Layered SPURA : Spurring conversations through visual urbanism

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Layered SPURA Spurring conversations through visual urbanism

More than forty years ago, in the mid-1960s, New York City took ownership of a 14-square block area on New York City’s Lower East Side for urban renewal. You might know this area bounded by Essex, Delancey, Grand, and Willett Streets for the parking lots by the Williamsburg Bridge, or you may know someone who once lived there. You’ve passed by or passed through this place many times, but likely not known its story. This is SPURA, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. Few renewal projects have been so contested, and when this area was slated for demolition in 1967, 1,852 families were displaced, many of whom were of low or moderate income, many of whom were people of color. Very few of the originally-planned buildings were ever built and SPURA remains one of the largest underdeveloped city-owned parcels of land. Many distinct communities claim SPURA, and imagine different futures for it. There have been many development proposals, but most have foundered in community-level fights over affordable housing. Now, some people think the land should fulfill the renewal’s original intent and address the affordable housing crisis, others think it should be used for commercial needs, while still others want to see SPURA as a centerpiece of market-rate housing development. Hopes are high and are often conflicting. New planning began in 2010, with Community Board 3 and land-use review planning that will continue beyond 2012. Decisions made now will have an enormous impact on the Lower East Side and New York City.

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries Sheila C. Johnson Design Center Parsons The New School for Design 66 Fifth Avenue at 13th Street, New York City

January 23 - February 25, 2012 Curator’s talk : January 31, 6:30pm Opening: January 31, 7-9pm

In 2008, Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, a professor of Urban Studies at the New School and co-founder of the interdisciplinary practice Buscada, began the “Layered SPURA / City Studio” project to consider this contested site and its history, and to explore the everyday experience of housing, urban renewal and urban change. She created a hybrid approach of pedagogy and activism, art and research, involving long-term collaborations between community organizations and students from across the New School. City Studio students learn about histories of housing and community participation, and engage in archival, ethnographic, visual and participatory methods to understand and represent this contested urban space. They turn this research into creative projects that try to understand SPURA in new ways.

(located just off the SPURA site); in 2011, we presented (Re)Visiting SPURA at the Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Art Center (one of the few buildings built from the 1967 renewal); and in Fall 2011, Layered SPURA / City Studio was in residence at Creative Time’s Living as Form at the historic Essex Street Market on the SPURA site.

Over the years, City Studio’s community collaborators have included Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), Pratt Center for Community Development, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Place Matters.

The local stories of SPURA are part of larger questions of housing, equity, politics and urban transformation across many cities. When you leave this space, we hope you will take your own walk through SPURA and see it with new eyes.

The yearly Layered SPURA / City Studio exhibitions seek not to suggest solutions for a place beleaguered by top-down planning, but to spur conversations amongst people with different points of view about SPURA’s past, present and future. Our collaborators have even suggested that the exhibitions have been “peacemaking things.” Much of our work has taken place in the community: in 2009 and 2010, City Studio curated Visualizing SPURA and Exploring SPURA at common room

This new exhibition brings together four years of work, and is organized around three ideas that have resonated throughout the Layered SPURA / City Studio project: the projects in Mapping & Form grapple with the intersection of mental and physical space, the Oral Histories projects explore little known personal stories of SPURA, and the projects in Ways of Seeing ask us to shift our perspectives on SPURA.

Layered SPURA / City Studio : A long-term project about the human experience of housing, urban renewal and urban change on the Lower East Side of New York City. A project of Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani / Buscada and students of the New School’s Urban programs.

SPURA : The north side of Grand Street J Lake, A Nguyen, M Taylor & C Mullee, City Studio


What is SPURA? The New School

In 1960, the first phase of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) created the high-rise Seward Park co-ops on the south side of Grand Street on New York’s Lower East Side. What we now call SPURA (originally the SPURA Extension) is a city-owned area of land on the north side of Grand Street, slated in 1967 for “slum clearance” and urban renewal, and intended for low and moderate income housing. For many reasons, including New York’s fiscal crisis and controversies over the American urban renewal process, few of the originally-planned buildings were built.


SPURA 2011: Some housing, many parking lots J Lake, A Nguyen, M Taylor & C Mullee, City Studio

SPURA 1965 : Housing to be demolished Image : c.1965 ad for the SPURA plan

What was here?

What is here?

What will be here?

