plaNYC vs futurists

It is clear that adaptation and mitigation is necessary for the survival of our cities.The NYC DEP Climate Change Program Assessment and Action Plan properly enumerates thechallenges that threaten NYC and provides possible solutions to these problems. Ratcliffe and Krawczyk question their approach.

Do you think that the political system we currently inhabit prevents planners and politicians described by Ratcliffe and Krawczyk from becoming more ‘visionary’ in their approach to planning for NYC’s future?

How can we reconcile the risks and necessity of an ambiguous futurist approach to planning and make them more understandable, even palatable, for politicians, plannersand ultimately to the tax payers to whom they are responsible?

Do you think that the politicians and planners of today have lost the capacity for being
‘visionary’, because of the past follies of Robert Moses, and the negativity that association invites?


Approaches to Planning

New York City has seen an influx of new structural and architectural initiatives, particularly in light of Hurricane Sandy. Cornish discusses different strategies to planning such initiatives. He discusses forecasting and backcasting, two approaches to account for the numerous variables that contribute to scenario planning.

How should architects and government officials, such as those who are part of Lightstone Group, integrate concerns of climate change into their designs? How should we, as New Yorkers, plan for the future? Should we forecast the future, and predict where we will be in X years based on where we are now? Or, should we backcast, in which case we would develop goals and work to achieve those goals?


Lightstone: Smart planning or ignorant planning?

Ratcliffe and Krawczyk both focus on past and present planning problems along with changes in the 21st century from those before it. They believe that knowing and learning from our mistakes is crucial to future planning. The Lightstone Project is waterfront development, which has come under scrutiny because of Super Storm Sandy. Knowing the implications of building so close to the water with water levels rising every year, The Lightstone Group is continuing its development.

Should the Lightstone Group really be building so close to the waterfront, or are they setting themselves up for failure as Ratcliffe and Krawczyk would probably say?


Engage Week 7: Madness to Method

Cornish, Ratcliffe, Krawczyk and other futurists understand the necessity for a flexible, understandable, applicable plan for the long-term survivability of the human race. Flexible is a keyword here: as Cornish explains in chapter 5, there are events and acts that are unexpected or seemingly trivial that can leave significant consequences. So far, many of our readings have focused on both private governmental requests-for-proposals, mandates and other such edicts that, while do focus on major problems for the future, are very broad and vague in their explanations or requests. That is not to say that no great ideas have been put forth, but many are generally in a pilot or testing phase, or else too broad to be replicated sufficiently across areas.

I digress to ask, then: what might we have now that might be a gamechanger, a curveball, an unexpected or seemingly inconsequential event or concept that might majorly influence how we develop our water and waste systems? What might have we overlooked in our quest to look at the heart of the problem? What may have been discarded or forgotten that might nevertheless make an impact?

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The future of architecture or stubbornness?

It seems that people like to live on waterfronts regardless of the susceptibility to severe flooding after major storms. However, a developer might suggest the vulnerability of waterfronts is something of the past.

Anderson’s article titled “Sandy Who?” shows mixed views on the construction of a residential complex off the Gowanus Canal. Despite warnings and concerns against the construction of the project; Lightstone Group, the developer, claims to have a building designed “invulnerable to flooding”.

When discussing contemporary city planning, Ratcliffe and Krawczyk stress that present and future needs for effective city planning must be based on an understanding of past failures.

Is Lightstone’s invulnerable project of building on a waterfront an example of an avant-garde construction techinique, or has the project failed to understand the failures hurricane Sandy has made evident? What’s the use of a flood-proof building when your neighborhood has the whole Gowanus Canal on the streets?


Week 7: Water in NYC; Futuring methods

Research Challenges.  Using visuals, present a brief introduction to the class on the following examples of contemporary futurism (note – you must go beyond wikipedia):

  1. Ray Kurzweil
  2. the Tellus Institute
  3. Steampunk
Click to show required readings
New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The NYC DEP Climate Change Program Assessment and Action Plan

Cornish, Edward. “Ch. 5: Systems, Chance and Chaos,” “Ch. 6: Futuring Methods”, “Ch. 7 Knowing the World Around Us”, “Ch. 8 Using Scenarios” in Futuring: the Exploration of the Future. World Future Society, 2004. 49-105 e-reserves

Ratcliffe, John, and Ela Krawczyk. “Imagineering city futures: The use of prospective through scenarios in urban planning.” Futures 43, no. 7 (2011): 642-653. [Zotero]

Click to show optional readings
Vision 2020: New York City’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan


Anderson, Nicole, “Sandy Who? New developments prevail on Brooklyn’s waterfront in the wake of Hurricane Sandy”. Architect’s Newspaper, 12/13/2012 

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