One of the primary accomplishments of Amanda Burden's tenure as commissioner of New York's Department of City Planning has been a renewed focus on design detail and the public sphere in the work that is born out of, and reviewed by, her department. Since re-establishing the department's urban design division in 2007, the lieutenant responsible for enhancing design throughout New York City has been Alex Washburn.
"The primary responsibility of Mr. Washburn's group - a cadre of specialists who supply the Department of City Planning with pictorial renderings of the way proposed developments will enhance, or diminish, pre-existing neighborhoods - is making the civic cityscape, streets included, a more palatable place, with space for pedestrians to ambulate, explore and, when the site is right, linger," writes Finn.
"Alex and his team have integrated design into city-making," says Burden. "On the streets, design detail means everything. The team studies what makes great places: the width of the sidewalk, the spacing of street trees, the diversity of retail - and they integrate these details into our plans, turning projects into places that people want to be."