Student Work

  • Architecture (MArch)

    Alex Stewart

    Now You See Me...

    New York is a jungle, so they say. It’s dense, and it’s only getting denser. I heard once that if the world’s population was as compact as the population of Manhattan, it could fit in the state of Texas.This thesis considers such a scenario. The theory of maximizing available land to accommodate increasing population imagines an urban condition carefully curated to house, transport and provide for a large citizenry that continues to grow in New York. In the face of such expanding urbanization, it is imperative that we maintain a sense of the city not as a mass of buildings, but as a collection of urban spaces that cultivate social interaction. To foster both relationships, we must reconsider traditional building parameters in order to investigate new forms of inhabitation, creating value in once peripheral spaces. To cultivate such interaction, Now You See Me... proposes a series of interventions in and on remnant lots—dimensionally quixotic, city-owned parcels deemed unusable by traditional building standards. These shards and slivers resulted from the expansions and fluctuations of the city fabric, when building and grid did not perfectly align, or when the vagaries of eminent domain left irregular property patterns. As a sample set, this thesis investigates three such sites of varied conditions, and proposes three unique interventions. Each intervention is conceived in partnership with a local actor, from which programmatic needs arise and inform the architectural response: public bathrooms in the Lower East Side, a library annex in Harlem, and a digital media canvas in Washington Heights.