Aleksandr Mergold: The Greatest Grid

Aleksandr Mergold and Jason Austin, principals of Austin + Mergold, are one of eight architectural firms whose work is being featured in The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011. Coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, the foundational document that established Manhattan’s famous street grid, the Architectural League issued an international Call for Ideas to architects, landscape architects, urban designers, and other design professionals to use the Manhattan street grid as a catalyst for thinking about the present and future of New York City. What new possibilities for the grid still exist? What can we expect for the city’s future and how will it be shaped and reflected by the street grid? What kinds of ideas as bold and visionary as the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan might New York City undertake?

In addition to showing the winning entries, the exhibition also features an original hand-drawn map of New York City's planned streets and avenues prepared by the commission in 1811, as well as other rare historic maps, photographs and prints of the evolution of the city's streets, and original manuscripts and publications that document the city’s physical growth, the exhibition examines the grid’s initial design, implementation, and evolution. The Greatest Grid traces the enduring influence of the 1811 plan as the grid has become a defining feature of the city, shaping its institutions and public life.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same name, edited by Hilary Ballon of New York University, who also curated the exhibition, and copublished by the Museum and Columbia University Press. The exhibition will run through April 15, 2012.

The Greatest Grid is a copresentation of the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Public Library, and the Architectural League of New York and is sponsored by the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.

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