Urban Design Studio I: Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Site Profile: Sunset Park

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 10, 2017

Sunset Park, located in Southwest Brooklyn, has played a significant role in the City’s development – both as a maritime and industrial center and as a gateway neighborhood for successive waves of immigrants. While Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront declined considerably in the 1960s and 1970s – largely as a result of global economic trends and development of containerized shipping – its strategic location on Upper New York Bay, extensive industrial infrastructure, access to a large local labor pool, and connection to major transportation networks serving New York City as well as the wider region, maintained its importance as a working waterfront. Economic development policies and programs put into place in the last two decades have generated substantial reinvestment in the area.”  From Community Board 7’s 197-A Plan for Sunset Park, 2007

In the last ten years, the reinvestment in Sunset Park’s waterfront has far outpaced expectations.  Despite the recession, the number of businesses increased by 56 percent between 2000 and 2014, four times faster than the citywide rate,  according to a report by the New York State Comptroller.  This growth is in part attributable to investments in infrastructure and open space by the Economic Development Corporation, which include $100 million of improvements over twenty years to Brooklyn Army Terminal, the SIMs Recycling facility and Bush Terminal Park which opened in 2014.  Neighborhood activists like Elizabeth Yampiere from UPROSE worry this economic growth is leaving the residents behind.  “People who work in this neighborhood live in this neighborhood. And now we’re going to lose it to gentrification,” she told the New York Times.   Some believe that recent redevelopment of manufacturing space like Industry City and Made in New York have displaced more jobs that they have created.

Despite the growth in businesses, Sunset Park has not seen as dramatic an increase in housing costs in recent years as other parts of Brooklyn; however there is strong concern that displacement is inevitable. Today 55% of Sunset Park’s residents are considered housing burdened, meaning their housing costs exceed 30% of their income.  Many resident believe that the proposed BQX line will accelerate this crisis of affordability.

Housing Snapshot from Furman Center

Site Profile: Hunts Point I The Bronx

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 6, 2017

Hunts Point is a neighborhood in the South Bronx that encompasses The Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, The Bronx River and Long Island Sound waterfronts, industrial areas, and waste treatment alongside a population of between 10,000 and 25,000 (depending on how you set your boundaries). The population is primarily ethnically Puerto Rican and other latino, and the area suffers from a high rate of poverty. Though the area has earned a somewhat salacious reputation, it is also home to attractive amenities, including Barretto Park and its floating pool, The Floating Pool Lady.

Hunts Point Food Distribution Center

image from EDC

The Hunts Point Food Distribution Center is the largest food distribution center of its kind in the world, serving a region of 23 million consumers, comprising more than 155 wholesalers, and generating more than $3 billion in annual sales. The Food Distribution Center includes the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, the Cooperative Meat Market, and the New Fulton Fish Market. The descriptions, via the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), are as follows [ https://www.nycedc.com/project/hunts-point-peninsula ]:

Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market

Opened in 1967, the Terminal Produce Market occupies 105 acres, and consists of four primary warehouse structures, two adjunct warehouses, and various administrative and maintenance structures, making it the largest produce market in the country. The market is home to 47 merchants ranging from small firms with three employees to large firms with approximately 400 employees for an aggregate total of roughly 3,000 employees. The market captures an estimated $2 to $2.3 billion in revenue per year, or 22% of regional wholesale produce sales, equivalent to approximately 60% of the produce sales within New York City.

Hunts Point Cooperative Meat Market

Opened in 1974, the Cooperative Meat Market occupies roughly 40 acres and consists of six large refrigerated, freezer buildings, including a new refrigeration plant; the total refrigerated space is approximately 1,000,000 square feet. The market is home to 52 merchants and approximately 2400 employees and is governed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects and supervises the processing facilities daily. The Cooperative Meat Market supplies meat and meat products to the tri-state area and has distribution channels nationwide.

The New Fulton Fish Market

Opened in 1807, the New Fulton Fish Market relocated to Hunts Point in 2005 from lower Manhattan, making it the oldest and largest wholesale fish market in the country with 38 wholesalers employing an estimated 650 employees. The market consists of a 430,000-square foot facility with 19 bays and 8 separate entrances. The market captures an estimated $1 billion in revenue per year.

The wholesalers rent the space of the markets from New York City through the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). After recent speculation that the markets may relocate to New Jersey, an agreement was reached to keep them in New York City at least until 2021.

Five Borough Food Flow (EDC) [https://www.nycedc.com/system/files/files/resource/2016_food_supply-resiliency_study_results.pdf]

Produce Market [http://www.huntspointproducemkt.com/about-us/]

Cooperative Market [http://huntspointcoopmkt.com]

The Bronx River

The Bronx River borders Hunts Point to the east, and runs approximately 24 miles from Westchester County through the Bronx and into the Long Island Sound. It is the only fresh water river in New York City, though the lower portion is tidal. The river endured tremendous pollution throughout the nineteenth century, and restoration efforts have very slowly restored its ecosystems. In 2007, a beaver built a dam in a section of the river: the first time this once plentiful creature had been observed in the Bronx River in over 200 years.

