Students Help Design Police Precinct in Brownsville

Dean Ellen Fisher joined a panel on The Policy of Design and Equity on October 28 at The Center for Architecture to discuss the “People’s Precinct Program,” a project that gave NYSID students the opportunity to design a section of the 73rd Police Precinct in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The project was part of an initiative launched by the NYC Department of Design and Construction and Town + Gown to connect schools and government through design.

The redesign of the 73rd Precinct is consistent with the NYPD’s new efforts to strengthen the relationship between the police and neighborhood residents and create a more pleasant working space for NYPD officers and staff. NYC police stations are often foreboding, concrete boxes with no windows, steel doors, and harsh lighting. The goal is to redesign police stations with amenities like free Wi-Fi, benches, and drinking fountains so they revolve less around crime and more around community.

This summer, team of four students in NYSID’s MFA-1 course in Experiential Learning worked under the supervision of instructor Francisco De Leon to interview Brownsville officers and conduct in-depth research on the effects of behavior, light, and acoustics on people’s perceptions of the police to inform their redesign of the station’s entryway and vestibule. The designs include replacing steel doors with glass to increase light, remodeling wall space to accommodate artwork, and adding a public ATM. Construction on the project begins this spring is set to be finished in summer 2016. De Leon says the students faced many challenges. “They had to work within a limited budget and please multiple stakeholders in a short time span, but the process taught them that design has true power to change the way people interact in a public space no matter how small the space.”

Phyllis Greer