Our programs promote conversation between our Fellows and invited decision-makers on the critical issues facing our cities.

Featured ↓

Hot Air

Event ▻ Maintaining
On December 13, The Urban Design Forum invites Ken Fisher, Robert Paley, Matthew Washington and Madelyn Wils to discuss creative proposals for how TDR can be utilized to maintain New York City’s public infrastructures.

Comeback Cities

Event ▻ NY-LON
On November 30, join Dan Doctoroff and Fiona Fletcher-Smith for international dialogue on bringing great cities back from economic recession.
Events ↓
All
On October 18, we were joined by Elena Conte, Susannah Drake, Margaret Newman, Jennifer Pehr and Nicholas Pettinati to hear original proposals for re-thinking New York City’s arterial roadways.
Join us on September 26 for our Fall Fellows Dinner with Daniel Biederman, Rasmia Kirmani-Frye and Mitchell Silver on how New York City should sustain its public realm.

Points of Departure

Event ▻ Maintaining
On September 6 we were joined by Tim Braine, Jonathan Cohn, John Falcocchio, Susan Fine and Eve Michel as they proposed new solutions to care for New York City's 472 subway stations.
On August 18, our Forefront Fellows went on a retreat to Newburgh meet with local community leaders and city officials, and discuss challenges facing the city's immigrant communities.
On August 10 we were joined by Sharon Davis, Michelle de la Uz, Brad Lander, Gita Nandan, and Andrea Parker as they proposed leveraging development in Gowanus to expand the neighborhood's green infrastructure network and preserve the area's cultural assets.
On July 18, our Forefront Fellows met for the second event of the Fellowship to explore design projects that aim to foster agency and the integration of migrant communities in urban spaces.
On June 20, for the first Forefront roundtable of the year, we were joined by Doug Saunders, author of Arrival City, which inspired the German Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale and this year's Forefront program theme, and Max Hadler, Senior Health Advocacy Manager for the New York Immigration Coalition.
On June 14 we were joined by Danny Fuchs, Jennifer Godzeno, Ronnie Lowenstein, Preston Niblack and Henry Grabar for an investigation into how the city budget impacts the built form of New York City.
On May 23 the Forum welcomed our newest class of Forefront Fellows at the Museum of Chinese in America for orientation as they begin exploring how urban design can empower immigrant communities.

Grappling with Growth

Event ▻ NY-LON
New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and London Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe engaged in a cross-Atlantic dialogue on how both cities grapple with creating a fair and equitable city in the face of continued growth.
On May 1 we were joined by Eloise Hirsh, Sam Schwartz, Margaret Tobin, and Deborah Marton offered a retrospective on caring for New York City’s public assets from the fiscal crisis to today.
For the capstone of the Forefront Fellowship program, we visited Hudson Yards - the largest private real estate development project in the history of the US.
On February 21 six Forefront Fellows were invited to present individual projects on infrastructure and public space to their cohort and guest critic Miriam Roure, of Urban-X.
On February 16 the Forum hosted a tour of the Public Design Commission Archives! Some of the highlights included a maintaining budget from Robert Moses, and some rather peculiar street signs!
In the last two weeks, New Yorkers have taken to the streets to defend our city’s values of diversity and inclusion. In this turbulent political climate, public spaces like Times Square are critical to our democracy: as places where people can safely speak their minds and agitate in defense of their families and neighbors.

New Working Neighborhoods

Event ▻ NY-LON
New working districts are evolving in major cities across the world, with hubs of talent and creativity taking shape beyond the center. How are the global cities, New York and London, transforming their neighborhoods to accommodate new ways of working?
Our third Fellow spotlight session will feature five fellows working on projects impacting the city in a myriad of ways. While it is hard to find a common thread between the group, all in some way deal with the topics of civic technology, equity and public space.
On November 7, the Urban Design Forum hosted its Fall Dinner, Momentum: New Mobility and the City. To celebrate our yearlong Onward initiative exploring new ideas to reimagine New York City’s streets and transit networks. we invited Jay Walder and Rohit Aggarwala to consider how new sensing, sharing, and cycling technologies are not only changing our streets but the city itself.

