Page 1

A THESIS PROJECT BY

JUSTIN HALSEY PRIMARY ADVISOR

MARK LINDER SECONDARY ADVISOR

TED BROWN


1-19,

20-31, PROJECT SITE:

SUNSET PARK BROOKLYN

32-43, PROJECT SITE:

44-55, PROJECT SITE:

RESEARCH

RED HOOK BROOKLYN

SOUTH WILLIAMSBURG BROOKLYN

56,

CONCLUSION


PLATFORM URBANISM

Identifies emerging social + economic networks in support of NEW INDUSTRIES in Brooklyn. These new industries actively reclaim Brooklyn’s derelict industrial infrastructure and distribute their goods through a robust network of connections to pop-up markets, restaurants, and retailers. These new industries also garner support through social-media: a digital infrastructure that provides the opportunities for ubiquitous, free marketing and publicity. The combination of these social + economic networks and the borough’s latent industrial infrastructure define a potential URBAN PLATFORM. The term “urban platform” stems from Saskia Sassen’s writing on the “Global City.” The Global City is a largely digital infrastructure that facilitates the flow of information rather than physical products.1 It “touches down” within the context of existing cities to create a physical platform through which humans can interact with this flow of (digital) information.2 One such platform can be seen in Manhattan’s financial district, where the urban built environment has been edited to support extreme human density. BROOKLYN’S URBAN PLATFORM is still emerging, supported by social + economic networks that already operate in support of urban agriculture and other industries. These networks have the potential to catalyze change within the remnants of the borough’s aging industrial platform: landscapes of block buildings and transportation systems, largely unused, even with significant public interest in their redevelopment.3 In Infrastructure as Architecture, Dana Cuff writes that infrastructure should have a three-fold agenda: “First, infrastructure is the heart of the next generation’s public sphere… Second, infrastructure should not have a limited agenda. Single-use models should yield to hybrids and multiple programs… Third, this new robust infrastructure should become a local amenity with the goal of creating more livable, sustainable and dynamic communities.”4 In the same publication,                                                                                                               1

Saskia Sassen, The Global City (Princeton: Princeton University Press: 2001), 1. Saskia Sassen, “The Global City: A New Frontier” (lect ure presented as part of the Syracuse University School of Architecture’s Fall 2007 lecture series and the “Righting the City” symposium, Syracuse, New York, November 14, 2007). 3 See NYCEDC’s “Sunset Park Vision Plan,” Rafael Vinoly Architect’s “The New Domino” and Acumen Capital Partners’ “Pfizer Brooklyn” 4 Dana Cuff, “Architecture as Public Work,” in Architecture as Infrastructure, Designing Composite Networks, ed. Katrina Stoll and Scott Lloyd (Berlin: jovis Verlag GmbH: 2010), 21. 2

Stan Allen writes: “Connection is infrastructure’s primary mode of operation.”5 Historically, Brooklyn’s infrastructure was engaged in the large-scale manufacture of goods and their distribution, both locally and globally. The Sunset Park Industrial Business Zone in Brooklyn is a largely unused relic from Brooklyn’s heavy industrial past. From this zone, goods were manufactured, moved around the site by a series of rail lines, and shipped around the world from deep-water ports on the Gowanus Bay. In Greenpoint Brooklyn, and other areas, productive operations like Gotham Greens rooftop farm are already reclaiming this kind of infrastructure, producing food that is distributed to the ubiquitous farmers markets in Brooklyn. Bright Farms, a company that has already developed numerous rooftop-farming projects, has made a proposal for the development of a massive rooftop greenhouse farm atop a defunct warehouse in Sunset Park.6 The Sunset Park Vision Plan, an ongoing project of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to invest in the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) in an effort to retool dated infrastructure across this post-industrial landscape in order to encourage new use patterns and investment opportunities. The work of creating more ‘livable, sustainable, and dynamic’ communities within this defunct infrastructural landscape is already occurring. However, the imposing nature of this landscape makes it certain areas inaccessible to the public, cutting these areas off from the marketing and publicity potential of pedestrian traffic and social media. The Sunset Park Industrial Business zone, like other sites in Brooklyn, presents an opportunity to carry out Cuff’s three-fold agenda: public engagement, hybrid uses, and the provision of lacking amenities. The Sunset Park Vision Plan presents a strategy for phased development comprised of infrastructural upgrades and strategic infusions of funding incentives. The plan’s timeline and its somewhat open-ended programmatic agenda demand infrastructural solutions.                                                                                                               5