When SPURA’s 14 blocks of tenements were slated for demolition, 1,852 families were displaced, many of whom were of low or moderate income, many of whom were people of color. While the original buildings were demolished piecemeal over fifteen years, some residents were rehoused in public housing nearby, some left the neighborhood, and some were eventually rehoused in new apartments at SPURA. There were never enough units built for everyone to return, and units that were built were often filled discriminatorily. Many people have always wanted to come back.

SPURA in 2012 is populated by many parking lots, some historic buildings and houses of worship saved from the demolition, a few tenements that fought to stay, and the few buildings built after demolition: the two Seward Park Extension houses, the Grand Street Guild Houses, the Hong Ning Senior Citizen apartment house, the Bialystoker senior housing, and the Abrons Art Center. Over the years, no further development proposal has ever served the needs of the whole community, and costs have risen sharply in the past fifteen years in the gentrifying surrounding Lower East Side.

SPURA’s future is still a question, but decisions on priorities are being made now. Affordable housing? Market-rate housing? Retail? Preliminary percentages of SPURA have been allocated for these uses, but is the balance correct, and will it be respected throughout the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) that is now beginning? How should final designs serve the multiple local communities and the city at large? Community visioning sessions have taken place for years and we encourage you to get involved in the ongoing ULURP process (see page 8).

• From Urban Village to East Village by Janet Abu-Lughod

• “If You Lived Here by Martha Rosler

City Studio research & readings Four years of City Studio classes at the New School have researched SPURA in depth, working with local organizations, interviewing local community members and attending community planning sessions. We also read broadly about the city, urban renewal, experience of place, and the history of SPURA. We read media coverage on the past controversies of SPURA planning, and immerse ourselves in oral histories from the Lower East Side and from SPURA, especially from the SPURA Matters / GOLES / Place Matters oral history archive. We also read about visual strategies for representing the city, and visit many exhibitions for inspiration. Here are selections from our reading list.

• “Walking, Emotion, and Dwelling: Guided Tours in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn” by Gabrielle Bendiner Viani in Space & Culture journal • “The Agency of Mapping” by James Corner, in Mappings • “Grieving for a lost home” by Marc Fried, in The Urban Condition • The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History by Dolores Hayden • One Place After Another, by Miwon Kwon • “The Contradictions of Housing” by Peter Marcuse, in Housing: Symbol, Structure, Site • Selling the Lower East Side by Christopher Mele • “Psychological Maps of Paris”, by Stanley Milgram, in Environmental Psychology

• “The Role of Housing in the Experience of Dwelling” by Susan Saegert, in Home Environments • “The personal archive as historical record” by Susan Schwartzenberg, in Visual Studies journal • Inquiry by Design: Tools for environment-behavior research, by John Zeisel SPURA-specific • Building Boundaries : The politics of urban renewal in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, by Joan Turner * SPURA Extension promotional material, c. 1960 • Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Project, First Amended Urban Renewal Plan, 1964 * Community Voices and the Future of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area by SPURA Matters & the Pratt Center for Community Development

• Resistance: A Radical Political & Social History of the LES, edited by Clayton Patterson

• Selections of articles on SPURA over the past 30 years, from: The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Villager, and other local blogs and newspapers.

• A History of Housing in New York City by Richard Plunz

• Interviews from the SPURA Matters oral history project

City studio process The City Studio process is centered on time spent in the neighborhood, and with our collaborating organizations. Students spend extensive time at SPURA as observers and in conversation with local residents (lower right), and participating in community planning sessions and organizing, often with housing activists from our long-term partners, Good Old Lower East Side (upper left). Students’ ongoing conversations with individual neighborhood activists have also been critical. Our historical and theoretical readings (see previous page) help ground this research process. Students work to analyze and translate this engaged research into creative practices. We develop ways of thinking about abstract ideas in the face of real world concerns (upper right) and as students create multiple iterations of their creative projects, class critiques with peers and professionals are an important part of class (lower right).

SPURA resource exchange Local resources contributed by the community, through a City Studio student project of on-street surveys and conversations at SPURA.

