Jackson Heights Street Seats, Jackson Heights, New York
As part of the Van Alen Institute and Urban Design Forum’s Neighborhoods Now project, SO–IL worked with the non-profit 82nd Street Partnership in Jackson Heights, Queens to build safe post-pandemic spaces. One significant project supported Tulcingo, a Mexican bakery, restaurant, and grocery to implement public outdoor seating.
Situated within a diverse food corridor on 82nd Street, Tulcingo, as a grocery and restaurant, was not eligible for Open Restaurant seating. Instead, by working with NYC’s DOT-run Street Seats program, SO–IL was able to transform forty-feet of parking space adjacent to the bakery into sheltered public seating. In collaboration with Silman Engineering, creative structural approaches were tested with the goal of pioneering a more sustainable, demountable model of street barricade. The outcome is a lightweight metal mesh structure composed of modular components, resistant to weathering and easily assembled without tools.
The components were prefabricated by the design team on the rooftop of SO–IL’s Brooklyn studio over the course of a week. A call for volunteers successfully attracted enthusiastic assistants for the on-site assembly, which was realized in one day. Once assembled, the modules were weighted with colorful bags containing dirt, which will be distributed among the local tree beds upon the structure’s disassembly. The metal wire will also be recycled in an effort to create as little waste as possible. The project became a colorful addition to the streetscape, empowering Tulcingo and its neighboring restaurants to better utilize public space within the street from 2021 to 2022.