Reinventing the Public Space under the BQE

My coworker and neighbor, Aurash, attended last weekend’s SpaceBuster event under the BQE.  Below, he reports on the event.

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We tend to forget, but the space under the BQE is ours. It’s one of the largest tracts of public space in our neighborhood, and it’s an eyesore.

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On Saturday afternoon, the Space Buster landed in Clinton Hill to change that outlook. The Space buster is described on the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s website as “an inflatable bubble-like dome that… expands and organically adjusts to its surroundings.”

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The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership (MARP) and the Storefront brought the Space Buster, designed by Raumlabor Berlin, to CH to house a workshop on the future of the space. When the workshop began, we quickly discovered that the din of automobiles will preclude any activity requiring intimate conversation from occupying the space, but we weren’t deterred, and a lively debate on other possible uses ensued. The facilitators from PRATT coaxed ideas out of us, including, but not limited to:
•    Community Garden
•    Skate Park
•    Light Garden
•    Swimming Pool
•    Farmers/Flea Market
•    Bike Lanes
•    Movie Screening Space
•    Art Space

A participant rendering from the event

A participant rendering from the event

A community garden seemed to be the use of choice, which I think is an ingenious idea. A community garden would help us meet our goals of becoming more sustainable by improving our local food supply, and sequestering CO2 and other emissions. A garden would also increase economic development, beautification, and create a destination out of the space under the BQE, which would unite both sides of Park Avenue, not divide them.
The debate we had during the workshop was thoughtful, respectful, and visionary, what else would you expect from CH residents. But I challenge the community to think bigger than the ideas we came up with. Let’s try and transform the entire length of Park Avenue into a vibrant corridor, with the public space under the BQE as the river of activity that gives life to the now desolate avenue.

MARP has taken the lead, but the community can start actually transforming the space when the construction equipment is cleared out. Perhaps we can begin by initiating a clean up or guerilla gardening effort. Then we can begin programming the space. We can organize a skateboard contest or a film screening, for example. Those events may help us overcome the first large obstacle, which is envisioning a quality space along Park Avenue.

A participant rendering from the event

A participant rendering from the event

MARP plans on compiling all the data gathered at the workshop and submitting it to the NYCDOT. But we can’t wait for them to pick up the ball. Let’s start thinking about how to improve the space, and by doing so we will be ready to play a constructive role when the local government is ready to partner with us.

For more pictures about the Space Buster event, visit the MARP website.

7 thoughts on “Reinventing the Public Space under the BQE

  1. Pingback: Blue-Skying Beneath the BQE - The Local - Fort-Greene Blog - NYTimes.com

  2. Skeets McDonald

    A dog run. I’m quite surprised it wasn’t listed in the suggestions for at least part of the space. A place for people to take their dogs when it’s raining out.

  3. Jeany

    Since i drive along that stretch very often, it would be great if they could make it into something more appealing to the eye than currently there. Altho there seems to be some kind of never ending construction going on, part of which currently includes a huge ugly curtain hanging from the expressway at the west end of it.

  4. rob

    A community garden? What would grow in perpetual semidarkness? (Seriously — I thought plants needed direct sunlight.) And what about soot?

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  6. Aurora

    The idea is right in line with reclaiming vital parts of society. Yet I am poised with concern about the safety factor of such and undertaking in respect to youth access or for that matter pedestrian access, considering the way people drive here in NYC. From a conceptual perspective this is “COOL and FUNKY”. You have more trust in the infrastructure that I would ever hand over!

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