June 10, 2010

For much of its length, the 8.5-mile Major Deegan Expressway, located in the Bronx (and named for architect William F. Deegan), obstructs the Harlem River waterfront, an uninviting jumble of light industry and truck parking.

linear city the pump

The City of New York is working to encourage housing and recreational uses along the Harlem River and, as Carol Samol of the Department of City Planning puts it, to “make the best of the waterfront, despite the Deegan.” The strategies she has in mind are modest, involving, for instance, lighting the underside of the highway to invite area residents to walk beneath an elevated section en route to a planned riverside park.

linear city the pump rendering
Meanwhile, two Columbia architecture students, Dongsei Kim and Jamieson Fajardo, won a competition sponsored by theBronx Museum of the Arts and the Design Trust for Public Space by proposing more dramatic changes for the Deegan. PUMP, which stands for Purifying Urban Modular Parasite, is a complex scheme in which a sophisticated filtration system will be built into and on top of the Major Deegan to banish “vehicular air pollution and additionally provide acoustic buffering, rainwater filtration, green walkways, and pedestrian access to the new green waterfront.” In Kim and Fajardo’s vision, the neighborhood doesn’t improve despite the Deegan, but because of it.

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