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A Midst the Chaos: Re-design of Roberto Clemente Plaza

Located at the intersection of East 149th Street, Willis, Melrose and 3rd Avenues in the Bronx, Roberto Clemente Plaza is the site of both maximum traffic and architectural density. Better known as The Hub, this miniature Times Square will serve as the primary shopping district for Bronx residents, where many new urban fashion trends can be found long before they spread to the rest of New York City and the world.

Architect: Garrison Architects
Location: 3rd Ave / E 149th St, Bronx, New York City, USA
Garrison Architects met members of the community and observed some of the tens of thousands of bus and subway commuters that pass through the plaza daily. Afterwards, the design team set their aim: “Our goal was to celebrate the intense urbanity of the area while providing the community with a ‘green oasis a midst the chaos’.”

Their vision was a Herald Square of the Bronx. They developed an undulating, bench-lined stone planter strip that perfectly articulates the bus commuter waiting and loading zone, and forms an open, flexible-use Plaza, centered around a fountain – an amenity that the community strongly desires. The plaza's design includes multiple storm water retention techniques to reduce irrigation needs and contain runoff.”
The strip’s geometry and fountain placement create a variety of seating zones within the plaza: an open zone for café tables and civic gatherings, and several subtly defined intimate seating spaces. When the water is idle, the central fountain also serves as a stage for public events. Convenient access paths through the strip allow for lingering bus commuters to organically participate in the activities of the Plaza. The result is a permeable filter that provides Plaza users with moderate shelter from the urban noise and traffic, without interrupting the vibrant energy of the Hub.

Finally, the design of the Plaza will support a memorial component developed by a community group-funded artist that will celebrate the humanitarian contributions of Roberto Clemente.
Sustainability features
  • Employing pervious paving at selected points in the Plaza to retain storm water
  • Using the planter strip as a storm water retention zone, containing runoff and reducing irrigation needs for the plants
  • Making the Willis Avenue median a bio-retention swale to contain runoff
  • Using durable, low maintenance, high lifespan components and materials
  • Specifying high solar reflectance paving to reduce albido and the resultant heat island effect
  • Specifying native, low maintenance plants and trees, to absorb noise and air pollution, and provide some additional urban wildlife habitat

Client: NYC DDC Design Excellence Program
Site construction start: spring 2014

Roberto Clemente Walker was a Puerto Rican professional baseball player who was involved in charity work in Puerto Rico and Latin American countries.
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