DUMBO Waterfront

Event ▻ Tours
On November 2, the Urban Design Forum featured an exclusive behind the scenes look at the latest two development sites on the DUMBO waterfront: Empire Stores and One John Street. Click for a full recap and photos from the tour!
The Lowline is a plan to use innovative solar technology to illuminate an historic trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of New York City. Join us for a tour of the Lowline Lab, a long-term open laboratory and technical exhibit designed to test and showcase how the Lowline will grow and sustain plants underground.
Our fifth Forefront Urban Experience Design event explores how crowdfunding technology is changing the way we build our cities. The evening will bring together two very different civic projects made possible by equally different crowdfunding platforms.

Finishing the Subway

Event ▻ Onward
New York City's subway system is suffering from rising infrastructure costs, declining investment and record overcrowding. Superstorm Sandy and the pending L-Train shutdown remind us that our aging transit system is vulnerable to climate change.
For Garvin, a great city is a dynamic, constantly changing place that residents and their leaders can reshape to satisfy their demands. Looking at several North American and European cities, from New York to Seattle and Paris to Madrid, Garvin examines how these cities have adapted and transformed over time.
Environmental sensors are touted as a panacea for identifying, measuring and solving pressing urban problems. Our Forefront Fellows will take a deep dive into the new Internet of Things frontier with key figures in two cutting edge companies, Jeff Maki from Intersection and Alexandre Winter from Placemeter.
On June 15, the Urban Design Forum invited Tara Pham, Co-founder and CEO of CTY; Oliver Schaper, Practice Area Leader in Planning & Urban Design for Gensler’s North-East region; Sam Schwartz, President, and CEO of Sam Schwartz Engineering; Claire Weisz, Founding Principal at WXY architecture + urban design, and moderator Jill Lerner, Principal at Kohn Pedersen More
Spotlight events invite Forefront Fellows working in similar areas to present current projects for reflection and feedback from their peers. Our first spotlight event will focus on Fellows working to create new forms of meaningful community engagement. As our invited guest critic, Urban Design Forum Fellow and new Executive Director of the NYC Public Commission Justin Garret Moore will moderate a discussion following the presentations.
On June 15, the Urban Design Forum invited Jill Morgenweck, Director of Regional Operations at Shyp; Makoto Okazaki, Partner and Principal Architect at Michael Sorkin Studio; Paul Salama, Zoning + GIS Lead at Envelope; Juliette Spertus, Co-founder of ClosedLoops; and moderator Greg Lindsay to debate the future of urban freight. Lindsay introduced the roundtable by More
On May 25, the Urban Design Forum invited Kate Ascher, Partner at Buro Happold; Margaret Newman, Associate Principal at Arup; Paolo Santi, Research Scientist at MIT Senseable City Lab; and Catherine Seavitt, Principal of Catherine Seavitt Studio, to participate in our second roundtable on the future of transportation in New York City. After a brief More
Urban Experience Design, our very first Forefront program series, will explore how new civic technologies are transforming the management and operations of the public realm, and debate how big data might be applied to build a more dynamic, equitable and resilient city. The series will kick off with an examination of new spatial analysis tools, and how they enable citizen participation and government transparency.
What can London learn from New York’s experiences of higher density living as it too seeks to up its housing output? And how can the UK capital ensure that it is creating robust communities that are sustainable and attractive? These questions lay at the heart of the latest NY-LON live video seminar staged last week More
Join us April 25 for cocktails and conversation on the future of surface transit in New York. As New York’s population booms and subway construction costs skyrocket, city officials are turning to leaner solutions like bus rapid transit, bike share and ferry routes to move New Yorkers. But how can we connect the city’s burgeoning waterfront More

WTC Transportation Hub

Event ▻ Onward
In January 2016, the Urban Design Forum led a hard hat tour of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub led by Robert Eisenstat, Chief Architect of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The $4 billion, Santiago Calatrava-designed hub will connect 11 different subway lines and serve an estimated 200,000 commuters each day. More
New technologies are revolutionizing the way we move through cities. Car- and bike-share options are swaying more urbanites to ditch their cars. E-hail companies are enhancing ease and access across the five boroughs. Rapid delivery services are reducing trips to grocery stores and retailers. Autonomous cars and trucks are being tested on roads across America. How will these technologies shape our streets, transit networks, and public realm? Could private cars finally become obsolete?

