Table of Contents
Matt Garcia City & Regional Planning
Letter from the Editors
Studio - Fundamentals
Studio - Sustainable Communities
Studio - Green Infrastructure
Studio - Historic Preservation
DIG - Unconference Recap
Studio - Sustainable Business
Student Spotlight - Jessica Baldwin
Professor Editorial - Carter Craft
Professor Editorial - Elliott Maltby & Gita Nandan
Manhattan Shoreline Map
Professor Editorial - Ben Wellington
Student Travel - Rotterdam
Student Travel - APA Conference
Student Travel - Istanbul
Regina Cahill Chair, Construction / Facilities Management
Student Travel - Copenhagen
Student Internship - John Brock
Coordinator, Historic Preservation
Student Internship - Annie Taylor
Student Fellowship - Korin Tangtrakul & Josh Eichen
Student Research - John Parsons Douglas
Thesis Excerpt - Rebecca Crimmins
The cover photo was shot by Jason Speakman in Central Park, New York. More of his work can be found at www.jasonspeakman.com
Dylan Carey City & Regional Planning Chelsea Kelley City & Regional Planning Asher Freeman City & Regional Planning Kate Selden City & Regional Planning
PSPD Administration David Burney
Coordinator, Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development
Chair, City and Regional Planning
Coordinator, Sustainable Environmental Systems
Assistant to the Chair, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment
Dylan Carey, Asher Freeman, Matt Garcia, Chelsea Kelley, Kate Selden
Letter From the Editors Water is the most essential element on earth and has played a vital role in the development of human civilization. One need only look to some of the earliest cities, many of which were located along major waterways. This trend has continued into the present-day, with many of the worldâ€™s major cities located in close proximity to ports and rivers. Throughout history, water has been seen as a crucial asset to human survival, however as we begin to grapple with the effects of climate change, water is becoming an increasing threat. This fact is especially true in coastal cities, where rising sea levels pose a significant
threat to residents, businesses, and infrastructure. Climate change presents a challenge that is significantly larger and more complex than anything our society has faced previously and will require creative solutions from within the planning field. Many planners have already begun exciting work to address the impacts of climate change, while developing a framework for communities to embrace their natural environment and live in harmony with it. Water plays an everpresent role in much of this work. Green infrastructure, building retrofits, and
coastal protection all require an inherent recognition of water and its capacity for destruction. The most critical work though, will be that which mitigates the danger posed by water, while acknowledging our inextricable connection to it. As the global community comes to terms with climate change, we as planners must stem the tides, while adjusting planning practices to ensure that our cities are sustainable in the future. We hope the work presented in the following pages will serve to further the conversation around water and its connection to planning.
Retrofitting Red Hook The Spring 2014 Fundamentals of Planning class was approached by the Carroll Gardens Association (CGA) to conduct research and provide planning recommendations to retain and expand affordable housing in southwest Brooklyn. The class was also asked to look at ways to improve the quality of life for low-income residents living and working in the area. The process began with an analysis of existing conditions found within the Red Hook and Columbia Street waterfront neighborhoods. Since it has only been a short time since Hurricane Sandy, the widespread impact of the storm signified the future threat of rising water on these communities.
While the main focus for CGA was to improve affordable housing and the quality of life for the areaâ€™s residents, the studio also recognized the need for improved resiliency against future storms and potential rising waters. During high water situations these communities are threatened by harmful pollutants from both the industrial uses that are scattered throughout the area as well as the numerous combined sewer overflow outfalls along its waterfront. The studio recognized the need for industries in the area to prepare a plan to protect its residents in the case of a high-water event. It is also important for the city of New York to improve its storm
sewer infrastructure to enhance service not only for the existing population, but for the areaâ€™s future residents. The studio also acknowledged the need to maximize the amount of permeable surfaces in the area to help absorb water. The Red Hook and Columbia Street waterfronts are predominately paved areas with the exception of the open space around the New York City Housing Authorities (NYCHA) Red Hook Houses, Red Hook Recreation Center, and Coffey Park. In addition to these locations, permeable surfaces should be maximized in as many places as possible. Any existing and future CGA properties could set an example for the community on how to create more permeable surfaces by simply replacing concrete patios and walkways with products such as lattice pavers. Improving and expanding the existing green streets as well as adding green roofs to rooftops would also help mitigate storm water runoff and increase absorption throughout the area. In addition to improving water permeability in the area it is important to make existing structures more resilient to future high water events. Homes and
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The change in income for residents in the area highlights the need for affordable housing. Source: US Census
businesses can be made more resilient in a number of ways. Some examples include raising electrical sockets on the wall, moving mechanical equipment to the roof, replacing wall board and plaster with more water resistant materials, installing sump pumps and installing more water resistant flooring. By doing this, residents and business owners will not only make their properties more resistant to flooding but also minimize the negative financial impacts often involved with flood damage repairs. The studio also stressed the importance of following the newly adopted New York City flood zone codes with any new construction in the area. These new zoning codes allow new structures to be raised above flood heights without losing any buildable square feet.
During high water situations these communities are threatened by harmful pollutants from both the industrial uses that are scattered throughout the area... The vast majority of the area can be damaged by even moderate amounts of flooding.
The Red Hook and Columbia Street waterfront communities are also home to the entrance to the Hugh Carey Tunnel, a crucial piece of infrastructure to the overall city and region. This tunnel is also threatened by rising water that could easily inundate the entrance. The studio proposed building a cap over the tunnel entrance that would improve the area 3 fold: Building over the tunnel
entrance would protect this vital piece of infrastructure from damaging flood waters, as well as create a large green space that would help absorb more water. Lastly, it would reconnect the Red Hook and Columbia Street waterfront communities which have been severed since the 1950s when the tunnel was constructed.
While expanding affordable housing and improving the quality of life for area residents were the main goals of the studio, making these communities more resilient during high water events brought on by climate change was also extremely important. Chris Colcross is a first year City & Regional Planning Student.
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Bryan Patrick Ross
Studio: Sustainable Communities
Waves of Change The impacts of Hurricane Sandy on the Rockaway Peninsula are now well known: entire communities destroyed and devastated, people at the city’s periphery stranded without critical infrastructure, and the vital thread connecting their separate communities – the oceanfront boardwalk – washed away. In the wake of Sandy, residents from across the peninsula banded together and worked toward restoring their simple services and social resolve. But the aftermath of that rebuilding process exposed the undercurrent of race and class that pervades the entire peninsula – while some communities moved on and up, so many stood still.
focused on the polar disconnects between Rockaway neighborhoods; specifically, the stark discrepancies among their demographic, health, economic, physical, and social attributes.
1. Preserve and protect existing communities;
Rockaway youth were encouraged to draw their thoughts on a resilient Rockaway.
Working to empower the historically underserved communities of Rockaway’s east end, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA), an organization based in the community and dedicated to connecting the people of the Rockaways with their waterfront, partnered with Pratt’s Programs for Sustainable Development and Planning (PSPD) to identify areas of improvement in order to better prepare the Rockaways for the inevitability of rising sea levels. The 2014 spring studio met with members of the community, convened with developers and neighborhood business leaders, surveyed official and community post-Sandy reports, and collected a vast scope of existing conditions to explore. Initial research m_CITY | Fall 2014
Out of these findings, the studio formed a set of objectives aimed at leveraging RWA’s strong community ties:
Infrastructure that embraces the inevitable water surges could provide an asset to the community.
2. Improve connectivity for Rockaway residents; 3. Promote unity among Rockaway communities; 4. Strengthen the resiliency of each Rockaway community; 5. Create sustainable economic development; and 6. Empower communities with information to improve selfsufficiency. Structuring their work around these objectives, students formed a set of recommendations to improve the physical experience, financial security, and social cohesion of all Rockaway residents.
centers of major employment, including southern Brooklyn and John F. Kennedy International Airport; working with the MTA to establish a limited bus route across Rockaway Peninsula; providing efficient and ADA-accessible crosspeninsula travel; and overhauling the Jamaica Bay Greenway and biking infrastructure along the peninsula. Overhauling the Greenway would include funding and supporting RWA’s lead urban design concept, “The Underway,” a placemaking approach to creating a beautiful, safe pedestrian and biking experience in the neglected and under-used path of the elevated A train.
The ability of Rockaway communities to overcome their isolation and connect with the rest of New York City – and to each other – underscored a majority of short-term and long-term strategies. Transportation enhancements included expanding ferry service throughout Jamaica Bay; creating a web of connections to areas of interest and
Given that much of the housing stock along the peninsula is vulnerable to storm surge as well as gentrificationinduced displacement, there were several key proposals to further residents’ housing security: advocating for more unit affordability in the new Arverne East development, a planned beach community to include 6
approximately 1,200 new units; establishing a new measure of affordability by using the Community District household median income, a figure more accurate for determining local affordability; implementing a Coastal Resilience Special District to require elevated and resilient housing design; and collaborating with NYCHA residents to transform under-used parking lots into elevated, rampaccessible and surge-proof senior housing while also preserving parking spaces below. To further financially empower a population battling high unemployment and high youth crime rates, key economic development proposals included measures such as remediating and activating vacant industrial sites for the creation of a “Creative Commons.” Modeled on successful case studies from across the globe, the Commons would be a catalyst of new businesses while anchoring existing interests. A second proposal was for developing m_CITY | Fall 2014
a green jobs training center and light manufacturing incubator. Finally, the studio proposed partnering with L&M Development in leasing available retail space as a “bike hub,” complete with café, retail, job training and education. This would be an opportunity to harness the biking momentum sparked by The Underway and the completion of other biking infrastructure throughout Jamaica Bay. Lastly, to safeguard these interventions against rising sea levels, proposals also advocated for the further construction and maintenance of green infrastructure across the peninsula to absorb future storm surge impacts. To better prepare residents for future severe events, the studio recommended the installation of solar-powered lighting and communication systems and preparation and education
programming at community centers across the peninsula, including at RWA’s own Firehouse 59 RWA was given a first look at recommendations in late April, and the broader community had a chance to view proposals and speak with students at an Earth Day exhibition sponsored by RWA and DOT in early May. The exhibition included large displays that visualized each recommendation, as well as interactive pieces that encouraged the community to define the strengths and challenges within their neighborhoods. Even a to-scale model of the proposed Underway was made available, inviting residents of all ages to envision how a singular placemaking approach under the elevated tracks could connect and inspire their community.
The Rockaway Underway could provide much-needed space for pedestrians and bicyclists
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Recognizing that city agencies and other governing bodies would need to be held accountable, students shared one final proposal in their formal presentation to PSPD’s department: a governance structure, or Implementation Task Force, the sole responsibility of which would be the coordination of city agencies and offices to successfully oversee recovery efforts on a neighborhood scale. An important facet of this governance structure would be the inclusion of community organizations from the neighborhood, empowering residents to initiate community-wide change and to steer their own planning decisionmaking process. Bryan Patrick Ross is a second year City & Regional Planning Student.
Studio: Green Infrastructure
Managing Stormwater in Red Hook Over the summer, students enrolled in the Sustainable Environmental Systems (SES) programâ€™s Green Infrastructure Studio focused on developing designs that would manage storm water on the Centre Mall in Red Hook Houses, the second largest New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) development in the City. With guidance from instructors Elliott Maltby and Gita Nandan of Thread Collective, the students were challenged to address a unique set of physical conditions identified on and around the site, which were supplemented by input from the Red Centre Mall in Red Hook Houses
lowlands + RHI Social Justice Fellows Concurrent to the summer 2014 GI studio, the lowlands team worked closely with the Social Justice Fellows from Red Hook Initiative to explore and define an integrated, communitybased green infrastructure plan. The Social Justice Fellowship is a community organizing program for young adults ages 19-24, who work to challenge institutional injustices and bring about positive social change in Red Hook. Graduate City + Regional Planning students Acacia Dupierre and Christopher Rice led visits to four green infrastructure sites throughout New York City, and facilitated four design charettes with Professors and Principals of thread collective, Elliott Maltby and Gita Nandan. The knowledge exchange between the lowlands team and the Social Justice Fellows served as the basis for the programmatic and design elements of the lowlands project. - Acacia Dupierre and Christopher Rice
Hook Initiative Social Justice Fellows, a grassroots community organization program for young adults ages 19-24.
to draw a preliminary concept of a garden space that related to the footprints in some way.
