“This Space is Not Ours:” Understanding Ingersoll Residents’ Struggles to Exert Control Over Public Space

Read “This Space is Not Ours:” Understanding Ingersoll Residents’ Struggles to Exert Control Over Public Space here.

My thesis was part of Pratt Institute’s Pratt Shows: Design, May 11-17 2017 which is an annual exhibition of work by exceptional seniors and postgraduates in architecture, art, and design. See my poster for the show here.

The De Blasio Administration and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) are working to address issues of neighborhood instability, housing modernization, and crime reduction of public housing through the NextGeneration NYCHA (NextGen) and the Mayor’s Action for Neighborhood Safety (MAP) initiatives. MAP in particular seeks to improve public safety conditions through Crime Prevention Through Environmental design design policies and programming to activate and create vibrant public spaces that will in turn reduce crime. NextGen and MAP lose the opportunity to utilize open spaces in public housing developments in ways that would enhance residents’ sense of ownership and agency. Before NextGen NYCHA and MAP can engage in strategies to reduce violent crime and revitalize public housing, they need to address the design conditions and rules that undermine residents’ ability to invest in their homes, take pride in their surroundings, and claim ownership over their living environment. Through literature review, the study examines the relationship between public housing residents and open space. The literature review also explores the history of public housing management, the persistent characteristization of public housing residents as “problem tenants,” the racialization of public housing, and residents’ struggles to exert control. The literature review is conducted in order to better understand how the racialized discourse ascribed to public housing affects residents’ capacities to invest in public housing and to better understand the relationship between public housing authorities and tenants. The study analyzes the existing conditions of Ingersoll Houses’ public spaces, using mapping analysis, interviews, photo-documentation and participant-observations of Ingersoll grounds. The study also examines Stuyvesant Town through comparative analysis to compare the experiences of Stuyvesant Town residents with Ingersoll residents. The final chapter proposes a series of recommendations in the realms of management, design, and programming to address the lack of agency issues among Ingersoll residents and enhance residents’ sense of ownership and sense of community.