Queens School Re-Envisions Newtown Creek

Event: Learning by Design:NY Home School Residency, 12.19.11
Location: Queens Paideia School, Long Island City, NY
Educator: Tim Hayduk

LBD:NY Director Tim Hayduk and Newtown Creek Alliance Executive Director Kate Zidar listen to the students’ final presentations (left). A Queens Paideia student puts the finishing touches on her model as part of a classroom-wide future cityscape of Newtown Creek (right).

Eveline Chang

The Queens Paideia School, an independent school that provides after-school programming for area students, culminated its Learning By Design:NY (LBD:NY) semester-long residency with the Center for Architecture Foundation on 12.19.11. The new curriculum, studying the Newtown Creek area, was developed and taught by LBD:NY Director Tim Hayduk specifically for the Long Island City school.

For several weeks, the students — ranging from ages eight to 13 — investigated the area’s rich history, from the time that NYC was settled and its industrialization, through to the building of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to the present day. Gaining an understanding of the creek and its role in NYC’s infrastructure, students then created a scale model landscape of the site as it exists today. Students transformed a contour model by adding bulkheads to rationalize the shoreline and added landfill along the creek’s edge. Taking into consideration the environmental impact, access, and quality of life for neighboring residents and businesses, students were then prompted to reimagine and design the future development of Newtown Creek. Each student contributed a building to create a small cityscape, which included a town hall, parks, residential buildings, and other services for a re-envisioned community. Many of their creations had sustainable elements, such as green roofs and solar panels. One student designed a paddle wheel that would harness energy from the flow of water.

When the students presented their models, the audience not only included their families, but also Kate Zidar, executive director of the Newtown Creek Alliance. Zidar commented on the students’ thorough study of the area’s development and relation to its community. Working collaboratively to produce one complete plan, their process mirrored the civic input that Zidar aims to foster.

Special thanks to Zidar for generously donating her time. Learning By Design:NY provides school-based K-12 residency programs and professional development workshops to students and teachers. The Center for Architecture Foundation will be hosting a party on 01.20.12 at the Center to celebrate LBD:NY and 20 years of built environment education. For more information, and to learn about ways to get involved, visit www.cfafoundation.org or contact Tim Hayduk at thayduk@cfafoundation.org.