The future of The Skyway is now in the hands of the general public. Back in March, Governor Cuomo announced that $100K would be put towards a contest that would determine the future of the elevated freeway. Now, Cuomo has officially set that course of action into motion, with $100K dedicated for the best idea – “Aim for the Sky”. There will also be $50K awarded to second place, and $25K awarded to third place, which isn’t too shabby.
In a recent announcement, Cuomo said,” Let’s ask the best minds in the country, the most creative planners, designers, community groups—give us your best ideas. How do you incentivize them? Make it a competition and offer a prize. $100,000 for the best idea, solicit creative ideas from all sorts of firms nationwide, make it a community participation process so when you get back the ideas, Howard Zemsky and his team go through them, pick out the best, present them to the community, get input and then pick a winner from that process.”
As for the impact that the competition will have, on the future of Buffalo, Cuomo said,” [It’s] Another big idea, it is out of the box and I think it is exactly what we need. Another big visionary idea to excite Western New York and let the rest of the country know that Buffalo is back.”
Former CEO of Empire State Development, Howard Zemsky, who will chair the competition, laid out the timeline for the competition, which is now underway. “[The competition] concludes the week of September 9th with some significant milestones along the way,” said Zemsky. “Part one submissions will be due at the end of June. There will be a couple weeks to review those. In mid-July, we will be announcing top 20 submissions. They will be invited to take a more thorough part two submission. That would be due in mid-August. Then there will be some public sessions the week of August 26th and the week of August 2nd, where the public will have the opportunity to participate and ask question of really all of these 20 submissions. The finals will be September 9th. From likely eight semifinalists, we will have whittled it down to eight. Then we will award the first, second and third place winners that week.”
Zemsky went on to discuss what it will take to win, by saying, “The competition focuses on affordability, it focuses on feasibility, it focuses on achievability, and of course it focuses on quality of the vision and the team of folks making submissions.”
He then talked about the judging team that is now in place. “We have a very robust group of jurors who are participating in this and maybe I’ll just go through them: Rossana Rosado, the Secretary of State who has really been very active in co-chairing the governor’s downtown revitalization competition in recent years. Of course Mayor Byron Brown, who’s been an integral partner of ours through the revitalization and re-imagination of Buffalo. Bob Shibley, UB School of Architecture and Planning. Hal Morse, Executive Director, Greater Buffalo and Regional Transportation Council. Ethan Kent who is a senior VP of Project for Public Spaces and has been involved in some waterfront visioning in recent years. Lynn Richards, President and CEO of the Congress for New Urbanism we have hosted here in Buffalo previously – national conference of the Congress of New Urbanism some of you know. DanielleArigoni, Director of Livable Communities at AARP. Lee Fisher, Dean and Joseph C. Hostetler -BakerHostetler Chair of Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Jennifer Vey, Director of the Robert M. Bass Center of Transformative Placemaking and Senior Fellow at Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings. Calvin Gladney, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. And I have the privilege of chairing this robust group of folks and this competition.”
The process involves a two-part submission. Part 1, open now, allows respondents to provide an overview of their idea and how it addresses the main objectives and constraints of the competition through an application form available . Submissions will be evaluated for responsiveness to the goals of the competition, technical complexity, and feasibility. The deadline for Part 1 submissions is 3 p.m. on Friday, June 28.
Respondents who best demonstrate how they meet the evaluation factors will be invited to provide a Part 2 submission, to open Monday, July 15, which will include a full technical proposal and finished graphics, suitable for gallery presentation. Up to 20 Part 1 respondents will be invited to proceed to Part 2.