Formed in the late 1960s as part of New York City’s Lindsay administration, the Urban Design Group became famous for implementing district urban design plans through innovative zoning approaches. Nearly 50 years later, this event convenes several of the founding members of the original group to discuss their contribution to urban design history. With Jaquelin T. Robertson, Richard Weinstein, Jonathan Barnett, and Donald Elliott. Moderated by Jerold S. Kayden.
Founded in 1967 as part of New York City Mayor John Lindsay’s office, the Urban Design Group championed the theory and practice of enmeshing design with politics and law. Architects Jaquelin Robertson, Jonathan Barnett, and Richard Weinstein, co-founders of the UDG, along with lawyer Donald Elliott, then chair of the New York City Planning Commission, used incentive zoning, special districts, and transfer of development rights, among other legal techniques, to implement their vision of a vibrant, walkable city. The contributions of the UDG to a pluralist vision of urban design that incorporates strategies and tactics of implementation along with other design approaches are as valid today as they were almost fifty years. This reunion of sorts will examine the UDG approach and its relevance for designing cities going forward.
One of the founders of the Urban Design Group, Jonathan Barnett is emeritus Professor of Practice in City and Regional Planning and former director of the Urban Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an architect, planner, and author of numerous books and articles on the theory and practice of city design including Urban Design as Public Policy.
Donald H. Elliott
Donald H. Elliott was Chair of the New York City Planning Commission around the time the Urban Design Group was created. He is a prominent real estate and land use attorney and currently is Counsel to the New York law firm of Bryant Rabbino LLP. Elliott has served as counsel to The Trust for Cultural Resources of The City of New York for many years, and currently serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Community Foundation and The Noguchi Museum.
Jaquelin T. Robertson
One of the founders of the New York City Urban Design Group and the first Director of the Mayor's Office of Midtown Planning and Development, Jaquelin T. Robertson has since founded and remained a Consulting Architect at the firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners. Robertson served as Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia from 1980 to 1988 and was one of the founders of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Mayors Institute on City Design.
One of the founders of the Urban Design Group and director of the Mayor’s Office of Planning and Development for Lower Manhattan, Richard Weinstein was Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning at UCLA from 1985–1994 and Professor of Architecture and Urban Design from 1995 to 2008. As Dean he established the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, served on the Jury for Disney Concert Hall, and was Coadministrator of the architectural selection process for the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
Supported by the Rachel Dorothy Tanur Memorial Fund.
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