The winning designs propose reclaiming car lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, while having a focus on sustainability.
The Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge competition, which was organised by the Van Alen Institute and New York City Council, has resulted in two winners being chosen – one from among the professional entrants and one in a ‘young adult’ category.
The winning design in the professional category is Brooklyn Bridge Forest by a multidisciplinary collective of architects, conservationists, designers, and engineers led by Scott Francisco of Pilot Projects Design Collective. The other team members are Cities4Forests, Wildlife Conservation Society, Grimshaw and Silman.
Brooklyn Bridge Forest triples the capacity for active transit with a new dedicated bike path and reclaimed traffic lanes. It reimagines the bridge as an icon of climate action and social equity and seeks to improve mobility while respecting the landmark structure. The historic wooden walkway is expanded using planks sustainably sourced from a ‘partner forest’ - a community in Guatemala protecting 200,000-acre rainforest. ‘Microforests’ at either end of the bridge bring in nature and serve as green spaces for underserved communities.
“We are energized by this victory for healthier cities and the global environment,” said Francisco. “Brooklyn Bridge Forest seeks to build a new vision of environmental sustainability and social equity - reimagining this beloved landmark as a way to connect New York City and its residents to forests and natural systems that sustain life for all.”
The winning design in the Young Adult category is Do Look Down by Shannon Hui, Kwans Kim, and Yujin Kim from Hong Kong, California and New York. Do Look Down’s installation of a glass surface above the bridge’s girders is designed to create a whimsical new pedestrian space brought to life through art installations and seasonal programming. The lower roadway is converted into additional pedestrian and cyclist space that also offers opportunities for local vendors and performers. A kinetic paving system that draws energy from footsteps powers LED displays and projection systems set up on and around the bridge to honour the city’s cultures, histories, and identities.
“With more than 200 submissions from 37 countries, we were incredibly heartened by the extraordinary outpouring of love for this New York icon,” said Van Alen Institute executive director Deborah Marton. “The Brooklyn Bridge is much more than transportation infrastructure; it’s a symbol of New York City itself. The competition’s top proposals demonstrate the Brooklyn Bridge’s potential to be a new kind of icon.”
New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson added: “The winning ideas inspire us to think differently about the city’s infrastructure. They are a crucial first step to get New Yorkers thinking about how to adapt not only the bridge but also our streets and public spaces for future generations and stay true to our goal of creating an environmentally sensitive, bike friendly city that prioritises pedestrians over cars. While we review these bold long-term visions for the Brooklyn Bridge, the DOT [Department of Transportation] should act with urgency to implement changes on the Brooklyn Bridge and on other East River crossings to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians as soon as possible.”