Archtober Building of the Day #26
Middletown Road Station
Middletown Road & Westchester Avenue, Bronx
The “steel river,” as Alexander Levi of SLO Architecture referred to the Pelham Line #6 train on last weekend’s Archtober tour, makes its way north towards Pelham Bay, crossing over four different waterways along its route. These bodies of water are cleaner now than they used to be, due in part to community-based efforts to clear unwanted debris and waste. As a result, plants and animals have returned to the area, and a feeling of pride has returned to the community. To uphold this stewardship and help maintain the waterways, Levi and Amanda Schachter of SLO designed Cross-Bronx Waterway for the Middletown Road Station, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design and chosen through a panel process.
Cross-Bronx Waterway shows the evolution of the river cleanup projects. The series of eight stainless-steel panels, fabricated by AMI-Metal, depict birds, fish, boats, bottles, and other living and nonliving inhabitants of the surrounding rivers. The objects float within ribbons of steel, or “water,” assembled in different patterns on each panel. The birds depicted are species recently found along the Bronx River that had not been spotted for years, including herons. Despite signs of improvement, Schachter stressed that there are still objects found in the river that are not meant to be there. By including unwanted objects in the art as well, the architects have created a reminder that community members must continue to care for the natural environment and prevent the rivers from returning to their previous state.
Levi and Schachter also wanted to create a sense of being underwater for people waiting for trains on the elevated platforms. Looking at the sculptural panels, subway-riders see the bottom of boats and the underside of birds. From the street, pedestrians looking up see the objects that protrude from the panels from an above-water angle. The architects intentionally changed the sense of view.