This Saturday, December 12 (2:00–6:00 p.m.), is the first opportunity for the public to visit the Rising Currents architect-in-residence studios at P.S.1. As part of P.S.1’s Saturday Sessions, the five teams will open their studios to the public and be available to discuss their work. Two rounds of presentations will be given. The first round of presentations will begin at 2:15 p.m. and be repeated at 4:30 p.m. Below, the teams offer a preview of their site work to date.
After two engineering workshops with Arup, we are pursuing four temporal strategies that unite the disparate scales of our site, and extend the domains of water and land across each other: 1) ferries and mobile programs on barges powered by methane gas collected from the Owl’s Head Wastewater Treatment Plant interconnect a network of hybrid stations/storm surge deflectors; 2) islands combine the infrastructural with the ecological, and are interconnected with inflatable storm surge barriers: “airbag urbanism”; 3) housing on stilts, off the sewage grid, is combined with floating treatment wetlands; 4) a pervious network of infiltration basins, swales, and culverts opportunistically appropriates underutilized plots of land, and when dry, functions as a decentralized network of parks.
New York’s natural resources are slowly recovering after decades of remediation and better laws that protect air and water. One of our team’s strategies is to use local resources to encourage this comeback. One resource that the city has heaps of is trash. Every year, New Yorkers, who are relatively good recyclers, still send about fifty thousand tons of glass to landfills. Our team proposes a local glass recycling plant that will produce units for building extensive underwater reefs on our site. This product, which will be both attractive and functional, is inspired by hexactinellid sponges. Recycling, we argue, is not just a past time for do-gooders, but a process that conserves energy, reduces waste, and can create beauty out of trash.
Watch three weeks of LTL’s work in fourteen seconds! Team LTL has been working through a series of tactical moves that can generate an organizing strategy for engaging the large constructed landscape of Zone 1. At present, the division between land and water is set primarily by a hard edge that cannot adjust to meet the rising currents. Most of the site will be inundated with even a modest rise in sea level. How can a rethinking of the constructed nature of the site reestablish a dynamic landscape that anticipates ecological transformation of the harbor? What if this edge is “zippered,” thus multiplying the site of engagement by twenty times? What if the site were resculpted into a series of interlocking planes that were sloped to register tidal fluctuations and accommodate storm surge? What if this patterning of the land and water can serve as a testing bed for agriculture, light industry, recreation, and aquacultural projects that would be catalyzed—rather than eviscerated—by future changes? These are just some of the questions we are looking to engage through the coming weeks.
As lower Manhattan’s harbor water level continues to rise, a long-term vision must acknowledge that (without an impractically tall levee) low-lying areas will be flooded. When rising water levels are mapped upon the present coastline, it is striking to see the pre-settlement shape of the island reappear as the only portion of land that is not inundated. When viewed in the continuum of the shifting shape of the island over time, the future does not appear so different than the past. Layers of fill are flooded, and we return to the geological “core” of the island.
What are the consequences and possibilities of this epochal change? At a recent team work session, our collaborators dlandstudio posited a compelling sectional diagram that suggests a blending of natural and cultural ecologies for lower Manhattan. This proposition considers the different frequencies of ecological and cultural development at multiple scales and durations. The tip of Manhattan has a strong iconic presence with its dramatic skyline and wall of financial power but the structures that inhabit that zone are new in geologic terms. The seemingly solid ground that supports them is soft, new, and potentially volatile. Alignment of these culturally permanent programs with the higher solid ground is already reflected in the skyline of the island as a whole. Inverting this logic, the softness of the edge would reflect a waterline and related variable coastline with temporally variable edge conditions, and will create sites for new transitory cultural and ecological programs. New networks of storm water distribution and human circulation will be required. We are exploring how to repurpose existing buildings and adapt the breakwater towers to become infrastructural armatures for these programs and functions.
$600 and Some Fuzzy Rope: SCAPE met with partner and collaborator Paul Mankiewicz, PhD, to discuss our team’s evolving scenarios for integrating Brooklyn’s watery edges and upland communities. We were inspired by his can-do attitude, ideas, and enthusiasm for a biologically driven response to issues that are assumed to be in the realm of engineering or architecture. We were also encouraged by his back-of-envelope calculations (pictured here in progress!) about how to jump-start cleaning the Gowanus Canal with $600 and some fuzzy rope to host oyster and mussel colonies. Our project will choreograph the biological processes of these organisms and others as part of a larger urban strategy that addresses issues of water quality, wave attenuation, storm surge, and community regeneration.