by Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP
Until a few months ago, I commuted every day from the Upper West Side to Midtown East — taking the 2/3 subway to Times Square and transferring to the Shuttle to Grand Central. It took me approximately 45 minutes to get to work. This past August, however, I traded in my morning commute and decided to walk the three miles instead. Now, even though my commute is an hour long, I walk through Central Park surrounded by chirping birds, dogs, joggers, bikers, and fresh air in place of the pale faces of the stale subway.
The best part about my walk to work is that I feel a connection to nature — albeit manmade — as I haven’t felt in years. Even if one takes trips outside of the city, there is a disconnect between the city and country, and it is easy to block out the natural aspects of urban environments. Every day the light is slightly different, the weather changes, and the wildlife and foliage shift with the seasons. In a city as dense and built-up as NYC, it is easy to ignore natural elements and this can be a detriment to design, especially sustainable design. My suggestion to all city-dwelling architects: try walking to work for a week and see how it affects your perspective.