From Spaces to Flows: Re-Evaluating the Role of Urban Parks in the Post-Industrial City

By Nina Claire Napawan.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Upon examination of recent designed and constructed landscapes in New York City, it is clear that increasingly fragmentary scraps of available land between and within abandoned transportation and industrial infrastructure are sites for human occupation, as evidenced by projects such as the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Fresh Kills. Instead of the green polygons of Central Park or Prospect Park, it is the abandoned elevated rails, former dumping grounds, or industrial waste lands that have become our sites for urban open spaces. But can these landscapes have the same power to order urban form as their predecessors? Can a disused scrap of land have the same influence to inform and improve growing urban development in the 21st century? Tracing the trends in public open space within the context of New York City’s development from early colonial town planning to present, this paper reveals the important role landscapes and public open spaces have historically played in the city’s development and urban form, and questions the role it can play in its post-industrial, infrastructural, and marginalized occupation.

Keywords: Urban Development, Public Open Space, Landscape Urbanism, Post-Industrial Landscape, Contemporary Urban Parks

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.27-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 6.521MB).

Prof. Nina Claire Napawan

Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Design, University of California, Davis, Davis, California, USA

N. Claire Napawan is an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on urban public open spaces and their role within the evolving city. In light of economic, social, and environmental changes within urban development, including population growth and climate change, Professor Napawan has an interest in investigating the roles in which landscapes might adapt to provide ever-increasing productive and infrastructural programs to the global city. Prior to her faculty appointment, she taught at the Spitzer School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture at the City College of New York, collaborating studio instruction with the Design Trust for Public Space in developing alternative strategies for the Bronx Grand Concourse. She has also practiced professionally with award-winning firms, including the SWA Group in San Francisco and dlandstudio, llc. in Brooklyn. Her contributions include design and project management of Downtown Salt Lake City revitalization, Bejing Finance Street urban design, and security upgrades for Police Headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Professor Napawan holds a bachelors degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and a masters in landscape architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.