May 9, 2011

NYC Ideas Festival Spawns New Ideas

Viewers of the SubSeries Booth were encouraged to sketch our their own Ideas for a better New York City subway system

GrowingCities participated in the the New Museum's Festival of Ideas for the New City, this past Saturday May 7th, and as you can see in the image above, many new ideas were conceived of by the public as to how the New York City subway system might be re-imagined. We were invited to the event, along with 11 other teams of designers, through our involvement with the SubSeries design charrette series, organized by Baukunst Studio, and which asks of its participants to re-conceive of the spaces of existing NYC
subway stations. What are the most optimistic strategies for reclaiming this urban territory? How can a subway station contribute in new ways to our daily urban experience of the city?

The SubSeries booth generated a great buzz throughout the festival and the community interest was palpable. The booth featured display modules, each consisting of two 8'-tall panels that intersect each other at an angle in order to provide self support. The front of the modules displayed one proposal on each panel, while the backside offered a clean blackboard surface - complete with chalk and chalk holder - encouraging the public to contribute their own ideas for the subway system. In total, there were 6 modules displaying 12 proposals, all of which involved different NYC subway stations.

Detail of chalk holder and blackboard surface

The displays were quite popular, attracting praise from viewers, who often shared their own ideas on the blackboard surfaces. And it wasn't too long before many of the boards were full! The growingCities board, which is pictured below, received a great response from public viewers, and we were able to directly engage with many interested people about our proposal and related ideas.

The growingCities board at the Festival of Ideas

As transportation hubs, millions of people pass through New York City’s many subway stations every day. Whether commuting to and from work or touring around the city, we see great potential here to integrate fresh, healthy food into the lifestyles of urban residents.

Our proposal - still in schematic design - explores the idea that New York’s subway system can provide a new infrastructure for the transportation of food into the city - bringing locally-grown produce from the Bronx down into Manhattan and fostering a new network of public markets along the city’s many train lines.

A festival-goer views the growingCities board.

An additional refrigerated subway car could distribute fresh produce to a series of subway stations along the #1 train line. Located behind the passenger cars at the end of the train, the foodcar would be accessible only to green market staff in a dedicated loading zone on the train platform. Produce would be brought into the city during off-peak hours, allowing the train to stop at the station for a few minutes to quickly unload crates of food on hand-trolleys.

Ramping switchback paths in the market interior and on its roof allow for slower shopping and recreational experiences, and alternate passage from the ground to platform level. The paths connect the stepped outdoor seating on the roof to market and café spaces inside the new building and to the ground level as well. The progression through the market is defined by a series of circulation paths for shoppers and commuters. Quick access to the platform via elevator is provided for the loading of produce and for subway-users in a rush to get to the train.

The stepped seating along the roof of the market provides a new recreational space with views toward the Hudson River, as well as a new access point to the train station, while creating a prominent visual presence for the new neighborhood market.

We believe that a comprehensive network of subway station green markets - stalls supplied by the subway itself - will not only increase access to fresh and healthy food, but will also reduce the heavy strain on city roadways by decreasing the rate of truck delivery, which would in turn greatly reduce air and noise pollution. The market system would especially benefit neighborhoods in desperate need of fresh food sources, such as our design site in Harlem, as well as many sections of the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn.

Thank you to Baukunst Studio for the organization of the SubSeries design charrette series, as well as the Subseries booth at the Festival Ideas. Please continue to follow our blog to see how the design develops in the future.

The crowded SubSeries booth at Saturday's Festival of Ideas. Photo by Baukunst Studio.

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