Winner, Second Place, Gowanus By Design Axis Civitas competition
Gowanus turns its back to its namesake canal. This is evident in both incidental and absolute forms: an examination of street litter and trash can locations reveals the stark lack of public infrastructure and maintenance along the corridor of the canal; a visualization of neighborhood smells illustrates the area’s evolving uses. At the most ingrained level, the canal splits the urban fabric of neighborhood down the center. The street grid is fractured, leaving ten dead ends fronting the canal amidst the four built crossings. These dead ends form a network of un-stewarded spaces along the canal periphery.
Atypical for New York City but fundamentally characteristic of the urban figure of Gowanus, these vacant dead-end territories should be recognized for their potential as an embedded system of unique public spaces. This proposal capitalizes on this inherent local condition to create a network of small urban field stations
along the canal. Creating a network of ‘live ends’ in these otherwise unused spaces will encourage exploration, discovery, and revitalization -- a critical first step in the re-orientation of the neighborhood, as the two cleaved sides slowly turn to address the ‘axis civitas’ of the canal.