Friday, August 02, 2013

On my Atlantic Yards tour Saturday, a look at the quite ahistorical "high-low" city (posited by SHoP's Chakrabarti)

A slide from a Chakrabarti lecture
In his new book A Country of Cities and in a series of lectures, Vishaan Chakrabarti--architect, planner, academic, and businessman (partner in SHoP)--makes a compelling case for a more dense America.

In that America, subsidies and unwise spending are steered away from suburbia and toward public transit and other urban infrastructure, and people live not in McMansions but in towers.

The "high-low" city?

But it is strange--and quite ahistorical--that Chakrabarti deems Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center exemplars of what he calls the "high-low" city, melding high rises with more modest structures, and maintaining urbanity with crucial open space like plazas.

The Barclays Center plaza is an accident, though it goes unmentioned in the book.

No plaza, but a Gehry officer tower;
the arena is buried in the buildings
There was supposed to have been an office tower at that plaza.

The tower was supposed to rise some 620 feet (and later reduced to 511 feet), containing office space for permanent jobs, jobs that would provide tax revenues for the rosy Atlantic Yards economic projections.

As I've written, it's unlikely the project would have been approved without the tower. But, as developer Bruce Ratner told Crain's in November 2009: “Can you tell me when we are going to need a new office tower?”

It is strange that Chakrabarti, who's working on Atlantic Yards for SHoP, doesn't know this. (Or is it that he does know, but it's inconvenient to his thesis?)

I'll be talking about these issues, and other things, at my Atlantic Yards tour tomorrow and in my brief AY lecture on Sunday.

From the book

The page below, from the book, doesn't use the term "high-low" city but explains how plazas are crucial to hyperdense development.

From A Country of Cities

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