Parks without Borders: Unifying the Public Realm
You'll learn about:
The planning and capital process needed to support an innovative approach to redesigning underutilized or untraditional areas of our parks and public realm
How to enhance community engagement in a citywide, multistep site selection process
The challenges, opportunities, and solutions for successful interagency collaboration in helping to create a more unified vision and understanding of the public realm
Learn basic principles for designing open, welcoming spaces that connect to their surroundings
The planning-related educational objective is to share and discuss the step by step process taken to breathe new life and opportunity into spaces that are closed off and disconnected from the communities they serve through better design. Acknowledging and enhancing these spaces is an important step in maximizing parks and public spaces in a city where these spaces are integral to everyday life.
Moderated by Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, NYC Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, this panel discussion will explore how the Parks Without Borders (PWB) program was created, the design, outreach and stakeholder collaboration challenges that were addressed, as well as the program’s next steps and how the these innovative design principles are being incorporated into other projects.
NYC Parks is the steward of nearly 30,000 acres of land, accounting for 14% of New York City. This percent skyrockets to 40% when combined with streets and sidewalks owned by NYC Department of Transportation. Parks Without Borders (PWB) is a new approach to park design focused on creating more open, welcoming, and beautiful open spaces, bolstered by a $50M capital campaign. The PWB program is a part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC plan to create a strong and just city through programs supporting growth, sustainability, resiliency, and equity.
The PWB design approach works to unify park spaces with the neighborhoods they serve by making parks more welcoming, improving neighborhoods by extending the beauty of parks out into communities, and by transforming underused areas into vibrant community spaces. The approach has also placed an important new focus marrying how planning, funding and design opportunities can be better connected. Furthermore, PWB design approach focuses on nature, the use of perimeter and adjacent park spaces and aims to improve the overall feeling of these parks, through a more robust and strategic community engagement effort.
Over a three month comment period, NYC Parks asked park users where they wanted to see these types of improvements. New Yorkers responded with more than 6,100 nominations for 692 parks through online surveys and dozens of workshops and presentations. This city-wide public engagement helped NYC Parks choose eight parks with the right mix of community support, physical conditions and context as showcase projects to fully highlight the Parks Without Borders program.
As cities and communities continue to increase in density, this type of approach will become more important as the need for new “parks” in appropriate or traditional places becomes scarce. All cities will be looking beyond the borders of their current dedicated park land and trying to make their existing parks do more.
, NYC Parks
Confirmed SpeakerAs Deputy Chief for Design, Nancy guides the design aesthetic and vision for all projects completed in NYC Parks. She is responsible for establishing standards for excellence in design to ensure that projects are innovative, enduring, resilient and sustainable. Prior to becoming Deputy Chief for Design, Nancy held the rolls of Senior Designer for Queens and Manhattan Parks and served as lead designer on numerous award winning projects. Her work has been recognized with the Award for Excellence in Design from the NYC Art Commission, the Big Apple Brownfield Open Space award, the Silver Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, and New York Magazine’s Best Outdoor Playground. In addition, a number of her projects have been featured in prominent national landscape architecture magazines. Nancy is a Landscape Architect. She received a Masters in Urban Design from the City University Graduate Center and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts. She holds a Bachelors of Art in Urban Studies from Concordia University in Montreal.
, New York City Department of Transportation
Confirmed SpeakerSean Quinn, Senior Director, NYCDOT Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Sean has over ten years of pedestrian and bicycle planning, design, and implementation experience in New York and New Jersey. Over the past nine years at NYC DOT he has worked on projects which redesigned city streets with an eye toward safety, mobility, and economic development. In his current role he oversees a staff of planners, engineers, and urban designers all working toward improving the bicycle and pedestrian network throughout the city as well as enhancing the public realm through the development of plazas and streetscape amenities. Sean graduated from the Bloustein School at Rutgers University in 2007 with a Master's degree in City and Regional Planning.
Confirmed SpeakerMitchell J. Silver became Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in May 2014. Commissioner Silver is also the immediate past president of the American Planning Association (APA). He is an award-winning planner with over 30 years of experience and he is internationally recognized for his leadership in the planning profession and his contributions to contemporary planning issues. He specializes in comprehensive planning, place making and implementation strategies. As Parks Commissioner, Mitchell Silver oversees management, planning and operations of nearly 30,000 acres of parkland, which includes parks, playgrounds, beaches, marinas, recreation centers, wilderness areas and other assets. Prior to returning to his native New York City as Parks Commissioner, he served as the Chief Planning & Development Officer and Planning Director for Raleigh, NC. His career has included roles as a policy and planning director for Manhattan Borough President's Northern Office, a principal of a New York City-based planning firm, a town manager in New Jersey, and deputy planning director in Washington, DC. Commissioner Silver lectures extensively throughout the United States and abroad on a variety of planning topics. He is a contributing author and editor of International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) latest edition of “Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice,” which is a resource for local governments engaged in planning. Known by his colleagues as a passionate communicator, creative thinker, problem-solver and visionary leader, Mitchell Silver has been at the center of many cutting edge trends, innovative solutions and visionary plans, including Harlem on the River and Vision for Jamaica Center in New York City and the revitalization of neighborhoods in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, and Raleigh. As president of APA, he led an international effort to elevate the value and rebirth of planning in the 21st century. In 2012, the Urban Times named him one of the top international thought leaders of the built environment today. In 2013, UBM Future Cities named Mitchell Silver as one of the top 100 City Innovators in the world and the Royal Town Planning Institute made him an honorary lifetime member. In 2014, he was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Planning Association. In 2015, he was named a honorary fellow of the Planning Institute of Austrailia and in 2016 he was inducted as a fellow into the Academy of Social Sciences. When Mayor Bill de Blasio named Mitchell Silver as New York City's Parks Commissioner, he called him “a visionary.” The Mayor went on to say: “He has a passion for fairness and equality, and he brings it to the work of government, and understands that we have to ensure that parks and open spaces are available in every community, and are well-maintained in every community in this city.” As planning director in Raleigh, he led the comprehensive plan update process and a rewriting of the development code to create a vibrant 21st century city. Mr. Silver served in Raleigh from 2005 until taking his job at Parks. He was an outspoken advocate for Raleigh and helped transform it into a world-class city with great streets, great places and great neighborhoods. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Guardian (U.K.), Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post, Associated Press, Atlantic Cities, the Urban Times, Planning Magazine, the News & Observer, the Charlotte Observer, the Triangle Business Journal , Crain’s Business Journal, BBC World News and National Public Radio (NPR). Commissioner Silver has taught graduate planning courses at Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Pratt Institute and North Carolina State University. He is the Dunlop Lecturer in Housing and Urbanization at Harvard University. Mitchell Silver received a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute and a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College. He is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners and is a licensed Professional Planner in the State of New Jersey.