Under the Elevated: Fellows Named To Study Reviving New York City's Gritty Underbelly

Under the Elevated: Fellows Named To Study Reviving New York City's Gritty Underbelly

When it comes to making the most out of city space we’ve all heard and witnessed the old adage “If you can’t build out, build up.” But what about building down?

The Design Trust for Public Space, a non-profit organization that promotes innovative public spaces such as the High Line, has recently announced the launch of a new project titled Under the Elevated: Reclaiming Space, Connecting Communities. In collaboration with the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), the Design Trust has just named a team of five fellows that aims to transform the 100 million square feet of dark, dingy, and neglected space that currently exists beneath New York City’s elevated train and highway infrastructure into functional, vibrant, and inviting public spaces.

“When you look at the impact the mile-and-a-half-long High Line has created, and then consider the potential of these spaces in neighborhoods across the five boroughs, you understand the magnitude of this undertaking,” said Susan Chin, executive director of the Design Trust, in a statement.

In order to carry out this enormous task the Design Trust invited professional architects, engineers, designers, and urban planners to apply for five fellowships in Urban Design, Particapatory Design, Policy, Graphic Design, and Photo Urbanism. The Design Trust fellows were selected according to their experience in delivering solutions for projects similar to this undertaking, their ability to work independently and collaboratively, and their willingness to commit significant amounts of time to this project.

Susannah Drake, AIA, ASLA, principal of dlandstudio architecture + landscape architecture, was awarded the Urban Design Fellowship. Drake joins the team with experience working on projects such as the BQE Trench: Reconnection Strategies for Brownstone Brooklyn, Rising Currents: A New Urban Ground, and Gowanus Canal Sponge Park.

Chat Travieso, a Brooklyn-based artist and architectural designer known primarily for his interactive public art installations that challenge viewers to question their built environment, won the Participatory Design Fellowship.

The Policy Fellowship was awarded to planner and urban designer Douglas Woodward, who is currently working on a project titled “The Under Line,” which aims to re-open 33 vacant lots under The Highline for public use.

The Graphic Design Fellowship was bestowed to Neil Donnelly, maker of books, posters, websites, and exhibitions often within the art and architecture industry.

Finally, a fifth Photo Urbanism Fellowship was awarded to Krisanne Johnson, a Brooklyn-based photographer who primarily shoots powerful images in black and white. Johnson not only won a $5,000 stipend, but will also have her photographs published at the conclusion of the project.

Together the Under the Elevated project team will significantly transform New York City by cleaning up and enlivening the gloomy, underutilized spaces that currently define areas such as those beneath the BQE and Harlem’s 1 train.