Research

Staten Island: North Shore’s Divide
Columbia GSAPP, M.S Architecture & Urban Design
Instructors: Kaja Kuehl, James Khamsi, Thad Pawlowski, Ben Brady, Brian Baldor, Pippa Brashear
Summer 2017
Project Location: Staten Island, NY
In Collaboration with Shih Hao Liao, Yeonkyu Park, and Guan Wang

New development happening along Staten Island’s North Shore waterfront is overlooking the needs of local residents, creating inequality between newcomers/tourists, and locals. These development target people that have been priced out of other boroughs, looking to Staten Island to relocate and are also focused on bringing world-wide tourists to the new waterfront.

From a future tourists’ perspective, when you arrive at St. George’s ferry terminal, you’re greeted with a new designer outlet, boutique hotel,largest ferris wheel in the world, and a national-level lighthouse museum. You’ll most likely spend your day only at the St. George waterfront area and will not walk down to shop at Bay Street since it is not pedestrian friendly. 45% of the storefronts are in poor condition. In 2014 alone, the Tompkinsville park, just off of Bay Street, had 98 arrests. That same year, Eric Garner was choked to death outside this park for selling untaxed cigarettes. This resulted in another nationwide black lives matter protest. The North Shore area is also a very diverse community. 70% of residents here are either African Americans, Hispanic, or Asian Americans. Our area of focus, Victory Boulevard, has the largest Sri Lankan community in America. This street also has a unique range of shops and restaurants but they are not as appealing to enter since there are large groups of people loitering outside. A store owner here claims that he reports some sort of theft here 1-2 times every month. A flower shop owner we interviewed told us that businesses in this area are not doing well since people don’t want to invest. Especially with the new Trump administration, people are afraid since the neighborhood is made up of immigrants. He also believes that the new ferris wheel and outlet development will make it harder for everyone here by increasing the rent price. As you walk further uphill, the buildings start to become spaced out and transitions into the residential neighborhood. 24% of the households that live in this area are on the food stamps program and 32% of the population in the North Shore area are below poverty level.

Looking back at history, this is not the first time that these North shore residents have been neglected and left behind as a result of the new development. Before 1959, the activity on Staten Island was focused on North Shore. However, with the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, attention shifted inland as people started using cars and shopping at outlets instead of walking along the small shops at North Shore. As a result, the new development at the time created a physical North-South divide that today reflects a social divide.

 

Dumping Valley: Ohio River Valley – Cincinnati / Louisville
Columbia GSAPP, M.S Architecture & Urban Design
Instructors: Lee Altman, Michael Murphy, Chris Kroner, James Carse, Caitlin Taylor, Justin Moore, David Smiley
Fall 2017
In Collaboration with Xian Yao Xia, Yin Zhu Shen, and One Jea Lee

The Ohio River Valley region is rich with natural resources, which attracts various industries in the manufacturing and food sectors. Even though this is beneficial to the economy, the waste generated from these industries and the urban population makes the Ohio River the most polluted river in the U.S. This polluted water, in return, harms the residents and ecological systems in the region.

From upstream Pittsburgh to downstream Cairo, the production landscape of the valley transforms from coal and gas-based to agriculture and food processing-based. Since the river runs through six different states, an interstate commission, known as ORSANCO (comprised of 8 state representatives), is in charge of controlling the pollution levels. However, a final agreement is difficult to come upon for the future of the river and the decision then becomes up to each state to decide.This results in inconsistent goals for the same river. In Cincinnati and Louisville, a similar issue is occurring. The food industry has always been a prominent part of the urban fabric and a major contributor of their growth. But these industries are now in conflict with the surrounding neighborhoods and the environment. The industrial zone along Mill Creek is a dominant part of Cincinnati. This waterway was a dumping area for sewage and slaughterhouse wastes. Today, the industrial land is being redeveloped in the historic Lower Price Hill neighborhood. The Metro-West brownfield site, was sold to a new manufacturing company. But this site is in the heart of the neighborhood and residents hope for a safer and mixed-used development. In Louisville, the JBS Swift pig slaughterhouse in the middle of Butchertown is infamous for the stench and truck congestion in the neighborhood. The company is now fighting for the expansion of the slaughterhouse but the residents are fighting for the slaughterhouse to relocate to a rural area.

While the rest of the nation is extracting resources from the Ohio River Valley, most are not aware of the impact the wastes generated from these processes have on the local residents and environment. And in return, the impact on the Ohio River affects the environmental quality of the rest of the nation.

Nomadic Landscape: Sandbank of Varanasi, India from Xiaofei Hwang on Vimeo.

Nomadic Landscape
Columbia GSAPP, M.S Architecture & Urban Design
Instructors: Kate Orff, Geeta Mehta, Dilip Da Cunha, and Julia Watson
Spring 2018
Project Location: Varanasi, India
In Collaboration with Yuqi Cui, Ban Edilbi, and Xiaofei Huang

Site documentation of the sandbanks in Varanasi, India.

Skills: Urban Design