Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Walkability and the Le Corbusier superblock

Streetsblog brings up the topic of increasing walkability in NYC.

One project towards that goal is the restoration of 129th Street through the St. Nicholas Houses:

One agency that's doing some interesting work to connect housing policy with urban design is the New York City Housing Authority. NYCHA General Manager Mike Kelly pointed to a site where enhancing walkability is also helping to add and improve housing. At the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem, NYCHA plans to restore the street grid to a towers-in-the-park superblock, extending 129th Street from Frederick Douglass Boulevard to Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.

IMO, restoring the road without restoring the "streetwall" would be better for cars than people.

People have opinions about the whole mission of public housing, however Le Corbusier's saving grace may be all that green space. They're extra lungs for a neighborhood, before which there was none.

In a "satellite" photo of Downtown Brooklyn from 1924—long before Cadman Plaza and MetroTech—the area is thick with buildings with little if any greenery:

Plus they provide a shelter, for those within, from the demolition derby of the road.

They're very pedestrian friendly, but if we want walkability then allow the ground floor the buildings to be rented out for shops. Or if we're going to restore the road, then restore the original streetwall.

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