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Here’s what NYC’s future could look like (though it probably won’t)

Written by
Howard Halle

Proposals for developments that will alter the future look of New York City tend to fall into two categories: Those that are probably going to happen, and those (most of them) that probably won’t. Still, you can always dream, right? And if you believe Crain’s New York, some people are dreaming big.

The business website invited 12 heavyweight architect and design firms to come up with Robert Moses–worthy plans for changing the city’s infrastructure. As Crain's challenge notes, New York’s population will be adding a million more people soon enough, so, thinking ahead seems like a good idea. With that in mind, here are some of the visions for how the New York of the future might look:

There are miles of track around the Five Boroughs that are barely used, a legacy of the freight lines built to supply the city. The design firm Gensler wants to repurpose some of those idle track-beds with this multi-lane project combining green space and bike lanes with light rail line; if realized, it would run from Jackson Heights to the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Move over George Jetson: Architects FXFOWLE have cooked up this futurist tram line that would connect Brooklyn and Queens to Staten Island via northern Manhattan and the New Jersey waterfront along the Hudson.

Architects Curtis + Ginsberg want to build these gleaming high-rises above the Metro North rail line to create a string of super-neighbors running uptown out of Manhattan.

Next to the Gowanus Canal, Newtown Creek is probably the most polluted environment in the city. The architecture and design firm Perkins + Will propose transforming the neighborhood’s gritty industrial character into a high-tech center for “maker” start-ups.

NInternational powerhouse architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), want to reduce the the city’s expressways and free up the real estate for public space and commercial development.

Red Hook is unique among New York for its splendid isolation due to a lack of transit. Depending on your point of view, all of that could be improved/ruined if engineering and planning firm AECOM gets it wish of extending the 1 Train to Red Hook—a move that will surely sparked the kind of redevelopment picture here.

 Dattner Architects want to create a eco-friendly power-pant that transforms solid waste into synthetic gas using plasma arc technology.

Real estate law firm Wachtel Missry LLP teamed up with architects Kohn Pedersen Fox to dream up this plan for a Javits Center expansion that would include a high-rise hotel/residential complex surrounded by a park.

Residences could be connected by rooftop parks and sky-bridges in architect firm ODA's view of mid-21st century Bushwick. 

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