This week, two exhibitions opened at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) that celebrate the evolving legacy of Manhattan’s street grid. In one of the Museum’s ground floor galleries, urban historian Hilary Ballon has curated The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011, a historical show that celebrates the 200th anniversary of the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan for New York through an astonishing collection of the maps, drawings and documents that moved the plan from a bold idea to a defining reality of New York. Upstairs, The Unfinished Grid: Design Speculations for Manhattan, a display of eight proposals by architects — curated by Gregory Wessner, the Architectural League’s Special Projects Director — showcases a wide and provocative range of speculative futures for the grid. These proposals are the winning entries to an international ideas competition, organized by the Architectural League in collaboration with MCNY and Architizer.
This Saturday, three of the competition’s jurors will join Wessner for a panel discussion that will reflect on themes that emerged from the over 120 entries, the implications of the eight winning proposals and questions raised by the Call for Ideas. Taking the consistent adaptations to the grid over the past two centuries as a point of departure, these questions include: What new possibilities for the grid still exist? What can we expect for the city’s future and how will it be shaped and reflected by the street grid? What kinds of ideas as bold and visionary as the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan might New York undertake?
The Unfinished Grid: Speculations for Manhattan
Amale Andraos, Mark Robbins, and Ken Smith, moderated by Gregory Wessner
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Amale Andraos is co-founder and partner of Work Architecture Company. Recent projects include the winning competition entry for a new cultural center on New Holland Island in Saint Petersburg, Russia; a museum extension for the Blaffer Museum, Houston; a branch library for Kew Gardens Hills in Queens; and the first Edible Schoolyard New York City with chef Alice Waters. WORKac’s entry for the redesign of Hua Qiang Bei Road, was recently awarded first place in the international competition for the redesign of Shenzhen’s busiest shopping street.
Ken Smith is principal of Ken Smith Landscape Architect. His background and training is in landscape architecture and the fine arts. Recent projects include the East River ferry landings, New York City; a rooftop garden for the Museum of Modern Art; and a major urban park for El Toro Marine Base in Orange County, California.
Mark Robbins is the Dean of Syracuse University School of Architecture. He was previously Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts and Curator for Architecture at the Wexner Center for the Arts.
Gregory Wessner is Special Projects Director for the Architectural League and the curator of The Unfinished Grid: Design Speculations for Manhattan. He was curator of League exhibitions The City We Imagined/The City We Made: New New York 2001-2010 and New New York: Fast Forward.
Co-sponsored by the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Public Library.
Tickets are $6 for League members and members of the museum; $8 for students and seniors; $12 for all others. Tickets include Museum admission. League members may register online at www.mcny.org and enter code AL1210 upon checkout for discounted rate. For more information or to reserve by phone, please call 917-492-3395.
Top image: Projects in The Unfinished Grid (clockwise from top left) — The Informal Grid (Isaiah King, Ryan Neiheiser, Giancarlo Valle); The Plaid (Architecture Commons: Eric Ho, Rick Lam); Tabula Fluxus (Group Han Associates New York: Myung Kweon Park, Yikyu Choe, Michael Chaveriat); Flow My Tears, The Commissioners Said (GHILARDI + HELLSTEN ARKITEKTER: Franco Ghilardi, Ellen Hellsten, Espen Vatn, Erik Stenman, Einar Rodhe); 6 1/4 Avenue (Ksestudio: Kyriakos Kyriakou, Sofia Krimizi, assisted by Yubi Park, Jennifer Endozo, Inti Rojanasopondist, Pauline Caubel); NYCity2 (Fotis Sagonas, Ioannis Oikonomou); Dissociative New York (Joshua Mackley, Mathew Ford); Projective Exceptions (Grant Alford, assisted by Spencer Lindstrom).
The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.