Bronx River Art Center students design greenway benches

Bronx Times, 12/10/19
Bronx River Art Center students design greenway benches

By Kyle Vuille/Schneps Media | web link

Left to Right: Michele Brody, BRAC Education Manager, Gail Nathan, BRAC Program Director, and Fernanda Carvalho Santos, student at BRAC stand in front of the “Loveseat” created by BRAC’s Teen Project Studio+2.0’s students. Students at BRAC designed three unique park benches to be installed at 50 Oak Point Ave. in the month of November.

Photo by Kyle Vuille/Schneps Media

Teens and young adults at the Bronx River Art Center are finally seeing their park bench designs come to life in a literal, concrete sense.

Members of BRAC along with other affiliates of the project and a BRAC student met outside of the McInnis Cement Plant on Thursday, November 21 at 50 Oak Point Avenue to see firsthand two of the three student designed benches come to life.

Students in the Teen Project Studio+2.0 class at BRAC this semester had the chance to apply their art techniques and theory to product design to create park benches that are now in full scale with the molds being filled with cement.

The TPS+2.0 class is a free class offered every semester for high school students meeting twice a week at BRAC.

The program recently extended its offering to young adults from 18-26, that accounts for the +2.0 in the title, BRAC program director Gail Nathan said.

Nathan said the opportunity for the benches actually started three years ago when the ever evolving class was concentrating on furniture design.

The class created a prototype, but there were no takers when the prototype was pitched to the Bronx River Greenway team.

Nathan said in the past year, she saw proposal requests open up for park benches and thus started the current project with previously involved students and this semester’s pupils.

The present day students took the original plans and modified them slightly, which resulted in the ‘Legacy Bench.’ Another bench has taken shape in the form of a piano and the third, taking inspiration from the pebbles and rocks of its future home at the greenway.

Nathan explained the project takes the students through every step of the design process.

“We’ve really shown our students, you can design, you can fabricate, we have 3-D printers for small scale prototypes, then bring it to the full-scale, and now we have a commission,” Nathan said.

The three benches to be installed along the Bronx River behind the McInnis Cement plant were commissioned for $7,000 a piece.

The installment of the benches was sponsored by The Point, a community development committee, that operates out of Hunts Point.

McInnis Cement hired The Point CDC to put out the request for proposal and accepted the students’ designs just in the past year.

The only student from the class present for the pouring of the benches on Thursday was 21-year-old Fernanda Carvalho. Santos said she has been involved in the project since March.

“It was an interesting experience and challenging because it was my first time making something on the bigger scale.” Santos said. “I learned a lot about draft making and architecture design and used a 3-D printer for the first time.”

Everyone involved in the project from the students to affiliates at The Point CDC all shared the same notion, they hope to see the benches cherished for years to come.

Nathan said painting the benches is scheduled for the spring after the concrete has had time to cure during the cold winter months.

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This program is made possible with support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, including Council Members Eric Dinowitz, Althea Stevens, Kristy Marmorato and the Bronx Delegation. Additional support is from Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, the NYS Council on the Arts with support from Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Legislature. Foundation support is from Con Edison: The Power of Giving, The New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, The Lincoln Fund, and private donors.

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