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

St. George: INSertion

Category : 2010 · No Comments · by September 9, 2010

Staten Island / St. George: INSertion
Marta D’Alessandro / Elena Kapompasopoulou / Jeremy Welsh

St. George serves as the predominant entrance to Staten Island from Manhattan, yet it offers there is no sense of place, amenities, or identity to any of its three most dominant population groups. The three groups, as we see them, are:

1. Its residents
2. The 55,000 Staten Island commuters that pass through on a daily basis
3. The countless tourists who take the free ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline from the harbor

St. George currently lacks the density and programmatic intensity necessary to support a vibrant urban community. To compound the problem, we have identified an array of Barriers that shape the town’s character and hold these three diverse population groups at bay. We categorized these Barriers into three primary groupings:

– Physical
– Visual
– Social

Barriers were also categorized by their influence on St. George at varying scales:

– Neighborhood (local): How can St. George facilitate the movement of residents and tourists, throughout the waterfront and into the neighborhood?
– City: How can St. George capture the energy of the 55,000 commuters coming through the Ferry Terminal every day?
– The Region: How can St. George capture the energy of the thousands of tourists coming with the ferry?

Concentrating investment in public open space will serve as a catalyst for development at a small area where Richmond Terrace/Bay Street once existed. Through the closing a portion of this troublesome barrier, we hope to kick start the life and economy St. George. We have pulled the Ferry Terminal inward, closer to Staten Island Borough Hall, creating a direct connection between this transportation hub and the rest of St. George (removing the barrier of the bus configuration and Bay Street). With the shift of the Ferry and the construction of a pedestrian piazza at the closed Bay Street create a (new) “downtown” for St. George, activated by restaurants, shops, offices, and residential units. This concentration of activity will lead development to investigate the large portion of under-used lands in the existing fabric of St. George, pulling the energy created on the waterfront closer to the community.

Using existing framework as a guide, a new system of axes lead Residents, Commuters, and Visitors throughout the site and the newly constructed landscape to the waterfront and mass transportation, surmounting the existing barriers. Buildings and program weave among one another, creating new vistas and connections to what was once simply a parking lot.

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