NYC Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich resigns, and more

Happy Friday! Below are a handful of worthwhile odds and ends curated by the A editing team for your weekend reading.

And two important reminders as we wrap up the work week: First, don’t forget to set your clocks back (hello dark again) at 2 a.m. on Sunday. And second, if in-person early voting is available in your area and you haven’t already done so, please take the time this weekend to cast your ballot.

New York Department of Buildings commissioner resigns as involvement in gambling investigation comes to light

Shortly after reports surfaced that he had been questioned as part of an illegal gambling investigation, Eric Ulrich, a former member of the Queens City Council who is the current Commissioner of the Buildings Department ( DOB) of the City of New York, resigned from his post. He was appointed to the post by Mayor Eric Adams last May.

Along with being questioned, reports earlier this week revealed that Ulrich’s cellphone was also confiscated as part of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s ongoing investigation into his possible ties. with organized crime and illegal gambling associated with Aldo’s, a pizzeria in the Ozone Park section of Queens. (For what it’s worth, the pies look pretty decent based on Yelp reviews.)

“This morning, Eric Ulrich tendered his resignation as DOB Commissioner in a bid to, in his words, avoid ‘unnecessary distraction for the Adams administration,'” City Hall spokesman Fabien said. Levy, in a statement shared by gothamist. “We have accepted his resignation, appreciate that he has taken this step and wish him well. We are not aware of any further investigations and, out of respect for his privacy and that of his family, we have nothing more to add.

Ulrich’s exact role in the investigation is not known, although sources speaking to the New York Times said these were activities that took place before he joined the Adams administration. As detailed by gothamistUlrich, a Republican, has made local headlines in the past regarding gambling.

The DOB’s first deputy commissioner, Kazimir Vilenchik, also recently appointed by Adams, will take over as acting commissioner after Ulrich resigns. City Hall said the DA investigation and Ulrich’s resignation will not impact the day-to-day operations of the DOB, a massive city agency employing more than 2,000 workers that enforces building code regulations and zoning, issues building permits, responds to structural emergencies, and much more.

H/t at Gothamist, New York Times

RIBA appoints Valerie Vaughan-Dick as new Managing Director following departure of Alan Vallance

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced that Valerie Vaughn-Dick, who currently holds the position of Chief Operating Officer at the Royal College of General Practitioners, will take on the role of Chief Executive from the New Year. Vaughn-Dick replaces Allan Vallance, who has announced he will leave in April to join the Chartered Insurance Institute. Vallance had been Managing Director of since 2016 and guided RIBA through what turned out to be a turbulent period – one complete with financial difficulties, presidential scandals, geopolitical upheavals and, of course, the pandemic – for the 188-year-old trade organization, whose members elected a new president, Muyiwa Oki, in August.

Says Vaughan Dick:

“I am delighted to join RIBA at such an exciting time in its development and to be part of the transition to an even more efficient company, where sustainability is a priority. In this post-pandemic and financially challenging era, the industry needs an agile and dynamic group of members to provide leadership and support on the issues that matter most to the profession and the public. I look forward to working with the Board, Council and team of experts to help realize the ambitious plans of the RIBA and ensure that RIBA members are properly represented and their contributions are widely recognized. .

Adrian Dobson and Pamela Harding served as interim CEOs after Vallance’s surprise departure and will hand over the reins to Vaughan-Dick on January 9. As well as appointing its new Chief Executive this week, RIBA has also appointed Robbie Turner as its new Chief Diversity Officer. and inclusion. Turner replaces Marsha Ramroop, who resigned in March and was the first person to hold the position at the RIBA.

The Los Angeles Times say goodbye to the downtown print shop

The Olympic Boulevard print shop in downtown Los Angeles which served as its home (in recent years the rented home) at the Los Angeles Times‘ manufacturing operations since the late 1980s will be closed at the end of next year with plans to turn the 26-acre site into – not a big surprise here – a soundstage complex for film and TV production . The lease held by the Time at the sprawling property expires at the end of 2023. In a year and a half, the paper will begin printing at a new facility in partnership with the Southern California News Group. Speak Time, 170 employees currently work at the Olympic printing plant; newsroom operations and the newspaper’s printing schedule would not be affected by the upcoming production change.

“We have a long-term lease in place, but several factors prevent us from continuing to print at [Olympic]including a drastically changed real estate market, declining print volume and the owner’s intent to redevelop the property,” explained Chris Argentieri, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Time. “The pandemic has accelerated these trends.”

The Olympic facility was purchased in 2019 for $240 million by New York-based Atlas Capital Group. Last year, the developer revealed plans to convert the property into a film and television production hub, complete with 17 sound stages. This development should be completed in 2016.

Currently based in the city of El Segundo, the Los Angeles Time is owned by billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong, who acquired the prestigious 141-year-old publication in 2018 from Tribune Publishing Company (formerly TRUNK, Inc.)

The massive tunnel under Niagara Falls is now open for tours

For the first time in history, a nearly 2,200-foot-long tunnel buried deep beneath Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side) can now be explored by the public on a tour launched last summer which gives visitors an inside look at the decommissioned Niagara Parks Power Plant. By CNNthe power plant operated from 1905 to 2006 and remains the world’s only fully intact hydroelectric plant of its time.

Considering the tunnel is buried 180 feet underground, Niagara Parks recommends covering up well and wearing comfortable shoes. While the huge century-old tunnel itself serves as the main attraction, at the end of the cavernous space a new viewing platform has also been built, giving guests “unprecedented access to a new perspective from the lower Niagara River with unparalleled views. Horseshoe Falls and American Falls. Visitors will descend into the tunnel from its vaporous new platform via a glass-walled elevator, which is also sure to be a popular attraction in its own right.

More information about the tour and the tunnel can be found here.

H/t at CNN

Cornell AAP launches new New York-based degree program in advanced urban design

Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) has introduced a Master of Science in Advanced Urban Design (MS AUD) program at the Gensler Family AAP NYC Center in Manhattan. Described as offering a “specialized curriculum at the intersection of urban systems, ecologies, technologies, and data to ask big questions, solve contemporary thorny issues, and reinvigorate public realms,” the program of intensive research in design is led by Jesse LeCavalier and supported by Cornell AAP faculty active in New York and the Gensler Center.

The MS AUD is designated as a STEM program in architecture and building science/technology and is open to holders of a professional bachelor’s degree in architecture, a professional master’s degree in architecture or a professional degree in fields of adjacent design. Students with professional or terminal degrees in related design fields will also be considered. As stated on the program page, the MS AUD “supports citizen-planners interested in making a difference through design in pursuit of new forms of engaged spatial practice” and graduates “will be agents of urban change, empowered with skills advances and expanded knowledge”. to apply these skills in a meaningful way.

More information can be found here.

Marjorie N. McClure