Page 1

The Link

What is The Link?

The Link is a constellation of multiscalar, locally adapted interventions that couple public services and green infrastructure. The Link occupies the streets within the space between transit hubs.

How Does It Happen? Phase 1: Site Research

Identify the block(s) or area immediately connecting one transit hub to the other. Determine the shortest connecting route as well as alternative routes.

Identify brownfield site, toxic sites and related funding strategies, or sites undergoing transformation under publicly or privately sponsored programs. These sites need to be remediated and are also a mechanism for gaining funding for your future intervention through Brownfield Opportunity Area

Determine the “pull points.� From what stations are you pulling commuters?

Determine foot traffic from each transportation hub to determine number or density of interventions.

Conduct user research. Study the group of future users from pull points demographically, economically, linguistically, etc. To determine the range of needs and interests. This data helps determine which design interventions to deploy.

How Does It Happen? Phase 2: Implementation The elements of The Link range from small to large, planar to volumetric.


Use small particle-like interventions to bring services to the district and create a sense of character throughout the district. Plant trees, place urban furniture at key points of convergence, install urban bay windows, populate area with info kiosk, charging stations, outdoor seating, and bike racks. Arrange multiple points in specific configurations to suggest program zones.


Designated pedestrian zone with bollards. Create or extend bike paths. Sidewalk parks and swales. Connect to and partner with existing programs and activities along the pedestrian route.


Plug-in Frame Acquire large empty/abandoned building. (Brownfield buildings ideally) Fill it with public services and community programs based on Phase 1 user research. Treat building as programmable open framework and inlay functions into building. Designate an area within the building to bioremediate. Consult Phytoremediation Guide (pp. 8-9).


Paint streets to blur distinction between pedestrian sidewalk and non-vehicular road and as wayfinding key for pedestrians throughout the district. Alternatively or in conjunction, use permeable pavers to create transition between elevation of road and sidewalk


Introduce a graphic design element such as a ticket or passport card that serves as a guide to the district with a list of interventions provided by your Link.

Phytoremediation Guide METALS



A key strategy in Brownfield Remediation is Phytoremediation. Specific plant species accumulate, biosorb, or degrade different toxins such as metals, hydrocarbons, crude oil, and chlorinated solvents like DDT. Consult this guide for plant species that have been studied for specific phytoremediation.



Bermuda Grass


Red Fescue


Indigo Bush


Water Hyssop


Field Mustard



Birds Foot Trefoil

Blue Gamma Grass

Buffalo Grass




Augustine Grass

Switch Grass

Western Wheatgrass

Canadian Wild Rye

White Clover

Red Clover

Yellow Clover

Intervention Matrix







Case Study: East Williamsburg

The Link in East Williamsburg connects the Morgan Avenue L train station to the terminus of Newtown Creek. The design interventions from the Intervention Matrix are deployed throughout the district, operating at various scales, occupying points, lines, surfaces, and volumes within the site. The presence of the Newtown Creek Ferry brings a large variety and quantity of individuals through the site.

Newtown Creek Ferry Terminal

Morgan Avenue L Station

Coordinating Variables Transit The L train shutdown catalyzes the activation of Newtown Creek as an alternative transport route by expanding NYC Ferry service.


Newtown Creek is heavily polluted due to the waterway’s historic industrial use as well as its continued use as the outlet for much of New York City’s combined sewer outfalls. A 30 million gallon oil spill has led the EPA to declare the creek a superfund site.


Remediation is necessary, and state and federal funding is available. Millions of dollars in EPA grants are available to communitydriven cleanup efforts for the creek. New York City and New York State have additional grant programs for community cleanup initiatives for brownfields.

NYS Brownfield Opportunity Area Industrial Pollution Site NYS Brownfield and Voluntary Cleanup Program Site Greenpoint Oil Spill EPA Superfund Priority Boundary

When paired, interrupted transit and ecological crisis create an unexpected opportunity for a design intervention.

At the heart of the East Williamsburg site is a vacant 80,000 ft2 warehouse that covers the entire city block. It is also a registered brownfield, requiring remediation. This warehouse becomes the heart of The Link - its structural frame is filled with a medley of Public Services, Green Space, Community Programs, and Food Programs.

The Plaza

The Street

The Link

Other Link Sites

Plexus, The Loop, The Canarsie Development Corporation, and Bugel have all implemented the Link throughout their urban design projects.


The Link  

YSOA Urban Studio Spring '18 Critic: Keller Easterling Team: Orli Hakanoglu & Vivian Tsai

The Link  

YSOA Urban Studio Spring '18 Critic: Keller Easterling Team: Orli Hakanoglu & Vivian Tsai