Stan Allen, “Landscape Infrastructures,” in Architecture as Infrastructure, Designing Composite Networks, ed. Katrina Stoll and Scott Lloyd (Berlin: jovis Verlag GmbH: 2010), 39. 6 See www.brightfarms.com

SUNSET PARK INDUSTRIAL BUSINESS ZONE, BROOKLYN, 2012


As Allen writes: “Architecture is situated between the biological and the geological – far slower than living things, but faster than the underlying geology… The question of process is shifted from design process – the short and limited province of the discipline – to the long life of a building, city, or landscape over time, enmeshed in complex social and cultural formations… the question then is how do we design for unpredictability and excess?” Allen has proposed several projects that imagine multi-faceted, multiuse infrastructure. One such project proposed the reframing of an existing infrastructural artifact: a 25-foot tall floodwall, as a public waterfront amenity. The project maintained the site’s use as flood protection, while developing a new layer of pedestrian infrastructure to facilitate the flow of people through the site and provide previously non-existent access to the waterfront while creating open spaces for unscripted activity7 Within the open spaces of this project “…there is a promise that on an open field, anything can happen…” But as Allen remarks, “…that openness is deceiving. The field needs to be ‘irrigated with potential,’ to use Rem Koolhaas’ suggestive phrase”8 In Brooklyn’s case, the potential for activity already exists alongside a piece of infrastructure ready for retooling: the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). People already actively explore the borough in search of new products MADE IN BROOKLYN. The goods produced by new agricultural and food industries are distributed to the public via street markets and pop up events, all very public in nature. However, some areas with remarkable potential as productive sites, like Sunset Park, see little to no public exposure. In Sunset Park and at other sites the BQE carves an imposing path through the landscape, discouraging foot traffic, and limiting the potential of some of the borough’s most promising infrastructural resources. Interesting research regarding the role of infrastructural design is also being conducted by cityLAB (a UCLA based think tank for urban design research). The group recently organized the WPA 2.0 competition9,                                                                                                              

which called for “…implementable proposals that place infrastructure at the heart of rebuilding our cities during this next era of metropolitan recovery.”10 The competition highlighted a number of issues related to the focus of the proposals. “The jury commented that the abundance of data now available online has led to an excessive emphasis on analytic project rationales, rather than constructive deployments of that information.” Cuff goes on to write that “Perhaps… it is because [architect’s] representational techniques are ill-suited to the task. Orthographic and two-dimensional projects leave much unsaid about the dynamics of long-term implementation (phasing, process, sequence), about the vast terrains that infrastructure may engender, and about contingencies and scenario planning that are fundamental to public works.”11 The role of the designer in an infrastructural project is to imagine a site’s potential occupants and to anticipate and direct patterns of movement throughout the site. PLATFORM URBANISM is a strategy that recognizes the potential for activity – social and economic – latent within an existing infrastructural landscape, and identifies moments within this landscape that can be reframed as public amenities, connecting people to this potential. The BQE presents a unique opportunity to reframe a still-functioning, but divisive piece of infrastructure as a public amenity in support of emerging new industries in Brooklyn. Returning once more to Allen’s writing: “We resist the avant-gardism that would insist on reinventing everything within the project boundary, and accept the fact that the city will be financed, designed and built by others, in ways that we can only loosely predict and control.”12

7

Stan Allen, “Landscape Infrastructures,” in Architecture as Infrastructure, Designing Composite Networks, ed. Katrina Stoll and Scott Lloyd (Berlin: jovis Verlag GmbH: 2010), 40. 8 Stan Allen, “Landscape Infrastructures,” in Architecture as Infrastructure, Designing Composite Networks, ed. Katrina Stoll and Scott Lloyd (Berlin: jovis Verlag GmbH: 2010), 40. 9 The WPA 2.0 competition directly references President Roosevelt’s New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) created in the 1930s, and President Obama’s more recent economic recovery plan centered around rebuilding American Infrastructure.

