The MacArthur Foundation has announced the 24 recipients of their 2017 MacArthur Fellowships Grants (sometimes referred to as ‘Genius’ Grants), and for the first time since 2011, the list includes individuals from architectural fields: urban planner and designer Damon Rich and landscape architect Kate Orff.
Established in 1981, the grants are awarded annually “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” This year’s fellowships come with a $625,000, no-strings-attached stipend for individual pursuits.
The Gowanus Canal is one of America’s most polluted waterways, and its location in the New York Harbor made it one of the many places that were effected by flooding as a result of Hurricane Irene. If that isn’t enough to think about, last year the EPA declared the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site, “As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.”
Rising Currents, an exhibit that was featured at the MoMA just last year, was a cohesive showcase of five projects tackling the lingering truth that within a few years, the waterfront of the New York harbor will drastically change. We highlighted Zone 0 earlier this week, comprised of ARO and dlandstudio, they specifically took a look at the lower Manhattan landscape, proposing to develop a new soft and hard infrastructure solution paved with a mesh of cast concrete and engineered soil and salt tolerant plants.
Zone 4, or Oyster-Tecture by Kate Orff, dealt directly with the highly polluted Gowanus Canal. We shared with you Orff’s TEDTalk on Oyster-Tecture back in Februrary, and feel like it is a subject worth revisiting. Eastern oysters being her focus, she shares how the oyster can improve water quality as a natural bio filter. Blending urbanism and ecology she proposes an oyster reef for the Gowanus Canal and Governors Island, an accessible idea that can be implemented immediately. A further description about Zone 4 Oyster-Tecture following the break.
Kate Orff shares her vision of ‘oyster-tecture’ utilizing oysters as an agent for urban change. Focusing on the New York Harbor, Orff, architect and founding principal of Manhattan based studio SCAPE, demonstrates how we can rethink our landscapes, both the green and blue spaces, linking nature and humanity for mutual benefit.