Evolutionary Infrastructure – the new mega form

Biased toward expediting movement and inherently resistant to supporting other forms of inhabitation, transportation infrastructure is an archaic monument to mono-functional use. With ever increasing levels of urban density throughout the world, infrastructure in the city is an underworked territory that must sustain a larger agenda.At a time where the scale of architectural commissions has grown to nearly infrastructural proportions, new models are necessary to work at this very large scale. The intersection of city, water, bridge, tunnel, on and off ramps constitutes a distinct condition. This studio will test the potential of an evolutionary, inhabitable, and hybrid form of infrastructure – a new mega form. The legacy of infrastructural utopias is realized in the northern tip of Manhattan where the George Washington Bridge enters Manhattan, forming an elevated highway that crosses the city and incorporates Nervi\’s revolutionary bus station and a series of housing towers. This unfinished modernist project terminates abruptly at the eastern edge of Manhattan where the highway crosses the Harlem River and carves through the Bronx with a remnant wake of on and off ramps.Completing this utopian project raises new questions: how can this dynamic but unfinished hybrid be reconsidered as a new mega form, where a new reciprocity between the precision of architectural expression and the systemic logics of ecology, landscape, and infrastructure can generate a contemporary paradigm? Research/Proposal: The studio will be initiated with a three week research project, investigating the utopian legacy of the mega project, inflected to engage current ecological, social, and cultural agendas. The studio will then test, through a series of proposals, the potential of a new paradigm for the mega form; a live/work complex simultaneously engaged with the infrastructure and the latent ecologies of the site. In addition to trips to New York City, this studio will include discussions with engineers, ecologists, architects, landscape architects, policy makers, and critics currently interested in challenging the limits of infrastructure.