SPURA Resource Exchange Emily Winkler-Morey, Leijia Hanrahan & Sarah Charles This project sought to give people in the community in and around the SPURA site the opportunity to discuss the needs and resources that exist within their neighborhood. Cognizant of our roles as outsiders in the community, we engaged in continuous dialogue with community members in an attempt to create a project that would reflect their concerns. We used surveys, informal conversation, and participant observation at community events to facilitate this dialogue, centering our questions on topics of what resources the community has, as well as what it needs. To display the information gathered in a useful and accessible manner, we took the approach of asset mapping, listing the resources we obtained and showing their corresponding locations on this map. These resources were defined as being any groups or organizations that could be of service to the community from within the community. This map and list contain organizations and groups that people told us through our surveys that they found to be helpful, as well as others that we discovered, as we sought to research and respond to the needs expressed by community members.

Resources in SPURA and the nearby area 2) LES People’s Mutual Housing Association 3) Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association 4) Workforce Development Center (part of Henry Street Settlement) 5) Seward Park Branch, NY Public Library 6) The Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center 7) Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) 8) Henry Street Settlement 9) Educational Alliance 10) Hester Street Collaborative 11) Grand Street Settlement 12) City Lore 13) Lower East Side Family Union 14) Ana Luisa Garcia Community Center 15) East Village Community Coalition 16) Indochina Sino-America Community Center 17) Cooper Square Committee 18) Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV) 19) Two Bridges neighborhood Council 20) University Settlement 21) Lower East Side Business Improvement District & The Lower East Side Tenement Museum 22) Chinatown Planning Council (CPC) 23) Chinatown YMCA Houston Street Center 24) Chinatown YMCA Hester Street Center 25) Good Companions Senior Center 26) Lower East Side Tenement Museum 27) Ryan-NENA Community Health Center 28) Abrons Art Center (Henry Street Settlement)

32) Lower East Side People Care 33) Earth School @ P.S.64 34) Community of Poor People in Action of the LES 35) 6BC Botanical Garden 36) Las Siete Potencias 37) Vamos Sembrar Garden: Place of Honor & Memory for the Beloved and Otherwise Forgotten 38) Fifth Street Slope Garden Club Off map: Urban Justice Center Jews For Racial and Economic Justice

Layered SPURA Guided Tour cards

LAYERED SPURA DESIGN FOR RENEWAL “A challenging concept in design for re-development in urban renewal is proposed... in the Seward Park Extension urban renewal project. The chief objective of this concept is to renew the area physically while maintaining its social, economic and visual continuity with the surrounding community. ... while still serving a broad range of low- and middleincome families.” “These buildings were up for years empty! after we had moved out and c. I was 17 -So SPURA promotional brochure, 1960s years old, I came back and I opened up one of the buildings along with people in the community. 36 Attorney Street. We took the chain down, we opened it up, and we moved people in. People from the neighborhood that were being pushed out. ...we fought the city for about 3 years, and we won... it became a low-income co-op. 36 Attorney Street is still there.”



LAYERED SPURA KAZAN & THE UHF - Former SPURA resident + activist

“Each cooperator feels that he is one of the owners of the development and responsible to the others for the condition of the community.”

LAYERED SPURA COMMUNITY - Abraham E. Kazan, 1937

“It means poor working people struggling to raise their family, and looking after each other, and looking after each other’s kids. Kind of taking care of each other when the need is there. Unfortunately I don’t see that anymore.” - Former SPURA resident

The Rudyk family before they were displaced from SPURA


Otero v. NYCHA, 1973 The charge : “‘the Housing Authority had

SPURA is a complex site with a multifaceted history and present. These cards, part of the Layered SPURA Guided decided that a majority of the apartments ...should be rented to white families. They Tours project, were made by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani for the walking tours she guides students and others on through SPURA. In these walks, each participant takes ownership of a voice from a portion of the SPURA story, could only accomplish this by renting some apartments to non-former-site tenants.” reading their card aloud in the site. Please take your own walk through SPURA and listen to these often conflicting past and present voices in the space. The settlement : allocating “apartments in the two public housing buildings to families on a basis of 60% Hispanic and other minority and 40% white. 161 former site tenants would get priority. The remaining 197 apartments would be parceled out on the ethnic quota.” - Joint Planning Council records

LAYERED SPURA DRAFT PLAN 2011 “At least 800 and preferably more than 1,000 housing units must be provided.” - 50% of all units should be available at market-rate values - 10% of all units for middle-income households ($100,000 - $130,000) - 10% of all units for moderate-income households ($40,000 - $100,000) - 20% of all units for low-income households (< $ 40,000) - 10% of all units for low-income seniors - CB3 Potential Guidelines on SPURA Redevelopment, January 2011


LAYERED SPURA Otero v. NYCHA, 1973 The charge : “‘the Housing Authority had decided that a majority of the apartments ...should be rented to white families. They could only accomplish this by renting some apartments to non-former-site tenants.” The settlement : allocating “apartments in the two public housing buildings to families on a basis of 60% Hispanic and other minority and 40% white. 161 former site tenants would get priority. The remaining 197 apartments would be parceled out on the ethnic quota.”