The first day of the course, students met the instructors in Red Hook next to Coffey Park and walked together through Red Hook Houses to the Centre Mall, the focal point of the studio. After a bit of on-the-ground assessment (which included being shot at with a BB gun by an unidentified resident of Red Hook Houses) the students met at a local bar to tackle the first design assignment, the Shoeprint Exercise: sheets of paper printed with the building footprints of Red Hook Houses at different scales were passed out, and students were provided with tracing paper, colored pencils, markers, and twenty minutes
The students were from a variety of backgrounds, and many were just learning about the urban design process and how to implement green infrastructure strategies. The balancing of these two design methods became a series of compromises for the students as they developed their individual designs: they wanted to develop places that responded to the unique socioeconomic circumstances of the residents in Red Hook Houses, while also creating green infrastructure on the site that could manage as much stormwater as realistically possible.
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While the students constantly refined their designs through case study research, individual critiques with the professors, and presentations to the class and other professionals, they were also learning more and more about green infrastructure through field trips and lectures. One of note was a lecture given by Nandan Shetty who works for NYC Department of Parks and recreation focusing mostly on the design and monitoring of the rightof-way bioswales that the City has been installing throughout the five boroughs to manage stormwater in an effort to combat combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Below is a recap of Shetty’s lecture by one of the students in the course, John Parsons Douglas. We were lucky enough to have Nandan Shetty, from NYC Parks Department, explain the metrics of green infrastructure projects being conducted by the City of New York. First, he highlighted the priority watersheds located in New York City that are being targeted for Green Infrastructure projects. He explained the City focuses on these certain watersheds because they do not meet the Clean Water Act, and are part of the combined sewage system. This combined sewage system discharges untreated sewage into NYC waterways when heavy rainfall occurs. Green infrastructure projects that capture stormwater from the street, before it reaches the sewage system, provide a cost-effective solution that has multiple benefits beyond storm water retention. Currently, most of these projects under construction are bioswales in the rightof-way. This siting is due to much of the stormwater entering our sewage system from the right-of-way. He outlined some of the considerations that the city takes before deciding on placing a bioswale: the site analysis and then the actual construction phase. We were able to see the impressive performance from monitoring equipment installed in bioswales before and after Superstorm Sandy. We also learned what equations the city uses to design green m_CITY | Fall 2014
Dutch Kills Green in Long Island City - a NYC precedent for public space design driven by stormwater management and pedestrian and bicycle safety.
infrastructure systems. These equations are centered around how much stormwater would enter our combined sewage system at each drainage point.
A field trip that really stood out was a trip to Dutch Kills Green in Long Island City, Queens. What was once a commuter parking lot encapsulated by an immense elevated train line, is now a 1.5-acre park, which includes constructed wetlands planted with almost 500 native trees and grasses. The park was developed as part of the $45 million Queens Plaza roadway, pedestrian, and bicycle improvement project, and even though the loud elevated train still looms overhead and dominates the area, this park space is a haven of greenery designed for the local residents while managing the stormwater run-off from the plethora of paved surfaces surrounding the site. The students presented their final designs to a panel of highly respected professionals in the fields of architecture and green infrastructure at Elliott and Gita’s studio in Bushwick, Thread Collective. Each presentation was about 9
ten minutes long and was comprised of numerous slides, which included the overall design concept, detailed technical drawings of the design, the metrics for the implemented green infrastructure (how much stormwater could be managed), renderings and drawings of what the design might actually look like, and the social and economic implications of the project. Outlined on the next page are some selected slides from each student’s project. If you are interested in more information from this studio, please refer to the Wordpress blog that was contributed to throughout the course: prattgreeninfrastructure2014.wordpress.com Chelsea Kelley is a second year City & Regional Planning Student.
ACTIVE MALL - Pebel Rodriguez This design focused on the Centre Mall and redefined the landscape to promote physical activity among the users, on a year-round basis.
THE POLLINATOR - Elana Bulman Inspired by the metamorphosis of butterflies, this project transformed the Centre Mall into an attractive health & fitness space, ecological habitat, and stormwater management system
THE WAY OF THE WATER - Chelsea Kelley This project aimed to connect residents to Red Hookâ€™s coastal past with a series of bioswales that considered the original waterways and drew upon coastal building language. DRAIN AGE - Acacia Dupierre This design transformed the many monotonous play areas in Red Hook Houses into a variety of spaces that reacted to the appeal of different age groups and managed stormwater, in a variety of creative ways that appealed to different senses.
RED HOOK CONNECTS - Chris Rice Looking at the broader context of Red Hook, this project designed a system to integrate commercial corridors and hubs with the residents of Red Hook through green infrastructure. STORMWATER PARK - Gina Kosty This design aimed to create a destination park on Centre Mall that could integrally manage stromwater through a series of wetlands and forested uplands. TAMING THE BQE - John Parsons Douglas This project addressed the disconnect between Red Hook and the rest of Brooklyn caused by the Bronx Queens Expressway, through the creation of a series of bays that manage stormwater and are programmed to reflect residentsâ€™ needs.
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Studio: Historic Preservation
Coney Island Moving into the Future The Fall of 2014 brought the preservation studio to a place many of the students had never been. A place of wonder, whimsy, and change. The studio was assigned the task of working with Save Coney Island to create a comprehensive preservation plan for Coney Island. As many of you know Coney Island is a place that has seen varying degrees of change for over 100 years. The studio used the history of Coney Island as a way to understand what challenges Coney Island will face in the future.
Coney Island was originally a place occupied by the Canarsie Indians, a place full of wildlife and beautiful wetland flora. Slowly it became a place of largescale hotels, a place for the wealthy citizens of Manhattan to escape. This progressed into a playground; a destination, a place where you could be transported to space, or experience the life of a horse jockey. It was a place of innovations; take for instance the first baby incubator, which was invented in Coney Island, not to mention the hotdog and a various collection of rollercoasters and games. Coney Island
Coney Island community members love their neighborhood.
is also a place of change, it has seen large urban renewal projects divide its community, and most recently it has seen significant change in its zoning as well as natural environment. As preservationists, we did not want to get boxed into a plan that would not allow for change, or a plan that seemed too focused on the past of Coney Island. We wanted to make sure that the past had a strong voice in the future. We reviewed countless zoning documents, neighborhood profiles and finally created a plan that approached what we saw as Coney Island’s wants and needs while still maintaining the history and sense of place that is Coney Island.
These three concepts became our stepping stones and the formula we used for creating a plan for the future of Coney Island. PRESERVE. We knew we wanted to secure the status of the few remaining landmarks in Coney Island – so we established their argument for landmarking; we researched and developed a strong case for why each of these buildings should be designated landmarks under the City’s landmark law. We then looked at broad preservation options. m_CITY | Fall 2014
Historic Preservation students experience the attractions of Coney Island first-hand.
We developed a case for establishing Coney Island as part of a broader National Recreation Heritage Area. Coney Island would become part of a larger heritage area focused on the recreation and amusements of Coney Island, the Rockaways and other locations along Long Island. MARKET. How could we market Coney Island? We wanted to create a way that would allow the historical significance of Coney Island to be marketed, but also allow people to know it is a new place and that a variety of events, activities, and day-to-day going-ons happen there. We created a simple marketing campaign that showcased not only the fun activates surrounding the amusement areas but also the people that live in Coney Island and call it home.
We looked at an established app called Mapplr. It would allow visitors and residents to interact with the current landmarks, as well as create their own landmarks using their smart phones. The app allows for individuals to input places they find important into a larger database system. This would not only leave the community feeling more connected but would also attract visitors to different parts of the island, not just the boardwalk and community center. ACTIVATE. Lastly we came up with several methods Lastly we came up with several methods for activating the large number of empty lots haunting Coney Island. We investigated Architecture for Humanityâ€™s plan to revitalize the art industry and activate the former historic bowery walks of Coney Island through the building of stalls, which 12
can be rented and used by a variety of artists. We also looked at adapting the boardwalk entrances to make them more pedestrian friendly. This would also hopefully create a stronger connection from Surf Ave to the Boardwalk. In the end we chose solutions that were distant as well as some that were easily reachable. This allowed for our client to see a broad spectrum of possibilities and understand that a plan as comprehensive as this takes time and small steps to reach a larger goal. The studio as a whole, left with a feeling that Coney Island will move forward into the future with the same tenacity it has used in the past.
Jessica Baldwin is a graduating Historic Preservation student. m_CITY | Fall 2014
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Studio: Sustainable Business
Distilling Sustainability The sustainable small business studio is unique among Pratt’s studio offerings in that it gives students an opportunity to work with a single business (as opposed to a community-based organization or even an entire community) to develop an Environmental Management System (EMS). Drawing on the studio’s report, an EMS is “a way by which a company systematically assesses and refines all processes under its direct control or influence that have a quantifiable or qualifiable relation to the natural world.” Creating an EMS is an iterative process
that is meant to be reviewed regularly to reflect changes in technology, regulatory laws and policies, and the firm’s production process. The Sustainable Small Business studio models their EMS on the ISO 14001, a version of an EMS created by the International Organization for Standardization. Again, drawing from the report: “The system is different from a more generic EMS in that it incorporates a certification, registration and self-declaration characteristic that is internationally recognized and
Brad Estabrook talks distilling at Breuckelen Distillery.
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respected, following in step with many other international industry standards. Its authors describe this feature as both ‘strategic and competitive’ for members of represented industries, of which spirit-making is a wellestablished example.” The studio gives students a chance to help their client develop more sustainable production, waste management and operations practices. Students must also consider marketing (how can these new practices be used to sell more products?) and budgetary concerns (how can these
new practices pay for themselves?). This is a studio that relies as much on creative thinking and problem-solving as it does on a pragmatic approach to managing a small business and communicating with the client.
