Datacology : Lower Manhattan Financial Network Plateau / Tai-Li Lee / Hiram Rodriquez 

Cultural Capital

Our project identifies the accumulation and distribution of cultural capital as an alternative form of social mobility that is not bound solely by economic means. The proposal is a projection into the future of the city, speculating on the growth, the creative industries, and envisioning a city comprised of connective spaces, fostering a collaborative attitude towards production in the city.  Perhaps overly idealistic, we were interested in socialist Utopian communities, systems of barter and trade, and concepts of shared ownership. These interests led us to develop a set of tactics and design strategies that fundamentally contradicted the self organizing nature of the so called “creative class”.  We believe this self organizing nature can be self defeating. We desire the ability to create self empowerment.  Developing a city that provides its inhabitants access to means of production, and further the means of self fulfillment.

Our proposal is an urban campus for the creative industries and is sited in Brooklyn between the Morgan and Montrose L train stops. The main interest is the form and growth of the city in relation to its creative class as a gentrification machine. Our primary site is a border zone between residential and industrial business and is along the L train.  The L train corridor being a vital artery in the city.  The train is a major part of the phenomenon of the artist, maker, designer, thinker, cultural driver, as the city’s growth machine.  The train becomes a provisional orientation device directing a collision between a group of people, who possess embodied cultural capital, and the industrial landscape of Bushwick, that contains vacant warehouses and empty lots as a form of objectified cultural capital.

We looked to our disciple for strategies that we could turn into tactics for creating a city fabric that could reconnect. Confronting contradictions, the inevitable, and our own ambivalence, we questioned the role of architecture and planning as well as the importance of form.

We hope to provoke a response to the issues that face the “creative class” as they are continually out priced further from the center of the city.


Carmel, NYC Watershed  Carla Lores | Michael Yarinsky

New York City’s Watershed is a site in crisis. Not only is there a larger demand for water due to the growth of the population, but due to further suburban development in upland areas, water catchment sites are not as hygienic as once thought. Within the Croton Watershed lies Carmel. This suburban town in Putnam County has large basins for water catchment integrated into a developed suburban community. The distributed system currently in place for the dispersal of sewage, though, has a very high risk of contaminating the watershed.

Based on a topological study using sand and cavities to represent the density and area of groundwater contamination risk, a landscape was generated. The areas that are highest upland have the highest ground water capacity and lowest contamination risk, and the areas downland have the lowest capacity and highest risk. This relationship is key to the remediation strategy, by creating a topography that channels euent water to these specific sites. The exo-landscape is then populated with components that not only allow the material flow relationship but can also be modulated to allow for varying lighting conditions and the ability to contain soil and plants. This passive system is then activated by integrated pumps that draw sewage to biogas processing sites.

Using pastoral ideas native to the development of suburban landscaping, such as the sweeping vista, winding pathway, scenic overlook and grotto, we develop the landscape to be a desirable recreation site. Overlaid, layers of sewage, air, and water flow create a new material ecology within Carmel. Since the sites of highest contamination risk are protected, New York City’s Watershed is more protected than previously. Because the system is automated to deposit and process waste into the sites of highest capacity, the system as a whole has a larger capacity for sewage.

This project hopes to blur the boundary between what is considered clean and contaminated, synthetic and natural, and in doing so foster a modified suburban desire. This, through the intensification of existing conditions of a synthetic pastoral and the gizmo begins to challenge the boundaries that enabled the development of suburbia in the first place.



Excursions on Volume

New York City   Erik Martinez | Shawn Sims

Historically the process of standardization has spawned from the need for new structures of efficiency. The performance requirements of this process create unbiased arteries that are susceptible to forms of exploitation. This entails that at a global logistical scale, the network is blind with regard to the status of the goods; being licit or illicit. As globalization generates new organizational models for distribution, the intelligence of the counterfeit network is understood to be its ability to uncover and anticipate opportunities embedded within these structures of efficiency.

The modern shipping container is analogous with these standardized practices, both physical and protocological, and in an effort to increase globalization, this mechanism generates an opportunity for the insertion of a hack. Perhaps with an excursion into understanding the ability for weight and volume to be an operable energy, the container field of a port becomes an untapped resource able to generate new land.

Currently the dredged materials form the Hudson River are carried out into the ocean and dumped because of their toxic attributes. However the toxicity levels are dropping and for the first time since an industrialized New York, the sediment collected from dredging operations has the potential to remain in the city and be utilized in this land forming process.

