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June 22, 2005

An Open Email To City Planning

Ms. Burden:

I am an architect who lives in the far West Village. As both designer and resident, I have a dual interest in the development future of the far West Village.

I am writing to tell you of my support of the West Village zoning plan
being proposed by your department. I support your efforts to preserve
the scale and character of my neighborhood, and as always am impressed
by the level of commitment that you have shown to good public space in
New York. I have encountered your sound, balanced decisions many
times: I was an associate at Rogers Marvel Architects for seven years,
until I left last August to start Chad Smith Architect. We had a
brief introduction after our presentation for the High Line
competition.

At RMA it was clear to us that City Planning, directed by yourself,
was committed to the transformation of New York's public realm into
the finest public space possible. What was particularly encouraging
was that your department treated development as a powerful partner in
the creation of good public space. I have since moved on to become an
advocate for good public space in my own right through my office,
through a weblog at the soon-to-be launched tropolism.com, and through
my writing for the Village Voice.

I was urged by a co-tenant to write in opposition of the zoning
exclusion of the Whitehall Storage site. I declined to do that.
Instead, I was inspired to write in support of keeping this site, and
others like it, eligible for development. The neighborhood gains
nothing by keeping the 1950s parking garages and 1930s storage
buildings. In addition, I think encouraging limited development in
this area has had some bright spots: Richard Meier's third tower, at
168 Charles Street, is one of the best buildings in Manhattan. The
market finally delivers a gem.

To that end, I have proposed in my writing (I have devoted several
recent entries to this zoning topic) that development in the far West
Village be vetted by your office, or just you, to ensure it is of the
finest architectural quality. There is no need to impose a
historicist character to anything, and the limited number of
sites available will ensure the Village stays the Village. The fringe
sites are the perfect places for inspired design, both of buildings
and the public spaces they create. In short, encourage buildings like
Meier #3, discourage Morton Square. I invite you to take action on
this proposal.

Feel free to contact me at any time, through phone or email. Thank
you for your time.

Sincerely,
Chad Smith

Posted by chad at June 22, 2005 02:21 PM

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