7 Line Extension Tour

Event ▻ Onward
On October 13, thirty Fellows of the Urban Design Forum participated in a members-only tour of the 7 Line extension and Hudson Yards construction site led by Beth Greenberg and Richard Dattner, Principals at Dattner; Shawn Kildare, Senior Vice President at MTA Capital Construction; Alexia Friend, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; and Michael Samuelian, Vice President More
What does ‘affordable’ mean in housing today? That was the question posed to, and addressed by, speakers from New York and London in the NLA’s latest NY-LON live video link up, held last week at the offices of KPF on both sides of the Atlantic.
 The seminar, organised in association with New York’s Urban Design More

RAMSA in China

Event ▻ Chinese Ascent
On September 16th the Urban Design Forum was joined by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Cathleen McGuigan for rooftop cocktails and conversation about the firm’s recent work in China. Robert A.M. Stern Architects is an internationally recognized architecture firm based in New York City. Recent projects in China include Heart of Lake, a high-rise garden More

Shanshui City

Event ▻ Chinese Ascent
On July 20, the Urban Design Forum invited Ma Yansong, founding principal of MAD Architects, and Michael Sorkin, founding principal of Michael Sorkin Studio, to discuss Ma’s “Shanshui City” design philosophy. At the age of 39, Ma has already garnered international acclaim for his imaginative buildings and unorthodox urban design. His work draws inspiration from More
On June 23, the Urban Design Forum invited Benjamin Wood, founding principal of Studio Shanghai, and Randall Mason, chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at PennDesign, to discuss the interplay between economic development and historic preservation in China. Wood began by detailing the design of his signature project, Xintiandi. Rather than demolish the dilapidated More
London and New York have much to learn from each other as they both get to grips with rapidly growing populations and more people than ever before affected by their respective cycling strategies. And while initiatives such as London’s mini-Hollands, cycle superhighways and quiet ways are important elements in a drive towards a safer cycling More
  Over the last 30 years, more than 200 million people have migrated from the countryside to China’s cities, and officials plan to relocate another 250 million rural residents over the next decade. 55% of China’s population is now living in cities. What are the consequences of this vast urban shift? On May 6, the More
In April 2014, fellows of the Urban Design Forum convened with top housing officials and experts to discuss the state of American public housing.   Across the nation, cities from New Orleans to Chicago have razed and replaced housing projects with mixed-use communities, housing vouchers, and tax credits. New York City is one of the More
On November 17, the Forum + Institute for Urban Design invited Shola Olatoye, Chair of the New York City Housing Authority, and Jerilyn Perine, Director of the Citizens Housing & Planning Council, to discuss the future of public housing in New York City. Public housing, owned and managed by the New York City Housing Authority More
For nearly a century, the City of Vienna has built one of the world’s most ambitious social housing programs. Over 60% of all Viennese households live in council housing owned or subsidized by the Austrian government. And unlike the uniform housing blocks associated with other global cities, Vienna’s housing balances low rents with inventive architecture, More
London and New York are harnessing smart industries to drive growth in science, technology and research and underpin their respective pushes for global competitiveness. And designing to allow greater collaboration between companies and sectors appears to be one of the main thrusts in that drive, on both sides of the Atlantic. Those were some of More

Renewing NYCHA

Event ▻ Housing Question
After our inspiring spring forum surveying the state of public housing across the nation, we turned our attention to New York City. As many as 600,000 residents live in public housing managed by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Yet the authority faces mounting challenges: aging buildings in various states of disrepair, dwindling federal More
London and New York are exploring planning, design and coping mechanisms as they adapt to a wave of tall and super-tall buildings that are set to appear on the skyline of the two famous world cities. A special trans-Atlantic conference and question-and-answer session organised by NLA at KPF’s offices in each time zone last week More

Capsys Plant Tour

Event ▻ Tours
In February, the Fellows of the Forum donned heavy jackets for a crisp nighttime tour of the Capsys Plant at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Capsys is a renowned manufacturer of modular housing, specializing in hotels, multifamily housing, supportive housing, assisted living facilities rising as high as 13 stories. Tom O’Hara, Director of Business Development, guided More
London and New York are both seeking to delicately balance the forces of preservation and creative change as schemes such as the redevelopment of Smithfield Market and Park Avenue edge closer. The principle emerged during the latest NY-LON session staged at KPF’s offices in central London and run by the NLA, which focused on historic More
On July 30, the Forum hosted the Next New York Fellows Dinner to celebrate the culmination of the Next New York series. Daniel Doctoroff (Bloomberg LP) and John Zuccotti (Brookfield Office Properties) joined Julia Vitullo-Martin (Regional Plan Association) in conversation about new directions for the next mayor. What were the most pressing challenges facing New More

