The Van Alen Institute and the New York City Council have announced the winners of Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge. The international design competition intended to spark public dialogue about the Brooklyn Bridge, which has become one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks since its opening in 1883. However, the bridge’s iconic status has also led to major pedestrian and cyclist traffic jams on the promenade as commuters and tourists jostle for space. Participants in the competition were asked to rethink the walkway by redesigning for greater accessibility, sustainability and safety for both New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

The Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge competition had two finalists categories: a Professionals category for participants 22 years of age and older and a Young Adults category for those 21 years of age and younger. An interdisciplinary jury with a wide-ranging set of perspectives evaluated proposals based on team composition, accessibility, safety, environmental benefit, security, respect for the bridge’s landmark status, feasibility and potential for sparking delight and wonder for users. The competition garnered over 200 submissions from 37 countries; each winner was chosen by a combination of public vote and scores from the competition’s jury.

Related: Architects want to transform an old Dutch bridge into zero-energy apartments

rendering of pedestrian and cyclist lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge
rendering of people biking through parks on the Brooklyn Bridge

Pilot Projects Design Collective along with Cities4Forests, Wildlife Conservation Society and Grimshaw Silman were crowned the winners of the Professional category with their ‘Brooklyn Bridge Forest’ proposal, a design that reimagines the bridge as “an icon of climate action and social equity.” To make the bridge safer and to accommodate higher flows of traffic, the multidisciplinary team proposes expanding the historic walkway with planks sustainably sourced from a forest community partner in Guatemala. A separated and dedicated bike lane would be installed as well to avoid cyclist-pedestrian conflicts on the bridge. “Microforests” would bookend the bridge to provide additional green space while boosting biodiversity. 

rendering of fresh food markets on the Brooklyn Bridge
Rendering of people walking on glass bridge looking down to a market below

The winning proposal in the Young Adult category was created by Shannon Hui, Hwans Kim and Yujim Kim. Titled ‘Do Look Down,’ the design envisions a glass surface floor above the bridge’s girders to create a new pedestrian space activated by seasonal programming and art installations. Kinetic paving would power an LED and projection system that depicts the city’s cultures, histories and identities.

+ Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge

Images via Van Alen Institute