This past Thursday, April 23, four teams made up of third-year Master’s of Architecture students from Columbia GSAPP, Parsons The New School, Pratt Institute, and City College of New York (CCNY) competed against each other in an hour-long design competition to propose a sustainable design solution for the DUMBO archway. After several years of being used as a storage facility, the archway has re-opened for public use. The competition challenged the students to create a link between the archway and the adjacent lot in light of its re-birth as a public space. The event took place in Raumlabor‘s Spacebuster, an inflatable and mobile dome which has been hosting events around New York City this past week. Read on for more about the eco-design competition and for the winners!
Future plans for the DUMBO archway includes eclectic public programming, so the competition brief asked students to create flexible space that would also feel accessible and welcoming at all times. With only an hour to form a design concept and formulate visuals, while having to work with spectators milling about — I was thoroughly impressed by all the students and their concentration. Teamwork and school spirit were a priority to the judges, and it was clear that all team members from every team were actively engaged. Other criteria for judging included: sustainability, context sensitivity, novelty, and craft and presentation. Each team’s progress could be watched on a projector, which they also used in their final presentations. Scroll down to find each school’s proposals below!
Kyung Jae Kim
Columbia’s playful design proposed creating sculpture-like, deploy-able balls to sit in the archway. Each ball contains the necessary materials for a different activity, and could contain anything from flotation devices to picnic benches. Intended to encourage civic engagement, the balls need the public to activate the programming. Their design included balls of various sizes: larger for the large archway and smaller ones for the archway that leads to the adjacent lot.
PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL OF DESIGN
Hrolfur Karl Cela
The Parsons team created a two-pronged, connected program: a market and nighttime dining table. The team proposed using the adjacent lot as a farmer’s market and then creating a dining table for the community to gather under the archway. Food waste created by the diners would later be composted and used to grow more food.
Perhaps inspired by the unusual acoustics of the Spacebuster, the Pratt team built their design around the idea of creating vibrations. The design would symbolically collect the “sediments” of human interactions in the archway — with a particular focus on the vibrational energy created by the occupiers of the space. The team proposed a multi-level structure that provided numerous flexible spaces that appear to extend out of the archway — just as vibrations would also extend out of the space.
CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK
The CCNY team proposed a flexible space that could be used by the neighboring artists and galleries. They created a fluid form for a canopy, suspended with cables, that covers the adjacent lot. Seating in the archway mimics the shape of the canopy to create a uniform appearance. The students also mentioned that the archway would be flanked by bio-swales that would collect stormwater run-off from the bridge, creating landscaped spaces that would create a more pleasant environment for passers-by to sit and meander in and around the archway.
And the winners, as voted by the esteemed judging panel was…CCNY! (Pictured above)
The judging panel commented that not only did the CCNY team have an ample amount of school spirit — they delivered a lucid presentation. The project was a thoughtful response to the surrounding neighborhood — as the archway is only a stone’s throw away from the DUMBO art galleries.
In second place was Pratt, the judges were impressed by the proposal’s flexible forms that would allow for various programming , and that the project considered energy production for social use.
The judging panel included: Joseph Grima (Storefront for Art and Architecture), Raumlabor, Olivia Chen (Inhabitat), Kate Kerrigan (Dumbo Improvement District), Richard Plunz, Ben Prosky and Sarah Williams (Columbia GSAPP), Meredith Tenhoor and Deb Johnson (Pratt Institute), Ivan Kucinov, Victoria Marshall and Jilly Traganou (Parsons), Rafael Magrou (architecture critic, Paris), Amale Andraos and Dan Wood (workAC) and William Menking (The Architect’s Newspaper).
The event was hosted in Raumlabor‘s Spacebuster, which has been traveling around New York City for the past week — serving as a shelter for a variety of events that serve to connect the public with architecture. A full list of events can be found here. As a mobile structure, the Spacebuster is envisioned as an architectural and social construction that is meant to draw people back into public space.
Iron Designer is only part of a larger scheme of events that are part of ECOGRAM: The Sustainability Question. ECOGRAM is a series of events initiated at the Columbia GSAPP by Mitchell Joachim, Ph.D. and Ioanna Theocharopoulou, Ph.D., to examine the question of sustainability in architecture and architectural education. The first conference “Ecogram: The Sustainability Question” took place in October 2008. A second large-scale conference is planned for October 2009.
Images of Spacebuster and event are courtesy of Studio-X and Columbia GSAPP.
Images of proposals are courtesy of participating students.