Areas Of Expertise


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Transportation Master Planning
Pedestrian Engineering
Waterfront Revitalization
Community Based Planning
Design for Disaster
Owner / Operator Representative

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Areas Of Expertise

  1. 1. Introduction to Urban Answers Mission Statement: Ensure that capital investments for the rehabilitation / reinvention of public infrastructure assets and private developments save time and money. A proactive approach to reinventing our infrastructure assets is critical. This includes the re-evaluation of long term viability, cost savings and environmental improvement. All too often, we have found that we are waiting for our infrastructure to fall apart as a catalyst for new construction, new urbanism. We cannot afford to look backwards to invent our future or simply rehabilitate and mitigate developmental impacts. Reinventing an environmental and socially responsible infrastructure first requires acknowledging it is in all of our backyards. Not simply sewers, bridges tunnels and roads, waste management stations or power plants, infrastructure includes greenways, schools, hospitals and parks. Areas of Expertise: Strategic Transportation Master Planning: Transit oriented development recognizing synergies + adjacencies, within and beyond the project site. Pedestrian Engineering: Planning and design that puts pedestrians first from concept through construction; ensuring safety, clarity and improved service. Waterfront Revitalization: Promoting a mixed use, working waterfront for residential, recreational, commercial and tourism. Community Based Planning: Engage community members and project stakeholders to help develop a project's sense of place and sustainability. Design for Disaster: Design for climate change and bring emergency preparedness to communities prone to crisis. Owner / Operator Representation: Maintaining and enhancing client vision simultaneously relieving cost and time restraints. Approach: Holistic problem solving for urban infrastructure and development projects. There are significant cultural shifts that are already taking place as it relates to a ‘green’ economy. Implementation requires a new approach as well. Sustainability is no longer a costly addition but a welcome result of proper planning and design from concept through construction. 5 specific elements of success for the next generation of public and/or private development projects: 1. Transforming a historically 'nimby' attitude (not in my back yard) into a 'wimby' attitude (where in my backyard?) 2. Looking at and beyond the site. Assessment of physical, ecological and social history helps make responsible decisions physically and programmatically. 3. Inter-disciplinary engagement. Identification of the proper network of stakeholders and experts then facilitating the work required to meet various needs. 4. Community participation. Utilizing all aspects of the media to engage the public and monitor progress. 5. Sustainable and elegant outcomes are often common sense, not added costs. Urbanism: A Discipline in and of Itself Definition: (ur’be-niz’em) n, 1. The culture or life style of urban dwellers Cities > 2. Urbanization. Balancing related disciplines and participants: Agencies, Communities, Developers, Economists, Architects, Landscape Architects, Planners, Contractors, Sociologists, Geographers, Engineers, Environmentalists and others. 646 255 9607
  2. 2. TRANSPORTATION MASTER PLANNING HISTORIC BATTERY PARK EDGE DESIGN Connecting the West and East Side Greenways Client: The Conservancy for Historic Battery Park & NYS Department of Transportation Team: Michael Fishman (principal in charge) Sam Schwartz Engineering Urban Question: How can the east and west greenways be connected around the tip of lower Manhattan without compromising the 3 million visitors to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on the waterfront or taking up valuable open space within Historic Battery Park? Urban Answer: Negotiating with the NYC Parks Department, NYC/NYS DOT’s and the NYC Economic Development Corporation over ¾ of an acre of parkland was created contiguous to Battery Park by narrowing Battery Place. This led to the transfer of the bikeway into the park and connecting the east and west greenways around the southern tip of Manhattan. Realigning The 1/9 South Ferry Subway Terminal Client: The Conservancy for Historic Battery Park Team: Michael Fishman (principal in charge) Sam Schwartz Engineering Urban Question: How can the Park minimize impacts of construction (including loss of ½ the Park’s historic trees and years of compromised open space) for the new 1/9 subway station? Urban Answer: By negotiating with the MTA, the subway was realigned in both parties’ best interests. For the Park shifting the terminal alignment out of the Park as soon as possible saves most of the historic trees maximizing open space for the Park during construction. By reconsidering the issue, the MTA got a better entrance and connection to the N/R train, the project was sped up for working adjacent to and not within the Park. 646 255 9607