Bronx River Alliance [ http://bronxriver.org ]

National Recreation Trails [ http://www.americantrails.org/NRTDatabase/trailDetail.php?recordID=3812 ]


Hunts Point contains critical infrastructure, and was lucky not to have been more extensively damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Since that event, several studies have been undertaken to address the resilience of Hunts Point, notably [ http://www.rebuildbydesign.org/our-work/all-proposals/winning-projects/hunts-point-lifelines ].

Flood Maps

image from Penn Design / OLIN

Water’s Edge

image from Penn Design / OLIN

Critical Infrastructure

image from Penn Design / OLIN

Site Profile: Long Island City

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 6, 2017

Click above to see an overview of Long Island City!

Long Island City is the westernmost neighborhood in the borough of Queens.  It sits on the East river directly across from midtown Manhattan.  To the South of LIC is Brooklyn across the Pulaski bridge spanning the Superfund site Newtown Creek.   To its North is Astoria Queens.

Long Island City has undergone a variety of transformations since it’s inception from pastoral farm lands to a long stint as a manufacturing center and most recently a re-zoning to become a very dense waterfront residential development.   New large scale developments from Hunter’s Point South going north to Anable Basin have created a tension between the new and old, from the carte blanch to the rehabilitation of industrial properties.

Our studio will focus on the areas around Newtown Creek and Anable Basin waterfront developments.  We will look at planned and existing development strategies along the water that have been implemented and analyze their relationships to the city as a whole as well as their relationships to  the rest of the Long Island City neighborhood.

For more links to resources about LIC please click here!

Site Profile: East Harlem | Manhattan

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 6, 2017

An aerial view of the neighborhood

East Harlem refers to the area of Manhattan to the east of Central Park to the river’s edge, and from 96th St to Martin Luther King Blvd. This semester, we will expand our area of study south to 90th St.

Site Profile: Bay Street I Staten Island

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 6, 2017
Site Profile: Bay Street I Staten Island

Staten Island is the least densely populated of the five boroughs with only a little less than half a million…

The 6th Borough

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by May 25, 2017
The 6th Borough

The 2017 5 Borough Studio is about to kick off. This year, we will turn our attention to the relationship of the five boroughs with the space that connects them all – the water.

A Community Center in Brownsville

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by December 28, 2016
A Community Center in Brownsville

The 5 Borough Studio in Action: A community center in Brownsville Brooklyn designed and built with the help of students and faculty

Urban SOS Fair Share: A Student Competition

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by July 19, 2016

Urban SOS: Fair Share

Turn your final studio project into a contribution to Urban SOS, an annual competition presented by AECOM and Van Alen Institute in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities — Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, challenges students around the globe to come together across disciplines to tackle some of our cities’ most pressing issues.

FairShareDeckCover-1160x896The seventh edition in the series, Fair Share explores how the principles of the “sharing economy” can be applied to support more equitable access to resources, improve the built environment and enrich the quality of life of urban residents. Final proposals are due September 12, 2016. The winning teams take home US$15,000 in prizes. In addition, AECOM will make available up to US$25,000 of cash and in-kind staff time to support the implementation of the winning proposal. Download the competition brief here

Sharing Models at Storefront

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by July 15, 2016
Check out this exhibition at the Storefront for Art and Architecture
We are experiencing the emergence of a culture that is marked by a return to, redefinition, and expansion of the notion of the commons. The increasing complexity and interconnectedness of globalization is reorienting us away from trends that have emphasized individuation and singular development, and toward new forms of collectivity. 
Over the last decade, emerging technologies and economies have affected aspects of our everyday life, from the way we work and travel, to how we think about shelter and social engagement.

How will the sharing movement of today affect the way we inhabit and build the cities of tomorrow?

Manhattan, one of the most dense and iconic places in the world, has been a laboratory for many visions of urbanism. Sharing Models: Manhattanisms invites 30 international architects to produce models of their own visions for the city’s future. 
The models, each a section of Manhattan, establish analytical, conceptual, and physical frameworks for inhabiting and constructing urban space and the public sphere. Together, they present a composite figure; a territory that is simultaneously fictional and real, and one that opens a window to new perceptions of the city’s shared assets.  

July 15th – September 2nd, 2016
Storefront for Art and Architecture
97 Kenmare Street, New York

Build Public

Category : BLOG · No Comments · by June 29, 2016

As many teams have been thinking about public space this summer, this example might enrich your approach to creative partnerships. Build Public brings a “start-up” mentality to the world of public space, leveraging creative public private partnerships and new innovative financing and governance tools to create, fund and maintain high quality urban public spaces in San Francisco. more on build public here