Governors Island Tour

Event ▻ Tours
In June 2013, Fellows of the Forum for Urban Design toured the first phase of construction on Governors Island. Led by Jamie Maslyn Larson, Principal of West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture, and Leslie Koch, President of the Trust for Governors Island, the Fellows took a sneak peek at over thirty acres of new More
London is powering ahead of New York in its transport infrastructure provision with projects like Crossrail, high speed rail and underground upgrades set to have a transformative effect on the city. But despite New York having struggled to find the money and political will to get modernisation onto its programme, the UK capital is still More

The New Gown in Town

Event ▻ Next New York
In December 2012, fellows of the Forum assembled to discuss plans for one of New York City’s key new development projects: the CornellNYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. The Forum met with Andrew Winters, Director of Capital Projects for the university, to review the master plan and proposed architecture. Situated just north of Four Freedoms More

Balanced Metropolis

Event ▻ NY-LON
On October 12, Forum Fellows met with New London Architecture members to confront the challenge of balancing investment in the city and its suburbs. Alex Garvin, President of the Forum, argued that New York contains not only Manhattan, with its dense urban core, but also as a series of diverse and dynamic neighborhoods with newly More

Low Line Breakfast

Event ▻ Next New York
In September 2012, the fellows of the Forum gathered to debate the viability of the Low Line, a proposed underground park underneath Delancey Street on New York’s Lower East Side. The pair behind the park, James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, are exhibiting a prototype of a new technology that filters light from the surface underground, More
Spontaneous Interventions: design actions for the common good was first presented as the exhibition of the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale (Fall 2012). It documents the nascent movement of designers acting on their own initiative to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, More

Barclays Center Tour

Event ▻ Tours
Three months leading up to its inauguration by Jay-Z, the Forum hosted a tour with Forest City Ratner of the Barclays Center, the arena at the heart of the Atlantic Yards project in Downtown Brooklyn. Winthrop Hoyt, Assistant Vice President of Development in charge of the arena project, sorted through the project’s history, from the More
In April 2012, the Forum for Urban Design convened to discuss the tallest building in the world to be built with modular construction. Bruce Ratner and MaryAnne Gilmartin of Forest City Ratner and Christopher Sharples of SHoP Architects presented their ambitious 32 story prefab tower at Atlantic Yards. Although modular construction has been experimented with More
On March 8, the Forum for Urban Design and the Museum of Modern Art, with generous support by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, gathered a national homebuilder, a former NYC City Planning Director turned suburban developer, a prominent Phoenix advocate, and a leading New Urbanist to debate the proposals put forth in the MoMA More

New Public Spaces

Event ▻ NY-LON
On February 28, Forum Fellows and New London Architecture members gathered for a breakthrough live video session to discuss the cities’ new public spaces. Peter Murray, Chair of New London Architecture, was joined by Daniel Moylan, Deputy Chairman of Transport for London; Victor Callister, a City of London representative; and Edward Jones, architect responsible for More
On November 2, the Forum convened four figures who have radically reconfigured the New York City urban landscape under Michael Bloomberg: Daniel Doctoroff, former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of NYC DOT; Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of NYC Parks; and Adriaan Geuze, Principal of West 8 and Designer-in-Charge of Governors Island. Doctoroff opened More
On September 26, members of the Forum gathered to tackle the preservation of quotidian places. David Freeland, historian and author of Automats, Taxi Dances & Vaudeville, presented Tin Pan Alley and 135th Street, two sites of musical innovation at the turn of the twentieth century that had not yet been preserved by the New York More
Urban Design Week was a public festival created to engage New Yorkers in the fascinating and complex issues of the public realm, and to celebrate the streetscapes, sidewalks, and public spaces at the heart of city life. At its heart was By the City/ For the City, a crowdsourced design project that gathered more than More

Four Freedoms Park Tour

Event ▻ Tours
On September 7 2011, Forum members trudged through mist and mud at the site of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. The park was the proposed capstone project for Welfare Island when rechristened “Roosevelt Island” by Mayor Lindsay in the 1970s. Lack of city funding and political will More

