Richard Meier, Bjarke Ingels, Annabelle Selldorf and Rick Cook debate the future of New York's skyline

by Kim Megson | 27 Jan 2016

Four of the world's best-known architects have united in calling for New York developers to create more public leisure space.

Rick Cook, Bjarke Ingels, Annabelle Selldorf and Richard Meier made the case for green space in a roundtable discussion called The Future of New York's Skyline, organised by cultural collective 92nd Street Y.

Pritzker Prize winning architect Richard Meier said buildings should be a “gift to the city,” but voiced his concern that the public is being ignored by developers creating skyscrapers for wealthy tenants.

He said: “High rises are here to stay and buildings will continue to get taller. What is missing is public outdoor space, which should be a given for any building in Manhattan because it's part and parcel of great buildings.

“We need to think more about how a building relates to its context through public space," he continued. "Manhattan isn't Hong Kong; it doesn't have buildings on top of buildings. When you walk on the sidewalk, no matter how tall the building, you should feel related to it.

“At the moment towers are taking up the air, but at the ground they haven't given anything back...The question is whether it's the city’s fault or developers’ fault that we’re missing that in so many areas.”

Selldorf – who has created many cultural and commercial New York buildings – agreed, stating: “I crave trees, nature, parks, but more than anything I crave a better, more equal place for people. We need to do a little bit more to create more dignified and more civilised space in our urban environment."

Bjarke Ingels – whose practice BIG are working on several New York projects – also highlighted the need for green space in the city, citing the High Line and the Whitney Museum as popular projects because of their abundant connection with nature.

“I’m living in the place in New York I found with the most outdoor space,” he said. “I ended up camping this summer on my terrace and I woke up with bird tweets, and I realised I hadn’t heard birds singing almost since I moved to New York. But they’re here and there’s definitely something there.

“It used to be that a space with a terrace was of the least value in a building, now it’s an asset because of what it offers in the form of entertainment and quality of life and work.”

Ingels added that any piece of architecture should belong to the public just as much as it belongs to the client or the architect. He said: “The second you have finished something, it’s no longer yours. It’s everyone’s, and their interpretation of it is as valid as yours. Once you put it out there, you can understand what it means. That’s how cities evolve.”

Rick Cook, who is known for his environmentally sustainable buildings, said he has seen a growing focus on civic parks, waterfront activity and the resiliency of buildings.

He said: “Nature is more beautiful than anything we can create and people have inherent desire to feel connected to that.

“For a developer, you want someone who cares, someone who has love and compassion and who wants to do something that is meaningful.”

You can watch the roundtable discussion below:

Richard Meier  Bjarke Ingels  Annabelle Selldorf  Rick Cook  NEW YORK  PUBLIC SPACE  ARCHITECTURE  DESIGN 
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Four of the world's best-known architects have united in calling for New York developers to create more public leisure space. Rick Cook, Bjarke Ingels, Annabelle Selldorf and Richard Meier made the case for green space in a roundtable discussion called The Future of New York's Skyline, organised by cultural collective 92nd Street Y. Pritzker Prize winning architect Richard Meier said buildings should be a “gift to the city,” but voiced
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The quartet participated in a wide-ranging roundtable discussion / 92nd Street Y
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