Ethan Poh

MArch I

Detours: Experience of the City

Advised by Oana Stănescu

The thesis is public space reimagined as a detour from the everyday, a plateau from which to experience the city, to create a sense of place. New York City has a reputation for its fast pace of life, its Instagrammable places, its symbol of American urbanity. But the urban experience is not a one-time consumable product. The richness of life in the city lies in unexpected interactions with diverse people and spaces. These experiences happen in public spaces, where anyone can gather and be in. It is these interactions that create a sense of place. The project reclaims public space at an infrastructural node that is at the heart of dramatic change—to make space of exploration and encounter. There were 1,000 residents living around Queen’s Plaza according to the 2000 US Census, but since then there have been over 11,000 residential units under development in the surrounding neighborhood of Long Island City. This scale of growth brings drastic change to the urban experience, where private developments have greatly outpaced public spaces and other community amenities. An elevated subway divides the plaza, becoming the defining feature amid rising skyscrapers. This thesis allows people to encounter each other in a public space shaped by infrastructure, to see and be seen, and to create relationships within the urban context. It is a break from daily routines, inserted directly into the daily commute at Queen’s Plaza, an area of rapid development and loss of place. As people navigate through the space, they discover detours that range from communal to personal. A sense of place arises as people encounter and explore, orienting their relationship to Queen’s Plaza and the city.

Ethan Poh, MArch I, Photograph of a model with a hand-drawn sketched people.