November 10, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009 @ 12:00 PM
Grand Concourse Beyond 100 was an international ideas competition sponsored by The Bronx Museum of the Arts in partnership with the Design Trust. Bold visions were submitted by almost 400 people from over 25 countries for how the Bronx and the Grand Concourse can evolve in the next few decades and cope with pressing needs for housing, green spaces, and transportation.
2009 marks the Concourse's centennial. The Grand Concourse has been a measure of the Bronx's economic and social vitality since its creation in 1909. Conceived during the height of the City Beautiful Movement as the residential Champs Élysées of the Bronx, this broad promenade was meant to inspire harmonious social order through grand design. Stretching 4 miles in length and measuring 180 feet across, the Concourse is a wide, tree-lined thoroughfare separated into three distinct roadways and today hosts the largest collection of Art Deco and Art Moderne-style buildings in America. The buildings were–and still are–grand, with elaborate ornamentation, large lobbies, landscaped courtyards, elevators, large windows and many amenities that older Manhattan apartments lacked.
Mirroring the tumultuous history of the Bronx itself, the Concourse has survived the ravages of arson, dramatic shifts in population, and an overall decline in the quality of life since the 1970s. After decades of decline, the borough’s social, economic and environmental infrastructure are poised for rebirth. Now is the time to make sure that the Bronx’s omnipresent dynamism, occasional radicalism, and enduring creativity find expression in its public realm.
In our view, the Intersections ideas competition came at an extraordinarily opportune time, as the Bronx is poised to reclaim its identity as an incubator for art and culture. After the devastating years of the last century, the Bronx’s community leaders are focused on the very issues you have raised and good work has been done in the borough by both city agencies and the private sector; re-zoning and investment have created thousands of new residences, empty lots are being re-used, and new green spaces connect neighborhoods.
The ideas competition challenged entrants to answer these questions:
Successful submissions could address these questions at any scale - from the urban detail to city block to neighborhood to entire borough. Entrants were encouraged to address not only the area’s built environment, but the natural, cultural, and social environments as well.
Out of the nearly 200 proposals submitted, the competition jury selected seven finalists to develop their ideas further. Each finalist was awarded a $1,000 cash stipend to produce models and plans for the exhibition Intersections: Grand Concourse at 100 – Future at The Bronx Museum of the Arts in November and December 2009 . At the opening of the exhibition, a first prize winner was selected by the jury. The $5,000 prize was awarded to p.U.M.p. by Dongsei Kim and Jamieson Fajardo by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.
A companion exhibition took place in Manhattan at the Center for Architecture in November 2009. Following the public exhibitions, ideas were presented to city officials to help them set a municipal agenda for the Bronx to reclaim its identity with integrity and style.
Part of what is moving about these proposals is that their approaches have become so familiar. Not long ago the notion of building farmland in the middle of a busy urban roadway would have seemed like madness; today it seems too obvious. So does the idea that segregating urban functions can drain the life from a city…When you step back out onto the Grand Concourse after visiting the Bronx Museum show, you see the neighborhood with fresh eyes and a clearer understanding of its history and how it could be revived.