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Guiding Sustainable Development in East Port of Spain

Irazabal Zurita, Clara E.; Fiorini, Alexandria; Mollon, Erica; Grimm, Franziska; Jeong, Ji-Hyeon; Aaron, Meagan; Levy, Rachel; Wang, Xuzheng; Vega, Yesmin

As one of IDB’s newest corporate initiatives, the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI)ƒ is a technical assistance program that helps intermediate cities in Latin America and the Caribbean identify, prioritize, and structure projects to improve their environmental, urban, and fiscal sustainability, and improve governance. Port of Spain is one of the pilot projects of ESCI. In that context, this Columbia University’s Planning Studio in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation was invited as academic consultants to evaluate the socio-economic viability of some IDB’s ESCI proposals in East Port of Spain, specifically examining: 1) Institutional coordination for improved urban planning; 2) Community engagement in planning; 3) Cultural preservation planning; 4) River revitalization and the creation of a linear park; and 5) An aerial cable car project. We restructured the original five requests presented to us into assessments of three physical interventions complemented by assessments of the broader goals of improved institutional coordination and community engagement, two process-oriented focus areas that ought to support the three urban investment projects. After a semester-long study in spring 2014 and a field work conducted in East Port of Spain in March 2014, we finally offer a reframing of the conceptualization of the three physical interventions and a series of phased proposals. They synergistically support the preservation of cultural heritage, including heritage walks; a series of connected pocket parks lining and permeating the East Dry Rive; and an integrated, multi-modal transit system supported by a data gathering process; along with strategies for enhancing the broader goals of institutional coordination and community engagement. Our goal was to prioritize the residents of East Port of Spain in the development of planning initiatives. In each of the project areas, we are recommending a process rather than specific design recommendations, because we feel it is critical that the community members should be the ones that drive these interventions.

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Academic Units
Urban Planning
Published Here
January 29, 2015