07 May 2011

Design Process

fig. 17 Plan view of Franklin Ave. Vacancy Typologies 
with their Contagion Effect

Analysis of Franklin Avenue was divided into three phases and studied the corridor at both macro and micro levels. First, mapping each vacancy type with their contagion effects, in plan and elevation, provided a visual and graphic description [fig. 17 and 18]. 

fig. 21 Details of Franklin Ave. 
Vacancy Typologies with their Contagion Effect

Second, a closer study noted property details, state of condition, size, etc [fig. 21].
fig. 22 The Material Phenomenology of 
Vacant Properties (Photos by author)

fig. 19 BLOCK F EAST: 609-631 Franklin Avenue
Plan view AGI Analysis, Elevation, and correlated 
subjective analysis 

The third phase looked at each property subjectively and referenced phenomena based on initial observation of material conditions [fig. 22 and 24].

fig. 23 Subjective Analysis of 
Franklin Ave. Vacancy Typologies 

This study was conducted during both day and evening hours to understand how vacancy might negatively inform pedestrians and the community at different times [fig. 19 and 20]. Onsite measurements with computer illuminance studies using the lighting analysis tool AGI confirmed that empty lots visually become dark voids in the night streetscape. Their condition receives less illuminance from available street lighting. In vacant lots, trash is strewn while shadowed walls provide open canvases for graffiti. Construction barricades, metal roll down gates, broken glass, and litter reinforce a canyon of shuttered storefronts.

Over thirty vacant properties have been documented in varying states of vacancy [Appendix A]. Closer examination in the material phenomenology captures the essence of blight [fig. 23]. Abandoned lots are fenced with chain link and barbed wire. As the recession has halted their development, construction sites are neglected. Empty buildings are distressed from lack of maintenance on the exterior. Similarly, storefronts for rent are locked and shuttered with metal roll down gates. In summary, the blight along Franklin Avenue encapsulates the phenomenon that many American cities must encounter.

Understanding site context of the site and its ethnography was vital to inform the design for this section of Crown Heights. Living within the neighborhood immersed me in everyday interactions as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or vehicular rider.

Objectives were outlined as such:
• Provide a temporal and temporary intervention that reclaims and activates a vacant lot.
• Re-imagine the role of the lots and promotes its de velopment potential.
• Create a positive experience for Crown Heights.
• Enliven the pedestrian experience at all times of day.
• Establish an integrated methodology of addressing three types of sites along Franklin.
• Allow a structural/artistic intervention that
capitalizes on both day and electric lighting.
• Compliment the mix of commercial and residen-
tial units.
A matrix of questions were formulated to help guide the design process:
• What is the benefit? For whom?
• How would success be measured?
• When and what is lit? How long will each inter-
vention be maintained?
• Does the intervention repeat itself in other locations? How? When?
• What approaches are used to address the conta- gion effect?
• How is the intervention perceived from differ- ent vantage points, transversals, and times of day/ seasons?
• How can walking these sites become pleasant/ welcoming/inhabitable?
• Can this be modular, customizable – applicable to each other?
• Will these repurpose/innovate current materials or require new?

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