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Downtown Brooklyn, recognizing open space deficits (and more), looks to "public realm action plan"

A 2/12/19 press release, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership announces WXY and BIG Architects to craft public realm action plan:
Today, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership announced the selection of a joint proposal from design firms WXY Studio (WXY) and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG Architects) to conduct a comprehensive study and implementation plan for Downtown Brooklyn’s public realm. The plan will help advance Downtown Brooklyn as a competitive, national urban center.
Downtown Brooklyn has faced unprecedented growth over the last fifteen years since the 2004 rezoning. Since then, the neighborhood has transformed into a true 24-hour mixed-use community, and with that have come new demands on streets, sidewalks, transit infrastructure and public spaces.
The Public Realm Action Plan is a response to that growth. The solutions set forth will help put Downtown Brooklyn on a new trajectory, reflecting its growing prominence in New York City and the nation’s economy, and taking into account the varied needs of its residents, workforce, businesses and visitors.
There are no specifics yet, but this reflects the lack of planning for the huge--and unexpected--increase in population furthered by the 2004 rezoning, which was instead expected to foster office space, as explained in this Municipal Art Society report that I covered for The Bridge.

What's next?

From the press release:
Over the next nine months, the WXY and BIG team will work with public and private stakeholders to analyze existing conditions, create a cohesive vision and urban design framework, and develop an action plan that includes implementation and maintenance strategies and design schematics for immediate, short- and long-term public realm interventions for Downtown Brooklyn.
A successful Action Plan will offer visionary, holistic, and clear solutions to improve the public realm, while at the same time, building in a range of potential intervention points for a variety of places and spaces over the next decade. The project has three main goals:
  • Create a vibrant Downtown experience emblematic of Brooklyn’s unique culture;
  • Establish a sense of place and enhance critical neighborhood infrastructure to support the increase in numbers of new residents, businesses, and workers; and
  • Develop a phased implementation strategy and a maintenance plan that considers full lifecycle costs and benefits and ensures cost-effectiveness and compatibility with prevailing New York City practices and procedures.
Note the boundaries: the "Downtown Brooklyn core, including key areas below bounded by Court Street to the west, Myrtle Avenue to the north, Ashland Place to the east, and Atlantic Avenue to the south."

Ashland Place is the western boundary of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, so the Atlantic Center Mall and the Barclays Center are excluded.

Lots of challenges

Curbed, in In Downtown Brooklyn, public spaces are poised for major revamp, followed up with some quotes:
“Downtown Brooklyn is kind of the ultimate mixed-use district,” says Claire Weisz, a founding partner at the multidisciplinary design firm WXY. “It’s actually a bunch of different places.”...
“What we’re trying to focus on here, and what the challenge is, is there’s this underlying tension about whether or not we’re one place or a unified downtown,” says Regina Myer, the president of DBP. “What is our image? What is our vision for the future? Is [Downtown Brooklyn] a collection of different places, is it a unified place?”
Curbed noted that "WXY has been at work for years on the Brooklyn Strand, a plan to connect the disconnected parkland in and around downtown, which Weisz says will 'overlap' with the new public realm plan." BIG just moved to DUMBO.

One commenter wrote:
The biggest thing this area is missing is a true park, with trees and grass over a large footprint. I don’t know if it’s possible but something like Pacific Park in Prospect Heights would be welcome in Downtown Brooklyn.
Um, "Pacific Park" isn't coming until the entire project is finished, which could be 2035.

Another commenter:
This headline is more than a bit misleading. This is a (yet another) planning exercise to identify all the things that are necessary to make downtown Brooklyn a more livable place. I have seen WXY work on the Brooklyn Strand, and while impressive, its implementation will require a true commitment from the City, the BIDs and multiple property owners to make it a reality. The same is true of this exercise.
The Willoughby Park plan is back in limbo as the developer defaulted. So the EDC will go back to the drawing board there. And that park is actually just a cover for another big parking lot, which downtown surely doesnt need.
Another:
I like these ideas, but it should start with things already there. Fulton Mall could become a superblock similar to those found in Barcelona. The street is already narrow enough, and we could find ways to reroute traffic and make it safer for people with enforced speed limits. 

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