The Bowery Commons

A New Plan for Sara D. Roosevelt Park, NYC

Collaboration with Dorit Aviv
Princeton University SoA, Spring 2013

Program Collages

Park Plan (top)
Program + Material Distribution (bottom)

Program Calendar + Site Plan
In recent decades, the delivery of municipal services has increasingly relied on private investment to sustain previously government-funded amenities. Concurrently, social media has offered a new form of democratizing the public realm during the last ten years through developing new channels for personal expression and group formation. In light of this evolution, what is the emerging role of physical public space in the city?

We look to the Bowery as an experimental ground to explore these questions. In particular, we are interested in correlating democratic processes in digital space with those occurring in physical space. We attempt to harness social media to inform the programming and design of a community commons under today’s neo-liberal, public-private regime. This physical-digital interface will focus on serving the multiple communities in the Bowery area and allow for collaboration with outside investors to achieve a new typology of shared space.

Sara D. Roosevelt Park is flanged by two streets on its east and west, Chrystie and Forsyth, and extends along six city blocks north to south. We propose a reinvention of the park into an active eventful space. This park has a long history as a community park in the Lower East Side of New York City. However, as an urban space, it isolates and separates opportunities for community engagement. Large areas of the park are enclosed within tall fences. Many sport courts are placed along the park but they exist as enclosed entities around which there is nothing but grey paving and planters.

Many different communities live around Sarah D. Roosevelt Park and utilize the park for various functions. The combination of a dynamic surface treatment, moving furniture and a mobile app that allows users to directly reconfigure sections of the park will allow different groups to directly affect the design of the park on a day to day basis.