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Times Archicritic Gives the Next Mayor a Checklist

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In his latest piece, Times architectural critic Michael Kimmelman takes a broad look at The Future of New York City, presented as a sort of to-do list for the next mayor (whoever that happens to be), sort of like an If I Ran The Zoo about urban planning. (It's a pretty good city / Said young archicritic...)

Kimmelman suggests maintaining Bloomberg's focus on architecture and planning—the Design and Construction Excellence Program, for example, having resulted in a higher standard for public buildings. "A modest premium for green design and architectural excellence produces social and economic dividends," Kimmelman writes, in reference to longtime favorite Via Verde. A few shifts are also necessary, though. Bloomberg's policy of allowing developers to do basically whatever they want has produced far more high-end condos for the superrich than projects that benefit the public in any capacity.

The Bloomberg administration has also not been known for its commitment to public housing, something that frontrunner Bill de Blasio has already promised to make a priority. The city's plan to lease New York City Housing Authority land to private developers has been met with criticism from residents, government, and mayoral candidates, but Kimmelman thinks there's something there worth salvaging. "These ideas are still worth exploring," he writes, "if focused on improving and diversifying neighborhoods and knitting them into the fabric of the city."

The fabric of the city is what it all comes down to. While the current administration has spurred a massive amount of development, Kimmelman worries that its not all for the best:

Yes, the city benefits from attracting more rich people, but economic diversity is not just a campaign slogan. A big part of what keeps the city competitive has to do with its pedestrian-friendly streets; lively, inspired public spaces; and eclectic neighborhoods and populations. And, oh yeah, finish the stupid Second Avenue Subway, too.
· Building a Better City [NYT]
· Kimmelman coverage [Curbed]
Photo by Aleks Ivic