“These buildings were up for years empty! So after we had moved out and I was 17 years old, I came back and I opened up one of the buildings along with people in the community. 36 Attorney Street. We took the chain down, we opened it up, and we moved people in. People from the neighborhood that were being pushed out. ...we fought the city for about 3 years, and we won... it became a low-income co-op. 36 Attorney Street is still there.” - Former SPURA resident + activist


- Joint Planning Council records


“It means poor working people struggling to raise their family, and looking after each other, and looking after each other’s kids. Kind of taking care of each other when the need is there. Unfortunately I don’t see that anymore.” - Former SPURA resident

“At least 800 and preferably more than 1,000 housing units must be provided.”

Land use decisions in New York City A City Studio student project to define the complex processes of planning in New York, and how individuals can get involved.

What else can SPURA be? Sam Lewis, City Studio

ULURP: The uniform land use review procedure New York City uses the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) to give community residents a say in the planning that goes on in a community. It is used for such important decisions as rezoning areas of the City and urban renewal plans. SPURA is now beginning the ULURP process.

Get involved : vote By voting, you can hold responsible government officials from the mayor to the assemblymen to the community board that have a say in how planning is done and what gets approved. Your vote really does matter, especially in local elections.

By taking part in ULURP, you will be able to get more knowledge on plans being proposed in your community, voice your opinion, and hold your local government accountable.

Get involved : lobby Government officials are responsible for representing their constituents--you! By lobbying them with letters, emails, phone calls and other forms of contact, you can make your concerns heard. Let your politicians know how you feel. You can also lobby private developers and community organizations, letting them know how you feel about their actions and what you would like to see happen in your community.

ULURP stipulates that plans must proceed through the local Community Board (CB3 for SPURA); the office of the Borough President; the City Planning Commission; the City Council and the Mayor’s Office. Both the local Community Board and City Planning Commission are required to hold multiple public hearings. At these you will be able to see and hear what developers and planning institutions propose in your community. You may voice your concerns with these plans. Public hearings are announced in the City Record and the City’s Planning Calendar, as well as in local newspapers and in neighborhood notices. The Community Board, the Borough President and the City Council are accountable to you. You have the right to petition them and to hold them responsible for problems you see in plans that affect you. ULURP is a powerful tool that you can use to raise important concerns, and a process that can keep you informed.

Get involved : community organizations There are many community organizations involved in organizing around the SPURA site. By volunteering, going to their meetings, or donating you will be able to help organizations that match your goals and desires to fight for the kind of planning you want to see in your community. Get involved : public meetings New York wants you to voice your opinions and concerns, which is why there are so many public hearings in ULURP and in the City Charter. By attending these meetings and speaking out, you will make both your community as well as your government officials hear and understand what you have to say.

SPURA in Site Winhkong Hua, Gabriel Tennen & Samantha Lewis With this project, we wanted to deliver information on the SPURA site and urban planning to spur thought and action. We hope to emphasize the role of the resident and the citizen in the decision making processes that effect and shape the landscapes in which we live, work and play. We believe that it is through democratic participation that we can come to a more just, equitable and inclusive America. The portion of the project reproduced here, on ULURP, is very timely for the current stages of SPURA planning. SPURA resources : documents NYC Economic Development Corporation, documents on SPURA process: Draft document agreed on by CB3, January 2011: sp-guidelines-v4%20-%201-17-10.pdf SPURA resources : calendars CB3 : Calendar of public hearings: calendar.shtml SPURA resources : local media The Lo-Down : News from the Lower East Side The Villager :

ULURP : next steps for SPURA 1) Application submitted to Dept of City Planning • Project Data Statement • Preliminary Environmental Impact Statement & Review (2011-2012) 2) Director of City Planning certifies application • ULURP time-table begins

3) Community Board 3 gets application Within 60 days must: • Hold public hearing & give advisory vote 4) Borough President studies case Within 30 days : • May hold public hearing • May call borough board vote • Gives advisory recommendation

5) City Planning Commission reviews materials Within 60 days must: • Hold public hearing • Vote on item : Positive vote moves to City Council Negative vote defeats item 6) City Council takes final vote Within 50 days must: • Hold public hearing & vote on item

Ways of Seeing Restrictions, textures and frames of SPURA

These projects suggest new ways of looking at SPURA, a place often imagined and re-imagined by many competing visions for its future. As conversations about SPURA have long been mired in opposition rather than dialogue, these projects try to expose the complex narratives embedded in the place.

