Public Project Proposals: Beyond Housing

01.14.16

JACQUELINE HALL (M.Arch I and M.E.M. ’18)

What could the Building Project look like if we responded to current and pressing needs in our community? Let’s consider a series of alternate project pitches from community organizations in New Haven to imagine other possible programs and partnerships for the building project.

Chris George and Nadine Koobatian from Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services

Project: Refugee Resettlement Office

Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) is an organization which helps approximately 200 refugees resettle each year. The services provided by IRIS include the provision of housing and material needs, job assistance, education, and legal services. IRIS is currently in the process of designing an 11,000 square foot office space which has some un-programmed space at the front and rear. YSOA students could design a beautiful and welcoming entrance hall to this office befitting the organization’s goal to welcome persecuted people into the United States. The large office also has un-programmed space in the rear in which students could work with the clients to imagine how the office can better serve IRIS’s staff.

Martha Brogan from the New Haven Free Public Library

Project: Business/Innovation Corridor, Children’s Department, or Fair Haven Branch Renovation

There are a couple of potential projects at Ives Main Library, most of which involve renovations within the existing footprint of facilities rather than new construction. For one of these, YSOA students would design and build a business and innovation corridor within an existing area of 4,600 square feet of space on the main floor. In the main branch, students could also expand and redesign the children’s department on the 2nd floor. Another great project for YSOA students is the redesign of the Fair Haven branch library. Options that are being discussed for this project include re-orienting the entrance to its original location as well as an expansion.

Patricia Melton from New Haven Promise

Project: School Installation

New Haven Promise is an organization that provides scholarships to New Haven Public School students to attend Connecticut public colleges and universities. They hold an annual event called “Snowball” at Fair Haven elementary school. The school has a new principal who is very interested in having assistance with transforming the school look to promote a college-going culture. New Haven Promise and the principal have all sorts of ideas to hang college signs throughout the school and other possibilities to design and build an installation. Fair Haven has been a leader encouraging a college-going culture throughout the school that culminates in this event. Elementary schools in the area follow the lead of Fair Haven Heights, so this project could have farther-reaching impacts.

International Festival of Arts and Ideas

Project: Installation

YSOA has the potential to build on a relationship with The International Festival of Arts and Ideas for which Brennan Buck’s fabrication class, “Post-Digital Fabrication,” has already built two small projects. One of these projects was the Assembly One Pavilion of 2012, which was constructed from a fluid array of aluminum sheets and provided an information center for the festival on the New Haven Green. The Festival brings a variety of arts programming and the highest caliber international artists to town every summer. It is deeply focused on community development and has been running mini-festivals for the past three years in underserved neighborhoods in New Haven. Using the Building Project as a way to collaborate with the festival would offer students a chance to take on more inventive projects with greater opportunities for technical experimentation as well as a chance to interact with a wider audience.

Chris Schweitzer and Environmental Justice Activists

Project: Reducing Energy Use in New Haven Homes or a Playground

The building project could incorporate some ideas brainstormed by local environmental justice and climate activists who want to reduce energy use in buildings. Strategizing efficiency upgrades for New Haven’s rental units would be particularly valuable for low-income families who spend an outsized portion of their income on energy. Local activists are also interested in using recycled materials for home construction, installing solar arrays at a significant scale in New Haven, developing strategies for storm water management, and building raised beds for vegetable gardening. One potential project for YSOA students which would combine a number of these goals is the design and construction of a public playground.