Portfolio: Sea Rise and Sea Park East

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Our ongoing Portfolio series showcases bodies of work by artists inspired by or working in the city, often accompanied by a statement from the artist expounding on the images presented in the slideshow. This portfolio takes a slightly different tack. As part of the Architectural League / Urban Omnibus project Typecast, we asked five photographers to explore the architectural typology of “towers-in-the-park” by documenting the buildings, residents, street life, and surroundings of five study sites: Co-op City (Baychester and Eastchester, The Bronx), Sea Rise and Sea Park East (Coney Island, Brooklyn), Todt Hill Houses (Castleton Corners, Staten Island), Electchester (Pomonok, Queens), and Alfred E. Smith Houses (Two Bridges, Manhattan).

One of the initial goals of the Typecast project is to investigate the unique social experience of each of these places — as opposed to an exclusive focus on their shared physical characteristics — by calling attention to site-specific histories and raising questions about what assets the typology offers that might be hidden in plain sight. In order to do that, the five photo essays seek to demonstrate how residents and neighbors negotiate and navigate both the built and the open space of these building complexes.

In this series of photographs, David Lang documents Sea Rise in Brooklyn’s Coney Island. Images from all five series will be on view in the Architectural League / Urban Omnibus booth at the IDEAS CITY Festival StreetFest on Saturday, May 4th. Click here to learn more about Typecast, or to see photographs of the four other study sites. But first, a brief introduction to Sea Rise and Sea Park East.

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) was created by the State of New York in 1968 to develop projects based on the principles of non-disruptive urban renewal, fair share and integrated suburban-style housing for the poor, model housing for the elderly, low-rise high-density urban housing prototypes, prototype schools, and innovative infrastructure. Through a number of innovative projects (including Roosevelt Island and Twin Parks in the Bronx), the UDC strove to test and research innovative housing strategies, and apply and disseminate what was learned.

After the UDC acquired a number of sites within the Coney Island Urban Renewal Area, Sea Park East, designed by Hoberman & Wasserman, was one of the first to be built. Sea Rise, a few blocks away, also designed by Hoberman & Wasseran, employed an almost identical design scheme. This scheme nodded to the existing urban fabric with setbacks on the high-rise sections, relating the buildings to the scale of the existing street. Their form and relationship create defined open public spaces for residents. The complex is organized around exposed, exterior corridors looking over shared, public spaces. Some apartments are duplexes, allowing for the cost savings of skip-stop elevators while creating more home-like settings — with up to five bedrooms and double exposure with cross-ventilation — for families. The buildings recently underwent substantial renovation by developers who acquired the building on the condition that rents be kept at current levels for the next 40 years.

— D.R.

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Sea Rise, Coney Island, Brooklyn | Photo by David Lang

Photographs by David Lang. All rights reserved. 

David Lang grew up in a military family. He has lived in 7 states, 18 homes and traveled to 25 countries, all the while meeting new people, seeing old friends and learning exactly what it is that smells so good being cooked on the street carts in foreign cities. (It’s mostly meat with a bit of awesome on the side. Except when it’s a donut, then it’s just a donut.) David also takes pictures. You can see them at www.DavidLang.com.

 The introductory text above has been updated to include the names of the architects of Sea Rise and Sea Park East.

Series

Typecast

The Architectural League’s long-term investigation into architectural typologies that have come to be seen as outdated, stagnant, or obsolete.

In This Series

Comments

Cindy Cisler January 15, 2014

…And was the complex designed, by, like, an architect?

Or, as with all too many projects we see “reported on” in the media, is its origin like that of the famous Topsy, who “jes’ growed”? At least, in the newspaper, one can sometimes figure out whom to praise, to blame, or just to crit by squinting at the tiny credit-line on an “artist’s” [sic] rendering or a model-photo; here, even that arcane route is closed off.

This self-destructive diffidence has been, I’ve observed, endemic in the profession for many years. Shouldn’t every AIA chapter have a form-letter template at the ready, to fire off each time a local building, a complex, or other Place is presented in the media as a sort of weed, the letter asking firmly that the omission be explicitly and swiftly rectified? Wouldn’t that be easy to do, and even have some effect as time went on?

And to see the venerable League letting such a solecism get through the editing process in its very own, generally quite praiseworthy materials is especially disheartening; wasn’t the League started ages ago in great part so that the lay public would begin to recognize architects and what they do? A fortiori, then, within the design community itself!

Please, please fix this particular howler – and please don’t force us to run find oui\r “AIA Guide” to search the index for these things.

Thanks – and keep doing the good work that you DO do there….

Varick Shute January 16, 2014

Cindy,

Valid point. Neglecting to mention the architects was a strange oversight on our part. We have updated the text above. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

– Varick