2022 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize, First Prize: “Bracing Peter Bracy”

Visualization of courtyard space with red striped tents, colorful string flags with people barbequing, dancing and chatting around the scene; green trees and wood building in background

The Community Corridor is home to Live-Work unit frontage and a number of amenities for site residents and the greater public. The goal is to build a public space for civic engagement and celebration, but also to create a new commercial corridor that sustains a neighborhood-scaled economy that is built by and for members of the community.

by Hana Cohn (MLA I ’24), Youngju Kim (MAUD ’23), Arami Matevosyan (MDes REBE ’22), and Naksha Satish (MAUD ’22) — Recipients of the Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize, First Prize.

“Bracing Peter Bracey: Reclaiming Power & Retaining Roots (BPB) in New Rochelle, NY” is guided by the idea that housing is more than a physical structure or financial asset—it’s a powerful economic engine for local communities. With that as a principle, BPB puts forward a non-privatized vision to redevelop the only remaining traditional public housing project in New Rochelle, New York.

The residents of Peter Bracey House live in the historic Black neighborhood of Pugsley Hollow, founded in the 1800s by descendants of the earliest freed slaves on record. Decades of a flourishing Black community were followed by neglect and disinvestment. And then the urban renewal projects of the 1950s displaced over a thousand residents and businesses. The massive private investment is threatening a market-induced displacement of long-time residents.

visualization of interior courtyard at apartment complex with wood-clad seating, pink trees, and shared balconies with yellow railings; people of all ages shown in space reading, chatting and playing
Community Patios are shared spaces in between housing buildings that are specially for residents’ everyday use. Each of the site’s three covered Community Patios features a distinctively colored overhead canopy and seasonally-responsive planting that strives to bring individual character and atmosphere.

BPB strives to challenge the cascade of displacement and gentrification by deploying “strategic bracing” measures developed through conversations with local residents, the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority, and other affordable housing experts. This includes the establishment of a community housing trust and the integration of a spectrum of affordable housing typologies. These types range from dorm-style units for at-risk youth, to multi-bedroom units for growing families, and live-work units that support nontraditional entrepreneurs and enable the growth of a neighborhood-sourced, -scaled, and -sustainable economy. Integrated by a community corridor of amenities, this proposal offers opportunities for greater economic freedom, empowerment, and strong roots for the long-time residents of Peter Bracey to continue their life there and to leverage the potential of transit-oriented development in downtown New Rochelle.