). “Hartley House is a long time resource for Hell’s Kitchen residents,” Bodine said in an email. “CB4 is dedicated to making sure all of their services remain in the neighborhood for future generations. We look forward to working together with Hartley House in the upcoming months to achieve that goal.” Johnson urged Hartley House to stay in the same neighborhood it has long served. “My colleagues, Community Board 4 and I are working diligently to ensure that services are uninterrupted and that a new physical space is identified as soon as possible,” he said in an email, also NYC Community Media
for its Return to Hell’s Kitchen noting, “We still have many questions for Hartley House about the extent of their community outreach and about their plans for the future… It is absolutely essential that Hartley House makes every effort to maintain a physical presence in Hell’s Kitchen that is equal to, or greater than, its current space.” Working together, Johnson said, “we must secure a new home for Hartley House in Hell’s Kitchen that can continue to serve the community for another century.” Plans are in motion to ensure that happens. Johnson’s office has scheduled a Fri., March 9 meeting at City Hall that will bring together representatives from Hartley House, CB4, and other local electeds “to discuss their move and how we can help.” Hartley House representatives are also expected to attend the next CB4 Housing, Health, and Human Services committee meeting. Scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thurs., March 15 in the Community Room at 353 W. 30th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), the public is welcome to attend. For more info, visit nyc.gov/mcb4. To learn more about Hartley House, visit hartleyhouse.org.
Photo by Scott Stiffler
Hartley House recently shuttered its longtime 413 W. 46th St. home. Efforts are underway to find a new location able to serve the same residents who have come to rely on its presence in Hell’s Kitchen.
H E A LT H C A R E P R O F I L E
DX`dfe`[\jJZfi\j9\kk\ik_XeDXe_XkkXe?fjg`kXcj`e?\XikMXcm\Jli^\ip The New York State Department of Health just published its annual report on patient outcomes for Adult Cardiac Surgery. It will come as no surprise to New Yorkers that the news for the Maimonides Heart & Vascular Institute is once again outstanding. The report shows mortality rates for several types of cardiac surgery. In the heart valve surgery category, the State commended Maimonides as one of four hospitals with exceptional outcomes. More signiﬁcantly, the Maimonides cardiac surgery team achieved better rates than any hospital in Manhattan. This is the second year in a row that they were singled out for excellent results. According to Kenneth D. Gibbs, Maimonides President & CEO, “We’ve been successful in large part because world-class doctors choose to practice here, and have built outstanding programs here. This is teamwork at its best.” “We work together daily to provide the very best options for each and every patient,” explains Dr. Greg Ribakove, Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Maimonides. “It’s a privilege to collaborate with so many talented professionals and deliver this level of excellence to the communiNYC Community Media
ﬂects cases performed in 2015. And, in order to give consumers a better idea of the true level of expertise of any one hospital, the state presents the data for both a single year and a three-year period (2013 – 2015). The three-year report helps eliminate “blips” in the data when a statistical cluster of cases—good or bad—causes ;ij% AXZfY J_Xe` c\]k # :_X`i f] :Xi[`fc$ unusual rates for any one year. f^p# Xe[ >i\^ I`YXbfm\ i`^_k # ;`i\Zkfi New York State indicates sigf]:Xi[`fk_fiXZ`ZJli^\ip#Xi\g`Zkli\[`e niﬁcantly better-than-expected outfe\f]k_\knf?pYi`[Fg\iXk`e^IffdjXk comes with a double-asterisk. The DX`dfe`[\jD\[`ZXc:\ek\i% prestigious ** designation received by Maimonides was for the threeties we serve.” year period of 2013 – 2015. The Maimonides Heart & Vascular Institute encompasses experts in 8Yflkk_\DX`dfe`[\j?\Xik cardiology, vascular and endovas- MXjZlcXi@ejk`klk\ cular surgery, anesthesiology, inThe Maimonides Heart & Vascuterventional cardiology, radiology, lar Institute has the collective experelectrophysiology, critical care—and tise to offer patients the latest stratecardiothoracic surgery. Physicians, gies for diagnosing and treating the nurse practitioners, physician as- full spectrum of cardiovascular dissistants, nurses, specialized tech- orders. Among the many elite pronicians and therapists, and other grams and procedures are: healthcare professionals collaborate s¬ 4!62¬0ROCEDURE¬– Transcathwith referring physicians on the care eter Aortic Valve Replacement allows of each and every patient. cardiac experts to repair or replace a faulty heart valve without major sur?fnk_\EPJI\gfikj8i\:i\Xk\[ gery s¬ ,6!$¬ $ESTINATION¬ 4HERAPY – The process of reporting, sorting and risk-adjusting this information The “bridge to transplant” is now a takes time, so the newest report re- permanent option for Heart Failure
patients who don’t qualify for transplant surgery s¬ !ORTIC¬ !NEURYSM¬ 2EPAIR – Virtual Reality Simulation allows vascular surgeons to rehearse each repair in advance, dramatically lowering surgical risks s¬ ! &IB¬ #ONVERGENT¬ 4HERAPY – Atrial Fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm disorder that increases the risk of strokes, is eliminated by radioablation inside and outside the heart Long known for excellence in cardiovascular care, the Heart & Vascular Institute at Maimonides is among the most distinguished in the nation for outstanding patient outcomes. To learn more, call 718-283-8902 or visit www.maimonidesmed.org/heart. Maimonides Medical Center is nationally recognized for clinical excellence across all major specialties. Our accomplished physicians are known for innovation and strengthening our teaching and research programs. With 711 beds, the Medical Center is dedicated to bringing patients the most advanced care available—anywhere. Maimonides continues to grow in response to evolving models of care that better serve patients and families, and is an afﬁliate of Northwell Health. To learn more, please visit www.maimonidesmed.org. — Maimonides Medical Center March 8, 2018
