Vertical Density:
the Public Dimension

Thu, Jan 21, 2010

Vertical Density: the Public Dimension will bring 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.”


Hillary Ballon

Hilary Ballon is Associate Vice Chancellor for New York University Abu Dhabi. An architectural historian, her work focuses on cities and the intersection of architecture, politics, and social life in two fields of research, 20th-century America and 17th-century Europe.

Before joining NYU in September 2007, Ballon taught for more than 20 years at Columbia University, where she served as Director of Art Humanities and Chairman of the Department of Art History and Archaeology and received Columbia University’s highest teaching awards: the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, the Great Teacher Award, and the Philip and Ruth Hettleman Teaching Award. Ballon serves on the Board of Directors of The Skyscraper Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, the Regional Plan Association, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. Ballon was chairman of the Planning Board of Englewood, New Jersey from 2000-05. She received a B.A. from Princeton University and Ph.D. from M.I.T.

A prolific author and curator, Ballon’s most recent project was “Robert Moses and the Modern City” the three-venue exhibition that re-evaluated Moses’s physical transformation of 20th-century New York. Ballon was a principal author and co-editor of the accompanying book, Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York (with Kenneth T. Jackson, W.W. Norton, 2007). Her previous books include New York’s Pennsylvania Stations (W.W. Norton, 2002); Louis Le Vau: Mazarin’s College, Colbert’s Revenge (Princeton University Press, 1999), which won the Prix d’Academie from the Academie Francaise; and The Paris of Henri IV: Architecture and Urbanism (Architectural History Foundation/MIT Press, 1991), which won the Alice Davis Hitchcock Prize for the Most Distinguished Work in Architectural History. She has also curated “Gateway to Metropolis: New York’s Pennsylvania Stations” at the Wallach Art Gallery and “Frank Lloyd Wright: The Vertical Dimension” at The Skyscraper Museum. Ballon is Editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH), the journal of record in the field.

Nicholas Brooke

Nicholas Brooke, JP, BBS, FRICS, FHKIS, RPS is the Chairman of Professional Property Services Limited, a specialist real estate consultancy based in Hong Kong, with clients across the Asia Pacific Region.

Mr. Brooke is a recognized authority on land administration and planning matters and has provided advice in these areas to several Asian Governments as well as the US State Department. He is a Justice of the Peace, and a former Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Town Planning Board and member of the Hong Kong Housing Authority. He currently sits on the Board of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, the Standing Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service, the Hong Kong Harbour-front Enhancement Committee, and is the Chairman of the Hong Kong Coalition of Service Industries, which is the voice of the service sector in Hong Kong. He is also a member of the Election Committee responsible for the selection of the future Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR.

Mr. Brooke was the 2003-2004 President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the premier organization for property and construction professionals worldwide, which was founded in 1868 and has an international membership of some 110,000. In 1999, Mr. Brooke was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR for his dedicated public service in Hong Kong, and in particular, his valuable contribution to the work of the Housing Authority. He is an active member of Vision 2047, a group of long term Hong Kong residents dedicated to the support and promotion of Hong Kong.

Ann L. Buttenwieser

Ann L. Buttenwieser, an urban planner, parks advocate, and urban historian, is the President of the Neptune Foundation. She holds a Ph.D from Columbia University where she is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. As the author of Manhattan Water-Bound and Governors Island: The Jewel of New York Harbor, she is a leading expert on the history of the New York waterfront. On July 4, 2007, after nearly twenty years of effort and advocacy, her not-for-profit Neptune Foundation opened America’s only floating swimming pool, aka The Floating Pool Lady, on the industrial waterfront of Brooklyn, New York; the pool recently completed its second season in the South Bronx. Her other civic activities include service on the boards of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), New Yorkers for Parks, The Skyscraper Museum, and emeritus member of the Board of the Waterfront Center. In October 2009 she was granted a Top Woman in Parks award.

