What and who defines public space in New York City?

amNY today delves into the Bloomberg Administration‘s “vision” for transforming New York’s public spaces. Yet, the article doesn’t touch upon parks as public space which is too bad because highlighting what the Bloomberg Administration has done to take away and adversely impact public space at Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, the giveaway of Bronx parkland to the Yankees, the privatization of Randalls Island, etc. would counter city “planner” Amanda Burden‘s gushing spin on the whole thing.

Ms. Burden and Mayor Mike’s idea of expanding public space is more about putting tables in the midst of city streets (seriously) and not so much about how people interact. It is more about figuring out how tourists can sit and have a cup of coffee amidst Times Square congestion versus people actually engaging with one another in unplanned, unusual and spontaneous ways.

Jeremiah of Vanishing New York blog is thankfully quoted and provides some balance, saying, ““There is a kind of mono-cultural aesthetic that everything is being made too coordinated and the style is this kind of glass and chrome where everything looks like a condo. …It’s nice to have a place to sit, but it feels too antithetical to what a city is supposed to be, which is chaotic and organic and wild and hard to tame.”

Ms. Burden tells amNY that many of her initiatives are informed by time spent in Europe. Of course, on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. She says, ““I really believe you can measure the health of a city by the vitality of its streets and public spaces. … In the end, that’s what draws people to a city. That’s what makes people fall in love with a city.”

That sounds great — until you look closer. When city “planning” starts worrying too much about changing a city as unique as New York for tourists and doesn’t preserve what New Yorkers already love about their city, I think there is a problem.

AMNY: Ugly buildings NYC would be better without – NYU has at least two

NYU Kimmel CenterWhat buildings in New York City would you like to see go? It seems like we are forever witnessing developers (and our government) tear down our architectural and historic gems only to erect big box glass buildings (and worse)! amNY asked some architects and critics what buildings they’d like to see taken out of our collective space and replaced.

Not surprisingly, NYU had two of them! (I’m certain there are more that could be listed.)  And, unfortunately, they both are on the south border of Washington Square Park.

*NYU Kimmel Student Center asserts Andrew Berman, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation: “The NYU Kimmel Student Center on Washington Square South. UUUUGLY. And it now blocks the view through Washington Square Arch down Fifth Avenue; you used to be able to see the downtown skyline (including the World Trade Center pre-9/11) framed through the arch; now the arch is more or less engulfed by the Kimmel Center.”

*NYU Bobst Library is designated “most reviled” by Rick Bell, executive director of American Institute of Architects, NY, who said: “It is one of the most reviled buildings in New York City, eliciting negative comments from people who are usually fastidiously polite. Tearing down Bobst, the library, a funereal hulk inappropriate to the scale and extroverted character of Greenwich Village, should be part of the re-envisioning of the need for NYU to have a more community-friendly character.”

You can read the full article here.