Opposite the constant and changing ecological, economical, and political forces shaping a city, stands the slow-moving, carefully calibrated practice of planning and building architecture and infrastructure. Striving for longevity and permanence, the structures we design bridge different time scales and uses: rooted in precedents from the past, our ideas and projects are intended not just for the present, but also the far future. Acknowledging this conflict, our studio offers to re-evaluate transportation hubs and the mixed-use design typology that suits a city in perpetual flux: How can we synthesize architectural elements and functions to create resilient spaces and aesthetics?
Our ambition to create sustainable architecture strives to do more with less. We want to reduce or eliminate waste, to design with an economy of means. Can our buildings consolidate the functions of many? Could they require less newly extracted material, less labor or polluting processes to construct? Moreover, how can buildings insert themselves into and sustain the communities around them, and in so doing lay claim to a permanent stature? These objectives will also inform the shaping of the geometries we will develop. Ultimately, we will consider if buildings can benefit rather than suffer from the changes to come. Our architecture should be poised to “gain from disorder” rather than be fragile to external influences.
In this studio, we will dissect and examine various programmatic typologies—performance spaces, museums, offices, dwellings, hotels, restaurants, shops, gardens, gyms, etc.—their possible combinations and re-combinations. We will propose new adjacencies and relationships. We will analyze how existing infrastructure organizes movement and can strengthen the public realm, considering space both horizontally and vertically. In the dense and multifaceted urban center, we will seek to integrate the living communities affected by the intervention, from humans to plants. With an emphasis on efficiency, we will study the movement of users, vehicles, materials, and natural forces in relation to activities, space, and geometry.
Hudson Yards has been a focal point for many years. Initially, as a promising, untapped opportunity; today, as a contentious site, which may be out of step with present models of activity and retail. Now that the pandemic has changed how people live, work, move, and connect, how will their environments adapt? Could the model of Hudson Yards be Re-Mixed into a dense and thriving environment today? We should test extremes and entertain utopian ideas but reject what is impossible. In the end, we aim to edit and re-shuffle the present condition Hudson Yards into an experiment for a new way of living in a dense, urban environment.
Located on 11th Ave between 33rd and 34th Streets, our site is immediately adjacent to Hudson Yards. This land sits at the intersection of transportation, commerce, tourism, and hosts myriad living organisms. Near the waterfront and the Javits Center, the 7 line subway extension, the proposed high-speed rail connection, and the terminus of the Highline weave multiple transit routes to the street fabric. These vital site characteristics pose challenges and opportunities across the physical, political, and social landscape. Therefore, we ask students to draw from their analysis of Hudson Yards and ask, how can we reinvent the classic mixed-use typology to make it beneficial for all stakeholders?
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (New York: Random House, 2014).