Month: August 2015

The City and The Public Realm

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(The Public Realm, 2010. Greg Gordon Canaras with Wayne Norbeck and Jordan Rogove)

Over the last few weeks, much has been written about Mayor de Blasio’s suggestion for the elimination of pedestrian plaza’s within Times Square in order to control the inappropriate behaviour (of topless ladies) in and around the environs. In typical New York fashion, the reaction was swift, and appropriately candid to point out the Mayor’s short-sighted suggestion that this would somehow improve on the area. It’s almost not worth writing about, because the topic of public space in The City, and advocating the need for it is an Urban no-brainer amongst planners.

Looking back into the Histories of Cities, from the Agora in Greek times, to the piazza’s of Italy, and pubic squares in cities across the globe, Public Space has served as the primary organizer of culture, connecting people within the Urban Milieu. Without Public Space, there would be no City.

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(Times Square. 2015. Image by Richard Perry from The New York Times)

And New York, as many inhabitants know and are feeling, is being squeezed out of itself in many ways. From the cost of living (for the majority), to the rampant developer driven and controlled creation of “Public Space” which is actually private space for the Public to roam; activities tightly monitored by our security driven culture in The Public Realm (rightfully so in this day and age). The suggestion that less of a public amenity would somehow benefit this congested metropolis puts further pressure on an already taxed people. What New York actually needs is more Public Space, and better designed spaces for people to roam.

A central tenet of this blog aims to investigate the transformative forces which impact the Form of The City. Though buildings occupy the primary footprint of The City, it is the public realm which serves as its connective tissue. Starting this Fall, Gordon’s Urban Morphology, in conjunction with League Studio and outside contributors, will begin to investigate the meaning of The Public Realm in Modern New York.

We will question the current state of Public Space and how it is changing both positively and negatively, in the hopes of continuing a meaningful dialogue about the significance of maintaining and enhancing our Collective Urban Environment.

Links of relatable note can be found HERE:

Challenging Mayor DeBlasio over Times Square Plazas, from The New York Times.

A blog investigating public spaces and the urban realm; publicspaces.com

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Canyons of New York

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(Urban Canyons of New York, Image via ILNY / Skyscraperpage. 2015)

New Brusque City, via Urban Canyons of The rising Westside. Up and around the environs of West 42nd Street, Our Urban landscape is being transformed into a new, and oftentimes unrecognizable, landmass.

Buildings of immense scale and height resting side by side, non-deferential to sunlight or privacy for their inhabitants. This phenomenon of relentless, developer driven construction has picked up pace since the last recession ended here a few years ago. It continues unabated and will continue until this stretch of Manhattan’s Westside becomes one big Urban Canyon. Fast forward to The not-too-distant future: One will be able to rise to the perimeter of these luxury boxes, via sky-elevator, and look down into the shadowy chasms of the streets below.

This particular piece of Manhattan is past the point worth saving for harvesting any meaningful relationship to the human condition. It has transformed into a spectacle unto itself. Might as well keep going and make it complete as New York’s next great tourist attraction. The Grand Canyon of Manhattan. Come here twice a year to watch Manhattanhenge, between the slivers of sky. Come here to race down 42nd Street, where parkland on The Hudson awaits. Come here with a selfie stick, and drop the plastic wrapper which it came in, onto the windswept streets of New Brusque City.