SPURA tonal mapping : a jam session Oscar Brett

Restricted Space John Lake, Claudie Mabry and Adam Schleimer

What if a place could write its own music? This experimental geography project created a “score” for the Seward Park Extension, the Seward Park coops, and the public plaza of Seward Park. Observing the crossing of thresholds, I assigned a note for each person in each space, and so notated the jam session made by people’s movements at SPURA.

By exploring the restrictions to mobility around the Grand Street Guild Homes that result from the longterm scaffolding, as well as the waste management inconsistencies on the site, we hope to illustrate how a lack of infrastructural support on this site leads to negative implications for the site itself, and the experience of the place.

In our viewing boxes we have created simulated restrictive physical spaces to critique the way that spatial and structural restrictions can result in seeing space as disposable, rather than as a community with potential. We hope this can inform future considerations of, and planning for, SPURA.

Framing SPURA Amy Nguyen, Matthew Taylor & Corey Mullee, with John Lake How do we imagine particular places, and how can that be visualized? This very question has been contested for years at SPURA. Competing visions have bumped up against one another for decades - a vision of a future without crowded tenements, a vision of a future with affordable housing for all who need it, a vision of a future with a rebuilt physical and social community, a vision of a future with a vibrant and profitable use of precious real estate. Perceptions of space are framed within these often individualized or collective expressions. By abstracting imagery from SPURA’s past and present within singular frames and superimposing them upon scenes of SPURA, these narratives are made visible. Raise a frame to your eye - and look through it at the panoramas - and think about how this vision of the place compares with your own, compares with what exists now, or compares with what you’d like to see at SPURA.

Delancey Street: To help visualize what could be Anastasia Ehrich Photographing SPURA Samantha Lewis

Texture walks Evan Iacoboni

This project explores SPURA and the spaces around it. The photos differ in subject, composition and time to illustrate the varied built environment as well as the diverse population that lives and works in the neighborhood. I think it is important to consider the SPURA site as a “space” interlaced with personal and cultural meanings for the community, past and present. The sites, sounds and smells of an environment create the atmosphere, but the lived experiences at a place can also bring meaning.

How can we capture SPURA ? These strips of detail photographs, representing 3 walks around the site, use building exteriors to create abstract streetscapes that show how histories of housing can be read in the landscape of SPURA : tenement housing prior to demolition, the brute force of urban renewal, and the bureaucracy of the planning process. The images examine the SPURA site in relation to its past and surroundings. Taking a close look is a first step toward considering what should grow here.

Oral histories Memories, walks & soundscapes of SPURA

These projects explore the often-unknown personal stories of SPURA as a way to understand how large scale planning and urban histories effect lives lived at street-level. If you take a walk through SPURA, try to hear these stories in the landscape.

42 years later, and still waiting Anke Hendriks, Kaushal Shrestha & Lila Knisely The intent of our documentary is to bring awareness to the personal (and community-wide) consequences of a problem plaguing New York City: the lack of affordable housing. It also celebrates the rich history of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area as a Lower East Side neighborhood and a true “melting pot.” In November 2009, we heard this evocative identity recalled by one displaced neighbor at the rally for SPURA on the forty-second anniversary of the site’s demolition. Beginning at that rally, this documentary focuses on the experiences of Edward Rudyk, who

grew up in the area before its demolition. It explores his reflections on how much has changed around Seward Park as a result of the area’s “renewal.” While this film reflects one man’s life story, we hope it will spur conversation on the importance of maintaining social life when planning neighborhood change. When you take your own walk through SPURA, we hope that you will be able to imagine Ed’s stories in the landscape and contemplate what was lost through citywide “revitalization.”

