Yale Reinvents Red Hook, Brooklyn: Architectural Drawings at the BWAC Art Show

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The Yale School of Architecture has proposed an extreme makeover for Red Hook, Brooklyn. In fact, it has several possible makeovers, each one challenging and far-ranging. On July 22 and continuing each weekend through August 20, the Yale School of Architecture will have on display some forty large scale drawings and models of a future Red Hook. What is even more exciting, this display will be shown in Red Hook itself, as part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC)’s Summer Art Show, “Food for…A Feast for the Eyes” located in a Civil War era warehouse on the Pier at 499 Van Brunt Street.

Food for…A Feast for the Eyes

The Yale School of Architecture has proposed an extreme makeover for Red Hook, Brooklyn. In fact, it has several possible makeovers, each one challenging and far-ranging. On July 22 and continuing each weekend through August 20, the Yale School of Architecture will have on display some forty large scale drawings and models of a future Red Hook. What is even more exciting, this display will be shown in Red Hook itself, as part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC)’s Summer Art Show, “Food for…A Feast for the Eyes” located in a Civil War era warehouse on the Pier at 499 Van Brunt Street.

Led by associate professor Edward Mitchell, Yale architectural graduate students were given the theoretical project of reinventing Red Hook. While the projects are intended as academic work, the basic questions facing these young architects are very real issues for today’s Red Hook: Are "green space" and "urban space" mutually exclusive? Is waterfront an obsolete asset? Is Red Hook just an isolated urban island? How do you integrate the diverse sectors of Red Hook, which include public housing, industrial sites, substantial (but inaccessible) park areas, and a waterfront (also largely inaccessible to the public)?

The visions produced in these renderings and 3-D models are diverse and provocative. Possibilities for Red Hook range from a naturalistic recreation park with camping, an animal preserve, a golf course, a grand canal, water sports and fishing, to selling off park space and promoting large-scale private development. One radical view unveils a “CarPark” that provides Red Hook with some additional 31,021 parking spaces and doubles as a large regional public park. Perhaps less radical, another project contemplates an “Historic Red Hook”, side-by-side with a “Street Car Suburb”, public housing, beach, entertainment and a farm. And what about those big box stores? Controversy is not avoided here. One model advocates that big box stores and the like should be not be resisted but viewed as assets with the aim of dispersing them throughout Red Hook as “smart growth”. The premise for this project is that the problem is not large-scale development itself, but the concentration of such developments along the water’s edge where traffic flow and proximity to public transportation is limited.

Not matter how one might view Red Hook’s current and future development, each project displayed engages the viewer with issues and ideas that are extremely relevant. Red Hook is pulsating with change. The Yale show at BWAC is the perfect opportunity to contemplate the full possibilities for a changing Red Hook and take them into serious consideration

A presentation by Ed Mitchell and others from the Yale School of Architecture is scheduled for Saturday, August 12, 4pm at the BWAC Summer Art Show.

In addition to the Yale School of Architecture’s Installation, the BWAC Summer Art Show, “Food for…A Feast for the Eyes”, features over 250 artists exhibiting more than 1000 pieces of artwork in a 25,000 sq. ft. historic warehouse gallery space. Admission is free. The show will run on weekends from July 22 to August 20, 1pm to 7pm. The exhibition is located at 499 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn and is accessible by car, bike, water taxi, and buses, B61 and B77. Directions and more information on BWAC art exhibitions are available at http://www.bwac.org or by calling 718-596-2507.

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Ellie Winberg
BWAC.org
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