Building Brooklyn's Biodiversity: an urban design workshop

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Thu 27 Apr · 17:00 - 18:00
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A workshop centred on the biodiversity-enhancing urban development of vulnerable coastlines with Brooklyn’s Red Hook as a case study, given that this area is the centre of urban development proposals due to its vulnerability to flooding.

Urban fabric registers, and in many cases contributes to, the simultaneous increase of human population, temperatures, carbon and flooding. The Pratt MS Urban Design sequence asks the urban surface to demonstrate new formats, media and strategies for urban resilience that includes supporting biodiversity.

Brooklyn’s Red Hook is a peninsula located between Buttermilk Channel, Gowanus Bay and Gowanus Canal, with large parts being landfills built over a former marsh and buried streams. Red Hook tends to experience flooding because of the combination of a high-water table, increasing storm surges, significant rainfall on impervious surfaces and sea level rise. The water bodies surrounding the Red Hook Peninsula form part of the New York-New Jersey Estuary, which supports a wide variety of marine life, which will be considered among the diversity of this neighbourhood.

The surfaces of existing buildings harbour untapped potential for ecological, cultural and economic benefit for the city. New York City buildings comprise about 100 square miles (259 km²) of adaptable facades which become, in Paul Mankiewicz’s terms, exchange surfaces for the city’s fluid geometries of atmosphere and water. Surfaces dotted with niches and nesting spaces; absorbent mediums and data-gathering interfaces become a living fabric with ecological benefits for many species.


The workshop proposes a presentation of Red Hook by the 8 MS Urban Design students, using as support a large physical site model (3 m x 2 m) as well as digital models integrating our LIDAR scans of the area.  Proposals range from coastal buffering to elevated greenways and parks. We envisage a dialogue with European counterparts on the development of these projects. The timing for this occurs in the middle of MS UD students’ one-year programme; which suggests that the dialogue fostered in +MODEL would impact and inform the students’ culminating theses (September 2023). The Pratt MS UD exhibition in October 2023 would offer a way to highlight an ongoing dialogue with the events at +MODEL and demonstrate its impact to a broad NYC audience.

Online activity

Meeting ID: 975 6215 0145

Organized by

GAUD, Pratt School of Architecture, Pratt Institute

  • Ariane Harrison
  • Valeria Cedillos
  • Aryann Rajesh
  • Nilufer Haciosmanoglu
  • Afreen Khan
  • Shreya Neurgaonkar
  • Param Patel
  • Shravya Ponnaluri
  • Niva Shah
  • Safeerul Syed
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