Cooper Hewitt Museum Features the Tilden Houses Proposal

Project Profiles

Cooper Hewitt Museum Features the Tilden Houses Proposal

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Mark your calendars for September 30th! Terrapin is proud to announce that the Tilden Houses Retrofit Proposal will be featured in the upcoming exhibition “By the People: Designing a Better America” at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Over two years in the making, the exhibition will explore the challenges faced by urban, suburban, and rural communities. It includes 60 different projects from every region across the U.S. that demonstrate collaborative designs for more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable communities. The exhibit opens on September 30th, 2016 and will remain on display until February 26th, 2017. The Tilden Houses Retrofit Proposal will be part of the “Live” category of the exhibition, under the title “Improvement without Displacement: A Cost-Effective Plan To Retrofit Public Housing Superblocks.”

Residents of Tilden Houses, a prototypical public housing “superblock” in Brownsville, Brooklyn, suffer from declining building infrastructure, health, safety, and economic prosperity in this dynamic but struggling neighborhood. Community Solutions and Terrapin Bright Green worked to develop a retrofit proposal for the Tilden Houses, with assistance from Forsyth Street, Atelier Ten, WE Design, Sciame Construction, NYCHA, and Tilden residents.

Tilden Houses expanded entryway rendering

A rendering of a new expanded entryway and recladded existing residential tower, bordered by a new laneway and rain gardens. The proposal calls for adding these expanded entryways, which will double as places for congregation and for children to play. Image copyright Terrapin Bright Green.

The proposal was driven by community engagement sessions with residents. From these meetings, the team not only identified potential physical improvements to the existing Tilden Houses, but also developed targeted strategies for improving the health, safety, and living conditions of the residents, the environmental impact of the block, and the social resiliency of the community. With proper implementation, the project team believes that this retrofit of the Tilden Houses will be cost-effective and a catalyst for revitalizing the whole community of Brownsville. Ultimately, this proposal could become a replicable model for the redevelopment of public housing developments throughout New York City and the country.

The Cooper Hewitt exhibit outlines the history of the superblock and the neighborhood, describes the current living conditions from resident perspectives, and unpacks the proposed interventions of the retrofit plan. Community Solutions worked closely with Terrapin, WE Design, Jeff Geisinger, and Scott Corey to develop the display materials for the exhibition.

For more information about the full exhibition, follow this link. And be sure to swing by the Cooper Hewitt to take a peek at the Tilden Houses proposal and the many more inspiring and innovative design projects from across the U.S.!

Allison Bernett is an associate project manager and the public relations coordinator for Terrapin Bright Green. She graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis with a double major in architecture and biology. Allison’s interests focus on architecture, sustainability, and bioinspired innovation.