The “Fast Trash” exhibit is a gift that keeps on giving: two excellent organizations are holding awesome-sounding garbage-focused events at Gallery RIVAA on Roosevelt Island this weekend, piggybacking on the last week of “Fast Trash”‘s run. On Saturday, May 15th, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) will screen two documentaries on New York City waste disposal: the rare and intriguing-sounding 1979 documentary Collection and Disposal, a Job for the Birds, and CUP’s own 2002 Garbage Problems.
Focused on New York’s garbage glut, Robert Machover and Catherine Pozzo Di Borgo’s “Collection and Disposal” asks where NYC garbage will go when the landfills reach capacity. Through informal interviews with the sanitation workers who each lug 6,000 pounds of trash every day, the documentary gives a glimpse into the challenges of hauling and planning for the future, and reveals some insider garbage slang on the side.
Picking up where “Collection and Disposal” left off, 2002’s “Garbage Problems” finds that three decades later there’s still no clear solution to the city’s garbage crisis. The documentary, CUP’s first-ever Urban Investigation, uncovers some of the dirty politics of putting together a comprehensive waste plan for the city.
The screening will be followed by a presentation from garbage historian and environmental planner Benjamin Miller on the prospects and challenges of implementing a citywide pneumatic garbage transport system.
And on Sunday, Urban Omnibus hosts a meet-up on Roosevelt Island to explore the Island on foot with landscape architect Donald Richardson, who worked on the its 1969 master plan. The walk will be followed by a guided tour of the “Fast Trash” show with its curator, architect Juliette Spertus. Both of these events sound incredibly interesting to us. Two great days to spend on/learning about “The Island Nobody Knows.”
Saturday, May 15, 5 – 7pm
527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island
F train to Roosevelt Island
FREE | Seats very limited, RVSP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Urban Omnibus Meet-up
Sunday, May 16th, 2010, 2pm
Roosevelt Island, meet outside the F train stop
The Architectural League of New York has just mounted an exhibit called ‘The City We Imagined/The City We Made: New New York 2001-2010‘ about architecture, planning, and development in New York City since 2001.
This installment chronicles the transformation the physical city in light of the convergence of an array of powerful forces: the events of 9/11, the policies and priorities of the Bloomberg Administration, the volatility of global and local economies, advances in material and construction technologies, and a new interest among the public in contemporary architecture.
The exhibit consists of design proposals from the last ten years, a large collection of photos gathered from design professionals citywide, interviews and original video. New York Magazine offers a sort-of-review—more a reflection on stasis and change in the City’s landscape—in its most recent issue.
May 8-June 26, 2010
Location: 250 Hudson Street (Enter on Dominick Street)
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, Noon-7pm
Marketing and design agency MSLK is mounting a large-scale installation called Take-Less using hundreds of take-out containers as part of the Figment art festival on Governor’s Island in June. Latching onto the statistic that 2629 take-out meals are consumed in the United States every second, the group plans to assemble a large collection of disposable, take-out plasticware into the number 2629 atop a grassy area, reflecting on our constant incidental production of plastic waste. Anyone is invited to contribute their used take-out plasticware or containers to the project—just contact MSLK to participate. Not to reward waste production, let us add that it’s even better if you produce little to nothing that could be contributed to the project, by creating no take-out waste.
Gothamist discovers the Witte Marine Salvage Yard, one of the largest marine scrapyards on the East Coast, along the shore of the Arthur Kill just south of the Freshkills Park site’s West Mound. It’s a pretty spectacular and much photographed sight to see these rusted heaps—mostly tugboats and cargo ships—half sunken in the Arthur Kill, and the various plant and marine life that has made its home there. The Times provided some history on the yard back in 1990, and we’ve included it as an attraction in our Staten Island day-trips for folks visiting the Island to join one of our Freshkills Park tours. This is just one more site that really validates the whole ‘Forgotten Borough’ moniker, in the most compelling way.
If photos of industrial decay excite you, you might be interested to know that photographer Nathan Kensinger will be sharing his photos and stories of this site and others the evening of Tuesday, May 18th at Staten Island’s Cargo Cafe, as part of our Freshkills Park Talks series.
