Friday, April 11, 2014

Public Spaces and Cities

I came across this video:

As more and more people become city dwellers, it is important to note how cities work. The speaker, Amanda Burden talks about the planning of city's public spaces, and drawing on her experiences, she discusses the challenges of public spaces. She talks about how in between the buildings and structures within a city, it is important to have public spaces, these spaces are what makes the city work. They help people come together, enjoy the city, and build community. She believes the it is essential to have public spaces in cities for it to 'work'.

Public spaces like parks require a lot of attention to detail, and don't come out of nowhere for no reason. How public spaces attract people is what the people need. And in the example of a park, what people need is a comfortable space, and a green space. It is in public spaces like parks that give people this kind of comfortable, relaxing feeling. However, Burden argues that cities aren't all designed to have much greenery and comfortable public spaces, such as that seen in New York.

In New York City for example, the modern architecture, the tall buildings that surround a plaza and streets make it seem intimidating, and dangerous. There really is no place for city dwellers to sit comfortably and enjoy the landscape. But architects and urban planners think this is ideal. No greenery to maintain, beautiful tall modern buildings, and not many spaces for people to loiter and create commotion in.

Burden argues that successful designs always depend on how an individual experiences that space. She explained how she had to really get to know the people and communities to understand their needs, and to plan the city to make sure all the needs of individuals were met. Her idea of 'tapping into humanity' led her to her success in planning New York. She stepped outside of her planning expertise and thought how humans, New Yorkers, would think, want to do, and want to see in the city.

The goal of the city was to accommodate a growing population, and it is important to meet the needs of these people and make them feel comfortable. Public spaces are powerful in a city because it is one of the most important reasons why people stay in a city. If they feel comfortable in these spaces, if they enjoy the spaces ... they will likely stay in the city.

"...a successful city is like a fabulous party. People stay because they are having a great time..."    - Amanda Burden


Blogger Dan said...

1. love the animal behaviorism
2. love the flanneury (zoning)
3. "tap into your humanity" not your planning expertise
4. vigilance --> take nothing important as granted
5. "violated, invaded, abandoned or ignored"
6. wellness is power

4/13/2014 10:47 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Great video Lisa, and Amanda Burden is a really interesting figure. She was the commissioner of city planning in New York City under Bloomberg and was very influential in his government. She also has a very illustrious background:

She can be a controversial figure, with her critics arguing that her ambitious rezoning plans only serve to gentrify New York and make it amenable to big capital. Others see her as a much more Jane Jacobs figure (as it seems she sees herself). There is a documentary called Rezoning Harlem about NYC's controversial remaking of West Harlem (El Barrio, from the Bourgois book, is East Harlem). Amanda Burden is in this film, if my memory serves correctly.

Here's a NYT article about her work as planning commissioner:

I like the quote that you end off this post with - this, combined with her professional & socialite background, makes me think Burden would be a great addition to Real Housewives of New York!!

4/14/2014 12:20 AM  

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