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Lower Manhattan Urban Design Plan

Urban Design and Analysis, 1994
Progressive Architecture Urban Design Award, 1994

Client: Battery Park City Authority, Port Authority of New York &

New Jersey

The Lower Manhattan Urban Design Plan was conceived when office vacancies were at the crisis rate of 28%. This provided a window for radical urban structural changes to this “oldest modern city”. The plan was undertaken to investigate the urban problems which led to this crisis and propose interventions to improve the district.

The plan identified the difficult street network, the restricted transportation connections, and a lack of housing as the primary problems of the study area. The plan eased vehicular circulation and provided a major railroad station near Wall Street for direct commuter connections. It also demonstrated the possibility of generating a 24-hour community: by creating housing together with new public parks, retail centers, and restaurants to allow mixed use neighborhoods to develop.

One of the problems identified is a flawed URBAN STREET NETWORK. Lower Manhattan is plagued with discontinuous streets and unrelated grids creating multiple block sizes and small properties. This undermines the value of some property and restricts potential growth.

In response the plan provides the new streets, rights of way, and public spaces necessary to connect the disparate grids and neighborhoods into a coordinated street network, while preserving the distinct character of different districts.

Restricted TRANSPORTATION CONNECTIONS further stifle the potential of Lower Manhattan. Without direct commuter access to the major suburbs of NYC, Lower Manhattan is a second choice workplace environment.

The plan locates a downtown commuter terminal for the Long Island Rail Road and encourages new ferry terminals for service to Westchester and Connecticut. Further, it defines a boulevard system to connect the two sides of the island: tree lined boulevards on West Street and on Water Street, and a new Battery Parkway between them. This proposal creates more parkland and eases the existing bottleneck.

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