Capstone Courses and Projects

Municipal Arts Society and CIVITAS

Pleasant Village, East Harlem
The former site of the Washburn Wire Factory in Pleasant Village is currently owned by a developer who plans to turn the site into East River Plaza (ERP). ERP, a big box retail complex, is based on uncertainties and may not be built as planned. The scale and potential negative impacts of the project are of significant concern to the surrounding community. After surveying the existing conditions of the neighborhood, the Capstone team split into three groups to explore alternative strategies for the site. Group One developed a full mitigation plan including design measures and social programs that will lessen the negative impacts of ERP while capitalizing on its advantages. Group Two assumed that ERP will be reduced in size and has examined the resulting impacts and potential uses for the remaining space. Group Three proposed a mixed use alternative development program for the ERP site that focuses on community needs and character and includes housing as a major alternative use.

Manhattan Community Board #1

World Trade Center Neighborhood Livability Plan
Community Board 1 asked the Capstone team to create a neighborhood livability plan for the areas surrounding the World Trade Center site. Even before the tragic events of 9/11, the Community Board had been working to develop, grow, and improve Lower Manhattan. The project study area included the neighborhoods below Chambers Street, between Broadway and West Street. Given that the focus of rebuilding has been on the World Trade Center site itself, the Capstone team’s charge focused more on the areas surrounding Ground Zero to better connect the site with the larger community. The goal was to create a plan that would yield a vibrant, mixed-use community that functions as a center for business, culture, tourism, and residential living. The plan addresses issues of overall accessibility, pedestrian, mass transit and vehicular transportation, residential construction and conversions, retail development, open space, cultural and educational facilities, and streetscape design.