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M E T A B O L I C

T E C T O N I C

TERRAFORMING WASTE INTO OUR PERPETUAL CITY ORGANISM

Adam E. Anderson Rhode Island School of Design Master of Landscape Architecture Candidate 2012


ACKNOLEDGEMENTS

The Big Bang Tectonic Shift The Moon Oceans/Tides Glaciers Mountains Michael Blier Nadine Gerdts Jim Heroux Dr. Rachel Armstrong Bob & Mary Lou


M E T A B O L I C

T E C T O N I C

TERRAFORMING WASTE INTO OUR PERPETUAL CITY ORGANISM

A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Landscape Architecture in the Department of Landscape Architecture of the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island By:

Adam E. Anderson 2012 Approved by Masters Examination Committee:

Michael Blier, Landscape Architecture, Primary Thesis Advisor

Nadine Gerdts, James Heroux, Landscape Architecture, Secondary Thesis Advisors

Scheri Fultineer, Landscape Architecture, Department Head


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Contents


CONTENTS

Statement Abstract Introduction: Constructing the Anthropocene Research: Science / Precedent Site: New York Harbor Process / Proposal Critique / Conclusions Terms Bibliography

Contents // 04


S TAT E M E N T

By dismissing ubiquitous notions of idyllic nature, we are free to reconsider the authenticity of our waste, and how the 'ugly' might be re-purposed using biological [synthetic or otherwise] processes to terraform our waste into a monumental landscape machine that serves as a perpetual function of the city.

Statement // 04


CITY_LANDFILLED WASTE_POPULATION SAN FRANCISCO_20%_800,000 COPENHAGEN_4%_1,200,000 NEW YORK CITY_75%_8,000,000 CHICAGO_85% _2,800,000

Above: Graphic of landfill waste transport out of New York City. Faded Image is trash on Mt. Everest base camp.


ABSTRACT

We are a geologic force. We make marks visible from space. We can create our own geology. This proposal is a designed geologic cycle, the geology being waste. More specifically dredge material from New York harbor, and fly ash from incinerated solid waste. I designed a mountain that breathes the city’s waste, and fuels its growth. These materials come together and through a process of accumulation, sorting, piling, bio-remediation, and solidification through bacterial calcification, over time, grow into mountain. The mountain has no finality. The pressure and compression caused by its growth create stone. Stone that will be harvested as the main building material for the city, completing the cycle. Waste to mountain, mountain to stone, stone to building........ I am unapologetic to this growth and to waste. This thesis explores waste not as marginal byproduct of a city’s function, but as an integral and perpetual metabolic component. Infrastructure as inhabitable organism. Landscape as Machine. I question ubiquitous ideas of nature, especially in the city. We can design our own neo-nature. This is first done by either dismissing, or accepting everything, as nature. This thesis is a study of this dismissal.

Left: Lower Manhattan, ink drawing by Lebbeus Woods, 1999.

Abstract // 04


WA S T E = G R OW T H

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Abstract


WA S T E I S I N E V I TA B L E

Abstract // 04


NATURE?


I NTRO : C ON S T R U CTI NG THE A NTH R O P OCENE


“Everything is in constant flux on this earth. Nothing keeps the same unchanging shape..... our earthly joys are almost without exception the creatures of a moment.” Jean Jacques Rousseau, Reveries of the Solitary Walker

Previous Page: Picturesque painting by Dutch artist Jan Both. Opposite: Pyramids of Giza. Above Left: British slag heaps, 1940’s. Above Middle: Coal slag heap, West Virgina. Above Right: Fresh Kills Landfill

Predicated upon accommodation humans have become one of the geologic forces affecting the earth. Growth required materials and energy and to produce those forces, extraction is required from deep within the earth to reach material made from millions of years of geologic pressures. Technology has allowed us to hasten certain geologic processes at our will. Many scientists believe we have ushered in a new epoch of the collective affect of human intervention on biological, physical and chemical processes on the Earth system, they are calling it the Anthropocene. The Royal Society in one of its papers describes the name as “a vivid expression of the degree of environmental change on planet Earth.” It means that human activity has left a “stratigraphic signal” detectable thousands of years from now in ice cores and sedimentary rocks. We can imagine geologists many of years from now studying the stratification layers and wonder how our epoch will unfold? Could it mark the end of an era caused by a self-inflicted catastrophic event, digging and burying ourselves out of existence. Or might this layer reveal the change that occurred at a period where the foresight to design our own geology perhaps delayed such an outcome. The boundaries between epochs are defined by changes preserved in sedimentary rocks— the emergence of one type of commonly

fossilized organism, say, or the disappearance of another.[Enter the Anthropocene: Age of Man, 2012]. The speed at which vast amounts of non-organic material can be produced might define a shorter geologic time frame. One that is conceivable to occur within our own, or our children’s time, even containing multiple layers. The Bingham Copper Mine in Utah is the biggest man-made depression in the world, it can be seen from space [CLUI, 2009]. Operating for more then a century now the mine represents one of the largest zones of human existence. Faced with the thought of what happens to the mine when profitable extraction ends, the operators looked to Robert Smithson to engage the mine. Rather then hiding the scars, Smithson proposed highlighting the violence of the creation of the negative hollow form, the realisation is made into the revelatory through physical manifestation. Bingham is of course only one of a long list of Anthropogenic zones of extraction. By 2250 most of the natural resources will be mined out of the Western US, leaving 100,000 square miles of reclaimed landscapes [Alan Berger CUSP, 2009]. Cities are possibly the biggest human geologic intervention. New York City, as stated by Friends of the Pleistocene, is its own geologic force. Buildings constructed from local sandstones and schist from the triassic and Intro // 04


jurassic period form skyscraper canyons of transformed rock, at times aligning celestially with the sun displaying the phenonema of time in the same way stone monuments have done for millenia. Before the Pangea split, the tallest mountains in the world sat where the skyscrapers currently sit, mimicking their scale, constructed from their remains. The dredging of the harbor and digging of tunnels continues to alter the shape of the coast. Governor Island’s current form was created with the 4,787,000 cubic yards of fill excavated form the Lexington Avenue Subway tunnel in 1901 [Army Corpy of Engineers, 2012]. Battery Park extended Manhattan southward into the harbor using debris from the 9/11 attacks. The major shipping routes in New York Harbor need constant dredging. The Army Corps of Engineers plans to extract roughly 2 million cubic yards of dredge material from the harbor each year, that material most often getting shipped out of state to landfill or abandoned mines to be disposed. The dredgers artificially repeat the process that created the harbor, scraping the bottom sediment as the Wisconsin glacier did 12,000 years ago. The city is in constant flux due to it’s own geo-dynamics that will continuously transform it for thousands of years to come. This thesis focuses on the “Anthropogenic” layer of waste. The effort and energy of extraction, production, and disposal of fossil fuels, geologic commodities, and construction is awesome in scale, as well as the waste material created as a result.. The now closed Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island New York is monumental, reaching over 150 ft. in some areas and containing some of the most noxious chemicals known to man. It is a human 03 //

