Urban Design Studio I: Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Inequality and Transit … Part 2

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by July 22, 2015

This one comes from the New Yorker and was actually published 2 years ago. “if the borough of Manhattan were a country, the income gap between the richest twenty per cent and the poorest twenty per cent would be on par with countries like Sierra Leone, Namibia, and Lesotho.” it proclaims and goes on to measure income along all of New York’s subway lines. The richest stop is Park Place(!) on the 2,3 line with a median income of over $200,000. The poorest stop is the Sutter Ave stop on the L train with just over $12,000.


Better Bus service is about Equity

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by July 20, 2015

“Express bus service — Select Bus Service, local officials call it — is a no-brainer for underserved routes across the city. The installation of new rapid lines, however, has been anything but rapid.” Michael Kimmelman discusses Express Bus Service in the New York Times

Three-quarters of a million New Yorkers now take more than an hour to travel to work. Two-thirds come from households that earn $35,000 a year or less. A study by the Pratt Center found that black New Yorkers have the longest commute times of all, 25 percent longer than the average commute time for whites. read the full article here and find the Pratt Center’s Transportation Equity Atlas here

LinkNYC: Communication Infrastructure

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 29, 2015

The new Google-backed urban innovation company Sidewalk Labs announced its first big project this week: bringing free high-speed Internet to everyone in the nation’s largest city.

Sidewalk Labs will be leading the acquisition of two companies behind New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to turn the city’s pay phones into wireless hubs, LinkNYC. The two companies are Control Group, which provides the interface for the new hubs, and Titan, which is overseeing the advertising that will pay for the project.

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  1. 24/7 free Internet access with up to gigabit speeds
  2. Integrated lighting
  3. Digital displays to provide insight-driven and intelligently programmed advertising & public service announcements
  4. Android tablet with touch screen display, directional speaker & microphone
  5. Tactile keypad & Braille lettering, dedicated 911 button, USB charger, headphone jack
  6. Iconic and durable aluminum construction designed and built in NYC
  7. Sleek design and decreased footprint to restore sidewalk space and improve visual continuity

Different kinds of densities…

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 19, 2015

The Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice profiles the current pattern of the formerly incarcerated returning to New York City with particular focus on New York City’s adoption of a community-based public health model for correctional health care. In a first for New York City, this project geo-mapped reentry databases to determine gaps between where individuals released from New York City Department of Correction live and the availability and accessibility of services.. Take a look at the data and and maps of this report to learn about discrepancies.

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another interesting finding is the concentration of drug-using inmates released into several communities. While only 20% of inmates self-report as drug-users, the Department of Correction estimates that 70-80% would be categorized as such.

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Stop the mold

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 16, 2015

Stop the Mold is a project by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s NYCity News Service and the New York Daily News using in-person and on-line engagement with city public housing tenants to chronicle this mold infestation in the nation’s largest public housing system. Increasingly in studies, unhealthy home environments with toxic substances or mold are linked to worsening effects of asthma.


What’s in the Air as You Cycle City Streets?

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 16, 2015

New York City is much cleaner than Beijing and New Delhi, but the American Lung Association ranks it among the most polluted in the U.S.
The Mailman School of Public Health and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are launching a study of air quality and its imapct on exercise in the city. See more here

In addition to traffic, air pollution has also been linked to old boilers using especially polluting heating oil. See an article here.




Don’t just fix housing projects—redesign them

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 14, 2015

The mayor’s plan to rescue the New York City Housing Authority would benefit from more attention to architecture and design.

Read this opinion by David Burney, the interim executive director of American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the Center for Architecture. He was director of design at the New York City Housing Authority from 1990 to 2003 and commissioner of the city’s Department of Design and Construction from 2004 to 2014.

Urban Design Lecture Series

Category : BLOG, EVENTS · No Comments · by June 10, 2015

This summer’s urban design events series starts with a panel discussion on public housing -its past, present and future- moderated by Noah Chasin.


Public Housing as a Catalyst for Good Urban Design

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 1, 2015

Over 400,000 New Yorkers live in public housing provided by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the largest landlord in the city. NYCHA manages over 175,000 apartments in over 300 developments across all 5 boroughs. This summer, we will look at four neighborhoods with a high presence of public housing and investigate the role public housing plays within the neighborhood, its challenges and its potential contribution to envisioning a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable future of the neighborhood and city. We are committed to developing smart, innovative design solutions that equip NYCHA and other key stakeholders with implementable ideas if and when funding is available for both, small-scale community-driven projects as well as larger infrastructural changes.

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Distributed throughout the five boroughs, public housing was largely built between the 1930s and 1970s during an era of massive public investment in housing and infrastructure. Today, 80% of the building stock of public housing is 40 years old. Many buildings are in need for basic repair, let alone upgrades to accommodate standards of living in the 21st century or goals for sustainability. At the same time, the federal government continuously reduced its financial support for housing authorities to sustain this asset leaving the New York City Housing Authority with an estimated $16 billion deficit for needed repairs. Superstorm Sandy, which hit New York City in 2012, revealed yet another weakness. More than 30 public housing developments were damaged by the storm affecting more than 80,000 residents and adding to the financial and physical problems.


Despite numerous declarations of the failure of the modernist housing ideal beginning with Jane Jacob’s critique in 1961 in the Death and Life of Great American Cities and the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe Houses in St Louis in 1972, our inheritance of this type of urban fabric is enormous and cannot be ignored. Commonly attributed to Le Corbusier and the Charta of Athens, published in 1941, cities around the world subscribed to the ideal of single-function districts with modern housing towers surrounded by green spaces, light and fresh air that replaced and contrasted the dense and inhuman conditions of overcrowded and tuberculosis-ridden tenements. In time, the ideal turned sour, the isolated developments into concentrations of poverty and neglect instigating endless discussions whether architecture and planning are to blame for their demise or failed public policy and mismanagement. “One of the unsuitable ideas behind projects is the very notion that they are projects, abstracted out of the ordinary city and set apart. To think of salvaging or improving projects as projects is to repeat this root mistake.” writes Jane Jacobs in Death and Life of Great American Cities.

  • How then do we engage with this inheritance as a part of our cities –too large to ignore and home to thousands of people?
  • What of the original value system, do we still cherish and maintain? How do we see its future?
  • How do we address demographic shifts, new forms of work, sustainability and ecology through surgical intervention? And how do we engage current and future residents in the process of discussing these questions?
  • What processes of decision-making do we need to manage the modernist legacy and envision its future?
  • How can we rethink the relationship between “tower-in-the-park” developments and the neighborhoods that surround them?
  • How can public housing become financially solvent while maintain it’s core mission of providing safe, decent and affordable housing?
  • How can NYCHA provide affordable housing for residents while incentivizing upward economic mobility for those it houses?


5 Borough Studio at the Ideas City Festival

Category : BLOG, EVENTS · No Comments · by May 21, 2015

On May 30th, the 5 Borough Studio will participate in the street program at the Ideas City Festival, a three-day event in and around the New Museum in New York.

As part of the Institute for Public Architecture’s booth, we will present our work from last summer including our investigation “What is Home?” and together with the IPA and our “fellow fellows”, we will continue the discussion asking “What is Public?”. Stop by any time on Saturday May 30th between 10am and 6pm.

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