• Architecture (MArch)

    Tara Mrowka

    Recycling NYCHA

    What if New York City’s decaying public housing infrastructure became a self-sustaining community that was transformed into a public utility?

    My proposal seeks to revitalize the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) housing stock. This vital, yet outdated infrastructure is in need of repair, reconstruction, and reorganization. NYCHA’s “Tower in the Park” model is aging and the system can no longer keep up with ongoing maintenance requirements. Housing over 600,000 residents with a 0 percent vacancy rate, we cannot afford to tear them down as many other cities have done.

    Concurrently the waste system in New York City is outdated. Most of the city’s waste is trucked and shipped out to other states to be placed in landfills or incinerators; this is both economically and environmentally irresponsible and unsustainable. Housing accounts for the majority of this waste, of which 40 percent is organic waste and a large percentage recyclable. What if we could solve some of the issues of waste and revitalize the public housing system at the same time?

    My project focuses on the existing towers and the park; improving housing conditions, creating a new landscape, communal spaces, and adding program at the street level. The addition of a recycling and compost facilities would serve as the economic driver for the housing residents and the city—incrementally transforming this decaying infrastructure into a vibrant and sustainable community.

    Over time the existing buildings will deconstruct and the new “Tower in the Park” will grow out of the recycled material waste processed on site. Recycled materials will be harvested into new products: building materials and soil to grow fresh food in areas that are considered food deserts. The “Towers in the Park” might start to live up to their name with more integrated communal spaces and urban farms intertwined throughout.