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[Brief Notes from New York #3]

The sky is still sunny but the wind is getting cold in New York – the perfect time to grab your laptop and explore the warm spots of the city. One of my recent discoveries is the David Rubenstein Atrium, with its Vertical Garden and 2 000 tropical plants. The natural elements create a welcoming space for sitting, drinking coffee, browsing on the free wi-fi or just enjoying the surroundings. The space makes one feel and breath so much better in the big city, away form the bustling street life.

The David Rubenstein Atrium, designed by architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien, is one of circa 503 POPS, Privately Owned Public Spaces, in New York City. The POPS program was introduced in 1961 during the Zoning Resolution and has since then produced circa 33 hectares of public space. The original idea of the program was to offer zoning incentives for private developers in the form of additional building area, relief from height and specific restrictions, and other means to increase space availability in high-density districts. In return the building owners where obliged to offer spaces for the general public.

Most of the POPS are located in Manhattan’s midtown and downtown business centers and currently only three buildings in Brooklyn and one in Queens are included in the program. Although many of the spaces are in high use, the statistics tell that almost 41 percent of them are only of marginal utility. However, the David Rubenstein Atrium can be considered a success among the POPS. The space is also frequently used for different events: during fashion week I had the chance to sneak in to see a fashion show, aka an installation with static models.


Brief Notes from New York

This series presents moments and observations from the city of all cities: New York. The author, Kati Laakso, originally from Helsinki, Finland, has been living in New York for two years and is constantly surprised how fast everything changes.

New York as a city and a cultural landscape is in constant change. The evolving nature of its structure and inhabitants transforms it from day to day, year to year. The change does not only occur in the city structure but also in the social forms taking place in different places every minute. Not only the city itself but also its inhabitants are constantly developing new forms of life, new forms of doing things, and making the city what it has been and will be tomorrow.