One more thing about last night's program at the Center for Architecture... while I understand the reasons behind inviting the "community" into discussions of public space, not every forum is the appropriate venue for a "town hall" format. An event at the AIA New York Chapter's HQ, a facility whose physical plant and programs are paid for by our (very steep) dues, should be for the primary benefit of architects. It's nearly impossible to talk about limiting the involvement of the general public without sounding hopelessly elitist, but there is a need for professionals to have conversations with other professionals on topics on which those professionals are knowledgeable.
Last night, nearly all of the questions posed to the presenters were about overly specific concerns, often unrelated to the topic at hand ("the sign at my bus stop is in the wrong place," etc.) So really, we have the commissioner of the Department of Transportation of the largest city in the US, the directors of the Times Square Alliance and the Alliance for Downtown New York, and dozens of (presumably talented, or at least engaged) architects in one place, where vital and potentially transformative discussion COULD have taken place, and the Q&A was given over to the picayune grumblings of lay citizens.
Yes, those grumblings deserve to be heard, but that Center for Architecture program is most certainly NOT the appropriate forum for such questions/comments. IT was not fair to the audience, not fair to the speakers, and also not fair to the questioners, who would have likely gotten a better response by logging their complaints with 311.