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Curbed Awards '13: 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 Tenth Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: urban planning!

The Let's Just Hope It Really Happens Award:
Despite an intimidating list of potential obstacles—poor drainage, housing superblocks, narrow bike lanes, combined sewage overflow, and whatever damage the next superstorm will bring—the East River Blueway plans seem to be coming along. WXY Architecture released new design details and renderings back in May, the city set aside $7 million in August, and the AIA New York State gave WYX's designs the "Urban Design Award of Excellence" and the "Best in New York State" awards in September.

Most Outlandish Urban Plan of the Future:
We were pretty taken aback when we heard that one of the three developers to be chosen by the city to remake Governors Island was going to turn three of the island's historic buildings into a day spa, but there you have it. There are also plans in place from the Council on International Educational Exchange to turn a building into a dorm for international students, and Dutch architectural firm West 8 just completed 30 acres of flood-resistant parkland.

Most Anticipated Comeback
The city voted in July to give Madison Square Garden only ten more years in its current location in order to clear the way for a redesigned Penn Station that doesn't resemble the seventh circle of hell. (Too bad for the Garden, which is just finishing a $1 billion renovation.) So we'll check back with this one in a decade or so.

Most Epically Defeated Plan
There was a point when the Midtown East Rezoning looked like a sure thing, and many people believed that it was—including the developers who had already gotten to work on projects that relied on increased building heights—right up until the moment when it was struck down by City Council. Although the rezoning will probably make a comeback in one form or another, its sudden fall from grace was a huge defeat for the Bloomberg administration and their plans for the future of the city.

Most Talked About Urban Plan of the (Near) Future
Two Trees commissioned SHoP Architects to redesign the New Domino project after buying the site $185 million last summer. The release of the new renderings in March sparked a media frenzy and the project has been among the most talked about this year. Some people love it, some people (okay, a lot of people) hate it, but the New New Domino deserves to be lauded for, at the very least, its huge increase in open space, and is certain to transform its neighborhood. And hey, nobody is claiming that it's not an improvement over the old designs.

Project Most Likely to Make a Neighborhood's Collective Head Explode
Normally, trying to cure cancer is thought of as one of the most unambiguously good things possible, but according to a contingent of Yorkville residents, the planned CUNY Hunter/Memorial Sloan-Kettering medical complex on East 74th Street is going to be the (1.1 million-square-foot) straw that breaks their neighborhood's back. The hospital's opponents have insisted on referring to it as a "vanity project," that will strangle the area with increased traffic and congestion.
Runners Up: Greenpoint Landing, Domino, Howard Hughes' 50-story Seaport tower, every other project in the city.

Revenge of the Megaprojects
5) Willets Point: Years in the making, the $3 billion redevelopment of Willets Point is slowly moving forward and possibly threatening to destroy Flushing in the process. Either way, it's happening, as the city is trying to clear out all the auto-body shops to make way for the enormous residential, commercial, and retail complex.
4) Hunters Point South: The Long Island City development is among the least vengeful megaprojects in that it completed and opened its 11-acre public park before any of the housing. Related and TF Cornerstone are developing all the residential towers, with designs by SHoP and ODA.
3) Hudson Yards: A number of new designs for Hudson Yards buildings have been released in the past year, as other projects in the surrounding area have sprung up. The Midtown West area has quickly become among the most popular for large-scale developments.
2) NYU: The Purple Village Eater always finds itself at or near the top of this list and with good reason—it's probably the most hated megaproject in the city. NYU's opponents stayed vocal this year, though the project continued to move ahead, bringing their fight to court, with limited success.
1) Atlantic Yards: Forest City Ratner hit a bit of a rough patch with the Atlantic Yards Megaproject this year. The Barclays Center isn't pulling as much money as expected, the developers angered unions and brought about lawsuits with their use of modular construction, and recently sold off 70 percent of the project to a Chinese development company, who announced fairly crazy-sounding plans to build two towers a year. As ill-will towards the project is only increasing this is going to be a fun one to watch.

The SPURA award, given annually to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, started as a joke to mock the project's perpetual lack of progress. But now that the thing is actually getting off the ground, it's more of a place to check in on the project's legitimate forward momentum. This year, the city announced that the complex would be designed by SHoP Architects (huge surprise there) and Beyer Blinder Belle and developed by L&M Development Partners, BFC Partners, Taconic Investment Partners, and Grand Street Settlement. Renderings soon followed. Congrats to SPURA for its second consecutive non-ironic win of the SPURA Award.

Best Copycat Project
Although it's not the most original idea, often referred to as "a High Line in Queens," the Queensway has been gaining steam this year. While it seemed like a real long shot 12 months ago, Friends of the Queensway hit $1 million in funding this summer and the project seems to have a lot of support behind it. In fact, so many people are talking about the abandoned tracks that politicians are now considering redeveloping them for their original purpose—transportation.

Mission Accomplished Award
After a decade of trying, Whole Foods finally succeeded in its plan to bring a store to the bank of the disgusting Gowanus Canal. Now to fix up the Coignet Building (and hope all that housing goes as planned).
· All 2013 Curbed Awards [Curbed]