4.163J / 11.332J
Urban Design Studio — The Meadowlands Studio: Urban District around Regional Park?

Prerequisites: 4.145, 4.162 or permission of instructor

This studio will dovetail with the actual post-Sandy recovery study by the MIT CAU+ZUS+Urbanisten consortium, commissioned by HUD ‘Rebuild-by-Design’ effort.
However, its efforts and output will be performed in a spirit of academic independence.

The Meadowlands is a large (former) marsh and flood zone just west of Manhattan. Over the last century, the basin has collected an impressive quantity of critical infrastructures (port, utilities), while partially crumbling under an increasing pressure for regular residential and urban development. As a result, the natural marsh system has been severely reduced. Most of the stakeholders agree that development and ecology should have the capacity to reinforce each other’s value. Today, however, we are in a situation where the proximities and adjacencies between the different programs and systems deployed throughout the meadowlands are not reinforcing each other positively; at best proximities are mutually neutral; more often they hamper, hinder each other. Recent efforts by the Meadowlands commission have stabilized the eco-system, but overall there is no vision about how to address the continuing pressure for further urbanization.

Another central design question will concern the definition of the perimeter of the national park meadowlands. The studio will break up in smaller groups and investigate the edge conditions in more detail in order to establish a proper perimeter. This studio will take on overall area of the meadowlands in order to establish a new balance between ecological and development. A major flood zone and sponge for the metro area, the Meadowlands also have the capacity to become a veritable regional park, and a driver for new development along its edges.

The studio will assume a pressure for 15,000 multi-story residential units, most often in proximity to a continuing (and growing) presence of distribution centers for logistics and supply chain; as well as near newly defined regional park Meadowlands. You will aim to arrive at a 2-3 distinct overall visions for the Meadowlands, elaborated at different scale levels. Because of the scope of the problem, we will recommend that groups will develop the proposals; there will be ample time for every student to design their individual contribution into the overall plan.

The studio dovetails with the work of the MIT CAU + ZUS + URBANISTEN consortium for HUD. Professors Jim Wescoat, Sarah Williams, Miho Mazereeuw; as well as ZUS Principal Kristian Koreman, Elma Van Boxel; and Urbanisten principal Florian Boer may provide input during sessions. Also large landowners in the Meadowlands, will be invited occasionally. Finally, the Meadowlands Commission will be invited to participate in a session.

Also, the studio effort will dovetail with the work of the Center for Advanced Urbanism.