the planning game
With the New York City mayor’s race not even past the Democratic primary, it’s a bit early to be handicapping the city’s next chief city planner, but where’s the fun in being coy?
Crain’s has taken a look at who might fill the post, which it calls “perhaps more important than any deputy mayor position at City Hall,” arriving at a short list that includes names ranging from Vishaan Chakrabarti, a consummate real estate industry insider and former director of the Manhattan office of the Department of City Planning, to the more community-minded Anna Levin, a member of the City Planning Commission and the chair of Manhattan Community Board 4′s Land Use Commission during most of the 2000s.
As Vishaan Chakrabarti, a principal at SHoP Architects, was unveiling the Southside Williamsburg master plan they designed for Two Trees, he evoked the image of Manhattan’s skyline. “Just like in the dead center of New York,” he told the assembled group of reporters, “we have this parabolic moment—there’s this moment of exuberance that happens” as Read More
on the waterfront
When Two Trees Management bought the old Domino Sugar site from CPC Resources and a reluctant Katan Group, a local developer told The Observer that Jed Walentas would be “crazy to go back to ULURP” for a rezoning of the site, which had already been approved for thousands of high-rise apartments.
But going back to to everyone’s favorite acronym (to pronounce, at least) is exactly what Mr. Walentas intends to do. He and SHoP, the New York-based architecture firm that Bruce Ratner tapped to design the Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards after Frank Gehry proved too expensive, called a group of reporters to SHoP’s offices near City Hall on Friday to show off their plans for the site.
The first thing Mr. Walentas spoke about was Two Trees’ desire to expand the amount of parkland included in the project—adding two new acres—and to make it more accessible to the public.
He criticized the open space in the old site plan as something that “felt very much like a privatized front lawn for people who lived there,” and spoke about his desire to pull the buildings back inland to make more space for the quarter-mile-long waterfront park, as well as add a new public street between his buildings and the waterfront.
Make No Small Plans
The Observer has been reaching out to urban planners for the past few days now to discuss the issues with our waterfront development in the face of storm surges and rising sea levels. One of the very first people we called was Vishaan Chakrabarti, the director of Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate and a partner at SHoP architects. (You can read what others had to think in a story in today’s print edition, as well as in posts still to come.)
Mr. Chakrabarti previously served as director of the Department of City Planning’s Manhattan office, so he was around when much of the waterfront planning by the Bloomberg administration, and the thousands of condos that came with it, were taking shape. Mayor Bloomberg, at least before the storm hit, was fine with things proceeding as they were on the waterfront, with little investment in new protections and infrastructure, while former deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff, who helped hatch many of these plans, wants more of both.
Mr. Chakrabarti has taken a more urgent stance. “The thing we as a city have to understand is, we’ve been promoting all this waterfront development, and most of that waterfront development is happening in the zone that is getting evacuated right now,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’re talking about thousands and thousands of housing units. It’s fine for that housing to be there, but we have to figure out a way to protect it all.”
But Mr. Chakrabarti also has a simple solution. Well, if the world’s largest floodgates would qualify as simple.
Make No Small Plans
Last year, a not-entirely outrageous proposal by urban theorist and Columbia professor Vishaan Chakrabarti was put forward to use landfill to connect Governors Island to Lower Manhattan, creating an entirely new Battery Park City South of sorts. Compared to landfill efforts in Tokyo and other parts of China, the idea is actually incredibly modest. And here is how it could be done.
Mayor Bloomberg likes to talk about the need to stay competitive with the other global cities, like London and Hong Kong and Tokyo. Among the challenges are the cost of development, in which we actually have a competitive edge over many of our rivals. Which is why some of them have taken to filling in the waterways surrounding them. One of The Observer‘s favorite urban theorists, Vishaan Chakrabarti is proposing the same thing, according to The Times, using landfill to connect Governors Island to the Financial District. It might seem insane, but there are even logistical reasons the proposal makes sense.
On Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a courtesy visit with the Honorable Han Zheng, his counterpart from Shanghai. This got The Observer wondering what the two might have to discuss—besides who has better soup dumplings—so we turned to global urbanism expert, Columbia professor, Professor Skyscraper himself, Vishaan Chakrabarti and posed this question. Here is what he had to say in an email.
In a late September planning conference at N.Y.U., Vishaan Chakrabarti strode into the college’s Kimmell Center a healthy hour after the event began.
Taking his place onstage, the former city planning official and development executive began to speak about his favorite project: the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Station-in the planning stages for nearly two decades-an effort Read More
It seems the Bloomberg administration has chosen landscape designer Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates to build a new West Side park, though there’s no official word yet from the city.
Last night at a forum on the West Side rail yards, both Vishaan Chakrabarti, an executive at the Related Companies who is Read More
Much of Governor Paterson’s approach over the last few months has been characterized by telling New Yorkers what they will not have under a Paterson administration. There will not be flush state coffers (and there will be cuts); there will not be a finished World Trade Center by 2012; there Read More