                                                                                                              10

www.citylab.aud.ucla.edu/projects/wpa-20/ Dana Cuff, “Architecture as Public Work,” in Architecture as Infrastructure, Designing Composite Networks, ed. Katrina Stoll and Scott Lloyd (Berlin: jovis Verlag GmbH: 2010), 25. 12 Stan Allen, “Landscape Infrastructures,” in Architecture as Infrastructure, Designing Composite Networks, ed. Katrina Stoll and Scott Lloyd (Berlin: jovis Verlag GmbH: 2010), 44. 11


SUNSET PARK INDUSTRIAL BUSINESS ZONE, BROOKLYN, 2012


IN BROOKLYN (AND IN OTHER POST-INDUSTRIAL, GROWING CITIES) AN EMERGING SOCIAL ECONOMY HAS THE POTENTIAL TO REFRAME THE POSSIBLE USES OF AN INFRASTRUCTURAL LANDSCAPE THAT WAS BUILT BY A DIFFERENT GENERATION... PLATFORM URBANISM IS A STRATEGY THAT RECONGIZES THE POTENTIAL OF THIS CONDITION TO SUPPORT THE RECLAMATION OF UNDERUSED INFRASTRUCTURES. ALL THAT IS NEEDED IS A SURFACE FROM WHICH PEOPLE CAN SEE THE POTENTIAL.


AS A POINT OF DEPARTURE: MANHATTAN’S FINANCIAL DISTRICT, WHICH IS BUILT TO SERVICE GLOBAL CAPITAL: THE FLOW OF INFORMATION WITHIN A GLOBALLY NETWORKED SYSTEM OF PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS THIS GLOBALLY ORIENTED URBAN PLATFORM IS PURELY ADDITIVE, CONSTANTLY ESTABLISHING NEW INFRASTRUCTURE THAT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO INTERFACE WITH A GLOBAL FLOW OF INFORMATION


AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH OF MANHATTAN’S FINANCIAL DISTRICT, 2011


SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT IS HAPPENING IN BROOKLYN ... NEW INDUSTRIES (OFTEN FOOD RELATED) ARE ESTABLISHING THEMSELVES WITHIN AN EXISTING, BUT UNDERUSED POST-INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPE


GOTHAM GREENS FARM ROOFTOP GREENHOUSES, GREENPOINT, BROOKLYN, 2012


1 DOMINO SUGAR REFINERY (VACANT), 2012

THE INFRASTRUCTURE THAT COMPOSES THIS LANDSCAPE IS DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT THE BOROUGH, CONNECTED BY MAJOR TRANSPORTATION ARTERIES LIKE THE BROOKLYN QUEENS EXPRESSWAY (BQE)

4 BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY, 2012

2 GOWANUS CANAL (SUPERFUND SITE), 2012

3 PFIZER PLANT (SEMI-VACANT), 2012

5 INDUSTRY CITY(SEMI-VACANT) 2012


THIS IS HAPPENING IN

BROOKLYN

THINGS ARE BEING PRODUCED...

..

16

EB R A LE P O .PE


BUIYING TH EM.. .

...A ND PE OP LE

AR ET ALK ING

AB OU T IT ...


THE BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY DIVIDES A LOWER INCOME, PRIMARILY RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD...

22


...FROM THE CHARISMATIC, BUT VACANT, BUILDINGS OF THE SUNSET PARK INDUSTRIAL BUSINESS ZONE


THIS IS HAPPENING IN

BROOKLYN

THINGS ARE BEING PRODUCED...

IY RE BU ING THEM LE A P ... O ...PE

...A ND PE OP LE

AR ET ALK ING

AB OU T IT ...

SO... WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?

in

WHERE THERE IS A LOT OF

VACANT INDUSTRIAL SPACE

SUNSET PARK...

BUT, THERE IS A LOT OF TRAFFIC

BQE

...AND A LOT OF PEOPLE LIVE HERE ...AND THEY NEED JOBS

AND NO ONE WALKS HERE

WHY NOT PUT THIS HERE AGRICULTURE 24

VACANT INDUSTRIAL SPACE

AND MAKE SURE THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE IS MORE FOOT TRAFFIC


...AND THEY NEED JOBS AND NO ONE WALKS HERE

WHY NOT PUT THIS HERE AND MAKE SURE THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON

AGRICULTURE

VACANT INDUSTRIAL SPACE

ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE IS MORE FOOT TRAFFIC

THEN, SOME OF THESE PEOPLE COULD WORK HERE

AGRICULTURE

THEN, I’LL DESIGN SOMETHING...

