Joey Swerdlin

Department of Architecture

Building Against Vacancy

In this thesis, a building is designed on a New York City-owned vacant lot in Harlem to serve homeless LGBTQ youth.

A majority of the vacant lots owned by NYC are the result of strategic disinvestment through redlining practices that disproportionately impacted low-wealth communities of color. These undesirable urban voids maintain the memory of displacement and destruction.

Undesirable to their families, thousands of LGBTQ youth are living on the streets. In response to this crisis, the queer community–specifically within house-ball subculture–has historically created “houses” where chosen families are formed. In these social structures, “mothers” and “fathers” care for their “children” through the myriad challenges faced by youth who identify along the gender and sexuality spectra.

Building Against Vacancy uses this social structure to imagine an architecture that transforms undesirable lots into viable, vibrant spaces for non-dominant forms of culture, expression, and living.

More information via DSpace