I’ve always found urban design to be a very attractive field because it touches upon both social and technical factors that contribute to improving the quality of life for people and the communities formed. Unlike architecture, an urban designer uses planning which touches upon political affairs, an urban designer also has a broader stake by planning whole neighborhoods and cities, a very big distinction from an architecture. An urban designer cannot just build without factoring in the myriad of discrepancies that could happen to both the people involved and land itself. They create a process to begin the planning process, which requires having knowledge of zoning rights and the different types of zoning.
Having just visited the High Line this summer, I had always been amazed by how they would have thought to build such a beautiful sustainable green space for pedestrians to walk. This is the task for urban designers as explained by John M. Levy in Contemporary Urban Planning,
one task for the urban designer is to combine aesthetic considerations with what we have learned about the relationship between physical design and human behavior to obtain a result that actually improves the quality of people’s lives (201).
Instead of walking a normal route of passing through cars and buildings from 14th street to 32nd, a person is able to look at an aesthetically beautiful park while actually having to walk less “ It didn’t occur to me that so much work regarding land use was needed to make this happen such as transfer of development rights.
I guess the High Line fits Le Corbusier’s visions of how city dwellers would live:
Le Corbusier envisioned high-rise residential towers in a parklike setting. Major roadways would link together sectors of the city (199).
The High Line is 1.5 mile long high-rise linear park. Under it are streets and roads for the every day driver who chooses to use their own means of transportation. Although high rise feature’s do no work for all type of scenarios such as public housing, I think this is good for high density areas for more recreational activities. I know New York City is doing more of this especially with it’s new Hudson Yards Project. I’m sure this project must have required a number of urban planners. The structure will be filled with both retail stores, restaurants, open public space, office space and etc.
You can learn more about it on here:
Levy, John M. (2012-09-20). Contemporary Urban Planning (10th Edition) (Page 201). Pearson HE, Inc.. Kindle Edition.