Gowanus by Design is a non-profit urban design advocacy. As a reaction to significant community concerns with the city planning process in the Brooklyn neighborhoods around the Gowanus Canal and the impending cleanup of the heavily contaminated EPA Superfund site, we organize design competitions and propose solutions as part of a grassroots initiative to support community-based urban planning. We are researching new urban strategies for the development of the Gowanus area, showcasing different options for the canal and including the many voices of canal stakeholders. Our projects speculate upon the potential for what the neighborhood can be and we track the coordination of the canal's clean-up and private development by the many city, state, and federal agencies whose decisions impact those who live and work near the canal. Our aspiration with GbD is to bring to bear the same analytical and research tools that we use for our professional clients, and to use them to the benefit of our community and our neighbors.
The idea for Gowanus by Design has its roots in the Van Alen Institute's 2001 exhibition, "Public by Design." Curator Raymond Gastil, then director of the Institute and author of "Beyond the Edge: New York's New Waterfront," saw the post-industrial waterfront not only as a transition from private to public ownership, but as one from the industries of shipping and manufacturing to those of recreation and tourism. In this regard Gastil saw the reclamation and remediation of waterfront space as a necessary partnership between government, private enterprise, and the adjacent communities.
Executive Director - David Briggs AIA LEED AP
Dave is the Principal of Loci Architecture, a Soho office with expertise in the academic, residential, restoration, and community project sectors. After graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1985, Dave worked in upstate New York and for William McDonough in New York City. He opened Loci in 1993 and began working on projects that addressed sustainable design issues with a strong commitment to local, regional, and global environmental issues that are affected by design strategies. In 1997 Dave was awarded the AIA New York City Chapter Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant. He has also served as a Visiting Critic for the Weimar Bauhaus-Universitat "Summer Academy in Rome" as well as the University of Pennsylvania and taught as an adjunct professor at Philadelphia University. He is a LEED Accredited Professional and is licensed to practice architecture in New York, New Jersey, and Louisiana. Dave lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.
Asst. Executive Director - Paul Coughlin RA
Paul earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Philadelphia University and a M.S. in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, GSAPP. Paul has taught at The University of Pennsylvania School of Design and Philadelphia University School of Architecture. He has been an invited guest critic at Philadelphia University, Barnard College, Pratt Institute, Parsons New School for Design, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Columbia University, GSAPP and The University of Michigan. Paul is a registered architect in New York and Pennsylvania and practices out of his Red Hook office. Paul also teaches a studio at The City University of New York, School of Technology in Brooklyn.
Annie Barrett AIA
Annie is Principal of Annie Barrett Studio and founding partner of Team Projects. Prior to forming her own practices, Annie led the design of numerous cultural and civic projects at Architecture Research Office including the Flea Theater Performing Arts Complex, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Environmental Education Center, and the Harvard GSD Strategic Plan. Annie received an Honorable Mention for the Van Alen Institute’s New York Prize, and her work has been published in Metropolis, New York Magazine, Gizmodo, and The Architect’s Newspaper. Annie is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute, a member of the part time faculty at Parsons, and has been an invited juror at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Rice, Columbia, Barnard, MIT, Berkeley, Northeastern and the BAC. She is licensed in the state of NY, holds a MArch from the Harvard GSD and a BA with distinction from Yale University.
Jennifer Leone RA
Jennifer Leone is a principal at Leone Design Studio, a design-build studio in Gowanus (now Matter of Architecture/ Matter of Building), whose work has been featured in Dwell, New York Magazine, Design Brooklyn, and a number of other publications. Her work at Leone Design Studio includes various outreach and educational projects for local non-profits and schools. She holds a Master of Architecture from Yale University, a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design from the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently wrapping up a Master of Science in Sustainability at the City College of New York with a focus on urban environmental issues and sustainable infrastructure. She is licensed in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Michael is a Principal at BuroHappold Engineering. He leads their Smart Mobility group in the Americas. The group uses big data to create transportation planning models in furtherance of mobility, safety, economics, and equity. Michael has worked at the intersection of transportation and urban design for 25 years. His travels have taken him to such locales as Galveston, Germany, Guadalajara, and Guangzhou. He was the first director of traffic calming for New York City (all those speed humps you see are his fault), he helped birth the first Safe Routes to School program in the USA (in the Bronx), and he designed the nation's 2nd “shared street” in Santa Monica. He authored the Complete Streets Chicago for the Chicago Department of Transportation, co-authored the Urban Street Design Guide for the National Association of City Transportation Officials, and co-authored Flexible Design of New Jersey's Main Streets for the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Michael was appointed to serve on the US Safe Routes to School Task Force and recently served as the Vice President of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. He received a Masters of Architecture from Columbia University. And he plays rugby.
Elise McCurley RA
Elise is a Project Architect at Loci Architecture and has several years of experience working on residential and mixed-use buildings. She recently designed the new Kentile Playground under the elevated subway in the Gowanus neighborhood and is currently managing a charter school renovation and the commercial conversion of a former warehouse in Queens. She graduated from Cal-Poly College of Architecture and Environmental Design and worked in California on new housing projects prior to completing her master’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kenneth Miraski RA, LEED GA
Ken is an Architect with several years of experience working on residential, hospitality, and historic preservation projects in the city. He is a graduate of Philadelphia University and moved to New York to continue his pursuit of design and architecture within the urban environment. He is very active in community organizing and advocacy for transportation and street safety efforts. You may find him biking around the neighborhood or championing for redesigns of area streets and plazas.
Brian received his Bachelor of Architecture from Philadelphia University in 2002 and his Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, GSAPP in 2011. Brian had designed in various scales professionally and in academia, leveraging his background in graphic design, web design, and architecture. Brian also has a strong focus on sustainable architecture and as a project architect recently shepherded one of the first prefabricated homes in New York State through the LEED for Home program. Brian is a designer in New York City and practices as kokoro-a.com.
Henry lives about 500 feet from the Gowanus flood zone and is proud to say he has canoed in the Gowanus canal.
GbD advocates for a community that is guided by principles of sustainability, contextual planning, diversity, and inclusion. By integrating new development with a post-industrial landscape, the Gowanus can serve as a model for other transitioning urban neighborhoods reconciling growth with environmental remediation.