The use of weight as a latent energy, and of dregde as a material are combined to reconsider the arrival of infrastructure to a once industrialized Hudson river. The fluctuating weight of container traffic is utilized to rigidify dregde to create a pixelated landscape which emerges from the existing water level. The commercial materials utilized within this infrastructure provide an emerging architecture with the products necessary to begin a series of retail and market spaces. A porous pixelated landscape rigidified by a membrane is stretched vertically to enclose space and change continuously as the market fluctuates in size.

Prophylactic Landscape

New York City    Edwin Lam | Sean Stevenson

Within the current discourse of public health, airborne viruses capable of surviving transcontinental travel have prompted widespread efforts to fortify local and global boundaries against the flow of disease. Despite the current strategies for managing disease by eliminating infected animals and quarantining infected people, efforts to halt the flow of contagions have been frustrated by the difficulty of visually representing the virus.

While images of slaughtered animals, face-masks, and decontamination procedures at airports have filled the media coverage of these epidemics, the impossibility of pinpointing the precise location of the virus has created an ever present paranoia within public spaces. The project then focuses on this emergence of paranoia within the public sphere and a reconceptualization of a synthetic terrain to manage the paranoia.

Infusing clinics within city parks, the proposed synthetic terrain consists of the three key programs within a mass prophylaxis campaign: diagnosis, distribution, and treatment. Each clinical program is then masked with a series of temporal park amenities. As the city fluctuates through different levels of contamination the park amenities recess, allowing the embedded clinic to emerge as the predominant landscape.

Ruin Nation

New York City   Mike House | Victor Orriola

Conditions of urban decay and abandonment are beginning to spread through New York City at a rate not seen since the 1970s. 2008 was the first year on record that the DOB kept records of stalled construction sites and high foreclosure rates began to affect the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. As a result 15,000 renters who never engaged in irresponsible mortgage financing have come to account for at least half of the cities foreclosure victims. Simultaneously the NYC Dept. of Homeless Services together with the NYC Housing Authority have been advocating for an approach which stresses permanent housing over the typical transitional shelter model as a long term remedy for transitional housing.

We perceive the NYCHA’s call for a new type of transitional housing model as an indication that city agencies are now willing to be more progressive in the way that transitional populations are handled and understood. With that in mind we thought it appropriate to investigate some illicit practices which tend to thrive off of the decay and dysfunction of the city’s built environment. Specifically the work done by metal scrappers and squatters has become a model for our re-invigoration of abandoned sites. Through mapping we have identified how seemingly disparate sites are actually part of a sophisticated and highly interconnected underground network with it’s own rules for economy, occupation, growth and decay. While doing so we have been able to formalize some seemingly mundane qualities that such practices might use to evaluate any given vacant site and adopt these practices into a formal housing and community infrastructure.

Beyond simply a housing intervention, we propose various degrees of enclosure which create concrete benefits for mainstream real estate speculators as well as social service providers. These disparate entities rarely engage productively with one another as their fundamental operations tend to be opposed. In Ruin Nation gentrified and frontier populations will support each other through an engagement with various local architectural operations.

Prescriptive Urbanism

New York City   Rebecca Caillouet | Roxanne Sadeghpour

Regulatory policies are often conceived as the primary focus of criticism that is rooted in governmental deficiencies or market failure. Narrowly defined, regulation is set forth through a series of local administrative controls that deliberately preserve previous social and political climates by embedding them into the urban fabric with the intention of managing the form of the city. To this end, the problem lies not with regulation, in and of itself, but with the preserved tracts of the city that are carried through time and forced to exist in climates to which they cannot adapt. These tracts, or residual enclaves, are the physical manifestations of this form of regulation in the built environment, and serve as the primary focus of inquiry into the regulatory network.

Through an improved understanding of the effects of the enclave on the local community, a higher degree of community sustainability can be achieved that addresses municipal economic, environmental and community actions that extend beyond land use and planning. New sustainable regulatory protocols must be informed by past experience as well as a new understanding of human behavior, societal needs, and the limits of regulatory capabilities. The nature of these regulatory initiatives must be posited in a way that constructs and nurtures the residual enclaves as dynamic and robust, and functions in concert with the evolving social and political climates that it currently exists in. At this level, pieces of the past are moving simultaneously with current climates creating a situation that is limiting progress as it pertains to efficient sustainable regulation.