Next Urbanism

Event ▻ Public Programs
On July 27, the Forum hosted Bjarke Ingels (BIG) and Craig Dykers (Snøhetta) to discuss new visions for the practice of urban design, with Monica Ponce de Leon (Taubman College) moderating the conversation. In their recent work, both architects demonstrated a dedication to working with constituents to shape the form of new public spaces. Mr. Dykers More
In 2011 the Urban Design Forum invited architects, planners, artists, designers, and students around the world to participate in By the City / For the City, a collaborative re-imagining of New York City’s public realm.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Tour

Event ▻ Tours
On June 1, Michael Van Valkenburgh, lead designer of the park, and Regina Myer, President of BBP, led members through the playgrounds, lawns, and piers of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Beginning at Pier 6, Michael Van Valkenburgh confronted the challenges of integrating the nearby neighborhoods around Atlantic Avenue into the park while maintaining a sense of More
The demolition of McKim, Meade & White’s original Pennsylvania Station in 1963 provoked historian Vincent Scully to write “One entered the city like a god. One now scuttles in like a rat.” Fifty years later, a Beaux Arts landmark by the same architects, the Farley Post Office, will become the West Side’s newest train hall. More
The Urban Design Forum and the Times Square Alliance kicked off 2011 by hosting a conversation with three designers of the future Times Square on January 27. Tim Tompkins (Times Square Alliance) opened the evening by presenting the timeline of Times Square in the last thirty years, from a crime-infested neighborhood into the overcrowded commercial More
In October 2005, fifty-eight days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city of New Orleans, the Forum for Urban Design hosted a forum about the future of the Big Easy. Five years later, the Forum was joined once again by Kristina Ford, former Planning Director for the City of New Orleans, to discuss her recent book, More
In the past decade, a new breed of urbanization, the eco-city, has been conceived to anticipate the effects of the built environment on climate change. Several models have been proposed in Asia and the Middle East, where large swaths of urban fabric are being woven almost overnight. Yet the question remains–how does one define and More
In conjunction with The Drawing Center’s exhibition of Paul Rudolph’s design for the Lower Manhattan Expressway on view through November 20th and hosted by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, this panel examined the tenor of the times which led The Ford Foundation to commission Rudolph to react to Robert More
On September 14, members gathered for the second behind-the-scenes tour this summer, guided by architectural historian Dan Okrent, author of Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center. Okrent began the tour at the Top of the Rock, where he discussed John D. Rockefeller’s aspirations to build one of Gotham’s greatest landmarks. Members were then led More
On August 19, the Forum hosted an exclusive tour and discussion of the recently re-designed Lincoln Center and Alice Tully Hall led by Elizabeth Diller and Daniel Brodsky. Elizabeth Diller began the tour in the lobby of Alice Tully Hall, a sculptural concert hall and university building for the Juilliard School that was recently completed More
On July 7 2010, The Forum for Urban Design hosted a discussion about the future of America with Joel Kotkin and Christopher B. Leinberger, moderated by Kenneth T. Jackson. What will America look like in 2050 when its population is expected to increase by over 100 million people? Will the next 100 million Americans live More
The scope of the destruction that followed the January 12 earthquake in Haiti was so great that the rebuilding process must seek to transform the country’s built environment, not just replace it. The quake’s effects were clearly magnified by informal building practices and the concentration of people and industry in Port-au-Prince, while the environmental damage More
Saturday, November 7th, 2009 The Great Hall, The Cooper Union Free admission Arrested Development: Do Megaprojects Have a Future? In November 2009, we hosted a public discussion with architects, developers, policymakers and economists on the state of megaprojects in light of the stalled economy. Astoundingly, this era of economic contraction has brought progress in environmental More

New York 2030

Event ▻ Public Programs
On November 17, the Institute for Urban Design hosted New York 2030, a day-long event focused on Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, an ambitious project to turn New York into the world’s most sustainable metropolis. Anticipating that the city will be home to one million more inhabitants by the year 2030, PlaNYC includes strategies that improve housing, More
During the summers of 2007, 2008, and 2009, the Urban Design Forum and Storefront for Art and Architecture partnered to bring bike share to New York City. Years before the advent of Citi Bike, they invited New Yorkers to “imagine walking to a sidewalk corner and finding a public bicycle. With a cellphone call or More
Proposals ↓
All

Recycle and Reclaim

Proposal ▻ Maintaining
With the introduction of automated vehicles on the horizon, we have the chance to reclaim our roadways—unlocking space for green corridors, neighborhood connections, and new development.

