Recycled Sidewalks: Is Green Design Always Good Design?
January 11, 2011
A recent New York initiative has me perplexed: at Queensboro Plaza, where three subway lines intersect with the Queensborro Bridge, the city has installed traffic medians made from concrete "shards" of old sidewalk. While the project, by landscape architect Tobiah Horton, is intriguing in concept, and certainly smart in its reuse of old construction material, I wonder where the line between "green design" and "good design" lies, and if in fact in some cases, aesthetics are lost to a green agenda.
Perhaps you disagree with me, and find the medians stunning, but to me they seem a bit post-apocalyptic, and instead of municipal beautification, have an alienating and brutal quality that viscerally counteracts any green value they may have in my mind. Some may argue they even bring a "graveyard chic" to the urban landscape. Regardless, the project is an interesting case study in sustainability, where green design is maybe not always good design, and good design is certainly subjective. Or, is the fact that it is green design automatically characterize it as smart, good design? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
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