Timber in the City Competition

Type: Mixed Use (RIT Design Project)
Location: New York City
Task: To design a New York City outpost of the Andy Warhol Museum as well as a modernized home for the Essex Street Market.  Residential shall compromise the rest of the area, with a certain number of market-rate studio, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom apartments.
Collaboration: Jinyan Xu (RIT)
Current Phase: Design Complete


The project site is in Manhattan’s lower east side in the former Seward Park Urban Redevelopment Area. In 1967, New York City leveled 20 acres on the southern side of Delancey Street and removed more than 1,800 low-income largely Puerto Rican families, with a promise that they would eventually return to new low-income apartments. Competing forces within the neighborhood and the development community long debated whether the area should be used to develop affordable or market rate housing, for commercial or cultural uses, or all of the above. This debate was waged in the community halls of local public school auditoriums and other city meeting places, in newspaper columns, coop board meetings, and at private strategy sessions in individual homes, and eventually a resolution was reached, leading to the currently planned Essex Crossing development.

The Essex Crossing development as currently planned, however, could be criticized for following a larger bulk zoning than ideal, as well as

for not requiring the highest degree of innovative and environmentally proactive construction and energy use standards, this competition elicits responses to correct this critical lack, on at least part of the overall development area.


Entrants will be asked to design places for inhabitation, repose, recreation, and local small scale commercial exchange, as well as the creation of social and cultural exchanges, all while embracing new possibilities of wood. Entrants will be challenged to propose construction systems in scenarios that draw optimally on the performance characteristics of not one but a variety of wood technologies.

Residences               190,000-210,000 Sq.Ft
     Micro Units:        150 units (325 Sq.Ft)
     1 Bedroom:          80 units  (650 Sq.Ft)
     2 Bedroom:          60 units  (850 Sq.Ft)
     3 Bedroom:          20 units  (1,000 Sq.Ft)
The Warhol Museum        50,000-60,000 Sq.Ft
Essex Street Market      30,000-40,000 Sq.Ft

Above: Apartment layouts.

Left:  Proposed Site Plan.



The project area was dividing into four quadrants.  The northwest became the Warhol Museum due to its close proximity to mass transit.  The remaining three were residential.  The unifying feature here is the Essex Street Market, which covers a majority of the first floor, spanning the site from west to east.

The main feature of this design was a connection on level two featuring a high-line style linear park.  Exits from the residences and museum create a secondary streetscape that allow for a functional movement of people while also providing outdoor space for various activities.


These sections illustrate the connection the Essex Street Market makes from the Warhol Museum to the residential parts of the project.

The structure of all of the buildings within the project is Cross-Laminated Timber.  These can be pre-manufactured in panels and then assembled into the final building form on site.  This allows for added strength and building height.  This material has been used in buildings in London, Seattle, and British Columbia.

Small parklets like this one to the right are important features to the high line design.  Created out of recycled wood, they offer a physical barrier to skylights and the surrounding buildings of the high line while also providing seating, vegetation, and visual interest.