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Can Emulating Other Cities Improve New York: Yay! Or Nay?

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A recent sea change in architecture criticism has been ushered in, from critics Tweeting betwist themselves (see @paulgoldberger @LangeAlexandra @HawthorneLAT @marklamster and @Kimmelman) to agenda based less on starchitecture and more on community movements. Justin Davidson from NYMag is roundly respected for his street view on cities, and now he culls a few examples worth learning for New York: "Shanghai’s skyscrapers are taller, Berlin’s cafés cheaper, Singapore’s traffic saner, Helsinki’s schools better, Portland’s water cleaner."

Davidson swoops in to suggest pilfered ideas, some controversial (from Hong Kong-like high-rise density in Williamsburg, Willets Point, and Queens Boulevard and pedestrian boulevards and bike lines à la Copenhagen) to the New York-South Korean hybrid of Songdo, where Kohn Pedersen Fox has devised an "anti-utopian plan" that works as a patchwork patchwork "derived from cities which we know to have provided successful living environments." Of course, that's quite utopian in the sense that a city made from scratch has no history, and therefore preservation, to contend with. Davidson also addressed newly-anointed Times favorite Via Verde in the Bronx as harbinger of what should be--though fully admits that one building can't make an entire neighborhood. Time to get crackin'!
· What New York Can Steal From Hong Kong [New York Mag]
· Social Housing in SoBro Courtesy of Times' New Archicritic [Curbed]