This project seeks to address the effects of the residual enclave by acquiring a new methodology and systems of intelligence to negotiate antiquated modes of regulation. In its current form, the enclave has become a stable fixture within the city and positions the inscribed communities to search for loopholes or illicit means to manage them. These illicit means behave as counterprotocol to the regulatory network and challenge the fundamental elements of its origin.

Mystery Market

New York City    Ashkahn Bazl

This project deals with the redistribution and reinterpretation of storage throughout the urban context of Manhattan in locations that involve the idea of bringing storage to a site of distribution.  The site featured is Union Square, chosen for several reasons, ranging from the fluxuation of traffic (pedestrian and consumable) to the permanence of pop-up structures that the site hosts.  The geometries were formed by using a square footage ratio of existing storage components, ranging from personal locker sized spaces all the way to room sized spaces, and potential building footprint.  Since the site was demolished, the park had to be relocated, in the vertical.  From the spacial breakdown of density in the vertical comes another system of structural members that support the park as it moves through the site, there is a constant shift in majority between the park and storage programs as one moves upward through the building.  The program of storage also is reinterpreted as mechanisms are designed to instead store trees for the park instead of belongings for a person.

Synergism By Recreation

New York City   Zakiya Franklin | Peechaya Mekasuvanroj

The nature of our research entails social interaction and a means of stimulating it within a zone that lacks locations that do so. The category of activities that we test against are those that relate to leisure. In this sense, leisure is acknowledge as activities that take place when not engaged within work. Leisure is chosen to progress with because  it provides a universal common grounds in which people of all cultural and social groups can openly interact. Areas that claim to provide locations for free and easy social exchange actually restrict the level of satisfaction one would receive due to rigid program. When it comes to quantifying the level of satisfaction, studies have shown that people receive a higher level of satisfaction with more informal programs. By introducing water and energy into the infrastructure, for gathering and social interactions, we increase the potential number of visitors, where different networks of people of groups can interact.

By this continuous intersection of social groups, the extent of potential users increase. In addition  to creating an infrastructure that enhancing social interactions, it also  connects the different zones within the site, zones that produce a separation between one another. The series of paths that create this linear network of circulation along with the informal programs of social articulation, bring residents and non residents to a mutual location that promotes interactions, in an attempt to blend the boundaries that have developed over time. Being that this infrastructure is one of the new areas within the city to induce such an effect, it becomes a mechanism to lure people to this part of the city, thus making it more popular.

Fractal Boundaries

LAX_bannerLos Angeles Jun Pak | Cole Reynolds

A study of mobility in Los Angeles as it pertains to the formation of self-similar patchwork organizations of neighborhoods and sub districts within the downtown. Travel distance to freeway access points and public transportation was tabulated for each commercial or residential unit within the subject area and cross referenced against census data on automobile ownership. The mapping reveals patches and regions exhibiting ranges of high to low connectivity that correspond to data about socioeconomic status. These are understood to be regions that would support the introduction of secondary pedestrian-oriented circulation infrastructures that outline future regions for vertical development now that the horizontal growth of the city is approaching its limit.

The scale of the infrastructure is a direct correspondence to that of its user. Devices such as water collection, energy collection, light control and agriculture pods are used in an immediate way for results that aim to stimulate a changing lifestyle and characteristic of Los Angeles in an effort to catalyze certain areas of the city in a way to formulate new circulation routes and augment density.

Agile Urbanism

SAO_bannerSao Paulo Heidi Jandris | Sebastian Misiurek

Over the course of the next 25 years, the rate of world urbanization will be greater than any time in history. Cities are no longer being formed around manufacturing or industry but around the convergence of global flows of capital and labor. As the centralized power structure of industry is migrating away from metropolitan areas, a decentralized power structure is becoming more apparent, indicated by informal settlements. Due to the extreme segregation of classes, and the juxtaposition of formal and informal settlements, Sao Paulo is a city in conflict, a territory where two worlds collide, causing ranges of confrontation and integration, involving all sectors of the population.

The investigation of Sao Paulo and the intrinsically complex slum networks (favelas) that exist there have revealed an invaluable amount of knowledge about emergent organization patterns, self-regulating systems, and the power struggles of societies that are in constant fluctuation. Negotiation of boundaries is a main focus in our research. The interfaces between boundaries are spaces of friction at the edges of segregated logics and methods.

