cornell university / fall 2022 / 4 months
instructors: nima javidi + behnaz assadi

The island of Manhattan is at extreme risk of flooding, with ongoing pressures from the coast and the constant threat of stormwater flooding. This studio, taking place on the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, investigates the threshold along the coastline of Manhattan that is at constant threat of flooding. 
My initial investigation began with overlays of the map of the original island of Mannahatta before European colonization. The current maps of stormwater flooding and the 100-year floodplain almost without fail intersect with areas of the original map that were marshland that was then reclaimed or infilled. Narrowing the search for a site into those areas, zones of historic redlining were also investigated to land on a site adjacent to Tompkins Square Park in Alphabet City.​​​​
The site block is located between Avenues B and C, and East 7th and 8th Streets. There is an abundance of existing community gardens in the area that are supported by and maintained by volunteer groups. This block itself has one of these gardens and another private garden for the residents of a large residential building at the east side. The site has an existing community garden, but the hours are very limited, and the other greenspace is all private rear yard. The proposed intervention would cross existing lot lines to unite the new building and existing garden. Other notable features include a motorcycle parking garage on the East end, a large Catholic Church with a long history of serving a wide variety of immigrant communities, and a primary school that has closed and remains vacant. 
Compared to many in NYC, the site is relatively permeable on the ground meaning that the majority of the water needing to be managed is collected at the roof level and directed to the ground through downspouts. The water management system of the block would utilize a portion of the existing motorcycle garage, the shortest building in the Eastern portion of the site, to collect rainwater from the neighboring roofs into a collection pool. This would release gradually into the main cistern located under the plaza via the passage that cuts across the block, sinking into the ground and weaving around existing trees. This passage also acts as a pedestrian throughway to the main building. Once the water reaches the plaza, it is filtered through phytoremediating plants on the steps that trickle into the cistern. 
The building houses a community kitchen, community seating, teaching spaces and a greenhouse where the community can grow their own produce.
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