Intro

geologic event, an archeology of excess caused by rapid city growth and abundance. The landfill upon becoming full, and closed, becomes a mountain. In the case of Fresh Kills it was treated as a massive wound, covered with little acknowledgement to the toxic human generated strata below. Part of this thesis seeks to understand the fear associated with waste that results in its displacement to marginal landscapes, often to the detriment of low-income inhabitants. Part of this fear I believe stems from how many view nature as idyllic memory of it without us. Landscape paintings from the picturesque period depict pristine wildernesses and disregard the reality of human development, which inevitably leaves behind the ugly, waste. The images of Field Operation’s Master Plan propose a similar notion of nature rescued, with renderings of flowered covered meadows, and as critic John May refers to as “wholly fantastical Photoshop collages of upper-middle class recreational enjoyment.” The critique of the Fresh Kills proposal stems from its contribution to the perpetuation of the fallacy of pristine nature, especially in urban conditions, and when, and only when we are able to think beyond these ubiquitous idyllic notions can innovation in how waste is treated in the urban system occur. This thesis is a proposal of constructing this layer of the anthropocene in a way that challenges how we view waste, not by romanticising it, but by giving it authenticity, by accepting the ugly and transforming it into a perpetual functional organism of the city.

Above Left: Bingham Copper Mine, Utah. Above Right: The “Canyons” of Manhattan. Opposite: Coal slag heap pile, West Virginia.


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Intro


“The world is a monster of energy, without beginning, without end.� Nietzsche

Oppostite Left: Photo by Harry Glicken. Right: Photo by John Vlahakis

Intro // 04


RE S E A R C H : SCIE N C E / PRE C E D ENT


P R E C E D E N T

“Nobody wonders where, each day, they carry their load of refuse. Outside the city, surely; but each year the city expands, and the street cleaners have to fall farther back. The bulk of the outflow increases and the piles rise higher, become stratified, extend over a wider perimeter”

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Opposite: 1. Electron scan of fly ash particles. 2. Above Left: 2. Mycelium solution decomposing polycarbonates. Above Middle: 3. Sea of landfill at Jardim Gramacho, Brazil. Above Right: 4. Electron scan of Mycelium.

This thesis is in part an exploration into biotechnical and microbiological discoveries and advances that offer new possibilities for landscape architecture, specifically how we might design the processing of waste material as an integral component of city infrastructure and space. A major influence on the practice of landscape architecture is the phenomena of time and therefore focuses upon process, transformation, and duration. Landscape Architecture contributes to shape a world in constant flux and evolution.

Pasteurii, and essentially its capability to turn sand, into sandstone. His thesis project while at the Architecture Association in London, Larsson’s proposal is an ambitious a 6,000km long stretch of solidified sand dunes, which will architecturally support the Green Wall Sahara initiative: 24 African countries coming together to plant a shelterbelt of trees right across the continent, from Mauritania in the west to Djibouti in the east, in order to mitigate against the encroaching desert.

The metabolic properties of the processes researched lend themselves to a co-evolution between man and nature. By understanding their properties and effects we can design with them to create a spatial consequence, one that both performs a function of remediation as well as a revealing of toxic transformation and chemistry at play. The processes studied deal directly with either the speeding up, or delay of decomposition, compressions, and erosion, which allow the landscape architect to become a designer of a neo-nature, a geologic process, and time. Landscape Architecture as accumulation and stratification of the passage of time.

A particular microorganism, Bacillus Pasteurii, is flushed through the dunescape (an analogy could be made to an oversized 3d printer), which causes a biological reaction that turns the sand into solid sandstone. The initial reactions finish within 24 hours; it would take about a week to saturate the sand enough to make the structure habitable. The bacteria are non-pathogenic and die in the process of solidifying the sand. This part of the project relies upon research carried out by professor Jason De Jong’s team at the Soil Interactions Laboratory, UC Davis, as well as conversations with professor Stefano Ciurli at the University of Bologna [DUNE, Larsson, 2010].

After discovering Magnus Larsson’s project Dune, an immediate interest grew in other possibilities of a microorganism, Bacillus

The architectural form is derived from tafoni, a cavernous rock structure that formally ties the project back to notions of aggregation and Research // 04


large surface area. The temperature difference between the interior of the solidified dunes and the exterior dune surface makes it possible to create nodal points that could both support water harvesting and inhabitable thermal comfort zones. In this way, one could start ‘growing’ controlled oases in the desert, and stop the sand from pushing people away from their homes and villages, which, in the worstcase scenario, may lead to huge migration floods, food shortages, wars, and other horrible situations. What I find most compelling about Dune and its relevance to my own ambitions of Metabolic Tectonic, is the balance 03 //

Research

of science and architecture. Larsson was able to make a connection between an ubiquitous biological organism, a naturally occurring chemical process, and a design framework that creates a physical manifestation of that process. Dune also beautifully registers time. Once the sand has been solidified the process is not complete, but left to the devices of the surrounding natural phenomena of wind erosion to evolve into its final form. It is a possibility then that we can take two waste materials, the sandy loam from harbor dredge material, and fly ash produced from incinerated waste, combine them together


along with the bacteria and a solidification of that mixture would occur. As you begin to lay repeated layers atop one another the pressure is increased, so much that over a relatively short period of time, the layers near the bottom are harvestable for building material for the city. Many buildings in NYC are constructed from sandstone, but from the jurassic period, extracted at extensive costs deep within the ground, stone which has had millions of years to compress and solidify [Geologic City, Smudge, 2011]. How could this new material formed over only a decade compare? Or even be possible for heavy construction?

