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Envisioning 42nd Street as a Light Rail-Lined Pedestrian Plaza

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The annual vision42 competition held by Architect's Newspaper in collaboration with The Institute for Rational Urban Mobility seeks designs that convert the horrendous urban maelstrom that is 42nd Street into a car-verboten, light rail-lined pedestrian plaza. Sounds idealistic, right? Well, it is, but that only moderately diminishes how nice it is to imagine this year's four winning proposals in action.

↑ 1) From Nantes and Paris France, ateliergeorges studio proposes integrating the city's existing transportation, especially from working-class neighborhoods, into new transit serving the city center. The evolution of the corridor "involves local communities and organizations through the planning process and creates grounds for public expression, free speech, and world transformation through a large urban square in front of the United Nations." The proposal links city green spaces and neighborhoods, including the Bryant Park.

↑ 2) The design for 42nd Street by Paul Boyle focuses on the throughway's potential as a greenway. Boyle's plan uses different indigenous trees to signal light rail entry points. As well as infusing the area with some much-needed greenery, the proposal focuses on mitigating air quality, heat islands, and storm water run-off.

↑ 3) Tiago Torres Campos of CNTXT Studio Landscape Architect's plan focuses on "the street as gathering place, an urban and cultural stage, and an environmental facilitator" rather than street as "road-channel" or pedestrian plaza. According to Architect's Newspaper, the proposal "locates 42nd Street on the much wider space-time depth of Manhattan by positing three conceptual layers: the 200-year-old skyline, the 200,000-year-old ground line, and the 200-million-year-old rock line. By breaking up the grid's sealing cap, the ground line is unleashed as a strategy and vision for Manhattan's skyline and rock line reconnected."

↑ 4) Alfred Peter, Charles Bové, and Karen Listowsky's plan for 42nd Street focuses on seamlessly integrating light rail into the streetscape: "Like a chameleon, the light rail channels the character of each section of its host neighborhood. Bicycle lane, light rail, and green pedestrian spaces are illuminated to ensure vibrancy day and night."
· vision42design Competition [AN]
· All vision42 coverage [Curbed]