Since February 2023, Gotham Park has been working with a group of talented, creative and incredibly driven high school students from our neighbor and partner, Urban Assembly Maker Academy, under the framework of an ambitious, community-based design internship. Sparked by a $5,000 grant from Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, we've brought together an impressive group of community and agency stakeholders (scroll down for a full list) to support these future makers in designing beautiful, resilient and multi-use planters for the community. We call them GRooPs (Grass Roots Planters)!
Inspired by the El-Space Initiative led by NYC Department of Transportation in collaboration with Design Trust for Public Space, our GRooPs will turn some of the challenges of our unique spaces under the Brooklyn Bridge overpasses into community benefits!
We think of this project as a blueprint for the collaborative and community-led spirit with which we aim to activate this important public space.
After an inspiring kick-off meeting with all of our stakeholders at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, Gotham Park and the Urban Assembly Maker Academy students met twice weekly in Spring 2023 to learn about our community’s design goals, brainstorm ideas and create concept designs. Throughout the program, our stakeholder advisors have met with the students, provided their perspective and given feedback on the students' designs.
The students receive paid internship stipends through the NYC Department of Education for their design work.
After a semester of stakeholder engagement, ideation and creation, the GRooP interns printed 3D models showing their concept designs. The students presented their concept designs for stakeholder review in their school Maker Space on May 10, 2023, and brought them across the street to show them to BP Levine at Gotham Park's opening on May 24!
(Scroll down to see all the GRooP concept designs.)
In Fall 2024, Arup engineers led the students in bringing their designs to life in full scale. During this 3-month design-build prototype project, 12 talented GRooP interns teamed up to combine and improve upon their concept designs and hand-build three full-scale wood and foam models. The results are incredible!
The GRooP internship will continue in Spring 2024!
Our student interns will team up with our GRooP experts to tackle stormwater management, environmental monitoring, materials and engineering as they further develop their prototype designs.
Keep checking back here for updates as we progress from sketches to scale models to prototypes!
We are enormously grateful to the community stakeholders, officials and experts who have generously devoted their time, resources, skills and experience to bring this project to fruition:
The planters will be heavy lifters!
Here are some initial design goals:
Led by Professor Monica Palta, undergraduate and graduate environmental science students at Pace University have developed recommended native plant lists for the planters and citizen science activities for environmental monitoring of the final fabricated prototypes.
We’ll be updating this page with their interactive STEM activities for all ages once the prototypes are in place!
Once our final prototypes are in place, we’ll be partnering with some of our community stakeholders to create intergenerational gardening and STEM programming around the planters. Our aim is to eventually place GRooPs below each of the dozens of scuppers as well as elsewhere throughout the site, which will provide robust opportunities for environmental and horticultural enrichment activities and data collection.
On May 12, 2023, the student interns from Urban Assembly Maker Academy presented their concept designs to our team of GRooP advisors and other community stakeholders for feedback. Take a look below at the elegant and thoughtful designs they've created and click the images to read more about the students' designs and provide your own constructive feedback within our community-driven design process!
Rebeca Meza and Noumou Diallo
This semicircle planter has both seating and interchangeable skate elements to serve our diverse communities!
Jack Berger and Lil Barber
This self-watering planter has modular seating and skate elements that contain tanks to capture stormwater!
and Jaden Ynoa
This terraced design for below our scuppers was inspired by furniture, because New York is our home!
Luna Ramos and Julia Rodriguez
This semicircle planter was designed with details that add convenience and accessibility for our senior community!
Muzic Attmore and Quajir Nanton
This terraced planter captures and filters stormwater while providing skating and seating elements!
Our generous volunteer advisors have supported the students in their design work - now we need your financial support to fabricate, install, plant, maintain and test the prototypes!
Gotham Park is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Our EIN is 86-1317846. All donations are tax-deductible as permitted under federal tax law.