Amanda Burden — Engine Driving Mayor's Redevelopment Frenzy

Event: City College School of Architecture Lecture Series: Amanda Burden
Location: City College School of Architecture, 03.27.08
Speaker: Amanda M. Burden, Hon. AIANY — Chair, NYC City Planning Commission & Commissioner, NYC Department of City Planning
Moderator: George Ranalli, AIA — Dean, City College of New York (CCNY) School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture
Organizer: CCNY School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture


Long Island City is one of the major development sites Amanda Burden, Hon. AIANY, has taken on as commissioner of the NYC Department of City Planning.

Jessica Sheridan

Under the leadership of Commissioner Amanda Burden, Hon, AIANY, the NYC Department of City Planning has worked at a frenetic pace over the last six years, including rezoning one-sixth of the city — more than combined actions of the past 40 years.

Burden’s role in reshaping NYC is significant in making Mayor Bloomberg’s aggressive redevelopment plans possible. A review of City Planning’s major initiatives during the Bloomberg administration include: the East River waterfront, World Trade Center site, West Side Rail Yards, Jamaica Business District, Long Island City, Greenpoint / Williamsburg waterfront, the South Bronx, 125th Street, and the High Line, to name a few. Each of these projects could take years of analysis, field observation, and community interaction, yet somehow they have all been implemented under one administration.

Embedded in Burden’s City College lecture were counterpunches to criticism of some of the proposals’ scale, affordability, and potential to restrict community access to neighborhood assets. For example, when discussing the Greenpoint / Williamsburg waterfront, Burden cited the FAR bonus for waterfront buildings that include at least 20% affordable housing. Burden also mentioned “get-downs” allowing direct water access that will be part of both the East River and the Greenpoint / Williamsburg waterfront projects, deflecting criticism that recent waterfront redevelopment projects tend to treat the water as something to be seen and not experienced. Burden also discussed the numerous down-zoning and preservation efforts made by the department in an effort to maintain the character of important neighborhoods like City Island, Park Slope, and Whitestone.

While the debate rages on as to whose needs these massive development projects address, there is no debating Burden’s sweeping impact on the shape of this city.