Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A New Vision of Home

image courtesy of jerseycitymuseum.org

By Brianne Harrison

With the rise of oil prices and increasing concern about the environment, Smart Growth (and its sidekick, Urban Revitalization) has become a new focus for politicians, builders, and urban planners. Smart Growth aims to contain sprawl and its attendant traffic problems by building smarter—focusing development of homes and businesses around transit hubs and moving back toward the early-century model of building around town squares rather than scattering homes around car-dependent suburbia.

Old cities, which, naturally, were densely built near transit, are prime targets for Smart Growth, and northern New Jersey cities such as Newark (yes, Newark), Hoboken, and Jersey City have reaped the benefits. Jersey City in particular has gone through a major renaissance, and now architecture students are trying to take Jersey City’s heart--Journal Square—into a new, more environmentally conscious period.
In (Re) Centering: New Visions for Journal Square, architecture students from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture display their urban housing proposals for Journal Square. The designs aim to be both global and local, focusing on fitting into Journal Square itself while also addressing wider concerns, such as minimizing commuting times, the importance of home, and environmentalism. The show grew out of a recent course at the Architecture School, which explored new ways to make housing affordable and keep it connected to the many resources of an urban area. The exhibition is thought provoking and will have you thinking about housing and Jersey City in a whole new way.

(Re) Centering: New Visions for Journal Square runs through August 22 at the Jersey City Museum, 350 Montgomery St., Jersey City, 201.413.0303, jerseycitymuseum.org.

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