Top to Bottom: 1. Aerial view rendering of Dune. 2. Microscopic view of bacteria creating calcium carbonate between sandstone. 3. Lab testing of Bacillus Pastuerii and sand. 4. Map of Africa showing reach of proposal across the Sahara. 5. Injection piles of bacteria into sandstone. 6. Tafoni structures. 7. Rendering Dune sandstone structure. Above Left: 8. Protocells in aqueous solution [Image by Phillip Beasley]. Above Right: 9. Bio-luminescent bacteria.

In conversation with Dr. Rachel Armstrong, a leader in research for the architectural implications for an artificially created biology, the Protocell, it would appear a realistic possibility. Protocells are artificial, but act as living cell organisms that can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks. Dr. Armstrong, as well as many others are researching and proposing their capabilities of producing living, self-healing architecture. Protocells would coat a material as a veneer, and allow that material to be responsive to environmental conditions, absorbing moisture, breathing CO2, and so on. If we were to harvest our sandstone from waste material from the mountain, the addition

of protocells would allow us to re-evaluate traditional building practices, and use the selfhealing resilient stone as a the main building blocks for new construction in NYC. Through this technology, our own waste becomes the fundamental construction material for the city, relieving it from expensive and destructive extraction processes. A city that grows itself. The mountain will continue to accumulate and grow, so other influences need to be introduced to accompany natural processes of erosion and decomposition to reach a balance of growth and decay. Mycelium has been called the grand molecular disassemblers by famed mycologist Paul Stamets, existing 1.3 billion years ago, arriving before plants, they potmarked rock, grabbing calcium, sequestering carbon by forming calcium oxalates, and began the soil forming process that made all other life on earth possible [Mycelium, Stamets TED talk, 2012]. Another particular fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspora, has been recently proven to anaerobically bio-degrade polyurethane. This discovery has obvious potential for its incorporation into the process of landfill terraforming and recycling. By separating material based on the metabolic properties it can act as a spatial strategy. Deploying fungi into zones of plastic will decompose at a certain rate, transforming over time. Holes, Research // 04


canyons, and caves are revealed, a sped up artificial geologic process. The Mountain will continue to grow. Mycelium will be used to speed up the decomposition process at the height extremes. Along with with strata of plastic waste, organic waste compost, and mycelium, the rock will break down and join in the creation of fertile soil. Plant life will thrive at the higher altitudes as the remediation process, which began with fly ash and dredge at the base of the mountain, has cleaned nearly all toxins out of the material when it reaches its final stages. Our interventions on botany, perhaps due to what seems to be a human necessity to control natural systems at every scale brings about new possibilities to use plant sensory characteristics for our bidding. Rather than design and mechanical engineered interventions, we could look to chemistry. Plants are living. If they do not receive one of their requirements for life they physically change alerting a caregiver if present a need for intervention. This ability naturally has environmental quality implications. If a plant is subjected to an overdose of pollution it signifies that maybe things are not suitable for humans as well. The unfortunate part is that this is not always a real time process and does not allow anyone to react appropriately. Is it possible for plants 03 //

Research

to be trained to visually respond to their environments immediately, even enhanced to broaden or even focus the elements to which they respond to? Fascinating work by a research group at the Colorado State University are making this reality. The research team has successfully injected “receptor� proteins [or Computationally redesigned periplasmic binding proteins (PBPs)] into a plants DNA which makes the plant turn white in reaction to proximity of certain chemicals often used for bomb making [Programmable Ligand Detection System, 2011]. Anyone attempting to transport these chemicals near one of the receptor plants sets off a visual response turning the plants white. The idea would be for these protein altered plants to be placed in all public places susceptible to terrorist attacks. I propose not a human surveillance but an environmental one. Bio-accumulators, plants that have the ability to absorb ground toxins, can be engineered with bio-luminescence to reveal these toxic conditions. Fly ash and dredge will have small levels of toxic trace elements such as arsenic and chromium. In the initial mixing, sorting, and piling zones at the base of the mountain, the remediation of these toxins will begin. Quick growing perennial/annual bioaccumulator grasses


“Nature proceeds in a continual succession and time is infinite with no vestige of beginning-no prospect of end.”

engineered with bio-luminescent capabilities will be planted successionally after sorting. An illuminated “prairie” will light the ground revealing the chemistry within the waste material. As the waste materials move through the site and become less nomadic, the plants associated will have longer lifespans, become larger, and with less toxin related light. A gradient of light will dissipate up the mountain inversely to plant growth as the material is remediated.

Processes of a neo-nature become part of the experience for visitors. In a similar way we notice and enjoy changes in existing nature, leaves changing, flowers blooming, etc., you will begin to understand and “see” the metabolic processes occurring on the mountain. Perhaps some, from whom this park was their only experience to “nature” growing up, relate and understand it as a naturally occurring ecosystem within the city. To them, it will be “nature.”

James Hutton, Theory of the Earth

Opposite: Top Left: 1. Scanning electron microscope images of calcification of Bacillus Pastuerii by Eric Seagren. 2. Right: Slag pile at Terwinselen, Holland, Sept. 1944. Above: Left: 3. Fly ash. 4. Hopper dredging in process. 5. Robensia furnace slag heap in PA.

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S ITE : NEW Y O RK HARBOR


The New York-New Jersey Upper Bay is a large estuarine harbor fed by the Hudson River and connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the Verrazano Narrows and the Long Island Sound. Its surface area is approximately twenty square miles and it measures nearly four miles across at its widest point. This vast body of water is surrounded by the dense urban development of New York City adjacent to the New York-New Jersey Upper

Bay are the three boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as Jersey City and Bayonne in Hudson County, New Jersey. With an estimated population of 20 million people, the greater metropolitan region is the largest in the United States. The island and Manhattan alone has almost 2 million residents, making it one of the most populated places in the country.


