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August 21, 2019
by Adam Roberts
Hudson Yards. Image credit: Chris6d [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

New York City’s built environment has long been defined by notable “megadevelopments.” Rockefeller Center, Battery Park City, Co-Op City, and countless others have left huge impacts on the city many decades after their completion.

Despite being a constant in New York, debates over the very concept of megadevelopments has increased in the last few years. Some high-profile, long-planned projects are nearing partial completion, while others are still in the planning stages. Debates over Hudson Yards, Sunnyside Yard, Cornell Tech, and others are often tied in with other larger issues affecting New York: sustainability, equity, affordability, and transportation.

Megadevelopments have fielded much criticism for not addressing many of New York’s most pressing concerns. Hudson Yards has received significant criticism for being designed for wealthier New Yorkers. Michael Kimmelman described the project as “Manhattan’s Biggest, Newest, Slickest Gated Community” in The New York Times. As the City moves toward developing Sunnyside Yard, local elected officials have increasingly questioned who it will be designed for and who will benefit from it.

In spite of these criticisms, other megadevelopments have received more favorable reception from the public. For instance, Cornell Tech, the graduate school for technology on Roosevelt Island, was designed to promote emerging methods of sustainable design. The New York Times recently covered the benefits of living in “The House,” the world’s first passive-house high-rise, which is part of the Cornell Tech campus.

As part of this wider public debate on the merits of megadevelopments, AIANY is partnering with ASLA-NY and APA-NYM to cover the topic in its upcoming annual policy conference. “The Big Picture: Large-Scale Developments” will be taking place at the Center for Architecture on Friday, September 13. Please be sure to sign up here.

Pulse Points:

  • AIA National is seeking submissions for architects to tell their stories of success in advocacy and public design work. These stories will be used for the “Blueprint for Better” campaign, as well as others. You can click here to share your story.
  • The New York City Comptroller’s Office will be speaking at the Center for Architecture on Wednesday, August 21, about opportunities for M/WBE architects and designers. While the event is sold out, AIANY will continue holding events on M/WBE issues; please be sure to check our calendar for upcoming events.

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