This project focuses on two main observations made about the Lower East NYCHA campuses: firstly, the pressing need for greater employment and socio-cultural integration with the East Village neighborhood; secondly the unharnessed opportunity presented by the vibrant, food economy right at its door step (separated only by an underperforming ‘Avenue D.’) Until now, these needs and this opportunity have seldom been brought into dialogue – meaning potential has likely been missed.
Our proposal uses the idea of a ‘food-economy’ to stimulate the gradual transformation of NYCHA into vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood: one supporting a higher employment rate and allowing sensitive, productive integration with the East Village neighborhood (socio-cultural, physical, economic).
Through a series of diverse urban strategies (infill, re-purposing the ground floor, breaking the superblock, new public axes and connections, central ‘green avenue’, green infrastructure, landscaping) different components of the food-system are introduced, ranging from communal to commercial, and from educational to employment-generating. Alongside these, additional programs such as housing and commercial spaces are also introduced to allow a more robust, resilient system – driven, but not defined by ‘food’.
The vision is for LES NYCHA is not a self-sufficient, one-dimensional ‘food island’. Rather, it is a robust NYCHA community which, through an augmented sense of collective identity, increased employment opportunities, and strong point of commonality with the neighborhood, can achieve greater socio-cultural and economic integration with its immediate and wider urban context.