A Local ‘Wonder’ One Hopes Will Never Cease BY JOSH ROGERS A toddler followed her brother and squealed with delight as he held up books she obviously liked. “He asks to come here all the time,” Jordana Blitz, the children’s mother, said on a rainy Saturday afternoon. And her daughter of course enjoyed the visit too. Squeals are a common sound in Books of Wonder, the children’s bookstore at the easy-to-remember 18 W. 18th St. Sometimes the sounds are happy, sometimes they are voices of complaint about leaving the store, and sometimes they’re just because that’s what children do. Blitz’s husband, Justin, said, “We care about patronizing a local business that isn’t owned by CVS. They have the best selection.” Shopping local is a common reason customers give for going to the bookstore. Perhaps an even more typical response is that the staff knows books and make great recommendations. A few months ago, a clerk turned me on to the “Inspector Flytrap” series when I asked for something for my four-year-old that “was like ‘Captain Awesome’ [it is, BTW] but geared more for girls.” Cryptic or vague requests like that seldom faze the staff. In this case, “Flytrap” proved to be the rare book that appeals to my daughter, and her eight-year-old brother. “My staff is my not-so-secret weapon,” Peter Glassman, the store’s owner, said in a phone interview. Glassman, 58, said unlike the Strand, which gives prospective employees a test, he just talks to them about books to see that they’re knowledgeable, and to get a sense of how they’ll interact with customers looking for a recommendation. Books of Wonder opened in 1980 at 444 Hudson St. in the Village almost accidentally as a children’s bookstore. Glassman, only 20 at the time, said he wanted an antiquarian bookstore, but found he had extra shelf room in the cramped ($400 a month) space. So he put out children’s books and the idea grew. He thought it would be a mix of science fiction/fantasy and children’s books, which is how he hit on “Wonder” to capture both. He moved the store to Chelsea in 1986, and settled at the current location on 18th between Fifth and Sixth Aves.
March 8, 2018
Photos by Josh Rogers
Something e-books and CVS can’t offer: Books of Wonder has a knowledgeable staff seldom fazed by cryptic or vague requests.
The Downtown store’s 18 W. 18th St. address is easy to remember.
(some may say Chelsea, others Flatiron) 10 years ago. He opened an Upper West Side store last fall, in part to prepare for a likely move in two or so years. His lease is up at the end of next year, and he wanted to have at least one store to avoid many layoffs in case there’s a transition period finding a new Downtown location. “I have been very lucky. Most of my landlords have been very reasonable,” including the current one, he said. He guesses he won’t be able to afford the lease renewal, but is confident he’ll find another Downtown spot if he has to move. He said the store has had a small drop-off in sales as some of his Uptown customers now have a more convenient option, but there’s enough business for two locations. Barnes & Noble never worried him, he said, but Amazon “is a problem because they use their entire book line as a loss leader.” It’s hard to compete against a behemoth that is willing to lose money in one area. E-books don’t interest or concern him. “People see a value in having something to touch and hold, particularly with children’s books,” he said. “They see a value in sharing something with their children.” Glassman always loved books, but had to wait until he was 15 before he got NYC Community Media
Photos by Scott Stiffler
Peter Glassman (pictured) placed children’s books on an extra shelf in his Hudson St. store, providing the spark for what would soon become Books of Wonder.
a job in a bookstore. “I was the kid who every kid’s parent knew to buy me a bookstore gift card for my Bar Mitzvah,” he said. Part of the store’s success, he said, is over the years, renowned authors like Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”) and George Selden (“The Cricket in Times Square”) took a liking to it and helped with appearances and signings. He’s particularly
proud a little-known British author he calls Jo, came in for a reading 20 years ago during the short window of time before “Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone” reached the best sellers list. Jo, much better known as J.K. Rowling, creator of a multi-billion dollar book series, “only did two US tours, and we were one of the lucky few who got her twice.” Voldemort doesn’t always
win. The Downtown location of Books of Wonder is at 18 W. 18th St. (btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves. Call 212-989-3270). The Uptown location is at 217 W. 84th St. (btw. Broadway & Amsterdam Aves. Call 212989-1804). Store hours for both locations: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Visit booksofwonder.com. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming free events include March 17’s launch for Peter Hermann’s “If the S in Moose Comes Loose” (Downtown store) and March 18’s launch for Vesper Stamper’s “What the Night Sings” (Uptown store).
