Oculus - Fall 2013 - (Page 36)
From Ports to Parks:
New York’s Waterfront Wager
Redeveloping one of the most vulnerable and critical parts of the city is
an enormous and complex undertaking. And we have to get it right
B Y TA MI H A U S MA N , P H .D.
ew York City’s waterfront is a tangle of political, economic,
social, and environmental needs. Its redevelopment is one
of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s most lasting legacies – and, in
view of increasing climate change, perhaps his riskiest. In less
than a decade, his administration has implemented an urban
transformation of unprecedented scope, scale, and pace.
The waterfront represents the final stage in the city’s gradual
shift from industrial port to post-industrial metropolis. Yet
Hurricane Sandy inundated 850,000 people who lived in lowlying areas of the city. So when it comes to redevelopment, we
have to get it right.
Bloomberg’s approach is twofold: First, it’s an agenda to
replace low-value uses such as parking lots and weigh stations
with housing and parks, while creating a strong infrastructure
to protect the city from future disasters. Second, it’s a plan to
improve the urban environment and ensure New York’s global
competitiveness as a great place to live, work, and play.
In the mid-2000s, the New York City Department of City
Planning (DCP) started converting industrial and manufacturing
areas into open space and high-density development in some of
the most flood-prone areas of the city. Then, two years ago, DCP
unveiled Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront
Plan, an update to its 1993 comprehensive waterfront plan. It
Oculus Fall 2013
promotes a balance of maritime, residential, and commercial
uses, as well as ecological restoration, waterborne transportation,
preparation for climate change, and better public access.
From Vision 2020 came the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES), a series of actionable projects “in three
key areas: residential, recreational, and the working waterfront,”
according to Zachary Smith, chief operating officer and executive vice president at the New York City Economic Development
Corporation (EDC). EDC spearheaded the $3-billion public
works program for projects throughout the five boroughs,
including the South Bronx Greenway and Staten Island’s New
Stapleton Waterfront. Most of this public investment in WAVES
($2.6 billion worth) is allocated for water quality improvement
and green infrastructure, such as bluebelts, green roofs, and
bioswales. And that’s also part of its sales pitch: New York is a
place for urban recreation, where people can kayak, canoe, and
even swim in its waterways. To date, 80% of these projects are
on track for completion by the end of Bloomberg’s term.
Roland Lewis, president and CEO of the Waterfront Metropolitan Alliance, a consortium of 733 local organizations, insists
on “the preservation and expansion of the working waterfront,
which employs tens of thousands of people in New York City
alone. Real estate is encroaching on the maritime industry, and
Politics = Architecture
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2013
Letter from the President
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: The City More Beautiful
Affordable Housing in 2013: Communities, Not Containers
The Future of Prefab
From Ports to Parks: New York’s Waterfront Wager
East River Magic
Shoring Up for the Future
FAR ROC Rocks!
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Fall 2013
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