About the Competition

The Grand Concourse was conceived during the height of the City Beautiful Movement as the residential Champs Élysées of the Bronx, a broad promenade intended to inspire harmonious social order through grand design. Designed as a wide, tree-lined thoroughfare with carriage drives, bridle paths and sunken cross-streets, it was conceived in 1870 by engineer Louis Risse as a means to connect Manhattan to the parks of the Northern Bronx.

Built in 1909, the Concourse stretches 4 miles in length and measures 180 feet across, with tree-lined dividers separating it into three distinct roadways. Today, the Grand Concourse 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. 

This competition challenged entrants to answer these questions:

  • What does the Bronx of the future need its grandest boulevard to be?
  • How can the Grand Concourse help inspire quality of life and community through design?
  • Is the Grand Concourse of today obsolete? Can the Grand Concourse of tomorrow be a force that catalyzes the Bronx’s positive evolution?

Successful submissions could address these questions at any scale - from the urban detail to city block to neighborhood to entire borough. Submitted ideas could be everything from new sidewalk materials to street signage to borough-wide plans. Entrants were encouraged to address not only the area’s built environment, but the natural, cultural, and social environments as well.

The best ideas, designs, descriptions and images will be selected by a diverse and distinguised jury and will be exhibited at The Bronx Museum in November and December 2009 as part of the Intersections: Grand Concourse at 100 – Future exhibition. A companion exhibition will take place in Manhattan at the Center for Architecture in November 2009. Following the public exhibitions, ideas will be presented to city officials to help them set a municipal agenda for the Bronx to reclaim its identity with integrity and style. 

Timetable

Competition Opens: February 2, 2009
Questions Deadline: March 6, 2009
Registration Deadline: April 24, 2009
Submission Deadline: May 1, 2009
Finalists Contacted: July 2009
Exhibition Opening + Winners Announced: Nov. 1, 2009

Prizes

7 finalists will be awarded a $1,000 cash stipend to further develop their proposal for inclusion in the exhibition Intersections: Grand Concourse at 100 – Future at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, opening Nov. 1, 2009. A first prize of $5,000 will be awarded to one of the seven finalists once the exhibit is on view.

Honorable Mentions will be awarded to up to 50 submissions, and will be displayed digitally during the exhibit in the Museum’s North Wing Lobby and also displayed in an online gallery on this website.

About the Design Trust

The Design Trust for Public Space is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving New York City’s parks, plazas, streets, and public buildings. We bring together neighborhoods, public agencies, and design professionals to find innovative opportunities for change, making the city more beautiful, sustainable, and available to all.

The Design Trust believes that the cultural and democratic life of the city, and the health of city residents, depends on viable public space. A successful and well-designed public space allows you to be yourself – an independent human being with a unique vision of the world – while also communicating the message that you are a valued and important member of the larger community.

About The Bronx Museum

Founded in 1971, and today the flagship cultural institution of the Bronx, The Bronx Museum of the Arts focuses on 20th-century and contemporary art, while serving the culturally diverse populations of the Bronx and the greater New York metropolitan area. The museum’s home on the Grand Concourse at 165th Street is a distinctive contemporary landmark designed by the internationally renowned firm Arquitectonica.

About this Website

This site was designed by the Design Trust for Public Space and Whatcould web design and development, and is hosted on Percolate, a web platform for nonprofits. Intersections logo designed by Sergio Bregante and Joaquin Gallego. Special thanks to Darris James and Jessica Sheridan for helping with early competition conceptualization. All content © Design Trust for Public Space. 

harlem river

The Location of the Speedway Concourse and the Street System, 1832. Courtesy Office of the Bronx Borough President.