Mayor de Blasio has selected an innovative leader in urban planning and design, Mitch Silver (lecturer in housing and urbanization), to be Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Silver is known internationally as a parks policy expert who has successfully transformed the landscape of large urban areas, small towns and urban-suburban communities undergoing periods of rapid growth. He will be charged with bringing a holistic perspective to NY’s parks and city infrastructure, while also expanding access, sustainability and public health initiatives throughout the city’s 29,000 acres of parkland.
Throughout Silver’s career, he has consistently made the expansion of parks and open space a central part of his planning vision for sustainable, healthy and livable cities, a record that aligns well with the de Blasio administration’s vision of equity. He spent his early days in the NY Department of Planning and most recently was chief planning and development officer and planning director for Raleigh, NC. He has taught, written and spoken extensively about improving the quality and accessibility of open spaces in low-income communities, using green infrastructure and integrating parks planning with affordable housing and public health policy as a way to better protect communities.
Silver recently finished a 2-year stint as president of the APA. Among numerous accolades he has been named one of the Top 100 City Innovators in the World by UBM Future Cities and a top international thought leader of the built environment by Urban Times. His 2013 GSD lecture “Planning in the 21st Century: What’s Next?” is worth watching for the scope and depth of his thinking about the future of urban planning.