Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Brendan Crain, Project Coordinator at the Institute for Urban Design
Urban design has become something of a cause célébre in New York City’s public consciousness—if you need proof, look no further than the recent “Bikelash!” headline on New York magazine, or David Letterman’s razzing of Mayor Bloomberg for the banning of cars from much of Times Square. New Yorkers have a voracious appetite for discussion and debate about the shape that their city is taking in what is unquestionably a period of extraordinary change. Still, there are no doubt hundreds of urban design challenges around the city that go ignored for every Prospect Park West bike lane that makes it onto the city’s front pages.
To give voice to any New Yorker who’s ever imagined a more efficient transit system, speculated that their local park could be the next High Line, or just wished for wider sidewalks on their block, the Institute for Urban Design (IfUD) recently created By the City / For the City, a public crowdsourcing project that is intended to draw fresh design attention to oft-overlooked sites and situations around the city.
From now through April 30th, the IfUD is using a simple online submission form to collect New Yorkers’ ideas for designing a better city. After that, the public response will be analyzed and organized, and the results used as the basis for an international design competition through which architects, planners, academics, and urbanists around the world will be challenged to develop new solutions for the places and ideas that New Yorkers are most interested in seeing addressed.
The proposals created by the design community will be edited and compiled into an Atlas of Possibilities for the Future of New York. A jury of top urban thinkers, including IfUD board members Michael Sorkin and Winka Dubbeldam, will meet in late June to choose exemplary submissions to be highlighted in the Atlas, but the IfUD plans to include all of the design ideas submitted in the book. The Atlas will be published this fall, and will serve as the focus of the central exhibit during the first-ever Urban Design Week, scheduled for September 15-20, 2011.
For the next three weeks, all New Yorkers (past, present, honorary, and otherwise) are encouraged to contribute their ideas for sites and situations around the five boroughs that they think represent the greatest opportunities for improvement. Share your idea for a better city today—and you just might see it realized tomorrow.