Atrium and Surrounding Spaces Were Planned for Public Enjoyment

We can do better than this: RIOC's Disgraceful Neglect of Motorgate Public Space

Updated 15 weeks ago David Stone
You'd have to search far and wide to find a transportation hub entrance as filthy and disgusting as this one, across from a public school and luxury apartments yet.
You'd have to search far and wide to find a transportation hub entrance as filthy and disgusting as this one, across from a public school and luxury apartments yet.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Yesterday's opening of the 2019 Motorgate Gallery, reminds us that, as RIOC invests resources into neglected infrastructure, upgrading, fixing, creating anew, Roosevelt Island's most glaring example of civic neglect, the Motorgate Atrium and surrounding public spaces, present visitors as well as residents with a sordid blemish on Main Street's only significant intersection. 

RIOC's Got the Money to Fix This Mess

The atrium's so filthy and forbidding on its exterior, my guess is that many of us, maybe most, have never seen much beyond its dreary public face.

But when you take a longer look, as I did recently, you see potential so brainlessly neglected, it delivers gross unsightliness that outranks even our dilapidated subway station.

The worst of it is that, objectively, the Motorgate Atrium and public spaces built around it were clearly designed to be places of enjoyment. Only gross neglect through every subsequent RIOC administration could turn it all into the revolting mess it is today.

I'll spare you the need to look for yourself by telling you this story graphically, in photographs that show the area as it is in contrast to what it could be.

Keep in mind that RIOC's committed $14 million for a Palace of Versailles Bike Ramp few Islanders will use when a fraction of that could easily rescue the Atrium and everything around it.

 

Only steps from what RIOC calls the "Motorgate Gallery," an insufficient effort to make the Atrium better, stark unwelcoming.
Only steps from what RIOC calls the "Motorgate Gallery," an insufficient effort to make the Atrium better, stark unwelcoming.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

Gristedes struggles unsuccessfully to get RIOC to spruce up the main passage between street, river and abandoned public spaces beyond.
Gristedes struggles unsuccessfully to get RIOC to spruce up the main passage between street, river and abandoned public spaces beyond.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

A plywood shed, painted Roosevelt Island red, murals added, fails to hide a once useful escalator RIOC refuses to repair.
A plywood shed, painted Roosevelt Island red, murals added, fails to hide a once useful escalator RIOC refuses to repair.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

An escalator that once carried riders to the bridge to catch buses and cabs without adding to Main Street congestion is relegated to dust catcher.
An escalator that once carried riders to the bridge to catch buses and cabs without adding to Main Street congestion is relegated to dust catcher.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

A memory of what once was, legacy tram cabins rot behind filthy windows, doors and poured concrete.
A memory of what once was, legacy tram cabins rot behind filthy windows, doors and poured concrete.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

In the spirit of the Meditation Steps, these along the East Promenade were designed for leisure, but who'd hang out here now?
In the spirit of the Meditation Steps, these along the East Promenade were designed for leisure, but who'd hang out here now?
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

A sweeping ramp down from Main Street and the helix could easily be fixed up for bike, wheelchair and stroller access to the Promenade.
A sweeping ramp down from Main Street and the helix could easily be fixed up for bike, wheelchair and stroller access to the Promenade.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

Motorgate Atrium elevator lobby, a study in filth and poor taste. Mustard yellow halfway up the wall? Why? Imagine this as a visitor's first impression.
Motorgate Atrium elevator lobby, a study in filth and poor taste. Mustard yellow halfway up the wall? Why? Imagine this as a visitor's first impression.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

Locked doors intended for Promenade access, windows so filthy the sun barely gets through.
Locked doors intended for Promenade access, windows so filthy the sun barely gets through.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

If there's one thing that makes leaving historic Tram cabins to rot outdoors worse, it's paying for eight years of rental fencing to do the job.
If there's one thing that makes leaving historic Tram cabins to rot outdoors worse, it's paying for eight years of rental fencing to do the job.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

The single source of adequate lighting helps guide traffic on and off the Island. Why not light up the inside too?
The single source of adequate lighting helps guide traffic on and off the Island. Why not light up the inside too?
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

It's impossible to ignore smart design details that never get carried through to the rest of the Atrium.
It's impossible to ignore smart design details that never get carried through to the rest of the Atrium.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

Outside looking in, RIOC adds to the dreariness by replacing broken glass with plywood.
Outside looking in, RIOC adds to the dreariness by replacing broken glass with plywood.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

Inside the Atrium, benches with no purpose. Why would anyone come here?
Inside the Atrium, benches with no purpose. Why would anyone come here?
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

RIVAA launched a muscular effort to get RIOC to move the old Tram pulleys indoors as installations to improve the Atrium but got nowhere.
RIVAA launched a muscular effort to get RIOC to move the old Tram pulleys indoors as installations to improve the Atrium but got nowhere.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

A good start, then a full stop. Artists helped, contributing work to the Atrium, but it needs more to make it a destination.
A good start, then a full stop. Artists helped, contributing work to the Atrium, but it needs more to make it a destination.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

A sweeping ramp down from Main Street and the helix could easily be fixed up for bike, wheelchair and stroller access to the Promenade.
A sweeping ramp down from Main Street and the helix could easily be fixed up for bike, wheelchair and stroller access to the Promenade.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 

What ideas do you have for making this valuable space one we can be proud of?

 

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