  3. 3. TRANSPORTATION MASTER PLANNING WORLD TRADE CENTER MASTER PLAN TRANSPORTATION STUDIES Client: The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation & the Battery Park City Authority Team: Michael Fishman (Principal for Transportation) Sam Schwartz Engineering Urban Question: How can transportation act as a catalyst for integration with the fabric of the city as well as set the stage for design and development? Urban Answer: Access and egress for all modes of transportation for the Memorial Design and master planning beyond the WTC site including all of lower Manhattan required communicating clearly to designers and decision makers how to improve transportation infrastructure to reflect the aspirations of the project. Immediate Response Included connecting transit to residential and business communities otherwise disconnected due to the reconstruction of the site and the West Side Highway itself. Memorial Design Beyond the Site The Region Looking beyond the site and in detail, at the site itself, clear diagrams with few words explained the issues and opportunities for redevelopment in short order to decision makers. TRANSPORTATION MASTER PLANNING 646 255 9607
  4. 4. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MASTER PLAN Client: Columbia University Team: Michael Fishman (Principal for Transportation) Sam Schwartz Engineering, SOM (lead), Renzo Piano Architects, Muser Rutledge, Buro Happold Engineers, K. Backus Associates Urban Question: How to build a new campus in West Harlem for Columbia University while improving the landscape, transportation and economy in this part of Manhattan? Urban Answer: Short and long term improvements to the transportation network have already improved conditions on the waterfront and upland in West Harlem. Short term recommendations were implemented immediately to encourage through (West Side Highway) traffic away from pedestrian critical locations and the public waterfront as well as closing the adjacent waste transfer station. Long term recommendations included a new Metro North station at 125th Street, 1/9 subway station improvements, bus terminal options and parking recommendations for future demands are primary elements of the 2025 vision for the site. 2025 Master Plan Short Term Recommendations 646 255 9607
  5. 5. PEDESTRIAN ENGINEERING Times Square Pedestrian Engineering - Design Trust for Public Space Fellowship Client: The Design Trust for Public Space and The Times Square Alliance Fellow: Michael Fishman (working with Philip Habib) Urban Question: How can the streetscape of Times Square reflect its dynamic qualities at the street level, not simply as a spectacle looking up? Urban Answer: After 3 invited public and private participant charettes and 6 months of processing the creative, political and physical landscapes, a plan to more than double sq/ft for pedestrians was developed. By eliminating automobiles at the center of Times Square, the unusable medians were designed as public space, providing a north south connection between the subways and the TKTS booth. This process will give local employees and tourist more than twice the space to navigate Times Square. NYCDOT has adopted many aspects of the plan and are currently implementing ‘The Times Square Shuffle.’ Movement Defines Times Square. This is where the world marks the passage of time. Finally, pedestrians will be given priority in this most precious part of NYC. Times Square has been bedeviled since the advent of the automobile. Once bustling with people horse drawn carriages, and wall to wall activity, ‘the bow-tie’ was immediately reserved maximum rights of way for automobiles. The same curb lines existed for over a century leaving room for cars to reach capacity. Pedestrians out number vehicles 10 – 1 during peak periods, but for decades pedestrians have been relegated to 10 foot sidewalks, navigating through one another and more recently forcing people into moving lanes of traffic. 646 255 9607
  6. 6. PEDESTRIAN ENGINEERING WORLD TRADE CENTER INNOVATIVE DESIGN STUDY EVALUATION Client: Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Team: Michael Fishman (principal in charge) Sam Schwartz Engineering, Louis Berger (lead) Urban Question: Can a transportation evaluation of the 6 competitors for the Master Plan of the World Trade Center site post 9/11 clearly determine the pros and cons of each submission as it impacts the street level in 6 weeks? Urban Answer: For the evaluation, over 250 diagrams were produced to explain to decision makers the pros and cons of each scheme at the ground level considering, cars, busses, service vehicles and pedestrians. This task was accomplished under the direction of Michael Fishman serving as Principal in Charge of the project. Once complete, the same team was charged with evaluating the memorial design for pedestrian flow and accessibility. Looking beyond the site and in detail at the site itself, few words and communicative diagrams explained the issues and opportunities for redevelopment in short order to decision makers. 646 255 9607