The goal was to decide on aspects whose impacts Breuckelen Distilling could realistically reduce without destroying profit margins or reaching beyond their operating capacity. Breuckelen Distilling, helmed by founder Brad Estabrook, was the client for this summerâ€™s Sustainable Small Business studio. Brad founded Breuckelen in 2010 after working for several years in finance. He was living in Brooklyn and felt inspired by the growing population of small-batch producers of artisanal foods and drinks. Bolstered by the success of his peers and a growing love for the successful pairing of spirits with food, Brad started Breuckelen. Their first product was a gin, distilled, bottled and distributed directly from their Sunset Park facility. Gin is an ideal first product for two reasons: it provided a unique marketing opportunity insofar as gin had not been produced in NYC since prohibition and it requires little time for aging, allowing it to be sold and recoup profit more quickly than whiskey. More recently, Breuckelen opened a second facility in East New York, which they use exclusively to store products before
distribution and to age their whiskey. Brad and Breuckelen are extremely dedicated to operating a business that provides their clients with delicious, highly specialized products without damaging the environment. He sources all of his ingredients from within New York State to reduce carbon emissions through transit, reuses and reduces as much waste as possible through recycling and composting, and strives to find the most energy efficient appliances for completing the distilling process. The studio worked closely with Brad to create an Environmental Policy Statement. The policy statement is an integral component of an Environmental Management System. Not only was it used to guide the work of the studio, but, most importantly, it provides a strong backbone for the company to rely on as it continues its quest to minimize environmental impacts and maximize production of high quality spirits in the future. Distillation requires consumption of natural resources in the form of grains and botanicals used to flavor spirits and the large amount of water used at various points in the distillation process. Moreover, the process incurs emissions to air during distillation. 425 pounds of carbon dioxide are released during fermentation of a single mash. The plant also relies heavily on fossil fuels at various points to power necessary machines like the masher and heated fermentation tanks. Thus, the studio identified four environmental aspects of the business based on these points of 16
consumption in distilling process: water consumption, solid waste production, energy production, and emissions to air. Student consultants initially identified these aspects after taking a tour of the distilling plant, creating a highly detailed process map, and doing research into the most common environmental aspects of distilling. However, the four main aspects were finally decided upon by employing a ranking system that weighted severity and frequency of aspects equally with the clientâ€™s stated priorities and the clientâ€™s ability to control these aspects. The goal was to decide on aspects whose impacts Breuckelen Distilling could realistically reduce without destroying profit margins or reaching beyond their operating capacity. Before moving forward with the creation of recommendations, the student consultants met with the client to get feedback and identify his priorities. Student consultants broke into teams to create recommendations aimed at tackling each of the four confirmed environmental aspects. Recommendations from the studio ranged from short to long term
implementation timelines, and included everything from inexpensive waste and energy audits to implementation of new technology to curb consumption of a variety of natural resources.
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The variety of waste products presents a unique sustainability problem for light manufacturers like Breuckelen.
For example, with regard to solid waste, student consultants recommended: 1. Diversifying use of spent grain by selling it to farmers who might use it for animal feed, thus helping to close the loop on waste production and introduce new sources of revenue through selling the spent grain. 2. Performing a waste audit aimed at reducing solid waste. This audit would result in more accurate record-keeping so that Breuckelen could continuously monitor solid waste production and management over time.
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Similarly, student consultants recommended a variety of efforts for other aspects aimed at monitoring current consumption, reducing this consumption through methods aimed at closing production loops, and, with a view towards the next five years, implementing new technology like solar photovoltaic panels and an anaerobic digester to convert spent wash (non-potable alcohol) to reusable energy. Over the course of a summer, students learned how to effectively communicate with their small business client. The biggest challenge was how to marry environmental targets with the limits of capacity. However, 17
the studentsâ€™ carefully measured, multitiered approach to recommendations seemed to bridge this gap effectively, and Breuckelen Distilling expressed a high degree of gratitude and enthusiasm for the recommendations delivered at the final presentation.
Risa Shoup is a second year City & Regional Planning student.
Preserving History What program are you in at Pratt?
I am currently studying Historic Preservation. It’s my second year and I’ll graduate in May! Terrifying and exciting all the same. Before Pratt, I studied architecture at North Carolina State University (GO PACK!) and then worked as an interior architect for about 5 years in the high end residential world of New York City. I’ve always had a strong passion for history and using architecture as a social change and during my time as an undergraduate I volunteered with Preservation North Carolina and spent time in Biloxi, MS following Hurricane Katrina, working with Architecture for Humanity and Mississippi State University.
What classes are you taking this semester?
This semester I am taking the Preservation Studio, a series of Real Estate Classes and Introduction to GIS. Our studio is incorporating the RAMP ideology and the research from the Planning Studio last semester. We are working for Save Coney Island and attempting connect residents to the amusement area of Coney Island. By using the History of Coney Island and the memories of both residents and tourists we hope to create
recommendations that will make Coney Island a more sustainable place for both residents and amusements. The Real Estate courses are an interesting addition to the core preservation courses. One taught us how to understand Real Estate Market Analysis and another looked at Preservation Tax Credits. The classes really look at how the real estate market in New York works and while it’s a very brief overview it was a great introduction to the business side of preservation. Lastly, I took the 5-week GIS course. It was an awesome introduction to the program, and felt like just as soon as it was over I was beginning to understand. Preservation students aren’t required to take the course, but I found it very useful. It was great to attempt understanding how planners think, and being able to express ideas through mapping has proven very useful so far, in most every other class I have taken. I regret not taking it the first year I was here.
What has been a highlight from this semester for your classes? Oh, that’s an easy one. Over spring break second year HP students had the opportunity to travel to Rome. Our 18
entire class was able to attend and it was a truly spectacular trip. We spent each day touring with an expert in a certain period of architecture. We looked at Ancient Rome, Medieval Rome, Renaissance and Baroque Rome, and even Fascist 20th century. We covered so much of Rome its hard to even begin. Having studied and loved architecture for so long going to what is essentially the birthplace of western architecture was indescribable. Rome is so rich with history it takes your breath away. Everywhere you look there is a reminder of the past. In Rome, the history is tangible and felt with every stone you touch. Each tour we discussed different concepts of preservation and how they were applied to Rome during that historic time period as well as today. We ended the week by visiting two sites that are not open to the public yet. With a special thanks to our professor Lisa Ackerman, C.O.O. of the World Monuments Fund, we were able to visit Santa Maria Antiqua as well as the Casina Farnese and meet the architect and conservators behind their beautiful restorations. Both were truly spectacular and mesmerizing. The frescos and paintings transported you back in time and opened your eyes to a life that is so far removed from us today. Getting the opportunity m_CITY | Fall 2014
| Fall 2014Historic Preservation All-Star. m_CITYBaldwin. Jessica
to speak with the conservators was eye opening. Both conservators and the architect were so proud of the work they had done it came through on their faces and in the way they discussed each project with such passion and detail. I could go on forever but I’ll stop.
What’s a project that you’re currently working on that you’re excited about?
Our preservation studio is really interesting this year. It’s only HP students which apparently isn’t normally the case, but it has meant we have had to reach out beyond our normal preservation ways of thinking and approach some of the challenges more like planners or even urban designers. We are all pushing ourselves to look at Coney Island differently and challenging ourselves to come up with creative recommendations that have the potential to be implemented and really impact Coney Island.
Coney Island is a challenging place, it’s seen lots of physical damage over the years and especially with Hurricane Sandy but it is also plagued with emotional damage too. There are many memories associated with Coney Island and they do not all coincide with each other. Preservation can be a useful tool to both tourists and residents of Coney Island and can help both groups connect their memories of the place. As studio moves forward we are working to really show how that connection can happen and encourage growth and economic development while maintaining the atmosphere that is part of the Coney Island brand.
How do you want to use your experience at Pratt to influence your future career?
I feel that my experience at Pratt will greatly influence my future career. It has further instilled the desire to use architecture as a means of social
change. My experiences at Pratt have connected me with people that will be of great benefit as my preservation career continues. Preservation especially in New York is a small world, and just meeting and getting to know some of the folks that are a part of it has been and will continue to be helpful.
Any words of advice for current Historic Preservation students?
Well, I think the only thing I can come up with is make sure you network! It is easy to get caught up in school and not go to events because of too much classwork, BUT GO, go to every networking event possible. It’s a great chance to meet people and pick their brains about why they chose the path they did. Plus there are usually snacks, and who doesn’t love a good snack?
“Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries-stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.”
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851 20
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Getting Around Manhattan?
Crosstown, Uptown, or Counterclockwise The shadows of Lower Manhattan’s towers stretch across the Hudson River. Just off Pier A at the western edge of Battery Park, the morning quiet is punctuated by the splash of a swimmer jumping into the water. The VHF radio crackles, as the event organizer at NYC Swim takes roll call with the small flotilla of motorboats and the larger horde of kayakers off the Battery. The starting horn goes off, and the race begins. After generations of pollution and abuse, New York City’s waterways are alive with activity. Around Manhattan alone, nine boathouses and small boat docks dot the shore. Six marinas and mooring fields are along the edge. All told there are more than 18 places to catch a boat, be it a ferry, sail, or dinner cruise. The growing volume of boating activity encouraged the New York City Department of City Planning to recognize this “Blue Network” as part of the 2011 update to the city’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. Water quality in general is the best it has been in more than a century. More than a dozen monitoring stations are situated in the city’s blue network. Each year samples are regularly taken at 74 different locations in city waterways and used to gauge the condition and the health of the water. With all this beautiful water and these new places to get in m_CITY | Fall 2014
and out, more people are choosing to experience this “Blue Network” first hand - by immersing themselves. Open Water Swimming Around Manhattan Swimming can take place almost anywhere, but Open Water Swimming conveys that you are in nature, as opposed to the calm comfort of a pool. Open water swimming returned to the Olympics in 2008. Last year in New York nearly a dozen open water swims took place along the shoreline of Manhattan. Perhaps the most monumental - and the one recognized as part of the international “Triple Crown” of open water swimming worldwide - is the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Before jumping in, however, a few things must be kept in mind.
Bottom line: it is very, very hard to predict when it is safe to get in. The three rivers surrounding Manhattan are all tidal, and, driven by their connections to the Atlantic, are constantly pushed and pulled by the gravitational forces of the sun and moon. These tidal cycles play out over 21
the course of the day and roughly the month. The lunar cycle creates a number of variables that make open water swimming in tidal waters not just complex but in truth very dangerous to the inexperienced and uninformed. One, the vertical level of the water surrounding Manhattan changes by about five feet every six hours as the tide brings the ocean’s waters in to the estuary and then goes back out. The full and new moons push this level even higher. This vertical variation is the source of the terms “High” and “Low” tide. Two, the direction of the water flow changes dramatically. The incoming tide pushes the water in through the Narrows and up into the New York- New Jersey Harbor Estuary. The outgoing tide allows it to flow the other way. Three, the speed of the water also changes dramatically. Fourth, if any of the above aren’t enough to discourage you from just jumping in recklessly, then consider that any of these seemingly “predictable” conditions can be overwhelmed by other factors such as the speed and direction of the wind, rainfall, and snow-melt. The source and scope of these conditions is geographically enormous: substantial
A city’s waterways have both natural and man-made influences.
rainfall or snow-melt anywhere within the Hudson River’s 13,400 square mile watershed becomes manifest more than 315 miles downstream in New York City. At the other side, beyond the mouth of the river, the level of the tide or direction of the current can be driven by storms and weather events offshore that city dwellers never even see Bottom line: it is very, very hard to predict when it is safe to get in. All these factors add up the reality that there are no designated swimming areas anywhere along Manhattan’s shores. But there are still opportunities! In 2014 almost 200 people took part in organized swims around Manhattan. Thousands more swam along Manhattan, or from Manhattan to another borough.
Which Way From Here? When swimming around Manhattan, NYC Swim shows that there is basically one good way to go. They demonstrate this a number of times each summer with the “Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.” To say the event is carefully scheduled would be an understatement. Surrounding boat traffic is a concern, as is water temperature, but the real driver in the event schedule is the tidal cycle. Today, humankind still struggles to predict the weather accurately, but the tidal cycle and the lunar cycle has been available in print form to residents of North America since at least 1733, when Benjamin Franklin first published his “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” Of course, now there are Apps for this, though they can be hard to access when you are up to your neck in New York Harbor. 22
Getting Around the Battery As swimmers head east around the Battery they can find themselves in a large “eddy,” an area water where the current swirls around. With the Hudson River flowing to the west, the East River to the east, and the opposing land forms of Manhattan and Governors Island on the north and south, the water can be pushed or pulled east or west, rather than north or south as the rivers typically move. At the beginning, they swim against a current that is being created as the Hudson River flows, at this time, to the north. The tide is coming in. With 28.5 miles to go all the way around Manhattan, it’s important to not force the swimmers to struggle too much too soon. Once around the Battery and past the Staten Island ferry terminal at Whitehall Street, the incoming tide is m_CITY | Fall 2014
flowing north up the East River. This gives the swimmers a gentle push as they begin the first long leg of the swim. The East River is Complicated This experience in the East River is instructive. One, it reminds us that the East River isn’t really a river. Rather, it’s a tidal strait, connecting the large water bodies of Upper New York Bay and Long Island Sound. Without a large watershed area, there isn’t a natural flow entering the East River that drives the direction of the current. Instead, as the level of the tide rises and falls in the Sound and the Harbor the direction of flow in the East River changes drastically and quite suddenly. On the East River, the “slack tide” period, when the water movement has slowed to calm or near calm ranges from less than fifteen minutes to no time at all in some places. As soon as the water stops moving in one direction it starts to move in the other.
