Zoning NYC Scavenger Hunt: Celebrating 100 Years of NYC Zoning
Recently, members of the GKV team, Rachel, Sheena, Risa, Yue, Thomas, and Louis participated in the Zoning New York Scavenger Hunt created by Open House New York and The Museum of the City of New York. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of New York City Zoning the scavenger hunt covered all 5 boroughs, pinpointing architectural sites that have been influenced by zoning changes or have themselves influenced the way New York City is designed. We sat down with the scavenger hunt team, aptly named "TeamGKV" to see how their experience went.
What was the most interesting architectural site you visited?
"The Parkview at 108 East 96th St. was definitely my favorite. I was shocked to learn that the building had to remove 12 stories five years after its completion due to a zoning violation." –Risa
"The plaza at the Seagram Building in Midtown. Since the building itself is set toward the back of the lot, the open plaza can fit two fountains and plenty of places for pedestrians to sit. It is such a welcome space along busy Park Avenue."-Louis
How do you feel zoning laws have influenced architecture either in the past hundred years or in general?
"Since zoning shapes all the new buildings that go up in NYC, like set backs and height through guidelines and restrictions, it has a unique power to voice the needs of New Yorkers. Therefore what could be an otherwise cut and dry business venture for developers is shaped by the needs of the people. For example, today there is a huge demand for green space that benefits tenants of the building; zoning laws have the ability to ensure this happens." - Sheena
"Actually, I have found that loopholes in zoning laws which allow for more interpretation creates some unique places throughout the city. Because of various interpretations of the zoning laws, the city gains a lot more diversity in its organization. Now, instead of distinct residential and commercial neighborhoods we are seeing a lot more mix-use developments where people may live and work in the same place." –Rachel
Where do you think zoning is going in the next 100 years?
"With the limit of space in NYC, the only place for buildings to go is up. One of the ways zoning will probably change is by allowing for higher ground floor heights for retail spaces, which allows the building itself to go up higher." – Rachel
"As mentioned by Sheena before, green space is becoming very important to a lot of people. In fact the focus of zoning, I hope, will continue to move away from the way buildings are made to a focus on tenants and living environment." - Thomas
"I agree with Thomas, there are a couple of proposals about bringing back stoops to buildings. It offers a buffer between the city and a residence so that people really feel they have a separate space. It's a small change but it's tenant and community focused." -Yue
"Exactly, I think there needs to be a bigger effort by the zoning department to enact community zoning plans or reviews with the community board. People are generally happier when they feel they have a say in the change of their neighborhood." -Sheena
To score points for each architectural site, GKV used our instagram to document their travels on the NY Zoning Scavenger Hunt. You can check out all the pictures here. Well done Team GKV and thank you to Open House New York for organizing this great event!