Seeing a random condom strewn on a park bench is not a rare sight in New York, but what about a giant one that crosses the East River? Reminiscent of a ribbed, XXL Jimmy Hat, the inflatable floating tunnel you see above is AECOM’s suggestion for how New Yorkers might be able to make it from Brooklyn to Manhattan and vice versa during the impending L Train shutdown. The proposal was just one of 33 that were “floated” this Sunday at the Van Alen Institute’s “L Train Charrette”.
Called the “Light Transporter,” AECOM’s proposal centers on an undulating inflatable tunnel which, unlike most NYC tunnels, would sit mostly on top of the water. In some places, the tunnel would float directly on the water’s surface, while other segments could be anchored to the riverbed so that boats could cross overhead without incident. The tunnel itself would be a futuristic installation, inside and out. “Imagine a giant condom,” said Gonzalez Cruz, one of the designers on the team. He further explained that the tunnel walls would be made from heavy-duty, fiberglass fabric developed by a company that does work for NASA.
If the idea of a giant floating condom tunnel isn’t wild enough for you, AECOM takes the proposal up a notch with a psychedelic edge. The team suggests that the tunnel’s interior walls could be used to display projected images “to provide a cross between art and technology for New Yorkers,” Cruz said. When it comes to getting folks from Point A to Point B, it’s clear that creative solutions are needed, but we’re not sure the city is ready for a psychedelic prophylactic pedestrian path like this one.
The top prize went to a much more conservative proposal from mechanical engineer Youngjin Yi of BuroHappold Engineering and architect Dillon Pranger of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. The team designed a ferry service extending up Newtown Creek with several docking points along the route. Their perfectly sensible suggestion is forward-thinking, too, in that the ferry service would connect to two spots on the creek banks (where Long Island Railroad Freight trains run now) and the existing railway could be used to carry commuters through East Williamsburg to Bushwick and Queens.
Yeah. That makes more sense than a floating condom. There are already enough of those in the East River, after all.
Images via Van Alen Institute