February 1, 2012
by Lisa Delgado

Event: ONE Prize 2011 Award Ceremony and Exhibition Opening: Water as the Sixth Borough
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.18.12
Speakers: Mitchell Joachim, Ph.D., Assoc. AIA, & Maria Aiolova, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP; Jill Lerner, FAIA — AIANY President-Elect; Adrian Benepe — Commissioner, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation; Alexandros E. Washburn — Chief Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning; R. Anthony Fieldman, AIA, LEED AP — Design Principal, Perkins+Will
Organizers: Mitchell Joachim, Ph.D., Assoc. AIA, & Maria Aiolova, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP
Sponsors: Lead Sponsors: Perkins+Will; NYC ACRE; Institutional Sponsors: Buckminster Fuller Institute; New York University; Polytechnic Institute of New York University; Media Sponsors: Architizer, eVolo, e-architect; Partner: E3NYC


Parallel Networks.

Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari

For those who haven’t heard the news, NYC now has a sixth borough: its waterfront and waterways. At least that’s how city government officials have begun referring to it, as a way of emphasizing the importance of the city’s water to its future. The ONE Prize, an annual design and science award to promote green design in cities, picked up on the meme and made that its theme for 2011. The competition invited entrants to submit designs for an ecofriendly water-transit system and for the world’s largest clean-tech expo, which E3NYC is planning to hold in 2016.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who served on the awards jury, remarked that lately there’s been a “creative ferment” when it comes to thinking about NYC’s waterways. In 2010 MoMA put on its “Rising Currents” exhibition, and last year city government published Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. “Vision 2020 sets the stage for expanded use of our waterfront for parks, housing, and economic development, and our waterways for transportation, recreation, and natural habitats,” explained Department of City Planning Chief Urban Designer Alex Washburn.

Meanwhile the ONE Prize served a complementary function, sparking ideas from around the world about the ways NYC’s waterways could be put to better use. The winning project, Parallel Networks by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari of Canada, features floating pods for recreation or growing vegetation. Three honorable mentions include a proposal for extending the city’s grid into the river, connecting the boroughs, and providing new spaces for development; a plan to create new parkways and habitats along the Hudson River shoreline; and a design that uses crowdsourcing to create a water-transportation system that responds to user demand.

The projects are “exciting explorations on the future of our sixth borough,” Washburn said. “Each of these winners… is worthy and helps us better think about our future challenges: to grow, while simultaneously making the city more sustainable and resilient, and in the process to always improve the quality of life by putting our passion in the public space.”

Note:ONE Prize 2011: Water as the Sixth Borough” will be on view at the Center for Architecture through 02.11.12.

Lisa Delgado is a freelance journalist who has written for Oculus, The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Blueprint, and Wired, among other publications.