From a $5,000 grant from Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, we brought together an impressive group of community and agency stakeholders to support ten talented high school students from Urban Assembly Maker Academy 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 our stakeholders at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office in February, Gotham Park and the Urban Assembly Maker Academy students met twice weekly in Spring semester 2023 to learn about our community’s design goals, brainstorm ideas and create concept designs. Stakeholder advisors attended most sessions to meet with the students, provide their perspective and give feedback on the students' designs.
The high school students receive paid internship credit for the program through the Department of Education. They presented their concept designs for stakeholder review on May 12 (see them all below!). We've collected feedback from our community stakeholders and advisors, and this 2023-2024 school year, student interns will team up with our GRooP experts to prepare final prototype designs to submit to NYC DOT for placement in the Small Banks!
Keep checking this page for updates as we progress from sketches to scale models to prototypes!
The planters will be heavy lifters!
Here are some initial design goals:
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:
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.