I imagine that James Corner would have appreciated the political and policy discussions generated from the compellation of maps in the Million Dollar Block project. While the ensuing policy discussions were probably informative, I am certain that the Spatial Information Design Lab falls short in where they “lay the blame” for the current situation in Brooklyn that they have mapped.
Is it a coincidence that the 4.1 million dollar block (p 13) appears to have been developed as a large-scale housing block?
The group of buildings on the block shown on page 13 is very reminiscent of projects from the 1960s, when city planners decided that they best way to build low-income housing was to create “utopias” where the residents would have modernized conveniences and housing costs proportional to their income, all while conveniently “tucked away” from the rest of the community.
Jane Jacobs was a fervent believer that short blocks, walkable alleys, and the constant presence of people and “eyes on the street” made an area of a city desirable and safe. The “utopian” affordable housing projects lacked all of these and – not surprisingly – became the breeding grounds for crime and drug use.
I’ve provided two links below that describe Sursum Corda, a project in Washington, DC, sure to be a “million dollar block” for the capital. From the map, you can see how the through streets were stopped to preserve the mega-block “utopia” for the project when it was designed in 1967, and not surprisingly, it is one of the most crime-ridden areas of the city, despite it’s central location (only a few blocks from Union Station).
I would put money on the fact that probably a large proportion of the most expensive blocks in this Million Dollar Block project lack a basic infrastructure of buildings that have a direct relationship to the street and alleys and streets that cut through the entire block. Perhaps the Spatial Information Design Lab should not have cast all responsibility back to the policy makers, and instead, acknowledged that it is also the responsibility of today’s urban planners and architects to correct our own design mistakes from the past.
sursum corda map and aerial
article on sursum corda
BTW, the city’s “fix” for Sursum Corda is to completely demolish it, reconnect the road system through the site, and then build anew at a much higher density (The projects new name will be Northwest One). Current residents will be given a percentage of the profits from the sale, as well as $80,000 to either take and leave, or reinvest in a new affordable property within Northwest One, where market-rate one-bedroom apartments will start in the 400’s.