When looking for ways to help reinvent the future of Bayonne, N.J., Paul Garcia (B.S. ’15) immediately thought of his alma mater and the real-world projects that New York Tech students have taken on inside and outside the classroom.
Garcia is co-founder of Rethink Urban Design (RUD), a grass-roots initiative that seeks to connect urban areas in need of sustainable renewal with designs, designers, and resources. RUD’s first project, Rethink Bayonne, kicked off earlier this year, with a design competition and three-day virtual event taking place in early December.
Envisioning a kind of a “Kickstarter for real estate,” Garcia saw RUD as a way for people from all disciplines to come together to design, to plan, and to finance urban revitalization efforts that are affordable, sustainable, and serve the needs of local constituents. The COVID-19 pandemic, he notes, further perpetuated the housing crisis and the need for new approaches because of the related migrations in and around cities.
“We have a situation where we have funds shaping cities rather than the people that live in them. We want to make homeowners a part of the urban development process,” Garcia said. “We like to call it ‘democratized urban development.’”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Garcia retooled his approach, creating the virtual design competition to engage students and community members in developing creative ideas for the revitalization of Bayonne.
Earlier this fall, Rethink Bayonne partnered with NYIT School of Architecture and Design, which will provide support for the competition. In addition, Garcia notes, architecture and design students—as well as other majors—are invited to participate in the design competition. Entrants will join teams to compete for prizes, present their work in a real-world setting, and meet potential employers, investors, real estate professionals, builders, and homebuyers.
“We are delighted to join this important urban design and revitalization project, and to provide another avenue for our students to create and implement their ideas for sustainable architecture and urban design,” notes Maria Perbelleni, M.Arch., dean of the School of Architecture and Design. “This initiative builds on our previous work and urban design labs with other neighborhoods in New York and throughout the world.”
New York Tech’s Consultants for the Public Good has also joined the project, inviting students, faculty, and staff to provide services for the event, the competition, and the overall RUD initiative. Opportunities are posted on GivePulse.
Registration for the competition is ongoing through December 5 and 6, when the virtual launch event will be streamed on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. “We’ll start with creating a design festival jam-packed with two days of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, panels, and entertainment,” says Garcia.
At that time, cross-disciplinary teams will be formed and the design process will begin. Teams will be given architectural specifications and guidelines and create public web and VR channels to showcase their project’s progress to prequalified buyers and take feedback. In late January, they will present their designs virtually to a panel of judges, which includes experienced professionals, community leaders, and city officials, as well as Bayonne citizens. “Winners will be chosen in several categories [and] all submitted designs will be available for homebuyers on our digital platform Pueblo,” Garcia explains. In addition, a number of workshops and conversations will be held, including a presentation by School of Architecture and Design Associate Professor and Director of the M.S. in Architecture, Urban, and Regional Design Program Marcella Del Signore, M.Arch.
“The average home in the area is 70 years old, building inefficiency and parking are problems,” he notes, “but there is so much potential here.”
To learn more about the project and to register for the competition, visit rethinkurban.design/bayonne.