What If an Urban Planning Process Was as Smartly Designed as the Plan Itself?
Five Principles for Greenwich South / Architecture Research Office
Lower Manhattan, specifically Greenwich South, which is bordered by the Financial District, the World Trade Center site, Battery Park, and Battery Park City.
This urban plan to reinvigorate the neighborhood is based on five overarching principles to improve connectivity and resident and business retention. From this plan emerged a 10-team charrette to develop specific building strategies and a list of action items to jump-start redevelopment.
Architecture Research Office (ARO) conducted and refined research—with the help of a brain trust of economists, engineers, entrepreneurs, historians, and theorists—that led to the development of five central principles for the master plan to redevelop Greenwich South. Some call for specific changes—such as reconnecting Greenwich Street through the World Trade Center site, which would immediately increase traffic through the neighborhood—while others are guidelines for development: “Encourage an Intense Mix of Uses,” “Build for Density, Design for People,” and “Create a Reason to Come and a Reason to Stay.” “The aggregate of it and then the product of what’s coming out of this overall scheming are pretty rich,” juror James Richärd said.
These principles were then used as the basis for a charrette with 12 firms (including team leaders ARO and planning associate Beyer Blinder Belle) that created ideas for specific developments in the redefined neighborhood, an approach that juror Adele Chatfield-Taylor likened enthusiastically to “doing needlepoint” on the area. Ideas that emerged from the charrette included ARO’s scheme to cover the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel for a large-scale farmers market and the creation of a mixed-use tower with office, residential, and urban farming space (this was the brain child of WORKac). The ideas and research have been presented to the community with exhibitions at local Zuccotti Park and the AIA New York’s Center for Architecture, a series of panel discussions, and a website.
As for more immediate change, the plan—which juror Diane Hoskins called “brilliant”—culminates in a 50-item action list of next steps for area development. First on the list: Turning a quiet fringe street into a public art gallery.