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Site


New York City is the site of ancient earthshaking and earth-shaping events. The bedrock that anchors the city’s skyscrapers reveals an ancient mountain forming process. The island of Manhattan is built on three strata known as Manhattan Schist, Inwood Marble, and Fordham Gneiss. The Taconic orogeny was the first of a series of tectonic events that culminated in the creation of the supercontinent Pangaea. The eastern seaboard was at the time experiencing tropical climates when it collided with West Africa in the creation of Pangea, this collision created a massive mountain range comparable to the Alps today. No mountain is safe from the pressures of time, and the rock eroded away to nearly flat. Their stumps remain scattered throughout New York, most notably in Central Park. The cataclysmic mountainbuilding event overthrust and intensely folded it with layers of schist and marble, forming the Manhattan Prong. Together these three intensely folded strata shape the topography of Manhattan and the cause for the gap between the “midtown” and “downtown” skyline.

Previous Page: Snapshot of NYC Harbor from Top of Brooklyn Bridge. Camera by PixelCase. Opposite: Night time aerial of New York City, the site and Central Park highlighted in magenta, Governor’s Island, Ellis Island, and Liberty Island in green.

Much of New York’s trade and commerce success is based on its deep water harbor and its proximity to the coast. But it was actually land locked during the time of Pangaea. Located at a major continental fault zone, tectonic plates shifted causing massive volcanic eruptions and extinction of nearly all land animals and plants at the time. This

marked the beginning of New York’s return to a maritime city. This tectonic plate movement generated tremendous pressure and heat beneath the earth’s crust, forcing lava up through volcanic vents. Volcanoes erupted off the northeastern coast of the young North American continent, spewing lava that cooled and gradually formed a volcanic island arc. Winds blew volcanic ash into a shallow marine basin, where sediments accumulated in mineral-rich layers that were gradually compressed into shale. Accumulation and subduction of these layers subjected to heat of the earth’s mantle formed schist, ancient limestone reefs off the northeastern coast were metamorphosed into marble. Another major geologic force that has shaped the NYC Harbor was the Wisconsin ice sheet that occurred 75,000 years ago, covering Manhattan with 1,000 feet of ice. The glacier gouged out a gentle stream into a giant “U” shape creating what is now the Hudson River, making it navigable for large ships. The retreating glacier scraped off much of the top layers of material in the region, exposing underlying much-older bedrock. Its end and retreat left behind the terminal moraines of Staten and Long Island, without their existence NYC and the harbor would most likely be under the Atlantic. These two islands were once connected and the harbor was sealed off from the Atlantic. A catastrophic flood Site // 04


event caused by the retreating glacier and the release of meltwater made its way through the Hudson Valley and broke through the terminal moraine, forming what is now the tidal strait known as The Narrows, and spanned by the Verrazano Bridge. The channel is deep enough for even the biggest ocean going ships, a major reason for New York’s status as one of the largest maritime cities in the world. But the geology that formed New York could potentially lead to its demise. Its location between Long Island and Staten Island, which protect the harbor in most weather situations, act as a funnel during hurricane conditions, forcing storm surge through the Narrows and into the harbor, raising to abnormal heights 03 //

Site

and accelerate towards New York City. Manahhatta | New Amsterdam | New York Following Henry Hudson’s expedition into the Harbor, Dutch settlers colonized Manhattan Island in 1626, establishing New Amsterdam, and began thus the man-made reconstruction of the harbor. Within 40 years time, the Dutch had lost the island to the British and was renamed New York. Growing out of a complex estuarine topography, the pre-colony wetlands have been since reduced by 80 percent of their original state. Much of our understanding of pre-colonial conditions of the harbor come from the


Opposite Page: Top Left: British Harbor Navigation Map. 2. The changing topography of Manhattan 3. Left: British Headquarters Map of 1782 4. Above Left: Manhattan Extended, a proposal by T. Kennard Thomson. 5. Above Right: New York Harbor in Pre-glacial Times, from South End of New York Island. 5. Painting of Harbor from Brooklyn Bridge, by Granger.

meticulously comprised British Headquarters Map of 1782. The map’s detailed depictions of wetlands, streams, and topographic features were created to aid the British in their defense against George Washington’s Continental Army. The map detail of Red Hook, Governor’s Island, and the tip of Lower Manhattan indicates the marshy wetlands of Red Hook and Gowanus Creek, the original extent of Governor’s Island, and the early development of the feathered edge of piers and slips along Manhattan’s East River Coastline [Manahatta, 2009] Shipping and maritime industries rapidly developed along the coastlines of the harbor because of the calm waters and the broad width and depth of the Hudson River. The

estuary was soon transformed by human interventions, specifically by the process of channel dredging and filling. The edge of the piers and slips, and large extents of wetlands and small tributary waterways were drained and filled with earth, or covered over with streets and infrastructure. Oyster and clam harvesting were a major economic product of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with oyster beds lining over 350 miles of the harbor estuary. These oysters and other mollusks served the estuary as naturally efficient water filtration system. Most of the areas have now been destroyed by pollution or landfilled and developed for shipping ports. Site // 04


1918 1928 1936 1944 1957 1967 1977 1986 1997

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Site

Above: 1.Study of the perpetually changing shorline of Manhattan and the harbor edge [Image part of the “On the Water: Palisade Bay� research project. Right: 2. Site plan constructed from the NOAA Nautical Charts of the New York/New Jersey Harbor.


BAT H Y M E T R I C M O D E L : N Y C H A R B O R Some time was spent researching and constructing the bathymetric computer 3D model of the harbor in order to properly site the mountain. Previous study and analysis directed me to the harbor, and to limit the construction impact and material necessary to begin the massive foundation required for the mountain, selecting a shallow large enough, centralized, and out of the range of current major shipping routes ultimately led to selecting the Bay Shore Flats, just off the shore of Brooklyn and the Gowanus Canal. [Note: Model exaggerated in the vertical x5]


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Site


Opposite Page: Left to Right: 1. GIS generated 100-year flood inundation map. 2. GIS storm surge map 3. GIS bathymetry study. 4. GIS-generated image of the New York-New Jersey area’s high-intensity landcover. Dataset by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.5. Major bridge connections. 6. NASA World Wind pseudo-color satellite image of the New York-New Jersey Upper and Lower Bay and the greater estuarine complex. 8. GIS-generated image of the New York-New Jersey Upper Bay, with merged bathymetric and topographic datasets. The vertical scale is exaggerated by a factor of ten. Above Left: 9. Analysis of bathymetry and existing shipping routes. Above Right: 10. Composite of analysis for site selection.

