On April 2, Fellows are invited to join us for drinks and discussion with Senator Katrin Lompscher and Senator Zellnor Myrie on the political groundswell behind recent rent legislation in Berlin and New York.
On December 12, we hosted a roundtable conversation with the new NYC Nightlife Mayor Ariel Palitz, Danny Pearlstein, Leni Schwendinger, Andreina Seijas, and Luc Wilson on designing an inclusive and equitable night realm.
On November 8, Lena Afridi, Andrew Deitchman, David Gilford, Larisa Ortiz and Eldon Scott shared their proposals for strengthening small businesses and designing the retail experience with SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop.
On May 14, the Urban Design Forum and the Institute for Public Knowledge launched Onward, featuring contributing authors Shin-pei Tsay, Rebecca Bailin, and Jeffrey Shumaker in conversation with Greg Lindsay and moderated by editor Daniel McPhee.
On April 18, MOIA Acting Commissioner Bitta Mostofi delivered a keynote address about the City's work to support immigrant neighborhoods, and Forefront Fellows presented their original policy proposals and design interventions to empower New York City's immigrant communities.
On February 26, Forefront Fellows Anktia Chachra, Nse Esema, Jonathan Goldman and Matt McMahon invited civic and community leaders for an evening program exploring immigrant issues and perspectives in the New York Metro region.
On February 13, the Urban Design Forum invited Scott Anderson, Betsy MacLean, Sam Marks, Gregory Schiefelbein, and Barika Williams to debate how to maintain and expand affordable housing in New York City.
On January 17, the Urban Design Forum invited Frances Halsband, Elissa Hoagland, Andrew Lavallee, Signe Nielsen, and Commissioner Mitchell Silver to debate how to design and finance New York City's neighborhood parks.
On December 13, the Urban Design Forum invited Ken Fisher, Robert Paley, Joe Rose, Matthew Washington and Madelyn Wils to discuss creative proposals for how TDR can be utilized to maintain New York City’s public infrastructures.
On November 28, our Economic Development team organized an evening program exploring the value small businesses to new arrival immigrants, what the current developments in Sunset Park mean for its long-standing immigrants and how co-ops can be a tool for greater agency, ownership and stability.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
On September 20, five Forefront Fellows are invited to present individual projects on resiliency & sustainability to their cohort and guest critics Maria Aiolova and Mitchell Joachim, co-founders of Terraform ONE.
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?
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
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
By Gretchen Dykstra The heart of Manhattan was reborn when the Times Square Business Improvement District (BID) was established in 1992, led by Gretchen Dykstra. Dykstra went on to serve as Commissioner of Consumer Affairs under Mayor Bloomberg, and was the Founding President of the National 9/11 Memorial Foundation. Today, she lives in the Hudson More
By Carter Strickland Improved water quality paved the way for the redevelopment of New York City’s waterfront from manufacturing to residential and park uses. But combined sewer overflows remained a vexing problem—exacerbated by a century of development and increased rainfall during to climate change. Carter Strickland worked on the problem as Deputy Commissioner and then More
By Theodore Liebman Theodore Liebman, FAIA, has devoted his career to examining the impacts of development on people and the environment, with an eye to improving cities and shaping future settlements. Now a Principal with Perkins Eastman, an Adjunct Professor at NYU, and Board Member with the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization, Liebman casts his mind More
By John Raskin John Raskin had a ringside view when legislative efforts to secure transit revenues through East River and Harlem bridge tolls were defeated in Albany in 2009, when John was serving as Chief of Staff to State Senator Daniel Squadron. Since 2011, Raskin has applied his previous experience in community organizing to transit More
By Margaret Tobin A decades-long impasse over the development of the west side waterfront ended in the summer of 1993 when Margaret Tobin, Tom Fox, and councilman Tom Duane cut open a chainlink fence at Pier 62—returning a small piece of the waterfront to the public realm. Tobin served as the Executive Vice President and More
By Sam Schwartz Samuel I. Schwartz came to be known as “Gridlock Sam” while serving as NYC Traffic Commissioner. Since then Schwartz has continued to apply himself to the city’s transportation challenges; first at the Department of Transportation (DOT), and later at the eponymous firm he founded in 1995. In the early 1990s, Schwartz outlined More
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to maintenance and no design is maintenance-free. New York City’s DOT is pursuing a multipronged approach to find long-term solutions for maintenance in all neighborhoods–not just those with resources.
Many New York institutions are in desperate need of funding to maintain their landmarks. To preserve our city’s heritage, these institutions need the ability to monetize their unused development rights.
The current Parks Commissioner describes parks as critical infrastructure. Private funds aren’t used to build or maintain infrastructure projects such as roads, sewers, water supply, or marine transfer stations—so why should we rely on private dollars to maintain parks?
Partnership is possible—and importantly, fruitful—between residents, community organizations, and BIDs. If we want Myrtle Avenue to be the anchor for a healthy, thriving
neighborhood, we know that intentional partnership is essential to achieve it.
Instituting a citywide stewardship strategy for resiliency infrastructure— a Conservancy 2.0—will help deliver resilient open space projects to the physically and economically vulnerable areas that need them the most.
Business Improvement Districts often act as vital points of contact for communities. Local Development Corporations could be established to supplement BIDs, marshaling services that directly address neighborhood needs.
By combining a new approach to vertical manufacturing and integrating valuable public space and amenities, multi-modal transit and streetscapes, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is positioned to become a new model of urban industrial campus.
The Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook is notoriously difficult to access via public transit. Let’s explore new digital approaches to make the area’s transportation options visible to those who need them.
New York City must strengthen our existing transit system beyond the Manhattan core to catalyze the untapped potential for development in underserved neighborhoods. We should invest in new, next-generation, elevated transit—the Halo Line—to serve all New Yorkers and build a strong future.
New York City is one of the most pedestrian-dense cities in the world, yet approximately 80% of our public space—our streets—is designed for automobiles. We must reform our curbside parking policies to create a more livable city.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All three airports serving New York—John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty—are in need of retrofits and greater accessibility. Why not tie the redevelopment of our airports to the development of the greater city?
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.
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.
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.
We propose that the City investigate the adaptive reuse of former military vessels to create a riparian buffer zone that confronts the issues of storm surge and flood management in the New York Harbor.
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.
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.
New York must entice talented newcomers by offering them truly affordable housing. I propose to rezone outer borough manufacturing areas that adjoin emerging residential neighborhoods as micro-housing enclaves.
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.
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 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.
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.
In 2017-18, we invited our Fellows and other experts to consider the question of maintaining New York City’s essential infrastructure: its open spaces, roadways, subway stations, public housing, commercial corridors, and green infrastructure.
In the fall of 2016, the Urban Design Forum invited its Fellows and experts to help us craft a vision for the future of mobility in New York City. Within these pages, you’ll find an inventory of imaginative thinking on what our city’s transportation landscape could be.
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.
During the spring of 2013, the Urban Design Forum 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.