The logics that govern and shape the favelas can be utilized as a basis to create architecture that can change and respond to the needs of the occupants, ranging from single users to entire communities. An architecture that will not just seek a programmatic solution to a single infrastructural problem, but one that will use these ideas of flux to transcend multiple issues at the same time. Through simultaneous cognition, highly adaptive and responsive systems and spaces will emerge that will be more efficient and sustainable, socially and programmatically.

In the context of “SAOPOCALYPSE” we are proposing an infrastructure/architecture that will negotiate the boundaries between the conventional infrastructure in place and the informal communities that juxtapose it. By creating competition between the two opposing areas, we will attempt to address their issues while allowing them to not only coexist but to intertwine and incorporate mutual qualities and resources at certain moments so both sides can co-evolve, while keeping their individuality and preferences. The informal will always exist in a planned city, but by looking at territories of interaction and separation, it is possible to manipulate negotiations between conflicting areas.

Civic Bailout

NYC_bannerNew York City Joanna Cheung | Bradley Rothenberg

Civic Bailout intends to research, develop, and implement durable forms of interface between citizens and the institutions that govern them. The current banking crisis, as a context, identifies a series of inconsistencies within the sharing of information between the institution and the citizen. This can be seen as a civic crisis, whereas we define civic as the transfer, as well as feedback of knowledge between organizations of citizens and institutional organizations. Research into current forms of civic event, space, and interface show a disconnection between the traditional civic space’s within the city, and the more ephemeral space produced by the civic event. We propose a civic scaffold, latent with interface, which, initially is able to better respond to the fluctuating dynamics of the civic.

In order to promote communication between the city and its citizens and between citizens and citizens, our proposed project is a deployable civic scaffold that answers to NYC’s and its citizen’s desires and concerns. With the capabilities to infiltrate into vacancies caused by the financial crisis, it resuscitates the dying infrastructure and injects new civic programs for the citizens.

We feel that our project heightens our knowledge of how society perceives their environment and its fluctuating conditions. What is the initial reaction of the citizen to issues of concerns and how does that reaction grow into a rhizomatic group of citizens that produces an ephemeral space through different forms of demonstrations. Our project produces a cognitive infrastructure that is able to interact with the citizens at a local scale and the city at a global scale, thereby bridging the two scalar differences and stimulating a revolutionary civic reactivity and allowing the citizens to be heard. It obtains an open source of communication that empowers the citizens to take part of their city’s future.

CivicBailout_sample from Bradley Rothenberg on Vimeo.

Flicker from Bradley Rothenberg on Vimeo.

Flexible Scaffold : Octahedra unit from Bradley Rothenberg on Vimeo.

Incremental Infrastructures


Mumbai Final Presentation (30mb file)

Mumbai Allison Hoffman | John Seward

An analysis of informal water delivery and distribution networks that emerge within slums in Mumbai. The city is characterized by an incomplete municipal water infrastructure that requires the physical collection of water, as well as a demand that vastly exceeds the supply for drinking water. The maps document conditions that lead to the advent of water cartels, middlemen, hawkers, and illegal taps that constitute a protocological distribution network whose complexity and conditional logics resists conventional mapping. Data sets are developed that tabulate travel distance, carrying capacity, and available volume and mapped within a recursive node and line network organization in order to predict a set of social factors that include satisfaction and effort, and monetization and commodification, that suggest a context for a series of aid-based water management infrastructures, collection systems, and market systems, as well as a more ad hoc network of other municipally or civically minded informal infrastructures such as informal schools, pharm trading, and temporary clinics.

Flood Borough

LON_bannerLondon Jintana Tantinirundr | Kamilla Litvinov

The city of London is undergoing a state of changes through upcoming anticipated events of crises that is changing its urban and social orders. An adaptable infrastructure is imposed to address the multiple crises the city faces during certain periods of time. As a large influx of people will descend upon London for the 2012 Olympic Games. The city will then have to adjust to the population increase addressing the congestion and making accommodations. Then after the events, the city must plan on how to incorporate the Olympic urban strategies back into the city’s fabric during the Post-Olympic state. The proposed infrastructure can also become a gateway to solving London’s anticipated flooding conditions due to the global warming crisis. The infrastructure will become part of the urban fabric as it is built up through time as events occurring in the city plan a major role in its development.

