Since New York has been branded by insane taxi drivers, cross town buses, and a subway system that is constantly under construction, is it such a far fetched idea to think about designing NYC around its transportation systems? In particular public spaces and parks pose an interesting idea for a city that is connected by bridges, tunnels, and expressways. What if green spaces were created around the necessary forms of transportation that are already in place?
Gowanus, Brooklyn is just a stone’s throw away from the skyscraper-ridden mecca of Manhattan. Most who have passed by Gowanus on their way to Manhattan have probably been driving above on the Gowanus Expressway that connects to the Holland Tunnel. Under the Gowanus Expressway is where Living City Brooklyn Gowanus is located, right a long Court Street.
Residents and those who work in the area are definitely connected to the public transit system via buses and the F,G subway lines (as almost all New Yorkers are) as well as the Gowanus Expressway. This got me thinking, “Why not redesign old infrastructure with a new purpose in mind?” Watching the American Society of Landscape Architect’s video on designing public space along with Grist Reporter, Sarah Goodyear’s article on transforming infrastructure in cities, I was able to start envisioning what Gowanus could look like in the future.
ASLA suggested we create parklets instead of large-scale green space investments. What are parklets you say? Parkets are small and sometimes removable forms of public space. They are simple and ultimately help to revitalize the surrounding area and provide a way for a neighborhood to interact. Parklets in San Francisco, New York, and other cities have started to transform underused space into a more functional and aesthetically pleasing areas that are either permanent or movable. A lot of these parklets are made of recycled material and pair together seating, greenery, and bicycle storage. Parklets are all about resourcefulness and transformation of useless space to useful space.
By combining these two ideas of parklets and transportation I feel that there are many spaces around Gowanus that could prosper. Under the Gowanus Expressway? Outside the new Smith and 9th Street Station? These are all areas that could be transformed based on their necessity and proximity to public transportation.
To find out what vacant or unused areas are around Gowanus look no further than our office window where there is a 596-acre map that show all vacant lots around Brooklyn. From what this map shows, unused lots are scarce, which means that public space that takes up only minimal space will be the most efficient. Gowanus, let’s think big by thinking small!