Neighborhood Food and Health Center, Urban Block Study

Syracuse, NY, USA

Invited Competition, 1st Prize

Martin Hättasch (in collaboration with Munly Brown Studio)

Team: George Little, Marco Antonio Ravini

This project explores a condition that is omnipresent in the American city, yet has been little explored by architects and planners. The ‘Compound Block’ is occupied by more than one distinct program clusters, all of which typically claim their own territory and spatial-organizational strategy. In the case of this project, the challenge consisted in developing a strategy that allowed for a block in a predominantly low rise neighborhood to be shared by a grocery store, a (new) health clinic, and single family housing. Instead of organizing the mere coexistence of distinct parts, our project aims at leveraging potential overlaps between programs and user groups to generate a public neighborhood hub. While typically massing density is considered the means to generate a shared public experience, program and cost constraints did not allow for a vertical ‘stacking’ strategy. Instead, ‘density’ is achieved through a horizontal strategy that engages the ground and the shared social networks of the neighborhood. A ‘hard’ strategy of figures sets up the formally defined framework for ‘soft’ shared programming, such as parking, a farmer’s market, basketball courts, urban gardens, greenhouses, and an open air cinema.