Rethinking Arterials

Proposal ▻ Maintaining
Arterials such as FDR Drive and the Sheridan Expressway are long overdue for a 21st-century transformation, which calls for equally innovative approaches to infrastructure design as well as public finance.

Cap the BQE with Green

Proposal ▻ Maintaining
By capping two blocks of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway trench in Williamsburg, we can provide verdant open space for the neighborhood and build the better future the community envisions.
It is justifiable to require high-rise buildings to share the cost of the transit service they receive. They depend on rail and subway service, and improved reliability will yield increased worker productivity, the protection of worker wages, and better workforce recruiting and retention. It’s time to charge the true beneficiaries of rail transit, for a more equitable and economically efficient system.

Station Alliance

Proposal ▻ Maintaining
New York has a history of successful public-private partnerships for public goods: Central Park Conservancy, the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Business Improvement Districts to name a few. The Station Alliance believes that with support of and partnership with the private sector, we can give New York’s subway stations the innovation and investment that will make them safe, welcoming and inspiring.
The NYC subway system is a vital part of New Yorkers’ daily lives, but the public’s experience with it is too often ugly, brutish, and not short enough. While proximity to a great public realm in New York is the single most important factor for value in the city (location location location), the demeaning environment of most of our public transit infrastructure is alienating, and represents a missed opportunity to create an environment that is valued by the public and thereby well maintained.

Maintaining NYCHA

Proposal ▻ Maintaining
NYCHA is a critical NYC public asset and its preservation is essential to NYC remaining a racially and economically diverse City. NYCHA’s Next Generation 10 year strategic plan has made progress over the last two years to help stabilize the Authority and its finances but additional cuts from Washington threaten that tenuous progress. Why not value capture for maintenance and preservation of NYCHA developments in Gowanus and beyond? 

Gowanus Lowlands

Proposal ▻ Maintaining
Gowanus Lowlands is a community-based vision for a network of parks and public spaces centered on the Gowanus Canal and connecting to the surrounding watershed. The Lowlands seeks to ensure the community has a key role in leveraging these changes and investments to shape a watershed that is accessible, active, and clean for all.

Gowanus Field Station

Proposal ▻ Maintaining
The Gowanus Field Station embodies hands-on learning: it is an outdoor classroom designed to also be a storm-water “eco-machine” that will host a green roof, sit next to a bioswale, capture rainwater for reuse, and use a vegetated rain garden to clean sink water before discharging to the canal.

