Monday, August 22, 2005

Now For a Dose of Optimism

Okay, enough with the housing bubble. Back to more fun stuff:

In recent years, as young architects abandon established firms employing dozens of associates to strike out on their own, many of them have congregated in the dilapidated former tenements and discount shops around Delancey Street, not far from the Williamsburg Bridge. …

The architects have been drawn by the comparatively low rents, the vibe of a neighborhood in transition - artists and small businesses have gravitated there, too - and a sense of creative ferment.

It occurred to me reading this Times piece that Lower Manhattan will be redeveloped not in concentric circles with the WTC at its heart, but in ripples emanating from multi-nodal points, both spontaneous and planned, that will eventually intersect and overlap, creating entirely new configurations and associations, such as architects congregating around Delancey meeting redevelopment plans in Chinatown; a new esplanade along the East River Park bumping into historic cobble stone streets populated by five and dime stores; downtown condo conversions overlapping with artists temporarily converting vacant offices into cheap studio space ; etc. Hopefully, some of these more organic ripples will wash over the WTC site and mitigate the worst development instincts that are battling each other to a stalemate.

Photo by Michael Nagle for The New York Times of Lower East Side architects at work. Mimi Hoang and Eric Bunge of nArchitects supervise a project in the neighborhood, at 109 Norfolk Street.