21st Century New York: What Would Jane Jacobs Do?

16:00 - 26 December, 2015
What would Jane Jacobs have thought of the Barclays Center, designed by SHoP Architects, part of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. Image © Flickr user otto-yamamoto, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, via Commons
What would Jane Jacobs have thought of the Barclays Center, designed by SHoP Architects, part of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. Image © Flickr user otto-yamamoto, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, via Commons

It has been over fifty years since Jane Jacobs' book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, revolutionized discourse on urban planning, and her words still carry a huge influence today. But in the intervening decades New York City has changed in ways Jacobs could never have imagined when she was writing in the 1960s. In a recent article for City Journal, Judith Miller tries to imagine how Jane Jacobs would have responded to some of New York City's recent projects - taking as examples the imminent domain actions and tax breaks that made Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards (now also known as Pacific Park) possible, the cluster of skyscrapers and public venues planned for Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan, and the supertall luxury condo towers that are beginning to cast their long shadows over Central Park. Read Miller's article in full here.

Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City / Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez

14:00 - 31 August, 2015
© Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez
© Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez

Robert Moses, the planner-politician-architect who infamously built overpasses too low for buses to bring New York’s urban poor to his beaches, is the subject of a new graphic novel by Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez titled Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City. Admirable for its candid rawness, their profile of perhaps the most polarizing and important figure in American planning history is no lionizing eulogy. The impressive triumphs of Moses’ tenure are juxtaposed with unsparing accounts of his regrettable social policies and the often-shortsighted consequences of his public infrastructure. For each groundbreaking feat of structural engineering and political mobilization, there is another story told of his callous social engineering, the consequences of which reshaped the lives of New Yorkers as much as his architecture.

Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women in Architecture: Part 4, Urbanism

18:00 - 12 March, 2015
Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis
Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture, social architecture,  and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.

Yesterday we brought you The Architects, and today we present women leaders in  the field of urbanism. 

Françoise Choay. © PFRunner Jane Jacobs, 1961. Image via Wikipedia. Raquel Rolnik. Image via  USP Amanda Burden. Image by Bloomberg Associates - Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons +12

Jacobs and Moses' Famous Feud to Be Dramatized in Opera

00:00 - 7 May, 2014
Courtesy of Fast Co-Design
Courtesy of Fast Co-Design

Yes, you read right - the 1960s urban planning battle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses will be the central story line for a new opera. Although the premiere is a long way off, its creators promise to bring New York City and the drama to life through song and an elaborate, animated, three-dimensional set. To find out more about the developing project, head on over to Fast Co-Design

Spotlight: Jane Jacobs

01:00 - 4 May, 2014
Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, which Jacobs saved from Robert Moses' plans for the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Image © Flickr CC user Adam Fagen
Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, which Jacobs saved from Robert Moses' plans for the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Image © Flickr CC user Adam Fagen

Throughout her career, social activist and urban writer Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) fought against corporate globalization and urged post-war urban planners and developers to remember the importance of community and the human scale. Despite not having any formal training, she radically changed urban planning policy through the power of observation and personal experience. Her theories on how design can affect community and creativity continue to hold relevance today - influencing everything from the design of mega-cities to tiny office spaces.