Alexander Garvin ’62 ARCH ’67 could pass a camel through the eye of a needle — or so it seems, judging by his exhaustive plan to adapt New York City into the Olympic host for 2012.
New York was one of 12 American cities to submit an exhaustive bid plan to the U.S. Olympic Committee in hopes of capturing the U.S. nomination for the 2012 Summer Olympics host city. On Oct. 26, the committee selected New York as one of its final four.
A major component of the 600-page bid proposal for “NYC 2012” is a detailed architectural plan for how the city will accommodate not only all 39 Olympic events, but practice facilities, athlete housing and the millions of spectators that are expected to flock to the Olympic Games.
To coordinate the planning, NYC 2012 President Daniel Doctoroff recruited Garvin, a longstanding Yale architecture professor and holder of three Yale degrees. Garvin, a current commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission and the NYC 2012 planning director, was originally enlisted when Doctoroff was aiming towards a 2008 bid.
“One day I got a call from Dan Doctoroff saying that he had read my book [“The American City”] and wanted to know what I thought about having an Olympics in New York City. I said I thought it was a great idea,” Garvin said. “When he asked me how I thought it could be done, I told him I hadn’t a clue.”
By 1996 Garvin was director of planning for Doctoroff’s project. The original effort was briefly terminated after New York lost out on the 2008 bid, but in 1998 Doctoroff and Garvin began work on a 2012 goal with the help of a slightly different staff. Garvin enlisted many recent graduates of the Yale School of Architecture in his corps of architects, engineers and facilities planners for the second bid.
Garvin said his visions for accommodating the world’s largest international athletic exhibition are the product of several years of relentless planning preceded by a lifetime of notable industry achievements.
“It’s a vastly complicated plan that involves moving half a million spectators a day,” Garvin said. “In my conception, the ‘Olympic X’ is the beginning and the end of it.”
The Olympic X, Garvin said, is his model for modifying New York in preparation for the Games. The plan includes a proposed new high-speed ferry line from Staten Island to the Bronx up the East River and a pre-existing rail line from Shea Stadium in Queens to Giants Stadium in New Jersey through Manhattan. The two lines form an “X” centered on west Queens, the proposed site for the Olympic Village.
The 39 events would take place in a combination of new and pre-existing facilities throughout the five boroughs and even New Jersey. If New York’s bid is successful, it will be the most compact Olympic Games in recent history.
The plan has a projected price tag of $1.3 billion dollars, an amount that Garvin said would be more than covered by tourism revenues.
With the U.S. Olympic Committee’s final decision to come in October 2002 and the International Olympic Committee’s in 2005, Garvin and his team still have a long way to go. The planners clearly hope that New York will be a sentimental favorite, even several years after Sept. 11’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
“I am absolutely certain we will be selected by U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Committee in 2005. Our plan is better than anybody else’s — New York is the world’s second home,” Garvin said. “You can expect to come to New York for the Olympics in 2012.”