SUSTAIN Model Block

Cooper Union Stock Photo

SUSTAIN is a collaborative project between the Institute for Sustainable Design and Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc) that created a model block for urban sustainability initiatives, research and artistic expression. The SUSTAIN project harnessed and focused the talents of artists, architects, residents, small businesses, and activists to develop creative solutions to the challenges of urban sustainability on one city block—E. 4th street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery in Lower Manhattan. Together, we tested energy, water and waste reduction strategies that draw from the lived experience of residents and commercial tenants.

The first phase of the project primarily consisted of information gathering about the block. Engineering students worked with Architecture students to create a holistic portrait of the model blocks' energy, waste and water use, and produced documents that  became the foundation for further initiatives on the project site. During the second phase, which overlaped the first, we commissioned installations and art projects to engage the community, inform the public and encourage wise resource use and reduction with an overall goal of changing individual behavior.

This project was implemented over the course of two years. It is our conviction that when this project was completed, the block served as a model for community-based sustainability efforts throughout NYC.

For information on our previous collaborative work with FABnyc, see our Green Infrastructure Proposal

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.