Alexander Levi ’90 has fond memories of rowing on the Connecticut River with the Wesleyan crew, and now, as an architect, he has returned to a river with an ambitious outreach project. Since January, Levi and his wife, architect Amanda Schachter, have worked with more than 100 Bronx high school students, their teachers, and others to design and build a floating, large–scale model of the Lower Bronx River Watershed. Emphasizing the theme of urban environmental reclamation, the 30–foot–by–12–foot vessel is made from recovered materials—including 3,000 used MetroCards, 30 broken umbrellas, 2,000 plastic bottles, 300 sycamore burrs, and 50 PVC window frames hauled off a demolition site. The model displays both seen and unseen elements of the region, including the historical ecology of the watershed, neighborhoods, buildings, transportation infrastructures, storm water and sewer networks, the Greenway, and other open public space. The vessel was launched June 11 from Drew Gardens into the Bronx River, accompanied by a 10–canoe flotilla of participants responsible for its creation. The model is touring Bronx schools this fall. The Van Alen Institute sponsored the Bronx River Crossing project; Levi and Schachter are 2009 Van Alen Institute New York Prize Fellows in Public Architecture.


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