The Fine Arts Federation of New York, in collaboration with the New York City Public Design Commission, is exploring the next frontier in people-friendly urban street design: shared spaces. Pioneered to great acclaim (and occasional outrage) in European cities such as Amsterdam and London, shared spaces reimagine roadways and sidewalks as seamless “public realms” for civic life, doing away with traditional traffic lanes, curbs, barriers, or signals. This counter-intuitive approach to designing public thoroughfares has been shown to improve safety as cars slow down to navigate a unified public zone, while walkers and cyclists enjoy improved amenities and access to the city. Liberating space from vehicles also offers new opportunities to soften, shade, and “green” the right-of-way, promoting calmer, cooler, and ecologically friendlier environments, as well as new spaces for events, farmers markets, and public art installations that activate the streetscape. The result is a more humane and harmonious urban environment.
Championed by urban innovators and viewed by others as a threat to public order as we know it, shared spaces deserve to be explored as a solution to New York’s often woefully congested and hostile streetscapes. Could our city join the vanguard of next-generation street design?
This 45-minute session will begin with a thought leader in the field of urban design offering a provocative, TED talk–style presentation on the creation and implementation of shared spaces around the world (20 minutes). The presentation will be followed by conversation with three respondents from the public and private sectors representing diverse, real-world New York City perspectives on this radical proposition (20 minutes). The session will conclude with a brief audience Q&A (5 minutes).
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