With greater evidence on how the built environment impacts our lives, the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) has intensified its efforts to shape public policy.
Long known for playing an advisory role to Mayoral administrations, agencies and the City Council, the organization is becoming more vocal.
AIANY’s major current effort is a 30-point “Platform for the Future of the City” to be considered by candidates running for office in New York this year.
“For our city to maintain its global competitiveness in attracting and retaining talent and business opportunities, elected leaders must envision the shape of the 21st-century metropolis. Quality design of buildings and the public spaces between them increase property values and propels the desire to be here,” said Jill N. Lerner, 2013 AIANY chapter president.
“New York City needs the values, principles, practical knowledge, and professional expertise of the architect.”
Developed with the specialized knowledge of AIANY’s program committees, “A Platform for the Future of the City” addresses issues at four scales — our buildings, our neighborhoods, our city and our world.
The platform identifies the 30 most pressing challenges facing New York’s built environment ranging from streamlining city government approvals and creating affordable housing for an ever growing population to maintaining global competiveness and promoting design internationally as we grow business at home.
Some specific policy solutions proposed include creating a new Deputy Mayor post, building at least 100,000 units of housing, utilizing zoning and incentives to continue tech sector growth, promoting active design and making simple changes to support an aging population.
Some of the key recommendations are:
• Create the position of Deputy Mayor of Design & Planning to coordinate municipal agencies toward a goal of greater efficiency.
• Make the NYC Development HUB – which has generated more than a billion dollars in economic activity – permanent.
• Set a goal for at least 100,000 units of housing in the next ten years.
• Reduce parking minimums in new buildings to produce more housing units.
• Build new schools using quality design standards, and fund and retrofit existing schools to make better use of space.
• Utilize zoning and incentives to encourage continued growth of the technology sector and related education.
• Identify undeveloped areas along rail lines for new development projects.
• Complete partially-funded infrastructure-expansion projects, and commit funds to upgrade new transit systems.
• Create more open space in the communities with the greatest need.
• Encourage well-designed commercial districts that promote mixed-use growth.
• Implement the Vision 2020 Waterfront Plan.
• Make a series of simple improvements to the urban environment to support an aging population and help seniors to age in place.
• Extend the use of Active Design Guidelines to encourage physical activity to improve the health of New Yorkers.
• Elevate the Office of Long Term Planning & Sustainability Director to that of a Commissioner position to ensure that sustainability remains a top priority.
• Require all new buildings to be built with new risk adverse zoning and construction standards.
• Prioritize passing the remaining Green Codes Task Force Recommendations.
The plan also calls for lobbying the Federal government to create legislation that would allow international architecture students and architects to come and stay in the United States and practice.
“There is greater evidence now, more than ever before, that architecture and design play a significant role in the everyday life of all New Yorkers – from where and how we live and work, to the way we enjoy free time, teach our children, care for the elderly, and get around town. Our goal is to assert that design matters and that architectural excellence can positively transform lives,” said Rick Bell, AIANY executive director.
“Using ‘A Platform for the Future of the City’ as a blueprint, we seek to engage civic and government leaders, along with the public, in a dialogue about making our neighborhoods and buildings models for the nation and the world.”