HL23, Neil M. Denari architects; 100 11th Avenue, Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Photo ' Iwan Baan for Architectural Record
New York City
Photo ' James Ewing

This special section of RECORD is unabashedly devoted to New York City. We are not just commemorating the 10th anniversary of September 11. We want to give the city its due as a 21st-century design capital. There are more architects here than in any other U.S. city, but for decades, New York didn’t construct many innovative buildings. The city was a think tank for architecture — with its schools, institutes, and critics — a crucible for big ideas that got built elsewhere, if at all.

About ten years ago, that scenario began to shift. Not just because of the international stars who came to design here — Foster, Piano, Nouvel — though they helped raise everyone’s game. There was a change in the culture, a new awareness that all the elements of great cities were here to build on — the streets, the waterfront, the density.

Architecture and urban design advanced at every scale: from Gehry’s 76-story tower downtown to a children’s library in Queens by 1100 Architect; in parks and plazas; and renovations that breathed life into old public spaces.

Several factors jump-started the transformation. The international focus on Ground Zero, for one. The powerful economy, for sure. And a mayor whose mantra is “quality of life.” New York came back as a great global city, with architecture, design, and planning at center stage.