Columbia University Design Studio Final Presentations


The year has come to a close and so has the Fall semester for Columbia University’s urban design studio in the City of Newburgh. Over the past few months 49 students from over 20 countries put their brains to work to innovate and solve issues in this small city. Twelve students teams conceptualized ideas covering job creation, revitalization, natural resources, and agriculture. Clicking through to the links will send you to each group page, along with an excellent video they produced to further explain their ideas. Well worth the time! Also, a few students will continue to work on Newburgh into the Spring for independent study. There might be other opportunities as well pending support and funding.

Light Up Newburgh (pictured above) was presented by group 6. Their idea was to revitalize the city by reducing unemployment and drop out rates by creating rehabilitation jobs for Newburgh’s aging and decaying architecture. They envision the project starting with the Dutch Reformed Church which would be the catalyst for other projects. Restored houses would temporarily be used as spaces for after school programs and would eventually be converted into affordable work-force housing and live-work artist space.


Building on Trust – Group 1. This group focused on criminal recidivism in Newburgh and the large parolee community. They envisioned connecting city-based programs to train, house, and hire parolees in a 5-block area north of Broadway that is already being rehabilitated through the Newburgh Community Land Bank. The workers will reclaim factories and warehouses in Newburgh that will be used as staging facilities to produce architectural products for export to the region at large.


 Agri-Shed- Group 2. This group is proposing to connect Hudson Valley farmers by forming a farmers’ cooperative that would be located in the City of Newburgh. The distribution center would produce industrial, managerial, and retail jobs and support a new urban Mercado. They feel this will anchor a promenade on Broadway and create a new open and public space that will connect business as well as welcome visitors.


Trail of Two Cities- Group 3. They looked at creating a sister city bond between Newburgh and Beacon, and the region as a whole. They think that Newburgh could tap into the 75,000 annual tourists that visit Beacon by having the cities work together alongside the MTA and the private sector to create new waterfront development. In this plan would also be an Industry Museum along with improved ferry service between cities, a bike loop, and pedestrian services.

10808896_878939235480003_71869570_nAdditive Enterprise- Group 4. Additive Enterprise is a framework to spur the transformation of urban corridors by promoting the growth and success of small businesses. By re-purposing existing vacant buildings and parcels the project strategically clusters and supports small enterprises, educational opportunities and new public spaces within the city. They propose a new non-profit, Make [in] Newburgh], that will partner with community and educational organizations that would provide a link along the William and Dubois Street corridors.


Rebuilding Newburgh by Pieces- Group 5. This group proposes creating a new non-profit organization that will match resources to vacant sites on a temporary basis to pilot new businesses. Rehabilitating vacant spaces will add to property value, which currently reduces value by $7,000.


The Newburgh Path-Group 7. The Newburgh Path allows offenders of non-violent crime with sentences of three years or less to be diverted from traditional imprisonment and instead be housed under various levels of observation and engagement within Newburgh. The infrastructure used to facilitate this process is shared with and available to the public in the form of vocational workspace, recreation and meeting space.

Re-imagining The Post-Industrial City Through Waste – Group 8. This group took Newburgh’s industrial past to make the city viable in the future as a hub for scrap metal recycling for the Hudson Valley region. They think it will add value to products made in Newburgh as well as create job opportunities.


Resourceful Cities – Group 9. This group envisioned a platform that aims to establish a neighborhood of resources that through a unique form of mentorship and exposure to existing resources that would provide residents with opportunities for education, upward mobility and entrepreneurship. The expectation is that this campus like setting would produce a concentration of activity that would help to facilitate new forms of positive community interaction and help to retain and attract people to Newburgh.


Cooperative Growth-Group 10. This group focused on regional investment and local revenue. Their project is based on a shared value model in which worker cooperatives, anchor institutions, nonprofit organizations and the city municipality work together to strengthen the Newburgh community and economy.


Patching Urban Ecosystems-Group 11. Locally this project reconnects the shared fabric of Newburgh, New Windsor and the Town of Newburgh by proposing to preserve undeveloped previous land around city’s key drinking water resource – while refocusing development in relation to water with- in the urban fabric of Newburgh and New Windsor to catalyze regional economies.



Lights  Camera Newburgh-Group 12. Last but not least, group 12 focused on using Newburgh as the backdrop for the film industry utilizing warehouses and empty lots for sound stages and sets that can be re-purposed for community uses.


8 Comment

  • I like 3 & 12! I’m in love with Beacon but would much rather be in love with Newburgh. With addition of places like 2 Alice’s and the Art supply its gettin there. These are all great ideas!!

  • A lot of really great & interesting ideas!

  • These are all great ideas, but while I adore the agricultural corridor one and I’ve long thought that Broadway could use some narrowing, the reality is that a lot of the businesses on Broadway rely on non-resident traffic to survive and need the on-street vertical parking. I think that narrowing Broadway and providing protected bike lanes and more pedestrian infrastructure would be great, but you have to have an alternative for parking also. Whether that’s converting an old warehouse into a parking garage or increasing off-Broadway municipal lots or what have you.

    • I agree Sarah. I would love to see a green median down the center of Broadway with trees planted, with a bike path and sidewalk on each side of it. Then have the cars park parallel to the street and median.

      • I would love to see more greenery on Broadway in general! And there are a few vacant lots on the main drag that would make great miniature parks.

  • Hi – the Columbia presentation looks inspiring, I couldn’t find the video you mentioned – can you post an actual link to the video? Thanks!

  • Nice proposal Re-imagining the Post Industrial Newburgh. The group is proposing a long term solution for THE structural problem versus a temporary treatment for its objectionable symptoms: a value added continuum for economic development. The poised proposal is presented by Patching Urban Ecoscapes. Newburgh’s accessible and clean water resources are an increasingly rare commodity.
    By leveraging the assets cited in the proposals, Newburgh will create operational hedges against the increasingly ‘leaner’ economy. There’s a demand and Newburgh has the supply. The problem arises when the same controllers run both sides of the equation. That can’t happen. Investing in itself, the ‘City will become self-sufficient.