The infrastructure involves using London’s pre-existing extensive Surveillance systems as a tracking device that uses the input of large crowds that will trigger the infrastructure to adapt to the flow of crowds. As the city changes in population growth, social demands, climate change, and the city undergoes certain events the infrastructure has the ability to acquire territory and permanency and change its form and programmatic function to adapt to change. Through the use of visionary scenarios, the infrastructure begins to question the uncertainty of the future and suggests architecture that can accommodate to the crisis and various changes of the city.



Mexico City Nick Garate | Jeos Oreamuno

Jakarta Transit Network

JAK_bannerJakarta Transit Network

Jakarta Anna Perelman

The city of Jakarta has the most extensive suburban sprawl of any city in the world and an uneven distribution of urban amenities. As a result residents typically travel hours on congested and occasionally flooded roads to access other parts of the city, snarled in massive traffic jams. This travel constitutes a network of extreme delay and supports an enormous informal commercial marketplace that takes place along roadsides. This informal economy is estimated to account for 60% of the city’s economic activity and is at the same time not recognized as legal nor tabulated.

The city has recently developed a series of dedicated high speed busways, the Transjakarta network to alleviate congestion. Its stations are nevertheless the site of extreme and uncoordinated delay, crowding, and the clearing of the informal marketplaces that drive the city and are essential to its character. The project proposes a novel infrastructure for coordinated delay in the form of a new transit station type that incorporates a flexible membrane architecture to modulate the flow of pedestrian traffic, provide opportunities for clustering and lightweight infrastructure for the emergent street market vendors, and ambient services in the form of rain protection, vehicular exhaust ventilation, lighting, and air conditioning.



Bangkok Jose Blanco | Andres Correa | Ivan Delgado

When considering the unaltered Chao Phraya River Basin ecological events flow: Monsoon, Flood, Drought, and the current state of Bangkok, the flow of urban event is at odds with the environmental system.   As the city expanded, its urban fabric failed to synchronize with the landscape and existing rhythms of water in the river, due to the inflexibility of the urban typology.  It is through improper value accorded to the river that facilitated its mismanagement.

It seems that the existing infrastructure’s aim is to exclude or minimize interaction with the river, which is the cause of social stratification.  It may be possible to re-integrate and re-affirm the river into the entire social fabric of Bangkok, resulting in an emergence of leisure experiential moments within the urban landscape.  Perhaps the scenario of leisure in a state of crisis is the vehicle for this re-integration.  Thus, through transactional topographies water is transformed from crisis to leisure, by reintegrating it into society as a leisure culture it becomes a de-stratifying agent.  Therefore, by localizing the collection, treatment, and distribution of water and removing it from the global network we by-pass government barriers between people and water giving free access to the communities.

Residual Infrastructure

Whitehorse, Yukon Katie Adee | James Baldauf | Natasha Harper

Rethinking Resource Infrastructure

This project proposes a mobile collection and sequestration system that searches the terrain for methane rich permafrost deposits while leaving behind “off-the-grid” settlements across the Arctic landscape.

In light of the current climate crisis, we began looking at ways in which architecture could serve a more fundamental role in the issue of sustainability. As permafrost (perennially frozen soil) melts, it releases methane into the atmosphere. Methane, is 30 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. However, hidden within the permafrost is what is known as gas hydrate. Gas hydrates are gasses trapped within the crystalline structure of ice. Methane is a potential clean-burning energy source 2x larger than that of all other fossil fuel reserves. In our thesis project, we chose to capitalize on this naturally occurring phenomenon by collecting the methane for use as a new energy source while using the infrastructure erected as the bones for new communities that would be energy self-sustaining.

Reinterpreting the Edge

New Orleans Asta Fivgas | Jung Im | Paul Stein 2007-2008

Reinterpreting the Edge: A Response to Coastal Flood and Erosion

Coastal flooding and erosion is only one factor that plays into the larger picture of “global warming”. Our group became increasingly interested in it’s effect on what we consider the “edge”. Edge can refer to sea vs. land as well as urban vs. natural.

Our system deploys itself along the edge as a mediator (both between the city and the surrounding wetlands as well as the marshland and the sea) that capitalizes on natural sediment flow by capturing and redistributing the sediment to strengthen specific areas of the coastline as well as diverting and slowing wave currents. As the sediment is secured new “land” is created and a second phase of the system is deployed. Each phase builds upon the previous creating layers of build-up both natural (silt/sediment) and architectural (nested geometry). The growth pattern is dependent on scripted algorithms that orient the aperture of the cells toward desirable conditions as well as manipulate the cell based on inputs such as topographical depth and environmental context/needs.