November 17, 2009: 2009, Issue 47
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Today’s news:

Futuristic proposals address Bronx’ development

Imagine a tree farm on the banks of the Harlem River. Imagine a clean air pump on the Major Deegan Expressway. Imagine a pump factory near the Grand Concourse.

Intersections: Grand Concourse Beyond 100, an international ideas competition and exhibition, opened on Sunday, November 1 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Columbia University grad students Dongsei Kim and Jamieson Fajardo, who proposed the clean air pump, won the competition. The P.U.M.P. (purifying urban modular parasite) pump would mitigate air and noise pollution from cars and trucks. It would also link Bronx residents to the Harlem River waterfront.

“We looked at the needs of the community and found that asthma is a problem,” Kim said. “We wanted to address that.”

Granted unlimited time and resources, Kim and Fajardo would clip pumps, as wide as a lane of traffic, to the Major Deegan Expressway between Yankee Stadium and E. 149th Street. Green collar workers would manufacture pump parts in the Bronx and green businesses would export pump parts around the world.

Top architects, academics and planners judged more than 200 proposals from teams in 25 nations. The P.U.M.P. proposal mirrored Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s vision for the Bronx.

“We asked the [Intersections] competitors to keep the environment and the health of the community in mind,” Diaz Jr. said. “Kim and Farjardo did that.”

A team from AECOM Design + Planning in Manhattan finished second. It proposed a Grand Concourse marked by farm plots, gardens and produce stands. The team also proposed that the Grand Concourse ditch car and truck traffic for a light rail tram.

Bronx Museum of the Arts director Holly Block praised the idea. She thinks the city should block a lane of traffic on the Grand Concourse for pedestrians and produce stands, Block said.

Kim was frightened to visit the Bronx; he had heard horror stories about the gritty borough. What Kim found was quite different.

“The Grand Concourse was pleasant,” he said.

Kim wanted his proposal to green the Bronx, but also to debunk the mean streets myth. The pump is sleek and handsome.

“People have told us that the pump is too futuristic, that it doesn’t belong [in the Bronx],” Kim said. “But there are good things happening in the Bronx. There’s no reason not to do this in the Bronx.”

Diaz Jr. agreed.

“[Intersections] is proof that the world thinks of the Bronx as a model for urban development,” the borough president said.

The Intersections exhibition is open through January 3, 2010.

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