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Reinier de Graaf: Mayors Should Not Rule The World

This weekend, the first planning session of the Global Parliament of Mayors took place in Amsterdam: a platform for mayors from across the world, triggered by Benjamin Barber’s book: If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.

In this book the current political system and its leaders is dismissed as dysfunctional. Defined by borders and with an inevitable focus on national interests, they are not an effective vehicle to govern a world defined by interdependence. Mayors, presiding over cities with their more open, networked structure and cosmopolitan demographics, so the book argues, could do it better.

It is of no surprise that this book has been welcomed by the same political class as the one it praises: mayors. As was apparent during the first planning session of the GPM: a conference about mayors, for mayors, attended by mayors, moderated by mayors and hosted by a mayor, all triggered by a book about mayors.

I recognize many of the book’s observations. Many mayors are impressive figures and time appears to be on their side. Nation states (particularly the large ones) have an increasingly hard time and, in the context of a process of globalization, cities, and particularly small city-states, increasingly emerge victorious. Cities have first-hand experience with many of the things that occur in globalization’s wake, such as immigration and cultural and religious diversity, and are generally less dogmatic and more practical in dealing with them.

So far so good.

De Blasio Sets 10-Year Affordable Housing Plan for NYC

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has addressed the “crisis of affordability” by implementing a five-borough, ten-year plan that will build and preserve 200,000 affordable units over the coming decade. Believing affordable housing to be part of “the bedrock of what makes New York City work,” Blasio hopes the plan will make New York, once again, “a place where our most vulnerable, our working people and our middle class can all thrive.” Review the plan in detail and check out one of the largest affordable housing projects planned for the city, here

ODA Chosen to Design Largest Affordable Housing Project in New York

Developer TF Cornerstone has selected Office for Design & Architecture (ODA) to design the largest affordable housing project in New York. Besting proposals from BIG, SHop and Perkins Eastman, the ODA-designed scheme will occupy more than 1,200,000-square-feet along the Long Island City waterfront in Hunters Point South. With an emphasis on connecting residents with nature, the design will feature multiple community green spaces throughout various levels, including two urban farming plateaus. 

West 18th Street / ODA

Recently, we shared ODA’s honorable mention proposal for the National Library of Israel which fosters an open haven for learning and activity.  The New-York based firm is also working on projects a bit closer to home in Manhattan that approach zoning restrictions with an air of optimism.  ODA explained, “We embrace those parameters (zoning ordinances) and use them as the DNA of our buildings. If carefully studied, NYC’s zoning allows for many interpretations that follows logical principals.”

More about the residences after the break.