Jessica Leber sums up the breadth of the Design Trust project team's ambitious work for FastCo.Exist:
"The report inventories and categorizes the city’s 'under the elevated' space and shares the results of seven case studies and two pop-up experiments [Division Street installation and the Boogie Down Booth] undertaken over the last two years. It also describes a collaborative process for experimenting with these spaces—from pop-up to pilot to permanent projects.
Project ideas are aimed at creating well-lit, clean spaces and reducing noise—as well as providing additional elements to add value to a space. That might mean an electrical vehicle charging station under the Queensboro Bridge, art studios and outdoor training facilities in Highbridge Park, or food trucks and stormwater-absorbing bioswales below the Gowanus Expressway. Upgrades in lower-income neighborhoods, such as Brooklyn's East New York, could boost businesses and local housing proposals."
Concerned with equitable neighborhood development, Rachel Dovey at Next City analyzes further:
"The High Line inflated neighboring property values so much that it inspired several studies on gentrification—tough questions about ownership, community involvement and the possibility of displacement need to be asked...To its credit, the report [Under the Elevated] doesn’t shy away from these questions.
For both early pilots, Design Trust partnered with neighborhood-level organizations—Chinatown Partnership in Chinatown and WHEDco in the Bronx. Empirical research, on-street surveys and regional insight from the partners informed both projects, which were then tested in pop-up form, rather than built permanently right away...In the places where connections have already formed organically, the report pledges to honor them—not sweep them away."
WHEDco's Kerry A. McLean, our collaborator for the Boogie Down Booth, highlights the bottom-up approach for Next City: “In our case, the issue of gentrification isn’t relevant. [The Boogie Down Booth] only exists because of the community. It doesn’t take from beyond and ‘put in,’ it actually leverages resources from the ground up.”
One of the major recommendations in the Under the Elevated study is the El-Space Program. It's a DOT initiative that will focus specifically on under-the-elevated projects.
DOT’s four-person urban design staff, led by Neil Gagliardi, will take the lead. “This is really a comprehensive approach, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time,” Neil Gagliardi said to Stephen Miller at StreetsBlog.
“The initial experiments we’ve done in the Bronx and in Chinatown have started to give us a toolkit of treatments we can do in these public spaces. We’re going to start with lighting, which is one of the number one things we hear all around the city,” added DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
The NYC Department of Transportation gives further tips about the next steps:
"One of the first projects on the list: Livonia Avenue in Brownsville, where NYCHA residents and local elected officials brought poor lighting beneath the 3 train to the city’s attention. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development is also planning to build affordable housing next to the train, in a neighborhood that’s become one of the mayor’s focus areas. DOT has hired Tillett Lighting Design to come up with illumination plans for the street.
Another area in line for public space upgrade: Jerome Avenue, where the Department of City Planning is working on a rezoning along the elevated 4 train."
We truly appreciate our partnership with NYC Department of Transportation. We’d especially like to thank and recognize:
- NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for her great support of this groundbreaking initiative to improve spaces under the elevated across five boroughs, and her dedicated staff led by Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner and Neil Gagliardi, Director of Urban Design;
- Our project fellows Neil Donnelly, Susannah Drake, Krisanne Johnson, Chat Travieso, and Douglas Woodward whose deep intelligence and dedicated work form the body of this seminal work; and
- Our community collaborators Chinatown Partnership, and Women’s Housing and Economic Development and Bronx Music Heritage Center.
We also thank:
- NYC Department of City Planning, Department of Environmental Planning, NYC Parks and NY State DOT;
- Our Advisory Committee and contributors, especially, Bob Balder, Tom Campanella, and Linda Pollak; and
- Our funders, National Endowment for the Arts, Buro Happold Engineering, New York Building Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council, Tekton Builders, and Situ Fabrication for their in-kind services.
Hear directly from the Under the Elevated
Fellows at our upcoming gathering on July 9th. RSVP today.