Recent collaborations between architects, artists and landscape architects have begun to blur the boundaries between architecture, art and site. What does it mean to intervene in the environment with these projects? What differentiates or unifies spatial form, sculpture and landscape?
Panelists are Alice Aycock, Sculptor; Signe Nielsen, FASLA, Principal, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architecture; Dennis Oppenheim, Installation Artist; Christopher Sharples, AIA, Principal, SHoP Architects.
Monday, May 3rd, 2010 | 5:30-8pm
@ The Center for Architecture
536 Laguardia Place, New York, NY
Free for AIA members; $10 for non-members
The second annual New York City Wildflower Week actually runs for nine days, starting tomorrow, May 1st and running through the end of next weekend. The various cultural partners involved in organizing Wildflower Week are offering a host of (mostly) free programs all over the City to encourage New Yorkers to learn about, experience and reflect on the sustainability of native plants, particularly. Offerings include lectures, workshops, tours of gardens and green roofs, cooking classes and children’s events.
The New York Times features a long-term partnership between the National Park Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers to restore the rapidly disappearing salt marsh islands in Jamaica Bay, the 26-square-mile lagoon bordered by Brooklyn and Queens. Now comprising 800 acres altogether, the series of islands in the Bay spanned more than 16,000 acres a century ago. As part of a larger project to restore parts of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary, and especially Upper and Lower New York Bay, the Army Corps is importing rock, clay, sand, and silt dredged from the widening of the Panama Canal to shore up Jamaica Bay’s islands and help re-establish plant and animal habitat.
The article also offers a good, brief environmental history of Jamaica Bay, including early 20th century plans to make it into a major seaport and mid-20th century top-down conservation efforts that led to the creation of Gateway National Recreation Area, along the bay’s coast, in 1972. Still, over half of the bay’s salt marsh has been lost since the 1950s, and many migratory birds and fish species have disappeared. Contributors to environmental degradation have been contamination from waste treatment plants, historic landfill waste seepage, highway runoff and airplane fuel from jets at JFK Airport.
Current restoration work has started on one island, Elders Point, where the Army Corps estimates that 42 acres of wetlands have been restored, with another 34 acres expected by the end of the year. Another restoration effort on the island called Yellow Bar Hassock is being prepared.
Piggybacking on last week’s front-page story on comparative waste management strategies in Denmark and the US, the New York Times runs an op-ed by former Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Norman Steisel and former DSNY director of policy planning Benjamin Miller on the need for a new set of policy actions and built facilities to manage New York City’s waste more sustainably, locally and cheaply.
As New York City’s garbage decomposes, it releases some 1.2 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide and its equivalents — primarily methane — into the atmosphere. On top of that, the fuel it takes to haul 11,000 tons of waste hundreds of miles six days a week releases an additional 55,000 tons of greenhouse gas per year…. Since New York began exporting its garbage, the Sanitation Department’s budget has more than doubled, to $1.3 billion in the current fiscal year from less than $600 million in 1997. And in the past seven years, the costs of the city’s landfill contracts have gone up more than $90 million, enough to pay 1,000 full-time firefighters, nurses or teachers.
The writers make a series of broad proposals, primary among which is the establishment of New York City-based waste-to-energy plants. The European examples are certainly impressive. Regardless of the City’s ultimate direction/redirection on waste management, we’re glad to see discussion on the real costs and benefits of different strategies entering public debate more these days.
The NYC Department of Environmental Protection‘s Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is already home of some of the most distinctive architecture in the City, the onion-dome digesters designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, as well as a lovely and serene Nature Walk designed by artist George Trakas. Not bad for a sewage plant along one the country’s most polluted waterways! And now the facility is adding another jewel to its crown: a Visitor Center, also designed by Polshek and featuring an indoor-outdoor fountain designed by artist Vito Acconci, is opening tomorrow. This will be the first visitor center for a public infrastructure facility in New York City. It’s exciting, and the exhibits should be very educational, given the scope of the operation—the plant treats more than 250 million gallons of wastewater daily.
After this weekend, the Center will be open Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 4pm.
Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25, 2010
Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
329 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn