Part Two of Three. [Find Part One here.]
The original NYU 2031 plan, as proposed in 2010, would bring radical redevelopment to the Northern and Southern Superblocks. Created through the process of “slum clearance,” in the 1950s and now primarily owned by the university, these large slabs of land sit in the heart of Greenwich Village, just above Houston Street, and house hundreds of faculty members and their families.
The proposal squeezed twisted, boomerang-shaped buildings into Washington Square Village, wiping away playgrounds and storefronts. A massive structure of stacked towers, referred to as the “Zipper Building,” would replace the Cole’s Sport Center. The grocery store at the corner of Bleeker and LaGuardia disappeared, and a new high-rise would take its place.
When revealed, the overall plan profoundly shocked faculty and community members, and helped catalyze the atmosphere of resentment and distrust that lead to the censures against John Sexton. In May of 2012, during the midst of budding contention and after receiving the city’s approval to build on the superblocks, Sexton created the University Space Priorities Working Group to evaluate the university’s space needs. Delivering the group’s charge, Sexton only attended the first meeting; afterward, the group made its conclusions and recommendations available to Sexton and the public at the same time.
Faculty members, sprinkled with a few student and administrative representatives, comprised the Working Group, which over the course of 18 months proved that a diverse and largely independent group could arise within NYU’s structure. Read more…