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Now at Natural History Museum: Oceans 2018 BY TEQUILA MINSKY The tide is rolling in and out at the fourth floor galleries of the American Museum of Natural History with its newest exhibition, “Unseen Oceans,” which opens Mar. 12. It’s quite a realistic projection — a virtual beach — and sets the tone for a show exploring the tiniest as well as the grandest of creatures that make the ocean their habitat. The exhibition is an introduction to one of the last frontiers, the deep, deep ocean. Little of these vast realms have been explored but with 21st-century technologies — robotics, satellite monitoring, miniaturization, more refined submersibles, and high-def imaging — this frontier is opening up. In a series of round galleries and through interactive and case displays, live animals, and videos, mysteries of the deep — involving the oceans’ inhabitants as well as the challenges and processes of finding them — are revealed. The visitor first comes across the drifters — microscopic plankton and comb jellies (ctenophores), organisms of immense environmental importance that float with the winds and currents. In the next hub, the most colorful of the exhibits has models of bio-
A galloping seahorse is on display.
Photos by Tequila Minsky
A model whale enters the 180-degree screen in the “Encountering Giants” gallery.
fluorescent marine life, organisms that absorb light and remit it in bright colors and patterns. This exhibit also includes live chain catsharks, among the marine life whose vivid fluorescence has only recently been discovered. Other live animals on display in this hub include scorpionfish, eels, and seahorses. The “Encountering Giants” gallery, with its 180-degree projection screen, takes you to the opposite scale of marine
life, with animation of a blue whale, which can grow to 80 feet long, devouring a giant squid and humpback whales feeding on krill. Manta rays, turtles, and giant ocean sunfish, which can reach six feet in length, glide past the viewer on the huge screen. In a small theater elsewhere in the exhibition, a short video portrays creatures that live at different ocean depths. Videos in another hub chronicle how
conservationists are protecting marine life in threatened habitats. An actual submersible, the exploratory vehicle of the deep, is part of the exhibition, and submersible interactives allow visitors to pilot an underwater vessel into an animated realm to discover, survey, collect samples, and even respond to an emergency. Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface and the museum’s exhibition offers insight into the latest in ocean science as well as encounters with researchers and the technologies they employ. “Only recently did my colleagues and I reveal the widespread incidence of biofluorescence among marine fishes,” explained Dr. John Sparks, the exhi-
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A chart at last weekâ€™s forum showed that from 2015 to 2016, subway and bus ridership declined, while ferry, bike, and, especially, ride services use increased.
Models of biofluorescent fish with their brilliant colors.
bitionâ€™s curator who works in the museumâ€™s Department of Ichthyology. â€œIâ€™ve been continually astonished at the ingenuity of my fellow marine scientists as theyâ€™ve utilized and adapted the latest technologies to make discoveries.â€? In â€œUnseen Oceans,â€? Sparks added, visitors â€œwill learn about that research as they meet the scientists.â€? The Dalio Foundation, which has the environment and conservation among its areas of concerns, is the exhibitionâ€™s lead funder through its OceanX initiative. â€œI am wild about the oceans,â€? said Ray Dalio. â€œAnd I believe that ocean exploration is as
exciting and important as space exploration. In â€˜Unseen Oceans,â€™ the museum has elicited the thrill and awe, as well as the importance, of what ocean explorers are discovering today.â€? â€œUnseen Oceansâ€? ($23-$33 for adults, $18-$27 for students, adults 60-plus, $13-$20 under 12 at amnh. org) runs Mar. 12-Jan. 6, 2019 at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park W. at 79th St. Open daily, 10 a.m.-5:45 p.m. An educatorâ€™s guide, valuable for visitors with children, is online at amnh.org/ unseen-oceans-educators.
TRANSIT continued from p. 3
the intersection â€” can â€œspeed up buses 10 percent right off the bat,â€? Sifuentes said. Trottenberg noted that adjusting green light times in Manhattan is particularly difficult given all the other constraints on traffic light timing on busy streets. People are frustrated by the speed of buses, Sifuentes said. Since 2012, the average speed in Midtown has fallen from 6.5 miles per hour to 4.7 miles per hour in 2017, according to Move NYâ€™s Matthiessen. â€œA lot of folks walk faster than that,â€?
Sifuentes said. â€œA lot of people who rely on the bus canâ€™t. We have to make the buses move faster.â€? Other ways to speed them up include all-door boarding, and Sifuentes said that once the cityâ€™s buses move to a new fare system it will be possible to install card readers at both rear and front doors. Sifuentes said that in some areas it makes sense to install additional bus lanes and to reconsider the route network. â€œThe things that Iâ€™m talking about are not pie-in-the-sky,â€? he said. â€œAlmost everything Iâ€™ve mentioned is being done in other cities around the country and around the world right now.â€?
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‘Cinematic Pockets’ of Hell’s Kitchen Give Grit to ‘Jessica Jones’ Marvel’s complex detective returns to Netﬂix for a second season
Photo by David Giesbrecht, courtesy of Netflix
Location shoots in the actual neighborhood and elsewhere are used to convey a gritty Hell’s Kitchen reflective of the title character’s tough exterior. Seen here, from the second season, Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse and Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones.
BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Whether it’s a blended scotch or bourbon, former superhero turned private eye Jessica Jones is never far from a bottle. So where does the protagonist procure the hard stuff? From Sonny’s Grocery, of course, a longtime Hell’s Kitchen bodega that was turned into a liquor store for the second season of “Jessica Jones” — returning to Netflix on March 8 with 13 episodes. Sonel “Sonny” Ramirez, 72, owner of the store for more than 40 years, said the production staff came in, stashed his selection of food in the back, and stocked the shelves with more a 1,000 bottles.
March 8, 2018
“People thought I gave up the groceries and turned it into a liquor store,” he said by phone. Filming at the store at 767 10th Ave. (btw. W. 51st & 52nd Sts.) took about a day and a half, and, once completed, everything was put back into place. Ramirez said he got about $13,000 for the shoot. Although the series has traveled elsewhere for its exteriors of Hell’s Kitchen, several other locations in the actual neighborhood show up during this new batch of shows, including the Salvation Army at 536 W. 46th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) and the recently shuttered Hartley House at 413 W. 46th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.), according to
Rocco Nisivoccia, the location manager for the second season. Nisivoccia said the show specifically scouted Hell’s Kitchen locations for its authentic fire escapes and facades. The neighborhood matched the look and the feel of the show, which he called “dark and grim.” “It’s an edgy type of show and we’re trying to stay on the edge for it,” he said by phone. Hell’s Kitchen was “a place that was tough — that resembles Jessica Jones well.” The show filmed in the neighborhood quite often, doing a lot of street work there, according to Nisivoccia. Jessica Jones’ apartment/office in the show (identified as 485 W. 46th St.
during the first season) is a fictitious address, and is actually a building on the Upper West Side, he said. Frank Covino, who was the location manager for the first six episodes of season one, said in an email, “It was clear from the beginning we wanted to find the grittiness and texture that was prominent in Hell’s Kitchen when the neighborhood was mostly working class.” For the first season, the show shot under the High Line, filmed on Eighth Ave., and also used Chelsea’s London Terrace as an establishing shot for one of the show’s reoccurring locations, according to Covino. Covino called the once-notorious NYC Community Media
Sonny’s Grocery on 10th Ave. sells beer every day of the year — but regulars thought the store’s business model had changed, when the “Jessica Jones” crew turned the whole place into a liquor store during a location shoot for the current season.
Midtown neighborhood “the perfect backdrop for our superhero. Cool, gritty exteriors from the comic book era drove our scouting. If you look hard enough there are cinematic pockets in Hell’s Kitchen that still exist and lend itself to the Marvel Universe.” The first comic Jessica Jones appeared in was “Alias,” Max Burbank, 55, told Chelsea Now by phone. (Full disclosure: Burbank also writes a political satire column for this publication.) Burbank has been reading comics and steeping himself in their history since the 1960s, and also works at Harrison’s Comics and Pop Culture in Salem, MA. Jessica Jones’ comic came out under a Marvel imprint called Marvel Max, which was intended for a more mature audience with its language, sex, and violence, Burbank explained. “For a comic, it’s incredibly graphic,” he said. That series ran from 2001 to 2004, and then Jessica Jones was featured in a Marvel series called The Pulse from 2004 to 2006 — though the language is cleaned up, according to Burbank. To capitalize on the show, which debuted on Netflix in late 2015, there was a comic called “Jessica Jones” that came out briefly and ran for a year, he noted. About the show, Burbank said, “I loved it. I thought it was great. It did a really great job adapting the comic.” During season one, Jessica Jones battles Kilgrave — a villain who can control minds and who, at one point, controlled her. David Tennant portrayed Kilgrave, with Burbank saying he brought depth to the character. Jessica Jones and Kilgrave’s “dynamic is one of an abusive relationship,” he said. NYC Community Media
Photos by Scott Stiffler
Sonel “Sonny” Ramirez also owns Sonny’s 10th Ave. Meat Market (located across the street, it’s visible from his perch behind the counter of Sonny’s Grocery).
Courtesy of Marvel Comics
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Jessica Jones’ Netflix season one nemesis Kilgrave is known as the “Purple Man” in the comic book.
Indeed, before the current #MeToo movement and a reckoning with sexual assault, consent, and sex, Jessica Jones bluntly calls what happens to her rape. She is not the typical superhero, Burbank noted. She is an active alcoholic, sleeps around, and has a foul mouth. “The character is so damaged, and, JESSICA JONES continued on p. 16
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The Rubin Museum of Art’s Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room allowed Gerald Busby to disappear “into wordless peacefulness.”
Chaos and Calm in Chelsea Finding contemplation and inspiration at the Rubin Museum
Photo by Scott Stiffler
Beyond the yellow awning is El Quijote restaurant, where a series of meetings transformed life for tenants of the Chelsea Hotel (seen here in its current state).
