Dec 12, 2011


Broadway Boogie Woogie by Mondrian
The Greatest GRID:

Master Plan of Manhattan

Unfinished GRID:
Design Speculations
for Manhattan

Museum of the City of New York
December 6, 2011 - April 15, 2012
I am not a map person.  There is nothing I like less than walking around a city with my nose in a map.  The grid must have been invented for people like me.  It makes navigating your way around New York so easy. 
The Architecture League and The Museum of the City of New York have organized two great shows.  The Greatest Grid is a celebration of the grid; full of maps when maps were works of art; historical photos of the city and a brilliant exhibition installation.  Upstairs, is another show, Unfinished Grid, which showcases the 8 winning proposals from Call for Ideas that deal with the future of the grid.

On Saturday, December 10, Ken Smith, Amale Andraos and Mark Robbins and Gregory Wessner discussed Call for Ideas and the questions raised by the competition.

Wessner opened with What makes the Manhattan grid so special?
Andraos:  The grid allows each lot to become expressive on its own.

Smith:  The great moments in the city are the non-grid spaces: like the Flat Iron Building.  Broadway breaks the grid.  It's a cow path.  This is what makes the grid livable. 

The grid seems inevitable today.  How else could NYC be organized?  How would you get from east to west, north to south so easily?  It's unimaginable.  As the panel pointed out the grid is an egalitarian ideology.

 What do 8 entries add to a grid that works so perfectly?

For me there were two interesting ideas.  NYCity2 (Fotis Sagonas, Ioannis Oikonomou) think digital technologies can be harnessed to "help New Yorkers play a more engaged and vital role in shaping the future of the city?...  Residents upload their wishes and desires for their block, neighborhood or the city as a whole to an online platform."  This new grid is shaped by the city's inhabitants.  Do we trust our neighbors to create a livable city?
Tabula Fluxus (Group Han Associates) begins with the obvious:  the city is becoming ever more crowded.  A new horizontal grid above the existing verticality is the answer.  How do you get up use the voids in the grid.

 For me, the grid is my true om. Good luck to anyone who messes with it.