The Driverless Future Challenge’s Winning Entry Uses Plug-and-Play System to Reclaim Public Space for Pedestrians

Of the four finalists selected for Blank Space’s “Driverless Future Challenge”, which was announced last month, “Public Square” has emerged as the winning entry, with a plug-and-play scheme to transform New York’s public realm for its streets and pedestrians. Designed by FXFOWLE and Sam Schwartz Engineering, the proposal was selected by a panel of New York City commissioners, for its response to the competition brief with a flexible system that accommodates a variety of public space typologies, while creating a harmonious coexistence between pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles.

It’s important for cities to future-proof their infrastructure and policies, rather than wait for these technologies to reshape the city in ways we may not desire said Michael Replogle, Deputy Commissioner for Policy at the DOT, and a member of the judges panel. Public Square offered a versatile tool kit for the city to reuse space for a variety of public needs.

Based on a number of interlocking 8’x 8’ squares, the proposal replaces redundant public parking spaces with integrated infrastructure, green spaces, play equipment, retail opportunities and urban furniture. Recognizing that the transition to an autonomous transportation future is a long-term process, the design is incremental and offers change through a series of small interventions. Different combinations of squares create endless varieties of public programs and amenities, ultimately forming large modular networks of pedestrian friendly spaces. “Public Square” allows the street to change, as the city changes.

We are honored and thrilled to receive this award and we hope that this recognition will help us as we move forward with the design and testing of Public Square said Jack Robbins of FXFOWLE. It has been an extremely collaborative and rewarding process for our team and we look forward to further collaborations with the City and others who can bring their creativity and expertise to our vision.

The winning project was selected from entries from over 20 countries, and the four finalists will have the opportunity to make their visions a reality, with access to fabrication facilities at Brooklyn’s New Lab and partners in related fields. The competition’s purpose was to select viable solutions that would actually be possible to begin implementing immediately in New York.

The four finalists have crafted wildly unique solutions to a variety of topics: from creating autonomous micro-busses for the MTA that solve the ‘last-mile’ dilemma, and managing curbside use, to creating a platform for regional businesses to sell their goods in NYC without actually driving here, said Matthew Hoffman and Francesca Giuliani, Co-founders of Blank Space. This is not the end of the work for these four teams, but more of a beginning. Together with our partners, we will support the four finalists to turn their projects into real companies and products.

Check out the video above for an in-depth look at “Public Square”, courtesy of the designers.

News via: Black Space.

11 Projects Win NYC Public Design Commission’s Excellence in Design Awards

The New York City Public Design Commission and Mayor Bill de Blasio have announced the 11 projects selected as winners of their 2017 Awards for Excellence in Design. Established in 1983, the award has been bestowed annually to projects from the city’s five boroughs that “exemplify how innovative and thoughtful design can provide New Yorkers with the best possible public spaces and services and engender a sense of civic pride.”

8 Ways We Can Improve the Design of Our Streets for Protest

Once largely viewed as a fringe activity belonging to passionate extremists, protest is now-in the wake of a controversial new administration’s ascension to power in the US and a heightened interest in politics globally-a commonplace occurrence, with a much broader participant base in need of places to gather and move en masse.

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