Oculus - Winter 2011/2012 - (Page 13)
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Hither, Thither, and Jan
Editor making friends with a (fantasy?) transportation mode of the future at Metropolis magazine’s 30th-anniversary fête: “Horsepower,” designed by Soﬁa Limpantoudi, in an exhibition curated by Kevin O’Callaghan, chair of the 3D design program at the School of Visual Arts.
as New York a livable city before PlaNYC, the publication of the Greener Greater Buildings Plan, Active Design Guidelines, NYC Street Design Manual (among others) – and Jan Gehl? Of course it was. Is it getting more livable with each added public plaza carved out of traffic lanes, and each added mile of bus rapid transit and bike lanes? Of course it is. Could it be better? Of course. All indications are that the city is moving full steam ahead to make it one of the most sustainable – and user-friendly – urban centers on the planet. Perhaps that’s why I get miffed when I hear grousing that New York City isn’t more like Copenhagen or Portland, OR, or Vancouver, which routinely appear on many “Top 10” lists of the most livable cities (granted, NYC shows up on some). It’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges – or acorns to watermelons, when one compares the numbers on just about any scale. The three comparative cities all have populations under 600,000; NYC’s is nearing 8.2 million. Size matters, too: Copenhagen is 34 square miles; Vancouver, 44.3; Portland, 133.4. NYC? 303.3 square miles – almost 10 times larger than Copenhagen. Then there’s the question of density, which affects zoning, transportation, housing affordability, and space for public amenities and services. New York City has a population density of 27,012 per square mile, according to 2010 census numbers; in Manhattan alone, it’s 66,940 people per square mile. (Density per square mile in Copenhagen is 15,581; Vancouver, 13,048; Portland, 4,215.) If, as estimated, the population reaches more than 9 million by 2030, where will we all live? How will we get around? Take the stats about bike use. In Copenhagen, a whopping 37% of commuters use bikes to get to school or work. In Portland, 6% bike and 5% walk to work, and 15.9% of Vancouverites cycle or walk to work. In NYC, only 0.8% currently commute by bike and 10% walk. Though seemingly paltry by comparison, commuter cycling increased by 26% between 2008 and 2009, and 13% between 2009 and 2010, and bicycle ridership has doubled since
2005, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). It helps that the city now has about 500 on-street miles of dedicated bike lanes, and the DOT says it is on track to meet a goal of 1,800 bike-lane miles by 2030. That’s a lot of number-crunching. But, in putting together this issue of Oculus, we found they were important numbers to take into account. Our lead feature looks at rezoning the city to meet the challenges of population growth and affordable housing (with a touch of Bob Dylan thrown in for good measure). Another examines how some locally undesirable land use (LULU) projects, like parking garages and salt sheds, are no longer LULUs thanks to their architects’ deft use of good design that makes them good (and beautiful) neighbors. An examination of the city’s approach to the Complete Streets program considers three key transit nodes that illustrate “how the right-of-way can be more than a thoroughfare.” And as the city grows, it can learn much from sustainable regional developments. Indeed, as Jan Gehl has said, “We should always remember to observe the human dimension in whatever we do, so that people get happier and happier the more we build, instead of the more we build the unhappier they get...” “One Block Over” travels to Staten Island where St. George, its municipal hub, is finally seeing the renaissance it has been striving for over many years. “In Print” gives thumbs-up to an Edward Durell Stone biography written by his architectson, and to an excellent reference guide to architectural conservation practices in Europe and the Americas. Our “102-Year Watch” marvels at the Manhattan Bridge, where the talents of Carrère & Hastings imbued it with “more than superficial design flourishes.” The numbers are promising and, politics willing, the future looks bright for PlaNYC 2030 and beyond. Which leaves me truly believing that, with $2.25 and the E-train, there really is no place like home.
Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA Kristen@ArchNewsNow.com
Winter 2011 Oculus 13
Up, Down, and Sideways
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Winter 2011/2012
A Word from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
From NIMBY to YIMBY
Complete Streets: If Only Mumford Had Lived to See This
Regional Transit: The Next Generation
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Winter 2011/2012
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