The width of the river also influences the speed of the current. The narrower the water body, the faster the current moves. Water moves through a river much like water flows through a funnel. At the top of the funnel, where the surface area is wider, the water level drops very slowly. At the narrow stem at the bottom of the funnel, the movement quickens. For a swimmer heading around Manhattan, the currents on the rivers provide an important push called the tide-assist. Once around the ebb current at the Battery, the swimmer enters the so-called flood current coming in through the Narrows and moving north up through Buttermilk channel, between Red Hook and Governors Island. From the Seaport all the way up to East Harlem, swimmers enjoy a constant push. At East 90th Street is a small promontory called Horn’s Hook. Here, the swimmers veer west around Ward’s and Randall’s
Waterfront conditions can change due to any number of changes in weather, upstream conditions, or human influences.
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Islands, headed for the Harlem River. By this point in the tide cycle the push they enjoyed up the East River is now fading quickly. If swimmers lag towards the back of the group, they won’t clear Horn’s Hook before the current turns against them completely - the two knot push a swimmer enjoyed as they swam past the southern end of Roosevelt Island quickly becomes a two-and-a-half-knot current they are swimming into. The vast majority of swimmers cannot move forward in this environment. The Marathon Swim ends for them just one-quarter of the way into the event. On the Harlem River The Harlem River brings its own challenges. Wind generally is less of a factor here, as the narrowness of the waterway doesn’t allow as much force or “fetch” to gain momentum. As a small waterbody that is wedged between the highly impervious Bronx and Manhattan, the water quality here in the Harlem is often the worst the swimmer will experience all day.
Like the East River, the Harlem is also a tidal strait. What enters the Harlem River takes a while to leave the Harlem River. This is true for the swimmers too. By this point in the swim high tide has passed and the tide is going out. The water level in the estuary is dropping and the water is generally moving south. From Horn’s Hook to Yankee Stadium at 161st Street swimmers swim against the current. Progress is slow. As the tide continues out, the swimmer moves north and west on the Harlem, towards Spuyten Duyvil. The closer the swimmer gets to the Hudson the more they are getting pulled. This is the Harlem as tidal strait: at the south end of the waterway, the ebb tide is pulling south. At the north end, the ebb tide pulls north. The word “river” again obscures this dichotomy of a waterbody moving in opposite directions at either end. Now, one can visibly see the Harlem meet the Hudson, as a plume of water
rich with suspended sediment – and sometimes floatable debris - pours into the Hudson beneath the Amtrak railroad bridge. This confluence illustrates the tremendous force of the Hudson’s flow. At more than 21,000 cubic feet per second net flow, the Hudson creates a tremendous force of flow in front - and suction behind it. Thus, at the north- and western extent of the Harlem, the force of the Hudson literally pulls the swimmer out of the strait. The outgoing tide now gives them a solid push back down to the Battery where the Marathon Swim began, seven to ten hours previously. A trip around Manhattan Island highlights the complex nature of two largely misunderstood city waterways, the East and Harlem Rivers. While the tidal cycle determines the direction and speed of the currents somewhat predictably, the fact that all these waterways are interconnected creates even greater complexity for the speed
and direction of the water at any given time. Once you set foot off of Manhattan Island, don’t let the word “River” in the name fool you. All of these waterways today are essentially “Muhheakantuck” just as the Lenape understood them to be centuries ago: “the rivers that flow two ways.”
Carter Craft teaches Wetland and Waterfront Planning at Pratt and is the Senior Economic Officer at Consulate General of the Netherlands in NYC.
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Elliott Maltby, Gita Nandan
Gowanus Field Stations In early 2012, thread collective, our architecture and urban design firm, began a project looking at the Gowanus Canal and the research supporting its Superfund designation. The Gowanus Canal is notoriously compelling, a toxic slot cutting into the border of Brooklyn, a public space without much space, full of odd juxtapositions and with a mysterious inscrutability. Hidden at the end of streets and tucked along the side of bridges, patches of spontaneous and some curated ecologies reward the intrepid, the curious, and the local. Dark green waters with a rainbow sheen are home to a surprising number of creatures, their presence and survival seemingly at odds with the complex inherited industrial pollution mixed with contemporary sewage. A constructed waterway, the Gowanus is a sliver of once extensive wetlands. The canal’s edge is a novel landscape created by years of human use, where endemic striped bass swim under Chinese trees whose seeds were brought to the canal as packing material in the 1800s. It is also one of the city’s remaining backstages, the inverse of branded public or “world class” to use a PlaNYC term, public space. It is a gutterspace: the Gowanus is both the gutter of the original watershed, insufficient as we saw during Sandy, and the metaphoric fold between pages. The urban m_CITY | Fall 2014
backstage is a space to be found and explored, to wonder about, to wander around, a place to speculate. It is a provisional place, one for testing ideas, to rehearse, or practice imperfectly, and where actions barred from the front stage are permitted. A survey of backstage spaces demonstrates a common pairing of productive spontaneous ecologies and aging infrastructure. Rather than seeing these spaces as derelict or underutilized, we are interested in the subtle, stealth successes of these spaces. The concept of urban backstage was developed during a public space class Elliott taught in 2007 looking at the East River waterfront [prior to its current renovation]. Expanding on sociologist Erving Goffman’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, which uses theater to examine human behavior in relation to social and physical context, the class posited the idea that urban citizens need backstage spaces. These are informal public spaces where behavior is less circumscribed, where social roles and rules are looser, and a diversity of expression and behavior is tolerated. Like much of New York City’s littoral edge, the Gowanus is being re-cast as the new “next” neighborhood, a site of real estate speculation and development. Just this month, The New 25
York Times gave Gowanus the dubious distinction of being “Brooklyn’s Coolest Superfund Site” and noted: “Longtime residents and newcomers agree that this artist’s haven might soon mirror other industrial-turned-luxury enclaves like Williamsburg, Dumbo, TriBeCa and SoHo.” The equivocal legacy of development during the Bloomberg era includes expanded access to vast stretches of the waterfront. But a question we must ask is: who is gaining that access - and who is losing it? While this kind of transformation has become so familiar as to feel almost inevitable, the conditions and mechanisms of change and local qualities of each neighborhood are distinct. It is the particular qualities of the Gowanus that we are interested in. How might a project propose access that does not radically rewrite an area, but rather suggests a more tactical and precise insertion? We were completing work on a gallery installation of the Gowanus Field Stations when Sandy hit New York City. Suddenly the urban implications of the historic marshland moved from informed speculation to very tangible fact. We were making a large hand drawn map of the Gowanus wetlands superimposed on the current urban
condition. As has been widely noted, there was a clear correlation between former wetland and Sandy flooding. In addition, we noticed that the Red Hook Houses are located on former marshland, as are the Ravenswood Houses in Queens, a fact we had discovered while doing a project in Long Island City. Upon further investigation, we determined that many public housing projects are located in areas of former wetlands. Our current work is building on this research, looking at the potential of green infrastructure as a public space strategy to address the challenges posed by the intersection of social and ecological vulnerability.
Gowanus Field Stations is an exploration of the ecology of the canal, through temporary public space installations dispersed along its length. Each field station creates a dedicated space for people to observe and engage with a distinct aspect of the canal: these discrete experiences create a shifting, composite understanding of the area, and recognize the intermingling of human and natural systems. Clustered installations create a loose network of spaces; episodic and set to the idiosyncrasies of the explorer, the field stations explore the sectional relationship of the body and the water. They also provide a physical context to understand, in place, the research being conducted about the canalâ€™s environment.
Elliott Maltby and Gita Nandan teach the Green Infrastructure studio and are principals at Thread Collective. 26
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An Island Transformed streams, wetlands, salt marshes, hills, forests, and valleys, Manhattan has been drastically transformed over the Mannahatta Project to shed light on the original ecology of Manhattan before the arrival of Europeans, when the island was home to a diversity of species and the Lenape Native Americans.
streams that scattered the island. Finally, the map depicts Superstorm Sandyâ€™s storm surge in blue. water system. m_CITY | Fall 2014
source: welikia.org, DCP map by Kate Selden, CRP
Legend 1609 streams 2012 Sandy storm surge
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Mapping CSO Impact:
The Worst Places to Swim in New York City If you have ever tried to visit a NYC beach shortly after it rains heavily, you may be disappointed to find that beach closed. The reason is one of every NYC environmentalist’s worst nightmares: Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). Put simply, New York City’s sewage goes to the same place as its street drainage. That works fine until we get so much rain that the sewage treatment plants can’t handle both the storm water and the sewage flowing through our sewers. As a result, this combination of stormwater and sewage overflows and that resulting backup is released into our very own New York City waterways. So back to the beach— what causes it to close exactly? Well, one reason is that the city monitors its waterways for fecal
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coliform, something that is as gross as it sounds. Specifically, it’s a bacteria that grows in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. High level of fecal coliform indicates a high probability of sewage in the water. If levels go above 1,000 coliform per 100ml of water, beaches are closed in accordance with state regulations. To find the dirtiest water in New York City (or at least the most sewage-full water, since there are many different ways to measure water quality), I turned to Harbor Water Sampling Data released as Open Data by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The dataset includes samples from dozens of sites dating back to 2008.
I explored the mean, minimum, median, and maximum levels of fecal coliform at each site, but to decide which area was the dirtiest, I calculated the percent of days sampled at the site that registered as too dirty to swim in (i.e. above the safe level of 1000 coliform / 100ml). The top 10 dirtiest water sample locations around the city can be seen in the table below. The dirtiest water? Coney Island Creek, which sits between Coney Island and the rest of Brooklyn. Not far behind it is Bergen Basin, near JFK International Airport. These two are at the top of the list by the mean measurement as well. The Bronx River is number 3, Alley Creek is 4, and Bergen Basin comes
Comparing the swimming safety of New York City harbors.
back for number 5. At all five of these spots, samples came in as having too much fecal coliform to swim in more than half the time! Spots 6 - 10 go to two sites in the Gowanus Canal, Flushing Creek and another site in both The Bronx River and Coney Island Creek. To expand beyond the top 10 spots, I created the map seen above, which includes all of the harbor locations that were measured in the DEP data. Just like the previous analysis, I mapped the percentage of time that water levels were unsafe for swimming. Larger
circles indicate a higher percentage of unsafe days, and thus dirtier water. Note that the larger circles appear more inland. The conclusion? If you are going to swim in NYC, I guess the rule of thumb is to stay away from anything with the word “creek” in its name (and of course “canal”) and head toward the rivers and bays. The major exception seems to be the Bronx River. I suppose its sort of intuitive… interior waterways have much less water to dilute waste matter and they generally move slower than their large river counterparts. Of 30
course this is more of a theoretical swim. If you are ACTUALLY going to swim, hit up the beaches! • Raw data can be found here: http://goo.gl/xqhFRA • Map created using cartodb.
