Track 3: For Power or For Passage: Re-envisioning Historic Industrial and Transportation Infrastructure
APT Student Scholar Abstract
Tuesday, September 25
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Vicki Weiner, Deputy Director of Pratt Center for Community Development, M.S. in Historic Preservation from Columbia University – Pratt Institute
Port Morris is a historic industrial waterfront located in South Bronx, New York. It is a testament to the late 19th century maritime and manufacturing activity that built the port city. It provides quality jobs for a vibrant but underserved latino community that happens to be the poorest congressional district in the country.
Today Port Morris is under high development pressure. Rezonings from industrial to mixed-use are happening, notwithstanding most of the area is located within the floodplain and was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The area saw the city’s highest rent rises in 2017, at a risk of increasing loss of historic fabric, physical erasure of formerly productive sites and the displacement of historic working class communities. Yet, simultaneously, industries in urban areas are at an inflection point. Technological advancement in communications, transportation and, most evidently, power are paving the road for a future economy, one that shifts from centralized to distributed sources, integrating and inviting new processes of production in cities. Tesla’s recently inaugurated Solar City in a former Republic Steel mill site in Buffalo is a striking evidence of this turning point. In response, urban ports and waterfronts are planning accordingly, envisioning circular cities where life, work and play integrate for all.
How is the renaissance of urban industries an opportunity for industrial heritage preservation? Can ports, waterfront and riverside cities capitalize their historic industrial landscapes in a way that both preserves as well as meets the needs of infrastructure for former and new technological industries?
This research aims to provide preservationists, planners and policy makers with a new vision for historic industrial landscapes. Departing from the practice and concept of adaptive reuse, it will explore the environmental, social and economical benefits of retaining industrial and manufacturing uses in historic industrial landscapes. The vision being that preservation can serve as a hinge that reconciles industries and public life in waterfronts worldwide.
An industry and site based analysis will provide the grounds for a model. To illustrate the potential of historic industrial districts to foster former and new industrial and utility uses, I will focus on the global transformation of urban energy systems precipitated by the rise of renewable power sources. As case study, I will draw upon the existing conditions of Port Morris, with its complex combination of challenges and opportunities. Simulating the implementation of a neighborhood-scale utility, I will explore what factors interplay in preserving industrial districts to encourage local growth, while contributing to preservation and resiliency goals. Finally, policy and regulation recommendations will address issues of integrity criteria, ownership and alternative uses that may conflict with this model.
- Studying Port Morris from a values-based approach, explore ways to capitalize the scale and waterfront location of its industrial historic buildings.
- Identify relevant aspects of the rise of urban manufacturing. On this base, device tools at the intersection of historic preservation and sustainable systems to stabilize Port Morris’ existent industries.
- Identify the economic, environmental and equity benefits of the program.
- Identify issues of ownership, integrity criteria and alternative uses to advance policy recommendations enabling the integration of preservation and new technological industries