visiting Van Alen’s River City: Waterfront Design for Civic Life

We look forward to touring the River City events and visiting their fabulous bookshop:

River City: Waterfront Design for Civic Life

Immensity and Intimacy: Brooklyn Bridge Park
On View July 26-October 19, 2012
Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Van Alen Institute: Projects in Public Architecture announces the launch of River City: Waterfront Design for Civic Life, a series of exhibitions and related public programs that consider riverfront design as a powerful tool for urban reinvention. On view beginning July 26, 2012, with an exhibition exploring Brooklyn Bridge Park, River City investigates how innovative designs for waterfront spaces can address the paramount cultural and ecological questions of our time.

Today, across America and around the world, cities are reclaiming rivers as sites of cultural, environmental, and economic vitality. At the same time, the urgent challenges of climate change and demands for social equity have focused interest upon these complex urban landscapes. While revived waterfronts offer vast canvases for new development and recreation, converging ecological and economic forces have spurred strong debate about the river’s place in civic life. Exploring the key role design plays in addressing these challenges, River City asks:

• How can the cultural value of rivers be rediscovered and celebrated through design?
• How can innovative planning and design balance the need for working waterfronts while accommodating public open space, new housing, and ecological restoration?
• How can new riverfront infrastructure catalyze self-sustaining communities?

To engage these questions, River City’s first exhibition, Immensity and Intimacy: Brooklyn Bridge Park, explores the reborn landscape on New York City’s East River as a prototype for reimagining the urban waterfront. Informed by the magnitude of the site’s contextual scale, the park’s design, by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, engages and reshapes the urban edge as a site of richly layered cultural, ecological, and historical contexts. Through an inventive series of strategies, including sculpting the site’s complex maritime edge, reusing salvaged materials, and embedding ecology and experience, the design redefines the Brooklyn waterfront as a central place in the civic imagination.

Subsequent exhibitions in the series will examine the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul, Korea, where a long-buried urban waterway has been remade as a metropolitan-scale public space; and the Mississippi River Delta, where the leveed and channeled river is being reimagined as the heart of a self-sustaining natural system that also serves as a cultural catalyst for New Orleans and its surrounding communities.


Immensity and Intimacy: Brooklyn Bridge Park

July 25, 4-8 p.m. Member & Press Preview
July 26, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Exhibition Open through October 19
September 12, 7-9 p.m. Exhibition Party
October 4, 7 p.m. Waterfront Design Debate
Fred Kent (Project for Public Spaces)
Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA)
Adrian Benepe (NYC Parks Commissioner), moderator
October 10, 7 p.m. The Urban Polder: What New York’s Waterfront Can Learn from the Dutch


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