Monday, March 26, 2012

The Land Use Battle at NYU

The N.Y. Times runs a long essay by Michael Kimmelman that pushes back against NYU's plan to expand in the Washington Square neighborhood:

The storm over NYU 2031, as this latest expansion proposal is called, has escalated into one of the city’s most acrimonious land-use battles. No wonder. The plan is so clearly oversize that it’s hard not to see it as a stalking horse for what school officials figure they can get permission from the city to build. . . . 

And what does the neighborhood need? Among other things, open space, green space. The debate over the development of the two superblocks has turned a fresh spotlight on the underrated urban virtues of Washington Square Village and University Village — examples of how tower-in-the-park architecture, descended from Le Corbusier and widely discredited, can benefit an old neighborhood of brownstones . . .

As always, the paper of record has come up with a wonderful set of info-graphics that lay out what NYU is trying to do.  The essay, however, isn't particulalry persuasive.  Kimmelman argues, more or less, that NYU's plan is faulty because it threatens to destroy a park (where he happened to play as a child).  From the pictures, however, the park in question looks pretty brutal and the author even admits that "most people don’t even realize it exists."   This hardly seems like enough justification to stop NYU's vision. 

Steve Clowney

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