James Brillon and Alexander Van Odom
(Critic: Charles Eldred)
Alex and James are current Masters of Architecture students at Columbia’s GSAPP. Based in NYC, they draw from diverse experiences to form a strong work partnership. James is from Montreal, Canada, and Alex comes from outside Austin, TX.
Restructuring the Bronx : a two-scale solution for industry and housing
The project reconciles the infrastructural cuts that have separated the Bronx from its waterfront over the past 100 years. In the wake of the borough’s development, several north-south axes of freight train, car, and rail infrastructure have damaged the urban fabric, without consideration of local resident’s needs. To counter this, the project considers infrastructure as a tool for empowerment of local communities. A large-scale urban gesture brings inhabitants of the Bronx to the planned parkway along the Harlem River, allowing them to benefit from the improvements the city hopes to make. Conversely, new housing along the river is given access to the South Bronx’s core – the connection goes two ways.
This elevated public space serves as a frame for housing, which fills and densifies it vertically. Within this structure, common outdoor spaces allow each apartment to have access to light on two sides – a feature that would typically be reserved for luxury housing. The preservation of light industrial buildings at ground level allows the Bronx to maintain some of the manufacturing capabilities that originally made the neighbourhood thrive. The creation of a new ground level mediates between the preserved industrial space and new housing for residents.