A Working Waterfront

Yale School of Architecture / Spring 2015

Critic: Peggy Deamer

Site: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Designed in partnership with Katherine Stege

Studio work published in Retrospecta 38

Threatened by a post-industrial decline in economy and identity, enduring political corruption, and increasing ecological challenges due to sea level rise and storm surge, Bridgeport Connecticut rests at a point of resolution between accepting its fate of obsolescence if left to its own defenses, or resisting this demise by strategizing an integrative plan to restore its rich history as a thriving coastal city. This master plan for Bridgeport in 100 years proposes a strategy that accepts both industry as an essential imprint of Bridgeport’s past, and water as an undeniable presence in Bridgeport’s future. It explores multiple ways of living and working with water in order to take advantage of Bridgeport’s changing ecosystem, economy, and population. The master plan establishes the strength of east-west infrastructural connections in order to reconnect communities currently divided by the highway and rail. Capitalizing on eco-industry as a method of re-branding Bridgeport, four unique communities are established to productively engage with the water and explore new modes of living and working with fluctuating coastal ecosystems. Bridgeport in 2100 is characterized by the superposition and symbiosis of industry, housing and park.

 

While an overarching vision for Bridgeport as an eco-industrial and recreational center will increase the attraction of the city, this re-branding could also lead to the marginalization of the housing models affordable to the workers necessary to maintain the new eco-industries. A new model of worker housing is necessary and integral to future-looking business models as ideas of corporate sustainability, both environmental and social, take a permanent hold. This housing strip is a centralized and amenity based critique of the historic “company town.” It capitalizes on density, achieves desirability via shared amenities and proximate location, and varies tenure and building types to allow the worker housing ideal to expand into larger regional transit corridors.

A multi-layered approach to the sectional relationship between housing, transportation, and water integrates a high level of density with shared amenities and two levels of vehicular and pedestrian paths. Open public spaces allow residents to navigate between the protected raised vehicular road and the continuous public waterfront path.