[Re]Working: Brooklyn's Urban/Industrial Waterfront

by Melissa Alexander (MAUD 2013) and Daia Stutz (MLAUD 2013)

21st century American cities are facing two issues latent within the post-industrial landscape: manufacturing and the waterfront. In the 18th and 19th centuries, port cities flourished in part because of advantageous shipping locations on rivers and harbors. Industrial zones were naturally situated close to these ports in order to easily transport goods and raw materials. Today, contemporary manufacturing processes have drastically increased efficiency such that we are producing more with less: less space, fewer resources, less time, and far fewer employees. Moreover, as shipping and manufacturing have become less vital to contemporary economic processes, port cities have gradually shifted capital investment inward, away from the waterfront. Our research indicates that manufacturing is still of vital importance to the American macro-economy, but it exists sparsely, within a landscape of redundant and oversized infrastructure that has effectively become a barrier between the waterfront from the city.

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[Re]Working: Brooklyn’s Urban/Industrial Waterfront exploits this industrial land that is rendered superfluous by modern manufacturing technologies with three acupunctural interventions that laminate two conceptual elements: street and water. At each intervention, a commercial zoning overlay and a new streetscape fosters a dynamic, interactive public zone that pierces from the neighborhood to the waterfront. In turn, at each intervention, a ½ block width is devoted to pulling a water slip into the neighborhood. The proposal privileges a tactical, perpendicular relationship to the waterfront. It incorporates the water as a portion of the city grid, thus creating a thickened zone of opportunity for water/city experiences. The acupunctural strategy dissolves the large, homogenous industrial waterfront parcels with a smaller scale and a more profound experience at the waterfront. A range of temporary, tidal landscapes provide social, economic, and ecological benefits. The existing industrial micro-economy is protected and incubated, with coexistence between residential, industrial, commercial, public and recreational use.

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