Ungrid

by Boxiang Yu (MLA, MLAUD '19)

“If there is to be a ‘New Urbanism’, it will not be based on the twin fantasies of order and omnipotence; It will be the staging of Uncertainty” – Rem Koolhaas

The street grid is a defining element of Manhattan, established in 1811 to blanket the island and it became the city’s first great civic enterprise and a vision of brazen ambition. But the system works so successfully that eliminate the peculiarity of New York city, it monopolizes the whole island’s streetscape and turn everything into identical city develop chain. The great grid gave this island the most striking feature yet takes away its personality.

Broadway is the only destroyer within the system. Along with its diagonal line, a little bit New York’s uniqueness character gradually revealed. The Flatiron Building and Madison Square park, New York Times Square, Columbus Circle, and of course, the most dramatic performance space – ‘Lincoln Center’…All of which just demonstrate that this city still has its uniqueness yet concealed by the grid. Therefore, what if I unwrap the grid and underlining the system that allows the unique point to stand out?

This is exactly what I propose to do. By deconstructing the great grid system, I filter out its influence on urban community and left behind only what is important to citizen’s mind. Their impression for the city. With only just simple geometric symbol yet bearing the deep meaning. Through shifting, transforming, distorting and contrasting to build a system, an infrastructure, a topography that can amplify the unique spatial character of Broadway. To show everyone everything that is UNGRID.

Consider Lincoln Center as a performance space, and it is an important joint on the Broadway which makes it a perfect place to highlight the uniqueness out of Broadway. Unique means different from surrounding, means a catch feature in a certain location, and means have control over what is normal. To me, to pursue the monumentality of the space is a great way to see it. Therefore, to use the tension that generate by the site car and people flow, along with the unique geometric reflect by the site to intensify the monumentality feature of the site and the uncertainty in the end, is what my project is.