March 8, 2018
BY GERALD BUSBY When I discovered the Rubin Museum of Art in 2007, three years after it opened, major renovation had already begun at the Chelsea Hotel, my home for over 30 years, and I faced the alarming possibility of eviction. Something guided me to the Rubin, whose atmosphere I found serene. It was the perfect counterpart to the banging, crashing, and drilling that daily intruded on my consciousness through the walls, ceiling, and floor of my apartment. The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room was where I went to find calmness. In the Shrine Room “I” disappeared into wordless peacefulness. Calm versus chaos — the Rubin Museum versus the Chelsea Hotel — was the context I created to deal with the stress I felt. The Rubin’s current series of talks, films, and experiences — “The Future is Fluid” (this year’s installment of their annual “Brainwave” series) — is a comprehensive survey of consciousness and perception, and the arbitrary delineations of time as past, present, and future. Neuroscientists and Buddhists teachers, sitting side by side on stage before an audience, discuss how and why we think about thinking, and how thought about thought expresses a natural need to identify ourselves as subjective, as well as objective beings in the world. “Brainwave” topics include the saturation of human consciousness by the cyber world and virtual reality. Buddhism has for thousands of years said illusion is the basis of human perception. As I sat in
the audience on the evening of Feb. 21, listening to Buddhist teacher Loch Kelly and Princeton astrophysics professor Piet Hut explain that “The Now is Not the Present Moment,” I was riveted by every word they said, particularly regarding the ephemeral connection between myself as subject and myself as object. Words are just one way to distinguish between these two ways of perceiving myself. Mindfulness is another. Being conscious of consciousness may be my non-aesthetic perception of myself. In a Feb. 24 “Brainwave” conversation, I heard the artist Shezad Dawood and the neuroscientist Leah Kelly discuss how thinking of time as fluid affects your identity. I recalled a time 40 years ago when I had to deal with fear as a performer. I was making my debut as a screen actor, in 1977, in Robert Altman’s film, “A Wedding,” playing a Southern Baptist preacher. My character was telling Dina Merrill’s character how he found Jesus while having sex with somebody in a Holiday Inn. I was so frightened I could hardly breathe. Altman came over to me and said, “Don’t resist your fear, Gerald. Use its energy to tell your story.” That advice became the basis for how I have dealt with distress at the Chelsea Hotel. When I felt threatened and fearful of losing my home, I used that energy to write string quartets, my favorite form of chamber music. Since renovation began at the Chelsea in 2007, I’ve written 26 string quartets. They’re my emotional diaries of the last 11 years. NYC Community Media
Photo by Filip Wolak
A recent “Brainwave” conversation between artist Shezad Dawood (seen here) and neuroscientist Leah Kelly contemplated the fluidity of time and its impact on identity.
Immediately after the hotel was sold and Stanley Bard, the legendary manager, was ousted, the new owners began renovation. They made the tenants’ practical lives difficult and uncomfortable. We fought a legal battle to remain as residents, and we won — but we were left with the reality of prolonged renovation caused in part by lawsuits instigated by residents who weren’t members of the Chelsea Hotel Tenants Association. Work on the hotel was halted several times, and completion seemed remote. Then came Hurricane Sandy, and the Chelsea Hotel reached its bleakest point. Without electricity, sheer existence took on primal significance. Friends from the 10th floor brought me a comforter, a flashlight, a portable radio tuned to NPR, and several boxes of cereal. The hotel staff offered coffee and doughnuts in the dimly lit lobby. The furniture was covered with plastic sheets, and the dusty walls revealed silhouettes of paintings that had hung there during the Chelsea’s glory days. The string quartet I wrote then was subtitled “Snakes in the Outhouse.” I was thinking of this when Dawood and Kelly talked about the difference between emotional reaction and spontaneous intuitive responsiveness. I thought also of the first meetings of the Tenants Association, in the back dining room of El Quijote restaurant, located on the ground floor of the hotel. The faded, cracked red and gold trim on the woodwork seemed to express perfectly the demise of the Chelsea Hotel and deep nostalgia we tenants keenly felt for the good old days. The precise memory that Dawood and Kelly’s words triggered for me was the transformations I witnessed at NYC Community Media
Courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art
Exploring aspects of consciousness and perception, “Brainwave: The Future is Fluid” events run through April.
the tenant meetings at El Quijote. Most notable was Zoe Pappas, a longtime resident, who emerged as the leader of our Tenants Association, with zeal and determination that inspired us. Her voice, even when in the grip of impassioned rhetoric, struck the perfect tone to express our complaints and fears. “We will fight back, and we will win. We will keep our apartments.” And that’s exactly what happened. The Chelsea Hotel and the Rubin Museum of Art
have been the arenas where my worst demons have actualized and reshaped themselves into string quartets. I’m grateful for this experience. The Chelsea Hotel is located at 222 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves. The Rubin Museum of Art is located at 150 W. 17th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves. For the complete schedule of “Brainwave” events (now through April) and info on other programming, visit rubinmuseum.org. March 8, 2018
JESSICA JONES continued from p. 13
in some ways, unlikeable,” he said. “She’s really an anti-hero.” Burbank said he loves “the nastiness” that Krysten Ritter, who plays Jones, brings to the character. (Representatives for Netflix, Marvel, and Ritter declined multiple requests for a phone or email interview with the actress.) “I love her in that character yet she’s really unpleasant. I would want to hang out with that person but I would hate them,” Burbank said. There are some differences between the comic and the show, he explained, as the show does not explore the main character’s failed attempt to be a superhero, and Kilgrave is called the Purple Man in the comic due to his purple skin. Another difference is in the comic, he said, Jessica Jones’ best friend is Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), not Trish Walker, played by Rachael Taylor in the show. Trish and Jessica’s friendship was a core element of season one and continues to be with the new season — kicking off with the detective doing what private eyes do: taking photos of someone’s extracurricular activities. This time, the mark is a pizza delivery man who is having too much fun on
Photo by Myles Aronowitz, courtesy of Netflix
In her first season on Netflix, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) discovered she was covertly photographed and exited the Bryant Park subway station while retracing her steps. Jones’ work has also taken her to the Meatpacking District, Tribeca, Union Square Park and, of course, Hell’s Kitchen.
