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Chaos vs. Order: The New Face of Astor Place

02/10 Friday | 6pm

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge and the Gehl Institute invite you to join us for a discussion on the past, present, and future of Manhattan’s Astor Place and public plazas in New York City. This event will take a critical look at the neighborhood improvements and its benefits to society, with a panel including Andy Wiley Schwartz, William Kelley, Florent Morellet, moderated by Lisa Chamberlain.

Astor Place, located at the cultural and historic center of New York’s East Village, recently received a major facelift and new pedestrian plaza. For many community advocates, the redesign constitutes an important win in a decades long struggle for improvements. But critics of the new space decry the improvements for their sanitizing effect. Can new urban spaces that receive capital funding ever meet community expectations for delivering a thriving place? Can a balance be struck between messy chaos and sterile control when making significant improvements to neighborhoods?

Lisa Chamberlain is a communications and business development strategist with an emphasis on the built environment. She works with clients involved in architecture, urban planning and design, preservation, real estate, sustainability, and placemaking to achieve their messaging, policy and development goals. Lisa’s diverse background includes reporting on real estate for The New York Times; leading the Forum for Urban Design, a multi-disciplinary non-profit organization; and working as a legislative aide for a Member of Congress on policies related to the urban environment. She has an MS from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and studied urban planning at Columbia GSAPP. More information can be found on her website.

William Kelley is the Executive Director at the Village Alliance. As a Business Improvement District, the Village Alliance works with area residents, businesses, cultural and academic institutions to ensure the district continues to grow and succeed. Prior to joining the Alliance, Kelley held leadership positions with the Union Square Partnership, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Florent Morellet is a restaurateur, activist and scene-maker born in France. He was the owner of renowned Meatpacking District restaurant Florent, which closed its doors in 2008. Morellet is now based in Bushwick where he works, among other things, on the design of maps, some totally fictional and some focused on real cities.

Andy Wiley Schwartz has more than 17 years of experience evaluating, envisioning and developing transportation infrastructure as public spaces. He currently works at Bloomberg Associates, where he assists clients in implementing major road safety efforts and launching new public space programs, as well as facilitating the production of new transportation strategic plans. He was previously Assistant Commissioner for Public Space in the New York City Department of Transportation.

This event is part of a discussion series, Moving Towards a More Just, Inclusive, and Democratic Urbanism: Critical Views, co-hosted by the Institute for Public Knowledge and Gehl Institute.

The Institute for Public Knowledge is wheelchair-accessible.

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