Jul 23rd 2020

Architecture Student a Finalist in Competition to Reimagine an Iconic Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is an undisputed icon of United States infrastructure, regularly used in establishing shots in film and TV and referenced in other architectural works today. But developing modern design interventions for the Brooklyn Bridge, like any well-known piece of architecture, is a difficult task.

That is why a competition run by the New York City Council and the Van Alen Institute aims to find the best architects for the job, those who can spark constructive discourse on how to reimagine historic city sites such as the Brooklyn Bridge for the twenty-first century. One of them is College of Architecture student Lukas Kugler (B.ARCH. 3rd Year), whose submission “The Artery” is one of six finalists, three of which were completed by individuals 21 years of age or younger.

“I would visit New York City often with my family, and I developed an interest in the city and its buildings,” says Kugler, who originally hails from nearby New Milford, Connecticut. “I walked past the Manhattan entrance to the bridge every day on my commute to the office for my internship in the summer of 2019, and have walked the bridge multiple times. This gave me the confidence to be able to come up with a proposal.”

Prior to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in early 2020, the Brooklyn Bridge saw an overwhelming amount of foot traffic, making the space cramped and uncomfortable to utilize to the fullest, an issue competition organizers asked contestants to address.

Kugler hopes to ease the burden with his entry, which features a “contiguous modern transportation corridor” with designated pathways for bicyclists, pedestrians, and runners, and designated spaces for vendors—currently there is no such organization on the bridge. This intervention would rest on top of the existing structure, keeping the historic elements intact while juxtaposing old and new.

“The Artery is a revitalization of the Brooklyn Bridge that looks to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists. The Artery creates a new public domain across the entire width of the bridge, sitting on top of the structural frame of the road deck,” says Kugler. “In a broader scope, it looks to create a phased approach that closes the bridge off entirely to cars to create a commuting highway for cyclists and runners on the bottom deck, allowing the top deck to become a tourist and leisure destination.”

Notably, Kugler also made the addition of green space along the bridge a priority. In doing so, he created natural borders for the aforementioned pathways, while imbuing the space with more biophilic elements.

On July 23 Kugler and the other finalists will present their designs to the competition jury, which will select a winner, factoring in input from public voting. Projects are available for public voting between July 23 until July 30