One of the largest redevelopment projects in New York City history is currently underway in Brooklyn. The $5 billion Atlantic Yards development includes the newly built Barclays Center, roughly 6,000 apartments, and hundreds of thousands of square feet of office and retail space. However, like most major redevelopment projects, Atlantic Yards has come against stiff competition from locals, and progress has been slow since the original plans were approved in 2006.
Now a few architecture firms are tossing out some wild ideas for how they would improve the project if it was entrusted to them. A new gallery exhibit features five different ideas for phase two of the project, which has yet to begin construction. The current approved plan calls for 11 residential buildings in phase two. Residents have complained that the structures are an inefficient use of space and say they don't fit into the surrounding (brownstone-filled) neighborhood. These five new proposals, in turn, seek to "explore the site’s development potential while respecting historic scale and context, activating public-private space interaction, and integrating characteristics of the urban streets that surround the site," according to a statement. Each of the designs adhere to the most recent guidelines for the project, which were approved in 2009, and the organizer of the exhibit tells Fast Company that the proposals are "intended to illustrate to the community that there are alternative architectural possibilities, all equally profitable for the developer.” It just so happens that the ideas are way outside of the box.
- Perhaps the most radical proposal comes from OPerA Studio Architecture. The so-called "Garden in the Machine" proposal uses dramatic sloping rooflines to try and fit the massive development into the low-lying areas nearby. The largest buildings are near Atlantic Terminal, where additional space makes it better suited to high-rise developments.
- The proposal calls for green space on top of the buildings, which allows the development to use more of the allotted land for residential units — helping to keep the buildings as short as possible.
- The "Flexible City" proposal by Matthias Altwicker and Farzana Gandhi is truly modular. The architects note that large developments often fail to be relevant over time. To address this, they've designed each unit in the building to be easily adaptable, allowing it to switch from residential to office to retail, for instance.
- The architects say the project — which includes public spaces throughout the floorplans — is "a new model for urban development at this scale" that "is programmatically, infrastructurally, and contextually flexible to the forces that define its long-standing value."
- Amoia Cody Architecture says its proposal emulates the design of nearby brownstones by utilizing public greenspace as pseudo "backyards." Sky terraces serve to create townhouses in the sky, with groupings of one to four families sharing a single outdoor space.
- The "Vertical Lots" proposal, like "Garden in the Machine," places taller buildings near Atlantic Terminal, away from the brownstones.
- The "Quilted City" proposal from Joshua Zinder Architecture and Design calls for relocating Atlantic Terminal in order to properly incorporate with the development. They say the (costly) plan serves to "animate the internal green space" and "give it a constant source of life and movement."
- By mixing and matching the high rises and low-rise buildings, the architects hoped to create a more natural, comfortable public spaces.
- The last proposal, by David Cunningham Architecture Planning, is concerned more with the surrounding neighborhood than the Atlantic Yards site itself. The proposal calls for adjusting the streets of the nearby blocks and connect two parts.
- To keep building short while handlingly the number of units required by the plan, the architects are using land across the street that's not currently part of the project.
- This is the render for the current Atlantic Yards project, which is currently being constructed despite significant delays. The buildings are far less radical than the latest ideas, though the designers plan to revolutionize modular building methods with an on-site factory to save money on development.