The Neighborhood Project
For my final architecture studio project, we were challenged to transform an empty parking lot in the East Village in Manhattan into a center for older adults. After initial research, I challenged myself with the question:
HCW offset gentrification in the East Village and provide a comfortable space for the older generation to interact with the larger community?
As my contribution to the class' remote site research, I looked into the location and frequency of public transportation in the East Village. The Village View site is located in the center of the East Village, with a bus stop nearby. At best, the bus departs from this stop every 10 minutes, but more often (and especially on weekends), a passengers could be waiting for 20 minutes if they do not plan ahead.
During our site visit to New York we were able to visit the site in Village View, along with some of the current older adult facilities in the surrounding East Village.
We were able to speak to the coordinator of the University Settlement facility and she provided insights into the needs and wants of their older adults that challenged our biases:
From this experience and my previous research, I decided that I wanted design an older adult center that provided the older adults with creative employment opportunities, a series of flexible rooms in which to hold classes, and a larger cafeteria in which they could continue their current multi-purpose room activities while interacting with others from the East Village.
The site appeared quite small in person, with the whole area fenced off and many cars occupying spaces. I was taken by the scale of the Village View high rises. You can feel the contrast to the 5-story buildings across the street from interior of the complex (pictured center below), because the parking lot does not obstruct the view.
In my massing models, I aimed to
My final design places the majority of the center programming in a mass along 1st Ave to provide a buffer for the public plaza below. This public plaza, along with the cafeteria on the 1st floor, provides transportation users a place to spend time between the infrequent bus departures, and a comfortable way for the older adults to interact with the larger community. The plaza is broken up by small studios / storefronts to which the older adults can retreat to create items that they can later sell.