The form of the city rises from the convergence of legislation, imagination, ambition, and resistance. This complex of forces is getting a workout a few blocks from my office in Lower Manhattan, where Donald Trump and partners are building the Trump SoHo, a 45-story “condominium hotel” containing 400 apartments—ranging in size from 425 to 10,000 square feet—priced at $3,000 a square foot and said to be selling briskly. The tower, which is going up fast and is scheduled to open in spring 2009, sits adjacent to SoHo and will be, by far, the tallest building in an area characterized by
One obvious question is why Trump and his partners aren’t simply building an actual hotel on the site. According to Julius Schwarz, executive vice president of the Bayrock Group (which initially secured the site with the Sapir Organization before bringing in Trump for his inimitable cachet) and the managing partner for the project, “It’s a financing mechanism” designed as a hedge against a potential glut of hotels. “You can model it out 10 years. Right now, there’s a shortage of hotels. So people are going to be building hotels and the rates will eventually come down. Hotel rooms will always
After landing at the dock and walking through the parklike serenity of this walled island, you finally catch a view of the cinema, a pavilion with the same oval rondeur, says the artist, as the great Fenice Theater. Though it functions as a theater showing documentary films and holds an audience of 35 to 40 on its stepped rows of square seats, the pavilion retains a special intimacy and scale that make viewers feel they are entering an architectural model itself. On the outside, Putrih assembled a seemingly random (though actually precise) criss-cross installation of rusted trusswork bolted into place.
As part of his recently released plan for New York by the year 2030, entitled PLANYC: A Greener, Greater New York, Mayor Michael Blooomberg is actively promoting a scheme for congestion pricing in the busiest parts of Manhattan. Modeled on programs in Singapore, London, and Stockholm, the system is intended to curb vehicular traffic (and raise money for public transportation) by imposing charges ($8 for cars and $21 for trucks) to enter the borough below 96th Street. The proposal has the support of virtually every bien-pensant urbanist in town, although it has met some resistance, particularly from the outer boroughs
Spaces of free access The contraction of the public realm, however, extends beyond these Orwellian developments. Public space is produced from the private: In democracy, the commons is always a compact about what is to be shared, what reserved; about where we choose to interact with the other. There’s been a lot of criticism from certain academic quarters about traditional notions of public space, about overidentifying the idea with streets, squares, parks, and other historic settings for face-to-face interactions. This critique is predicated both on the idea that these spaces fail to acknowledge the existence of multiple publics and that