Student Work

  • Architecture (MArch), Lighting Design (MFA)

    Brandon Pietras


    The introduction of the Common Lands grid through the 1811 Commissioner's Plan for the City abstracted a three-dimensional landscape into a two-dimensional territory, disassociating the development of Manhattan from its ecological contexts. As a result, since 1811, the "manifest destiny" of the city northwards has disseminated the image of an invariant, concrete public realm with a tendency to cause the rich phenomenological ecology engendered by the interaction of urban form and temporal light to stagnate. Today, West 13th Street stands as the "frontier" edge between two opposing organizational schema: the topologically sensitive farms to the south border the orthographic "wilderness" to the north. Mining the historical and geographical past of Manhattan at this frontier reveals an alternative methodology for future urban development that better utilizes landscape and diurnal light to impart meaning into New York's public realm.