Managing the 'Uneven Growth' of the Urban Boom

A new exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art examines the growing pains of urbanism's ascendance.

2 minute read

November 24, 2014, 5:00 AM PST

By Maayan Dembo @DJ_Mayjahn

Hidden New York City

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The new exhibit, opening on November 22 at the Museum of Modern Art, focuses the problems and potential solutions for six different cities around the world: New York City, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Lagos, Rio de Janeiro, and Istanbul. For the exhibit, curator Pedro Gadanho assigned two architectural firms to each city, and required them to present an issue and examine a respective solution.

As Brad Dale of Next City writes: "Two of the cities’ presentations, Mumbai and New York City, exhibited notable parallels, with the solutions grappling with everything from a lack of space to legal issues. In New York, SITU Studio and Cohabitation Strategies investigated the housing crisis in New York City. SITU focused in particular on the invisible New York. New York has a reputation for high-priced real estate, and anyone who’s ever visited likely has wondered, where does the guy who’s selling me pizza live?"

To answer this question, Bradley Samuels of SITU looked into illegal conversions of homes, specifically through 311 calls regarding illegal cohabitation. As Dale writes, "SITU looked beyond the numbers with qualitative work by going with trusted community organizations to see life inside these conversions. About a third of the New York section of “Uneven Growth” is devoted to photographs and diagrams showing ideas for fitting two or three families into a space built for one."

The solution for New York City's conversions? The expansion of "how transferrable development rights can be traded so that low-density neighborhoods could sell air rights one neighborhood over. As the revenue from those sales is converted into additional amenities, and spaces are added to roofs and backyards with modular and DIY structures, SITU sees a public byway extending above and behind homes as well."

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