SUBURBAN HIGH-RISE, 2019

The negative impacts of suburbia have become a common topic of discussion, yet the ideals of suburban life have been attempted to be emulated in urban areas countless times, from the spatial planning of homes to the long and winding paths that make up scenic neighborhoods. Although the mix of programs used in low-to-mid-rise developments begins to capture the desirable mainstreet effect of suburbia, these imports into the city have been unsuccessful.

 

SUBURBAN HIGH-RISE examines suburban and urban living systems and proposes a development that translates suburbia into an urban context while ridiculing the flaws of the American dream.

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Urban homes, especially multi-family units, have primarily inward acting forces. They exist within a rigid system of zoning regulations, infrastructure, and building envelopes that often enclose their interiors with elements that the homeowner will never own as property. Suburban homes, however, have primarily outward acting forces. The perfect image of suburbia contains long winding roads that mute the modern[ist] city’s regulatory and organizing grid. These roads are imperative to ideal suburbia in two important ways; first, they conjure the Gruen Effect that ‘traps’ drivers and pedestrians in a serene cul-de-sac; second, they create large, misshapen lots that allow homes to be designed from the inside out. This leads to so-called ‘McMansions’ -- the pejorative housing typology that is spreading across suburbia. These homes eclectically and haphazardly morph together a variety of picturesque interiors, styles, and

details into a kind of suburban clump.

 

The Port Authority Bus Terminal connects a large variety of New Jersey suburbs to Midtown Manhattan. From the sidewalk the building itself reads as an urban element with it’s exposed steel truss and applied LED billboard screens, yet the aerial view of the terminal reads as a large surface parking lot. This parking lot is a suburban element that pretends to be urban; it fills to capacity with cars in the daytime and sits vacant at night much like the massive parking lots of suburbia that have consumed so much land.

 

As the PABT begins to bring a piece of New Jersey suburbia into New York City, SUBURBAN HIGH-RISE ridicules the consumerist flaws of suburban icons by oversizing them to the scale of the Manhattan skyline. Although suburban homes are being designed from the inside out, the functions and spatial planning of homes are forced to fit within these strange and tacky buildings. My project explores this relationship through plans and sections, and the thick poche that emerges between the two exemplifies the tensions between suburban and urban living.