When Mayor Bloomberg announced the city's new $20 billion resiliency plan in June, "[the] idea of planting trees and vegetation (and drains) on New York City’s streets and rooftops to absorb and divert storm water slid past much of the media," notes Tan. "Perhaps it seemed too 'frilly' for adversaries the likes of Hurricane Sandy. But we think we should push the concept even further."
"What if some of the more generous central medians throughout New York’s street system were turned into green infrastructure: parklets that have been keenly designed to absorb and funnel storm water; generate solar electricity; and recycle food waste, which is another matter that Mayor Bloomberg is championing these days in the spirit of saving roughly $100 million a year by diverting organic residential waste from landfills."
Tan and his colleagues at Gensler New York developed NYC Street Squares, a "kit of parts" solution for maximizing the city's street-related filler space. "Our vision has the neighborhood voting via social media for the modules (bike racks, a community garden, children’s garden, bee farm, public shower, public sauna, lounge areas, electric car charging station, among them) that they want to see in their local street square."