Building the kind of just, post-carbon future that Green New Dealers have imagined will certainly require investments in new forms of infrastructure—including a continental-scale smart grid. But it will also require a fundamental restructuring of the political economy of the built environment around maintenance, repair, and retrofit.

This collection of projects illustrates the variety of ways that designers are thinking about the systems of care and maintenance such an effort would require—one that lives up to the mandate of H.R. 109 to retrofit every existing building and landscape in this country for maximum water and energy efficiency.

Back to Curated Projects

Route Zero: A CarbonFreeWay
Pittsburgh, PA

Responding to the legacy of urban renewal projects that destroyed black and immigrant neighborhoods, this project calls for the decommissioning and removal of PA65 in Manchester-Chateau, building in its place a catalyst of renewed social infrastructure, localized economic development, and regional ecological restoration. Calling for a new transit typology that is people-focused and environmentally friendly, the Route Zero proposal utilizes light-rail to stimulate, operate, and maintain environmental and social rehabilitation.

Authors: Corina Fuenmayor Herrero, Chrysothemi Kouloumentas, Yoo Jin Lee, Nupur Roy
Institution: Columbia University
Instructors: Kaja Kühl (Coordinator), Lee Altman, Anna Dietzsch, Shachi Pandey, Thaddeus Pawlowski

FLOW: A Blue-Green New Deal for South Florida’s forgotten waterways
South Florida

Sited along the canals in South Florida, this project calls for the reclamation and reimagining of the extensive and underutilized canal civil infrastructure network. Structured around three core principles, this project advocates for the restoration of a naturalized waterway system through living edges and integrated green technologies, as well as the reconnection of communities to their regional ecology through education and access, and a replenishment of natural processes through ecological infrastructure.

Authors: Matthew Wagshol, Kevin Chong
Institution: Florida International University
Instructor: Ebru Özer

The Heart and the Hub: Multi-scalar Interventions in Charlotte, NC
Charlotte, NC

Taking a holistic approach to design interventions, this project explores the possibilities of creating a green neighborhood hub in a developing area facing threats of gentrification and displacement. This project calls for the expansion of affordable housing, a repurposing of vacant and brownfield sites, the expansion of access to multi-modal transportation, the establishment of job creation and career education sites, and the protection of existing cultural amenities and identities.

Authors: Hannah Smith, Syeda Zaman, Devon Stokey, DaeJane Richardson
Institution: North Carolina State University
Instructor: Kofi Boone

Westport Dredge Lab
Baltimore, MD

On a site disconnected from the waterfront by post-industrial vacancies, this project calls for utilizing local dredge materials from the Port of Maryland in the establishment of the Westport Dredge Lab. Structured around three programs - grow, produce, and play, - this project creates jobs, expands shoreline access, offsets carbon emissions, and produces raw material and topsoil out of local dredge material, creating a new community centered productive shoreline landscape.

Author: Di Hu
Institution: The University of Pennsylvania
Instructor: Megan Born and Karli Molter

Beyond BQE: Bolstering Immigrant Businesses in Central Queens
Queens, NY

Calling for the strategic phasing out and reclamation of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, this project envisions the economic, cultural, and public health opportunities of a transformed transit landscape. With a specific focus on the cultural and economic policy barriers that restrict local vendors and immigrant-run small businesses from expansion, this proposal advocates for business incubation hubs, dedicated spaces for street vendors, alternative transit modes, and gathering spaces for the community.

Authors: Chen Hu, Emily Silber, Elizabeth Wu
Firm: Stantec

Healing Wetlands: Waste Water
Treatment Plant

Albuquerque, NM

Advocating for an intervention into the existing water pollution in the Pueblo of Isleta, downstream of a major Albuquerque wastewater treatment plant, this project calls for the establishment of four terraced wetland pools to provide a secondary and natural purification process. Exposure to filtering plants and sunlight will help to enhance the treated water quality, while providing clean water and increased habitat for the Rio Grande watershed.

Author: Anthony Hernandez
Institution: University of New Mexico
Instructor: Kathleen Kambic

Superhighways to Superblooms
Los Angeles, CA

Responding to LA county’s massive highway infrastructure, this project calls for a radical rethinking of our transportation networks by proposing an expansion of public infrastructure investment, pollution mitigation through green infrastructure, alternative modes of transit, and the reclamation of highways into linear parks. Designed to transform highways from an impermeable, ten lane barrier to a vegetated, job-creating, carbon absorbing connector between communities, this project imagines a new transit landscape in Los Angeles.

Author: Andrea Binz
Institution: University of Southern California
Instructor: Jessica M. Henson

Flipping the Front
Great Salt Lake, UT

With fast-expanding urban sprawl and increasing ecological pressures, including drought and diminishing open space, the wetland habitats of the Great Salt Lake are being threatened. This project advocates for a set developmental boundary, promoting ecologically driven designs for public housing while conserving existing wetland habitats near communities. Through centering the lake as an important landscape to preserve, this project aims to inspire ecological stewardship and the continuation of sustainable development practices.

Author: Holley Stringham
Institution: Utah State University
Instructor: Caroline Lavoie and Todd Johnson

Toronto, ON

This project redefines the existing technology, industry, and open spaces of Toronto’s West Rexdale neighborhood’s existing entertainment district. Prioritizing adaptation and mitigation, three approaches are used: the existing warehouse is repurposed for new energy generation and green manufacturing jobs, a large central green space with sculpture park features a horse sanctuary near the now-defunct racetrack, and a former corridor of unused land is converted into a mixed-use residential, manufacturing, and employment corridor.

Authors: Nadia Chan, Joey Ngai Chiu, Tina (Xin Xin) Cui, Agata Mrozowski
Institution: University of Toronto
Instructors: Fadi Masoud, Megan Esopenko
: Fadi Masoud, Michael Piper, Mason White

The Just 15 Minute City
Houston, TX

Utilizing the concept of the 15 minute city as a basis for redesigning a historically disinvested neighborhood in Houston, this project calls for the removal of Interstate 45, transforming the space into a green community center. Expanded transportation options like elevated rail and green stormwater infrastructure work to expand community resilience and connectivity, while the center provides access to healthy food, health services, and spaces for protest and active democracy.

Author: Nakesha Newsome
Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Instructor: Linda C. Samuels

Leveraging Light Rail Development for an Equitable District
Charlotte, NC

Through the development of a recipe toolkit, which provides a flexible, community-based design process in which to formulate hyper-local scenarios, this project aims to create an equitable community vision for the historically Black community of West Boulevard. Designed to help community members share local planning knowledge, brainstorm ideas, and map routes towards sustainable policy changes, this project acts as a creative framework for just, community-led, and ecologically centric design.

Authors: Britt Davis, Susie Wold, Feier Chen
Institution: North Carolina State University
Instructor: Kofi Boone

Hudson Valley Green Building Lab
Hudson Valley, NY

Centering building emissions as the largest end-users of energy, this project calls for the establishment of the Hudson Green Building Lab to retrofit existing buildings. Advocating for a scaling up of the retrofit process, this project aims to reduce the operational and embodied emissions that are associated with building materials and construction processes, while developing a new economy for green construction techniques, materials and jobs in the region.

Authors: Xiaofei Sun, Rui Zhang, Yunpeng Wu, Yuhui Si
Institution: Columbia University
Instructors: Kaja Kühl (Coordinator), Lee Altman, Anna Dietzsch, Shachi Pandey, Thaddeus Pawlowski