Listening to each other Rachael London

The sounds of SPURA David Privat-Gilman, Jaclyn Hersh & Matthew Fujibayashi This intimate and ambient audio installation is organized around the past, present and future of the site. Sound allows the mind to wander and to imagine - this is a kind of sound walk through SPURA. We have used recordings of people’s reminiscences, speeches from community meetings, and site specific ambient noises to guide listeners to see the site in their mind’s eye and imagine their own stories. We hope these sounds help the listener focus their sense of place and recognize the many facets of SPURA. This project allows visitors to listen and to reflect on their own memories and opinions of the site. We hope to engage people with many different connections to SPURA. Having listened, we hope people will be inclined to share their own perceptions of SPURA.

This listening station uses audio from the SPURA Matters oral history collection to create a tool for reflection and listening. I hope that listeners will be able to walk away with a feeling of connectedness, even to those with whom they may disagree. Giving a literal sound to these stories humanizes and supports investment in the complex issues of the SPURA site for those both within and beyond the neighborhood. Destination Unknown : A look back at SPURA Joshua Guerra, Ian Pugh & Sohee Kim In many ways, SPURA is a monument to a painful and incredibly complex history. Yet, when residents speak about this place it is with a tremendous amount of pride, care and longing. The area has changed drastically, and for 40 years has also been on the cusp of further change. In producing a representation of SPURA, we have sought to communicate how change has been experienced by residents. One change in SPURA has been that there are now fewer places for people to go, on the site, and for some, even in the neighborhood as a whole—fewer shops and fewer homes. Streets that were once vital, are now bleak or don’t exist at all. We interviewed former and current site tenants Rosa Brobeck, Frances Goldin, and David Nieves and walked with them through their neighborhood in order to reveal what people see, and what people remember about this place.

Start The Conversation! Samantha Washburn-Baronie

SPURA Speaks Katie Priebe, Jamie Leigh Florence & Hannah Zingre Our project collected layers of sound from the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area to create a “temporary landscape” in a public site. We spoke with people on the street to start an ongoing dialogue: giving people the opportunity to voice their ideas, emotions, or even to sing us a song. This collection lends an insight into the stream of consciousness of SPURA.

There seems to be a disconnection between the voices of residents and the voices that politically represent the community at SPURA. Hence, I incorporated politicians’ positions on SPURA with sketched images of representatives to suggest the symbolism politicians often hold in the American mind. I sought to incorporate communication between politicians and their constituents into the piece, and so I used simple post-it notes and pencils and hope that viewers would take the time to respond to the “influential voices”. I hope this piece will inspire conversation between community members and their representatives.

Mapping & form Patterns of memory and life at SPURA

These projects grapple with the current and future possibilities for new form at SPURA. Concerned with making sure that spatial patterns that support community life are involved in the next stages of planning at SPURA, these projects highlight the way lived experience can suggest patterns for physical form.

Building blocks Candace Kiersky, Brittney Williams & Alexander Wood Mapping SPURA 1930 Hannah Lyons

Learning from our homes Kara Gionfriddo

I created a map of the SPURA site as it existed in an earlier era to highlight what is at the heart of urban renewal—the built environment. Urban renewal is controversial not because the government decides to tear down buildings, but because of the effects of these actions. I hope that emphasizing the tangible element of urban renewal can prompt the viewer to consider why the built environment (and its destruction) is so powerful to both government and citizens. The year of 1930 stands between two eras which define the Lower East Side: the immigrant enclave of the turn of the century and the urban blight beginning in the 1960s. I have simplified existing land use maps to create a map that conveys the area as it physically stood and sparks a deeper conversation of what was lost in the name of urban renewal.

I take this opportunity to make some suggestions regarding housing as well as all of the activities and elements of life that relate to housing structure. Socializing, eating, work, play: all these mundane and profound actions make us human. This project’s playful cubes ask that you pay attention to how housing structure powerfully affects all New Yorkers. Pick up, turn over and play with the cubes to see SPURA residents’ pictures illustrating how they have transformed their housing into homes, and to read how the “patterns” created by architect Christopher Alexander suggest ways in which we might build better housing for the past, present, and future residents of SPURA.

