Is Public Space Corporate Space?

World architecture... what's happening generally....

Is Public Space Corporate Space?

Postby catch22 » Tue Nov 26, 2002 3:15 pm

This is a very important and difficult question I intend to tackle for my dissertation. It involves both the structure of public space, physically and politically and the conditions about which we find our current urban settings.
I really do need some positive feedback with concrete info as opposed to the more emotional responses that this topic is likely to incur.
Your participation would be much appreciated and hopefully of value to all.
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Postby deepnote » Tue Nov 26, 2002 4:11 pm

as corporations are the holy orders of today, public space is indeed corporate space...with the public purse getting smaller there should should soon be sponsorship opportunities for those with the deepest pockets...Microsoft's St. Stephens Green...
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Postby colinsky » Tue Nov 26, 2002 4:53 pm

in california there have been a few lawsuits that have made it (i believe) up to the supreme court level of the converse, as to whether corporate spaces is public space -- e.g., whether protestors have the same legal rights to gather in (pseudo-public) private space (parking lots, shopping malls) where the public is invited in as they would in purely public space such as a town square or covernment building.

as deepnote mentioned, sponsorship is another big one -- espeiclaly of things such as stadiums which are considered by many to be (publically-funded) public amenities.
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Postby catch22 » Thu Nov 28, 2002 6:00 pm

I was thinking more along the lines of comparing two different cities, New York as it is cut and thrust capitalism and Dublin as it is relatively new to this corporate enterprise (relatively speaking, Temple Bar and Dublin Docklands etc.
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Postby notjim » Thu Nov 28, 2002 6:13 pm

nyc is an interesting case because planning for tall buildings is easier to get if you include a public square. it sometimes works well, the little squares are used by people to each lunch, sit around etc, but there is alot of back and forth between the planners and the builders about what constitutes a public square, the corporations don't want people sitting around outside their building or worse sleeping there or skateboarding, the planners don't want some small windswept traffic island with a crap piece of corporate art on it. don't make the mistake of think of nyc and the result of uncontrolled capital, it isn't, there is powerfully planning control and powerful develouper and the result is a balance of extremes.
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Postby trace » Thu Nov 28, 2002 9:37 pm

Have a look at what Helmut Jahn has done at Berlin's Potsdamer Platz - covered, privately owned, 'public space' that's privately policed.
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Postby catch22 » Fri Nov 29, 2002 11:46 am

Manhattan is a blend of the 1916 zoning laws and the powerful dominance of the grid, hence each skyscraper has become a monument within itself, regardless of its function. There is no hierarchy within the grid and the pseudo public spaces are a planning trade off.

Trace, very interesting comment on Berlin, I shall follow that up.

Has anyone any thoughts on the private colonisation of virtual space, Will we be paying for access to this site soon
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Postby fjp » Fri Nov 29, 2002 11:57 am

Virtual space was never free. Competition is reducing hosting costs, meaning that there's actualy less chance of us paying for this site in the future than there is now.

Unless (of course) Paul decides that he wants money, which I'll presume to be slightly unlikely. Thankfully there are still plenty of content providers out there who are perfectly willing to provide a service to the public for free (incurring a limited cost to themselves)...

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Postby Euphon » Mon Dec 02, 2002 3:34 pm

no doubt you've already thought of it but Naomi Klein's No logo addresses this issue in detail, in particular shopping malls and university campuses as areas that are in the stronghold of multi-nationals.
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Postby trace » Thu Jan 02, 2003 4:00 pm

FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE:

Public access a point of debate with WTC designs

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff, 12/20/2002

NEW YORK - Promenades, plazas, and terraced gardens are integral parts of the nine proposals for rebuilding the World Trade Center site that were unveiled Wednesday, because the competing architects all agreed on one thing: Ground zero should become a public space, accessible to New Yorkers and visitors alike.

In the weeks leading up to Wednesday's event, however, there have been several flare-ups over public access to plazas and courtyards that developers have built in the last 40 years, leading some to caution that whatever is built at the World Trade Center site must be diligently monitored to keep public areas open to all.

''As inspirational as the imagined public spaces may be, the record on privately provided spaces in New York City hasn't exactly been encouraging,'' said Jerold Kayden, author of the book, ''Privately Owned Public Space,'' an examination of more than 500 such plazas, courtyards, and atriums.

A 1961 zoning law allowed developers in New York City to build extra stories on buildings in return for providing public space, usually at and around the base of the buildings. But Kayden, a professor at the Harvard Design School, found that many of the spaces had been roped off or built on, in violation of the original development agreements.

The city has issued scores of legal actions and levied tens of thousands of dollars in fines against building managers who have not kept those areas open to the public. But battles over several public spaces have continued to this day, including such prominent places as the ritzy fashion accessories store Henri Bendel's, the General Motors Plaza, and Le Cirque 2000 restaurant.

