Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge

Photo: Cameron Blaylock


Sponsor: Van Alen Institute  

Type: open, ideas, two-stage

Language: English

Fees: None

The competition has two categories: “Professionals,” for teams 22 years of age and above, and “Young Adults,” for teams 21 years of age and under.

Three finalists from each category will be selected by an interdisciplinary jury representing a wide-ranging set of perspectives on the Brooklyn Bridge.

April 5, 2020: Proposals due by 11:59 pm ET

Early May 2020: Finalists announced

Mid-May 2020: Finalists kick-off event

May–July 2020: Proposal development

Mid-July 2020: Public jury session

Late July 2020: Winners announced

Process and Awards:
All finalists will have two months to refine their design based on feedback from the competition’s jury. In recognition of their work, finalists in the “Professionals” category will receive $13,000 and finalists in the “Young Adults” category will receive $3,000.

Jury members include:

  • Peg Breen;President, New York Landmarks Conservancy
  • Andrew Brown;Associate Director of Research, Van Alen Institute
  • Marla Gayle;Managing Director, SOM
  • Jonathan Gardenhire;Artist and Former VP, Alfred E. Smith Resident Association Executive Board
  • Danny Harris;Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives
  • Helen Ho;Principal, Karp Strategies
  • Isabella Joseph;Student, Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York
  • Regina Myer;President, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
  • Amy Plitt;Editor, Curbed NY


Design Challenge:

“The Brooklyn Bridge has been perhaps New York City’s most iconic structure for 137 years.  Not only is it a must-see tourist attraction, this beautiful bridge is relied upon by thousands of New Yorkers who cross between Brooklyn and Manhattan each day—many of them by foot or bike,” said NYC DOT Chief Operations Officer Margaret Forgione. “As we undertake our own engineering inspection this year to help assess the capacity for changes to the promenade, we welcome new and innovative ideas on how to reimagine the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Arguably New York’s most recognizable landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge holds a special place in our collective imagination. But that iconic status comes at a cost. At peak hours, the promenade is crammed, uncomfortable, and sometimes unsafe. Thousands of pedestrians and cyclists cross the bridge every day.

With New York’s growing numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, it is imperative to provide modern infrastructure that allows them to move comfortably and safely around the city. And in recent years, city officials have responded, adding protected bike lanes, widening sidewalks, building pedestrian plazas, and providing new bike and pedestrian space on some bridges around the city. But the Brooklyn Bridge, perhaps the city’s most crucial interborough connection for pedestrians and cyclists, remains woefully incapable of accommodating the demands of its users. Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge aims to inspire the public to envision the infrastructure that will shape New York City’s future, support the transit needs of a 21st century city, and set a new standard for how we think about aging transportation infrastructure across the city.

For the complete design brief, visit 


Alisha Kim Levin, Director of Communications, Van Alen Institute