Ben Wellington teaches Statistical Methods at Pratt, works as a quantitative analyst at Two Sigma, a tech company , and is the author of the highly acclaimed blog I Quant NY (iquantny.tumblr.com) m_CITY | Fall 2014
Dylan Carey and Giovania Tiarachristie
Beyond Resiliency, towards Adaptation: Lessons Learned from a trip to the Netherlands In March of 2014, approximately 30 students and faculty from Pratt joined with community leaders from neighborhoods that had been among those most adversely affected by Superstorm Sandy to travel to the Netherlands to study innovation in addressing climate change and social/ economic development opportunities. The trip was organized as part RAMP+ (Recovery, Adaptation, Mitigation, and Planning, Plus)--a post-Sandy capacity-building initiative developed by students and faculty in Pratt PSPD to work closely with community partners in issues of recovery, sustainability, and resilience through studios, classes, and public programs. A country where 80% of its land is below sea level, (on average 6 feet) the Netherlands has long grappled with the sea. New York, on the other hand, has just begun
discussing ways to improve resilience of the city over the past two years since the devastating impacts of Hurricane Sandy. This trip was an opportunity to see first-hand Dutch strategies and innovations surrounding climate change and economic development, as well as an opportunity to exchange ideas. Upon arrival in Rotterdam, we were led on a bike tour throughout the heart of the city learning about the city context until the edge of the Rijnhaven waterfront. Rotterdam, as a historic port city, is rife with man-made bays, inlets and other waterbodies that are a feature of its maritime history. Rijnhaven is one of the oldest of these harbors, yet it is now home to the futuristic Drijvend Paviljoen, or Floating Pavilion--an experimental structure that literally floats on the Rijnhaven. While it is currently only
Photo of the whole group on a balcony at the Oosterscheldekering
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used for public events and educational purposes, the site serves as a pilot for a larger vision of floating cities. The second day began the breakneck pace with which we toured Rotterdam and the greater area, venturing out into the Zeeland delta. Our first stop was the Watersnoodmuseum, or the flood disaster museum. In early 1953, the Netherlands was hit by a massive storm that funneled water into the North Sea -- the â€œSandyâ€? of Holland, you could say -- that awoke the Dutch to their countryâ€™s flood risk. The nature of the storm overwhelmed the Dutch system of dykes and flooded most of Zeeland province as well as large parts of neighboring Zuid-Holland, resulting in the death of over 1,800 people. This museum was located inside massive abandoned caissons that had been
used to close breaches in the dykes caused by the flood. The destruction caused by the 1953 flood spurred the Dutch and their government to invest in a series of infrastructure projects to better protect their homes and lands, collectively known as the Delta Project. The next stop on our tour was to the most impressive of these 13 dams and storm surge walls, the more than 5 milelong Oosterscheldekering, or Eastern Schelde storm surge barrier. We next visited the Maeslantkering, or Maeslant barrier. While the Oosterscheldekering is a permanent, concrete structure that cuts off access to the interior of the Schelde delta from the North Sea, the Nieuwe Waterweg, or “New Waterway” needed to remain unblocked to maintain shipping access to the North Sea from the busy Port of Rotterdam. Therefore, the Maeslantkering was devised--a structure of two large steel doors, each larger than the Eiffel Tower, that swing into the Nieuwe Waterweg
Under the Oosterscheldekering
Inside the RDM Facility
with the help of the two largest ball and socket joints in the world. On the third day, we made our first trip via ferry to the RDM campus. This facility was home to the Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (Rotterdam Dry Dock Company), a shipbuilding company central to Rotterdam’s industrial heyday before World War II, but the fell into decline in the late 20th century and eventually closed its doors in 1996. However, since then the Rotterdam University, Albeda College and the Port of Rotterdam Authority have come together to repurpose the space as a center of technical education, research space and manufacturing work. In fact, the acronym RDM has been repurposed to now stand for “Research, Design & Manufacturing.” We began our visit to RDM with a tour of the facility. A number of small manufacturing firms are now based in the campus and have partnered with 32
Albeda College to allow for vocational education opportunities while providing a creative and collaborative work environment. The programming in the space and the manufacturing work based there are all focused on sustainability and innovation in the built environment or in work related to Rotterdam’s longstanding maritime tradition. We also visited the Heijplaat neighborhood adjacent to the RDM facility. This area was originally home to many of the 7,000 workers that were once employed at the shipyard, but is now economically distressed. While the tour guides were more interested in showing us some of the innovative building technologies and other green investments in the neighborhood, the Pratt students and the community members were more interested in the residents of that community, and the degree to which they have been m_CITY | Fall 2014
involved in or had access provided to the revitalized RDM campus. This was part of a clear difference in understanding of how planning work in the two nations. While Pratt’s tradition of community-based planning became clear with many of the of the questions raised by students and more starkly by the fact that we brought members of the community on the trip with us, the planners and architects we met in the Netherlands had a more topdown understanding of planning, one that approached planning in a more scientific manner and looked at the overall benefit of a project.
Canals run through Central Dordrecht
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In the afternoon on both our third and fourth days, we engaged in discussions and working sessions with Rotterdam University students to try to understand each other’s ways of thinking and approaching the problems that each country faces. The work on the fourth day came after we visited other parts of Rotterdam, including a facility in the Feyenoord neighborhood known as “The Creative Factory” that was provided collaborative work-space for businesses engaged in creative industries. Our fifth day in Rotterdam included a tour of the historic city of Dordrecht
that featured an understanding of ways that flood protection techniques can be implemented in an older, more wellestablished urban environment. After this tour, we visited a number places around Rotterdam that were examples of urban interventions that took advantage of assets in place and found creative ways to manage stormwater and the threats posed by flooding. The final day in Rotterdam began with a visit to Royal HaskoningDHV, one of the Netherlands’ oldest engineering firms, and a presentation on their “Room for the River” technique of encouraging measures that look to provide space
to allow rivers to flood without causing extensive damage and without requiring large-scale resiliency infrastructure. Our final day ended with a plenary session at which an agreement between Pratt, the Rotterdam University and the RDM Campus was signed to encourage future collaboration between the institutions and the ongoing exchange of ideas between Brooklyn and Rotterdam. Our takeaways were far more developed than can be presented here, and each trip attendee had a different set of takeaways, but overall, our understanding of how Rotterdam’s experiences can inform New York’s ongoing resiliency efforts is that New York should not try to directly adopt the Dutch measures, but rather, we should adapt their processes to a New York City context.
Dylan Carey and Giovania Tiarachristie are both second year City and Regional Planning students.
Sunrise over Rotterdam’s Maas River
The Westersingel canal, surrounded by parkland, runs through the center of Rotterdam
Takeaways From The Rotterdam Trip: Plan for the long(er) run In the US, flood risk is analyzed by the 100 year floodplain, while the Dutch are forward-looking, analyzing 1 in 10,000 year floods and looking at means of not only resiliency but also adaptation to rising sea levels. Multifunctionalism From skateboard parks as stormwater retention tanks, to floating pavilions, the Dutch showed incredible innovation in integrating water management with quality of life. Integrate education & infrastructure Each storm surge barrier or water management structure included an educational component of Dutch flood history in order to keep the memory and consciousness of flood risk alive. Several museums are dedicated to this remembrance. Strengthen social safety net The socialist Dutch government has allowed less economic inequity and thus better capacity for lower income groups to better rebound and adapt to climate change.
Address inequality through adaptation.
The Dutch have not yet engaged with how innovations (both technologies and systems such as the RDM campus) can include and preserve marginalized communities. NYC can use this as a lesson on how to use adaptation as a means to address inequalities, such as through workforce development and job creation for low-income communities. Political Will There is great interest in the Dutch government to deeply engage with environmental sustainability and invest billions into the safety and longevity of its country. In the US, fossil fuel lobbyists play a large role in regulating environmental policies and “debunking” climate change. Inclusive Planning Process Ultimately, the Netherlands trip confirmed that one of the most important pieces of the process of adaptation is inclusivity of residents. A purely top-down process may get things done quicker, but community input leads to outcomes that better meet the needs of inhabitants as well as builds their capacity to engage with climate change issues. m_CITY | Fall 2014
PSPD in Atlanta Although Pratt’s Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development (PSPD) works and learns primarily within its New York City home, there are many opportunities for planners and environmentalists to get out of the five boroughs and explore how planning, sustainable development, and civic engagement work elsewhere. In April, a group of twelve Pratt Students (including myself) traveled to Atlanta for the American Planning Association (APA) National Conference and a course taught by Caron Atlas.
The APA Conference was a great opportunity full of inspiring speakers. We learned about issues we might not typically discuss at Pratt, including energy boomtown planning in Montana and how to zone around pawnshops in Dallas. But Caron’s class after the conference was the main reason many people traveled south. Caron Atlas, director of Arts & Democracy in New York, teaches her course “Culture, Planning & Community Engagement” every year in the same
The Culture, Planning, & Community Engagement student selfie.
city as the APA Conference. Last year the class was held in Chicago, and next year it will be in Seattle. Students stay an additional four days and are introduced to local cultural and planning groups to gain a personal, on-theground perspective. Kathie de Nobriga – an artist, former director of an Atlanta arts organization, AlternateROOTS, and current mayor of Pine Lake, Georgia – was our guide throughout the trip. We hit the ground running immediately after the APA Conference; our schedule was packed with tours, meetings and workshops. A few highlights of our week will be discussed here. The first night we traveled to Project South to participate in their Universidad Sin Fronteras, or “University Without Borders.” The local community is invited and encouraged to attend the “tuitionfree” session. The courses do not have textbooks, rather, students of all ages
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learn through conversation with each other and a professor. This night focused on the Freedom Summer of 1964 with the topic of Freedom Schools. Small groups discussed how to build schools that truly educate students by promoting skill building and lifelong learning. Universidad Sin Fronteras set the tone for the week, and over the next three days we learned about Atlanta’s ongoing equity, culture and development struggles. Diversity and community involvement were recurring themes throughout our visits. We visited the city of Clarkston, Georgia, which is considered the “most diverse square mile in America.” In the nineties, Clarkston was identified as an ideal site for a federal refugee resettlement program due to its affordable housing and public transit options. However, this decision was challenged by the Clarkston community. Horizon Theater, a local theater group, performed part of their play “Third Country,” which illustrated the struggle that occurred. While there was NIMBYism in some parts of the community, there was also the understanding that these refugees
needed a new life. We also met with planners, community organizations, and refugees from Clarkston who shared their experiences about how the community has come to embrace a wide range of cultures and thrive. We visited a regional arts service organization called AlternateROOTS, where our guide Kathie used to be the executive director. The organization is housed in a collective arts space in the Little Five Points neighborhood where several of our workshops occurred. Theresa Davis, an award-winning slam poet, taught us about slam poetry. We also had a song writing workshop with songwriter Melanie Hammet, who recorded an entire album about zoning and planning. These workshops gave us a chance to share our own stories, as well as learn tools that could help with future community involvement. Atlanta is healing from scars of past development, while also looking forward. We talked with Georgia Tech professors Dr. Mike Dobbins and Dr. Cliff Kuhn about Atlanta’s development challenges, especially surrounding their large-scale projects for the 1996
Summer Olympics and a recent project called the Atlanta BeltLine. We were able to see a screening of “The Atlanta Way” – a documentary about Atlanta’s troubled history with public housing – with an Atlanta public housing resident who worked on the film and shared his own personal insights. The BeltLine is currently one of the largest projects in Atlanta. It is a circular park/rail system surrounding the city that was a former freight rail line. We met with Ryan Gravel, who originally developed the concept of the BeltLine for his 1999 Georgia Tech masters thesis. The BeltLine is a great resource for many Atlanta neighborhoods, but has also been seen as a potentially dangerous source of gentrification. The week in Atlanta was challenging, inspiring, and emotionally uplifting. We met an amazing cast of characters who are doing inspiring work throughout the city. There is a real need for the types of cultural and community groups we met, as they ensure that everyone’s voice is heard during the planning process. Sarah Serpas is a second year City & Regional Planning Student
The skyline of Atlanta, GA
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The City of Istanbul and Its Amazing Contrasts
In Summer 2014, a group of ten students from the Sustainable Environmental Systems, Facilities Management, City and Regional Planning, and Graduate Architecture programs traveled to Istanbul with professors Ayse Yonder and Evren Uzer to explore the city with a focus on transportation, open space, and disaster planning in the context of urban transformation. Before we left for Istanbul, we studied the historical evolution of the city, as well as its current planning issues, which provided an understanding of the present context. The westernization efforts that started in the mid-18th century and continued during the 20th century, culminating in the neoliberal urban transformation policies of the
late 80’s, transformed Istanbul into a modern and contemporary 8,000 yearold city. Arriving in Istanbul, we were amazed by its contrasts, such as monumental bridges and chaotic traffic on narrowed streets, by the modern steel and glass buildings next to old informal settlements and low rise middle income neighborhoods, and by the beautiful mosques next to modern highways and new developments. Istanbul has a wide range of transportation modes that connect the Asian and European flanks of the city and within each area. People have access to public transportation such as metro, ferry, taxi, dolmus (shared taxi),
Turkish woman gather to make clothes.
