Author Archives: Camille Baumann-Jaeger

Finalists for FAR ROC Design Competition


Bungalows and Seaside Towers in the Rockaways

Nestled within Queens, along the eastern shores of New York City, the Rockaway peninsula stretches out for 11 miles and has a history extending as far back as the early 1800s. Starting off as a vacation destination for those wishing to escape city life, the area soon developed into a middle-class community. On October 19th, 2012, Rockaway residents suffered through Hurricane Sandy which struck its shores and left the community victim to downed electrical wires and over 100 destroyed homes in Breezy Point. For those most affected by the storm, some suffered from damage assessed at over $20,000, thus setting back an already struggling community.


Remnants of the boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the Rockaways created a need for new waterfront development that could address and solve the challenges of an “at risk” flood zone. Hoping to find new and innovative solutions towards this problem, a competition was organized and released in April for architects and engineers to design a storm-resilient community. While focusing on housing developments at Arverne East (A 80+ acre site at the Rockaways), the parameters of the competition are also intended to promote new employment and recreational opportunities in the area as the entries are expected to strike a balance between built and natural environments while following new coastal flood zone guidelines established post-Sandy.


Base Flood Elevations Map

The FAR ROC Design Competition brought in 117 design proposals from over 20 countries. On July 17th , four finalists were chosen and represent an international interest in the plight of Arverne East. The finalists, are New York City based firm Ennead Architects and their team “F.R.E.D.”, Canadian group Lateral Office’s from Toronto with a team titled “Rockaway Rising”, the third team “Far Rockaway” was brought together by Seeding Office which was founded in London, and Swedish group White Arkitekter and their team “Small Means and Great Ends”. Each team was given a cash stipend of $30,000 in order to research and develop the next phase of their projects. In October, they will be expected to present their final proposals in hopes of being chosen in time for Hurricane Sandy’s one year anniversary on October 24th.


F.R.E.D team competition proposal



Rockaway Rising team competition proposal


Far Rockaway team competition proposal


Small Means and Great Ends team competition proposal




9 ways to support good ideas in NYC this summer

Let us count the ways…

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1. Go to a luxe benefit dinner with Solar One and explore their newest project “Solar 2”,  a community space designed to showcase green technology. (Tonight! June 18; benefit tix $150)

2. Attend a Hidden Harbor boat tour and learn how Hurricane Sandy left its mark on New York City while taking part in a discussion about how to protect ourselves from the increased frequency of such storms. (Today, June 18, and next Tuesday, June 25; tix $39)

3. Have lunch with the Human Impacts Institute and learn about water quality in NYC. (12 noon, Wednesday June 19; free!)

4. Go to a radical Solstice benefit concert for North Brooklyn Boat Club (Friday, June 21; a very low $5 at the door)

5.  Venture to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and enjoy their Sustainability Bus Tour. The event explores the location’s transition into a sustainable industrial park and how green energy was the focus behind their design. (Saturday, June 22, tix $30)

6. Join the New York Women Social Entrepreneurs for a dinner with Beth Ferguson, Founder of Sol Design Lab. Her work focuses on entrepreneurship and sustainability and so is a great opportunity to learn how design can steer away from consumerism and work towards a sustainable future. (June 24, 6:30 PM, tix $45)

7. Join Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance Marc Yaggi in SPARK’S speaker series for an event exploring ways that communities from the Hudson to the Tigris can stand up for their rights to clean water and thrive for equitable uses of water resources. (June 25, tix $25)

8. Take part in politics and attend the Mayoral Candidate Forum on the future of food in New York City. A few of New York City’s leading anti-hunger organizations such as the Brooklyn Food Coalition, City Harvest, and the Food Bank for New York City will all be taking part in this event so it is a perfect opportunity for those passionate about issues surrounding food in New York City. (July 17, 6 PM, free!)

9. Have fun at the City of Water festival organized by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and learn about potential plans to develop the city’s waterfront! (July 20, free!)


MoMA hosts The Exchange Café

exchange cafe2

A new and exciting project is being held at the Museum of Modern Art this month: the “Exchange Café.”  The exhibit, which is open every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1:00-5:00 p.m. and Fridays from 1:00-8:00 p.m. in the mezzanine of MoMA’s Education and Research building, is also host to a weekly organized talk with artists involved in the project (for which details can be found here). Organized by local artist and activist Caroline Woolard, the project integrates several organizations whose missions revolve around the idea of “exchange”.


At an initial glance, the basis for the café is fairly simple. A visitor can acquire tea with milk and honey in exchange for a “resource-based currency.” However, the currency is in fact an abstract outreach towards visitors to redefine their conceptions of value and “goods.” Under the form of a slip of paper with the following words “I, ____, create _______________ and request _____________.” With this agreement, visitors are asked to determine not only what the world can offer them, but what they can offer to others. In return, they are then given a product created from the notion of “exchange”: tea brought from travelers of Eastern Asia, honey offered from “Bee Space” (an organization which manages bee hives in Battery Park and then donates the resulting honey for free), and milk from upstate dairy farmers courtesy of “Milk Not Jails” (a group of activists hoping to create alternative solutions to the prison industry in New York).

