This is what a landscaped ‘green block’ would look like in the Flatiron District
Courtesy of WATG
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic in New York City, fewer cars were on the road, leading to cleaner air and less noise pollution. And with nearly everything temporarily shut down, New Yorkers sought solace in open green spaces, parks, and open streets closed to cars. As the city is in the midst of reopening, WATG, a global multidisciplinary design firm, has proposed a plan to make the streets of New York greener while helping small businesses recover in the process.
Led by WATG’s master planner John Goldwyn, the concept, called “Green Block,” transforms the intersection in front of the iconic Flatiron Building into a pedestrian-friendly green haven. The program uses a modular, maintenance-free program, created using 100 percent recyclable materials.
“Our cities have long been overdue for transformation and, as some people flee for greener landscapes in the wake of COVID-19, Green Block proves that you don’t need to sacrifice one for the other – we actually can, in fact, have both the urban and the green lifestyle,” Goldwyn said.
As part of the Green Block, greenery and lush landscapes would pop up on the sidewalks and shop fronts, with paths leading to restaurants and cafes. The plants and shrubs, which would increase foot traffic for the businesses in the area, according to the firm.
By reclaiming the road from traffic, the program adds more space for cyclists and pedestrians, creating a healthier, and safer environment.
“The pandemic tapped into an underrepresented desire in urban dwellers to connect with nature. That desire is a human right, and the city needs to address it. Green Block is in the best interest of New Yorkers and New York City’s standing in the world,” Goldwyn said.
WATG’s Green Block concept has been recognized by the Urban Design Forum as a solution to its inquiry “City Life After Coronavirus,” which asked for ideas to build a more “just” city through urban design and infrastructure in the aftermath of the pandemic. The firm is currently working to get the Green Block deployed in some streets of London.