In the future, the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway is a tunnel, vegetable gardens grow in Cadman Plaza — and bike lanes are in the sky!
Architecture and design students unveiled these revolutionary plans last week at Borough Hall, part of a city-sponsored project to turn Downtown’s blah infrastructure into Funkytown.
“If you think Brooklyn’s fabulous now, give us five years and see what we could do!” said Carl Skelton, a professor at NYU-Polytechnic Institute in Downtown.
City officials asked students from Polytechnic, City Tech, City College and Pratt Institute to redesign plazas and parkland from Borough Hall to the Brooklyn Bridge — and got ideas that bordered on fantastical.
Renee Crowley and Dora Blount, both of Pratt Institute, created sketches of Brooklyn with the BQE below ground, using its former on-ramps as a linear park that descends into Brooklyn Heights.
“The issue of taking away spaces for cars is really touchy,” Blount said. “People will be able to overcome it if they envision what the area could be instead of what it is today.”
Skelton presented Betaville, an online program that allows users to view and comment on proposed projects across Brooklyn and other cities. Think of it as the “Sim City” of urban planning, with 3D models by architects and average Joes alike.
He showed off his vision of a new baseball stadium (New Ebbets, anyone?) atop the intersection of the Manhattan Bridge, Jay Street, and the BQE. Traffic would be rerouted through the complex.
“We would not expect people to implement these ideas any time soon, but you need to have a fantasy life and a polestar to navigate by,” Skelton said.
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Borough President Markowitz requested the student designs — which they collectively called the “Downtown Brooklyn Commons Project” — to stir up debate on improving the borough.
For the record, the Beep, who famously opposed the Prospect Park West bike lane, said he could support more bike lanes — if they’re far away from cars, as they were in a City College proposal.
“Elevated bike lanes — that’s the answer,” said Markowitz. “These are great ideas for tomorrow, but for right now, we’ll have to see.”