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Competition update: The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and anti-Black racism have attuned us even more closely to people’s needs for safe, comfortable access to streets and public space, and the power of public space to enable political change. It’s clearer than ever that the design, use, and management of our streets and other shared spaces must be overhauled to respond to the present moment and past injustices. They must be places for all people that allow peaceful gatherings, safe transportation, a healthy environment, and opportunities for small businesses to flourish.

These considerations have informed this competition’s process. We must have a conversation about our city’s public spaces centering their role in structural inequities and public health. The Brooklyn Bridge has the potential to serve as a testing ground for short-term interventions and pilot designs that serve our communities in need — not just in an imagined, idealistic future — but now.

As a result, we are still working through our finalist selection process. Please check back here for updates in the coming weeks.

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

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.

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.

Submissions are now closed.

April 19, 2020
Proposals due

May–July 2020
Finalists proposal development

Mid-July 2020
Public jury session

Late July 2020
Winners announced

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; Co-Founder, Biking Public Project

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