Stitching Gowanus

Proposal ▻ Maintaining
The current pedestrian experience of the Gowanus is streets ending abruptly into viewless dead ends and dark corners with no sense of the canal beyond. Our solution very practically addresses connectivity and circulation over the Gowanus by literally stitching the banks of the canal together through pedestrian bridges.
The Urban Design Forum is the proud curatorial partner for the 2017 Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition, led by Times Square Arts. Designed by The Office for Creative Research, We Were Strangers Too, is a public data sculpture highlighting the role that immigrants have played in the founding, development and continued vibrancy of New York City.
Heart to Heart is a temporary public structure that symbolizes how New Yorkers depend on each other, especially at a moment where opening our hearts is more important than ever. It becomes not just a temporary sculpture but also a meaningful action that advocates for underfunded and vulnerable community organizations, affirming them as more permanent public fixtures.
Blind Love is a participatory art project inviting New Yorkers to write love letters to those people who remain in our nation's blind spots during the current era of mass incarceration.
Heartfelt is a participatory public art project which prompts two or more participants to put away their phones and hold hands to light up Times Square, the Heart of NYC.
In the name of love and immigrants and freedom of movement and right to assembly, this proposal aims to honor both Duffy and the contemporary vitality that this tiny piece of open space supports in the heart of Manhattan.
When we leave our "cell-fie," our self-reflective room, we find each other reflected together under the same canopy; at the center, under a heart shape void, we encounter one another.
Some of the greatest opportunities for new housing and development within a stone’s throw of Manhattan line the East River in Astoria and Long Island City. By creating a new light rail line in those neighborhoods, we could create an enormous opportunity for new investment.
How can we encourage manufacturing to take root in our city and thrive? Historically, factories provided stable jobs and built the urban economy. With the advent of containerization and the digital supply chain, factories left for cheaper land and labor in free trade zones with few human rights.
Given the tremendous contribution that landmarks make to New York City, we need a more effective program to allow property owners to use untapped development rights to obtain funds needed for maintenance. We propose amending the zoning text to allow non-profit landmarks to transfer their development rights anywhere within their community district, as-of-right, as long as the development rights can be used within existing building height and setback constraints.
There’s a tremendous need for more density in the city. Our population is growing, and we’re projected to reach 9 million in 2030. When the Zoning Resolution was passed in 1961, it estimated a full build-out of 12 million.
Imagine new uninterrupted connections across the river, linking major destinations across the five boroughs. First, we could extend the Roosevelt Island tram in both directions, creating a new link from Queens Plaza to Central Park.
In Williamsburg, there is a tremendous opportunity to cap the trench of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and build an open space amenity for the South Side Williamsburg community. This is not a tunnel and not a “Big Dig.” Instead, it is a thin deck capping the BQE that could benefit over 160,000 people in the surrounding neighborhood, which is a primarily low-income and Hispanic area.
In the same way that New York City dedicates itself to building its water and waste infrastructure, we must recognize the importance of food to our health, security, and economy.
We must recognize that the process of displacement and replacement now occurring citywide will not foster integrated and healthy communities, and we must explore new zoning mechanisms to reverse this pattern.

Let the Water In

Proposal ▻ Next New York (2013)
Water needs more space in the city. Over the past centuries, rivers, floodplains, and protective wetlands have been continually filled in or moved to make room for urban growth.

Dynamic Zoning

Proposal ▻ Next New York (2013)
The static nature of the zoning code can make it an ineffective tool in helping communities address changing needs and conditions in their neighborhoods. It’s time to create a more dynamic planning process that explicitly addresses community well-being, not just form.
The next mayor will need to move quickly, decisively, and transparently to face the pivotal issues left unaddressed over the last two decades. The ability to plan, prioritize, and apply capital infrastructure expenditures—subject to the participation of the public and consent by City Council—will be essential.
A new rail connection could run express from the tunnels at Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal, via the new East Side Access Tunnels, through Sunnyside Yards toward the Hell Gate Bridge along the same right-of-way.
Partially elevated and partially subsurface, the greenway would extend 3.5 miles from Rego Park to Ozone Park and would serve 140,000 residents within a ten-minute walking radius and an additional 250,000 people within a mile.
There are countless paved areas of our roadbed that are sitting idle, devoid of beauty and serving little purpose. By thoughtfully designing these spaces to mimic natural systems, Greenstreets require minimal care and have a low burden on our maintenance infrastructure.

