A highlight among highlights, students from AAP NYC attended the 2013 Municipal Arts Society of New York’s annual summit. Before attending the conference, I was not too familiar with the organization so here is a primer.
Established in 1893, the Municipal Arts Society‘s (MAS) mission is to “fight for intelligent urban design, planning and preservation through education, dialogue, and advocacy.” At its dawn in the late 19th century, MAS was a pillar in the City Beautiful movement. Through membership dues MAS originally helped finance the placement of murals, sculpture, and other decoration throughout NYC.
As time progressed, MAS and its membership entered into increasingly political conversations by taking positions on significant development proposals throughout New York City. Time and time again, history shows MAS to be on the right side of controversial development decisions. In the 1920s they fought against a proposed highway through Central Park; in the 1930s they supported the creation of Rockefeller Center; in the late 1970s MAS advocated against the demolition of Grand Central Station and Radio City Music Hall; and most recently MAS was crucial in the creation of the new Freshkills Park in Staten Island and the creation of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance – a group helping New Yorkers return to the City’s waterfront.
Similar to the impressive scope of the MAS organizational history, the summit too was impressive by hosting a jaw dropping lineup of 105 speakers over two days. We soaked up back to back to back 5 to 10 minute presentations and panels of experts on NYC’s urban realm.
Topics of focus were the Penn Station redevelopment, East Midtown rezoning, resiliency to Sandy and other natural disasters, economic development, real estate development, the sharing economy, modular construction, preservation, and NYC in relation to its peer global cities. Presenters ranged from deputy City mayors or the head of city transportation planning, to the founders of Etsy and AirBnB.
By far this was the most active Twitter crowd of any conference I’ve attended. And quality tweets too! Checkout the below stream (the epicenter of the conference tweets are those from Oct. 17 and 18th, those were live posts during the conference with #summitnyc). This was my first time using twitter during an event. It is a whole additional level of engagement with speakers and topics. Connecting to twitter also provided great perspective on the people and organizations present in the room.
In addition to the great lineup of speakers, the final group to take the conference stage was a dance troop. Performing a 2012 piece titled Perceptual Motion, the Battery Dance Company finished off the whirlwind two days with an enthralling display of movement in front of the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop.
And of course, after it was all over there was a moment for socializing. We all worked hard to collect business cards and gather new LinkedIn contacts. Another great NYC opportunity!