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PENNSYLVANIA

OHIO

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NEW YORK

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NEW YORK CITY

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NEW JERSEY

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VIRGINIA

38,000 TONS OF NYC WASTE PER DAY 37 CONTRACTS FOR OUT OF STATE DUMPING 450 TRACTOR TRAILERS EXPORTING NYC WASTE 135,000 MILES OF ROUND TRIPS 33,700 GALLONS OF DIESEL FUEL

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SOUTH CAROLINA

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NYC WASTESHED EXISTING WASTE TRANSFER STATIONS PROPOSED HARBOR PROCESSING AND TRANSFER STATIONS THAT EMPTY AT SITE AREA

SITE AREA

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SCALE

375m

EMMA MAERSK NYC currently produces roughly 38,000 tons of sanitary landfill waste PER DAY. Annually, you could fill 80 of the world’s largest shipping container, the Emma Maersk. However, once recycables are removed, and with incineration, this number is significantly reduced to 10%, but still, equal to 10 of the giant ships.

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A PERPETUAL ORGANISM, AN ARTIFICIAL M ARCHIPELAGO MADE FROM THE CITY

80 Emma Maersk’s equal the annual NYC landfill waste

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= WASTE TO ENERGY PRODUCT

60% of the waste is able to be incinerated which reduces the total volume to 10%

Plastics equate for 10% of the total volume that will be sent to the site.

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STORM SURGE

NEO-NATURE BOTANICAL REFUGE AS NEW CITY MO Opposite Page: Top: NYC current trajectory of landfill waste leaving city. Bottom: 2. NYC existing “wasteshed” zones and proposed transfer stations Above: 3. Volume scale study of landfill waste produced by NYC.

Dredged material from the harbor. 2 million cubic yards per year.

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D E S IGN : PR O C E S S / PR O P O S A L


What? This thesis proposes a mountain island in New York Harbor made from landfill waste that will act as a wave attenuator / public park / and a building material production generator for the city. The “mountain” will be perpetually re-sculpted as a variable of metabolic processes chemically and morphologically transform the waste. The main island will house a new advanced Waste-to-Energy [WTE] plant that will be integrated into the site. You can think of this thesis as a sped up geologic cycle, a landscape machine, and a new kind of nature to be experienced by people. The form of the mountain will evolve to inform as well as adapt to a multitude of a public programs that will take full advantage of its monumental scale and sublime possibilities. Why? 1. NYC produces 38,000 tons of landfill waste output a day, since the closing of Freshkills Landfill in 2001, almost all of it leaves the city and the state to be dumped elsewhere [Garbage Land, 2005]. Over the next 55 years, the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to dredge 180 million cubic yards of material, with the vast majority planned in landfills and abandoned mines across the country. 2. This proposal will establish NYC as a demonstration of how the most populated city in the US [and one of the biggest waste producers] can utilize waste as a functional and integral component of the city, not as a marginal condition. The Upper Bay was chosen for this site proposal not only because of the massive impact that seal level rise and potential storm surges from hurricanes would have on this densely populated region, but envisions the upper bay as a kind of central park for the whole region, a re-focusing of the city away from Manhattan to the Borroughs and adjacent New Jersey counties. 3. NYC, “the island at the center of the world,” has many things, but one thing it lacks is land, not to mention coastal regions that will be lost to sea rise. This system will be a framework for building additional land for development. Land created for New Yorkers through their own waste. 4. By dismissing ubiquitous notions of idyllic nature, the mountain will allow us to reconsider the authenticity of the vastness of our waste, and how the “ugly” might be repurposed into our urban systems.

5. The “monument of waste” will serve as a “relational architecture” to the city. By exposing our waste we build a collective narrative from our once forgotten throw-aways. The monument is owned by its citizens because it is built by them. It is a part of them, and it lives as they and the city live. How? 1. Rather than the planned 180 million cubic yards of dredged material from the NYC Harbor mentioned above leaving the state to another landfill, I will use it as the foundation for the mountain. 2. The mountain’s form is derived from the processes that are essential for its operation. Piling, accretion, aggregation, erosion, and decomposition through machine and biology act as the formal sculptors of waste material. The Bay Ridge Flats, avoiding interference with the deep channels of existing shipping routes, and placement necessary to serve as a protective barrier to storm waves, all contribute to the form. 3. The mountain edge. Floating docks lead visitors to a perimeter walkway and into the site. A flexible mesh, and constructed wetland system captures sediment runoff and cleans and redirects it into the formation of wave attenuating islands. The flexible mesh edge is a three-tiered system corresponding to tidal fluctuation and storm surge levels. 3. By proposing a network of Coastal Waste Transforming Centers that will be integrated into district waste-sheds. transformed waste from these centers will then be transported to the island to become part of the terraform tectonic. These routes will become part of a closed system, as energy and building material are created, it will be redistributed back into the city. 4. Metabolic processes such as Bacillus Pasteurii have the capability to chemically react with sand to create sandstone, and certain mycelium are able to decompose plastics. Combined with the different functions of anaerobic and aerobic processes, I will use this as a terraform tactic that will phyisically manifest these reactions, along with their relationship to time and naturally occurring phenomena, such as wind and water erosion. These will also inform remediation planting schemes and create a series of micro-climates throughout the site.


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Design


Sketching and writing is always the beginning part of my process. Words and simple drawings have a way of coming together to take shape that allows me to work quickly going into digital manipulation. No idea is too big or small for the sketchbook, in fact, often smaller notations will tranform into complex concepts. Design // 04


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Design


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The making of digital sketch diagrams is the transformation of the notebook rough sketch into something that begins to reference scale, science and other researched factors. The middle ground, my intent is that these drawings say everything while still saying nothing, aiding in the process of visualization for more complex and detailed design. This drawing depicts the process and logic behind the creation of the forms of the mountain, which is heavily based on angles of repose of similar material from slag heap piles. [Next Page] Deformations and Pressures. A drawing of the growth and accumulation of the mountain, and the factors that will cause its erosion and decay, such as the tides and rainfall.

