Debating Density

Fri, Oct 17, 2008

Vertical Density: the Public Dimension brings together city officials, planners, architects, and developers from Hong Kong, New York, and Shanghai to discuss the comparative architecture, urbanism, and public space. The delegation from New York–the featured speakers introducing the themes of the dialogue–include Robert Tierney, Chairman, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, Alex Washburn, Chief Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning, as well as Paul Katz, Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and Carol Willis, Director of The Skyscraper Museum, both of whom served as conference organizers.

Other speakers who will discuss the creation of waterfront and urban parks, pedestrianization projects, and public-private partnerships include Hilary Ballon, Associate Vice-Chancellor and Professor of History of Art & Architecture, New York University, Abu Dhabi, UAE; James Cavanaugh, President, The Battery Park City Authority; Vishaan Chakrabarti, Marc Holliday Professor of Real Estate Development and Director, Real Estate Development Program, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, Preservation (GSAPP); Charles Maikish, Managing Director of Global Corporate Services and Real Estate, BlackRock and BlackRock/Barclays; and Carl Weisbrod, former President, Times Square and Lower Manhattan BIDs, and currently President, Trinity Church Realty Division.

The Hong Kong conference is the second of an ongoing exchange between the world’s great vertical cities. The first conference, Hong Kong | New York: Vertical Density | Sustainable Solutions was organized by The Skyscraper Museum and presented in New York in October 2008. This year’s conference also includes Shanghai, which is rapidly transforming into one of the world’s premier skyscraper cities and will host the 2010 World Expo under the theme “Better City, Better Life.” Organized by The Skyscraper Museum, the Hong Kong – New York Urban Exchange Group, and AIA Hong Kong, and supported by the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Shanghai World Expo 2010 Executive Committee, the 2010 conference Vertical Density: the Public Dimension will examine how the essential character and culture of a place be promoted, and how government and private interests can work together to create, maintain, and celebrate a positive public dimension.

Members of the Organizing Committee of the HK-NY Urban Dialogues described the motivation of the now-annual series. Carol Willis, Founder, and Director of The Skyscraper Museum notes: “New York and Hong Kong share exceptional affinities, both historical and contemporary. Developed from colonial ports into dominant centers of international finance and commerce, each embraced the skyscraper as the principal instrument of modern urbanism. While New York’s high-rise history evolved over a century, and Hong Kong’s vertical density has developed since the 1970s, Shanghai’s skyline has ascended even faster, in just two decades.”