Design Development: West Chelsea Bay

West Chelsea Bay

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my thesis, a disaster relief effort in what I’m calling West Chelsea Bay. I had four weeks off for winter break, a two week competition, and then my professor was gone for another week. That’s almost 8 weeks of no contact with my professor about my thesis. I’ll be honest, not much got moved forward. I actually feel like I went backwards in some aspects because I don’t have any momentum. But, I’ve got good hopes maybe.

Today’s Review

So today is design development. I’m not confident in my building. The design for it was loosely based on some axises I found on my site. I’m ignoring the fact that the building isn’t the strong point right now. What I am looking at is that my idea is strong. I explain it clearly in my text below, but I’m happy with how far it’s been simplified (even if it’s taken over 5 months to get here). To make it succinct: climate change is causing storms to occur more frequently and with greater severity, causing flood damage. I’m proposing we develop elevated public space and buildings, creating a resilient, sky community that continues to inhabit the city, despite 14 feet of flooding. My phrase that I keep repeating is “continued inhabitation.”

Boards and Model

In order of presentation. A site plan that connects my site to Manhattan. West Chelsea Bay was chosen because it’s the last peak of flooding up the West side of Manhattan. Under that, the building plan and section that shows the concept of commercial, living, and public space that is still operable in the event of flooding. I’ve prepared two renderings to show off this same concept. I’m sort of happy with them and sort of not. I think I could have tweaked the angles more and spent a little more time on the contextual buildings in the model. But, it was my first time using vray to render a clay style model and I think I hit my goal of a clean, to the point model. The lighting and water rendering was exactly what I had in mind. Finally, I had a model that didn’t pan out at all. The pictures always look better, because you can’t see what I edited out. The model pictures show how the site could progress from blank, to intervention, and then flood. The text I used, is below.

The Text Reads

Heavy rainfall is becoming more frequent and intense (Kennedy, 2014a). It is expected that if current greenhouse emission rates continue, by 2070, places in the United States will experience record breaking rains more frequently. If climate change continues like this, sea levels are also expected to rise. Storms and floods that should only occur every 500 years occur every decade (Kennedy, 2014b). Every 15 inches of sea level rise becomes several more feet of flooded land in Manhattan during these 500 year floods.

In 2012, New York City was ravaged by natural disaster Hurricane Sandy. Here we see the devastating effects of unchecked climate change. Flooding was reported of up to 14’ in some areas. Transportation was impaired, 800,000 residents were without power, streetlights were blown away, subways were drowned, and streets were flooded. (McShane, 2017)

What does this mean? If storms and flooding are becoming more common and the damage cannot be prevented, something needs to change. Buildings need to be modified and developed to be prepared for high storm water. Citizens should no longer be trapped in the event of a major storm with no way transportation or safety.

This thesis proposes an elevated public space in West Chelsea Waterside Park as a prototype. This will become a public area with housing and commerce that is elevated enough to escape severe flood damage. In the event of high stormwater, the space is still useable for foot traffic and residents are kept safe. In the event of frequent flooding, the space also acts as a dock, as water based transportation becomes more necessary. This is learning from the past to prepare for the future.

Kennedy, C. (2014a, March 4). Heavy downpours more intense, frequent in a warmer world | NOAA Retrieved February 1, 2018, from

Kennedy, C. (2014b, March 18). Future Flood Zones for New York City | NOAA Retrieved February 1, 2018, from

McShane, L. (2017, October 26). A look back at Hurricane Sandy’s toll on NYC five years later. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from


Materiality in Architecture

Material and Materiality

The material is ever present in every architectural endeavor. The very nature of matter means that architecture cannot, nor should it try, to escape materiality. Whether it has been planned or not, materiality is there. It could be beneficial to have a grasp on this concept, as it would contribute to better understanding of a central element of architecture and ultimately a stronger command of formal space. This topic is of interest because of its intrinsic relation to the core of architecture.

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