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Tunnel (Re)Visions

New York, NY, 2011

The entrance / exit ramps of the Holland Tunnel in downtown Manhattan carve out a completely auto-centric circuit ungraspable at the human scale. In an effort to better integrate the pedestrian into this area, this proposal accepts the efficient system of the machine and works alongside it in an Olmsted-like manner. A pedestrian band weaves thru the site, bridging desired physical connections and binding existing green infrastructures with proposed ones as well. In these sites of exploitation, the project reimagines the public plaza and promenade introducing a better quality of life to an area notorious for its poor air quality and intrinsic inaccessability.

The weaving of the pedestrian into the site promotes a rebalancing of the urban space. With the growth of New York City requiring more automobile access points into Manhattan, the exit ramps of the Holland Tunnel replaced what once was a neighborhood plaza. And as the plaza disappeared, so did a sense of place and community. This proposal, a band that meanders along and across automobile flows, reimagines a better integration of the pedestrian without changing the systematic flow of the machine. It becomes a platform for physical connections and spontaneous interactions generating dynamism in areas once inaccessible to the community. This project envisions a phased development of green systems as a means to not only beautify the site but also blur the sharp edges separating the human and the automobile. This green phasing would not be restricted just to the street or roof level, but would also ideally capture the vertical surfaces of existing buildings.The band also acts as a filter for excessive car exhaust, improving the air quality and livability in an area that already acts like a micro urban heat island. This greening of the site would be the nucleus for further extensions providing Olmsted-like connections to other parks in Manhattan via vital green arteries like the Hudson River Park to the immediate west of the site. This interpretation of an ‘Emerald Necklace’ would provide a more beautiful connection to nature that is not isolated, but continuously joined.

Status: Unbuilt
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