  7. 7. WATERFRONT REVITALIZATION PIER 76 ADAPTIVE REUSE Client: Friends of Hudson River Park Team: Michael Fishman (principal in charge) Halcrow/HPA (lead), Michael Singer Studio, Weisz +Yoes, McLaren Engineering Group Urban Question: To site stations that handle waste transfer is complex anywhere. How can this be accomplished on the west side of Manhattan while improving conditions in the surrounding area and serving multiple functions? Urban Answer: Exceeding physical and economic expectations, Pier 76 was determined to have the capacity for adaptive reuse serving multiple waterborne and landside activities. Bringing a sustainable plan for importing / exporting materials by water (including garbage) solves multiple infrastructure needs on Manhattan’s west side. In addition, several improvements to the surrounding land uses were determined: 1. Through grade separation the Highline can connect to the west side ferry terminal, the Javits Convention Center and the roof of the facility without forcing pedestrians up and down, encounter trucks using the facility or cross the highway at grade. 2. By programming public space on the green roof, and including a learning center for viewing the infrastructure aspects of the site makes the infrastructure transparent and educational. 3. Waste transfer and material loading and unloading via barge remove trucks on the City streets. New York City Shorelines Have Over 10 Times The Linear Feet Of Most “Global Waterfront Cities”: Sydney, Dubai, Los Angeles + On New York City was largely built by water and can be re-built by water. 646 255 9607
  8. 8. WATERFRONT REVITALIZATION Above, below, on and adjacent to the water’s edge. INTRODUCTION: AQUATECTURE Definition: Interdisciplinary focus on, above and below the surface of the estuaries, rivers, sounds and oceans; specializing on the unique environments where landuse and water meet. NYC WASTE TRANSFER FACILITIES REASSESSMENT Client: Environmental Defense Fund Team: Urban Answers + Michael Singer’s Studio Urban Question: Can waterborne elements of our waste management infrastructure improve communities and their waterfronts economically, environmentally and physically? Urban Answer: As a city of islands, NY has an opportunity to enhance communities formally burdened with infrastructure by making sustainable and attractive public works that improve connections to other aspects of the landscape. This assessment set a standard for the design of these facilities city wide. THE HARBOR SCHOOL (ON GOVERNORS ISLAND) The Harbor School is an Urban Assembly school of 500 NYC public high school students. The curriculum is devoted to Harbor life and excursions, therefore dependant on waterfront access - they have been designated to be the first public use on the island. Client: The New York Harbor School and the Regional Plan Association Team: Dartmouth University Students (Karolina Kawiaka Professor), Urban Answers Facilitation Urban Question: Beyond the basic design required to inhabit their new home on Governors Island. Can the planning, design and construction processes allow life and learning to be encouraged while enhancing the environment above and below the surface of the water? Urban Answer: 5 sustainable options were developed for a sustainable waterfront presence for the Harbor School to prepare for their move to Governors Island in 2010. 646 255 9607
  9. 9. COMMUNITY BASED PLANNING CANAL STREET MASTER PLAN Client: NYCDOT, Manhattan Borough President Team: Michael Fishman (principal in charge) Sam Schwartz Engineering Urban Question: How can the crowded sidewalks of Canal Street gain relief from the under-utilized open spaces along it’s length, improve safety and turn the street into a connection between lower Manhattan and SoHo? Urban Answer: By reclaiming open space, lost to the NYSDOT, NYCDOT and Port Authority, new parkland was created along the length of the street to provide for market, recreational and flexible open spaces. Working with the Tribeca Community Association, a historic park designed by Calvert Vaux and Fredrick Law Olmstead was erased from the City map when the West Side Highway was initially under construction. Uncovering this information the community came to us to negotiate with the NYSDOT to regain the parkland back as a gateway at the end of Canal Street to the Hudson River Park for Tribeca and SoHo communities. GOWANUS EXPRESSWAY VISIONING PROJECT Client: South West Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation Team: Michael Fishman (principle in charge) Sam Schwartz Engineering, LLC Urban Question: Consider the impacts of tunneling the Expressway. Urban Answer: Incremental and monumental improvements made to reconnect the Sunset Park Neighborhood to its waterfront. Narrowing the right of way back to its original width allows for contextual development (residential and commercial) on the ground floor along 3rd Avenue. Ensuring that tunnel entrances and exits are properly located to serve commercial development on the waterfront and inland and simultaneously protect parks and communities in these locations was a focus and challenge met by the process. 646 255 9607
