Yonah Freemark


Below, find a selection of the design work I conducted as a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Yale University.

Swaleway: A Proposal for Water Infrastructure Improvements in Lincoln, NE

For Alan Berger’s Landscape + Urbanism Workshop at MIT in Spring 2012.

The goal of Swaleway is to provide a secondary urban water circulation system that offers the beneficial side effect of encouraging the redevelopment of a significant portion of Lincoln, Nebraska’s currently less desirable areas. By using swales implanted along the edge and in the median of the city’s streets, the project seeks to slow or eliminate runoff into the river system and bring landscaped areas to neighborhoods throughout the city – specifically those with limited park access today.

The swales are connected to expanded park spaces within the 100-year watershed and along the city’s creeks and rivers, serving both recreational and storm water holding functions. The project takes advantage of developer interest in building adjacent to green spaces to rebuild communities suffering from an overabundance of parking lots or underdeveloped land. The end product is a city with better control of its storm water and more attractive neighborhoods.

Though Swaleway will be insufficient to absorb all of the storm water produced during a major flooding event, it will be able to absorb a large percentage (about 2/3rd) of runoff from impervious land in the 100-year flood zone during typical rain events. During the most major storms, the system may be able to prevent a disaster by taking in about 7.5% of total rain water produced in the area.

As an added benefit, the larger swales located in the median of major arterials (the “water thoroughfares”) are designed to be able to handle snow storage during the winter, reducing the amount of plowing and snow removal currently required on these transportation axes.

An element of the Culture Now Project, of which MIT is a member. See also Water, Infrastructure, and Landscape research completed by Caitlin Cameron, Yonah Freemark, and Ann-Ariel Vecchio; as well as field trip photos from trip to Salinas Valley.

Affordable Housing Design Competition

Cooper Crossing: a proposal for an affordable housing development in Waltham, MA, proposed in 2011. Worked with the WATCH CDC in Waltham and community residents through attendance at a series of public meetings. With Elaine Braithwaite, Charles Harris, Ann Huang, Jeff Morgan, Marcie Parkhurst, Kathleen Thornton, and Danny Yadegar.

Cooper Crossing is a 165-unit mixed-income housing development that will transform a vacant three-acre contaminated lot into a vibrant residential community along the Charles River in downtown Waltham, Massachusetts. Located within a quarter- mile of several public transit options and just around the corner from the vibrant Moody Street commercial district, Cooper Crossing responds to residents’ demand for affordable housing in a highly convenient downtown location.

Recognizing the site’s high potential for mixed-use transit-oriented development, the project proposes to rezone the site from light industrial to a Chapter 40® smart growth district.

The site design for Cooper Crossing was developed in partnership with MetroWest Collaborative Developers, an alliance of four established community development corporations that are pooling their resources in order to develop affordable housing more effectively and efficiently. The proposed design complements existing land uses in the area while meeting local demand for additional housing, open space, and community amenities.

The development is comprised of 165 efficiencies, one-, two, and three-bedroom units available at a range of affordability levels. Five percent of the units are affordable to moderate-income households earning at or below 80% of area median income (AMI); 45% are affordable to those earning at or below 60% AMI; and 10% receive deep subsidies making them available to households earning at or below 30% AMI.

The development is financed through a combination of cross-subsidization from market rate units (40% of total units), Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Section 8 vouchers, and a host of additional federal, state, local and private funding sources.

Cooper Crossing offers a range of amenities that contribute to the residential experience, including a café and art space, a computer lab, a community gathering space, job training services, English language courses, and a bike sharing station. Additionally, the site design connects the development to the riverfront and repairs one of the only interruptions in the popular Charles River Bike Path, a 12-mile trail that runs from Newton to Boston.

The redevelopment of Cooper Crossing reclaims a former industrial site and reintegrates it into the natural environment. A one-year predevelopment phase, during which environmental testing and remediation will be completed, sets the stage for the construction of a highly environmentally sensitive building. Careful consideration of sustainable design elements – such as massing that maximizes the benefits of passive solar, photovoltaic panels on the roof, and rainwater harvesting – qualify the development for LEED Gold certification.

East Boston Main Streets

A neighborhood improvement plan for East Boston. Goal of the project was to document the needs and opportunities in a transitioning urban neighborhood. A series of community meetings, a survey of dozens of inhabitants, and a catalogue of existing conditions, produced a plan that encouraged both physical and social improvements in the neighborhood. Work was completed in coordination with the East Boston Main Streets organization. Specific features of the plan include an improved streetscape with more street trees and signage, the installation of a new median and public art at the Porter Street Gateway, and the creation of a neighborhood-wide, multi-ethnic annual celebration.

With the Spring 2011 MIT Main Streets Practicum class, taught by Karl Seidman and Andrew Grace. Class members were Elaine Braithwaite, Yang Chen, Rob Crauderueff, Rebecca Economos, Maricarmen Esquivel, Joe Jenkins, Marcie Parkhurst, Stefanie Ritoper, Farzana Serang, Jeremy Steinemann, Merran Swartwood, Athena Ullah, Matthew Weinstein, and Danny Yadegar.

