Under the BQE, New York, United States
Buro Koray Duman

There are currently three hundred miles of elevated infrastructure (highway or subway lines) in NYC. A majority of the ground floor spaces underneath are underutilized. In Fall 2016, Büro Koray Duman initiated a research and design project, looking underneath the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) in Sunset Park and investigating the potential uses of the site for the neighborhood as well as adjacent Industry City Complex, the largest warehouse complex in NYC which is being converted into a 6 million square feet maker’s space.
 
 The 90’ wide, Gowanus Expressway passes in front of Industry City as an elevated highway, providing roof for 55’ wide ground floor area underneath. Even though the highway is elevated, it still creates a barrier between two sides. The ground floor provides a chance for programming that both stitches the two sides and complements the neighborhood. Thinking about pubic space underneath a transportation infrastructure also offers an opportunity for a new kind of public architecture.
 
The research provided two proposals. Since the site is easily accessible to Brooklyn and Manhattan via BQE, the first scenario examined the potential of the site as a distribution center for food. A series of commissary kitchens are distributed throughout the site with parking spaces for food trucks in-between. The kitchens become an opportunity for dual program on site. They will provide food for the trucks in the early morning. Once trucks leave for the city, the parking areas will turn into a park during the day when the kitchens provide lunch/ food for the neighborhood. Angulating acoustical panels provide sound proofing and define parking for food trucks. The folding landscape defines spaces for the kitchen and eating areas for public.
 
The second scenario looks at a program that suits well with the noise issues underneath the highway -- a sports facility. The program will fill a void in the neighborhood both for Industry City and Sunset Park. In order to avoid a solid building underneath the highway (thus blocking the connection between sides), temporary architectural elements are considered for high intensity sport and workout areas. A series of inflatable structure will be deployed for harsh winter weathers. Other vice, the courts will remain open while the highway above already provides protection from sun or rain throughout the year. The gym area, juice bar, lockers, showers and back of house are placed indoors and high intensity workout programs are located at the perimeter as carved out spaces from a solid volume. 
 
The proposals aim to start a conversation in NYC about potentials of the vast vacant areas underneath these existing infrastructures to turn into vibrant public spaces that serve to the adjacent communities.

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