The Durst/BIG studio begins with a question: is it possible to fully align private equity and public benefit? Could a public/private partnership go beyond the perfunctory POPS (privately owned public spaces) that developers often barter for a higher floor area ratio? Could one solution generate both a return on investment for our client as well as a substantial addition to the social infrastructure of Manhattan's East Side?
The solution begins with an observation that property value in New York is highly correlated to the feeling of proximity to the active street life. People come to New York not for the islands waterfront views but to feel a part of the buzz of activity. While many waterfront developments hold their waterfront view as paramount, we began to see that the DNA of this particular island consists of those thresholds between private and public space - the stoops, the parks, sidewalks, and the green belt pathways. Perhaps developer's return and the public's interest are more aligned than they seem.
Throughout the seventy plus models built over the course of the semester, every iteration explored the intersection of condominium/rental developments with a public green way; marrying desirable living accommodations with a varied and full pedestrian experience. Our focus was always dual as our hypothesis held that an enjoyable and layered pedestrian experience is not only a gift to the public but is itself a potential multiplier for property value and return on investment.