Economic Development Through Infrastructure: A Visual Case Study of a Major Transportation Investment

With Stephen Kennedy, Naomi Stein, and Dominick Tribone, 2011.

Project attempts to analyse the economic development effects of a transit project completed in the Denver region in 2000, the Southeast light rail extension. By comparing datasets, the project shows how population and employment varied between different stations on the new line between 2000 and 2010. It portrays a transit program that generally allowed the areas near the line to avoid many of the negative effects of the recession in comparison with the rest of the metropolitan area.

Find the whole project here

MIT-Tsinghua Clean Energy Cities Workshop: New Clean Energy Urban Forms

Taught by Dennis Frenchman, Jan Wampler, and Chris Zegras. Project conducted with Zhai Bingzhe, Veronica Hannan, and Peng Huang. January 2011.

“Stalagmite City” project attempted to develop a new urban form for a developing district in Jinan, China, near the new high-speed rail station. Project was designed to maximize passive sunlight and avoid shadows in residential sections. Buildings were oriented to block high winds.

The project would take up a city block with a canal running through it. Uses would be exclusively commercial and public on the ground floor. Pedestrian-only access would be offered throughout most of the area, with an esplanade along the canal and a commodious public square. Mid-level floors would be comprised of office and public spaces, with residential increasing as a proportion of buildings higher up. Towers, designed to accomodate city’s burgeoning central business district, would be office space.

A primary goal of the project was to allow pedestrian circulation at multiple levels and to provide cascading buildings that allowed for large amounts of open garden space rising into the sky. Some of these spaces would be public, though most would be private to residents of the adjoining apartments.

Hawaii Natural Reserve project

With Alice Tai and Vanessa Stockton. For Dean Sakamoto and Sophia Gruzdy’s Architecture Studio II course at Yale. Spring 2007.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden, on Kauai in Hawaii, needs more housing for its employees. This project’s purpose is to develop a series of ecologically responsible huts that can be used for up to eight in- terns. This proposal incorporates a number of useful features, including roof gardens, two levels of circulation, and a large shade roof for hot days. The project would be constructed of locally-sourced, renewable materials.

Paul Rudolph Townhouse Expansion

For Dean Sakamoto and Sophia Gruzdy’s Architecture Studio II Course at Yale. Spring 2007.

A new penthouse, constructed atop architect Paul Rudolph’s 53rd Street townhouse in New York City, would have to be prefabricated and easily assembled on site. Here is presented an ideal solution: a series of factory-built ovular rings, about 15 feet wide and 8 feet tall, that can be connected with one another either directly, or at 45 or 90 degree angles. The resulting form is one that can be easily customized to suit the needs of this roof or readapted for any other environment.

Brooklyn Townhouse

For Keith Krumwiede and Tom Zook’s Architecture Studio IV course at Yale. Spring 2008.

In Brooklyn, a new development of townhouses is being constructed. A painter has taken a corner lot with a north elevation; this proposal is designed to address her needs. With three stories, the building incorporates a large exhibition hall, a studio space, and a living area, including bedroom, kitchen, and lounge space. The building relies on a warped central spine of structural columns; this vertical axis also serves as the circulatory space and divides public and private zones.

Brain Museum

For Turner Brooks and Adam Hopfner’s Architecture Studio III Course at Yale. Fall 2007.

Yale University Hospital holds the archives of Dr. Harvey Cushing, a noted surgeon. Prominent among them: 800 partially dissected brains of his patients. This project creates a new museum center to commemorate the doctor. The proposal closes the green space in which the project is located and converts it into a courtyard. The building’s circulation revolves around a “brain tower.” The structure also includes a multi-media area, an exhibition space, an office, a classroom, and a research lab.

Conceptual Hanging Threshold

For Turner Brooks and Adam Hopfner’s Architecture Studio III Course at Yale. Fall 2007.

The goal of the project was to develop new systems for animating thresholds between public and private space. This solution relies on a complex network of cords to raise and lower a series of inflated balls. If used correctly, the threshold can be left completely open, become entirely obstructed, or allow some, but not all, things through. By encouraging user interaction, the device is more than simply a door, window, or wall: it becomes a multi-purpose space whose use can be altered to fit one’s desires or needs.

Austin Temporary Outdoor Gallery Space Competition

For Keith Krumweide and Tom Zook’s Architecture Studio IV course at Yale. Spring 2008.

Designed to host an arts fair in Austin, Texas, this project, called the Temporary Outdoor Gallery Space, focused on providing an ideal viewing environment. The solution developed was modular: it could be easily expanded and in any direction. Each unit consists of six simple posts, creating gaps that can be filled with perforated panels used for art hanging. The units as a whole can be arrayed to form courtyards for the display of sculpture and highlight views from one unit to another. The roof of each unit angles towards the north, with solar panels pointing south.