A major elevated highway in New York, the BQE runs from New Jersey to the Bronx. Beneath the expressway a stretch of land sits abandoned in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Sunset Park, adjacent to the growing region of Industry City – an old industrial area along the Brooklyn waterfront that has been redeveloped into a new creative community.
With the aim to create a gateway into Industry City, architecture firm Buro Koray Duman has released a proposal for two options to sit under the BQE; a commercial kitchen for food trucks, and a sports facility that can cater to tenants and the local public school.
The commercial kitchen proposal would supply provisions for food trucks that would in turn travel to other areas of the city, and also cater to patrons of Industry City during the lunch hour.
"Once trucks leave for the city, the parking areas will turn into a park during the day," the firm said. The kitchens will provide food for the neighbourhood, thus giving the space a "dual program".
The second scheme is a proposal for an open-air sports facility that would include fields for basketball, volleyball and other sports, as well as defined areas for a variety of exercise classes. The facility would be useable in the winter with the addition of an inflatable structure that will enclose the space under the highway, making it functional all year round.
Not the first proposal to make use of abandoned or under-utilised spaces beneath urban infrastructure, Buro Koray Dunman’s concepts are a response to the Design Trust for Public Space initiative started in 2013. This nonprofit organisation together with the city’s transportation department, are dedicated to revitalising such spaces. With this in mind, during visits to Industry City, Buro Koray Duman set about finding a way to make use of the space under the BQE.
"Inspired by Design Trust's publication, our studio saw a potential to look under the BQE as it passes in front of Industry City," the firm said. "The BQE cuts the Industry City complex off from the rest of the neighbourhood."
"There are 700 miles of elevated infrastructure – highway or subway lines – in New York City, and a majority of the ground-floor spaces underneath are under-utilised," the firm said.
"The proposals aim is to start a conversation in New York City about potentials of the vast vacant areas underneath these existing infrastructures."