bus, minibus, and light rail (old and new tramways). As part of our research, we found that Istanbul provides a strong transportation network, but there is a weak connectivity among systems for effective transfers, and that new developments taking place on the north of the city are mainly car-oriented. On the other hand, street design is not pedestrian-oriented; automobiles have priority and car traffic has increased since the completion of the two connecting bridges built in 1973 and 1988 respectively. Soon a third bridge will be under construction on the city’s water reservoir, cutting through the forest areas in the north of the city, in order to build new infrastructure. We analyzed traffic patterns in the Kadiköy district, located on the Asian side of the Bosporus Channel. Kadiköy is a culturally rich area, full of markets, cafes, restaurants, a vibrant street life, and a beautiful waterfront. Locals can enjoy a sense of seclusion on the waterfront parks with shading, seating areas, and recreation facilities for all. We stayed on the Asian side of the city, in Bostanci, facing the Marmara Sea, which allowed us to experience different transportation modes while exploring different areas of the city as the locals do. Having the opportunity to
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PSPD students pose for a quick photo before continuing to explore Istanbul.
take the ferry and enjoying a cup of çay (Turkish tea) while traveling, was an amazing experience for all.
Istanbul Technical University where we spent several days working on our research.
In the marvelous historic peninsula of the city, we visited historic places such as Hagia Sofia, The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Eminönü Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque complex, and the Basilica Cisterns among other beautiful areas.
The third topic we explored was disaster planning. We chose an old, informal settlement district that developed on the hills of Kagihane Valley. The Kagithane district is now made up of low- income, mainly immigrant communities, and is gentrifying. Due to the location of neighborhoods on steep slopes, local communities are vulnerable to earthquakes and flash floods. Existing building conditions and typology, as well as the topography make it very hard for emergency evacuation. The closest refuge area is located down the
We also visited the 19th century Beyoglu district and the iconic Taksim Square, key public space where political demonstrations and the recent Gezi Park protests took place. Taksim Square is located very close to The
hill in an area vulnerable to flooding. We found that there are no emergency preparedness plans for the residents of these neighborhoods. We had the opportunity to meet members of a local women’s cooperative, called Ilk Adim, which is trying to raise awareness among community members of the possible natural disasters and risks that could affect them. This is the only group who is trying to organize community members around disaster planning issues, and trying to get the district municipality to support these initiatives. Ilk Adim has been working in Kagithane on women’s empowerment and leadership training. They recently m_CITY | Fall 2014
started a participatory communitymapping program, in collaboration with the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work and Istanbul Technical University to identify vulnerabilities, assets and risks in their neighborhoods block by block. They have already mapped 6 of the 19 neighborhoods of Kagithane, in collaboration with women from these neighborhoods.
Overall Istanbul is a city of contrasts where we were able to find very new infrastructure and amazing historic places that give a unique style to Istanbul. There are so many spectacular sites to visit in Istanbul; the historic areas are very well preserved for tourism and tell the city’s history, but we perceived a slight disconnect between the history and new development plans. We asked ourselves: Is the government pursuing positive change for its people? Or is the government striving to be more
Istanbul is a city combining new and modern with old and traditional.
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“modern” even if they have to demolish low-income neighborhoods in order to achieve the goal of becoming the new “Euro-Asian hub”? Paola Duran is a second year City & Regional Planning student, currently working as a Housing Development Coordinator at HANAC and as an Environmental Justice Fellow with NYC-EJA at The Point in the South Bronx. She is interested in housing, gender, and climate justice issues.
Meeting the Lake Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad and enroll in the Urban Design studio offered by the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Another City and Regional Planning student, Christine Chou, also had the chance to take part in this amazing experience. Ranked as one of the happiest cities in the world, we experienced not only the innovative and sustainable urban planning practices in Copenhagen, but also the intimate and welcoming Nordic culture that
cherishes family values, embraces the winter cold and celebrates in the short summer sun. With the program spanning 7 weeks from mid-June to the beginning of August, Christine and I wasted no time in immersing ourselves into the Danish lifestyle. We savored the famous Danish sausages, rode our bikes on the cityâ€™s incredible bicycle infrastructure network, and endured the expensive prices of Danish cuisine. This ancient city, while small and dense, is also intricately connected through its extensive bicycle pathways and boasts
one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe. We climbed the prominent Rundetaarn (Round Tower), ate dinners at the Harbor Bath and shortly before we realized, Copenhagen almost felt like home. DIS is a Danish non-profit study abroad institution with semester, academic year, and summer programs taught in English. Established in 1959, DIS offers American students engaging and challenging classes enriched by field studies, hands-on learning
Jeffâ€™s urban design for an area of Copenhagen waterfront
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opportunities, and study tours in Denmark and across Europe. There is a variety of housing choices available and the interdisciplinary aspect of DIS allows for an exchange of ideas across not only different disciplines but also the diverse American students themselves. My own studio group consisted of students from four other university programs, spanning from all edges of the United States. The Urban Design program studio is split into two assignments. The first assignment consisted of interdisciplinary teams of students who are tasked with researching, presenting, and building a scaled model of an example of prominent Nordic architecture. Time was limited and for Christine and I, it almost felt like we were pushed into the deep end of the pool since we had very little model building skills to draw from. Both the assignment pressure and helpfulness of other students and faculty allowed us to bond as a team and learn a variety of model-building techniques. In between the first and second assignment, Christine and I participated in a mandatory week-long study tour to Sweden and Finland where we studied contemporary and historic Scandinavian architecture and analyzed how design shapes human experiences through the manipulation of light, material, spatial proportion, and integration of landscape and architecture. Along the trip, we also developed hand-drawn sketching skills that proved to be very useful in recording the often-fleeting first impressions of the sites we visited. Although it was meant to be a study
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break for us, our full and compact schedule meant several hours on the bus with all the students getting around 4 to 5 hours of sleep every day. While it was exhausting on our mental and physical health, the sites and places we visited were irreplaceable experiences that will no doubt influence the way we approach urban design. The second assignment begins the Urban Design studio proper, which is taught by Rasmus Frisk, who is an architect and urban designer with experience in a wide variety of global offices and is the Co-founder and Partner of an urban design consultant firm called Arki Lab. The program is extremely intensive and shapes itself very similarly to a typical architecture studio. The class emphasizes an awareness and knowledge of contextual design using Copenhagen as an “urban laboratory” for exploration and precedent study. For our assignment, we were tasked with redesigning the Søpavillonen area
to create a meaningful and functional space that improves the daily lives of nearby residents and visitors. From the initial existing conditions study that the class as a whole contributed to, I focused on the concept of extending activities and inviting users to interact with the adjacent Peblinge Lake. The extension of an additional boardwalk from the existing Turensgade Street became the anchor and the most striking form of my design. Human scale and place making theories were both integrated into the final plan that featured a network of boardwalks with three unique piers of specialized themes forming destination points for users and complementary naturalized pools that provided recreational uses, which aimed to serve diverse groups of the surrounding neighborhood population. Mobile vendors align the southern edge of the site that can be rearranged for varied programming events. The goal was to generate opportunities
for interaction and socialization at the human scale that would bridge the current divide between the Søpavillonen site and the Peblinge Lake. My experiences over the summer in Copenhagen have been remarkable and unforgettable. The people that I have had the pleasure of meeting, the knowledge that was imparted upon me and the exposure to an entirely different lifestyle has influenced my perspective not only in terms of urban planning approaches but in a larger picture, my life as well. Christine and I still find ourselves reminiscing the Somersby cider we drank on the river front and even the painful but fun times working in studio and watching the sun rise.
Jeff Sun is a second year City & Regional Planning student.
Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.
-Lao-Tzu (600 B.C.)
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NYC Department of Environmental Protection: Summer 2014 Planning Internship The NYC Department of Environmental Protection protects public health and the environment by supplying clean drinking water, collecting and treating wastewater, and reducing air, noise, and hazardous materials pollution. On a daily basis, DEP distributes over one billion gallons of clean drinking water throughout the state to over nine million New Yorkers, while also treating the 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater produced each day to protect water quality in the New York Harbor. This work is made possible by the nearly 6,000 dedicated and hardworking employees who work across each of DEP’s different offices and bureaus throughout the state. During the summer of 2014, I was given the opportunity to work as a planning intern under the Bureau of Environmental Planning and Analysis (BEPA). I was fortunate to be exposed to a range of different professional experiences and gain insight on what goes into creating policy and regulations. The internship program challenged me by setting high expectations for interns, which translated to meaningful deliverables. It also offered the opportunity to participate in several different tours of DEP infrastructure and facilities throughout New York State, such as the Croton Filtration Plant and the Catskill-Delaware Water Ultraviolet Disinfection Plant, which m_CITY | Fall 2014
provided me with an in depth overview of DEP’s many different roles. However, the majority of my work focused on assisting with the development of New York City’s Municipal Separate Sewer System (MS4) Permit. Among other things, BEPA is responsible for conducting strategic planning to help ensure appropriate forecasting, trend analysis, regulatory review, scientific modeling, and research. Currently many resources within BEPA are being focused around the development of the city’s MS4 permit. The MS4 permit is a state pollution discharge elimination system permit that has been mandated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a means to better manage stormwater runoff within New York City and restore impaired water bodies to Clean Water Act standards. This permit authorizes discharges of stormwater from the large MS4 systems that are city owned and currently exist within the jurisdictional boundaries of New York City, provided that all permit provisions are met. In collaboration with other city agencies, DEP aims to address all required components of this permit with the main goal of properly managing urban sources of stormwater runoff by identifying and eliminating pollutant sources, thus improving and protecting water quality within New York Harbor. 43
Having the chance to work on this project provided me with firsthand experience working on stormwater management, an issue that is so often the focal point of discussion in my classes at Pratt. Stormwater management is a crucial piece to the puzzle as New York City continues its progressive movement towards becoming a more sustainable, climate resilient city. Along with best management practices such as using green infrastructure that manage stormwater flows and pollutant runoff, the MS4 permit acts as a regulatory tool that will help manage urban sources of runoff through the development of a comprehensive Stormwater Management Program. Continued efforts to manage stormwater runoff and other factors that have contributed to the impairment of our water bodies over the years will be an ongoing battle that will require an integrated planning approach that targets pollutant sources and sets realistic control measures for those sources. However these efforts represent more than an attempt to simply meet water quality standards, but rather an initiative to reconnect New York City residents to the waterfront and reestablish ourselves as a pristine maritime city.
