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New Center for Architecture Opens  in New York City - 2003-10-07

A new Center for Architecture opened in New York City this week, showcasing publicly-funded urban design projects and kicking off several days of activities focusing on architecture.

Walking around the new 1,100-square-meter Center for Architecture is a bit like taking an insider's guided tour of New York City. Pictures on the walls show the outside of the Firefighter Training Academy, a futuristic room inside the United Nations, a proposed park for downtown Brooklyn. All are city projects, all are publicly funded, and some are surprisingly innovative in their design.

The exhibit, called Going Public, focuses solely on city planning projects.

Amanda Burden, head of the New York City Planning Commission, says the exhibit brings to light a new partnership between planners and architects. "For as long as I can remember, there has been an impenetrable wall between planners and architects," she explained. "We planners have said again and again and again, 'Take down that wall!' Today, that wall is down."

After September 11, 2001, public interest in the future of New York City buildings increased, especially concerning the future of the World Trade Center site. Representatives of the new Center say the impulse to rebuild spurred communication between the architectural, engineering, planning and building communities like never before, and they hope the Center will provide a forum for more interaction.

The Center for Architecture also has a library and lecture hall, and is one of the only such institutions in North America. It received $4 million in funding from private donations and city grants, and unlike most architectural centers, it is not affiliated with a university.

According to Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris says the Center will reflect New York City's diverse architecture, both new and old. "From the Empire State building to Borough Hall in Brooklyn, New York is rich in architecture and treasured landmarks," she said. "It is up to all of us to perpetuate the tradition of innovative architecture that fills the history of our city."

The opening of the Center coincides with the start of Architecture Week in New York. Events include a day-long design marathon, student workshops, tours of New York City buildings and a play about contemporary architecture.