De-spec’s entry, GLOCAL GRID, was exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York this past spring and was selected to be included in the publication produced by the Architectural League of New York.

Organized in conjunction with The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011, the Architectural League’s international Call for Ideas invited architects, landscape architects, urban designers, and other design professionals to use the Manhattan street grid as a catalyst for thinking about the present and future of New York. What new possibilities for the grid still exist? What can we expect for the city’s future and how will it be shaped and reflected by the street grid? What kinds of ideas as bold and visionary as the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan might New York undertake?



The solution is based on the idea of Glocalization as “internalized globalization,”*1, an idea that the potential exists to create new social actors and structures that are essentially “local in spirit but global in character,”*2 capable of responding to local social needs yet supported by the global insight and power.

The edges once lined with piers, ports and factories have slowly eroded giving way to random public or private development sometimes part of the grid and yet disconnected.  Correcting this hybrid nature of the boundaries from ‘outside-in’ to‘inside-out’ potentially seeks to make the largest shift in the identity of the grid since its conception.

The main strategy maintains the global community at the core of Manhattan Island and connects the core to the water by way of the streets into the piers. A more fluid, express connection is laid under the ground moving north-south connecting to bridges and tunnels.  The grid is extruded into its ‘Z’ axis allowing for an infrastructural SYSTEM for energy production, waste management, Data connections below ground and community development and other social systems above the ground. 


All the streets reach the edge and meet the water and transform into Piers.  The interstitial spaces are mitigated with indigenous vegetation and green space appropriate for local use and new types of public spaces.

A more express roadway is sunken under the ground moving North –South on the last Avenue parallel to the edge, with adequate exits at the intersection of two way streets additionally connecting expressway to bridges and tunnels.  This strategy asserts that the 12th Avenue (Henry Hudson) and FDR (Harlem River drive) at grade must integrate with the grid and for the streets to have lights at all intersections enabling pedestrian and slow traffic to cross over, internalize and occupy the edge.

Infrastructure- LOCALIZATION

Two new lines of underground infrastructure are placed on the 10th Ave to Amsterdam and 2nd Avenue to Morris Avenue. This new underground core can be used for multiple infrastructural uses including waste management. Using systems like ‘Envac’ already used in Roosevelt Island, local waste is vacuumed, then sorted and managed in local structures.  Zip code map is used to make the demarcation of neighborhoods.  Underdeveloped sites of approximately 100’x100’ that intersect 2nd Avenue or 10th Avenue are chosen for the ‘vertical parks’.   These structures provide for LOCAL collection, sorting and remediation of waste and exportation of recyclable waste such as paper, metal and glass.  Above the ground there is space for vertical farming and use by the community to produce food (vegetables, honey), market, restaurants and social activities to strengthen local relations & flavors.  The production of food can be supported by the members of the community who need work and assistance.  The building is run by a collaboration of private and public funding.  

*1, Roudometof, Victor (2005). “Translationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Glocalization”. Current Sociology 53 (1): 113–135.

*2 Hong, Phillip Young P.; Song, In Han (2010). “Glocalization of social work practice: Global and local responses to globalization”. International Social Work 53 (5): 656–670.