From the High Line to waterfront redevelopment plans to rezoning efforts, the city's Planning Department has been a major part of the changes underway in the city.
"Chairing the City Planning Commission since 2002, Burden, age 67, has revolutionized its role in the city, transforming a once-sleepy bureaucratic agency into an activist department championing good design by using zoning as a weapon to enforce her vision. In her second-floor office near New York's City Hall, she reviews applications for all new buildings that come before the commission, instructing developers and architects on what they can and cannot do-something that comes as a dramatic shift in the order of business to executives accustomed to getting their way. Putting special emphasis on "how the building meets the sky" (suggesting attractive cornices or sculpted tops) and pedestrians' line of sight (engaging building materials at street level), Burden makes it her job to ensure developers have done their homework. Her oversight even extends to landscaping, where she can quibble over the placement and sustainability of plants and trees being proposed."