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Students Reimagine Public Housing With Flair, Flood Protection

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What could NYCHA housing look like if it were a titch more creative and a lot better at withstanding floods? Last year, David Leven and Andrew Bernheimer decided to pose that question to their studio class of first-year students seeking a masters of architecture at Parsons. What resulted was a slew of out-of-the-box designs (nicely rounded up over at Urban Omnibus) that, while perhaps not realistic given the overall ugliness and limited budgets of public housing projects, offer a glimpse of what could be. Some background: the Alfred E. Smith Houses along the Lower East Side waterfront were particularly hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy, and (though the teachers didn't know it at the time the assignment was given) the compound is also part of a much-contested city-wide plan to build market-rate housing on parking lots, playgrounds, and community centers to funnel revenue into NYCHA's ailing coffers. Leven and Bernheimer asked their students to consider a swath of undeveloped, vacant land near the Smith Houses tower blocks and, in their designs, to encapsulate "visions of affordable social housing that actively confront antagonistic relationships between those that dwell in a city and the environment that is rapidly changing it." The overall theme is resilience, a buzzword thrown around with frequency in Mayor Bloomberg's myriad post-Sandy reports, and students were encouraged to think up a 100,000-square-foot building with a variety of units, along with a public market space, using "new ways of designing architecture in the face of daunting environmental parameters and seemingly dire expectations." Here are renderings of the 11 proposals they came up with.

· Studio Report: Dwelling and Resilience [Urban Omnibus]
· All NYCHA coverage [Curbed]
· All Thought Experiment posts [Curbed]