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Curbed Awards '11: Adventures in Urban Planning

It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate architecture, and neighborhood universes of New York City. Yep, it's time for the Eighth Annual Curbed Awards! Below: urban planning and parks!

Best Chance to Swim in The East River Award

The weather may have turned cold, but Curbed's +Pool obsession never cools. The Kickstarter-funded development of this giant plus-shaped addition to the East River waterfront is the best of a series of floating pool designs that have drifted into New York's popular imagination recently.

Outlandish Urban Plan of the Future:

There's need to build gondolas to traverse New York Harbor on your way to Governors Island when you can just erase the harbor with landfill. In addition to creating an overland passage to the city's future recreational isle, filling in the harbor creates a whole new downtown neighborhood: Lower Lower Manhattan, or LoLo!

Outlandish Urban Plan of the Past

200 years ago in 1811, New York's planning commissioner proposes aligning all land in Manhattan?well beyond the then-inhabited portions of the town?into a grid along perpendicular vertical and horizontal axes consisting of avenues and streets, respectively. The resulting blocks of land are then to be divided into tiny uniform plots for survey and sale. Good luck with that one Commissioner!

Imitation Is Flattery Awards

A copycat of the year prize must go to Queens backers of the High Line knockoff known as QueensWay. The decommissioned Rockaway Beach branch of the LIRR between Rego Park and Ozone Park has been out of service for 50 years, but current supporters are forming a non-profit to shepherd their own Queens greenway plan towards approval.

The Low Line then captures the Yin-Yang prize for balance in urban planning. Hoping to match the unmitigated success of the High Line along the west side, the Lower East Side proposes a Low Line Park to be built in a vestigial subterranean trolley station. Perhaps these are the types of undertakings that prevent Manhattan from cosmically tipping over into urban chaos.

The SPURA Award

Awarded annually to the Seward Park Urban Renewal area (aka SPURA) for its yearly starts and stops in the 50-year efort to develop the large Lower East Side parking lots along Delancy Street near the Williamsburg Bridge. The closest SPURA has come to groundbreaking was the number of posts we published in 2011: 18! A 260% jump from the previous Curbed-history high in 2010 Thank you Wal-Mart, the Low Line, Boxy White Cartoon Museum, and Essex Street Market for continuing to keep our SPURA dreams and post-count afloat in perpetuity.

Revenge of the Megaprojects!

6) While additional financing is sought before the start of construction on Rafael Viñoly and Beyer Blindel Belle's re-imagining of Williamsburg's Domino Sugar Factory, community groups are making a last-ditch effort to turn the mega-project away from condos and towards a mixed-use cultural hub with less housing.

5) The Hallets Points project in Astoria returns to the Queens waterfront like a ghost ship after a two year absence. Luxury living at the mouth of Hell Gate never looked so good.

4) SHoP, the architects behind the redevelopment of South Street Seaport, release early plans and will replace the shopping mall on a pier with a glassy three-story structure topped with a roof garden.

3) The roof is raised at Barclay's Arena, literally! And Italian classical soloist phenom Andrea Boccelli turns up his nose at MSG to perform at the Atlantic Yards arena in December 2012.

2) When the Hudson Yards finally springs to the skyline fully realized, it may be viewed as an overnight success. For now it goes through the archi-development equivalent of waiting tables and going on endless auditions, as all the necessary pieces (High Line integration, KPF Hudson Yards towers redesign) slowly assemble themselves towards a critical mass of forward movement.

1) Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project has gone from starchitect Frank Gehry's sweeping redesign of Prospect Heights to the proposed installation of the world's tallest pre-fab modular rental tower. Hurray?

Big Red Apple Fast Start Award

In less time than it took the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation to overhaul its aging tram, the city went from zero to 60 in thinking about an applied sciences campus below the 59th Street Bridge, to selecting a team comprised of Ivy League Cornell (Big Red) and Israeli Technion Universities to build one. Back in March there was an announcement about a science campus; then there were 18 interested parties, which narrowed to a horse race between Stanford and Cornell; the latter was selected with an assist from a mega-donation from an alum; and now patients at Goldwater Hospital are practically getting kicked out of their sickbeds in order to make way for demolition work to start in advance of the science campus groundbreaking. Roosevelt Island already has that start-up magic.

The Mission Accomplished Medal of Honor

High Line Phase 2 takes home the award this year with its June opening, giving us enough time to enjoy a glorious elevated summer. The flyover, the popsicles, the raised lawns, and hovering HL23?all wonderful additions beyond Phase 1, with which we thought we were satisfied.

· Curbed Awards 2011 [Curbed]

Hudson Yards

, Manhattan, NY 10001