This playful model makes concrete several abstract planning principles to be considered in the future development of SPURA. Design can inform life, and we hope, vice versa. We began by asking people at SPURA to suggest small-scale physical details to make the place more livable,and while a few participants identified specific strategies, we found that most people were not comfortable with the language of planning and design. Hence, the project now prioritizes how life can (and should) inform design. Through research and interviewing, we explored past behavior in the site pre-demolition, existing behavior within the space now, and people’s hopes for the future. This model is designed to look like two street blocks, and each planning principle, or “building block” is made up of three elements: a visual representation, a personal narrative from a past or present Lower East Side resident, and a quote from Christopher Alexander’s “A Pattern Language”, a resource for design strategies and their meanings. We hope to further conversation on livable design solutions within the process of development. Play with the blocks to explore choices about making a livable future SPURA!

Vote for what you’d build on the SPURA site! Savannah Foster N

Maps / Life Stephanie Messer & Zachary Fried Maps / Life presents a bottom up approach toward urban planning. The cognitive maps of Maps / Life are drawn by the residents of SPURA, and as a composite make a new and more human map of the area. They are invested with deeply personal narratives: the man who gave local tours included many street names; the woman who stated that she felt boxed in, drew a box-like map; the man who grew up in the area drew the old neighborhood as concentric circles connecting people and buildings;

in this man’s second map of the current neighborhood, harsh squares suggest that the parking lots are graveyards to low income housing, echoing his statement that the parking lots were built from the rubble of the housing. While we knew this project would be compelling, we never expected the level of emotional depth involved with asking someone to map their neighborhood. We encourage you to take this pamphlet and all its new maps, visit SPURA, and let these maps guide your tour.

As part of the SPURA Matters project, in the Fall of 2008 four public visioning sessions were held to trigger community discussion among the residents of the Lower East Side about the future development of SPURA. 233 people attended these sessions where lists of possible priorities for development were distributed to tables of community members. To “vote” on these priorities, each person was given dot stickers standing for money to allocate toward their chosen issues/priorities in their vision for the future of the SPURA site. This project brought that process into the exhibition context, allowing people to “vote” in the gallery and continuing the discussion of futures for SPURA in hope of promoting change.

Layered SPURA Exhibition

SPURA Take a walk

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries Sheila C. Johnson Design Center Parsons The New School for Design 66 Fifth Avenue at 13th Street, New York City

Transport F, J, M, Z to Delancey Street / Essex Street F to East Broadway D, B to Grand Street

Collaborators Good Old Lower East Side, Pratt Center for Community Development, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, City Lore’s Place Matters project, common room, Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Art Center, Temporary Services, Bik van der Pol, and Creative Time

M14A or M9 to Grand Street


January 23 - February 25, 2012 Curator’s talk : Tuesday January 31, 6:30pm Opening: Tuesday January 31, 7-9pm

The Office of Civic Engagement & Social Justice, Eugene Lang The New School for Liberal Arts; The Urban Design & Urban Studies Programs at The New School; and The New School for Public Engagement

Gallery hours: Open daily 12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m. and late Thursday evenings until 8:00 p.m. Closed on all major holidays & holiday eves. Admission is free.

Exhibition design

For more information about the project : Get in touch at:

Curator Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani Student artists Oscar Brett

Evan Iacoboni

David Privat-Gilman

Sarah Charles

Candace Kiersky

Ian Pugh

Anastasia Ehrich

Sohee Kim

Adam Schleimer

Jamie Florence

Lila Knisely

Kaushal Shrestha

Savannah Foster

John Lake

Matthew Taylor

Zachary Fried

Samantha Lewis

Gabriel Tennen

Matt Fujibayashi

Rachael London

Sam Washburn-Baroni

Kara Gionfriddo

Hannah Lyons

Brittney Williams

Joshua Guerra

Claudie Mabry

Emily Winkler-Morey

Leijia Hanrahan

Stephanie Messer

Alexander Wood

Anke Hendriks

Corey Mullee

Hannah Zingre

Jaclyn Hersh

Amy Nguyen

Vinh Hua

Katherine Priebe

Many thanks to Rosa Brobeck Chung Chang Adrienne M. Z. Chevrestt Harriet Cohen Paula Crespo Tito Delgado Joel Feingold Lars Fischer

Frances Goldin Joseph Heathcott Walis Johnson Alana Krivo-Kaufman Lydia Matthews Judy Mejia David Nieves Kaushik Panchal

Marci Reaven Damaris Reyes Santos Rivera Emilie Rosenblatt Todd Rouhe Edward Rudyk Radhika Subramaniam Ernesto Torres

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