UD Studio 1 2007

Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Urban Design Studio,Summer 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Alex Washburn

In Janary 2007, Alex Washburn became the first Director of Urban Design of the New York City Department of City Planning. In this position Washburn will lead a team of urban designers in working on large-scale planning and development initiatives, as well as advising on key urban design and public open space issues citywide. At the time of his appointment, City Planning Director Amanda Burden stated that following from "Mayor Bloomberg's keen interest in design excellence, Alex's oversight will be of critical importance as we examine major initiatives citywide, including Coney Island, Moynihan Station, Queens West South and the Eastern and Western Rail Yards on Manhattan's West Side." Washburn has intimate knowledge of the second of these major projects, Moynihan Station, which is transforming the Eighth Avenue post office into one of the city's most important new transit hubs. From 1996 to 2000, he was founding president of the Moynihan [Pennsylvania] Station Redevelopment Project. During this time he served as Environment and Public Works Advisor the late Senator Patrick Moynihan, whom among U.S. senators was most interested in cities and the built environment. Taking a cue from Moynihan, members of the Bloomberg administration have said that "good design is essential for the city to compete globally with such cities as Shanghai and Dubai," and that design success "will be judged on what it feels like to live in and walk around the city." Speaking of the role of urban design, Washburn observed that to "make sure New York doesn't become dull, but has the greatest streetscape with the greatest variety and the greatest texture," it is necessary to "calibrate everything very finely. Every time you change something in the city, you affect another constituency." (NY Sun, 3/29/07).

As an architect, Washburn was a partner in W (now Archipelago) Architecture and Landscape Architecture with Barbara Wilks. Archipelago earned four national design awards in its first five years of practice. Ongoing design projects include the West Harlem Waterfront Park and Williamsburg's "The Edge" Waterfront Park in New York City. Also an educator, Washburn has taught the Design of Infrastructure at Princeton University and NYU's Center for Advanced Digital Applications.

See www.nyc.gov/dcp and www.archipelagoarch.com
See also www.rpa.org/pdf/RPAMoynihanStation.pdf