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Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge Q&A

UPDATE: In light of the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis, we have extended the submission deadline for Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge by two weeks. The new deadline is Sunday, April 19 by 11:59 pm ET.

There is no requirement to work together in person at this stage, and we strongly encourage participating teams to collaborate digitally and follow social distancing guidelines. We understand your workflows have been disrupted, so if you need guidance on how to proceed, contact us at competitions@vanalen.org.



The competition is open to all, including individuals and all types of firms, including emerging and established firms. There are two submission categories: Young Adults (teams aged 21 and below) and Professionals (teams aged 22 and up). Finalists and Winners will be selected from both categories. 

The competition is open to any ideas to improve the experience on the bridge, and we are looking for diverse perspectives. While the ideal team from the Professional category should represent an interdisciplinary mix of expertise across transportation, public space, and engineering, competitors do not need to have formal training in design, planning, or engineering to submit a proposal.

There is no minimum or maximum number of team members, but the recommended number of team members is 4. We do encourage interdisciplinary teams.

Yes, firms and studios are welcome to apply as a team. Please include information about the individual expertise of team members in the application.

Once a team is selected, the team members cannot change. The team can draw upon the resources of their larger firm, if they are applying through their firm.

Only one submission per firm is allowed. Individuals who work at the same firm may create their own teams and submit their own applications, as long as neither team is submitting on behalf of the firm. No firm or individual can be a member of more than one submission.

If any member of your team is 22 or older, you will need to apply under the Professionals category.


Yes, previous work is a requirement for the Professional category.

Previous work should speak to the applicants’ past experience and does not have to be related to architecture, design, or engineering. Ideally, examples of previous work should be relevant to the competition and demonstrate familiarity with the topics at hand, such as transportation, mobility, and/or the public realm. Previous work can be submitted in any medium, including drawings, photographs, writings, or other forms of visual communication.

Previous work must include team members’ direct experience, and can include experience with creation, design, or implementation. Applicants should explain their role on the project in their application.

Previous work can be realized or conceptualized projects, with a preference for realized.


New York City Council and Van Alen Institute seek visionary ideas that would improve every aspect of the Brooklyn Bridge experience: access, the journey across, understanding of its history, landmark status and extraordinary engineering, and the meaning and pleasure that visiting one of the globe’s most iconic public spaces should deliver.

This competition is a collaboration between New York City Council and Van Alen Institute.

The competition rules can be found in the Design Brief in the “Eligibility, Terms and Conditions” section.

Requirements can be found in the Design Brief in the “Applicants Submission Requirements” section.


We encourage creative, envelope-pushing ideas. For the Professional track, feasibility is one of the criteria that will be considered. Feasibility is not a requirement for the Young Adults track, as one goal of this competition is to give young people an opportunity to share their opinion on future infrastructure that they will experience.

Proposals must balance celebration of the bridge’s rich history and iconic status with its everyday utility. Please refer to the Design Brief for the full set of evaluation criteria.


Individuals of the same organization that do not report to a jury member are eligible to participate. Please find other details about individuals with relationships to jury members in the Design Brief under “Eligibility, Terms, and Conditions.”

Submission Documents

Yes, the 10-page maximum is inclusive of all elements of the Applicants Submission Requirements listed in the Design Brief.

The cover sheet must be its own page. You can divide content at your discretion across the other pages.

There is no pre-registration. Your submission through our application portal by Sunday, April 19 at 11:59 pm ET is sufficient.

This is the standard submission size to enable both paper and electronic review.

Submissions are limited to a single ‘poster image.’ You can divide written content at your discretion across the other pages.

Please arrange responses as sections according to the “Submission Requirements” in the Design Brief.

The jury will review the items included under “Submission Requirements” in the Design Brief. The ‘poster image’ included in your proposal can be a sketch, rendering, collage, or other format and should look to address the competition goals. Your poster image should aim to bring your concept to life—make sure it is vibrant, contextual, engaging, and responsive to the competition brief. Entries will be judged and narrowed to six finalists based on the Evaluation Criteria in the Design Brief.

Participants are to describe how they came to the recommended proposal through their responses to the thematic prompts in the Project Approach section. No separate description is required.

Submissions should be formatted as a single PDF document but may have multiple pages. The document can be a maximum of 10 pages.


Teams may be eligible to receive a travel stipend of up to $1,000. Teams are expected to participate in-person at two events, one in May and one in July. Not all team members must attend in person. 

Yes, the design development period will be conducted by phone and email.

Reference documents provided by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), including the bridge’s site plan and statistics regarding the pedestrian, cyclist, and car usage of the Brooklyn Bridge can be found here.

Drawings provided by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) can be found here.

The cable inspection has not been completed at this time. As of the launch of the competition, New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) was working to procure engineering services to complete the cable inspection as quickly as possible. We will update participants if we learn more.

Provided that another team member can be available, it should not be a problem to miss 3-4 days between finalist selection and the public jury session. If you are selected as a finalist, please inform the competition team of any foreseeable scheduling conflicts as soon as possible.