New School News

Weathering The Storm

Solar Decathlon House, pre-Irene

From the Solar Decathlon house currently under construction in Hoboken, New Jersey, to the Design Workshop pool pavilion in Washington Heights, in the last week students faced an additional challenge to the expected final push before the new academic year gets underway: preparing for what was predicted to be one of the worst hurricanes to hit the New York metropolitan area in the last many decades.


Students shifted their attention from the ongoing construction activities to protect and secure these new buildings. In the case of the Solar Decathlon house, which is sited on the Hoboken waterfront, this included lifting the house several feet off the ground to guard against rising waters. While the city of Hoboken was not spared the flooding from Irene, through the student and faculty efforts the house made it through the storm and was spared any damage, enabling the team to focus this week on finishing the house in time for its trip to Washington for the Decathlon, which will take place September 23 through October 2 on the National Mall.


Other communities touched by Parsons design-build projects were unfortunately not as lucky as the New York metropolitan area. In the Catskills town of Margaretville, New York, where the Parsons Design Workshop created a pavilion in 2007, the pavilion remained standing while much of the town was devastated by the flooding. At the time of the project, the initial stirrings of revitalization were underway in this community, as an increasing number of artists, writers, designers and urban dwellers made Margaretville their home. The pavilion replaced a historic structure that served as a community gathering place. Its reconstruction was a symbol of the town’s rebuilding efforts.


Parsons faculty and students will be offering their assistance to help with the community’s recovery efforts in the weeks and months ahead. This commitment reflects the excellence of the program, and of the faculty who instill in their students not just design knowledge, but a sense of civic purpose. “While we count ourselves lucky that these projects weathered the storm,” said Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons. “We are also proud of how well both our students and faculty have done, especially for the communities in which these projects reside.”


To learn how you can support Margaretville in its disaster relief and rebuilding efforts, contact the United Way of Delaware and Otsego Counties ( or the American Red Cross (



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