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ANTHROPOGENIC GEOLOGIC CONSTRUCTION TIMELINE

DREDGED MATERIAL

INCINERATOR FLY ASH

The Army Corps of Engineers is planning to remove 2 million cubic yards per year of dredged material from NYC Harbor in order to maintain deep shipping channels. This material is typically shipped to landfills and abandoned mines out of state. This proposal uses dredge as the first strata of island formation.

Modern incinerators can reduce the total volume of landfill waste by 10%. The energy from the heat will be harnessed and redistributed back to the city. Fly ash and dredge is mixed with the bacteria Bacillus Pasteurii, creating stone.


2026

2024

2022

PLASTICS / POLYMERS

SURPLUS ORGANIC WASTE

Separated plastics will be placed in decomposition sections in which they will be infected with mycelium. The mycelium will over time decompose the plastic, revealing new layers of geologic space [i.e. canyons, caves, tunnels]. The polymer decompostion is the longest process in the system.

Organic waste will be placed at mountain edge conditions, mixing with eroded material. These edges will develop into fertile soil, and become heavily planted with fast growing and remediating bamboo species.

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PROGRAM POTENTIAL Matrix of some of the potential programmatic uses for the site and associated conditions.

Event Season Spring Summer Fall Winter Sky Above Ground Flat Water Sound Alone Group

Celebration: The Mountain will become a centralized feature for monumental celebrations in the city. People will gather within the site and the harbor edge to witness the events.

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Regatta Finish Line: The docking system is largest enough to support the crowds to end harbor regatta races and other water-based events. Being in central harbor creates an inner spectator.

Festivals/Concerts: The mountains and canyons create an amphitheatre like atmosphere, controlling sound and providing multiple viewing points to summer concert events.

Hang Gliding Launch: Launch stations could be designed and constructed into the taller peaks. Landing area TBD. When not in use by hang gliders the stations would be used as viewing platforms.


Climbing: The Mountain has the potential of becoming the highest point on the eastern seaboard [405’ elev. +/-]. The hardening of the rock over time will provide a challenging venue for even advanced skill climbers

Sculpture Park: The zones of infrastructural operation will shift and open up the grounds to large-scale sculptures derived from a variety of waste materials from the city.

Snowboard/Ski/Sled: A mountain naturally is an opportunity for winter sport. Temporary lift structures could make non-operational mounds ski-slopes in Winter months.

Hiking: The site has a range of terrain conditions and botanical peculiarities. Over 300 acres is plenty of space to get lost within the canyons, and rediscovering the your orientation and the city at the top of the mountain.

Kayak/Fish: The constructed wetland edge and public docking system will create a safe and healthy estuary system with plenty of space small boat exploration, fish, and possibly one day, swimming.

Alternative Burial: Limited space in the city and reconsiderations of traditional burial practices, plus the monumental and sublime qualities of the mountain might lend itself as a place for alternative burial ceremonies. Design // 04


M AT E R I A L C O L L I S I O N


We are a geologic force. We make marks visible from space. We can create our own geology. This proposal is a designed geologic cycle, the geology being waste. More specifically dredge material from New York harbor, and fly ash from incinerated solid waste. I designed a mountain that breathes the city’s waste, and fuels its growth. These materials come together and through a process of accumulation, sorting, piling, bio-remediation, and solidification through bacterial calcification, over time, grow into mountain. The mountain has no finality. The pressure and compression caused by its growth create stone. Stone that will be harvested as the main building material for the city, completing the cycle. Waste to mountain, mountain to stone, stone to building........ I am unapologetic to this growth and to waste. This thesis explores waste not as marginal byproduct of a city’s function, but as an integral and perpetual metabolic component. Infrastructure as inhabitable organism. Landscape as Machine. I question ubiquitous ideas of nature, especially in the city. We can design our own neo-nature. This is first done by either dismissing, or accepting everything, as nature. This thesis is a study of this dismissal.

Opposite Page: 1. 4’x4’ site model constructed from laminated plywood and using CNC router. Material: Softwood ply, laser cut acrylic, Rapid prototype polymer for buildings. Above Right: 2. CNC Foam fabricated studies of possible landform aggregation and movement through time. Material: Pink insulation foam, Gesso. Next Page: Additional model photos.

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Top of the World: The end of the journey, 400’+ high view of the harbor, harvesting infrastructure below, and a new orientation to the city.

The Edge: Terraced Flexible mesh, housing constructed wetlands. Controls and cleans sediment run-off, forms wave attenuating islands, adaptive/responsive to tidal flux. Extended docks and a perimeter walkway for public entrance.

Public Entrance Docks

Constructed Wetland

The Canyon: Surrounded by towering mountain, foothills lined with bamboo forest, giant illuminated sculptures of waste. Machines working in the near distance.

Bamboo Forest

Sculpture Garden Bio-Luminescent Remediation Field: Hyperaccumulating plants are engineered to glow in response to sediment toxicity.

Waste Facility receives waste barges from city, incinerates, sorts, treats material.

Bio-luminescent Field


The continuously dredged Anchorage shipping channel. 45’ depth.

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Constructed mesh “finger” wetlands clean and channel sediment out to create wave attenuating barrier islands.


Tiered flexible mesh edge corresponds to low and high tides, and storm surge tide levels.

Stratified layers of combined fly ash, dredge, and bacteria over time.

Mountain rests on 14’+/- of constructed dredge base on top of the Bay shore flats.

Design // 04


Its dawn, the sun is rising. Flying into New York City you see the massive organism breathing in the city. It is it’s heart, and the city’s waste it’s lifeblood. A continuous flow of barges carrying city waste synchronize their way through the harbor, unloading at the north and south ends of the mountain. Ferry’s carrying passengers temporarliy

dock at the extended platforms on the westside. Visitors and waste flow into the site simultaneously. The mountain is much bigger then it was last year, and becoming greener. The light is still dark enough to see the glow from the bio-luminescent field, and the lights from the city.


