Visualizing Urban Change: A Collection of Student Projects

Rosannah Sandoval and Larissa Begault, both part-time faculty at Parsons, teach Visualizing Urban Change, a course that teaches students techniques to visually communicate environmental phenomena. Below are student projects from the Fall 2016 semester.LAND, USE AND TEMPORAL URBAN SPACESSally Yang - Environmental StudiesSasha Hodson - Environmental StudiesThe project examines the disconnect between formal land uses as represented in land use maps and the more granular, transient and informal uses that emerge on the perimeter of the city block. These informal uses produce temporary structures that greatly affect street character and urban experience. These structures speak to the rapidly changing city, which operates at a speed contrasting the slow inertia of city planning. The ubiquitous sidewalk shed is the object of study to investigate the adaptation of land on the city block into micro temporal uses. POLLUTION AND POVERTY IN EAST HARLEMAna Remis - Design and Technology & Environmental StudiesSiri Dolce-Bengtsson - Environmental StudiesHistorically, communities of minority and low-income residents have been treated as dumping grounds for urban pollutants, experiencing unequal environmental burdens and social inequities. This is especially the case in East Harlem with decades of statistical data to support the problem, however the issue is hidden from view in the physical city on a daily basis. The proposal seeks to bring a dialogue about this problem to the forefront of affected neighborhoods by inserting large-scale public bioremediation infrastructures to both alleviate the surrounding polluted areas and affect change through the power of representation. Lichen walls, compost sites and oyster beds are used as a medium to display information about pollution and poverty in East Harlem inviting community involvement in restoration.BRIDGING THE URBAN-RURAL DIVIDEOlivia Gamber - Environmental StudiesCody Davis - Liberal ArtsThe proposal is an attempt at imagining the inverse of the human-nature binary and its effects on modern urban planning in the context of the imminent issues of sea-level rise and food insecurity facing East Harlem and New York City in general. This proposal imagines a radical future in which agriculture is inserted to the fullest possible extent within the city in order to grow food for the people, by the people who live there. Residents of east Harlem face a disproportionate burden of the effects of the separation of nature from the urban landscape and the impending effects of climate change. However, they have a thriving network of community gardens and underutilized space surrounding the many publicly subsidized housing projects in the neighborhood. By integrating sustainable food production into the existing fabric of the city, resilience, health, and equity are improved.SHRINKING MEGA-STRUCTURAL IMPACTSCourtney Sprigg - Urban StudiesJerome Frost - Environmental StudiesThe project harnesses and redirects the negative affects produced by the mega-structures in East Harlem into positive streams that mitigate noise pollution, increase economic power, and revitalize public housing (NYCHA). The Park Avenue metro-north elevated train line cuts through East Harlem creating noise pollution and adverse urban conditions along its path. This transit corridor is lined with a large portion of the city’s NYCHA towers that also suffer from a lack of regular maintenance which contributes to health issues. The proposal takes advantage of the physical attributes of the mega-structures to incorporate three types of green technology (algae biofuel, solar ribbons, and wind sails) to generate clean green energy while mitigating noise pollution from train traffic.FACED WITH DEVELOPMENT: ERASURE OF CULTURESJacob Fisher - Design and TechnologyBriana Bachew - Urban DesignThis project explores the potential to maintain cultural diversity while facing the inevitability of development; as historic buildings are demolished and new developments are interjected, the layering of cultures is threatened to the point of erasure. This project site on 111th and Park Ave serves as a microcosm of this condition. The project proposal is two fold: 1) the temporary implementation of cultural programs on sites slated for imminent development waiting investment and 2) the requirement for those cultural programs to be incorporated into the subsequent building on the site at any level within the structure. The concept builds on the model of ‘privately owned public space’ but challenges it with a three-dimensional zoning at the building scale. The project takes a cultural specific approach to the programming of the city as it should be shaped by the hyper-local personality of a single block in Harlem.