Wall Street Journal Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable takes the Rail Yards planning process to task today. She’s skeptical of a process she sees as offering too much to the developers to the utimate detriment of the public good, because
it is hard to believe that teams with this much financial heft and assembled star power could come up with something so awesomely bad.
Notably, she singles out the possible preservation of the High Line as a rare triumph of public opinion in this process:
This section of the High Line was considered expendable by a number of the developers until public opinion made them think otherwise; it appears in all of the schemes, usually as a kind of peripheral trim. Or worse, a device for enhancing commercial properties by allowing direct exits onto the elevated park, a terrible idea.
Huxtable suggests the lack of visionary (or even sensical) planning is due to the City’s focus on financial incentive over public benefit:
The most disturbing aspect of this high-stakes game is the default of the city and the public agencies involved: their failure to create — or is it simply disinterest? — a coordinated plan for a West Side bursting with development from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden to the Javits Center, allowing these cobbled up investment schemes to substitute for any appropriate, larger solutions.
The city thinks like a developer; that vision thing, the long-term overview, the balance of private investment and public utility and amenity, is just not there.
Read the complete article after the jump.