Following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, DFA students at Barnard|Columbia wanted to target an area that had been severely affected by the storm. Thus, they partnered with Gensler and the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA) to design the physical and programmatic plans for a community center in the Far Rockaway’s area. The summer culminated with the development of seven designs that were presented to the community as options for the renewal of a firehouse that could serve as the center.

Fifty DFA + Gensler participants worked on seven teams to address three key questions:

  • How can a vacant firehouse become a vibrant community space?
  • How can we re-think notions of public space and community partnerships in underutilized areas affected by natural disaster?
  • How can partnerships strengthen community ties and introduce ideas of innovation, resiliency, and sustainable solutions into the Far Rockaways?

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The designs that emerged are a reflection of the immense collaboration between DFA, Gensler, and RWA. Each project utilizes various mechanisms to transform the firehouse space into an adaptable area for community engagement; from flexible furniture arrangements to underpass hub stations to entertainment installations, each offers a tangible approach to creating a unique and highly functional space, custom-fit for the Far Rockaway community. Programs for the community center also included performance, health, educational, and awareness events, planned in accordance with the physical layout of the space. The designs for each project can be found in the detailed presentations below.

Presentations of Designs: