See NYC’s Flower District transformed with public courtyards, outdoor markets, and more

Posted On Mon, June 21, 2021 By

Posted On Mon, June 21, 2021 By In Landscape Architecture, Policy, Urban Design

All renderings courtesy of SeeThree and ODA

When the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City last spring, the city launched a successful effort to give pedestrians safe outdoor space through its”Open Streets” program, which closed some streets to cars. Extremely popular with New Yorkers, the initiative, along with its Open Restaurants and Open Culture counterparts, was expanded and made permanent this year. A local architecture firm is looking to capitalize on this reclamation of public city space with a new proposal aimed at reviving the once blossoming Flower District.

ODA last week released “Beyond the Street,” a conceptual proposal that would transform underutilized private courtyards into green spaces with public amenities. The new concept, as first reported by Fast Company, involves creating a new zoning regulation to encourage developers to build larger courtyards with connections to the street, in exchange for an increase of floor area and height at new developments.

“This case study demonstrates how we can expand the public realm, embrace density, and ultimately improve the life in our neighborhoods,” Eran Chen, founding principal of ODA, said in an explainer video of the firm’s proposal.

“Beyond the Street” focuses on the Flower District, an area that stretches from Broadway to 6th Avenue between 23rd and 33rd Streets and once prospered with vendors and flower markets but has faced economic decline. “Over the past few decades, the neighborhood has lost its charm, giving way to car traffic and empty storefronts,” reads a press release.

As a way to reimagine this once flourishing commercial and pedestrian hub, ODA proposes making the private courtyards that already exist between buildings publicly accessible. The ground floor of these courtyards could then be programmed, “replacing urban decay with markets, small businesses, coffee shops, diversified housing, hospitality, urban farming, and public art,” Chen notes.

According to ODA, the proposal would break open existing city blocks to create interior car-free courtyards that would grow to include pedestrian-friendly pathways to other public spaces in the city. The plan would require collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Watch ODA’s “Beyond the Street” concept video, developed by Eran Chen, Christian Bailey, Mohammad Askarzadeh, Alexandra Polier, Francois Blehaut, Kelly Burke, and SeeThree, below:


Beyond the Street from ODA on Vimeo.

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All renderings courtesy of SeeThree and ODA

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