Rather than scrap all of the sidewalks demolished during the clearing of the area for a new streetscape and park, WRT opted to reuse it to create a functional form that doubles as an art installation. According to Horton, “the design application conserves roughly 1,700,000,000 BTUs of embodied energy in 1,000 CY of reused concrete and avoids approximately 60 tons of CO2 if a standard DOT design alternative of 200 CY of new concrete median were to be used.” Plus, it just looks really cool (our words, not his).
“As a part of the Queens Plaza Project’s efforts to encourage new functions and perceptions of the infrastructural landscape, the reused concrete medians redefine the functional, material and aesthetic performances of a typical roadway feature,” writes WRT of their design. “Functionally, the medians serve to discourage uncontrolled pedestrian movements across roadways by presenting a clear visual indication of impassability. With the reuse of material the installation treats the urban fabric like an existing geology that can be mined for reconstruction. The reuse demonstrates that demolition, salvage and reconstruction can be an on-site closed loop that conserves embodied energy in reuse; reduces environmental impacts from harvest, manufacture and transport; and avoids impacts from disposal.”
The project is part of the Queens Plaza Bicycle and Pedestrian Landscape Improvement initiative to transform the tangle of urbanity cutting through Long Island City from a disorienting industrial maze into a greenery-filled navigable landscape. People like my mom, whose first impression of the borough was a harsh, jumbled snapshot of the Plaza as she crossed the 59th St. Bridge decades ago will no doubt be elated to see the changes come to fruition.
Images courtesy of Tobiah Horton