Build a Better Burb


Interboro Partner Dan was thoroughly misquoted in the New York Times today, in an article about the Build a Better Burb Competition that appeared in the Long Island section of the paper. (Interboro was a juror of the competition, which asked entrants to submit bold new visions for “the next generation of suburban centers” on Long Island.) When asked by a Times reporter to say a few words about the entries, Partner Dan responded that while the completion organizers did a good job of framing the important issues-namely, too many municipalities, no regional government, segregation, and a lack of mobility and housing options-the entries themselves fell short of addressing these themes (for example, of the 114 entries reviewed by the jury, only one so much as mentioned racial segregation). But what appeared in print was: although there is “no silver bullet that is going to save Long Island,” the competition did “a good job of outlining some of the major problems it faces: too much government, a lack of affordable housing, a lack of housing options, a lack of mobility options.” Needless to say, the misquote is really egregious, as it paints Interboro as a “big government is the problem,” tea-party nut, when in fact Interboro believes that stronger government is the only means to address issues like segregation, mobility, and housing options (it also conflates the distinction between how the organizers framed the issues and the entries themselves, but Interboro can live with that).

Anyway, Interboro is a bit disappointed about this.

This might be a good place to say one more thing about this competition, which, by the way, was well-framed, well-organized, and quite a lot of fun to judge. If one criticism Interboro had with the entries was that not enough addressed equity issues-most chose instead to address “brain drain” and Long Island’s relatively low appeal among cool, art-loving twenty something farmers-another was that the entries were stupefyingly bad at communicating a thesis. Architects! Please learn how to tell a story! Please learn how to be clear and present complex ideas and drawings simply! Please don’t use jargon when plain language will do!

OK enough ranting for now. Other than those two complaints, it was a great competition, and many congratulations to the winners!