Week 4: “Whitney Trip, Systems Map/Model, Zone Walk”

1) Reflect on our trip to the Whitney Museum by answering the following questions on your LP:

– What did you think of the presentations? What did you find most interesting? 

I think the presentation was well-prepared and easy to understand with the croquis of the Whitney area and other graphics. Also, the way the presenters communicate the ideas were easy to follow as they were giving us the most important details and facts about how they got the flood mitigation systems and all the aspects they consider after Hurricane Sandy. One of the things that caught more my attention is when they showed the graphics of how much the water entered when Hurricane Sandy hit Manhattan and it shocked me to see that it was almost until Washington St., just where I walked with my class minutes before. Also, The most interesting thing about the presentation was the flood mitigation system they applied and how simple but secure and rigid it is. The use of aluminum on each barrier shows the most outstanding characteristics of that material: solidness and rigidness. For this reason, I believe is important to learn how different materials are used now in order to protect us from what we are causing to the environment, like global warming.

– Did the presentations and visit make you feel differently about living in New York? If so, how?

Yes, now that I know the system that Whitney has incorporated to overcome natural phenomenon, I feel that the city needs to take more control over these events for the future. Considering that climate change and global warming is a fact, and in some way, phenomenon is getting stronger and more threatening like Hurricane Irma just a week ago, I believe following the innovation that Whitney Museum has acquired is thinking how we can use the city we live in a make it more secure and solid for the future. Also, I think the most important areas where a design against hurricanes and floods, taking as an example Whitney’s system, need to be implemented are the ones that have been categorized Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3 which I believe are the most exposed to floods and bigger damages made by a hurricane.

– What does it feel like to go to an art museum, not see art, but to learn about this specialized environmental design instead? Do you think more people should know about these kinds of projects and designs?

It felt like looking behind the scenes and what does the place where many people come to see art do to not only protect art but how they have taken the design to another level where not just aesthetics takes part but functionality. Moreover, it also makes me reflect and think about the changes during the Anthropocene, because I think that 15 or 20  years ago my parents would have never gone to a museum to learn about the environmental design they have implemented, because at that time that didn’t even exist. So, yes, I believe more people should be informed and learn about projects that are being planned because in this way this can serve as an inspiration to keep innovating and know how the role of design is essential to design beyond the present to make a city stronger during the Anthropocene.

– Do you feel that Whitney’s flood mitigation system and building design is as artful/creative as the works of art it protects upstairs in the galleries? Which kind of art and design would you rather create?

I think that the flood mitigation system and building design is a different art from the art it holds and presents to the public. The art of the design of the building is mostly functional and somehow showing and creating consciousness to people every day from the outside the epoch we are living in. Also, as every single artwork send a message to society, this building does the same thing with its structure: to prepare a city for the epoch we are living in. However, is important to learn from the system because if we don’t learn from it, is hard to tell by just looking at the structure ourselves.

– Did the visit change your idea of what creative and useful design might be in the age of climate change and the Anthropocene?

I never thought of design without thinking how a single and simple design can impact the world. However, learning about how design has gotten more essential and useful in this epoch we are facing, is important as a future designer to think about how my design can impact, change or shape the way we are living the world. Also, by learning the design of the structure of the museum, makes me wonder how design has taken a shift from only pleasing the eye and contributing to a visual culture but also taking more important the aspect of function and combining it with engineer.

2) Complete your Zone Walk projectPreview the documentView in a new window. Conduct research online about what worked and what didn’t during the two recent hurricanes in the United States (Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida). Be sure to answer all prompts, include images.


  1. What kind of materials are present? Concrete, trees, metal, glass, adverts, posters.
  2. What kind of buildings? Residential, stores, subways, basements, parking lots.
  3. What would be vulnerable to water? Basements and underground stores, pipes,
  4. What would be difficult to see in low-light or dirving rain? People crossing street, cracks on floor, basements stairs, cars going out from parking lots,  pipes.

