As New Yorkers consider the coming election, there is an opportunity to assess the most critical issues facing the city. How will we contend with the city’s swelling population? How will we rebuild our aging infrastructure and housing stock? And how will we protect our waterfront from the rising tide? The Forum for Urban Design has responded to that opportunity by inviting leading experts to address those challenges.
During the spring of 2013, we called upon the Fellows of the Forum—a diverse group of real estate developers, architects, urban designers, and public officials—to make proposals for the next mayor to consider. Over a series of seven breakfasts, we considered proposals to improve housing, open space, transportation, zoning, and arts and culture. The rules were simple: proposals had to be bold and no longer than five minutes. Forty courageous proposals emerged for reimagined infrastructure, reformed government, and an animated public realm.
This project presents the individual proposals made by our Fellows and invited experts. These proposals do not constitute a blueprint or a cohesive vision for the next administration, but they do present important ideas. Our aim in presenting them is to open a debate about how to create a more livable, competitive, and sustainable city.
We have divided this collection into two groups. The first segment presents key investments in the public realm, from rebuilt railways to supercharged streetscapes. The second contains essential improvements to city operations, from new zoning to reformed city agencies.
Some of the proposals offer highly pragmatic suggestions, while others inspire us with their visionary approaches. Some draw on the success of cities like London, Paris or Chicago, while others address the unique challenges facing New York. Some propose new solutions to age-old problems, like connections to LaGuardia Airport, retrofitting public housing, or extending the 7 Line.
Many of the proposals even confront the same spaces: Queens Boulevard, 21st Avenue, and Kent Avenue, for instance. These are sites in need of retrofits and re-imagination. Our contributors may have proposed solutions that are at odds with one another, so we hope this project will spark a spirited debate about the future of the public realm.
After our contributors had the opportunity to pitch their ideas, we opened the floor for debate. Our fellows and invited experts were welcome to praise or critique the proposals, or even offer spontaneous suggestions of their own. We have also included fragments of six of our conversations.
Please, continue to share your ideas for the Next New York with us, no matter how eccentric or exact. Let’s build an even better city.
President, Board of Directors
Forum for Urban Design
NOTE FROM OUR PARTNERS
The Bloomberg administration is among the most successful in the history of our city in large part because it has focused on the transformative power of urban design to improve our quality of life and strengthen our economy. Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on the creation of public space alone has yielded outstanding results, and his vision will likely be continued for many years to come.
The Next New York conversations were both an opportunity to reflect on our city and a reflection of the city itself. A diverse group of talented and busy people gathered to volunteer their ideas for the good of the city. One could only be impressed with how the contributors had considered the challenges and responded with new ideas, many of which could indeed by implemented. Several were extremely simple, which is, of course, the basis of great design.
The ideas—some entirely new, others more familiar—suggest an emerging consensus on planning directions for the coming years, on topics ranging from such small-scale proposals as planting individual street corners to such major initiatives as new transit corridors.
Some of the most encouraging proposals suggest possible innovations in technology—innovations fueled, in part, by the advancements we have made in urban design and planning. Great cities like New York capitalize on this reciprocal relationship between innovation and design.
As I reflect on the Next New York, I consider Hudson Yards, where so many of the Bloomberg administration’s signature projects converge, from the High Line, to Hudson River Park, to the 7 Line extension. Such initiatives are a testament to the vision of New York. As we continue to adapt our city to the 21st century, I can only hope we meet the coming challenges with such vision.
Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox
Director, Forum for Urban Design