The setback has recently figured as the contested threshold between civic protest and private commercial quarters. First ushered into urban terrain as a means of ensuring access to daylight near the city floor, it now is reproduced by regimes of urban planning as a function of public health and safety as well as by regimes of development as a desirable commodity package of private exterior space, sweeping vista terraces, and fresh air. With the ascension of our provisional ‘developer-in-chief,’ a builder and owner of setbacks, this nexus of civic life and private capital is now an alien and charged space of protest, its natural status upended. This investigation of the setback, both its historical emergence and its present reanimation, asks: How does the regulation of high-rise buildings, such as those of the Trump Tower brand, delimit and shape both public goods (as resource) and the sanctity of private land (as capital)? How has the neutral setback become the stage of political standoff?

Team: Stratton Coffman

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Stratton Coffman
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