KNIFE MAKERS PICKLE PRODUCERS VACANT INDUSTRIAL SPACE

STOREF RONT MAYBE PEPOLE WILL EVEN HANG OUT HERE

...MAYBE THERE’S EVEN FREE WI-FI

THAT HELPS THESE PEOPLE GET HERE

NOW, EVEN MORE PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT WHAT’S

AGRICULTURE KNIFE MAKERS, PICKLE PRODUCERS

CLOTHIER

BREWERY

STOREF RONT

WHAT IF WE CAN USE ALL OF THIS TRAFFIC... ... TO BRING EVEN MORE PEOPLE HERE

MADE IN BROOKLYN


SUNSET PARK

IN , THE NYCEDC IS ALREAD INVESTING IN UPDATING AND RETOOLING THE AREA’S AGING INFRASTRUCTURE IN AN ATTEMPT TO ENCOURAGE NEW PATTERNS OF USE. BRIGHT FARMS IS ONE POTENTIAL CLIENT WITH THE POTENTIAL TO REUSE LARGE SWATHS OF THE SUNSET PARK INDUSTRIAL BUSINESS ZONE’S ROOFSCAPE. I IMAGINE THAT AN INJECTION OF CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND BUSINESS INTEREST IN THIS AREA WILL CATALYZE THE SITE’S CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT. HOWEVER, IN CRITICAL PLACES THE IMPOSING NATURE OF THIS LANDSCAPE MAKES IT INACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC. MY INTERVENTIONS RECLAIM THE SPACE SURROUNDING THE BQE, MAINTAINING THE HIGHWAY’S TRAFFIC, WHILE PROVIDING HUMAN SCALE ACCESSIBILTY TO THE SITE.

28


THE BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY ADDS A DIVISIVE LAYER TO THE ALREADY IMPOSING LANDSCAPE...

34


...OF AGING INFRASTRUCTURE AND ONE OF THE CITY’S MOST POLLUTED WATERWAYS


in

RED HOOK...

ADDED VALUE FARMS

IS ORGANIZING THE YOUTH OF THIS COMMUNITY...

...AND THESE PEOPLE ARE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT LOCALLY GROWN FOOD...

SO, WHAT DO WE DO HERE? (NO ONE WALKS HERE AND IT SMELLS BAD)

WHEN THERE IS SOME OF THIS

...AND THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY POLLUTED...

WHY NOT PUT MORE OF THIS HERE 36

BQE

...BUT IT’S A

GOWANUS CANAL

SUPERFUND SITE

... AND MAKE SURE THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT’S BEING GROWN... ...AND TELL THEM WHO’S HELPING TO CHANGE THE SITUATION HERE


IS UNBELIEVABLY POLLUTED...

WHY NOT PUT MORE OF THIS HERE

GOWANUS CANAL

SUPERFUND SITE

... AND MAKE SURE THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT’S BEING GROWN...

SOON, THIS COMMUNITY IS PRODUCING A LOT OF FOOD AND PEOPLE ARE CURIOUS...

...AND TELL THEM WHO’S HELPING TO CHANGE THE SITUATION HERE

...THESE PEOPLE ARE CURIOUS TOO

...SO I’LL DESIGN SOMETHING THAT HELPS PEOPLE SEE WHAT’S GOING ON...

MAYBE WE CAN EVEN HELP SUPPORT THESE BUSINESSES...

M A R KET ...BY GETTING EVEN MORE PEOPLE EXCITED ABOUT BEING HERE!

NOW PEOPLE CAN REALLY SEE HOW

BROOKLYN IS GROWING


120 FT


RED HOOK

IN , THE GOWANUS CANAL HAS RECENTLY BEEN NAMED A SUPERFUND SITE, GIVING THE AREA ACCESS TO FUNDS THAT WILL AID IN THE REMEDIATION OF POLLUTION THAT HAS BLIGHTED THE CANAL FOR DECADES. A NUMBER OF PROPOSALS HAVE BEEN MADE FOR THE PEDESTRIAN AND RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE CANAL’S BANKS. ALL OF THESE PROPOSALS IMAGINE A LITERAL GREENING OF THE WATERWAYS BOUNDARIES. THIS TYPE OF DEVELOPMENT WILL HAPPEN IN THE NEXT 10-20 YEARS, BUT IN THE MEANTIME, PERHAPS BROOKLYN’S GRITTY INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPE CAN ACTUALLY BE LEVERAGED AS A SPECTACLE, AN ATTRACTOR FOR HUMAN ACTIVITY. UNLIKE THE SUNSET PARK SITE, THERE ARE FEWER CHARASMATIC INDUSTRIAL BLOCK BUILDINGS IN THIS AREA, BUT THE GRAND SPACE COVERED BY THE BQE MAY STILL SERVE AS A SITE FOR UNSCRIPTED ACTIVITIES, MARKETS FOR THE SURROUNDING URBAN FARMS, AND EVEN LARGE PERFORMANCES.

