The History Channel held a contest recently entitled Designing the City of the Future. Three finalists were chosen, one each from Los Angeles, Chicago and of course New York, by a panel that included notables such as Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for the New Yorker. But the final winner will be decided by a public online vote, so listen up.
ARO, one of my favorite architecture firms, won the New York entry, beating out ten entrants including big names such as Rogers Marvel (among others). In a previous Polis post, I dubbed ARO (Architecture Research Office) “smarchitects” as opposed to “starchitects,” a moniker they manage to exceed with a vision of New York in 2106.
Contestants had only seven days to come up with a model of the future, and what Adam Yarinsky and his team developed is a vision of New York recovering from massive flooding in low lying areas of New York as a result of global warming. In order to co-exist with fluctuating sea levels, ARO proposed a new building type called a “vane.” Part skyscraper, part viaduct, “vanes” are built in, on, and over flooded streets, reconnecting to the classic street grid and making up for lost square footage. The concept is mixed-use in a physical as well as philosophical sense, as both a throwback and a look forward, somehow imagining both a dystopian and utopian city of tomorrow, and reconnecting New York with its history as an archipelago.
The winning entry from Chicago also has a water theme; “eco-boulevards” will treat the city’s waste-water naturally via microorganisms. Interestingly, the city that arguably has the biggest water problem, i.e. lack thereof, is Los Angeles, yet that entry mostly avoided the water issue, focusing on massive public works projects.