Exchange-Flow-Graphic (1)

Along with tea, visitors receive slips of currency that others created, which hopefully remind them of the needs of others while at the same time inspiring a sense of camaraderie. Each slip represents the potential for growth and personal development as visitors are reminded that their needs can be fulfilled through the power of reciprocity. Through this, the Exchange Café isolates the collaborative portion of art in order to educate the public not only on alternative economies but how simple exchanges can produce significant exchanges. Thus the Exchange Café makes a simple trip for tea, milk, and honey, an opportunity to touch upon a universal sense of fellowship that is often lost.


Broadway: 1000 Steps


Following a long history of New York City art installations, artist Mary Miss is currently working on her own contribution: to bring information about sustainability to the public. In her proposal, Mary Miss aims to adorn Broadway with a series of art pieces (represented above) which fuse art and information into a unique combination. The project has been researched and developed over the past few years, and is now coming to the street.

Residents and passersby can experience a taste of her work on 137th Street and Broadway where a test site has been constructed. With hopes that her work will bring communities together through interest in creating a more sustainable environment, she has developed her project through the joint effort between Mary Miss, the faculty and students of  the City College Academy for Professional Preparation (CCAPP) Division of Science, the Montefiore Park Neighborhood Association, and Community Board 9. Having drawn inspiration from a variety of groups, the project is an eclectic composition.

mary miss1

On her journey toward materializing her vision, Mary Miss has recently hosted a series of discussion-based events for which she has invited designers and faculty members from institutions such as Columbia University and the American Institute of Architects. Having already accumulated information of her goal topics of water, air, energy, life, waste, and food, she now focuses on finding new ideas for publicity and moving her work away from the realm of small park art installations and into a citywide art piece.


Subtle, elegant, and reflective, Mary Miss’ project still has a ways to go before it can be found along the pavements of Broadway. Once in place along the city’s longest thoroughfare, thousands of pedestrians will be able to enjoy her work and be reminded of how they can help shape a sustainable community.

To read more on Mary Miss and the Broadway: 1000 steps project, see our interview with the artist.


West Harlem’s CSA offers affordable, fresh produce from local farmers


In New York City, shopping for healthy, naturally grown produce often becomes expensive. Fortunately, the West Harlem Community Supported Agriculture is offering an exciting and affordable option this summer.The program consists of a reasonable membership fee along with a few hours of community service in exchange for a bag of fresh produce a week. The seasonable fruits and vegetables included in each share come from the CSA’s  farm partner, Windflower Farm–a small organic operation in Valley Falls.


Every Tuesday from June 11 to November 5, members will be able to pick up their produce bags from the Broadway Presbyterian Church (located at 601 W 114th St). The CSA’s membership agreement (available here in PDF format) offers 20-22-week vegetable and fruit shares on a sliding scale based on household income. Members may pay with SNAP benefits. The agreement, currently open to general public application though the number of shares is limited, also includes a 4-hour volunteer commitment for every member-household.



For more information on the program and how to become a member, visit the CSA’s site:


Ingenuity in the Extrapolation Factory

For those interested in design and how it can affect the future, one does not have to go far in order to find a list of lectures, seminars, and gallery presentations of contemporary works. Often, the focus of these events circles around the exposition of new ideas. Rare are the chances for one to develop and voice one’s own opinion.

As a result, the workshop envisioned by Chris Woebken and Elliott Montgomery is such a refreshing concept. Having met during their studies in London, the two of them have focused their design endeavors on how to unravel problems instead of solving them. These designers are well aware of the importance of community engagement in the development of a vision for the future.

The first ‘Extrapolation Factory‘ was held at Studio X, 180 Varick Street, Manhattan, in February; students, architects, artists, and designers were invited to create an item for the future. But not just any futuristic item, the twist was that the envisioned space for these items was “something that you could find in a 99 cents store”.


After having spoken with both designers, I came to understand the logic behind creating such a restriction on the design process. In a world where everyone is focused on larger chances and new products that will solve seemingly insurmountable problems, both Chris and Elliott see the challenge on a different scale. For them, the focus should not be on creating the one innovation which will solve all problems, they understand that that is impossible, instead the solution lies in creating an environment in which important social changes can take place. As such, their workshop was less an intensive on how to solve the different challenges that will be faced in the future, but instead an environment to gather ideas on how society will change and how those changes will be reflected in even the most menial of objects.

Which is where the workshop falls in as a space for an exchange of ideas but also in order to study in which direction the public feels society will progress. A four step program, Chris and Elliott provided a series of forecasts envisioned by scientists, engineers, politicians, and intellectuals. These expectations ranged from an estimation of how many billions of people will populate the earth in fifty years to what will become the main source of energy. Then, having chosen a forecast which appeals to them, the participants then designed and constructed an item which fits into the imagined future inspired by these expectations. By creating a series of ‘reflections’ of society, Chris and Elliott have been able to compile a small database that demonstrates where the public believes the true problems of the future are situated.


Finally, Chris and Elliott’s ingenuity in bringing new ideas to the community did not stop there. After having packaged these new items, they were ‘exhibited’ in the local 99 cent store down the street from their studio. By placing these items in a real world setting, the public was immersed in this unorthodox scenario where they are not handed new ideas to contemplate, as one would in a gallery or lecture, but instead must actively search for them amongst the 50 cent cans of beans, bargain compilation of toothbrushes, and plethora of cheap hardware.


For more images and information about the Extrapolation Factory and its creators, visit the project site.