his route (much to the chagrin of his girlfriend). Ideas and themes that were hinted at in season one come to the forefront
of season two, such as how did Jessica Jones get her power, what and who is behind IGH, and can she defeat a villain who is stronger than she is?
But, perhaps, the most daunting task ahead for Jessica Jones will be facing something none of us can escape: the past.
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270 PARK AVE. continued from p. 1
its primary designer was a woman who never got adequate credit at SOM.” Writing in Curbed, critic Alexandra Lange argued the building is “a superlative example” of what Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural writer Ada Louise Huxtable, in the late 1950s, termed the Park Avenue School of Architecture, which abandoned the heavy masonry of pre-World War II building in favor a “sleek, shiny” look. In fact, writing in the New York Times in 1960 as the building neared completion, Huxtable said it was among a select group of new skyscrapers that were “adding significant new dimensions to the city — and to contemporary architecture.” “There is a sharp dividing line between architecture and building, and these important new edifices all qualify, in intent, design, and result, as architecture,” Huxtable wrote of the group that included 270 Park. For all the building’s merits as architecture worthy of preservation, however, advocates for saving 270 Park face a steep political hurdle — unanimous support among local and state officials for JPMorgan Chase’s plan. “This is our plan for East Midtown in action,” Mayor Bill de Blasio stated in the company’s Feb. 21 press release. “Good jobs, modern buildings, and concrete improvements that will make East Midtown stronger for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who work here. We look forward to working with JPMorgan Chase as it doubles-down on New York as its international home.” In the same release, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to build their new, state-of-the-art corporate headquarters and support thousands of jobs here in New York is proof that our economic development strategies are successful, and I look forward to working with them to keep New York State’s momentum moving forward.” Brewer and Keith Powers, Garodnick’s successor as the local councilmember, also praised the project as an example of how the rezoning plan should work. JPMorgan Chase’s plan, which the company says would create 8,000 construction jobs over a five-year period
Photo by Paul Schindler
A street-level view 270 Park Ave. taken from the southeast across Park and 47th St.
beginning as early as 2019, replaces the existing 700-foot building with a 1,200foot tower to house up to 15,000 employees, versus the existing head count of 3,500. The announcement comes after the company’s protracted examination of a potential relocation to Hudson Yards on the Far West Side. The required contribution to the “public realm” to fund transit improvements and open space setasides as part of the company’s purchase of development rights from nearby landmarked buildings are estimated to total as much as $40 million. The appeal by the Historic Districts Council and other preservationists — including the New York Landmarks Conservancy and Docomomo US — represents a huge political ask of the LPC, which though an independent agency is ultimately under mayoral control. Bankoff acknowledged as much. “The LPC is a mayoral agency,” he said. “This is a very tough thing. It’s very hard for an agency to go against their boss.” But the demand by preservationists that the LPC take another look at 270 Park doesn’t come out of the blue. In 2013, the commission notified Bankoff that the building was among nearly twodozen in East Midtown that “may merit designation and will be further considered in the context of… the Commission’s overall priorities for the city.” Three years later, the LPC confirmed that the building continued to be considered a candidate for designation.
