New York City offers excellent healthcare, diverse cultural experiences, a dynamic environment and a sense of belonging to the world. Yet, with progressing age, retirees with the means move away, spending their time and money in warm, convenient, and separate locales such as Florida, returning only when health declines to the point of needing nursing care close to family. For those who stay, the subway is typically inaccessible and stressful, the bus is indirect and slow; their world shrinks from city to neighborhood, to block, to hallway. Old age seems to offer displacement or decreased quality of life.

The waterfront proximity of Manhattan hospitals provides the opportunity to connect communities via a new Healthcare Ferry Route on the East River. The focus of this thesis is one such community along the Healthcare Route in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
It will operate as an senior residential serviced settlement emphasizing activity and ongoing urban engagement. Locating Elderly housing by Ferry Terminals would provide the Ferry with year round users while extending and anchoring adjacent communities. These new developments would provide a continuation of the best of urban living: connection and choice.


1 in 4 over 60s is mobility and self-care impaired. This results in seniors known as ‘shut-ins’ whose physical isolation may lead to a feeling of loneliness and irrelevance. Opportunities for activity, ritual, and recreation keep our mature population healthy and happy. New York City should cross pollinate public plazas with ferry terminals. This will allow seniors to pass by the city or let the city pass them by. The map above shows the selected site to play out the plaza-ferry-senior community hybrid. Whie centrally located, it is quicker to walk on water than use public transit to get to a hospital.



In the northeastern most spot in Brooklyn in the neighborhood of Greenpoint lies Commercial Street. Its warehouses, parking lots, and shipping containers belie the receeding industrial use. A closer look reveals artist studios and start ups in the warehouses. The shipping containers support the film set for the tv show Boardwalk Empire. In 2005, the city rezoned the majority of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront to R-6 and R-8 – an area including the chosen site.

New York is bridges and stoops, setbacks and towers, fire escapes and store awnings. These moments become part of the collective urban memory. The design utilizes abstraction of moments to echo residents’ histories and provide familiar physical situations for wayfinding.




The basic unit consists of an entry space with a coat closet, a kitchenette, living room, dining nook, accessible bathroom, private porch, and a bedroom with ample storage and a window seat. Walls between units are designed to be removed or added as domestic or financial situations change. Above: The typical ‘family’ configuration. Top Plan: Building #1 Upper Floors deeper for studio apartments. Middle Plan: Building #2: shared balconies along courtyard. Bottom Plan: Typical.



BUILDING 2: Small courtyard caused by limits of Franklin and Box Streets. Eroding the mass above brings light and air below.


SPRING 2012 | THESIS STUDIO | LIPKA LIU FREEMAN GOLDBERGER RAKATANSKY WHEELWRIGHT