Joan Grubin explains "Portal" to Leni

Joan Grubin explains "Portal" to Leni

I love the Mid-Manhattan Library on West 40th and Fifth Avenue, the poor  cousin to the 1911, iconic lion flanked  and landmarked white-marble Beaux-Arts revival Research Library building, across the street… which at times is referred to as the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, and more recently as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building designed by Carrère and Hastings.

The Mid-Manhattan Library, the destination of many a 4th floor  picture research foray,  is a limestone and granite building built in 1915.   In 1961 New York Public Library set its sights on 455 Fifth Avenue, and in 1970, the Mid-Manhattan officially opened — on the fourth through sixth floors above the The Arnold Constables Department Store.   In 1982 Mid-Manhattan took possession of the entire building, renovated by Artist/Architect Giorgio Cavaglieri. Today Mid-Manhattan  houses the largest circulating and reference collections in NYPL’s branches.

On Thursday early evening, the Light Projects staff and I walked over to the library, through Bryant Park, to visit Joan Grubin’s “Portal“, a perception-popping window installation.

grubin-image

Joan’s work is an adventure of paper, paint and light.  Her studies in reflection and texture have, in these public pieces, literally and optically deepened – the color and cut-outs lead the viewer to assume spatial relationships that change depending on vantage point and ambient light.

As we approached the library, the Portals glowed strongly, activated by the new 1 Bryant Park building as it reflected its urban beam of light onto the paper works.

Why worship?  Several years ago, arms filled with books and videos, I asked the clerk, “How many books may I check out”.  She answered sweetly, “As many as you need”.  It was then I fell in love with this generous mecca on Fifth Avenue.

Javits Convention CenterThere was huge attendance at Javits Center for a “meet and greet” with New York State agencies including NYS-DOT, MTA, PANYNJ, construction companies and professional organizations. The main objective was to  get tips on M/WBE programs [ Minority and Woman -owned Business Enterprises] and DBE [Disadvantaged Business Enterprise – “small business”] programs to continue ensure qualification for infrastructure projects.  Leni Schwendinger Light Projects is a registered WBE, but we wanted to learn about DBE , which will allow smoother entré into federal or state projects with federal funding.   Thankfully there is a New York State Unified Certification Program which allows for one certification application , which is honored by all other DBE certifying state agencies that receive funds from the United States Department of Transportation.

The visiting agencies were very helpful with the certification forms.  Additionally, we visited with MTA/LIRR and learned about the GEC (General Engineer Contracts), which is a pre-qualified list for MTA work and discussed issues of public sector projects with other W/M/D BE business owners and contractors.  We spoke with the dynamic and enthusiastic Women Builders Council representatives. The Council provides advocacy, mentoring, capacity building, procurement opportunities and best practices.
Organizing Agencies:
• New York State Department of Transportation – NYSDOT
• Empire State Development Corporation – ESDC
• Port Authority of New York/New Jersey – PANYNJ
• Federal Highway Administration – FHWA

Supporting Organizations:
• General Contractors Association of New York – GCA/NY
• Long Island Contractors Association, Inc – LICA
• The Associated General Contractors of New York State – AGC/NY
• General Building Contractors of New York State – GBC/NYS
• Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley – CIC
• New York Roadway Improvement Coalition – NYRIC
• American Council of Engineering Companies of New York – ACEC
• Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York – MTA
• US Dept of Commerce – Minority Business Development Agency
• US DOT – Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization
• Regional Alliance for Small Contractors
• Women Builders Council, Inc
• Jamaica Business Resource Center
• Conference of Minority Transportation Officials
Partners:
• Association of Minority Enterprises of New York
• National Hispanic Business Group
• Asian Women in Business
• Professional Women in Construction
• New York State Minority Contractors Association
• Minority Contractors Association of New York

Greater New York Construction User Council Panelists: Jason Bram (economist, Federal Reserve Bank of New York), Seth Pinsky (President, New York City Economic Development Corporation – NYCEDC), Elliot Sander (Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – MTA), Christopher O. Ward (Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – PANYNJ)

The event was very well attended. Each panelist opened by explaining construction and budget issues during the next period. The real-estate blog GreenPearl covers these facts and figures.

Mr. Sander brought along a rail marker signal; “my friend Mike”, and explained that the signal systems have to be upgraded and that they are doing so for the Number 7 line and Queen’s Plaza. In regards to technology and innovation, he said that when the engineers first removed this, the standard signal, they assumed that it was manufactured in the 1930’s, and it may have been, but it was revelatory when they looked at the engraved patent label, it said 1912!

My contribution was to ask about the importance of aesthetics and innovation in infrastructure developments during the Q&A. Chris Ward cited the concept of “creative cities” and how aesthetics add value to the urban environment. He opined that “engineering and aesthetics can create new models”. And reminded the audience that Christo’s Central Park “The Gates” brought record revenues into NYC. Mr. Ward noted that it was a “balancing act” – “expense versus look and feel” of a in terms of infrastructural projects.

On the question of sustainability and how the agencies were applying these principles to infrastructure, Mr. Ward’s quote is my favorite, “the sustainability prism is a screening process…”

One of my new interests, Public Private Partnerships (PPP), was addressed. Mr. Ward suggested that PANYNJ is not interested in monetization in the model of tollways, but that they might be interested in money to fill a gap, with sovereign funds, for example. He indicated that the Port’s Staten Island Bridge assets were reaching the end of life and that funding that project would be challenging.

MTA said that they were also open to PPP involvement and so was the City – supportive of PPP and leveraging funds.

This interchange was intriguing, as PPP has not made the kind of headway that you see in UK, India, and South America.

The Council announced that they will be holding an event on Public Private Partnerships in April 2009.

Online Resources
Can P3s boost the stimulus? (Huffington Post)
PPP Bulletin
Public Private News Aggregator
PPP India
Federal Highway/PPP

National Council of Public-Private Partnerships

Public Tenders

Public Private Partnerships