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On the banks of the Hudson River, ninety miles north of New York City, sits the small city of Kingston.  A former state capital, bluestone mining mecca, rail transit hub and– most recently– regional tech capital, Kingston has a proud and productive past.  But its now fighting to survive, struggling with the realities of mercurial technological trends and stagnant blue collar industries, and sustained only by history and hope.  Kingston is comprised of three distinct neighborhoods– the more affluent uptown, the quaint and quiet rondout, and the blighted midtown.  Midtown, with its vacant lots, dilapidated housing and rising crime, represents a whole-city future that Kingston is desperately trying to avoid.  One of those vacant lots– the site of a former inn and gas station in the very center of midtown– is the focus of this project, the Kingston Cultivator.  The Cultivator is an attempt to imagine an all-in-one social, economic and cultural network/facility that focuses the skills, assets and energies of the city into accomplishing one major goal– to give kingston a sustainable, independent foothold on the future. 

The details of this project are immense; it involved months of detailed economic, geographical and environmental research, the formulation of a feasible long-term investment and funding plan, a construction/development plan broken into immediate, short-term and long-term phases and, finally, a completely unprecedented architectural design.  In short, the cultivator is a local/regional knowledge and asset exchange system with a physical hub that relies on mentoring, teaching, volunteerism, entrepreneurship and shared risk to create an economic backbone for all of kingston’s citizens’ interests and endeavors.

The formal architectural resolution mimics its message as an unusual combination of four well-defined elements:  
:: Translation of the internationally-recognized “cause ribbon” symbol into a formal gesture draws immediate and lasting attention to the Cultivator’s purpose

:: A buckled base plane pays homage to the site’s previous inhabitant– the Kings Inn motel– and its locally-iconic retro angled roof

:: A vegetated “belt” carries functional and aesthetic greenspace from the front corner, through the entire facility, and out again to the back lot

:: Renovation of the adjacent building on broadway and the UPAC parking lot allow them to merge with the Cultivator, breathing new life into the  existing urban fabric


Fall 2010, Prof. Meta Brunzema

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