Map of route: 

Zone 6: start on 5th Ave

Zone 5: start at 7th Ave

Zone 4: starts at 8 Ave

Zone 3: starts at 9th Ave

  1. How does having awareness of evacuation zones change the way you experience living in New York?

Having awarness of evacuation zones makes me feel secure on where I live now as there is not in an evacuation zone. However, it makes me feel that really near where I live exists evacuation zone and just 4 to 5 ave there are evacuation zone 4 and 3 in which they are more dangerous compared to the zone 6 which is the nearest where I live. In this way, this zones makes me realize that the way the city was designed and the constructions of buildings and transportation might not have been constructed while thinking in the future and possible storms that the city would face. In this way, the reason why most part of the city is highlighted with evacuation zones is that we need to change the city from being evacuated to being strong and resilient.

  1. What areas appear to be vulnerable to storm surge, if any?

I would say the zones which are closer to the river. If the water level rises, it will cause a flood undoubtedly.

  1. Do any buildings and infrastructure look more prepared for the next storm? how?

Yes, some buildings seemed like they have invested in changing the type of glass, adding a stronger metal to doors, among other aspects. However I would say that some still have the underground store and basements which I consider dangerous when comes a storm and possible floods.

  1. Are any effects of Hurricane Sandy visible?

I think that you can see the difference between different zones by looking at the floor and the status of buildings. In zone 6 I believe the streets are in better condition and buildings seem

Choose one zone as your focus: Zone 8

  1. What is a design idea you have that would communicate/show people what zone they inhabit?

I would like to create a project in which I will negotiate with different coffee stores like Starbucks, Le Cafe Coffe, Joes, La Colombe, among others, to add on the coffee cup the zone in which they are. It will include a short description of what the zone is and the webpage in order to get more information. The graphics that I would use will be a fingerprint with the color of the zone along with the caption: “you are zone [-]”. In this way people while looking at their cups or at other people’s cups while walking might wonder what zone that might be and that will caught their attention.

  1. What kind of tool, device or signage would you make? 

I will use  digital graphics to print it on the coffee cups of each specific coffee store. In this way, the cup will include the advertisement and the logo from the coffee store.

  1. include 3-5 challenges you would face in implementing this project in NYC.
  • Negotiating with coffee stores of that zone
  • Create confusion by getting one cup from zone 8 to another zone.
  • Design of advert on cup might be covered by paper ring for hot drinks.

3) Read the following article,  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Plastic fibers found in tap water around the world, the study reveals” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. 

What kinds of systems are linked through plastics?

I would say the principal systems that are included with plastic are water, air, and land. First, water is linked through the plastic as it was found in the tap water we drink. That water affects the health of humans and ocean wildlife. Moreover, it is also found in the air we breathe, affecting human’s respiratory system and animal’s too. Also, because plastic fibers are in the air, it goes up the clouds and when it rains, it also contains plastic fibers. Finally, it also affects the land in which we crop and use for agriculture because plastic is burned to be recycled and use again but it is only used 20% of it, so 80% will go to the air and water and will contain again our environment and bodies. In this way, the systems liked to plastic are more likely a cycle in which everything affects and impact one another.

Were you aware of how much plastic has entered various human and biological systems?

No, I didn’t know that we are drinking, breathing and even eating things contaminated with microplastic fibers. Learning that the water we drink in US has almost 95% of plastic fiber is shocking, and comparing it with where I come from, Ecuador has 79.2% which is less but it is still a high percentage. All my life I taught the water in US was purer that the one of my country, it maybe in the bacterias it contains, but learning that it contains more particles of plastic makes me realize that the reason why it is contamined is because of the overuse of plastic in the world.

What can designers do to help limit a number of plastics contaminating environmental systems?

I believe designers can take this fact that we are drinking water polluted with plastic particles and create an alternative material to produce bottles that can be biodegradable in order to stop the burning plastic which also contributes to the cycle of contamination. Taking this fact of drinking polluted water from that water but with a bottle that will not contribute with the pollution of the system, I believe will caught the attention of people and will be willing to pay to lower the percentage of the pollution. In this way, companies that will still use plastic for water or any other beverages will be influenced by the innovation and morelikely join the cause.

4) Complete your Systems Map/Model projectPreview the documentView in a new window for next week and come prepared to present. Be sure to post the file or documentation of your project on your LP AND PRINT or bring your model to class for critique.

(click to enlarge the image)

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