Level the Tolls

Proposal ▻ Next New York (2013)
Robert Moses built the bridges and tunnels where we pay tolls today within the five boroughs. Nelson Rockefeller, as governor, created the MTA in 1965 and took the excess revenue to pay for transit shortfalls. There’s no other rhyme or reason for it.
When developing new parks and open spaces citywide, the City should explore the use of tax-increment financing (TIFs). TIFs set aside future increases in property taxes to subsidize development. The increase in property value is substantial--at Hudson River Park, the value of adjacent properties jumped over 100% from 2003-2007, 20% of which can be directly attributed to park development.
Municipal budget structures and political cycles favor new construction and inadequately fund park maintenance. Though a state of good repair may be less sexy than a ribbon-cutting, thriving open spaces provide long-term social benefits like community resilience and improved public health.
I propose that the city transfer development rights from Zone 1 Flood Zones to upland areas in order to finance a buyout of the city’s most vulnerable coastal areas. Governor Cuomo has proposed a buyout of some of these coastal zones, but there is no long-term mechanism to pay for it. This strategy could be used especially to transfer density from residential and industrial zones with low maximum FAR to upland sites.
Vacant buildings and storefronts are detrimental to the health and vibrancy of our city. Too often landlords do not take advantage of the incredible opportunity that their vacant spaces could provide to artists, entrepreneurs and small organizations. We need to begin harnessing the potential of underutilized space citywide.
Our overriding priority must be the public arena, the actual public space itself, the space we all own. And one department or commission should be responsible for its design, coordination and development. We need a Commissioner of the Public Realm, a Coordinator of the City Surface, a Director of Public Space!
The NYC Prevailing Wage for electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and laborers is double or triple the wage costs to employ these tradesmen in the greater metropolitan area. Quite simply, that increases the cost of producing affordable housing by up to 30%.
Typically, developers spend six months preparing responses to requests for proposals (RFPs). This has never been easy, but in recent years, the requirements have become extremely complex, arduous and expensive. Losing competitions is painful.
We have a serious shortfall in housing. Our total population is expected to rise by another million by 2030. The vacancy rate has stayed below 5% since it was first recorded in the 1960s. And half of New Yorkers pay more than 30% of their income on housing.
The landmarks system is broken. First, there is a serious lack of transparency surrounding landmark and historic district designations. Second, let’s stop pretending landmark designations are always used to protect our city’s cultural heritage.
While NYCHA is a great success — providing housing for 1 out of 13 New Yorkers — it is also struggling to remain solvent. The habitability of its buildings will soon be threatened if capital investments are not forthcoming.
Modular construction can transform how we build affordable and market-rate buildings with greater savings and a diminished impact on the community and the environment. At our first high-rise project at Atlantic Yards, we found that we can use a modern means of construction while embracing sustainability and delivering on world-class architecture.
Bike superhighways, or ‘bike rapid transit,’ present a welcome solution to speed long-haul bike journeys in New York City. Already emerging in other world-class cities, bike superhighways are wide, continuous protected bike lanes with prioritized, unbroken rights-of-way.
The New York City streetscape should be designed for increased and evolving modes of transit. Think of it as Complete Streets 2.0: car-free streets with linear parks, protected bike lanes, and mass transit.
Pennsylvania Station must grow its capacity to serve 110 million passengers entering New York City annually—more than the three major metro airports combined. A new Penn Station will renew the competitiveness of the New York region in the global economy.
Let’s push the extension of the 7 Line to Secaucus and bring the subway to New Jersey. The possibilities are extraordinary. And Hudson Yards could serve as a booming new cultural heart for the city.
The New York Triboro Overground is a regional express rail for the outer boroughs. The Overground would utilize the railbed of the existing New York Connecting Railroad, which carries limited freight traffic and connects Port Morris in the Bronx through Queens with Bay Ridge in Brooklyn.
We need a real regional rail system. All three commuter rail systems—Metro North, Long Island Rail Road, and New Jersey Transit—currently operate as separate entities.
We have a tremendous opportunity to achieve economic, social, and environmental sustainability by promoting the shift from ownership to membership models. Membership models enable people to share resources they might have previously had to own.

Floating Islands

Proposal ▻ Next New York (2013)
A network of artificial islands is a productive, attractive, and cost-effective approach to create ecological infrastructure and new public space. Just as the great Aztecs produced agriculture on floating chinampas, or Bangladesh created societies around floating gardens, or just as Thailand’s floating markets attract tourists and drive the local economy, floating islands could be the future of open space in New York City.
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Our inaugural Forefront class spent the past year meeting with Carto, Intersection, Kickstarter, Sidewalk Labs, and NYU CUSP to discuss how smart city technology is changing the way we experience and build cities. We are excited to publish the cohort's proposals, ideas and critiques on design in the digital era.

Next New York

Publication ▻ Next New York (2013)
During the spring of 2013, the Forum for Urban Design invited distinguished civic leaders, developers and designers to pitch bold visions for a more competitive, livable and sustainable New York. The result was a collection of forty courageous proposals imagining rebuilt infrastructure, reformed government, and an animated public realm.
The By the City/For the City projected started with a simple idea: anybody that has walked the streets of New York has at one point imagined how the built form could be changed to make a better city. This publication is an index of the 602 ideas that the general public submitted, and they cover topics such as accessibility, beauty, connectivity, enjoyment, and social equity.
In May 2007, the Cities Conference on Urban Design gathered for the first time the chief planners of Boston, London, New York, Singapore, Toronto, and Vancouver. Over the course of two days, at a variety of venues in Manhattan, they examined common challenges, shared urban design strategies and argued over what defines a successful city.