James Cavanaugh

James Cavanaugh is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority, a public benefit corporation created by the New York State Legislature to develop and maintain a 92-acre parcel of land located on the southern tip of Manhattan across from the World Trade Center site. Under Mr. Cavanaugh’s leadership the Battery Park City Authority continues to undertake development of its remaining residential and commercial sites, with completion of the master plan expected by 2010. The Authority is the leader in sustainable building design, having recently enhanced its standards for energy use reduction, recycling, green power generation, and other elements of green. Prior to being named President & CEO in 2005, Mr. Cavanaugh served as the Authority’s Chief Operating Officer.

Prior to joining Battery Park City Authority, Mr. Cavanaugh served for 10 years as the town supervisor of Eastchester, N.Y.

The Battery Park City Authority recently reached an agreement with the School Construction Authority to build New York City’s first green school, which will use 25% less energy than a comparable school, as well as generate solar power on-site. Also under construction is New York’s first residential high rise that will carry a LEED Platinum designation from the United States Green Building Council.

Vishaan Chakrabarti

Vishaan Chakrabarti is the Marc Holliday Professor of Real Estate Development and the Director of the Real Estate Development program in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. For 2009-2010, the University of Virginia has also named Chakrabarti as the Jaquelin T. Robertson Visiting Professorship in Architecture. He is also the founding principal of Vishaan Chakrabarti Design Collaborative (VCDC, llc), an urban design, planning, and strategic advisory firm based in Manhattan. Formerly an Executive Vice President of Related Companies, Chakrabarti ran the design operations for the firm’s development portfolio including Moynihan Station. From 2002 to 2005, Chakrabarti served as the Director of the Manhattan Office for the New York Department of City Planning. Prior to this, Chakrabarti was an Associate Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Keith Griffiths

Keith read Architecture at St John’s College, Cambridge University and has practiced architecture for three decades. He formed his architectural practice in Hong Kong in 1985 and led the company into the creation of Aedas in 2001. He has overseen the phenomenal growth of Aedas to become the world’s second-largest architectural practice with 40 offices worldwide. He is recognized and sought after designer who promotes sustainable design excellence and cultural integration as the keystones of Aedas’ philosophy. Keith facilitates international design workshops, reviews, staff training, and educational outreach programs. He provides a driving force in Aedas’ work to improve our environment through our built form and its integration into the fabric of our communities. Keith has established Retreats Group as a privately owned historic building Trust to purchase and rehabilitate important historic buildings. The Trust is currently restoring its first three properties in West Wales for completion in 2010.

Paul Katz

As President in the New York office of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Paul Katz focuses on the planning, design, and development of office, mixed-use, and high-rise buildings. He has senior responsibilities in all aspects of commercial architecture, including business development, management, and design. Mr. Katz helped to establish KPF’s strong presence in Japan and Hong Kong, and has been instrumental in setting up the firm’s China operations in Shanghai.

Mr. Katz is currently working with several leading commercial developers in the U.S., Europe and Asia, including Canary Wharf, Mori Building, Sun Hung Kai, Hongkong Land, and Shui On Land. His recent projects include: 505 Fifth Avenue, New York Sports and Convention Center, part of the New York 2012 Olympic Games bid; the Clifford Chance office tower in Canary Wharf, London; Roppongi Hills, which includes facilities for Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and a Grand Hyatt Tokyo; and the Shanghai World Financial Center.

An active member of the Urban Land Institute, he has helped internationally promote its activities. He co-authored Building Type Basics for Office Buildings, published by Wiley in 2002. Mr. Katz has provided expert interviews in tall building design to print media such as Newsweek, The Economist, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Wired, among others.

Mrs. Carrie Lam

Mrs. Carrie Lam was appointed Secretary for Development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government on July 1, 2007. Prior to assuming this prestigious and powerful position, Mrs. Lam served the Government as an Administrative Officer for 27 years.