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Dec 21 2012

NYIT Students Debut Designs for Bronx Neighborhood

NYIT Students Present Designs

Old Westbury, N.Y  (December 21, 2012) - A Bronx, N.Y., neighborhood split by a decaying infrastructure has challenged 65 New York Institute of Technology architecture students to envision an entirely new urban district, complete with affordable housing, commercial amenities, recreation venues, and open space. Their designs were unveiled last week to government officials, architects, and nonprofit community liaisons during the juried competition, "Shaping the Split," at the Bronx Museum. The students working in teams collectively won $1,500 in prizes provided by the Friends of NYIT School of Architecture and Design for the best proposals.

The experiment in urban design tasked fourth-year students in the NYIT Community Design Studio with re-envisioning the West Farms section of the Bronx. Sliced by the Sheridan Expressway built in 1958 by controversial city planner Robert Moses, the industrial neighborhood has declined for years, and residents have little access to nearby amenities, such as Starlight Park and the Bronx River.

A comprehensive rezoning initiative passed in October 2011 aims to bring residential and retail development to the area, as reported by The New York Times. Students worked on their designs with community stakeholders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Department of City Planning and the Bronx River Alliance, to analyze existing conditions and propose new urban, infrastructural, and ecological strategies addressing social, economic, and environmental issues. View a blog of their experiences.

"This competition has given me insight into the real-world environment and being able to work in a team to produce a well-organized project," said Nicole Gangidino, one of the NYIT students presenting designs in 6-foot-by-6-foot, kiosk-style booths arranged in the museum. The students' research on the ecology of the Bronx River informed their proposals, which include strategies for restoration of the river, improvement of water quality and riparian vegetation, urban agriculture, and better access to waterfront activities for communities on both sides of the river.

The West Farms neighborhood initially captured the interest of Assistant Professor Matthew Dockery and Adjunct Professor Janet Fink, who teach sections of the studio course and co-coordinated the site choice. Additional faculty members who teach course sections include Adjunct Professors Yuri Suzuki and Manuel Garza and Visiting Assistant Professor Giovanni Santamaria. In spring 2012, some of the same students developed a sustainable design for a PAL boxing gym in Freeport, N.Y., a project led by Fink and Santamaria.

"The rezoning was the catalyst for this project," Dockery said. "Our goal was to inspire students to think critically about zoning, urban design, economic development, and the community."

Award-Winning NYIT Teams

First Place ($500 prize)
Team: Eco Armatures
Monique de Menezes
Saafa Alaoui
Alexandra Aranova

Eco Armatures is a system of permeable networks that promotes integrated sustainable programs to change the dynamics of the existing Bronx site. It features various typologies to enrich the area socially, economically, and ecologically. They include small-scale interventions such as farmers markets, public pools, housing, art galleries, community gardens, libraries, oyster-farming piers, and permeable sidewalks for stormwater collection and riparian zones—all of which create a strong sense of community and ameliorate the site's ecological condition.

Second Place ($400 prize)
Team: Urban Oasis LD2
Dritero Klobucista
David Hernandez
Hong Jun Lee

Third Place ($300 prize)
Team: Bronx Bands
Alexandre Vaysse
German Sentishchev
Ludovit Gondkovsky

Honorable Mention ($150 prize per team)
Team: Urban Empowerment
Hyunsoo Lee
Nareg Jamgotchian
Prince Shah

Team: Why Knot?
James Petrocelli
Laura Werkmeister
Sam Davis

Jury for "Shaping the Split," Dec. 11 at the Bronx Museum

  • Meta Brunzema, RA, LEED AP, coordinator, Graduate Arch & Urban Design Program, Pratt Institute
  • Rosamond Fletcher, director of programs, Design Trust for Public Space
  • Robert Frost, principal, Signature Urban Properties LLC
  • Erick Gregory, LEED AP, urban designer, New York City Department of City Planning
  • Damian Griffin, education director, Bronx River Alliance
  • Wilhelm Ronda, director of planning, Office of the Bronx Borough President
  • Grace Tang, associate, James Corner Field Operations


About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, more than 92,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit


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