in Places

Waterfront 2020

The details on a Reach by Reach basis are well worth some urban design quires and perusals.  To this end, the following stipulation is offered for examination.

We have long known that what we see is what we think is there and that this can be correct or incorrect at any time but always considered correct, and we know that not every observation we make is exact.

We know errors in perception and measurement exist. Nevertheless, these elements of the human condition are fundamental and accepted collectively in science and psychology.  The more critical issue is our responsibility to seek or develop statements that have such lasting clarity in describing the conditions of our time. They will continue to make sense in the distant future despite these errors.

I want your opinion of the waterfront draft on this basis (and how much jargon can plan one take?). Bill Woods at City Planning made this his life. He should be in the APA hall of fame.

Armed with this knowledge, please read the Waterfront Plan for recommendations and procedures most likely to reduce error when discussing measurements. Second, suggest ways to find these errors during the implementation of plan components that provide for adjustments.

Design Police

Nevertheless, the New Yorker only needs to recall the 6th Avenue commercial office bonus scheme to realize the limitations of the public’s regulatory interest in extending Central Park to the south with urban plazas. One only needs to look at a “restrictive declaration” used in Astoria to recognize a public access failure when you see it. Both represented a straightforward and honorable desire but were interpreted very differently by the developer’s bottom line. Today we have a double bottom line approach.  Please bring this do no harm value to your review of the plan’s revision as follows: 

The New York Department of City Planning website asks you to get involved with Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. It offered a set of links (since removed below).  Each seeks thoughtful people to reflect on “new public realm†and to deduce the purpose of the update from its 1992 version under Wilber “Bill” Woods.

Seek out the following and provide your view using the resource links below and share facts and opinions with this blog or the other venues known to many of you by the headings below:

1. Read the Draft Recommendations
2. Send us your comments online
3. Read a recap of the workshops
4. Subscribe to our email newsletter

We are getting up to date on the progress of the waterfront plan since the process slowed can be examined by going the the “index” page (here) and entering “waterfront” in the search engine.

New York City’s 500+ miles of blue-interface connection to regulatory entities such as the NYC Building Code, the Clean Water Act, and the long list or labyrinth of permits demand site-to-site complexities.  A ” code ” example is the call for waterproofing every new structure within a few hundred feet of the waterfront at 14 feet ABOVE mean-high tide is a “code” example.

Another is the use of the word elevated about the inevitable rise of sea levels.  It suggests the need for other measurements to sustain public access’s fundamental value as the foundation of the public interest. Perhaps it would be a good thing to see NYC function and Venice, has in the centuries to come, or plan as well as our friends in the Netherlands. It would seem prudent in a ten-year plan to outline factors in NYC’s interest as far into the future.

Unlike the folks in the Netherlands that have confidently stated the country to be climate-proof”, NYC-DCP selection is climate resilience. It says:

While Vision 2020 is focused on the next ten years, the plan recognizes the need to plan for a much longer timeframe. The New York City Panel on Climate Change. See 2010 Report (354 pgs) from the NY Academy of Sciences. It has been projected that sea levels are expected to rise anywhere from 12 inches to 55 inches by 2080. Also, severe storms and the floods associated with them are expected to occur more frequently.

As a coastal city, many New York neighborhoods experience flooding and storm surges. These risks are expected to increase as the effects of climate change are felt.  The Department of City Planning is working with other City agencies to assess the risks associated with a sea-level rise set of conditions to develop city resilience strategies. Plans include regulatory and other measures to improve the flood resistance of new and existing buildings and explore soft infrastructure approaches to coastal protection.

The Water Will Come


That is far more introduction than needed.  I implore you to read the DRAFT (may not be available) using your urban design lens as a planner or architect and offer your opinions. Observations from other cities, states in the USA, or throughout the precious orb of life we call earth.

Urban Planning and Design in New York City has about a thousand members worldwide sharing data on issues in the broad context of Urban Design experienced from Da-Bronx to Dubai. The objective is to use this area to sift through problems that may occur with revising the 1992 NYC Waterfront Plan (or other issues). It connects to various WebEx, Google Docs, WindowsLive locations, and so on. In addition, members are encouraged to develop individual draft development areas.

Vision 2020 citywide policies were completed and offered as FINAL in March 2011.  It will seek to accomplish the following eight goals:

  • Expand public access to the waterfront and waterways on public and private property for all New Yorkers and visitors alike.
  • Enliven the waterfront with a range of attractive uses integrated with adjacent upland communities.
  • Support economic development activity on the working waterfront.
  • Improve water quality through measures that benefit natural habitats, support public recreation, and enhance waterfront and upland communities.
  • Restore degraded natural waterfront areas, and protect wetlands and shorefront habitats.
  • Enhance the public experience of the waterways that surround New York – our Blue Network.
  • Improve governmental regulation, coordination, and oversight of the waterfront and waterways.
  • Identify and pursue strategies to increase the city’s resilience to climate change and sea level rise.

We shall see.  Download a copy waterfront.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.