Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card #11: Project Will Be Developed Gradually Working with City Fabric? NO

This is evaluation item #11 (of 47) of the Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card

Project Will Be Developed Gradually Working with City Fabric? NO

(Picture: Rendering by the Municipal Art Society showing the teardown of the neighborhood the project plan involves -Original Aerial Photograph by Jonathan Barkey.)

Jane Jacobs calls for cities to be constructed gradually so as not to lose the existing intricate and close-grained diversity of uses that has built up slowly and organically and does not replace itself easily. Atlantic Yards, which is planned to be under construction continuously until finished will be the opposite of a gradual event, partly because of its concentrated scale and partly because, rather than integrate with existing fabric, it goes out of its way to tear down existing fabric and replace it in one sudden “swoop.” The minor fractional portion of Atlantic Yards that is being built over the rail yards must be built new and will not have within it very much existing city fabric. Still to integrate the new construction gradually, in a way that would allow it to relate better and in balance with the existing fabric Jacobs would suggest building this portion at a smaller scale and then integrating more building that would occur outside this area organically and gradually over time.

JJ Cites: [ . . . these increments or displacements have to be gradual. If self-government in the place is to work, underlying any float of population must be a continuity of people who have forged neighborhood networks, These networks are a city’s irreplaceable social capital. Whenever the capital is lost, from whatever cause, the income from it disappears, never to return until and unless new capital is slowly chancily accumulated. P. 138 Many a once vital district, having lost in the past a mixture if primary uses which brought immediate attraction, popularity and high economic value, has declined sadly. P. 168 Given enough federal funds and enough power, planners can easily destroy city primary mixtures faster than these can grow in unplanned districts, so that there is a net loss of basic primary mixture. Indeed, this is happening today. P. 177 The very process of increasing density gradually but continually can result in increasing variety too. And thus can permit high ultimate densities without standardization. P.216 No matter how old the buildings in a locality, no matter how great the necessity for eventual replacement of all or nearly all, this process should not occur in one swoop. P.334]

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