The Build a Better Burb competition, sponsored by the Long Island Index, has announced its 23 finalists, selected from a pool of over two hundred submissions. The competition invited architects, designers, planners, and students to reimagine suburbia in light of Long Island’s lack of job opportunities and its high housing costs—and a landscape ripe for reinvention as a more socially and environmentally sustainable place.
The finalists’ proposals range from regional to local, and from idealistic to pragmatic, but share a few common threads. “One of the most important components of winning plans are walkable downtowns,” Galina Tahchieva, a Miami-based architect and jury member, told Newsday. “If places are not walkable and mixed-use, they are not going to be sustainable.” Other jurors included Retrofitting Suburbia co-author June Williamson, design journalist Allison Arieff, Rob Lane of the Regional Plan Association, Interboro partners Georgeen Theodore and Daniel D’Oca, and Lee Sobel of the U.S. EPA office of policy, economics, and innovation.
In a release, the Index commended the finalists’ “thought provoking” ideas for their comprehensive scope: “None of the ideas are small ones with just a single building to retrofit a downtown.” Among the intriguing schemes were Brooklyn-based Tobias Holler’s LIRR: Long Island Radically Rezoned, which envisions a self-sufficient Long Island with 100 percent local food production, and Clover Stomping by Nasiq Khan of Queens, which would transform the region’s transportation with pedestrian bridges and bike paths, and then make these refurbished transportation hubs the center of new downtown districts.
Other proposals included Philadelphia-based Nelsen Peng’s Bethpage MoMA P.S. 2, which would transform a Long Island town into an artist’s community, and AgISLAND by Amy Ford-Wagner of New York, which would place organic farms along Route 110.
The public is invited to vote for their favorite among the finalists’ proposals, all of which are on view at the competition’s online gallery. The winners—and prizes of more than $20,000—will be announced on October 4.