PURPOSE OF THIS PROPOSAL: As of 2006-2010 almost 50% of the Seaport's total household units represent family households. The Seaport is now a home to children. With this change in demographics, the need to balance residential and commercial life has become increasingly apparent. The proposed Schermerhorn Esplanade, the creation of a dynamic public green space that embraces the commercial area, serves not only to meet the needs of this increasingly residential -- and young -- population, but also to render the retail space more welcoming. Historically, city parks are designed as a response to the health and hygiene concerns of a city but, just as importantly, their design responds to the desire of residents to have access to spaces for leisure, recreation, and entertainment. Parks, in other words, as spaces that encourage contact, relaxation, and exercise, contribute to the fostering of a sense of community. My proposal addresses the need to create such a community space. DESIGN OF THE PROPOSAL: Inspired by the Lowline, the proposed Schermerhorn Esplanade aims to transform the pedestrian walkway of Schermerhorn Row and the first two floors of the existing buildings flanking it into a seamless green and recreational space with native trees and plants. The aim of the design is not to obliterate the commercial nature of the seaports but rather to find a balance between the residential and commercial life that coexist in the Seaport. The design aims to tranform the first and second floors of the buildings flanking the walkway into a "covered park" and recreational space. The existing facade of the buildings will be maintained due to their historic designation. One slight alteration, however, is proposed: the small doors that currently exist and function as entrances to the individual retail stores will be removed, replaced by an open gateway into the park. This covered green space under a third floor of retail stores would offer a twofold benefit: it would offer cover from the inclement weather and, in the event of natural disaster, the commercial space above would be safe from flooding, given its elevation. In the event of a natural catastrophe, the park space may flood, but the runoff would be reduced as the vegetation would absorb the water faster. One important consideration for the feasibility of the project is the ability to develop a thriving green space in a covered area. The viability of the plants in this covered park space occupying the first two floors of the Schermerhorn Row buildings is only possible thanks to James Ramsey's design of a new solar technology. This technology, known as Remote Skylight, channels natural sunlight into spaces. Treating light like a liquid and funneling it from above using fiber optics, the park would enjoy natural light as if it were uncovered, and would foster as good an environment for vegetation to grow "under cover" as it would in direct sunlight. PROGRAMMING: As a public green space that aims to foster a sense of community, of interaction among residents and tourists, the proposal for Schermerhorn Esplanade envisions the existence of native vegetation (bearberry, purple lovegrass, flowering dogwood, sweet gum, American elms, and Linden trees), as well as of benches, waterfalls, and small ponds that would act as foci around which people would gather. Complementing the unstructured relaxation created by the combination of water and greenery, the space would allow for performance (mimes, puppet shows, acrobatics) which would create a street culture equally appealing to tourists and residents. INTERACTION WITH EXISTING ENVIRONMENT: The proposal aims to respect the historic character of the neighborhood by keeping the facades of Schermerhorn Row unaltered. From an interior perspective, however, it will require second and third floor residents to consider relocation packages. The proposed design will also remove the original Belgian blocks currently serving as pavement and replace them with grass. This would create a seamless green connection between outdoor and indoor space. The distinction between private and public that currently exists in the layout of Schermerhorn Row would be blurred and the entrance into commercial space would be less jarring in this historic area. In fact, through this natural entrance into the covered park, access to the upper floor retail stores might appear more welcoming to residents and tourists and thus improve the local economy. Schermerhorn Row today is closed off to automobiles. Its transformation into a green space would not affect circulation. Schermerhorn Esplanade would recall the use of space of the Fulton Float in that one area is commercial in nature and another is a public open space for performance and leisure. CONCLUSION: Addressing the sectors of zoning and land use, of housing, and of urban design, the Schermerhorn Esplanade proposes a new perspective on the coexistence of park and retail spaces. Both modern in its vision and in the technology it uses, this space would enhance the development of a neighborhood community. Furthermore, the indoor park would protect retail space from weather damage and would offer a unique opportunity to enjoy nature even during inclement weather. This green public space would create a vibrate piazza-like look that would become a focal center for the area.