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Where are the planners?


The New York Times recently published the results of a "study project", the brainchild of Herbert Muschamp, the architecture critic. Don't Rebuild. Reimagine. While everyone can probably agree that the plans produced by the Port Authority were dreadful, here we have architects who think they are urban planners - as they usually do - with predictable results. The "thinking big" touted in the slide show amounts to spewing post-modern whimsy (and worse) over the landscape of lower Manhattan.

But, these are architects afterall, and all the dreamy notions I've seen so far about reconstructing - or deconstructing - lower Manhattan have come from their fevered brains. Where are the voices of the greatest minds in urban planning to temper and counter, to bring to the fore truly "big" ideas that go beyond wavy buildings? Has our profession been so reduced in stature and thought that we stand idly on sidelines of what is likely to be the most significant urban planning event of the century?


Response to Phenol-where are the planners?

*I accidentaly put this under new post instead of reply*
The best plans I've heard other than the RPA, have been those from the public. While some have asked for nothing but a cemetary and others for rebuilding it as it was, many(especialy residents of Manhattan) want a mixed use, mixed income, 24-7 lively neighborhood with many streets and sidewalks restored. The first 6 plans called for offices and under and over ground shopping malls, like existed before. The NY times architects ideas were even worse. The only thing I can say for them is that, like the original mistake, (WTC), they think big. I read an article that said that M. Atta and Bin Laden took architecture, and hated modernist buildings like the Wolrld trade center ,especially since American Architecture was having a negative effect on Saudi Arabia.
New york city planning has not been a major force for many years. Although I admire the Regional Planning Ascociation which has no power. The official city planning authority is very regressive and low key. They probably love the first 6 proposals, but won't say.The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is fully under political control, but is under pressure from the public glare. They'll spend the money, but don't expect a neighborhood to be created.


Ready to Learn
Architects have prestige. Planners do not. That is why the New York Times has an architecture critic - not a planning critic. Look through your sunday sections of the New Yotk Times - anything that has to do with architecture is in their Art & Entertainment section. Anything that has to do with the business of architecture, that is, real estate development, is located in the Business & Money section. Land Use and Zoning? Nowhere. If you are lucky, it's in the Politics section, but those stories mostly focus on the individuals involved with a planning issue - not neccessarily the planning itself.

Why is this?

Planning is boring.

Don't get me wrong. I love planning. And I love the New York Times. In fact, the Times committed a whole Sunday Times magazine to planning - the memorable "Suburbia" issue from July 2000. But the thing is, planning isn't sexy, it isn't provacative. That's why Muschamp got all those Name Brand architects to plan and design the WTC site. They have the Mojo and international recognition. We do not.

And that's the thing - the whole issue is about design. Planners don't design, architects do! I couldn't draw myself out of wet brown paper bag. Designing is cool, site plan review is not. Planners will tell you what you can't do, Architects will inspire and create something brand new.

Plus, in addition to their designing and cost estimating skills, architects also took coursework site design and analysis. They know the same exact stuff as we do! Plus a whole lot more.