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Bankoff told Manhattan Express that he had received no substantive response from the LPC to his Feb. 21 letter beyond acknowledgement of it. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the LPC told the newspaper, regarding 270 Park, “Further consideration of this building as a landmark is not among the Commission’s priorities at this time. As part of the interagency East Midtown rezoning initiative, the Commission evaluated buildings in the area, including this one. As a result, we prioritized and designated 12 iconic buildings that represented the key periods of development in the area as individual landmarks, but the JPMorgan Chase building was not among them. These 12 designations in East Midtown brought the number of individual landmarks in the area to 50 that include International style masterpieces of this era such as the Seagram Building and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Lever House. In addition, LPC found that other buildings from this era and architect had already been represented by landmarks, including the Pepsi-Cola Building, the Manufacturers Trust Company building, and the former One Chase Manhattan Plaza in Lower Manhattan.” Notably, the LPC’s 1995 designation report on the Pepsi-Cola Building, at 500 Park Ave. at E. 59th St., notes the leading role played by SOM architect Natalie de Blois, who also worked on Lever House, at 390 Park at E. 54th St. From Bankoff’s perspective, the fact that 270 Park remained on the LPC list of buildings that might merit preservation in 2016 but is now a candidate for demolition in 2018 with the mayor’s enthusiastic backing, is indicative of the “weakness of the process” for making landmark designations in the city. A major rezoning, he argued, should resolve all outstanding questions about buildings that might merit landmarking. Garodnick, Bankoff said, made a push last summer in advance of the City Council’s final approval of the rezoning to do just that, but it never happened. In a letter to the LPC last July, Garodnick wrote that he hoped the dozen designations made in East Midtown last year “will not prescribe the end of the public conversation
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about East Midtown landmarks.” In its statement opposing the JPMorgan Chase project, the New York Landmarks Conservancy said that during last year’s public review process regarding the rezoning plan it warned that eligible landmarking candidates whose status was not resolved prior to approving the plan “would face severe development pressure, and now, 270 Park Avenue will be the first loss.” Even though 270 Park was among the buildings that had received no protection as of the rezoning’s adoption, JPMorgan Chase’s decision still caught preservationists by surprise. According to Bankoff, it was not cited as a possible candidate for redevelopment in the environmental review of the rezoning plan, and in 2012 the company undertook a major renovation in the building that earned it a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification and significant tax concessions from the city. Asserting that taking down the existing structure at 270 Park would be “the largest voluntary demolition in human history,” Bankoff said, “I find it hard to believe that you can demolish a 52-story building as of right.” Noting that no permits have been issued, development rights have not yet been purchased from qualified properties, and no architect has been named publicly, the HDC official said, even without the LPC taking action to landmark the building, JPMorgan Chase has many hurdles to surmount in winning final approval for its plans. “We live in a regulatory environment,” Bankoff said, noting the environmental and traffic impacts of demolishing a 700-foot building and replacing it with a 1,200-foot building in one of Park Ave.’s busiest stretches. In the HDC’s view, the lost opportunity here is that there are lower density zones within the East Midtown district where a project of this scope could be carried out without damaging an iconic stretch of midcentury Modernism. And, in Bankoff’s mind, de Blasio’s embrace of the project also puts front and center the question of “what value this administration puts on preservation and on a process that has worked over the past half century.”
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A crane raised the American flag last week, as 15 Hudson Yards topped out to stand at 900 feet. HUDSON YARDS continued from p. 4
percent of our available commercial office space [at 10, 30 and 55 Hudson Yards] already spoken for, we have demonstrated that Hudson Yards is where New Yorkers want to live and work.” Developers Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group plan to open the entire first phase — including the Public Square and Gardens, Vessel, and The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards — by March 2019. By Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, the LEED Gold-designed, exclusively residential 15 Hudson Yards building offers one- to four-bedroom condos (from $3.9 million up to $32 million for a duplex penthouse) with white oak flooring and kitchen appliances by Miele. They are paired with lifestyle amenities beyond just its 360-degree skyline view. The 50th floor is devoted exclusively to wellness, offering a 75-foot-long swimming pool, private spa, hair and makeup beauty bar, fitness center by The Wright Fit, a private yoga studio, and a children’s imagination center. Entertainment is the theme on the 51st floor, where residents can access a club room, two corner private dining suites, sound-proof screening and performance rooms, a golf club lounge, a wine storage and tasting room, a business center, and a collaborative work space. The skytop entertaining suite offers ample space for relaxing and dining. “The impressive and steady sales momentum at 15 Hudson Yards is testament to the enormous appeal of living in this brand new, exciting and incredibly convenient neighborhood in the new heart of New York City,” Sherry Tobak, Senior Vice President of Related Sales, said. “Everything you need to live an enriched lifestyle is available right near your home. Fifteen Hudson Yards sits adjacent to The Shed, New York’s first arts center to commission new work across the performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture; a diverse restaurant and retail collection; new parks; and robust neighborhood health and wellness amenities.” NYC Community Media
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duction celebrating African American music conceived by film director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and Quincy Jones, with NYU Department of Music associate professor Maureen Mahon and hip-hop producer Dion ‘No I.D.’ Wilson. This exhibition will be staged in The McCourt. “We want to make sure the project has historical accuracy and follows the growth of African American music from spirituals to gospel, blues, jazz, rock, rap, and hip-hop, all the way to trap,” said Mahon. “All of us are excited to be working together on this project… and to be part of this inaugural programming at The Shed. Our goal is to take the audience on a journey through the richness of African American music and diversity.” There will also be the unusual exhibition “Reich Richter Pärt,” meshing the music of Steve Reich and the paintings of Gerhard Richter as a unified structure, with another segment looking at the work of Richter and Arvo Pärt. On the sixth floor, Canadian poet Anne Carson is working on a melologue (partly spoken, partly sung) performance piece called “Norma Jeane Baker of Troy,” connecting Marilyn Monroe to Euripides’ Greek tragedy, “Helen.” Actor Ben Whishaw will present it, with
Photos by Winnie McCroy
A view from inside the plaza of The Shed, looking south.
soprano Renée Fleming singing. The production will be staged by theater/opera director Katie Mitchell, with music by Paul Clark. Another inaugural production is Chen Shi-Zheng and screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger’s “Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise,” about a Chinese family in Flushing, Queens. It features songs by Sia, choreography by Akram Khan, and design/costumes by Tim Yip (of the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).
