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Minding the Gap: Sunnyside Yard Master Plan

New York  Map
Competition finalist, 2021
Lead Designers
Michael W. Bischoff Alberto Montesinos Michael Lyon
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This master plan for a 180-acre active railroad yard minds a physical and social gap, weaving together a long-standing rift in the urban fabric with residential, cultural, and social infrastructure that addresses the significant lack of public green space in the surrounding neighborhood.

The design envisions a spatially rich urban fabric activated by a multilayered assembly of ancillary programs and services. Housed within lightweight and efficient staggered truss superstructures and an array of platform deck truss assemblies, horizontal skyscrapers optimize daylight in public spaces and the radiation performance of the building envelope. With a balance of streetscape and landscape and mixed-use structures offering connectivity at various levels, the plan creates an integrated, Central Park–like topographic whole.

The result is a vibrant cityscape, livable and episodic, accommodating a wide array of uses. The design posits a resilient and sustainable synthesis of housing and social infrastructure, fostering a forward-thinking vision for urban life in the 21st century.

Show Facts
Site

Above the Sunnyside railroad yard in Queens, New York

Components

Residential, commercial, academic, cultural, hotel, retail, transit connection, public open space, art park, urban farming, waste management and recycling, renewable energy generation, public safety, superstructure above active rail yard

Awards

Finalist, international design competition
Metals in Construction, 2021

Five interconnected “horizontal skyscrapers” and four undulating landscape bands traversed by pedestrian and vehicular streets—which parcel the bands in roughly east-west and north-south directions, respectively—create a multidimensional assembly bridging over Sunnyside Yard below.
The double-pronged combination of layers and landscaped ribbons allows construction by phases, minimizing the disruption of railyard activities during three phases of implementation.

Staggered steel trusses and cross-laminated timber take advantage of steel’s compatibility with wood to create a more sustainable structural system.

The proposed superstructure and overbuild deck utilize a system of interwoven trusses to take advantage of steel’s efficiency across long spans and achieve the project’s architectural goals.

Daylight Performance: the analytics undertaken pursue the determination of an optimal building orientation, with an adequate distribution of solar radiation, while allowing the maximum possible daylight hours on the public landscaped topography.

Bay windows (bottom scheme) increase daylighting in winter and shading in summer and are complemented by the clean energy generation of four rooftop canopy solar arrays.

Prototypical office facade

Prototypical residential facade

Project Credits

Structural: Guy Nordenson and Associates, New York; Landscape: Ken Smith Landscape Architect, New York; Images: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Award

PCF&P’s Sunnyside Yard Master Plan is a Finalist

A proposal submitted by the team of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, Guy Nordenson and Associate...
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