Over the past few weeks, LW! has been working with the “I Have a Dream” Foundation (IHDF) at the De Hostos-Wise Community Center on West 93rd Street through Keeping the Past for the Future, our youth education program.

Through IHDF, the De Hostos-Wise Dreamers (14 and 15 year olds) all receive long-term support such as tutoring, extracurricular activities, summer programs, and tuition assistance for their college education. This summer, the teens have partnered with LW! to examine the immediate neighborhood around where they live and go to school. Embodying the roles of preservation architects and urban planners, the Dreamers started with a thorough survey of buildings on 93rd and 92nd Streets, looking at each building’s function, condition, materials, windows, alterations, etc.

With a new sense of the spaces and structures that they pass by every day, the students began to question, “What makes a great neighborhood?” They considered the places that they particularly love in their community–from the corner deli to the basketball courts–and wondered what else they need. What could they add to the neighborhood that would truly enhance it for its residents? Working in groups of three, the students created “idea boards” for their designs.

The first group created an inspired 3-D model of a multi-level shopping complex,
with brand-name stores, an adjoining hotel, and a public green space with sitting area.

The next group designed a community recreation center, with an indoor pool,
multiple basketball courts, and a food court on the main level.

The final group envisioned a “green” movie theatre, surrounded
by a park, with a café, and a community green roof.

Finally, to see architecture and urban planning in action, the Dreamers were invited to visit Perkins Eastman Architects near Union Square. Associate Tracy Maher introduced us to the work of the firm and gave us a great tour of the offices, including a peek into the model-making workshop! Architect Ayo Yusuf talked to us about how one would enter the field, and his experiences as an architect. Michael Imranyi showed us a 3-D computer rendering of a project in the Middle East and a physical model of a shopping complex in Long Island.  Proof positive that architect and urban planning knows no geographic boundaries!

Thanks so much to Marvin Cabrera at “I Have a Dream” Foundation for his help in coordinating this summer program as well as to Fran Rosenfeld, a member of the LW! Education Committee, for her support with the program and for coordinating our visit to Perkins Eastman.

Keeping the Past for the Future
is supported, in part, by public funds from New York City Council Member Gale Brewer via the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the NYC Department of Education.

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