Winners for Reimagine the Canals competition

On October 3rd 2018, winners from the Reimagine the Canals competition, run by the Buro Happold Cities team, were announced in Rochester NY.

The Reimagine the Canals competition was organized by the New York Power Authority and the New York State Canal Corporation to find bold ideas that will promote economic development along the canal system. Receiving awards totaling $2 million for bringing their ideas to life, the two winning teams are Erie Armada and Canalside Pocket Neighborhoods.

The Erie Armada team, led by Parks & Trails NY and AREA4, proposed a multi-day brewing industry festival and boat race that will celebrate the canal system and create a destination event in Central New York on the canals. The Canalside Pocket Neighborhoods team, led by the Madison County Planning Department with STREAM Collaborative and Camion Associates, proposes a small-scale canalside neighborhood development with shared public space and amenities – a new model for waterfront living. Both projects offer innovative visions for the future of the canal to draw in new visitors and catalyze economic development for local communities.

Paddling the Waterford Locks, Waterford. Image: Stephanie Obkirchner

Our Cities team, based in New York, was brought onto the project in 2017, to structure and manage an international design competition which launched a call to attract innovative and creative concepts from teams across the globe for revitalization of the NYS Canal System for the 21st century. The announcement of the competition winners will launch a set of projects demonstrating that the NYS Canal System is ready, and able, to catalyze positive change for communities across New York State. Our team has been instrumental in both elevating the competition to the world, and in facilitating the selection of dynamic signature projects.

The competition received 145 submissions from across the world with teams submitting from nine countries. Seven finalist teams were selected to advance their projects during the summer of 2018. An expert jury selected the winners through careful deliberation that considered innovation, implementability and impact to upstate New York.

The NYS Canal System runs 524 miles in length, combining four different canals and waterbodies. Over the past 200 years, the canal system has seen several revolutions in its form. Initially designed in 1817 for mule-drawn boats, the canal system was then renovated to accommodate larger steam ships. In the early 20th century, the system was transformed again by canalizing two large rivers so that they could support large barges. Today, there is a significant opportunity to invest in the canal system to ensure it provides great impact for the people of New York State and beyond.

For a full recap of the standout entries, watch our video below:

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