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Innovative Development Solutions for 2018

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New York City’s population is predicted to reach over 9 million by 2050. What measures can be taken to accommodate the influx of people while continuing to combat climate change and the rising sea levels? New York Magazine interviewed architects asking them how they would improve the city. Popular suggestions include designing parks above ground, creating multi-dimensional sidewalks, increasing community space, and implementing solutions to protect residents from natural disasters.[1]  

What’s in store for the architect firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who took part in designing the High Line? Partner Charles Renfro would like to see more green in New York’s skyline. Renfro explains that rooftop parks and gardens will “absorb summer heat and storm water … and resist flooding”.[2] Not only will this be an aesthetically pleasing addition to new developments, but it will help combat effects of climate change. Architect Rafael Viñoly also wishes to build upwards and construct three-dimensional vertical sidewalks to create more space and decrease congestion on the ground.

Oana Stanescu and Dong-Ping Wong, from the firm Family of New York, want new developments, which are typically luxury residential skyscrapers, to be required to create community space in their buildings.[3] Community living in luxury buildings has been a popular trend. Many residential developments are now designed with community kitchens, gardens and activity rooms, but what if the whole city could benefit from these new additions to the city?  It could be a practical way to fill up unused space and even generate additional income for the building.

Architect David Rockwell put forth the idea of a “cultural Airbnb” to rent out empty store fronts for temporary public performances, special events and the like. “The city could offer incentives to landlords to make these storefronts available on a temporary basis … If we can get a meal or hotel room or car on demand, why not a public space?”[4] This would significantly decrease the number of empty storefronts and incentivize greater use of empty buildings. As many new developments and storefront sit idle, it is essential to encourage residents and developers to use all of the city in order to accommodate the growing population.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which damaged 305,000 homes, architect Bjarke Ingels designed the “Big U”, an initiative to rebuild communities and apply reinforcement measures to protect residents from future disasters. Ingels’ U design aims to create a barrier along a ten mile stretch in NYC that is most susceptible to rising sea levels and flooding. In contrast, architect Mark Foster Gage asserts that if the city drains and builds dams in the East River it would protect Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens in addition to providing greater space for food production and construction for a growing population.[5]

Multiple projects are on the horizon for 2018 and developers are unfettered by obstacles as they look for solutions to help New York City grow.

[1] Swanson, Carl. (Dec. 28, 2017) “9 Top Architects Share Their Dream Projects to Improve (or Save) New York City.” New York Magazine. Available at: Accessed on Jan. 3, 2018.

[2] Ib.

[3] Ib.

[4] Ib.

[5] Ib.

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