Gowanus, Red Hook, Broadway, and More

We’ve been staying busy in Brooklyn (and Manhattan) with our time split between site visits, project ideation, and workshops.

Friday began with a session on design thinking methodology followed by a visit to Higgins Hall, the site of our design challenge. Students took some initial measurements to understand the volume of stormwater runoff from the site and possible opportunities to manage runoff using green infrastructure while also improving the functionality and aesthetics of the space for users. That afternoon we visited the Gowanus Canal to learn a bit about it’s history and to examine some of the green infrastructure that the DEP and Gowanus Canal Conservancy have built, including the “sponge lot” on 2nd Street, which presented an opportunity to analyze and “reverse engineer” this installation using some of the knowledge acquired during earlier workshops.

Saturday was a sweltering day to be at the Red Hook Community Farm, but the group persevered through 75 degree dew points (about as humid as it gets in NYC) while toiling away harvesting garlic, making compost, and otherwise helping out on this really awesome community farm. We also received a tour of the NYC Compost Project, which is the largest in the country that is powered solely by renewable energy. We also had some delicious pupusas at the famous Red Hook food trucks. And then it poured rain for about 20 minutes, so everyone could see why stormwater is such a big environmental problem in NYC, although I think many were mostly concerned about how to eat their pupusas without getting completely soaked in a torrential downpour. With stormy weather in the forecast, we opted to spend the evening at the Brooklyn Museum’s “First Saturdays” event instead of the Prospect Park Bandshell.

On Sunday, we walked through Prospect Park and learned a little about the history of the park and the concept of “placemaking” in urban design. Lunch was had at the ever popular Smorgasburg followed by the hilarious broadway show The Play That Goes Wrong.

Monday morning we met with two of Pratt’s graduate students that are engaged in efforts to redesign Higgins Hall to better understand some of the opportunities and challenges, and later did a workshop on stakeholder identification and engagement followed by some dedicated time for project execution.

This morning we visited the Highline, Greenwich Village and the Center for Architecture’s exhibit on Mapping Community and Public Investment in NYC.