SUPERFRONT Architect-in-Residence 2010 Manuel Avila has been chosen as one of 10 winners for the Institute of Urban Design‘s By the City / For the City ideas competition. Out of 150 submissions, Avila’s Crown Heights Participatory Urbanism project was chosen as one of 10 winners.
Crown Heights Participatory Urbanism is a community-informed design proposal for public space located in the Crow Hill neighborhood of Crown Heights. The project was started by Manuel Avila as part of the Architect-in-Residence program at SUPERFRONT.
The purpose of the project is to provide a forum for the community to rethink residual spaces created by transportation infrastructure towards a new public space network. The project is founded on the idea of creating a common ground for residents, local community organizations, business owners, and governmental entities to discuss and initiate plural public spaces in the context of a diverse emergent community in Crown Heights. While space in Crown Heights is contested on a daily basis, this reclamation of a public corridor along the Franklin Avenue Shuttle — the main transportation line in Crow Hill, Crown Heights — can serve to connect, not divide, neighbors and community members.
Initially built in 1887 to connect central Brooklyn with Coney Island and Manhattan, the Franklin Avenue shuttle’s elevated tracks now pierce through the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. The shuttle, which in its current state is a truncated version of the nineteenth century project, connects Crown Heights to the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Lefferts Gardens, making stops along the way at the C train on Fulton St, the 2, 3, 4, 5 trains at Eastern Parkway and the Botanical Garden and then finally stopping at the B, Q trains in Prospect Park. The neglected spaces alongside the elevated tracks are the focus of this project and are located between Park Place and Pacific Street and between Classon and Franklin Avenues.
Crow Hill neighbors contributed their feedback about what they would like to see in these neglected spaces through three different venues: first, community meetings have provided a forum for proposing ideas about potential uses of the space. Second, in local blogs (ILFA, NOSTRAND PARK, and Participatory Urbanism Crown Heights own blog) the community has been able to carry on a virtual conversation; and third, people have left comments in a few notebooks placed around the neighborhood in strategic locations, including laundromats, beauty salons and coffee shops. The designs presented here today are a reflection of the community’s ideas about how they want to use residual spaces along the Franklin Avenue Shuttle. They constitute a work in progress.