Don't Fence Me Out

Paula Segal got the barricades around Zuccotti Park removed. Now she has a new target.

Regardless of how the Chase Manhattan Plaza is resolved, Segal and her partners say it's just the beginning. Working with a collective of urban-design experts and public-space advocates called #whOWNSpace, she has lined up dozens of other supposedly public spaces in New York that are actually closed to the public.

"Our goal is to tackle one of these a month," Segal says. "This is an issue throughout the city."

A fenced-off entrance to Chase Manhattan Plaza.
Stephan von Muehlen
A fenced-off entrance to Chase Manhattan Plaza.
Paula Segal
Nick Pinto
Paula Segal

npinto@villagevoice.com

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8 comments
Monique Ross-McCoy
Monique Ross-McCoy

We need voices like Paula Segal speaking out....we all should take a stand for whats right! You give an inch you just might lose a mile.

Cas_eindhoven
Cas_eindhoven

I don't know how you folks remain so positive, but God bless y'all. Can't imagine playing the man's game, if you know what I mean, even if it is the only game in town....

One day I'll be inspired to join in and take action, too.

Paula Z. Segal
Paula Z. Segal

The phone number for Landmarks is 212-669-7951. Tomorrow is a great day to give them a ring to talk about whether a fence that has been up for 4 months and seems to be staying up indefinitely is "temporary." You might want to use the below language from the Landmarks Designation Report (available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/do..., which also contains photographs of the places we can't get to now.

"Not only did it stand out sharply from its older masonry neighbors, but the planning of the site, incorporating an irregularly shaped 2½ acre plaza, established a welcome break from the narrow, twisting streets that characterize much ofthe neighborhood."

"The plaza was intended to be one of the project’s most dramatic and distinctive features. It isolates the tower from its older masonry neighbors and the empty space functions as an elegantly minimal forecourt or, as Architectural Forum described it, a 'front yard.'"

"As originally built, the raised plaza was reached from three marble staircases, each with a different design. The widest and most elaborate stairs is located to the south and adjoins Pine Street. Due to the sloping site, it was designed with a second set of deep cantilevered risers to the east. The west stairs is located near the intersection of Nassau Street and Cedar Street and consists of two elements: a staircase that narrows slightly as it descends to the concourse level and behind it, a wider staircase, which rises onto the plaza. The east stairs descend to where William Street meets Cedar."

"The south plaza’s most conspicuous feature is Isamu Noguchi’s “Sunken Garden"... this unique sculptural work was commissioned for public view. This type of patronage was not uncommon in the late 1950s when large, often colorful, pieces of abstract art were frequently introduced into office building lobbies, bank interiors, restaurants and airline terminals."

"The plaza’s “Sunken Garden” is sited in a circular well between the south stairs and a raised cantilevered marble planting bed that is original and adjoins the east facade of 20 Pine Street. The 60-foot diameter garden is well preserved; it was designed to be viewed from the plaza..."

"On the basis of a careful consideration of the history, the architecture and other features of this building, the Landmarks Preservation Commission finds that One Chase Manhattan Plaza has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest and value as part of the development, heritage, and cultural characteristics of New York City."

See http://whownspace.blogspot.com... for further updates.

Richie Shakin' Nagan
Richie Shakin' Nagan

I have just sent this email to the First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Buildings:

Dear Commissioner:

The Manhattan Construction Division has responded to the complaints I filed.

As to the complaint that the egress is blocked they respond that it is not blocked. The plaza that the exit doors from the lobby egress to is blocked by fences and as we all know, egress must continue to the street. People exiting into the plaza cannot get to the street. While there may be other egress from the building that is adequate in size and number it is not for the building owners to decide. The change must be filed and approved by the Department of Buildings.

As to the complaints that the fences were erected without a permit and that they were not properly erected they respond that there is no construction fence at the site. The complaints were not about a construction fence and anyone can clearly see that fences, held down by sandbags have been erected at the top of the stairs along the perimeter of the plaza. No plans were filed for the erection of the fences and no permit issued to erect them and, fences being held down by sandbags is not according to the Building Code and are a danger of being blown over in a high wind and injuring, maiming or killing people. After all, a huge billboard being supported by a huge steel pole embedded in concrete below the ground toppled a couple of weeks ago in a high wind.

Please reinspect and issue the proper violations for the safety of the citizens and visitors of this city.

Richard NaganNagan Ex, Inc.1028 Neill AvenueBronx, NY 10461Tel (718) 892-0917

Richie Shakin' Nagan
Richie Shakin' Nagan

The DOB has responded to the complaints that I filed at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza, The claim the egress is is not blocked, which is false as the egress has to continue to the street and that there is no construction fence at the site. The complaint was not filed for a construction fence. I will be calling the Manhattan Chief Inspector tomorrow morning.

I am a Building Department expediter and a Building and Zoning Law Consultant. When I saw the pictures of the barricades around Zuccotti Park I knew that it violated the Zoning Resolution as to the arrangement and operation of the plaza and immediately called in several complaints and contacted the National Lawyers Guild about it. I then called the Commissioner's office repeatedly until Deputy Commissioner Tom Farrielo called me back and we discussed the issue. They assigned the complaints to the Special Operations Unit and they sent an inspector out and decided that the two entrances were sufficient and noted a large police presence. I emailed the Chief Inspector of Special Operations and quoted the applicable sections of the law. They resent an inspector out and decided that the owner's were not liable as the barricades were NYPD property. At the same time the DOB got the letter from the lawyers and, viola, the barricades came down.

Richie Shakin' Nagan
Richie Shakin' Nagan

I have filed three complaints with the DOB:1) The fences were erected without a permit.2) The fences block the approved egress of the building.3) The fences are dangerous as they were not installed as per the Building Code.

I am keeping after the DOB to inspect and issue violations on these complaints.

 
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