“Those who can, build. Those who can’t, criticize.”
Those were the words of Robert Moses, interchangeably New York’s unelected “construction coordinator” or “master builder” who is perhaps more responsible for the organization of New York’s modern built environment than anyone else.
It’s in the spirit of Moses that the Building Trades Employers Association, a trade group for contractors that has increasingly embraced union-free construction work, will present Governor Andrew Cuomo with its first ever “Master Builder” award on June 14 at 583 Park Avenue in Midtown.
Lou Colletti, president of BTEA, said the award was created especially for Cuomo and was inspired by Moses. Colletti cited the billions of dollars in subsidy for capital construction and project labor agreements that Cuomo has appropriated since first taking office in 2011, and counted projects such as the Tappan Zee Bridge, LaGuardia Airport and Moynihan station overhauls and the Javits Center as major accomplishments.
“[Cuomo] confirmed he’s coming this morning,” Colletti said. “People talk about Robert Moses, people talk about Nelson Rockefeller, I believe this governor has done more than those two individuals who did a lot, and has done it in a very different way,” he said, taking note of Moses’ mixed legacy. According to Moses biographer Robert Caro, more than 250,000 people were displaced in the construction of New York City’s highways in the 1930s and ’40s.
A spokesperson for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.