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Havana Harbor Rail

Public Instigators

SITE: Manhattan, NY

YEAR: Architecture Grad - 2021, Semester 2

UNIVERSITY: CUNY Spitzer School of Architecture


"Public Instigators" speculates about the accumulation of publics that contribute to the spatial and social ecosystem of New York City. In response to these identified publics through mapping exercises, the design proposal consists of various pop-up architectures that instigate the existing publics to enable an even more dynamic public realm.

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The project began by researching urban phenomenon’s along broadway, such as rates of graffiti compared to privately owned public spaces, open space parks, library locations, protest arrests during the summer of 2020, and café sidewalk permits during covid. The phenomenons were then classified as “publics”. The mapping of "publics" show 
an intricate ecosystem of infrastructure that all connect with each other within the public sphere.

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Figure 1: Privately Owned Public Spaces and Graffiti

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Figure 3: Library and LinkNYC locations

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Figure 2: Covid Streets

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Figure 4: Protest Related Arrests during the dates of 5/28/2020 to 6/10/2020

Figure 5: Intersection of Publics

The intersection of Broadway and Canal is an example of an area in Manhattan that has a culmination of publics along the street. Public art galleries, street vendors, and graffiti tags are all located at this intersection. Also, the Broadway and Canal intersection acted as a perfect stage for the voices of the protesters against police brutality to be heard due to the amount of vehicular and foot traffic that occurs. The mixture of "publics" on the street, two vehicular streets in Broadway and Canal, and the ground floor building uses being primarily storefront shopping creates a space that attracts a wide range of people.


To understand the interactions between all the "publics" at the site of Broadway and Canal, they will be classified into three categories. Sanctioned, Unsanctioned, and covid publics.

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Figure 6: Building Uses at the Intersection of Canal and Broadway

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Figure 7: Publics at the Intersection of Canal and Broadway

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The Masterplan

The design proposal creates occupiable forms based on the defined parameters of sanctioned. unsanctioned, and covid publics. These forms are placed around the intersection of Broadway and Canal based on the interactions of all three classifications of "publics".

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Sanctioned form inspired by the rooftop water towers around the site. The circular form allows for a singular space with complete visibility.

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Sanctioned form inspired by the scaffolding around the site. The form allows for complete openness and visibility while in the space.

Unsanctioned form takes the surfaces of the water tower and twists it around the existing roof infastructure. The form creates a wide variety of spaces.

Unsanctioned form inspired by the existing diamond traffic markings at the intersection of Canal and Broadway. The corners of each diamond are extruded to create multiple occupiable spaces.

Covid form takes a single panel of the water tower and folds it at the seams. The small modules are spaced out along the existing traffic lane markings.

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Covid form subdivides the street diamonds and spaces them out in a line. The diamond modules run within the existing street lanes.

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Umwelt is a concept that describes the world as it is experienced by a particular organism. This design proposal highlights the umweltan of the spaces these 6 forms create. In other words, the sanctioned, unsanctioned, and covid forms created in this proposal all can have different uses by different groups. For example, a skateboarder sees these forms differently than a group of people looking for a place to eat. A graffiti artist sees the surfaces of each form differently than a group of demonstrators who want to gather within the space to have their voices heard. These architectures are attempting to create a formal language for the existing public sphere while helping instigate all the different types of "publics".

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Figure 8: Unsanctioned public forms on top of the existing rooftop infastructure

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Figure 9: Unsanctioned public forms at the middle of the Broadway and Canal intersection

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Figure 10: Sanctioned and Covid public forms intersecting one another

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