New York


The Model City

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October 12, 2011
The history of city models and their role in city making.

San Francisco sat there for years, broken up and packaged into 17 wooden crates, hardly labeled and nearly forgotten. But when the warehouse that held those crates was sold in 2009, the city was rediscovered. All of its streets and neighborhoods and homes were there, delicately and intricately replicated in a relief model of the entire city measuring 37 by 41 feet and dating back to the New Deal era.

Crowdfunding the Skyscraper

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Date: 
March 2, 2017
Can a new model for real estate investment help spread the wealth?

The commercial real estate developer Rodrigo Niño has a problem with commercial real estate development. The immense amount of wealth it generates, he argues, falls into the hands of too few people. People like him.

How a Design Competition Changed the US Approach to Disaster Response

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January 18, 2017
the story of Rebuild By Design, a competition – and now its own organisation – based on taking a more proactive approach to disaster response in cities; but how far can you prepare for the effects of climate change?

Ten years ago, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released a plan to create what he called “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city”. The blueprint, known as PlaNYC and released on Earth Day, outlined more than 100 projects and policies to create that sustainable city by 2030.

It set a precedent for local action on climate change; cities around the world began drafting their own sustainability plans. But then in October 2012, it got a harsh reality check.

Unfinished Architecture: This Was Almost New York’s Tallest Building

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March 26, 2016
Even though it ended up being significantly shorter than originally planned, the Metropolitan Life North Building has become a New York City architectural landmark.

On Madison Avenue, at the edge of Madison Square Park, in the dense crush of skyscrapers that fill the middle of Manhattan, the Metropolitan Life North Building, one of New York City’s earliest tall buildings, stands out from its surroundings.

In an elegant counterbalance to today’s gleaming glass and steel super-tall towers that are rapidly redrawing the skyline, it is clad in beige limestone and decorated in the art deco style, with vertical flutes running up its sides and intricate details at its roofline.

In The Weeds

Date: 
September 1, 2015
Little-loved plants win the affection of Future Green Studio.

The huge backyard along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn was the perfect site for the summertime Sunday afternoon parties that the DJs Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin liked to throw. It had plenty of space, room for a bar, and the overgrowth that comes alongside New York’s lovable Superfund waterway. But they had only temporary leases and permits to throw parties. Their time in the huge backyard wouldn’t last forever.

The Occupy Movement and the New Public Space

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Date: 
November 22, 2011
The Occupy Movement offers a lens through which to view a new kind of public space.

Governments are trying to figure out what to do with the Occupy movement that’s moved into public spaces in major cities all over the world. Some have figured out only as much as getting them out of there; mayors from Oakland to New York have evoked concerns about public safety, sanitation, and good old law and order to justify forced evictions of campsites. And as we saw with the recent pepper spraying incident at UC Davis, the clash between the users of public space and the stewards of public space has underscored a startling disconnect.

'New York is Not a City of Alleys': A Film Location Scout's Pet Peeves

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Date: 
November 18, 2011
How a film scout sees the city.

Since 2004, Nick Carr has been working as a film location scout in New York City. He travels throughout the city to find rooms and settings and unique places to film scenes in movies and television shows, and he’s been documenting some of this work and his experiences on his website, ScoutingNY. He highlights interesting parts of the city, areas that have been used (and over-used) in film, and some of the ways the built environment of the city has changed over time.

'Helvetica' Director Gary Hustwit Takes on City Design with 'Urbanized'

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Date: 
September 23, 2011
Documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit explores urban design in his new film.

Urbanized, the new documentary from director Gary Hustwit, is a globe-trotting, project-touring, expert-filled survey of city design and modern urbanity. From Mumbai to Copenhagen to Beijing to New York, the film documents the forces and people that shape the world’s cities in a global tour that nicely balances both the challenges and prospects of urbanization.

Improving On The Ambiguity of Privately Owned Public Spaces

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Date: 
February 12, 2009
Cities are filled with spaces intended for the public -- but many of them are clearly owned and operated by the private sector. Though cities bend rules to get these spaces built, the public benefit is often outweighed by the cost. The challenge now is to make them better.

The difference between what is public and what is private is usually pretty clear. A city park is available to everyone. Your neighbor's living room is not. But the line dividing public and private can blur, and when it does, spaces get ambiguous, and questions arise. Who can use them? What are they for? Who's in charge of them?