The feasibility study on the proposed QueensWay — the High Line-inspired park that could be built on the right of way of the former Rockaway Beach LIRR line — is continuing, but some architects have ideas on what it could look like.
The Emerging New York Architects committee, part of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, announced the winners of its 2014 biennial design ideas competition, which focused on a design for a piece of the proposed greenway.
The QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm contest required contestants to to design a vertical gateway at the former Ozone Park station, located on an elevated viaduct between 99th and 100th streets and 101st and 103rd avenues in Ozone Park.
Of the 120 submitted proposals from 28 countries, the jury selected five winners. Each design featured a representation of what the greenway may look like at and near the former Ozone Park station.
The winning design, called “The QueensWay Steps,” opens up the heart of the old Ozone Park station providing an entrance to the QueensWay between 99th and 100th streets, allowing users to walk beneath the arches of the old station platform.
The second-place winner was a design called “Queens Billboard,” by Nikolav Martynov of Switzerland. The concept is meant to echo the billboards that are common around the city alongside highways and major thoroughfares.
The third-place winner, called “Make it Grow” by Canadian Song Deng, creates a public space under the old station to allow for commerce.
The student prize went to a design by Jessica Shoemaker of New Mexico, whose vision, called “Ebb and Flow,” connected the park on the viaduct to new greenspace at street level.
Queens-based designer Hyuntek Yoon won an honorable mention for his “Upside-Down Bridge,” a boardwalk-like structure that inclines in either direction from a point inside the viaduct at the former station.
Yoon visited the site once and said he noted that the area around the QueensWay was very different from that around Manhattan’s High Line, to which it is often compared.
“The Queenway is not the High Line, even if it has similar physical condition,” he said. “It is surrounded by a residential area.”
Yoon explained that his design was meant to tie the nature of the community to the Queensway itself.
“The Upside-Down Bridge opens up the visual and physical corridors between two urban fabrics, and at the same time, creates a smooth transition from the ground to the railway,” he said. “The Kitchen Garden located on the hill can provide an urban farming experience to the community, and the community center on the ground floor will provide space for indoor programs.”
The designs are just visions and are not specific proposals, but could shape any future plans for the site should the QueensWay idea move forward. Some of the visions proposed require acquisition of private land surrounding the right of way to build parkspace approaching it. The grand-prize winning design, for example, proposes parkspace on private land between 100th and 101st streets.
The QueensWay is competing with another plan, favored by Rockaway officials and some residents in southern Queens, to bring back rail service on the line. Others, including residents along the line in Woodhaven and Forest Hills, favor leaving the right of way as is to prevent disruption to their quality of life.