Pioneer Works Press Presents CHARAS: The Improbable Dome Builders

As part of Second Sundays December, join Pioneer Works Press as we celebrate the soft release of CHARAS: The Improbable Dome Builders by Syeus Mottel, republished in partnership with The Song Cave.

In 1970 on New York’s Lower East Side, Chino Garcia, Humberto Crespo, Angelo Gonzalez, Jr., Roy Battiste, Moses Anthony Figueroa, and Sal Becker — “CHARAS,” as they called themselves — broke ground to construct a geodesic dome on a vacant lot beneath the Manhattan Bridge following a meeting with revolutionary architect R. Buckminster Fuller. Physically altering the housing conditions in their immediate neighborhood, the group sought to reclaim public space and develop programs for community autonomy. Originally published in 1973, this expanded edition acts as a record to highlight ways communities activate empty spaces before gentrification.

To commemorate the story’s republication, CHARAS co-founder Chino Garcia will be in conversation with early CHARAS adviser and founder of The Sustainability Lab Michael Ben-Eli. Moderated by architect and Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture Professor Nandini Bagchee.

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Studio Report – Design and Advocacy in the South Bronx

From – Studio Reports – Design and Advocacy in the South Bronx

This article was written by nandini bagchee. 

After a grueling battle with Fresh Direct for the environmental health of the South Bronx, the activists of South Bronx Unite (SBU) had their hearts set on securing permanent, community-controlled space in the neighborhood. A former health clinic that symbolized a history of neighborhood self-sufficiency could provide permanently affordable space for the community advocates and non-profit service and cultural organizations that help the neighborhood thrive.

So when Nandini Bagchee approached SBU about collaborating on a studio, they knew just what they needed: to prove that their visions of a community center on West 140th Street were achievable, and to find a way to extend the site’s radical past into a viable future in a changing neighborhood. . . 

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