Vacant Spaces NY is a new book by Professor Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, MOS.
This project began by walking around our neighborhood noticing empty storefronts. Once we saw them, they were everywhere. They followed us, appearing quietly throughout New York City. Many with no signage, no “for rent,” no “coming soon.” Usually empty, sometimes dusty, sometimes with brown paper covering the glass. Now, vacancy has only increased. In the densest city in the United States. During a housing crisis. Throughout a pandemic. The quantity of vacant spaces is anyone’s best guess. It’s only partially documented. They hide in plain sight.
Vacant Spaces NY is organized from large to small, general to specific. It begins by looking at vacancy within the United States and continues down to each Manhattan neighborhood, where we zoom into specific vacant spaces, where we have provided as case studies that imagine some possibilities for transforming current vacant spaces into housing or social services. There is also a section on Covid 19, which infiltrated New York during our research. As a whole, this document is not meant to provide specific solutions. The data is incomplete. Case studies are limited. We are not policy experts or data analysts or urban planners. Instead, it is simply meant to show something we have taken for granted, vacant spaces, taking part in a collective process of imagining a better city.