top of page

The Culture of Maintenance

What started as an interest in the maintenance operations of the New York City Subway has become an exploration of the many ways the subway supports our daily lives. The conventional maintenance of the system -- such as the repair of Canarsie Tunnel, routine service to the rolling stock, and the upgrades of physical assets -- cannot hold if cultural forces prevail unchecked.

Our project imagines how the New York City Subway can support the cultural life of the city beyond transportation. Through a series of changes -- including a set of programs that accomodate wellness, productivity, leisure, living, and education; re-tooled cars that support work, entertainment, recreation, learning; and additional services for commuters -- the system supports a robust set of cultural practices.

The changes are tailored to a number of constituents:

• MTA employees who might bene t from additional services onthe job or perks as part of the employment package

• Communities disadvantaged by distance from their workplace, school, or other destination who might be able to convert an idle commute into a productive session

• Visitors to the city who might desire a ground level perspective of the local culture

• Companies that have adopted work-away or mobile of ce pro- grams for their employees

• Students and teachers who incorporate immersive learning into their studies and teachings

• New Yorkers who love New York and might want to catch a sunset over the cemetery on a lovely summer’s evening

The changes are introduced in three areas:

• Users: new fare media, uniforms, membership/subscription and on-de- mand services, reclaiming idle commutes for productive uses

Rolling Stock: retrofitting active and retiring train cars to suit new uses

Stations: new cultural hotspots throughout the city developed on real estate owned and operated by the MTA

By redefining what maintenance both entails and supports, the New York City Subway’s Cultural Maintenance program imagines a future in which the subway supports many aspects of our daily lives.

Various aspects of the MTA's new cultural maintenance program

Take part in the MTA Subway's new cultural maintenance program

YALE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE | Spring 2018 | Studio 4: Urban Design

Aniket Shahane, critic


Between 2001 and 2010, the MTA disposed of 2,850 retired subway cars by dumping them in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Delaware to create an artificial marine reef.  The fish population at "Redbird Reef" as it was known increased by so much that it became a commercial fishing hotspot.

The MTA discontinued the practice after concerns were raised that discarded subway cars contained asbestos. 


Our project can place in any of the twelve sectional conditions found throughout the MTA Subway system.  The twelve conditions can be found along the L-train route, but are common to the entire network

MTA Subway condition models


At the new cultural station at Livonia Avenue, a tness facility with exercise equipment and pool pairs with a train car equipped for changing and showering.The tness facility fostersgrowth in its immediate neighborhood, enriching existing green spaces and connecting commuters and local residents via a walking and running track

bottom of page