Architecture Associate Professor Craig Scott Envisions a Revitalized Lower Manhattan

IwamotoScott Architecture's tower design (part of the revitalize Lower Manhattan project, commissioned by Downtown Alliance) View slideshow 

CCA Architecture associate professor and coprincipal of IwamotoScott Architecture Craig Scott is among several architecture firms commissioned by the Alliance for Downtown New York to plan for the transformation of the Greenwich South section of Lower Manhattan. The plan entails new, innovative multiuse developments and greater optimization of the existing structures and public areas.

Since the collapse of the World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan has been struggling to regain its identity and reestablish itself as a thriving business community. In response the Downtown Alliance, which advocates for residents and businesses in the 41 acres south of the World Trade Center site, commissioned a plan in 2008 from Architecture Research Office (ARO), which established a "dream team" of architecture firms, artists, and designers, including IwamotoScott Architecture. (Visit the AIANY website to see the complete list.)

Following the study, Downtown Alliance President Elizabeth H. Berger described the Greenwich South area, which is surrounded by the World Trade Center site, the Financial District, Battery Park, and Battery Park City (as established in 1966 as part of the Lower Manhattan Plan), as “the hole in the donut” of Lower Manhattan, and asserted the Alliance is dedicated to filling it in.

ARO and its design team identified five principles to govern Downtown Alliance's vision—not a comprehensive plan—for what should happen in Greenwich South:

  • encourage an intense mix of uses
  • reconnect Greenwich Street
  • connect east and west
  • build for density, design for people
  • create a reason to come and a reason to stay

The Downtown Alliance has assembled the proposals into a document, titled “What If.” According to Greenwich South section of the Downtown Alliance website, "The objective is to achieve a dense, vibrant and diverse urban realm. Unlike a traditional master plan, these principles are not highly prescriptive, but rather usefully adaptive: they can respond to and inform evolving interests and market conditions over the next half-century."

To successfully meet the challenge, IwamotoScott Architecture proposed a variety of strategies that incorporate existing features into the development plans. For example, to create greater accessibility and reconnect Greenwich South to the larger metropolitan area, Greenwich Street would be restored to run between Battery Park and the World Trade Center site and opened east-west routes would promote greater cross traffic. (It is the Alliance’s aim to make Greenwich Street the spine of Greenwich South.)

More proposals from IwamotoScott Architecture included transforming the American Stock Exchange building into a museum, the establishment of a vertical park that would bridge the Battery Park tunnel, and the creation of a tiered park and public market.

The architecture firm also designed a twisting skyscraper as a response to the brief that called for an iconic tower due to its prominence in front of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. The tower design proposes to reopen the formerly closed Edgar Street, thus forming a civic passageway to encourage foot traffic by regulating pedestrian flow.

What does this mean for Lower Manhattan today?

According to the Metropolis blog: "The project remains mostly a collection of polished images, which is the way it will stay without a mix of public funding and private initiative—both unlikely in the current economy. Whatever work is done in Lower Manhattan will begin small, though hopefully the project will proceed along the general 'framework' suggested in the ARO plan."

However, Scott recently asserted his firm's designs, particularly the tower design (see slideshow above at right), are "far more developed" than suggested: Sustainable strategies such as a gradient-aperture structural skin (for material efficiency and to reduce heat gain), a fiber-optic daylighting system, and an air-filtering terrarium floor in the building’s atrium have been included.

Keep informed as this project develops: