Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hudson as Mecca--Then and Now

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, James Marston Fitch used to bring his graduate students from the School of Architecture at Columbia University to study our fine collection of late 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century architecture. Hudson was then (and still is) seen as "a dictionary of American architecture." Today, graduate students and mentees in urban planning are coming here for a different purpose: to investigate our challenges. We've become an "interesting case study" in gentrification and displacement. 

Richard Moody reports today in the Register-Star that Herbert Dreiseitl, who is the director of the Liveable Cities Lab at the international urban planning group Ramboll, convened the Young Planners Summit 2017 this weekend in Hudson: "International planning co. eyes solutions to Hudson's problems."

Hudson has been on Dreiseilt's radar for at least a decade. Back in 2006, he visited Hudson and submitted a proposal to be the planning consultant for the Hudson's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). Some on the Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee (WASC) of that era were intrigued by Dreiseilt's approach to creating green spaces, often on marginal land, that solved storm water flooding problems, improved water quality, increased the resilience of urban areas, and connected people with urban nature. When the WASC met to discuss the proposals submitted (if memory serves, there were three or four) and come to agreement about which one would be best, it was disheartening that there was no real discussion. A decision apparently had already been made by the leadership of the WASC, along with the staffer from the Department of State, to go with BFJ Planning, which had worked on many LWRPs before and would bring that experience (and conventionality) to the task.


  1. Is there anyone who doesn't agree, in retrospect, that BFJ's cookie-cutter approach was the wrong way to go? If those planners were so acceptable, then where's our State-approved LWRP?

    Take note that every attempt to achieve a waterfront program (LWRP) has crashed on the rocks of someone or other's managerial "expertise." And yet, we go straight back to that trough time and again (no offense directed to Mr. Dreisetl who'd reportedly promised conducting the LWRP planning sensibly [c.f. NYSDOS guidelines]).

    Eventually someone in a leadership position will heed the State guidelines, which recommend the formation of subcommittees. Until that level of public participation happens, nothing is ever going to happen (and we still won't learn!).

  2. The solution is quite easy.
    Count the number of families living in the North by Northwest section of Hudson (North of Warren and below 5th mostly) and of course West side of South and North Front.
    Give each a million dollars to leave.
    End results, tear it all down build beautiful buildings, hotels and condos.
    Gone will be the tired, the poor. Hey, they were welcomed to America. You know the torch lady down in NYC harbor.
    No one that I know of has a better solution to Hudson poverty and housing.
    And besides, who wants to go to the shores of the dirty, polluted cancer giving Hudson River any.

  3. I found Dreiseilt's proposals innovative for Hudson with programs that would unite the citizens of town for a change in a unified vision.

  4. Would love to see what they cooked up!