Friday, May 15, 2009

Definitions of sustainability

The Forum for Urban Design in NYC concluded its spring conference last night, "The 21st Century Park and the Contemporary City" with a panel discussion at the Century Club. Speaking were Marion Weiss (Weiss/Manfredi) John Campbell (Waterfront Toronto), David Karem (Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation) and Alex Garvin (Alex Garvin & Assocs, previously with NYC2012 and Lower Manhatten Development Corporation). Alex asserted that most people think of "sustainability" too narrowly. He posited 6 dimensions of sustainability for a park (and, by implication, any major development): 1) Environmental. 2) Functional (uses of the park). 3) Economic. 4) Social. 5) Aesthetic. and 6) Political. Major takeaway from the discussion: a park is not just a phyical place; a park is a web of collaborating/competing interests, people, and organizations along with the physical/spatial/environmental attributes all evolving over time. I'd say, a park is a textscape.