The mountain edge. Floating docks lead visitors to a perimeter walkway and into the site. A flexible mesh, and constructed wetland system captures sediment runnoff and cleans and redirects it into the formation of wave attenuating islands. The flexible mesh edge is a three-tiered system corresponding to tidal fluctuation and storm surge levels.


Sediment Movement

Constructed Wetland Edge

People Enter Here/Boats There


This is not a traditional park experience. In a similar way that one might witness change in central park, flowers blooming, trees regaining leaves in spring, or something understood as “natural� event, here it would be another kind of phenomena, a neo-nature. Toxicity within the site material is not buried or hidden, but emphasized by revealing this toxicity through bio-luminescent engineered hyper-accumulating plants that glow with it’s presence. The

remediation field is a vast flat space where materials from the facility are first treated and sorted. The mountain grows in the distance. Paths begin to disappear into deep canyon. The machines of the areas of operation plow ahead, their lights distorted by summer haze and harbor twilight fog. Non-operational areas house the glowing plants and massive sculptures constructed from city waste material.


IS LA N D FLUX MA P APRIL 13, 2012

IS LA N D FLUX MA P MAY 13, 2012

The mapping system allows a visitor to know where the zones of operation on that given day, the rest of the park being open to the public. These zones will be physically and visually demarcated to understand safe zones of travel.


In the canyon. As the mountain grows, the terrain transforms into a network of canyons that become deeper and deeper. The bottom mountain edges inform planting schemes. The erosion from the mountain is joined with organic compost material, and thick plantings of fast growing bamboo [which also acts as a soil remediator], and this edge quickly becomes green, and adds the to darkening and mystery of the canyon. Steam from the decomposing organic material creates a fog, limiting distant views and partially masking monstrous waste sculptures. Machines operate up and down the mountain in the distance above. You feel a sense of complete disconnect from the city.


A complete journey through the site, past the machines, the glowing toxic field, the deep canyons, and up 400 feet of mountain, you are rewarded with a 360 view of the harbor and the city. You can safely and quietly admire the machines in the distance below mining the mountain for building material within the city. In

fact, from this vantage you can witness the entire artificial geologic process of building a city from waste. You must also understand that this view might never be repeated, and the continuous re-shaping of the mountain makes the present all that more relevant, and precious.


CRI T IQ U E / CO N C L U D E


This thesis was born out of writings produced for Design Under Sky, a blog I created to channel curiosities and esoteric ideas of what I imagined as real possibilities for landscape futures. Infinitely amazed by both natural phenomena, and the artificial, the line between the two started to blur for me and I lost an understanding of these as separate entities. This was a wonderful moment, as I began to see everything as nature, or nothing as nature, the word simply lost meaning, but the beauty of what we make and destroy is equally as beautiful to what nature makes and destroys. This thesis was in part an opportunity to explore the manifestation of these ideas into a visionary but believable concept in hopes others will soon join in sharing and developing a neo-nature. If it’s conceivable to build an inhabitable mountain of infrastructure within a centralized location within a city, then truly anything is possible, and landscape architects should relish in knowing that tradition and contemporary restraints, while important should not restrain radical thought and expression. I believe this to be an absolute necessity for the transformation of the profession. I have been fascinated by the speed in which technology develops, and how these technologies and sciences might be utilized by landscape architects. Particularly the possibilities of large scale 3D printing and bio-engineering of plant life, both have inexhaustible spatial capabilities. An idea undeveloped within my thesis, was that the mountain would be built by an army of multifunctional drones, acting as a giant 3D printer, controlled through a mainframe by team of landscape architects and engineers. A highly detailed digital 3D model would be the data source for drone programming and their movement determined by its form. Rather than trying to recreate idyllic nature, I can imagine bioengineered plants to allow us to create environments that could function better than nature, more efficient and capable of resilience in face of the complexities of urban systems. As of recent developments, these are very achievable ideas, and worthy of further engagement. This proposal is however fraught with difficulties of a political, practical, infrastructural, and economic nature. The inclusion of the public into an infrastructural system proved increasingly complicated. Whether the infrastructure should be simplified to accommodate inhabitation or additional layers and networks be added is a level of detail that needs to be further explored.

At 300+ acres, and with its centralized location, the question of “what else can it do” is something I hope to continue to study. I briefly touched on this in the “Program Potential” diagram [page XX] but the spatial consequences of a more complex program holds exciting possibilities in developing new kind of esoteric park. A place in which the fear, meaning the positive experience of it found in the wild might be replaced with fear of daunting mechanical movements and unfamiliar biological reactions. What this looks like, and the best way for people to experience this, I’m still figuring out. While I believe the siting of the mountain on the Bay Shore Flats to be just, I still question the location of the two incinerators. Particularly the southern facility, which would be susceptible to storm waves and would need further protection. As the shoals extend farther south into the channel, with further design exploration and modification to the planned waste barge shipping routes, this is achievable. The choice to use incineration was based on research showing with some speculation of further technological advancements in their operation, to be the most efficient choice for reducing a city’s waste volume into a manageable quantity. And there is a question of the fly ash, the non-toxic but certainly non-healthy by-product of incineration and how it is to be properly managed when exposure to the public is a possibility. Further study could be done into the capabilities and limits of dredge as a major material resource for maritime cities, as well as material potential in recycling other non-biodegradable waste such as metals and plastics. Additional city waste product such as sewage and e-waste were intentionally not addressed in this thesis due to the complexities associated with their treatment that time simply did not allow. The form of the mounds, derived from the study of the formation of the angles of repose of similar material types is an area I aim to continue to push to achieve more radical form making a deeper relationship to program and site environmental factors of erosion, deformation, accumulation and decay. A more intense understanding of material deformation will allow the material itself to become more widely used, and for others to also continue to manipulate its form for use in creating public space. I see this thesis as just the beginning of an long exploration into the ugly, and the design and creation of a Neo-Nature.


T E R MS :


Accretion: the process of growth or enlargement by a gradual buildup

Accretion: the process of growth or enlargement by a gradual buildup

Microbial Infallibility Hypothesis: there is a microbe to digest anything.