John Brock is a second year Sustainable Environmental Systems student.
How to Advocate for Waterfront Stakeholders
I’ve never had a job where I spent so much time on a boat then when I worked for the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA). I was there for few months on a contract, and that short time gave me a pretty good firsthand sense of what New York City’s waterfront looks like and its many uses. When I looked at the shores of New York City from the water, I saw a diverse array of piers and docks, lots of concrete, industrial facilities, manufacturing facilities, highways, high rises, bulkheads, parks, beaches, and a few undeveloped, garbage-strewn shorelines. I talked to a lot of people when I worked for MWA who told me about how they use the waterfront. Some people use the waterfront as places to learn and teach, others for swimming and fishing, others for boating, for wildlife habitat protection, for work and commerce, for manufacturing, as a place to build and develop, as a place to live, and as valued passive recreational community open space. Point being, in NYC the waterfront is a major asset and a shared resource. Geographic proximity to the life sustaining resources offered at the water’s edge is the reason this city grew and thrived here. The entire urban population shares a stake in the benefits it has to offer. MWA brands itself as an alliance of around 800 partners, including community groups and agencies,
united by a common vested interest in the waterfront and waterways of NYC. To that end, MWA is positioned at the center of an ongoing dialogue about how to balance the multiple needs and uses of the waterfront, especially when these needs and uses conflict with each other. It is incredibly important that such a network exists to give all waterfront stakeholders an equal voice, whether or not they have financial or political influence. With all the various uses of the waterfront and all the challenges ahead in the face of a changing climate, the programming at MWA could be more reflective of the pivotal role they play at the center of New York City’s waterfront community. I worked primarily on two programs during my time at MWA, both of which involved advocating for better maritime access – for ferries, historic ships, dinner cruises, party boats, tug boats, barges, ocean liners, freighters, and so on and so forth. One of those programs is called DockNYC, a partnership between the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and BillyBey Ferry Company to ease the docking process for larger vessels at six city-owned piers. BillyBey hired MWA as 44
a consultant to program public events at these six piers. DockNYC has effectively increased boat traffic to these piers and has been massively financially successful for both NYCEDC and BillyBey. One of the six piers in the DockNYC portfolio is located in Sunset Park, a historically overburdened environmental justice waterfront community in Brooklyn, lacking both open space and public waterfront access. DockNYC is proposing to lease half of this pier—currently used as open space, mostly for fishing—to a private maritime fueling company so they can use it for barge storage. While the development would also include maritime infrastructure improvements on the rest of the pier for improved public waterfront access, it would significantly affect the community’s ability to use the pier the way they do now.
As a paid consultant for BillyBey, MWA was tasked with the job of showing the community what kinds of public on-water programming they could gain from this development proposal—and I assure m_CITY | Fall 2014
Waterfront space in Sunset Park
you, the idea of gaining some MWA sponsored public programming at the expense of losing half their waterfront open space on the pier did not go over well with the Sunset Park community. As a waterfront alliance with a duty to give equal representation to partners like UPROSE, American Littoral Society, Clean Ocean Action, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, and Fisherman’s Conservation Association, was this onesided approach really the best course of action to take? The alliance partners of MWA are what make them strong and set them apart. MWA has a responsibility to consider their voices if they are going to use their names in support of their mission. I recognize that recreational boating and commercial maritime access comprise one sector of the many uses of New m_CITY | Fall 2014
York City waterways, and often times one that offers widespread economic gains. But this organization that is built from hundreds of alliance partners cannot advocate for environment and equity as well as economy, without giving equal merit to all agendas. I was always clear that my role at MWA was to be an advocate for the community and the environment and to connect stakeholders with resources to foster more sustainable communities. My specialization in environmental advocacy and community outreach led me to voice my interest in continuing my work at MWA to advocate for underrepresented sectors of the waterfront community. However, greater programmatic focus on ferry transit advocacy (a current hot button issue with NYCEDC) was favored over my program proposals for more equitable waterfront access, water 45
quality, and safety campaigns, which they explained was part of their intention to gear programming instead towards greater maritime advocacy. MWA’s choice to limit the scope of programming for the waterfront to boating and maritime access is absolutely linked to the organization’s lack of support from the Sunset Park community. MWA doesn’t actively pose itself as a proponent of the big picture environment-economy-equity balanced waterfront that the future demands. After a few months of waterfront planning and a few boat rides, I certainly don’t have all the answers for what the waterfront needs. But without greater stakeholder engagement—without fair and equal representation—the voices of the communities most affected by waterfront development will continue to go unheard.
Korin Tangtrakul and Josh Eichen
Open Sewer Atlas NYC Do you know what’s happening in all those pipes underneath the street when you take a shower, flush the toilet, or when it rains? Most New Yorkers don’t. It is a confusing world of sewer lines, pumps, and regulators under the streets, and finding information on the invisible system isn’t very easy. Most New Yorkers also don’t know the relationship the hidden system has on water quality for surrounding waterbodies. New York City is one of 700 cities in the country that has a combined sewer system, meaning that sanitary sewage and stormwater travel through the same sewer lines to one of the 14 wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) in the city . When the sewer system gets overloaded with stormwater during rain events, untreated wastewater outfalls into the nearest waterbody through a CSO (combined sewer overflow) outfall pipe. New York City’s increase in population and impervious surfaces has created an environment that allows 27 billion gallons of combined sewage and stormwater to pollute the city’s surrounding waterbodies every year. The combined sewer system makes the upkeep and management of land within sewershed areas as important as land within watershed areas. To build awareness about the importance of the waste water/stormwater system
Combined sewer outfalls dump sewage into natural waterways when they overflow during storms
and to provide tools to better understand how it functions, the project Open Sewer Atlas NYC was born. By visualizing the relationships between topography, infrastructure, development and other urban characteristics, Open Sewer Atlas looks to identify and target areas for intervention to reduce the amount of polluted water entering the city’s waterways. The project is funded by the Taconic Fellowship, and managed by Pratt Center 46
for Community Development staff member Josh Eichen and SES graduate student Korin Tangtrakul. Working with the S.W.I.M. (Stormwater Infrastructure Matters) Coalition, the team has tapped into a network of community based organizations looking to better understand the waste water/stormwater system and advocate for improvements. S.W.I.M. is a citywide coalition of 62 member organizations with the shared interest of ensuring New York City’s waterways are swimmable and fishable. m_CITY | Fall 2014
The project focuses on five priority waterbodies: Newtown Creek, Alley Creek, the Bronx River, Jamaica Bay and the Gowanus Canal. Over the summer, Open Sewer Atlas NYC explored each waterbody and engaged with community organizations to identify particular characteristics or areas of interest to explore further. This fall, the team is compiling findings to customize an analysis for each sewershed. A few of the issue areas being explored through Open Sewer Atlas follow: • Density of 311 related sewer complaints by CSO-shed city wide • Characteristics of the drainage areas for the two most active CSOs in Newtown Creek • Development of stormwater educational materials for homeowners in Alley Creek area
• Effects of upstream sewage discharge in Yonkers on water quality in the Bronx area of the Bronx River • Impact of the pump station upgrade at the head of the Gowanus Canal on water quality in the Canal and sewer back-ups in Gowanus and Red Hook Given the diversity of concerns within the priority waterbodies, the next challenge for Open Sewer Atlas NYC is to translate this data and information into visually intriguing, yet comprehensive and understandable graphics. Using a series of maps, infographics and diagrams, the team aims to create a complete guide to each sewershed. These guides will include information on unique issue areas, geography, land use characteristics, and in what ways everyday community members
can contribute to improving local water quality. Interactive web-based maps will be hosted at openseweratlas.tumblr. com that will allow partner organizations and their constituents interact with the data collected throughout the project and produce their own analyses. At the end of the fellowship the team will be hosting a workshop to show S.W.I.M partners how to use all of these tools. Follow the journey at openseweratlas. tumblr.com
Korin Tangtrakul is a second year Sustainable Environmental Systems student. Josh Eichen is a PSPD alum and Planner/Manufacturing Retention Coordinator at the Pratt Center for Community Development.
Water contamination can lead to serious public health risks for city residents.
Enterococci Contamination in the Bronx River
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John Parsons Douglas
Climate Adaptation: A Tale of Two Countries One of the major benefits of international travel is that it colors a traveler’s vision of their own situation at home. The most complex national issues in one country may be par for the course in another. This was a central theme in many projects our excursion group from Pratt experienced in the Netherlands. All of these differences, in one-way or another, focused around political will. Both New York City and the Netherlands owe their greatest challenges and accomplishments to the political will of the time.
In the 18th century, there were over a thousand agencies managing water in the Netherlands. Local provinces, which still to this day help maintain and monitor water works, did the bulk of public work projects to ensure their communities were safe from flooding. Any meaningful cross-jurisdictional
water works projects were preceded by years of debate. In 1798, the Rijkswaterstaat was founded after a coup d’état and the unification of the Netherlands into the Batavian Republic. The goal of this organization was to administer all things related to public works projects. After the fall of
Royal HaskoningDHV’s “Room for the River” project in Nijmegen, Netherlands (Image from of www.royalhaskoningdhv.com)
History of the Netherlands and Water Management The land and water configuration of both New York City and the Netherlands can be attributed to the end of the last Ice Age. A warmer climate allowed the North Sea to conform to barrier bars that created a natural barrier for what would be known as the Netherlands. A layer of peat, developed on sandy soils . Peat eventually gave way to clay deposits in the southern portion of the Netherlands. The Dutch have been building dams berms, and dikes to hold back the sea since before the Common Era. These interventions, including reclaiming land from the sea and inland lakes, have contributed to the die-off of peat and the lowering of land behind the dikes.
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Napoleon, Willem I was made sovereign and a centralized state undermined the authority of local provinces. Under Willem’s rule, the Rijkswaterstaat received great authority with large budgets and projects in the early 19th century. The main accomplishment of the Rijkswaterstaat was to pool financial resources and local expertise into one central location to draw on best practices. Also, the Rijkswaterstaat instituted a communication system along the waterways in the Netherlands to warn other regions about changing water levels and other complications in water management. After Willem I abdicated in 1840, the Rijkswaterstaat lost its authority for almost two decades. As the relationship between local, state, and national legislation became more coordinated, the Rijkswaterstaat was able to re-establish its importance in water management. As a liberal belief of public works again took hold in the Netherlands, the expenditures on infrastructure doubled in twenty
years. The water boards remained an important actor in managing local dikes and canals. After the flood of 1953, the authority of the water boards was severely diminished by the breach of these locally administered dikes. The number of water boards drastically dropped from over two thousand seven hundred water boards to under sixty. The more centralized water boards were now responsible for drinking and sewage water. The Rijkswaterstaat oversaw the implementation of the DeltaWorks program; one of the great engineering feats of the modern era. As political will changed, the engineers at Rijkswaterstaat and the water boards came under political fire for being insensitive to environmental biodiversity and natural contours of the land. By the 1990s, environmentalists, academics, and activists had flooded into the Rijkswaterstaat. This new blood looked a new approaches to water management that were more in line with environmental concerns. This thought has carried over into the
new phase of planning, which can be summarized in the “Room for the River” plan. “Room for the River” is the Dutch response to rising sea level and more intense rainfall. Room for the River: The Dutch Approach We were able to hear a presentation about “Room for the River” from Royal Haskoning DHV, the oldest Dutch consulting firm. “Room for the River” is in its earliest implementation phase. By 2015, there are $3 billion worth of projects expected to be carried out in the Netherlands to help manage flooding in areas with a heavy concentration of population. Four million people live in areas that are prone to flooding in the Netherlands. Room for the River is being carried out by engineering processes that: (1) excavate low flooding areas so there is more room to flood (2) deepen the bed of the rivers to allow more flooding (3) use temporary water storage areas
Dikes can be found throughout the Netherlands, a legacy of the nation’s efforts to manage the sea.
