Will Vitality Be Trampled in the Rush to 'Modernize' Midtown Manhattan?

In a scathing op-ed for The New York Times, architect Robert Stern challenges the city's drive to densify East Midtown without paying the requisite attention to preservation, infrastructure, and the elements that give vitality to great cities.

"Last summer the Department of City Planning released its East Midtown study, envisioning a taller, denser, shinier future for the neighborhood around Grand Central. New and more liberal regulations that will allow bigger office towers are on their way to the City Council for approval before the end of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s current term."

"But what is a modern city, exactly?" asks Stern. "And is New York really in danger of falling behind new global cities like Shanghai?"

"I’m nearly always an advocate of density: it’s socially beneficial and environmentally responsible. And I like tall buildings as much as the next architect, especially if I’m asked to design them," he adds. "But the advantages of density can go only so far without the infrastructure to support it. And the appropriateness of tall buildings is a question of where and when, and what they contribute to the public realm."

"The proposed East Midtown up-zoning doesn’t give anything back to New York," Stern concludes. "It’s all about real estate and not about place-making, or should I say, place-saving."

Full Story: A Modern City in East Midtown?

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