Navigating New York
Cindy Allen -- Interior Design, 9/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Finally! Fast pacing, fast-tracking, and every other crazy-which-way has produced a New York issue that, safely on paper, doesn't reveal craziness at all but instead presents revved-up evidence of the city's unsurpassed talent, local or imported.
(Did I say "finally"?) These high-octane interiors are also havens, life-restoring physical shelter after a day spent navigating in, out, and around the city, a task that requires, more than ever before, an impressive and irrepressible sense of humor.
Simply trying to get uptown from down or vice versa may sometimes seem an exercise in futility for us locals. In truth, it's a sally into a battlefield contested by two warring factions. On one side, a progressive municipal leadership has proved, time and again, more than willing to innovate: The High Line featured on our cover is a testament to that. On the other side, there's an entrenched class of politicians out to protect narrow interests that stand in the way of much-needed citywide improvements, come hell or high water. This script plays out in cities all over the country, perhaps with different villains to blame and a different way of "absolving" themselves of community responsibilities. Among our intellectual ranks—the people supposed to explain what is good and what is not good—the roll-up-your-sleeves commitment has become harder to discern amid such pursuits as campaigning for tenure or blogging oneself into oblivion. But, hey, I suppose not having effective local leaders means getting what we paid for over a good 30 years.
Yet, fortunately, there are exceptions. Day in and day out, designers work hard, tirelessly, to improve lives. Our craft is always stepping into the breach to fulfill a built-in commitment to society's welfare. And we have role models and activists to offer. Only a few days ago, I had the privilege to meet with Les Shepherd, chief architect of the U.S. General Services Administration. In the brief time we spent together, he proved himself to be a truly positive force—and you can read more about him next month in our "Mover/Shaker" profile. From New York to Washington and beyond, with people like him and folks like you, I feel confident that real "change" is what we can look forward to.