Pratt Towers housing cooperative has invited Pratt’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies (CSDS) and the Pratt Incubator for Sustainable Design Innovation to partner with community members to reinvigorate their unused outdoor space in Clinton Hill. Designers participated in a “design jam” on July 11, 2009 in order to meet and listen to the ideas from members of the 326 families that make up the multi-cultural Pratt Towers community. Numerous brainstorming, presentation, and feedback sessions explored possibilities for the shared outdoor area that will address and evolve with the needs of an aging and changing community over time.
The over 1200 square feet of unused space behind Pratt Towers has remained empty and inaccessible to building residents for the past fifteen years. At the design jam, residents eagerly offered a variety of ideas and visions as to how the space might be used in the future. Through an open dialogue between designers and community members, it was ensured that the many needs and wants will be considered in the effort to make an inter-generational space that can be enjoyed by all the building’s occupants.
Currently, designers are working to develop a phased plan that will, over a series of years, revitalize the outdoor area into an environmentally sustainable, year-round multipurpose space. Initial plans include universally-accessible, meandering paths that will define areas for kids to play, locations for teens to hang out, and places for the elderly to exercise, as well as creating retreats for observation and relaxation. Overall, the reclamation aims to introduce secure, green spaces that build and nurture community over time. In the beginning stages, the phased program will also be used to help find funding from the city or a corporate sponsor.
In addition, graduate student Ashley Thorfinnson is designing and prototyping sustainable, low-cost seating solutions that will contribute to the transformation of the outdoor space.