In this post I will be documenting my responses and illustrations to various questions concerning a class trip to: The Museum of the City of New York. Let’s Begin!
(2) Describe and illustrate one project you saw at the Museum of the City of New York. (Illustration of the 1916 Zoning Code Before and After Above).
Answer: Whilst visiting the Museum of the City of New York, I came across an exhibition titled: “Mastering the Metropolis: New York and Zoning.” This exhibition focuses on the usage and planning of land and space within New York City throughout the years. However, one project within the exhibition that happened to intrigue me was the implementation of the “1916 Zoning Code;” which was in-effect, the city’s very first attempt at and realization that the city needed more careful and concise planning, placement, and architecture. One of the key focuses of the “1916 Zoning Code,” was the ability to create skyscrapers and mass buildings that (in the process) avoided blocking natural elements such as: light and air. The need for this was dire; due to overcrowding, and rampant disease creeping into the city as a result of the elements’ absence.
(1) In your own words, write what was the exhibit concentrated on?
Answer: “Mastering the Metropolis: New York and Zoning,” was primarily focused upon the progression of New York City builders, architects, and government official’s ideas and propositions concerning the wise strategic management; of how to make better use of the city’s land; and open space such as “FAR”: (total floor area divided by the lot area), without disrupting existing cultures and/or neighborhoods.
(2) In your own words, write what was the project you chose about? Who was it about? What problems or circumstances was it outlining?
Answer: The specific portion of this exhibition that I chose to focus on, was the initial problem that spurred the “1916 Zoning Code” into being. From as early as the 1830’s; massive scores of immigrants flooded the city seeking shelter in overcrowded, cheap tenements- as the city witnessed this boom; demand for: jobs, grocers, stores, places of worship, and other means of living also saw rise. This overcrowding gave limited space; and caused architects to start building vertically- “skyscrapers,” as a result. These tall buildings, continued to be built without much thought until 1916; when city planners noticed the darkness, disease, and crime rate soar due to blockage of light and fresh air from the suffocating cloak of these massive buildings. Hence guidelines, and special regulation; was called into action for further city developments such as the skyscraper. One formation as a result was the “Setback Principle,” which allowed buildings to rise in multiples of the width of a street; before it had to step back from a street. This project was mostly targeted towards residents of the city of New York in the early 1900’s, as well as building commissioners. The outlining problem was prior to the implementation of the “1916 Zoning Code”- outstretched, gloomy shadows would cast over the streets shutting out light; and the sheer rise in building mass and height was barring access to breathable air on the city’s congested streets.
(3) In order to understand and comment on the system in question, the artist, researcher, or designer of the project you chose went through a research process. What design methods might you use if this was your project? Draw your process! Why would you use this method you chose? How would you go about applying it? Who might be involved? (Illustration for process: (Top; Prototyping and Simulating Experiences, Middle; Exploratory Research and Evaluation-Based Design, Bottom; Secondary Research, below).
Answer: If this project was mine to tackle; I assume that I would begin by testing out the actual problem that would have been at hand at that time in New York. By prototyping similar structures of the early 1900’s (before the “1916 Zoning Code”);I could revert back into that world by reliving (in miniature form), the issues the structures presented. Through simulated exercises; I could play with space and lighting to determine, what needed to be solved. Through the use of: exploratory research and evidence-based design; I could then experiment with research through design, to craft an improved model similar to those found (post- “1916 Zoning Code”); and back up the Zoning Code’s history of the “Setback Principle,” applied to skyscrapers; with secondary research. I would use these methods to: set context, experience visually the problem and solution in an interactive manner, and validate factual history. As far as involvement is concerned; I would conduct research on my own terms- since the people who implemented the codes, or lived during the time of such arrangements; are more than likely deceased. However, if this is in past context; I assume that the residents of the area in question, at the time of the need for the 1916 revisions, would be involved. As well as perhaps; fellow commissioners, and government officials.