Reimagined Brooklyn Bridge Designs Announced

FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2020

The New York City Council, along with urban-design nonprofit the Van Alen Institute, recently held a contest for designs aiming to improve the experience for pedestrians and cyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Six finalists have been chosen from the 250 entries, and designs range from glass walkways, to microforests to even a ban on cars altogether.

The Contest

The thought for a contest was prompted by the uptick in foot and bike traffic on the bridge. According to a 2017 report by the NYC Department of Transportation, between 2008 and 2015, on the weekends, foot traffic nearly quadrupled and cyclist traffic more than doubled.

However, in addition to those numbers, daily traffic numbers in total have dropped from 425,000 in the early 1900s to around 125,000 today.

Contest jurors chose the shortlist from two categories of entrants: young adults, who were encouraged to suggest ideas based on their “wildest dreams,” and professionals age 22 and older.

 A winner for each category will be decided by scores from the jury and an online public vote.

Jurors favored inclusive designs, according to Deborah Marton, Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute, but the panel also chose “ambitious” designs. The finalists are as follows

In the Professionals category:

  • Back to the Future, BIG + ARUP, New York – This design seeks to return the bridge to its original state—both architecturally and functionally— removing cars and related ramps and providing more space for pedestrians, bikes and transit;
  • Bridge X, ScenesLab + Minzi Long + Andrew Nash, New York, Boston and Vienna – The proposal reimagines the upper and lower decks to reclaim space for greater pedestrian and cyclist access, to make room for vendors and small businesses and to offer new modes of engagement with the bridge; and
  • Brooklyn Bridge Forest, Pilot Projects Design Collective, Cities4Forests, Wildlife Conservation Society, Grimshaw and Silman; New York and Montreal – This idea sees the wooden walkway expanded using planks sustainably sourced, a dedicated bike path and reclaimed traffic lane for cyclists and low-carbon transit, with biodiverse “microforests” at either end of the bridge.

In the Young Adults category:

  • The Artery, Lukas Kugler, New Milford, Connecticut – In this vision, the design incorporates designated spaces for vendors and three separate pathways for cyclists, runners and pedestrians;
  • The Cultural Current, Aubrey Bader and Maggie Redding, Knoxville, Tennessee – This suggestion uses color in a playful way that’s also helpful for wayfinding, reuses existing wood boards and recycled plastic and plans to phase car traffic off the lower roadway; and
  • Do Look Down, Shannon Hui, Kwans Kim, and Yujin Kim; Hong Kong, Bay Area, California, and New York – This entry includes an installation of a glass surface above the bridge’s girders to create a new pedestrian space activated through art installations and seasonal programming, while the lower roadway is converted into additional walkable and human-powered transport space that also offers opportunities for local vendors and performers.

While the city is unlikely to adopt any of these designs completely, the DOT wanted to review ideas as part of its planned assessment of the bridge.

“As we undertake our own engineering inspection this year to help assess the capacity for changes to the promenade, we welcome new and innovative ideas on how to reimagine the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Margaret Forgione, the chief operations officer of the city’s Transportation Department.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Color + Design; Color + Design; Contests; Design; NA; North America

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