thread’s Gowanus Field Station will come to life, in a partnership with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, thanks in part to a NYSCA Grant. GCC recently created an innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum for middle school students. STEM Gowanus is centered on a series of field lessons in which students observe and document the canal’s ecology, and learn how green infrastructure is a critical strategy to clean the canal waters. But training and field work can be hard to manage, in part due to poor weather conditions, lack of access to sites, and the storage and moving of equipment. In response to these challenges, GCC and thread collective have designed a Gowanus Field Station at the Salt Lot to support GCC’s various education efforts including the STEM Curriculum and the Bioswale Stewardship Training Class. The Gowanus Field Station embodies hands-on learning: it is an outdoor classroom designed to also be a storm-water “eco-machine” that will host a green roof, sit next to a bioswale, capture rainwater for reuse, and use a vegetated rain garden to clean sink water before discharging to the canal. Water testing and maintenance training will be a key part of activities hosted here. The field station design is comprised of three interlocking rectangular forms, set at an open angle to create several gatherings spaces that vary in size. Additional programmatic elements include a latticed roof deck for observation, sheltered classroom space, solar system, specimen display, interactive map, a watershed laser cut deck, and a platform for water sampling cantilevered over the banks of the Gowanus. more details can be found at the Urban Design Forum Gowanus Field Station site.
Gowanus Field Stations is an exploration of the ecology of the canal, through temporary public “seeds” dispersed along its length. Each field station creates a dedicated space for people to observe and engage with a distinct aspect of the canal: 4 typologies [suspend, cling, anchor, and float] create a shifting, composite understanding of the area, and recognize the intermingling of human and natural systems. Major goals include : localizing, understanding and decoding research; an interactive relationship to the science of the canal’s ecology; creating space for direct observation; public space that retains backstage quality; not a radical rewriting of the space, rather smaller insertions within it.
thread collective recently worked with BFJ Planning , who is leading the NY State Downtown Revitalization Initiative team for Glens Falls and Middletown. These two cities were part of the first round of 20 New York State cities selected to receive $10 million from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. thread brought expertise in urban and landscape design, and sustainable architectural visioning. Through a community driven process that identified economic needs, our role was to help bring design and visioning to the projects identified as critical to the success of the plans. Projects focused on the transformation of under-utilized urban areas, particularly excess parking lots, into much needed parkland and community facilities. In Middletown, thread design the James Street Parking Lot, and the Erie Way Park into a community outdoor facility and skatepark; in Glens Falls a city-owned parking become home to a year-round farmer’s market, greenroof, incubator and community space for the town residents. Final DRI plans can be found here, Middletown + Glens Falls. team firms : BFJ Planning (lead), Elan Planning, RES Group, CSA Group, James Lima Planning and Development
Working with Added Value, Green City Force, and NYCHA, thread developed a plan and framework for the first community farm on public housing property in New York City. Existing informal pedestrian paths and a north / south orientation optimal for growing intersect to create a dynamic pattern of planters and gathering spaces. Level planter tops accentuate the existing topography, while trees and benches punctuate the pattern. In addition to producing fresh vegetables, the farm serves as a site of education, job training, and community engagement. Check out NYCHA’s press release. [1 acre]
lowlands uses green infrastructure as a vehicle for a more economically and ecologically resilient public housing population: to address social justice issues in relation to access to quality public space, to engage local youth in the process of improving their environment, and to design innovative, integrated stormwater management strategies. Working collaboratively, thread collective and the Social Justice Fellows of the Red Hook Initiative will explore and define an integrated, community based green infrastructure plan. The project builds on our research looking at the common pairing of social and ecological vulnerabilities in public housing projects, many of which are located on former wetlands.
The design for BHSEC’s garden creates a sequence of outdoor rooms to be used as a unique platform for learning, for hands on ecological* education, and as space for student retreat and gathering. Wood decks create distinct spaces, and a custom shed houses a sink and a micro rain water collection system. Different planter typologies will be employed, including sub irrigated, corrugated, and milk crates. Assessing the relative advantage of each system will be one of a number of small scale experiments that the garden will host, allowing Bard students and other schools to model and evaluate a range of urban garden strategies.
Winning proposal for a new sustainable town and African Arts Centre, the Southbank design begins with site and ecological issues. The first design gesture is a response to the slope of the site: the organic urban form follows the contours to direct and capture surface water, referencing traditional terraced farming techniques. In counter point , the Africa Centre elements are introduced as an orthogonal overlay; museum buildings are arranged on a north-south grid to capitalize on the even southern light and on the thermal mass properties of rammed earth.
ONE Prize Mowing to Growing winner, NORC* Farms is an innovative strategy to create and cultivate farm plots and social spaces within public housing complexes with senior populations. NORC Farms will: activate older new yorkers and transform public housing with local agriculture; use urban agriculture to transform grass into socially, ecologically, economically productive space; plug into the existing social and institutional infrastructure; transform the tower in the park into the tower in the farm; achieve the city’s stated “age-friendly” goals.
*A naturally occurring retirement community is a unique housing model that allows older adults to live in the community rather than an institutional setting. Age Friendly NYC 2009
The cultural center is developed as two buildings, a community center and performance center, which define and activate a complex public space. The unique qualities of the local landscape, its particular social and physical history, are revealed and celebrated through a layering of pattern and form. Uplift and subsidence, sedimentation and erosion: geologic and hydrologic forces animate the site, creating an exciting and varied topography for rich social interaction on multiple scales. [30,000 sf competition]