We live in New York City. We love this place for many, many reasons and can’t help ruminate on what could make this place even better. Apparent to us architects are all the un-used or under-used slivers of real estate that beg to be used or re-used.
The area immediately around our office on the Bowery is currently undergoing a fairly rapid transformation. Once the neighborhood of well-heeled merchants, the Bowery fell to crime and misfortune at the end of the 19th century. Many attempts to reverse this trend have fallen short over the years and the infamous reputation of homelessness, crime, and poverty persists to this day (most of it based on reality). Within the last 10 years, however, New York City has experienced rapid development in almost every borough and neighborhood and the Bowery is no exception. “Luxury” condos (Carlos Zapata), art galleries (Norman Foster), museums (SANAA), and high-brow restaurants (Daniel Boulud) have sprouted along the Bowery turning the street into a dramatic checkerboard of homeless shelters sitting adjacent to $500/night boutique hotels. This new landscape is one of the reasons this city is so phenomenal: hipster, homeless, fashion model, college kid, entrepreneur, dot-com millionaire, and immigrant are all walking the sidewalk and speaking their language.
How can we support this diversity? We appreciate development and the beneficial change that comes with it. But should we paint over the grit, texture, and natural accretion of history? Should we displace one for the other? How can we develop these slivers of opportunity in a way that balances between the two? In a series of MAPOS PROJECTS FOR THE CITY, we will continually ask these questions. Starting in our backyard first, we will look at the intersection of Delancey Street with the Bowery as a dynamic environment with a very interesting future.
This map registers green and open space (in CYAN), our subjective edits of “Notable” Architecture (in RED), and the opportunity slivers (in YELLOW) that will become the sites for our hypothetical projects. One prominent hypothetical project already on the boards is the “Delancey Underground.” This is definitely NOT a Mapos PROJECT FOR THE CITY, but another interesting and entrepreneurial project being designed and promoted by colleagues of ours. The Bowery brings out the creative wish list in a lot of us.
Our first site is circled. Read further on Spamos for this Project and further investigations for MAPOS PROJECTS FOR THE CITY.