Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still blog here once in a while.

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    The Bridge Towers at the I-95/George Washington Bridge in NYC (Site Visit)

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Sep 30, '11 5:22 PM EST

    Hello Archinect!

    Last week our studio (led by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi) went to NYC to visit our site, which is the area around the "Bridge Towers" that are built directly over the I-95 highway in northern Manhattan.

    [This image from Weiss/Manfredi. All other images are mine.]

    Our site is as above. The I-95 crosses Manhattan at this narrowest point in the north. After crossing the Hudson River from the New Jersey side via the George Washington Bridge, one passes under Pier Luigi Nervi's bus terminal, with its concrete trusses and winged roof, and then under four massive towers--each housing about 1000 people--that alternate with ventilation gaps where the sunken highway is open to the sky. To the east of this is another gaping hole where nothing has yet been built over the highway. Then a tangle of on- and off-ramps manage snarls of traffic while blocking easy pedestrian and bike access to the river and to Highbridge Park which sits on the banks of the Harlem River.

    We're dealing with this whole area and the adjacent neighborhoods, but our primary focus is around the big red question mark, where the sunken highway remains open and a lack of programmed spaces, amenities, and access to the river and its parks currently prevent the development of an active street life.

    This parking lot is in fact part of the roof of the bus terminal and is two stories above grade.

    The towers themselves meet the ground in a way that is not particularly elegant or inviting.

    The towers have come under serious criticism for their placement above the highway, which has led to major asthma and other health problems for residents, due to the constant exposure to vehicular fumes. They are also not that fascinating, architecturally, but the aluminum cladding does have a certain appeal in the morning light.

    The people who inhabit these towers have personalized their balcony spaces with bright paint

    All of this cuts through a lively, largely Dominican, neighborhood.

    So, now you see why our studio is called "Evolutionary Infrastructure - The New Mega Form"! Our task is to add housing for 1000 people to the site, plus whatever other program we deem appropriate. The idea is to propose a new piece of large-scale infrastructure that critiques and extends the existing structures as "unfinished utopias."

    There are more photos after the jump. Thanks for reading!


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About this Blog

This blog was most active from 2009-2013. Writing about my experiences and life at Harvard GSD started out as a way for me to process my experiences as an M.Arch.I student, and evolved into a record of the intellectual and cultural life of the Cambridge architecture (and to a lesser extent, design/technology) community, through live-blogs. These days, I work as a data storyteller (and blogger at in San Francisco, and still post here once in a while.

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