DUMBO will be inundated in 50 years, thanks to global warming. But the high rents — not the high water — will be responsible for driving out all the artists.
That’s what some Pratt Institute urban design graduate students concluded when the DUMBO Improvement District asked them to study the area and come up with some ideas to revitalize the neighborhood under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.
“Pratt was the logical choice to do this project,” said Tucker Reed, the improvement district’s executive director, which hosted an exhibition of the four Pratt student teams’ designs.
One group of adjunct professor Meta Brunzema’s students studied NASA projections for rising sea levels for the next 50 years and calculated that DUMBO would be almost completely flooded by 2056. The group’s plan calls for raising the streets of DUMBO and abandoning existing ground floors in favor of the new entryways.
Another idea focused on DUMBO’s artists. “There is a transformation underway where artists are now being priced out even though they were the community that started the resurgence of the neighborhood and gave it its flavor,” said Brunzema.
The students created a plan that would reconnect artists in DUMBO and Vinegar Hill by utilizing the dark, empty spaces under the Manhattan Bridge, and relocating Con-Ed’s waterfront substation on John Street to another location.
The remaining concrete slabs would serve as foundations for permanent studios and the land around them would be turned into a park.
A third group studied traffic patterns and came up with a plan to create some pedestrian-only streets, while the fourth team suggested unearthing the old trolley tracks to create rolling kiosks or mini-theaters.
“This shouldn’t just be a neighborhood you pass through,” said Brunzema. “We want to make it a destination.”
And the conversation is just getting started.
“We’ve gotten some positive feedback so far,” said Reed, who hopes that the conversation about the future of the neighborhood will continue even though the exhibit has closed.
“There’s a lot to do around [DUMBO],” said Reed. “And we didn’t want to just plant some trees and put up some traffic lights.”
©2007 Community News Group
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