Reimagine the Brooklyn Bridge

27 August 2020



As made even more clear by the Covid-19 pandemic, the design of streets and shared spaces must be responsive to the present moment and work to correct past injustices. They must foster equitable, accessible and sustainable transportation options and create a healthy and safe environment for all, as well opportunities for small businesses and vendors to flourish. Driven by these concerns, the Van Alen Institute and New York City Council invited architects and designers to “reimagine” the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, believing the city’s iconic structure has the potential to serve as a testing ground for designs that serve communities in need – not just in an imagined, idealistic future, but now. The six finalist proposals – three “young adults” and three “professionals” – are a compelling and optimistic set of ideas for responsive short-term interventions and longer-term, large-scale reconfigurations.


Bridge X

ScenesLab + Minzi Long + Andrew Nash

Bridge X proposes a Brooklyn Bridge that evolves in response to public feedback and adapts from a pandemic to a post-pandemic era. Through a phased approach, Bridge X reimagines the upper and lower decks to reclaim space for greater pedestrian and cyclist access, to make room for vendors and small businesses, and offer new modes of engagement with the bridge. Digital tools and design interventions enable visitors to more easily access, explore and reflect on their experiences of the bridge.

Back to the Future

BIG + ARUP

Back to the Future seeks to return the bridge to its original state, both architecturally and functionally, and pilots innovations in autonomous mobility and public space design. By removing cars and related ramps, and providing more space for pedestrians, bikes and transit, this proposal moves more people and creates a stronger connection between Downtown Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and beyond.

Do Look Down

Shannon Hui + Kwans Kim + Yujin Kim

Do Look Down’s installation of a glass surface above the bridge’s girders creates a whimsical new pedestrian space activated through art installations and seasonal programming. The lower roadway is converted into additional walkable and human-powered transport space that also offers opportunities for local vendors and performers. Powered by kinetic paving, an LED and projection system is mobilised to honour the city’s cultures, histories and identities.

The Artery

Lukas Kugler

With sensitivity to different user groups, The Artery creates a contiguous modern transportation corridor between boroughs. On the bridge, the design incorporates designated spaces for vendors and three separate pathways for cyclists, runners and pedestrians. The substantial incorporation of greenery provides natural borders between these paths, creating an improved experience while encouraging native plants and wildlife to inhabit the bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge Forest

Pilot Projects Design Collective + Cities4Forests + Wildlife Conservation Society + Grimshaw + Silman

Brooklyn Bridge Forest reimagines the bridge as an icon of climate action and social equity, improving mobility while respecting the landmark structure. The historic wooden walkway is expanded using planks sustainably sourced from a partner community in Guatemala that protects a 200,000-acre rainforest. A dedicated bike path and reclaimed traffic lane creates new space for cyclists and low-carbon transit, while biodiverse ‘microforests’ at either end of the bridge bring nature to New York City, and serve as green spaces for underserved communities.

The Cultural Current

Aubrey Bader + Maggie Redding

Using a brightly coloured path and cultural markers, the Cultural Current proposes a fluid integration of surrounding neighbourhoods into a transportation and public space network that crosses the bridge. The proposal uses colour 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.

The Artery
Do Look Down
Back to the Future
Brooklyn Bridge Forest
Bridge X
The Cultural Current


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