The area just inside the front door of Henri Bendel's, at 712 Fifth Ave., is filled with racks and glass display cases and salespeople, but is a public atrium.

The General Motors Plaza between East 58th and 59th streets on Fifth Avenue, was created as a public space in return for permission to make the building bigger. CBS regularly schedules special events and television programs on a portion of the plaza, including the Sunday ''NFL Today'' pregame show, where former quarterbacks and commentators prognosticate on the games of the day around an outdoor table. The hotel next door has filed a lawsuit complaining about the noise, but Kayden says the space is not supposed to be closed off to the public in the first place.

The hotel housing Le Cirque 2000, on the east side of Madison Avenue between 50th and 51st streets, is trying to work out a deal to keep some tables and chairs in an adjacent courtyard that is supposed to be kept open for public access. The situation is typical of what Kayden calls ''brasserie bulge'' and ''cafe creep,'' the incursion of private uses on public space.

A new group, called Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space, has been formed to monitor these spaces, under the auspices of the Municipal Arts Society, which collaborated on Kayden's book.

The World Trade Center site redevelopment will differ from other private building vs. public space situations, because the memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will be completely open to the public. While some teams of designers suggested separate memorial areas for victims' families, the parks, gardens, museums, and cultural institutions proposed for the site would have unfettered public access.

But several of the designs called for elevated gardens and public spaces high in the proposed towers, which will be built by private developers. Visitors may be required to pass through office-building lobbies to get to those spaces and could face the added hassle of security as well. Some expect that private events will occasionally be scheduled in some of the new spaces, similar to the fashion shows held at Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library, which was redeveloped using private funds.

Velvet ropes were set up for the unveiling of the World Trade Center design competition itself, in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, a public space created by the developers of the complex.

''I don't want to rain on the parade, but there has to be vigilance and monitoring'' whenever private developers provide public space, increasingly the norm as public funding for major spaces like Central Park continues to dwindle, Kayden said. ''To design is human, to enforce and follow up, divine.''

Anthony Flint can be reached at flint@globe.com.

This story ran on page A2 of the Boston Globe on 12/20/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.
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Postby ro_G » Thu Jan 02, 2003 5:18 pm

From an entirely different angle - NYC seem to rely quite heavily on private businesses for some facilitries such as restrooms. At any given time 1/5 of the folk in a Starbucks are only there to use the john.

the small covered plaza at the back of Niketown/Trump on Madison or at the Sony Wonder Centre n Fifth Avenue are very nice for a quick bite and a sit down for wealthy shoppers but dont allow you to enjoy the city atmosphere. Entirely sterile in my opinion. And the chess watching ain't half as good as you'd get in Washington Square Park. Maybe someone more knowledgeable than myself can answer the question of whether they are corporate or civil sponsored? They lock them at 8pm-10pm.
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Postby bunch » Tue Jan 07, 2003 2:19 pm

Potsdamer-Platz is a good reference to what catch 22 is looking for. There is a 'public' notice at each entrance leaving one in no doubt as to the intended nature of the place... no loitering etc. Naomi Klein's book would be a good source as well, and she has a new title out, i dont know the name of it though. Also, a book called 'Fantasy City', by John Hannigan, an indepth study of the entertainment industry and what it is doing to the public, and the public realm.
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Postby catch22 » Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:41 pm

Bunch, thanks for the advice, will follow up Fantasy Cities.

So far I have found the Privately Owned Public Spaces in New York as and excellent reference.
Temple Bar also seems to be encountering the same problems of many other cities through the gentrification of the area and also the crazy lack of restrictions on the proverbial superpub.

Potsdamer Platz is the quintessential corporate space masquerading as public, it is a very worrying trend for a city with such a difficult past, from one form of totalitarianism to another.

Naomi Klien, while her writing is exemplerary, I find that she tends to argue using the emotive rather than fact, and these kind of sweeping statements (from her, not me) are difficult to use.

I have also considered investigating the media as public space, present political crisis is a good example of the lack of impartial info in the media, where are the strong voices of dissention. Dissent does exist, but its not making headlines like David Beckham and co. Is this acceptable, given that the media is the only access that the public have to information that affects their lives, O'Reilly and co. vetting the editorials in their interest.

Under the media, the insidious corporate takeover of public space through advertisements can also be argued. Just look at the interior hall of Busarus, or the victorian rail bridge that spans the Liffey, drowned in Guinness adverts.

Any other suggestions of contributions would be greatly appreciated
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Postby catch22 » Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:54 pm

Paul,
Is there any chance that this thread might also make it onto the world architecture list. I feel that this is a topic not just restricted to Irish architecture, and I may recieve greater input from a larger audience.
Thanks
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