The Storefront for Art and Architecture is on the ground floor of a corner building in NoLIta, open to the sidewalk with a system of cantilevered walls and awning windows. The mission of the architecture boutique is echoed in its very design, more accessible to citizens than the (unoccupied) glass residential towers reaching to the sky throughout the rest of the city. Considering it’s taken this long to resurrect The High Line, it’s mind-boggling to think of urban planning on the scale proposed by the architects and designers represented in Storefront’s current exhibition Work AC: 49 Cities. From old (a Roman city, Royal Salt Works) to old-yet-unbuilt (Jeffersonville by Thomas Jefferson, Buckminster Fuller’s iconic Dome Over Manhattan) to futuristic (Masdar plan for Abu Dhabi by Sir Norman Foster, New York City as a “continuous monument”), the exercises in urban planning incorporate housing, industrial space, parkland, agriculture, water, and thoroughfares into ingenious packages.
Because urban planning is architecture on a macro scale, it is more relatable to the general public, and especially relevant in an age of eco-branding, tax increases, economic and industrial collapse, global warming, and overpopulation. These are planetary issues, sure, but think of the city as a microcosm, a playground not just for design but for social change.