Oculus - Spring 2014 - (Page 13)

first words LETTER FROM THE EDITOR n my mind, it was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that the importance of public spaces truly entered the consciousness of all New Yorkers. It began with the ad hoc memorials attached to fences and left at firehouses that created a community of shared grief. The feeling of loss was palpable - and shareable - on so many levels. The sense that the public wanted - and deserved - a place at the table in deciding what would be built, or not built, at Ground Zero went well beyond the more typical neighborhood clash of interests. As a key player in establishing the New York New Visions planning and design coalition, the AIA New York Chapter was integral to empowering public participation. It still is. AIANY and the Center for Architecture continue to be vital to keeping the public informed, and bringing it into conversations about how best to build a thriving - and beautiful - city that serves the needs of all its residents. It isn't all smooth sailing, but the efforts and (most) results have been worth it. One example is the evolution of privately-owned public spaces (POPS). It is now more difficult for developers to just pay lip service to POPS to win zoning variances by including lifeless, and sometimes airless, plazas or atriums. Oculus has played its own part over the last 11 years by covering the projects and politics that affect the public realm. While the Spring issue has always been dedicated to the annual President's Theme, this issue represents an unprecedented collaboration between the Oculus Committee, 2014 AIANY President Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, and Thomas Mellins, curator of this year's presidential theme exhibition, "Open to the Public: Civic Space Now," on view at the Center for Architecture beginning June 12. We share our editorial space with five essays, commissioned for the exhibition, that compare public spaces in New York City with those in Los Angeles; Columbus, Ohio; Athens, Greece; and Havana. Our feature articles continue the theme, with profiles of projects that range from redesigning I and redefining mega-places, such as Times Square and Governors Island, to a smaller endeavor, but a saga in its own right - the NYC AIDS Memorial, rising on a small triangular island on Seventh Avenue in Greenwich Village. A bright note for the future is the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City, a laboratory for CCNY faculty and students, as well as local high school students, to research and apply placemaking and city-building with the civic good in mind. Regular departments also have their say on the subject. For this issue, "One Block Over" becomes "Some Blocks Over," highlighting post-Sandy streetscapes across four boroughs that are being brought back to life by a young design firm revitalizing small-business storefronts through a city-sponsored program. "In Print" is a "bibliographic essay" on a number of books that offer insight and guidance on urban design and civic engagement. And "50-Year Watch" revisits a plan for a major civic center near City Hall that, had it come to fruition, would have drastically changed the face of Lower Manhattan. Tompkins Square Park was a place to avoid at all costs when I lived in the East Village many years ago. Several years later, it hosted boisterous but (mostly) peaceful demonstrations against gentrification of the neighborhood. Now it has gracefully settled into its old age as a peaceable kingdom of dog walkers, yoga classes, concerts, and sunbathers. And on a recent winter day as I was crossing Zuccotti Park, I spotted an obviously Midwestern family taking photos of each other, and offered to take a group shot. When I enquired why they wanted pictures in that park, the response surprised - and pleased - me: "This was the birthplace of the Occupy movement!" As we continue through this post-9/11, post-High Line, post-Sandy era, I can't help but feel optimistic about the city's future. But it will require our continued vigilance and advocacy if our public spaces are to truly welcome and be embraced by the public. ©Tami Hausman Shared Spaces, Shared Pages Editor at a favorite open space: a construction site. Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA kristen@ArchNewsNow.com Civic Spirit: Civic Visions Spring 2014 Oculus 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Spring 2014

Letter From the President
Letter From the Editor
Center for Architecture
Some Blocks Over
Opener: Open to the Public: Civic Space Now
The Search for the Soul of Cities
A Different Tale of Two Cities
Public Space Reasserts Its Political Role
Gatherings of One
Time to Welcome Woonerfs
Redesigning the Crossroads of the World
A Magical Place on the Water
How to Remember a Plague
Sustainable Models for a Just City
In Print
50-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Spring 2014

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