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Reimagining New York City's Underutilized Building Stock and Infrastructure
1  Soha Atelier, Principal

Abstract: During WWII, parts of New York City were largely industrial zones, collections of warehouses and other industrial buildings with occasionally a few scattered pockets of residents. Much of the related industry has moved out of these areas, leaving behind underutilized building stock. In addition, the city host some significant abandoned infrastructure closed rail-road, subway station, non-functioning aqueducts, retired sewer lines among them. In a city with a growing population, these facilities offer opportunities for conversion to new housing and public recreational and cultural spaces. In some cases transformation has already occurred, proof of concept that transformation is possible. This thesis will (1) identify still-untapped significant opportunities for similar reinvention within the city’s urban fabric, including outlines of the history of such sites, (2) examine the dynamics of redevelopment through retrofitting existing structures based on successful similar projects such as the rebirth of Long Island City and Brooklyn Navy Yard and creation of the High and Low Line Park, and (3) propose potential repurposing of selected examples of such underutilized resources. To accomplish this, the project will first scour city records for as yet un-redeveloped sites. Next, it will evaluate in depth the processes the city and private developers used to transform specific areas, largely seriously under-utilized by the end of the twentieth century. Finally, the project will present detailed proposals for new projects and explanations of their impact on the fabric of the city and the potential applications of the process for other mega cities.
Keywords: underutilized building, Reimagining, New York City, Retrofitting existing structure, mega city