Rob Pirani

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Transcript of Rob Pirani

  • In the Wake of the Half Moon:

    The City Today

    Robert PiraniRegional Plan AssociationNovember 16, 2009

  • New York is the perfect model of a city, not the model of a perfect city.

    Lewis Mumford

  • The Plan laid out the modern 20th century infrastructure systems, including highways and parkways, bridges and tunnels, railroads and subways and parks

  • Source: Regional Plan Association

  • Fecal Coliform Cells/100mlSource: Hudson River Foundation

  • WetMore frequent and intense droughtsMore frequent and intense stormsSource: American RiversDryNormal Range

  • In the Wake of the Half Moon:

    The City Today

    Robert PiraniRegional Plan AssociationNovember 16, 2009

  • *My role in some ways is as the pivot point in this morning session

    From the Hudsons arrival at Manahatta of yore to the plans for tomorrow by talking about the city today

    *Of course the City we see today is a reflection of how we have responded to the challenges of the past *Cities are adaptive organizational structures.

    Just as individual species reflect the successful adaptations to past challenges, the city we see today reflects our success (or failure) of adapting to the challenges).

    *So to the City is a mosaic of improvements that reflects technology, public policy, and private decisions.

    *Which in turn help dictate our ecological relationships and sense of place from eating oysters from the harbor to joggingon the waterfront*Landscape ecologists describe the process of change as ecological succession, how ecosystems move through a variety of stages toward a steady state - until physical or ecological disturbances starts the process over again. The hurricane that blows down and od tree stand in the forest and lets sunlight to the forest floor being just one example.

    Its an imperfect metaphor of course, but perhaps we can think of our urban landscape and its ecological and economic relationships as evolving slowly in complexity until technology or economics or environmental crises force a shift.

    *Take for example the ideal of the garden city espoused by Ebenezer Howards his ans wer for the urban congestion and rural abandonment of the 19th century. *Being interpreted as plans and investments and amplified by the advent of the automobile.

    *And setting the template for the private decisions that follow *Another example - New York grew from the village to great port*The advent of containerization and deindustrialization *Combined with cleaner water*Turned abandoned land on the waterfront here the west side rail yards

    New Yorks crumbling piers and bulkheads have created new habitat and a permitting nightmare for waterfront landowners including park and other public agencies. Current permitting is driven as much by bureaucratic caution as it is by the best science or the public interest in creating parks and public spaces along the waters edge. *Recycled as riverside south

    Nearly 700 acres in 50 projects a 20% increase in waterfront parks. Parks that add value to adjacent real estate

    10 -20% in the case of hudson river park**As well as *So the question is

    How can our adaptations be more successful

    One thing to consider is that the world we live in today is changing faster than the one of the past: technology, globalization, and of course changes in climate.

    What was once considered normal range will no longer be so

    We know that in nature, frequently disturbed environments tend to favor species that are more generalized, that can adapt more readily or more quickly to changing conditions,

    We need to be building such resiliency and flexibility into our infrastructure

    Thinking about green and integrated infrastructure that takes advantage of ecosystem services and generates co-benefits as opposed to single purpose investments*Living with the water Water as a resource, not waste Water as a part of the cityscape, not backdrop Water as integrated with planning

    *Anther example our relationship to the waterfront

    As we have seen we have lost about 85 percent of the original wetlands and near shore habitat from the harbor*Temperatures will rise, mean high tidelevels within the New York Harbor will rise, and precipitation will likely increase - according to projectionsdocumented in Climate Risk Information, by the New York City Panel on Climate Change. Conservativeestimates indicate a sea level rise of 2 5 inches by the 2020s, 7 12 inches by the 2050s, and 12 23 inchesby the 2080s,

    **My role in some ways is as the pivot point in this morning session

    From the Hudsons arrival at Manahatta of yore to the plans for tomorrow by talking about the city today