Roosevelt Islander Online: A New Short Film Unforgetten: Renwick Ruins Takes You Inside Roosevelt Island’s Abandoned Smallpox Hospital, Take A Look

According to Mr. Martin: 

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society, the Roosevelt Island Operating
Corporation, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and
Historic Preservation have been wonderfully supportive. Friends of the
Ruin considers them partners in its mission. 

As part of an ongoing educational component to the organization’s mission,
Friends of the Ruin has been working with the Williamsburg High School for
Architecture and Design (WHSAD), a Brooklyn blue ribbon public high school
focused on architectural drafting, design principles, and historic
preservation. WHSAD students, under the instruction of historic
preservation firm Walter B. Melvin Architects, have spent the past five
years studying Roosevelt Island, James Renwick, Jr. (architect of the
Smallpox Hospital), and the ruin. After months of design charettes,
critiques, and mood-boarding, students will often envision a renewed ruin
as public housing, a high end retail experience, or a weekend party

Friends of the Ruin welcomes the students’ enthusiasm but hopes the
building could be permanently stabilized and opened to the public as a
wild, landscaped (and safe) gothic ruin. The building (our City’s only
landmark ruin) was once a hospital to fight a devastating epidemic and
also served as a nursing school training New York’s frontline health care

It is the nonprofit’s goal that the Ruin will serve, in the form of public
park space, to memorialize the science, medical advances, and frontline
workers fighting viral and infectious disease, including COVID-19, SARS,
HIV/AIDS and many other diseases. We believe it is hard to imagine a more
fitting site for this than in our country’s first hospital dedicated to
the smallpox epidemic, and on the historically rich Roosevelt Island.


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