The city, as a complex social, economic, and political entity, continues to be a decisive urban form-giver, and municipalities, organizations, and institutions worldwide are tackling a variety of issues facing cities today. Here are two recent news-making items on the urban front.
New York City's West Side Rail Yards Proposals Manhattan's west side is no stranger to planning initiatives. The area from Seventh Avenue to the Hudson River between 30th and 42nd streets has seen its share of planning proposals for one of the city's densest transportation and social gathering hubs that includes Madison Square Garden, Penn Station and the Port Authority, the Jacob Javitz Convention Center, and the West Side Rail Yards. In July 2007, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which owns the rail yards—the largest undeveloped tract of land (26 acres) in Manhattan—initiated a request for proposal process. Five developers—Brookfield Properties, Extell Development Company, Vornado Realty Trust and the Durst Organization in joint venture, The Related Companies, and Tishman Speyer and Morgan Stanley, also in joint venture—submitted proposals in October 2007, and representatives from the five design teams presented their schemes to an audience of more than 1,000 people during a December public meeting at Cooper Union's Great Hall. Zoning for the site permits 12 million square feet of combined residential and commercial development, and also makes provisions for a new public school and community and cultural facilities. The MTA expects to select a developer in early 2008.
New Urban Research and Policy Center in China Rapid growth in Asia and the unprecedented creation of entire cities overnight has led to the formation of the Center for Urban Development and Land Policy in Beijing, which will be a venture between the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Peking University. Joyce Yanyun, presently director of the Lincoln Institute's China program, will serve as the center's executive director. In a prepared statement, Gregory K. Imgram, president of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, stated, “With this center we seek to develop institutional capacity in China to address the many challenges that the country's rapid growth has for land. We want to continue to strengthen China's expertise in land policy and planning for urban development, through research, fellowships and training.” The center will open early 2008.