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(4) strengthen dikes where necessary (5) relocated dikes inland The plan is being carried out in conjunction with the water boards, municipalities, and other government agencies, and neighboring countries. Thirty-nine projects were selected out of one hundred and twenty, and priority was determined at the national level. Royal Haskoning DHV is overseeing the first project being carried out, in Nijmegen. The Nijmegen Project planning began in 2000, and has an expected completion date of 2016. The project is estimated to cost $475 million, includes three new bridges, and involved seven public authorities. The project responds to a levee breaking in 1993, and a quarter of million residents in Nijmegen were evacuated. The project includes excavating a side-channel about 250 meters wide and two miles long. This decision was controversial due to the fact that they had to relocate 50 housing units. Royal Haskoning DHV oversaw the mediation of this conflict. They utilized three
methods of acquiring land including: voluntary buyouts, negotiating a settlement price, and, in extreme cases, utilizing the authority of the Queen to take property from residents. Negotiating a settlement price became a popular tool due to the fact that they global economic recession hit during this period of land reclamation, and the price the government was willing to purchase the land for was often was above the market value. The community continued to fight to maintain some habitable land, and was able to secure an elevated island that was above the floodplain. One of the bridges proposed in the project was also a concession to the community to add better access between the isolated portions to the North and the rest of the city across the river. During the planning phase, the government executed an environmental impact assessment, which revealed some cultural artifacts from the Roman Empire. A fortress, built to defend Rome from northern attackers, was uncovered, and this artifact was actually incorporated in part of the contour of the landscape.
Royal Haskoning DHV impressed the importance of cooperation between government, citizens, and the private sector as an integral part of the Dutch approach. Over the centuries, the Dutch have negotiate bureaucratic conflict, changing political dynamics, and economic downturns to find solutions to environmental problems. The Dutch formulated one hundred year plans to manage rising sea level and increased river runoff to secure the safety of their citizens at a national level. The United States comes from a different tradition, with different environmental, and political realities. The United States is only now discussing sea-level rise after Superstorm Sandy. The community resiliency aspect of disaster planning is where New York City can take the lead on innovative solutions. The International Panel on Climate Change recently released a report that includes their findings that: â€œDifferences in vulnerability and exposure rise from non-climatic factors and from multidimensional inequalities often produced by uneven development processes. These
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differences shape differential risks from climate change.â€? Unlike the Netherlands experience, where almost two-thirds of the population lives under sea level, income in New York is more spatially divided, and a large number of communities in the 100-year floodplain are low-income people of color. These communities, such as the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Rockaways, Coney Island, and Red Hook faced greater hurdles to properly preparing and recovering from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. During our final session at the RDM
to be delivered to the public housing in the Rockaways to help people to remain warm during the cold fall nights. Resources from outside communities would flood to the area, but there were essential items missing for residents during the initial recovery. Damaris Reyes, from the Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), also spoke about the eerie quiet following Superstorm Sandy. She and her staff had to plan relief efforts by candlelight, and volunteers flooding to the area the next morning. GOLES knowledge of the
â€œDifferences in vulnerability and exposure rise from...inequalities often produced by uneven development processesâ€? - International Panel on Climate Change Campus in the Port of Rotterdam where Pratt and RDM signed an MOU for continued partnership in research and development, we were able to hear first hand accounts of experiences during Superstorm Sandy from community organizations based in these neighborhoods with high proportions of low-income people of color. Jeanne Dupont, of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, spoke about how silent the area was after the Rockaways lost power during Sandy. Thousands of people remained in the rockaways because they believed that the storm would not hit hard. Volunteers arrived, but by the evening, the Rockaways would be completely deserted. Long Island Power Authority faced severe criticism by the city for not restoring power faster to the Rockaways after Sandy. Generators and boilers had m_CITY | Fall 2014
community on the ground was crucial in allocating the resources of volunteers to help with immediate assistance to residents left in public housing units after the storm. Seniors and disabled residents were unable to walk down flights of stairs to reach essential resources, and volunteers had to be directed to those specific units. The recovery efforts were intense, meeting the needs of residents with limited capacities of the organization itself after Sandy. The Red Hook Initiative worked closely with Occupy Sandy to organize resources. Red Hook Initiative was an important connection for Occupy Sandy to the residents that provide a better understanding of how volunteers and resources could be best allocated. RHI set up hubs for other organizations that 51
helped provides resources at hyper local level. Members of the Red Hook Initiative spoke about how, in twentythree years, they had never seen a storm like Superstorm Sandy. The elderly, the sick, and the handicapped were unable to reach essential resources in this community with a heavy concentration of public housing. Conclusion As Dutch consulting firms have flooded into the recovery efforts post-Sandy, we were able to take a look at their resiliency measures in the Netherlands. It became clear that the impact of social inequality on disaster mitigation planning is negligible in the Dutch context. The Netherlands is a country that comes from a more socialist and centralized authority of governing citizen welfare. They have a national consciousness that they have a shared fate - a fate dependent on their ability to coordinate residents, businesses, and government to find the best solutions for all members of their society. The United States comes from a history of individualism, and a culture heavily-steeped in the ideology of capitalist economic policies that has favored the wealthy through much of our history. Disaster planning will inevitably be tied to the lingering questions of social inequality due to the fact that this inequality makes recovery and adaptation to natural disaster more difficult for the disenfranchised communities. The Dutch expertise in physical interventions and the community-based organizations in areas affected by Sandy will set a high bar for resiliency efforts in the future. John Parsons Douglas is a second year City and Regional Planning student.
Lessons from Sandy:
Supporting Community Response and Recovery Community-based organizations (CBOs) and community members stepped in to fill vital roles in both the immediate response and longer-term recovery from Superstorm Sandy. Sandy disproportionately affected low and moderate-income coastal communities that did not have the resources to independently recover from the storm and government response was slow to meet their needs. Students at Pratt formed the Pratt Disaster Resilience Network; which started by providing relief supplies on the ground and morphed into acting as a connector between CBOs and other individuals or groups who could offer supplies and services. This type of thinking was later expanded upon in summer 2013 with RAMP, the action-based academic program that began engaging with residents and organizations in Red Hook. This piece is an excerpt from my thesis, which synthesizes the lessons learned for supporting community response and recovery to disaster in New York City. Community Based Organizations have a history of supporting neighborhoods through crisis. Following Sandy, local residents were first responders, and CBOs acted as trusted sources for information and basic goods. These individuals and groups coordinated relief efforts; they collected donations,
organized and dispatched volunteers, conducted outreach, and distributed food, water and medical supplies. Being well organized before Sandy with a widespread network of CBOs placed New York City in a relatively good position to respond in the aftermath of the storm.
Sandy was not a natural disaster. It was a natural hazard that became a disaster... Sandy was not a natural disaster. It was a natural hazard that became a disaster as a result of land use decisions such as building public housing in some of the most flood prone areas in the city and placing noxious non waterdependent uses on the waterfront. These decisions placed low-income people in harm’s way, necessitating both public and private investment to protect vulnerable residents and neighborhoods that will continue to be disproportionately impacted by future emergencies and are less able to adapt to the consequences of climate change. Significant strengthening of the physical and social infrastructure is required to 52
protect these communities. With an expected increase in climate-related events, community networks and CBOs are called upon to support communities through times of crisis and to facilitate a successful disaster response and recovery period. Post Sandy, disaster recovery funding is an opportunity to go beyond replacing existing systems and can be utilized to address equity issues. Lessons Learned Citywide: • Fund local groups responding to disaster and fund community organizing on an ongoing basis • Organize well before a disaster in an inclusive manner, reaching people in different age, ethnic, and linguistic groups • Support ground-up strategies for climate adaptation • Organizations should evaluate their own vulnerabilities and capacity to respond in the event of a disaster • NYCHA should strengthen their physical plant and their capacity to support residents through disaster and on an ongoing basis • Create a Resilience Education, Training and Innovation Center (RETI) in Southwest Brooklyn that simultaneously educates, trains, produces resilient technologies and incubates businesses
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About 80,000 public housing residents was better organized than other in over 400 NYCHA buildings were neighborhoods hit hard by Sandy affected by Sandy and lost vital services due to its history of having dialogue including heat, hot water, electricity, across groups in community-wide elevators, and running water above planning processes and the tight-knit the sixth floor. The Public Housing social fabric that residents are quick Working Group coordinated by RAMP to comment on. The response and created a variety of recommendations recovery in Red Hook was successful to support healthy NYCHA communities because of the ability of CBOs to by reopening community centers and respond quickly and effectively and the engaging in sound disaster planning resilient technological infrastructure with resident input. NYCHA should have built before the storm, including free a point person in every development wireless access that allowed people to who is aware of disabled residents communicate when the other networks or residents who need extra support failed. By providing a social and and is able to coordinate with CBOs technological support network, Red to provide services to residents who Hook residents have been engaged in shelter in place. NYCHA must make the future of their neighborhood. their physical plant resilient Charting the Sandy Aid Response in Red Hook by protecting all vulnerable infrastructure in flood prone areas. NYCHA should utilize recovery money as an opportunity to train and hire public housing residents so as to increase e c o n o m i c resiliency. Lessons Learned from Red Hook: • Build Community Networks now • Engage Youth • Bridge the digital divide • Utilize social media Red Hook m_CITY | Fall 2014
In Red Hook, residents face long-term challenges that include a large youth population and high unemployment rates while needing to address climate resiliency in a lowlying waterfront neighborhood. The creation of a RETI center is a way to address multiple vulnerabilities while providing education, training, and space for the production of technologies that help to increase resiliency. Rebecca Gillman Crimmins is a City & Regional Planning alumna, co-founder of the Pratt Disaster Resilience Network and an initial coordinator of RAMP. She works as a community organizer and affordable housing developer at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation.
PSPD Accomplishments Larisa Ortiz, a visiting assistant professor at Pratt, was nominated
by Mayor de Blasio to the City Planning Commission. Larisa teaches “Downtown Economic Development” in Pratt’s city and regional planning program. Larisa will be the third Pratt Professor to have served on the CPC, joining past Commissioners Ronald Shiffman and Stuart Pertz.
Carolina. PSPD Chair was quoted in Gateway, Pratt’s community newsletter, noting that “Mitchell Silver has the ideal background for running parks—an architecture degree from Pratt, a planning degree from Hunter, a history of public service running public agencies, and a successful track record as the nation’s top planner.”
Daniel Hernandez, a visiting assistant professor in the city and regional planning program has been
selected to head a new “neighborhood strategies” unit within the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. This unit will be responsible for planning and overseeing the city’s upcoming mandatory inclusionary zoning program.
The SAND Project (Sustainable and Affordable by New Design),
has been selected as a semi-finalist in the Geneva Challenge hosted by the Graduate Institute in Geneva. The project team includes Pratt students Violeta Trinidad (SES), Alejandra Chacra (SES), Mariana Rich (CRP), and Paola Duran (CRP). The Sand Project was selected as one of the top ten from over 80 proposals submitted from across the globe.
PSPD’s work through its RAMP initiative was featured at September’s
Delta Cities Conference in Rotterdam. The conference featured the work of Pratt alum Kristin Bell, a poster titled “Expanding Coastal Adaptation in New York City: A Framework for Floating Structures and its Co-benefits.”
Pratt Alumni Mitchell Silver has been named Commissioner of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Silver was previously the
chief planning and development officer and planning director for Raleigh, North 54 The SAND Project
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