The Queensway Steps by Carrie Wilbert and Eleonore Levieux (Paris, France)
Abandoned, forgotten, in ruins, re-discovered and now re imagined as a much needed green artery in the heart of the world’s most (culturally) diverse county! The QueensWay is slowly but steadily making strides to become the next ‘rail to trail‘ urban sensation. Envisioned as an undulating linear park, it aspires to go a step beyond the High Line in transforming abandoned infrastructure into a multifunctional park system with pedestrian pathways, bike lanes, performance spaces, art installations and community gardens, not to forget the cuisines from around the world that might possibly be stippled along the 3.5 mile rustic experience.
QueensWay at its current state. Image: Jeff Seal
While design consultants retained by the Trust for Public land and Friends of the QueensWay are currently studying ways to transform a stretch of this industrial relic into a public green space, the Center of Architecture opened their latest exhibition to support and inspire this transformation. ‘QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm’ showcases imaginative designs and winners of the ‘Sixth Biennial Design Ideas Competition’ hosted by the Emerging New York Architects (ENYA), a committee of the NYC chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
The competition challenged participants to envision a vertical gateway for the elevated viaduct portion of the abandoned railway line. And envision they did! 120 innovative ideas from over 28 countries that re-imagined the transition between the street and the elevated park as a dynamic experience, with programmed elements that encourage community involvement.
Four winning entries and one honorable mention were selected by a distinguished jury that included experts in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, public space and other related fields. The exhibition is presented as part of the 2014 AIA New York Chapter Presidential Theme “Civic Spirit: Civic Vision.” and will be open to the public until October 31. Apart from the design ideas, the exhibition also gives a brief visual history of QueensWay and the progress on community development process.
ENYA Prize winners talking at the symposium at the Center for Architecture. Image : Eve Rosen
Although ‘QueensWay Connection’ is primarily a design ideas competition and the winning entries won’t necessarily be built, these ideas will definitely serve as a catalyst when the rusted train tracks are reincarnated to be rumbled upon again, not by trains, but people and more importantly by nature!
Scroll through to check out the winning entries:
ENYA Prize, $5000
The Queensway Steps
Carrie Wilbert and Eleonore Levieux of Paris, France
Inspired by La Petit Ceinture in Paris, the original rail to trail project, the winning entry envisioned gentle ramps and generous platforms that also serve as gathering spaces, community gardens and more.
2nd Prize, $2500
Nikolay Martynov of Basel, Switzerland
Inspired by the iconic advertisement billboards of New York, the design proposes several of these along QueensWay that serve different functions like outdoor art center, vertical farms, or even a lounge!
3rd Prize, $1000
Make It! Grow It!
Song Deng and Rene Biberstein of Toronto, Canada
The design seeks to invigorate the local economy of Ozone Park through the ‘incubation’ of future farmers and product designers. The station will be converted in a complex of small gardens and units that can be affordably rented to hone skills and test new products–from fruits and vegetables to craft manufacturing.
Student Prize, $1000
EBB & Flow
Jessica Shoemaker, Paul Crespo and Jessica Johnson of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Ebb + Flow is about strengthening existing community networks as well as creating new connections. The design re-purposes the original junctions and stations as major community hubs.
Upside Down Bridge
Hyuntek Yoon of Queens, New York, USA
Finally a winning entry from New York! “Upside Down Bridge” proposes an overturned bridge that creates a smooth transition from the ground to the railway. The intersection between this vertical and horizontal connection, called “The Plaza” will be used as a versatile public space.
Bhushan is an Architect and Urban Designer. Get in touch with him @bhushan_NYC.