Urban Design Week 2011

News Spotlight

Backboard by Max Carr.
Courtesy IUD

Urban Design Week 2011: By the City / For the City

The 30-year-old Institute for Urban Design (IUD) is dedicated to fostering dialog about urban planning that involves more than the usual professionals and policy wonks by reaching out to engage the real public stakeholders: the neighbors, small businesses, and residents in the direct line of urban development’s impact. What more effective outreach could there be than crowd sourcing? With its fall initiative, Urban Design Week 2011: By the City/For the City, running from September 15 to 20 at various sites around the city, the IUD applied directly to the broadest possible audience in order to identify the most pressing design concerns, then matching them to the most creative potential solutions.

Admittedly unscientific but with results no less illuminating for that, the institute canvassed community boards, chat rooms, social networks, and blogs with broad questions about how to improve public space attracting some 600 ideas from across all boroughs. Then some 150 designers and teams volunteered to respond to the challenge, with design responses ranging from the purely theoretical as in adding zip lines to the East River to the timely as in turning an unused spur of the LIRR into an everyman’s High Line.

“The responses ranged from very specific rants about a particular intersection to the very broad-minded,” said Anne Guiney, IUD’s executive director. “But it also gives a group portrait of how people think about the public realm. The welter of creative thinking is really very impressive.”

On September 15 at the BMW Guggenheim Lab, ten design proposals will be announced winners and featured in a catalog, Atlas of Possibility for the Future of New York, including all the responses. Other events will include introducing a digital platform for New Yorkers to participate in park design and the U.S. premiere of filmmaker (Objectified, Helvetica) Gary Hustwit’s latest documentary, Urbanized. Poised to be a kick-start, Urban Design Week’s ultimate goal is to keep the public conversation rolling.

For a complete schedule, go to www.urbandesignweek.org.

The Institute of Urban Design’s open call netted 600 ideas across the city (orange map, Above left, not including Staten Island) and from there, some 150 design teams chose locations (Purple map, Above right) for focused ideas.
Blackboard by Max Carr (above right) who suggested that the unused backsides of billboards could be used by local artists (above) and Loading Dock Theater by Gans Studio, proposing that even temporarily empty spaces can be scheduled for pop-up performing arts events (below).
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