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The Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks, and holds a special place in our collective imagination.

Since opening on May 24, 1883, the bridge has taken on near-mythic significance in New York City. Its striking form has captured the imagination of some of the nation’s most prominent artists. Its enduring iconographic power makes it one of the most photographed locations in New York. In popular culture, the bridge is a symbol for the city itself, used in countless establishing shots in films and television.

But that iconic status comes at a cost. At peak hours, the promenade is crammed, uncomfortable, and sometimes unsafe. Thousands of pedestrians and cyclists cross the bridge every day. In response to these conditions, the New York City Council and Van Alen Institute launched Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge, an international design competition that aims to spark a new public conversation about New York City’s infrastructure.

Submissions are now closed. Finalists will be announced soon — stay tuned!

Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Photo: Cameron Blaylock
Photo: Cameron Blaylock

Virtual Tour
The Ultimate Insider’s Brooklyn Bridge

Wednesday, May 27
5:00–6:00 PM
Head to the Van Alen Instagram account to join Kriss Roebling, New York historian and great-great-grandson of Emily and Washington Roebling, builders of the Brooklyn Bridge, for this unique look at the bridge.

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Virtual Panel
Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge: Transportation Infrastructure as Public Space

Thursday, May 28
6:30–8:30 PM
We’ve invited leaders in urban design, transportation, and public policy to share their ideas, and offer insight into how cities can redesign existing bridges, parks, plazas, and streets to be better well into the future.

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April 19, 2020
Proposals due

May–July 2020
Finalists proposal development

Mid-July 2020
Public jury session

Late July 2020
Winners announced

Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge challenges participants to rethink the iconic Brooklyn Bridge walkway. We will select six finalist teams who create unconventional designs that respect and enhance the bridge’s landmark status, think inclusively about mobility and access, and accommodate commuters, visitors, and vendors.

The competition has two finalist categories:

  • Professionals: Three finalists will be 22 years of age and older. Each finalist will receive $13,000. Ultimately, one winner will be selected.
  • Young Adults: Three finalists will be 21 years of age or under. Each finalist will receive $3,000. Ultimately, one winner will be selected.

Three finalists from each category will be selected by an interdisciplinary jury representing a wide-ranging set of perspectives on the Brooklyn Bridge. The jury will consider the following factors: team composition; accessibility and safety; environmental benefit and security; respect for the bridge’s landmark status; feasibility; and “magic”—i.e. new ideas that surprise, delight, and fascinate. The proposed designs should focus on the bridge’s walkway, but can include recommendations for the bridge’s roadway and nearby public spaces.

Finalists will work with Van Alen and City Council to further develop their ideas for two months. To select the winning designs, all six finalist proposals will be presented in a public event in mid-July and online. Members of the public will help choose a winner in each category through an online vote.

For complete submission guidelines, see the Design Brief.

Peg Breen; President, New York Landmarks Conservancy

Andrew Brown; Associate Director of Research, Van Alen Institute (non-voting)

Marla Gayle; Managing Director, SOM

Hon. Jonathan Gardenhire; Artist & District Leader, NYS Assembly District 65, Part B

Danny Harris; Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives

Helen Ho; Principal, Karp Strategies

Isabella Joseph; Student, Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York

Regina Myer; President, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Amy Plitt; Editor, Curbed NY

Press Coverage
Photo: Cameron Blaylock