Inevitably, when anyone thinks about doing initial site visits during the spring semester, one word pops into their mind: cold. Since January in the northeast tends to be the coldest of the months, and the spring semester conveniently starts in January, I have not had a warm site visit in the spring in about 3 years. Nonetheless, we all pulled on our under armor and Ushankas and ventured out into the cold.
Site Visit 1: Far Rockaway/Fort Tilden
Matt Peckham has assigned us our project for Advanced Construction. We're to design a small (1800 sq. ft.) community sauna, to be placed on a piece of land adjacent to the ocean in Fort Tilden, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. If any of you are in the New York area and have access to a car, I highly recommend you take a drive and check this area out. It's pretty hard to believe standing on a dune, surrounded by sea grass and the sounds of the ocean that you're still standing in New York City.
The Site, as seen from the dunes looking north away from the ocean.
We're situated between two abandoned army barracks.
Inside the largest of the three barracks.
Site Visit 2: Bayonne Piers
My site for studio this semester is in Bayonne, which is a far cry from Florence, that's for sure. We're studying Dynamic Urbanism and creating an intervention for a new community situated on the two largest piers in Bayonne. Currently they're occupied by new condominium developments, a cruise ship terminal, a drydock company, a memorial to the fight against terrorism, a shipping company, and the holding lots for Toyota, Chrysler and BMW/Mini. The pieces of land are completely man made, and we turned up some pretty sweet maps and aerial photos of the area from as far back as 1900, showing how these piers started as simple wharves and gradually were added to until they took their current form, about as long as Manhattan is wide.
Current topo map of the site. North (Manhattan, not shown) is to the left. Brooklyn is up, directly across the river.
The southern edge of the southern pier, complete with container ship gantry cranes.
Tidal Marshlands adjacent to our site.
Oil Tanker unloading...I think.
A field of unsold Toyotas, waiting to be shipped to dealers. The lot next door, labeled "Chrysler Receiving" was ominously empty...
One of the best things about the site (currently) is the views to Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and The Verazano Bridge.
One of the surprise discoveries of the day was made as we were driving off the second of the two piers, heading home. Placed on a barge, not 100 feet from where we parked, was the US Airways Jet that crashed in the Hudson River two weeks ago. It was pretty wild to think that this thing had made a crash landing into a river. Besides the obviously missing engine and emergency exit doors, it looked perfectly normal, ready for it's next flight.