Over the past couple decades, the NYPD has come to play a major role in urban design, although it generally passes without much notice. The police are responsible for securing dense urban areas against the threat of terrorism, as well as controlling crowds and traffic during special events. As part of these efforts, they routinely install physical barriers designed to stop vehicles. In many instances, the NYPD directly installs barriers. In other cases, they provide the requirements for designers to develop permanent installations more integrated into the streetscape.
The NYPD literally has tons of concrete blocks, which can be moved around the city to create temporary barriers wherever necessary. They tweeted about their concrete barriers during the Pope's visit:
As a temporary measure used by the police, these blocks have a surprisingly high design quality. Cast with basic, inexpensive material, the white paint and simple "NYPD" letters stenciled in police blue provide a crisp, attractive look. These "temporary" installations sometimes remain for many years, as they have around the World Trade Center while construction continues. There are some benefits from the temporary precursors to permanent installations. It provides time to observe how the public interacts with these features. Hopefully observant designers take note of ways to use the barriers as multifunctional features that contribute to the enjoyable use of public space.Did You Know? 409 concrete barriers used citywide. That's 3,900lbs each, totaling 818 tons http://t.co/GJbbjYQzAU pic.twitter.com/HyQhbEN5wp— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) September 25, 2015