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Title: Rethinking Infrastructure: From Public Sector Vision to Private Sector Execution in New York C
Authors: Zabor, Alexandra Zoë
Advisors: Boyer, Christine
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: By advocating and applying the framework of hard and soft infrastructure planning to the field of public policy, my thesis demonstrates how the emergence of urban neoliberalism and strategic planning in New York City has impacted public space and equal access in varying degrees depending upon the infrastructure typology. By examining the extent to which private sector entities have executed public infrastructure projects, I analyze variations of the neoliberal model, specifically focusing on how the private sector intervention cases reflect issues of access in New York, with a specific focus on Manhattan. I will first situate my qualitative study in an explanation of the hard and soft infrastructure typology framework, an exploration of the urban neoliberal model, and a contextualization of public space and globalization; the literature review serves to not only define the important terms and concepts, but to also put the terms and their subsequent dialogues in conversation together in a public policy context. I will then turn to my case studies to assess how neoliberalism has affected subcategories of hard and soft infrastructure development. Serving as the hard infrastructure example, the development of the Pier 55 park in Hudson River Park will juxtapose the soft infrastructure case of LinkNYC’s expansion of free, public Wi-Fi access in the City. My thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach by responding to architectural and urban planning concepts, public policy plans and practices, community reactions, and commercial execution models. I aim to demonstrate how exploring fields of study outside of the realm of pure policy papers can be additive and can better inform urban policymakers. My thesis enters the policymaking dialogue by developing a framework for evaluating and comparing infrastructure projects, potentially in preparation for a quantitative impact analysis. In benchmarking the cases in the context of neoliberal globalization, infrastructure typologies, and benchmarks of public access, the soft infrastructure example of LinkNYC extends opportunities of public access and space, while the hard infrastructure case of Pier 55 comparatively limits access to physical space and distorts the use of a public good. The initial implications of this research serve to frame the discussion around the evolving categories of infrastructure, and signal their inherently different externalities in their typologies. Since both cases are currently in their development or beta stages, the timeliness of this report seeks to emphasize how this exercise can frame impact assessments or potential impact analyses; by assessing these projects in dialogue with each other, there is possible room for pivoting or modifying these projects’ designs or executions before the final release or opening. Drawing on broader issues of place-making in a neoliberal, globalized era, these initial conclusions could yield insights into the allocation of public infrastructure funds. Acknowledging the degrees of variation in the neoliberal application, are there some projects that greatly benefit from private sector intervention, whereas others should remain within the public domain? Could this distinction dispel the negative connotations associated with the urban neoliberal model? How can the promotion of public space adapt to this new development model? How can the typology dynamic yield insight into the integration of the two in future projects? I show how rethinking the dynamic might aid policymakers in addressing current public space and spatial network discussions. By aligning urban informational design processes with strategic planning, can space continue to be a responsive, networked, public utility in a growing private marketplace?
Extent: 117 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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