To engage with a New York City privately owned public space, find a POPS.
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Is a POPS closed when it should be open? Are movable chairs missing? You are helping, not squealing, by revealing.
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Represent your ideas in plan, sketch, perspective, section, whatever, and maybe the owner will retain you.
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Get your best Berenice Abbott on and take a photograph.
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Check out the fall schedule of free events at the David Rubenstein Atrium. It is worth recalling the “before” and “after” of this POPS. Called Harmony Atrium and largely known for its climbing wall, this interior space had some positive attributes but was hardly a rousing POPS success. The excerpt from Jerold Kayden’s book, Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, reproduced on this website, describes the conditions back in 2000. Lincoln Center’s president Reyn Levy had his eye on the space as a portal to Lincoln Center, and Jerold Kayden and his organization Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space was seeking a test candidate for its program for third-party adopting and upgrading of a POPS. Rebecca Robertson, then head of Lincoln Center’s redevelopment arm and now head of the Park Avenue Armory, brought Levy and Kayden together, and the ultimate outcome years and millions of dollars later is the celebrated Tod Williams Billie Tsien-designed David Rubenstein Atrium, named for its generous benefactor. APOPS@MAS Senior Advisor Douglas Woodward played a key role as Lincoln Center project manager. Lincoln Center board members Katherine Farley, now Chair of the Lincoln Center Board, Cheryl Cohen Effron, now a member of the New York City Planning Commission, and real estate developer Philip Milstein, along with Levy, Kayden, and Woodward, served on the architect selection committee that chose Tod Williams Billie Tsien from an initial long list of about thirty architects and a subsequent short list of seven. Billlie Tsien talks about the design in a presentation with Jerold Kayden at the October 2012 MAS Summit. For more about the initial transformation of Harmony Atrium, read this June 8, 2006 Lincoln Center press release.
Imagine that you were given “responsibility” for stewarding more than 80 acres of prime New York City private real estate that, by law, had to be open to the public. Imagining that role helps define the mission of our project, entitled Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space at the Municipal Art Society (APOPS@MAS). Harvard Professor Jerold S. Kayden, Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space, and the Municipal Art Society have joined forces to offer imaginative stewardship for the city’s 525 or so privately owned public spaces (POPS), those zoning-created plazas, arcades, and other outdoor and indoor spaces located at the street level of many office and residential towers. We believe that a city’s greatness is enhanced by an attractive, usable, and egalitarian public realm. We seek to invigorate POPS by sparking constructive action-producing conversations among city residents and employees, POPS owners, public officials, community board members, civic activists, and anyone else hoping to realize the possibility and promise of privately owned public spaces. Through creative ideas and hard work, we can leverage the good spaces and improve the marginal ones.
APOPS@MAS has an ambitious Work Program consisting of six elements: (1) Public Information; (2) Programs; (3) Upgrading; (4) Monitoring; (5) Special Projects; (6) Public Policy. Some activities have already commenced, others remain dependent on funding availability.
1. PUBLIC INFORMATION
APOPS@MAS will provide a website, a virtual public space for information about POPS, including the following:
- website optimized for both desktop and mobile use
- members of the public are invited to post comments, report problems, share photographs, and otherwise participate in improving POPS
APOPS@MAS will seek to activate POPS through various types of programs, including the following:
- collaborative artistic, educational, and recreational programs
- annual public panel about POPS
- presentation of annual best POPS awards
APOPS@MAS will work with interested owners of existing POPS to encourage physical upgrading and other actions, including the following:
- identification of organizations with potential interest in “adopting” and upgrading existing POPS
- arrangement of design competitions and consultations for interested owners
- assistance to owners in securing, where appropriate, regulatory permission for improvements to POPS
- assistance to owners interested in collective arrangements for the maintenance of POPS, including clean-up, food service, landscaping, security, and nighttime/weekend openings and closings
- assistance to community boards, business improvement districts, and civic institutions on encouraging POPS upgrades
APOPS@MAS will encourage implementation of proactive monitoring programs to assure that all POPS are in compliance with applicable legal requirements, including the following:
- work with community boards, business improvement districts, and civic organizations
- keeping up-to-date the analytic data about POPS originally created in 2000 by Professor Kayden, the New York City Department of City Planning, and the Municipal Art Society so that it may be used as part of monitoring and enforcement efforts
5. SPECIAL PROJECTS
APOPS@MAS will pursue special projects, including the following:
- drafting of model rules that owners may use to manage POPS
- analysis of through-block arcade networks in the city
- sponsorship of graduate-level studio classes
- a study about de-accessioning “irredeemable” POPS from the inventory
- a design competition for chairs and other POPS amenities
6. PUBLIC POLICY
APOPS@MAS will initiate or participate in public policy discussions about POPS issues, including the following.
- a policy brief on POPS
- introduction of an annual “State of Privately Owned Public Space Report”
We invite all of you to join APOPS@MAS in realizing this Work Program. Contact us if you are interested in helping us with any part of the 2014-2015 Work Program.
The New York City branch of Huge, the powerhouse digital agency, has produced an interesting five-minute video about privately owned public space in New York City. APOPS@MAS provided information to Huge and Chris Holmes for the video project.
APOPS@MAS is happy to announce the selection of Ellen C. Nicholson, who just graduated this past May 2014 with a Master in Urban Planning Degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), as the first annual APOPS@MAS Fellow. She begins her fellowship this month and continues through June 2015. At the GSD, Ellen concentrated in Urban Design and Housing and Community Development. A native of Newton, Massachusetts, Ellen completed her undergraduate degree at Williams College. Contact Ellen at email@example.com.
You will not find this definition (yet) in the dictionary, but we are trying.
PRIVATELY OWNED PUBLIC SPACE [noun phrase] [slang POPS] 1. a plaza, arcade, or other outdoor or indoor space provided for public use by a private office or residential building owner in return for a zoning concession 2. one of 525 or so zoning-defined public spaces in New York City 3. a plaza, urban plaza, residential plaza, public plaza, elevated plaza, arcade, through block arcade, through block galleria, through block connection, covered pedestrian space, sidewalk widening, open air concourse, or other privately owned public space specifically defined by New York City’s 1961 Zoning Resolution and accompanying legal instruments 4. a type of public space characterized by the combination of private ownership and zoning-required public access and use 5. Law’s oxymoronic invention