40


THE BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY CARVES A TRENCH THROUGH A NEIGHBORHOOD...

46


...LEAVING LITTLE DEDICATED PUBLIC SPACE AND POOR PEDESTRIAN INFRASTRUCTURE


in

WILLIAMSBURG...

...BUT IT’S NOT HAPPENING HERE... ...THE GROUND PLANE HAS DISAPPEAERED!

SO, WHAT DO WE DO HERE?

...EVEN THOUGH THIS IS HAPPENING ALL AROUND... ...MANY OF THESE BUSINESSES ARE CLOSED

A LOT OF PEOPLE LIVE HERE...

MAYBE THESE PEOPLE... 48

BQE

WHY NOT RECLAIM THESE ROADS FOR FOOT TRAFFIC?

...AND HERE TOO


A LOT OF PEOPLE LIVE HERE...

MAYBE THESE PEOPLE...

BQE

...AND HERE TOO

WHY NOT RECLAIM THESE ROADS FOR FOOT TRAFFIC?

...WANDER OVER HERE

AND MAKE SURE THESE PEOPLE KNOW SOMETHING’S CHANGED

THIS CONTINUES TO GROW...

...AND RESPONDS TO THE INCREASE IN FOOT TRAFFIC

SO, I’LL DESIGN SOMETHING...

...THAT REINFORCES AND EXPANDS THIS NEW STREET

SO, NOW THESE PEOPLE ...

...CAN DO BUSINESS IN A

FINALLY... THE GROUND IS BACK!

...STILL, THERE’S SOMETHING MISSING...

...AND THESE PEOPLE...

PRODUCTIVE THRESHOLD ...AND IT’S EXCITING


SOUTH WILLIAMSBURG,

IN THE BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY CARVES A TRENCH THROUGH A DELAPADATED, BUT WELL TRAVELED STREETSCAPE. HERE, SIDEWALK AND PEDESTRIAN INFRASTRUCTURE AS WELL AS STOREFRONT SPACE IS OFTEN IN A STATE OF DISREPAIR AND LEGITIMATE PUBLIC SPACE IS PATCHY AND UNEVENLY DISTRIBUTED. SEVERAL BLOCKS AWAY FROM THE BQE’S TRENCH, THE STREETS ARE EVOLVING: MARKETS, RESTAURANTS AND OTHER RETAILERS ARE ESTABLISHING THEMSELVES ON THE FOUNDATION OF PRODUCTS MADE IN BROOKLYN. THE STREET SURROUNDING THIS TRENCH, AND EVEN THE TRENCH ITSELF, HAS THE POTENTIAL TO ACT AS AN OUTLET FOR THE MADE-IN-BROOKLYN-ENTHUSIASM THAT IS GROWING JUST BLOCKS AWAY. STRATEGICALLY COVERING THE TRENCH AND RESURFACING THE EXISTING STREETSCAPE WILL PROVIDE DISTRIBUTED, AND MUCH NEEDED, PUBLIC SPACE, CAPABLE OF HOSTING MARKETS AND ACTIVITIES FOR THE AREA’S YOUTH.

52


PLATFORM URBANISM: A STRATEGY FOR THE POST-INDUSTRIAL, GROWING CITY BROOKLYN’S POST-INDUSTRIAL, INFRASTRUCTURAL LANDSCAPE, COMBINED WITH EMERGING SOCIAL ECONOMIES, PROVIDE A PLATFORM FOR THE CONTINUED EMERGENCE OF NEW INDUSTRIES IN THE BOROUGH. HOWEVER, NOT ALL OF THE BOROUGH’S INFRASTRUCTURE IS CURRENTLY SUPPORTIVE OF THESE EMERGENT CONDITIONS. THE BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY CREATES IMPOSING STREETSCAPES AS IT CARVES THROUGH THE BOROUGH, LIMITING HUMAN INTERACTION WITH CERTAIN SITES. THIIS HUMAN INTERACTION IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE PROLIFERATION OF INTEREST IN BOTH PARTICULAR SITES AND THE NEW INDUSTRIES THEY HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO HOST. I HAVE IMAGED A STRATEGY THAT REFRAMES THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE BQE TO PEDESTRIAN ACTIVITY; PROVIDING NEW OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN BROOKLYN’S LATENT AND EMERGING URBAN PLATFORM.


leed ap

usgbc

|

m. arch i

syracuse soa

|

idp

enrolled

PLATFORM URBANISM  

Thesis work by Justin Halsey for M. Arch I Syracuse University School of Architecture

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