PAU or Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, a multi-disciplinary design and planning firm founded by Vishaan Chakrabarti, created a revitalization plan for Sunnyside Yard in western Queens, New York. Envisioning a more equitable and sustainable future, the 180-acre human-centered carbon-neutral master plan reflects the community’s needs.
Created in partnership with New York City’s Economic Development Corporation and Amtrak, the long term plan incorporates notions of city-backed public transit first, 100 percent affordable housing with an emphasis on lowest-incomes, new parks, and open space. Forecasting the future, the urban plan puts in place the necessary social infrastructure to accommodate the influx of residents, sustain healthy growth, and relieve pressure on surrounding neighborhoods.
Located on a large site of underutilized land at Sunnyside Railyard in Western Queens, the project imagines a human-scale neighborhood with a robust mix of equitable uses including 12,000 new 100 percent affordable residential units, 60 acres of open public space, a new Sunnyside Station that connects Western Queens to the Greater New York region, 10 schools, 2 libraries, over 30 childcare centers, 5 health care facilities, and 5 million square feet of new commercial and manufacturing space that will enable middle-class job creation.
At over 180 acres, the Yard represents our city’s most significant opportunity to realize shared progressive goals all in a carbon-neutral environment that will set a model globally for sustainable urban growth while maintaining a scale and density reflective of Western Queens. Neighboring communities now have a unique opportunity to leverage this Plan to address long-standing needs in terms of transportation, housing, jobs, open space, social infrastructure, and environmental resilience. -- Vishaan Chakrabarti, Founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism | (PAU).
The design puts in place a deck over 80% of the existing rail yard, which will support the new neighborhood above and blending with the surrounding areas, improving accessibility for residents, workers, and visitors. Structured through a flexible street grid integrated with the open space and social infrastructure network, the plan allows for flexibility in future building typologies. Designed to be carbon neutral, the framework incorporates a robust sustainability program with low-cost and low-waste construction techniques.
Through a bottom-up approach and after stakeholder engagement sessions, the project implemented design strategies that “deliver a variety of activated spaces for the community that encourages a walkable, lively, and environmentally-sustainable project”.The policies include:
- Improved public transit
- More affordable housing
- Equitable development and ownership models
- The desire for more open space
- Growing Western Queens as a job center
- Sustainable and resilient growth
- Planning for a Green Future
- Extending the built character of Western Queens
- Connecting neighborhoods: A safe street network