Generations: Influences from the Modern Age April 6–7, 8PM The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College New York, N.Y. hunter.cuny.edu/kayeplayhouse 212.772.4000
There is a Time
Choreography | José Limón Music | Norman Dello Joio
Choreography | Gerald Arpino Music | Maurice Ravel
Rite of Spring
Choreography | Artistic Director Douglas Martin Music | Igor Stravinsky
A mixed repertoire program of modern and contemporary ballets, featuring legendary choreographers, glorious music, and the artistry and athleticism of ARB dancers. 20
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In Gallery II, artist Trisha Donnelly will present her first work in 10 years — and in Gallery I and II, artist Agnes Denes will present a survey exhibition of her major new commissions (her largest show in New York City to date). “I am looking forward to a great adventure at The Shed,” said Denes, renowned for works like the two-acre “Wheatfield” she planted in Battery Park in May 1982. “Every one of my projects tries to help humanity. Creativity and innovation is the answer in our troubled world, to swing the pendulum.” Best of all, smaller exhibitions will not be shunted into far-off locales deep within the building. They’ll all get quality gallery space, and a long time to be seen, with Poots averring, “The Shed is not a singularly defined place. All arts have parity here.” To ensure emerging artists get their fair shake, Chief Community & Civic Programs Officer Tamara McCaw has already reached out to youth ages 16-19 to develop “DIS OBEY,” a program for youth to explore protest through storytelling, writing, and visual art. She’s also begun working with FlexNYC, a dance residency for early career artists. Now in its second year, the free program serves about 400 students aged 5-18 via collaborations with 17 partners (including public schools) throughout the five boroughs. On March 7, The Shed launched Open Call, a showcase for local emerging artists. New York City residents 18 and older can submit project proposals. Selected artists will receive a commissioning fee up to $15,000 and the support of the staff. The deadline for submitting is May 4. Visit theshed.org/open-call to apply. “Nurturing artists at the start of their careers is as important to The Shed’s mission as presenting new work by
March 6’s hard hat tour provided an early look at construction. Seen here, The Shed’s five-foot castellated ceiling beams.
established artists,” said curator Emma Enderby. “Crucially, all Open Call exhibitions and performances will be free and open to the public.” Even before programming officially starts, it kicks off with “A Prelude to The Shed,” a free multi-arts event designed by Kunlé Adeyemi on a nearby undeveloped lot. It will run May 1-13 and feature new work by choreographer William Forsythe, Tino Sehgal’s “This Variation,” concerts by ABRA, Arca, and Azealia Banks, dance battles by FlexNYC, and more.
CB4 SEEKS SPOT ON BOARD While community leaders were overwhelmingly in favor of the artistic benefits The Shed would bring to their neighborhood, many wanted a say in the programming presented. In a January interview with incoming Community Board 4 (CB4) Chair Burt Lazarin, he noted that he would work to ensure that CB4 got their promised seat on the board. “We have some concerns, because this retractable shell can be closed off for private events,” said Lazarin. “When we were working around zoning [for The Shed], we specifically wrote into the agreement that there would only be ‘X’ amount of private events a year, with different amounts of public space to offset it.” CB4 has taken steps to ensure this representation happens. In a Nov. 8, 2017 letter sent to The Shed Associate Director Laurie Beckelman, CB4’s Arts, Culture, Education, Street Life (ACES) Committee supported The Shed 35-0, but noted several concerns that arose during the 2013 ULURP (Uniform Land THE SHED continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
NYC Community Media
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
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March 8, 2018
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Use Review Procedure). In particular, leadership of The Shed committed to allow a representative of CB4, appointed by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, to sit on the board of directors in the Speaker’s seat. They also agreed that the Department of Cultural Affairs would establish a “Culture Shed Open Space Advisory Board” to evaluate the quality of programming and the level of public access. ACES also wants to look at a number of minor concerns, including public accessibility of restrooms, free or discounted access to public events and ticket planning, outreach for public schools, outreach to local artists, employment opportunities for local residents, and closing of The Shed for private events. “CB4 looks forward to the opening of The Shed as a significant new cultural facility for the City of New York and working with you in the future,” stated the closing lines of that Nov. 2017 letter. More recently, CB4 District Manager Jesse Bodine told this publication that the board has been in touch with leadership at The Shed, who will appear before CB4’s ACES Committee on Mon., March 12 to answer questions. The meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at in the 8A Community Room of Penn South’s Building 8A (343 Eighth Ave., west of 27 St.). CB4 will also reach out to the Department of Cultural Affairs to start the process for an Open Space Advisory Committee. “This should be a good meeting in general,” said Bodine. “We have 311 coming to discuss upgrades to the system and how best to use it, followed by a presentation by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s technology team, who will discuss BoardStat, a program that turns raw 311 data into something usable to track things like after-hours noise from construction sites. And then there’s The Shed presentation. This should be an infopacked committee meeting.” For more information about The Shed, visit theshed. org. To view a “fly through” animation depicting The Shed’s various features, visit vimeo.com/174245694.
Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group
A rendering of The Shed and Lawrence Weiner’s public installation, “IN FRONT OF ITSELF.”
Photo by Winnie McCroy
A view of The McCourt hall space from the eighth floor, with 10 Hudson Yards in the background.
NYC Community Media
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March 8, 2018
NYC Community Media
March 8, 2018