Spotlight on Urban Design

This blog is maintained by the Architecture, Urban, and Regional Design, M.S. program. Contact for more information.

Student Video: Food Desert - South Bronx, NYC

Jan 29, 2014

For the Fall Semester, MsAURD students were divided into five teams of two to take on New York City’s five boroughs as a laboratory for urban design techniques. The focus was to develop innovative solutions that address the economic, social and ecological elements for each site to create a resilient community that adapts to socio-political, environmental and economic forces.

Rhoda Tsado


The Bronx team, consisting of Hebatallah Elgawish (bottom) and Rhoda Tsado (top), had a vision to confront South Bronx’s classification as a “food desert” (area lacking fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods). The project introduces Urban Agriculture as a development strategy, along with a set of tactical formal and programmatic interventions that attempt to mitigate the area’s anthropogenic and ecological challenges. The Bronx team proposed placing an urban farming system over the Metro-North Rail Corridor by leveraging the development air rights above the tracks.

With a phased development timeline that begins with integrating green infrastructure into the existing urban fabric, and zoning amendments to accommodate agriculture use through a network of greenways, the project ultimately creates food security through the reliance on a local food system. Access to healthy food, creating diverse economies, introducing renewable sources of energy such as bio-digesters, all generate robust, redundant systems that are key to a resilient city. This type of organic planning which focuses on community engagement and a holistic approach to urban regeneration, builds social structures that strengthen the fabric of the community.