August 10, 2020 Architecture Students Reimagine the Brooklyn Bridge, Named as Finalists in International Competition

Two students have been named finalists in an international design competition that called for them to reimagine the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.

Rendering of Brooklyn Bridge design


Aubrey Bader, 5th-year student dually enrolled in the Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture programs, and 5th-year architecture student Maggie Redding were chosen as finalists in the Young Adults category of the 2020 Van Alen Institute and New York City Council’s Brooklyn Bridge Competition. The competition also invited entries from professional designers.

In July, the public was invited to vote in each category, and the winners will be announced later this summer.

Participating in the competition required perseverance. This year, as the nation faces socioeconomic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have moved online; restaurants have closed doors; and travel plans were canceled–including Bader and Redding’s spring 2020 study abroad at the Bauhaus in Germany. Feeling isolated in their hometowns and itching for a way to stay engaged with architecture and each other, these students searched for and took the initiative to collaborate on a virtual design competition.

Hosted by the Van Alen Institute in collaboration with the New York City Council, Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge is an international, online design competition that aims to offer solutions to the safety and congestion issues of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Finalists are selected based on their design’s ability to incorporate local communities while addressing the past injustices and safety issues of the famed New York structure.

Cultural Current digital outline


Bader and Redding’s proposal, The Cultural Current, is a veracious and functional design that incorporates environmental and salvaged components while remaining culturally focused.

“Using a brightly colored path and cultural markers, our design proposed a fluid integration of surrounding neighborhoods into a transportation and public space,” explained Redding. “Along with culture, our proposal focused on environmental elements by use of recycled plastics and refurbishment of existing wood boards.”

In addition to their first-hand experience navigating the Brooklyn Bridge, Bader and Redding explained how the university provided them with the opportunity to visit various cities around the world that greatly influenced their proposal.

“Before the start of the spring semester, we traveled to New York City, Iceland, Barcelona, Paris and Copenhagen,” said Bader. “We acted like locals and experienced truly amazing examples of urban design and how it benefited the city and reflected the culture of the community. For example, Iceland showed us naturally inspired designs; Barcelona was rich with culture; Paris’ use of color was crucial for navigating the city; and Copenhagen taught us to have fun with urban design. These experiences greatly influenced our competition entry, and the college provided us with the knowledge and vocabulary to coherently express our ideas.”

According to the competition website, “The competition’s finalists were selected by an interdisciplinary jury representing a wide-ranging set of perspectives on the Brooklyn Bridge. The jury considered the following factors: team composition; accessibility and safety; environmental benefit and security; respect for the bridge’s landmark status; feasibility; and ‘magic’—i.e. new ideas that surprise, delight, and fascinate.”

Although global health concerns prohibited these students from studying aboard in Germany, it did not hinder their enthusiasm, drive and perseverance. Bader and Redding faced the challenges of this semester head-on and used a combination of digital technologies to continue their passion of design and architecture. Congratulations, Aubrey and Maggie!


See Bader and Redding’s proposal (PDF).