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midtownguy70 t1_iu9mskd wrote

A big part of the problem is the way big new buildings are designed at street level.

Retail footprints are large and tend to be rented to chain stores and sterile uses like bank branches- especially all of the prominent corner locations. It creates a feeling of boredom and sameness. The retail spaces face the sidewalk with mostly flat panels of glass and no appearance of individuality or interesting human sized features, no awnings or much of anything protruding or creating semi-protected space for outdoor activity. No variety of scale.

Often, one or two sides of a whole block are designed with dead zones that are nothing but loading docks, service zones and mechanical spaces.

Food is relegated to indoor "food courts" (often in windowless basements of all places), or everyone is eating out of trucks (but lots of coffee coffee coffee shops). Stick an "art gallery" here or there with colorful non-threatening works that the people in the adjacent new condos can match with a sofa. Instant "culture".

Plazas and public spaces are nicely planted but usually lack amenities beyond a few benches, if we're lucky. Open expanses offering little incentive to linger there. These neighborhoods from scratch could easily be designed to be more inviting and charming. A place like Hudson Yards provides locals with very few reasons to ever return, after a first curious walk through.


99hoglagoons t1_iu9rmru wrote

This is an excellent architectural critique of folly of developer maximized modern design. I have worked on projects that have a "better base". More human scaled. But this often requires giving up square footage above, and no developer in NYC is gonna do that. Every inch counts when it comes to leasable space. You end up with flat rectangles poking into the sky. You can't even add interesting awnings or similar elements because you are already up to the property line. Zoning laws are not written by people who are design inclined. But if you had no zoning, results would be even worse.