Revitalizing Our Cities Through Land Use and Zoning


Zoning can be a balancing act. Development projects must figure out how to implement design and simultaneously manage requirements. This comes out most often when there are many different sides to be accounted for. Teams learn to balance between the contrasting needs of the project, the client, and land use regulations.

Welcome to the second season of Architecture 5 10 20! I’m your host, Guy Geier, Managing Partner of FXCollaborative Architects in New York. Guests from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences related to the built environment will come to share their thought leadership. Our conversations will start with understanding how they arrived at what they’re doing now. More importantly, we will focus on discussing their vision for the future, looking out 5, 10, and 20 years.

Today, we are joined by Melanie Meyers, an accomplished lawyer at Fried Frank with expertise in real estate development, land use zoning, environmental review, public approvals, and private public partnerships. Melanie began her career as an architect and transitioned from architecture to law. Alongside institutions and developers, Melanie has had her hand in developing some of New York City’s most transformative projects, including Hudson Yards, Pacific Park, Greenpoint Landing, and Cornell Technion University on Roosevelt Island.

Listen to Melanie speak about the intricacies of developments land use and zoning with buildings in New York City. She talks about the new developments in forgotten parts of the city and learning from past projects. Melanie also gives insight on zoning action and zoning entitlement when facing challenges in projects. As she speaks, she unveils what defines a project’s success from her view, the client’s view, and the city government’s view.

Melanie’s work highlights the great challenges and exciting opportunities of ambitious development projects throughout New York City. Understanding land use and zoning on a deeper level will help architects and developers alike reevaluate and reimagine previously ignored assets like the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront. We can revitalize in designing and building with a land use and zoning lens at the forefront. We can revitalize neighborhoods, bringing in opportunities for investment and advancement.

Moments to check out:

[01:24] – Melanie Meyers talks about the fun projects she gets to assist.

[03:13] – How did Melanie go from architecture to law?

[05:43] – What defines a development project’s success?

[07:39] – Melanie reviews the common challenges for land use in New York City.

[09:39] – What does zoning control actually involve?

[12:11] – There needs to be flexibility in development projects.

[13:45] – What are Melanie’s thoughts about building conversions?

[16:10] – “There’s a lot of opportunity in New York City.”

[18:06] – What area has Melanie’s interest lately?

[20:32] – Melanie explores how developments are managing interactive public spaces.

[22:29] – Which project did Melanie find challenging and fulfilling? PART 1

[24:58] – Which project did Melanie find challenging and fulfilling? PART 2

[27:10] – Melanie goes deeper into the topic of developments around landmarks.

[30:05] – Thank you Melanie for reminding us that we can revitalize neighborhoods which bring in opportunities for investment and advancement.

Links / Resources:

Guy Geier

Instagram | Twitter

Melanie Meyers

Fried Frank


Guy Geier

Guy Geier FAIA, FIIDA, LEED is Managing Partner of FXCollaborative and host of the architecture 5 10 20 podcast.

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