Success Looks Different Now

New York City is in the midst of a generational shift in the definition, experience, and location of cultural vitality. The boundary between the experience of the arts, both performing and visual, and the experience of leisure time, everything from carousels to food fairs, is increasingly blurred. On the waterfront and elsewhere, public space is central to this change. Well-designed public space, and the wide range of formal and informal cultural experiences it supports, is arguably New York’s most iconic contemporary urban cultural form.

Success Looks Different Now: Design and Cultural Vitality in Lower Manhattan is the product of an inquiry by the Architectural League, instigated by an idea of the cultural journalist Paula Deitz for a new cultural center on New York’s waterfront. In analyzing the idea of building an architecturally iconic performing arts center on New York Harbor from a variety of perspectives, the League explored contemporary manifestations of New York City’s social, cultural, and economic vitality and the relationship of this vitality to the physical city. The research ultimately challenged the authors’ initial assumptions, and the resultant report—written by city planner and urban designer Ray Gastil, with contributions by Abby Bussel, Paula Deitz, and Rosalie Genevro—presents a series of recommendations that understand the built environment of the city as “an armature for the arts” and seek to expand and intensify a renewed cultural vitality and architectural energy in New York.

Success Looks Different Now: Design and Cultural Vitality in Lower Manhattan is a publication of The Architectural League of New York. All Rights Reserved. The report was made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support was provided by the J. Clawson Mills Fund of the Architectural League of New York. To inquire about obtaining a copy of the complete report, email

Published: June 29, 2013