Microbial Infallibility Hypothesis: there is a microbe to digest anything.

Perpetual Organism: an artificial creation that will never see a final form, in constant flux.

Perpetual Organism: an artificial creation that will never see a final form, in constant flux.

Morphologic: the form and structure of an organism

Morphologic: the form and structure of an organism

Barrier Island: elongated accumulation of sand that [is] separated from the mainland by open water.

Barrier Island: elongated accumulation of sand that [is] separated from the mainland by open water.

Bathymetry: the measurement of water depth at various places in a body of wate

Bathymetry: the measurement of water depth at various places in a body of wate

Entropy: energetic input/output and states of change

Entropy: energetic input/output and states of change

Hyperaccumulators: the natural ability for certain plants to bioaccumulate, degrade,or render harmless contaminants in soils, water, or air

Hyperaccumulators: the natural ability for certain plants to bioaccumulate, degrade,or render harmless contaminants in soils, water, or air

Hedonistic Sustainability: the notion that sustainability does not have to entail sacrifice, but can actually give us more pleasure.

Hedonistic Sustainability: the notion that sustainability does not have to entail sacrifice, but can actually give us more pleasure.

Tectonic: architectural construction or deformation.

Tectonic: architectural construction or deformation.

Terrestrial Prosthesis: artificially building onto and extending land.

Terrestrial Prosthesis: artificially building onto and extending land.

Wilderness: that which is untouched and unfamiliar to man.

Wilderness: that which is untouched and unfamiliar to man.

Nature: the idea of systems and ecologies that occur without human interference.

Nature: the idea of systems and ecologies that occur without human interference.

Neo-Wilderness: the margins of our understanding of technology and the sense aw and fear that it might bring about, i.e., genetically modified plants.

Neo-Wilderness: the margins of our understanding of technology and the sense aw and fear that it might bring about, i.e., genetically modified plants.

Neo-Nature: dismissing the notion of a duality of artificial and natural. In Neo-Nature, there is no natural, no artificial, no nature, all things are of the same system.

Neo-Nature: dismissing the notion of a duality of artificial and natural. In Neo-Nature, there is no natural, no artificial, no nature, all things are of the same system.

Protocell: a chemically programmable artificiall cell that responds to environmental conditions similar to a living organism

Protocell: a chemically programmable artificiall cell that responds to environmental conditions similar to a living organism

Metabolic: the ability for an organism to respond and transform to a environmental conditions. An essential function of evolution.

Metabolic: the ability for an organism to respond and transform to a environmental conditions. An essential function of evolution.

Holey Plane: a highly intermediate description of a yet unknown complexity somewhere between the determined and the chaotic.

Holey Plane: a highly intermediate description of a yet unknown complexity somewhere between the determined and the chaotic.

Waste Landscapes of Obsolescence [LOOs]: sites that are designed for accomodating consumer wastes. These include municipal-solid waste landfills and wastewatertreatment facilities.

Waste Landscapes of Obsolescence [LOOs]: sites that are designed for accomodating consumer wastes. These include municipal-solid waste landfills and wastewatertreatment facilities.


BI B L IO G RAPHY :


Allen, Stan and Marc McQuade, Schirmer/Mosel [2011]. Landform Building: Architecture’s New Terrain Beesley, Phillip. Riverside Architectural Press; First edition [2010]. Hylozoic Ground Gissen, David. Princeton Architectural Press [2008]. Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments. Welland, Michael. University of California Press [2010]. Sand: The Never-Ending Story. Varnelis, Kazys. Actar [2010]. The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles. Calvino, Italo. Vintage [1939] Six Memos for the Next Millenium. Calvino, Italo . Harcourt Brace Jovanovich [1978]. Invisible Cities. Jonathan R. Russell, Jeffrey Huang, Pria Anand, Kaury Kucera, Amanda G. Sandoval, Kathleen W. Dantzler, DaShawn Hickman, Justin Jee, Farrah M. Kimovec, David Koppstein, Daniel H. Marks, Paul A. Mettermiller, Salvador Joel Nunez, Marina Santiago, Maria A. Townes, Michael Vargas, Lori-Ann Boulanger, Carol Bascom-Slack and Scott A. Strobel. Applied and Environmental Microbiology [2011]. Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi. Morton, Timothy. Harvard University Press [2007]. Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Royte, Elizabeth. Little, Brown and Company [2005]. Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash. Architectural Design. Wiley [2011]. Architectural Design [Feb. 2011]: Protocell Architecture. Bergoll, Barry. MOMA NY [2011]. Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront. “Enter the Anthropocene: Age of Man,” National Geographic. Accessed February 3, 2012, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/age-of-man/kolbert-text “The New York / New Jersey Port Authority Strategic Plan,” Accessed February 12, 2012, http://www.panynj.gov/about/pdf/strategic-plan.pdf “Dredged Material Management Plan for the Port of New York and New Jersey,” New York District Army Corps of Engineers, Accessed March 1, 2012, http://www.nan. usace.army.mil/project/newyork/factsh/pdf/dmmp.pdf Smudge Studio, New York State Council of the Arts, Architecture Planning & Design Program, [2011]. Geologic City: A Field Guide to the GeoArchitecture of New York. Sanderson, Eric W. New York: Abrams, [2009]. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City. Nordenson, Guy. New York : Museum of Modern Art, [2010]. On the Water: Palisade Bay “CUSP Conference 2009, Alan Berger Presentation,” Accessed January 20, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd78QyUPWEA Coolidge, Matthew. New York: Metropolis Books, [2009]. Overlook: Exploring the Internal Fringes of America with the Center for Land Use Interpretation [CLUI]. “Programmable Ligand Detection System in Plants through a Synthetic Signal Transduction Pathway,” Accessed January 5, 2012, http://www.plosone.org/article/ info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0016292;jsessionid=9E6895D8F62E08DA00CA29E1E6705A22.ambra02 “Paul Stamets on 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World,” Accessed January 20, 2012, http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_ the_world.html

Adam E. Anderson_Thesis_Metabolic Tectonic  

By dismissing ubiquitous notions of idyllic nature, we are free to reconsider the authenticity of our waste, and how the 'ugly' might be re-...

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