  10. 10. COMMUNITY BASED PLANNING THE GRAND CONCOURSE VISION PROJECT Client: Office of the Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer Team; Michael Fishman (Facilitator – Charettes, preparation and products), Sam Schwartz Engineering Urban Question: How to restore the Grand Concourse as a safe and attractive European Boulevard. Urban Answer: Through comprehensive community based planning and agency coordination, reconciling issues for segments of the Boulevard, respecting its history and imagining a future that meets the diverse needs of the public and private land uses along its length. The Grand Concourse: Bronx, NY (built 1883) was the birthplace of urban grade separation. Well over a century ago, Fredrick Law Olmstead with Central Parks Transverse Roads allowed multiple functions to occur within the same space on separate levels by creating grade separation. Louis Risse then utilized this concept for the Grand Concourse outside of the park environment by implemented grade separation for vehicles (horse and carriages, at the time and then automobiles) to flow within the urban environment, without conflict in with his European Boulevard design on the ridge that runs the length of the Bronx. This was the first concept of removing at grade intersections gave way to our national highway system and bridge / tunnel subway networks. Historic photos courtesy of the Bronx Historical Society 646 255 9607
  11. 11. DESIGN FOR DISASTER Design for Climate Change and Unexpected Events Introduction: Design and educational patterns for preparation, response and recovery patterns have changed dramatically as natural and manmade catastrophes have bombarded North America and the world in recent years. All geographies prone to crisis can utilize day to day improvements to existing infrastructure to serve multiple functions from local community based education for disaster planning, associated retail (preparation supplies) and response shelters and staging areas for goods and materials in recovery stages. BATTERY PARK CITY / WORLD FINANCIAL CENTER STREETSCAPE SECURITY PLAN Client: Battery Park City Authority Team: Michael Fishman (principal in charge) Sam Schwartz Engineering (lead), Rodgers Marvel Architects (image credits) Urban Question: How can a secure streetscape keep a standoff distance from the building line of the World Financial Center to protect from errand vehicles without compromising aesthetics, functionality of the street and pedestrian / vehicular needs? Urban Answer: Protecting our assets need not reflect a desperate condition of Jersey Barriers and bollards. Analyzing speeds and directionality of potential vehicular threats, a system of hardened street furniture was developed to anchor itself into the sidewalk. Using existing streetscape elements: bus shelters, lampposts, trash receptacles, planters and newsstands; an invisible security system was designed to extend the impact standoff by 20-30 feet. 646 255 9607
  12. 12. DESIGN FOR DISASTER Design for Climate Change and Unexpected Events LOWER MANHATTAN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE Client: Multiple Clients Team: Michael Fishman (principal in charge) Sam Schwartz Engineering Urban Question: Although not directed by any one entity to answer the question, could the transit network losses and service yet inaccessible be clearly and immediately known to all respondents and relevant constituents downtown? Urban Answer: Immediately following the events of 9/11, maps were developed to communicate the loss and of remaining elements of the transportation network downtown. This was a requirement that allowed decision makers immediate response and direction for long term reconstruction. THE ROCKAWAY PENINSULA PREPARATION, RESPONSE AND RECOVERY INFRASTRUCTURE Client: NYC Office of Emergency Management, Council Members Offices, Local Business Improvement Office Team: Professors Michael Fishman, Ethel Sheffer and Floyd Lapp with Columbia University Urban Planning Masters Students Urban Question: Can daily improvements to the infrastructure and development patterns of the peninsula be designed for disaster given the geographic and social at risk populations needs before, during and after hurricanes and storm surges? Urban Answer: Leverage existing assets by redesigning the elevated stations (originally built with storm surges in mind) to serve as evacuation points / survival shelters and recovery staging areas. Reconnecting the Long Island Railroad with the NYC subway network to aid in evacuation of the car free population. Wage a comprehensive educational and evaluation program to engage the at risk residential and commercial community. 646 255 9607
  13. 13. OWNER/OPERATOR’S REPRESENTATIVE INTRODUCTION: Maintaining Client Vision Community concerns, legal/political conflicts consultant visions, agency agendas and other critical issues, often force a project to be compromised, deviate from a client’s best interests or even cause projects to fail. This costs owners and operators time and money. Third party representation keeps clients from compromising critical roles and maintains an agenda to meet their best interest. Objective problem solving alleviates tensions for all parties. THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK GOVERNORS ISLAND MASTER PLAN Client: City University of New York Chancellor’s Office & Federal Development Team: Michael Fishman (principal in charge) Halcrow/HPA (lead), Pei Partnership, Beyer Blinder Belle. Urban Question: The Governors Island Preservation and Education Commission sought proposals for whole island developments. How might a plan activate the island as quickly and carefully as possible? Urban Answer: 10,000 people living and learning on the island, a transient population and permanent economy. Attracting international academic presence to lower Manhattan as well as serving as a retreat from Wall Street. 646 255 9607