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March 9, 2010
by Murrye Bernard Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Event: Conversations on the NYC Street Design Manual
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.22.10
Speakers: Wendy Feuer — Assistant Commissioner for Urban Design & Art, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT); Edward Janoff — Senior Project Manager for Streetscapes and Public Spaces, NYC DOT
Organizer: AIANY Public Architecture Committee


Courtesy NYC DOT

Published in May 2009, the NYC Street Design Manual outlines what NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan calls “world class streets.” Co-authors Wendy Feuer, assistant commissioner for urban design and art at DOT, and Edward Janoff, DOT senior project manager for streetscapes and public spaces, assessed the guide’s initial impact on shaping our streets, lessons learned, and future updates.

Some of the successes attributed to the guidelines can be seen in several of Sadik-Khan’s pilot programs, which she established because she didn’t want to wait five to seven years (the typical amount of time required to implement capital projects) to see her visions come to fruition. Green Light for Midtown, which established pedestrian streets at Times and Herald Squares, recently became permanent due to its success in reducing traffic and accidents in the areas. The Ninth Avenue bike lane has also reduced accidents by 50% for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists alike, according to DOT studies.

Other pilot projects have disappointed, but have provided learning experiences for the DOT. For example, the public plaza at Gansevoort Street and Ninth Avenue is being redesigned with a new and more permanent design that follows the Street Design Manual’s recommendations. “As streets are transformed, you’re transforming the form of a city,” Feuer stated.

Periodic updates to the manual, such as the recent recommendation that sidewalks are poured with 3% tinted concrete for consistency, are posted on the website or are available through e-mail subscriptions. The next version of the manual will include a more thorough explanation of the DOT review process, hyperlinks to specifications in the .pdf version, expanded furniture and lighting chapters, and new chapters on wayfinding and signage.


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