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, 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.
Chad Smith

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