New York City Housing Authority’s sheer physical problems — lead paint, leaks, heat and hot-water failures — seem insurmountable.
But fixing a more basic design flaw in NYCHA’s 326 developments could be a major new answer to their problems.
Currently cursed with a “towers in the park” layout, NYCHA developments are cut off from the surrounding city. They are distant from supermarkets. Their isolated, interior green spaces have turned into danger zones.
As the great New Yorker Jane Jacobs said nearly 60 years ago in her landmark book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities:” “Public housing must tie with streets beyond the project borders … the aim should be to bring in uses different from residence, because lack of mixed uses is precisely one of the causes of deadness, danger and plain inconvenience.”
NYCHA’s current crisis has sparked a need to act on her vision. The architecture firm Curtis+Ginsberg LLP and I have worked together on a plan called “Re-Streeting” NYCHA, and our solution is easy: Simply extend neighborhood streets through the projects and they will become far better places to live.
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