Queensway Connection: Elevating the Public Realm will support Friends of the Queensway and Trust for Public Land in their efforts to transform an abandoned rail right-of-way into a greenway that serves diverse neighborhoods in central and southern Queens. This conversion shares many similarities to the Bloomingdale trail conversion in Chicago, whose surrounding urban context is a significantly lower density than that of the High Line. ENYA is seeking to supplement the ongoing feasibility study for the railway’s transformation by envisioning ways the future park can be activated beyond a means of recreation and leisure. This competition emphasizes the importance of the park’s access points and questions whether they can be programmed and designed so that they extend the street activity onto the railway.
ENYA believes that the key to making the Queensway a success is to engage the local community and to empower them to take ownership of the disused infrastructure. If nearby community groups, businesses and residents were allowed to “adopt” portions of the railway, the result would be a park whose usefulness was truly defined by the will of the community. Many portions of the QueensWay are already primed for such a transformation, however there also are locations which aren’t. The southern end of the railway will be most difficult to engage with the community because it is a narrow elevated viaduct isolated from the neighborhood. However, this portion is the most important to activate because it is very well connected to the City’s transportation network. ENYA is looking for ideas in how the future vertical connection to the viaduct can overcome the specific challenges of this site and contribute towards the activation of the overall QueensWay.
Friends of the Queensway is a grassroots organization committed to transforming this abandoned railway into a greenway. They are a paragon of community activism and advance their cause through a variety of strategies: they host meet and greets, organize site clean up days and walking tours. They also strategically harness the power of elected officials, governmental organizations and sympathetic non profits. Although primarily made up of Queens residents who live near the railway, they are a diverse group and represent a variety of ages, professions, neighborhoods and ethnicities.
The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit that conserves land for the public to enjoy. It “is the go-to organization for communities wanting to protect special places and create close-to home-parks in and near cities.” Their “goal is to put a park or playground within walking distance of every American.” This organization has greatly facilitated raising awareness to this cause and securing the government funding (issued by New York State) to conduct the feasibility study which is currently underway.
Most importantly TPL seeks ways in which the creation of these parks can be economically self sustainable and not be an additional burden for the local government. One of the main motivators for ENYA’s interest in this project is to facilitate this sustainability and speculate on potential overlaps between the park and the urban environment.
The Architect’s Newspaper Cuomo’s Elevated Ideas
ArchDaily High Line-Inspired Park Proposed in Queens
The New York Times In Queens Taking the High Line as a Model
The New York Times A High Line in Queens – Just Imagine the Food
Wall Street Journal New ‘High Line’ on Track
NY Daily News New Study Could Help Determine Future of QueensWay Proposal
New York Observer QueensWay: New York City’s Most Controversial Potential Park
Inhabitat QueensWay High Line-Style Park Getting Closer to Reality Despite Resident Opposition
Architectural Record Queens Railroad To Become a Trail
Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.—Jane Jacobs
The QueensWay is a 3.5 mile stretch of abandoned railway in central to southern queens, which formerly housed a portion of the Long Island Railroad’s Rockaway Beach Branch. This rail line’s northern starting point peels away from the LIRR’s Main Line in Rego Park and shoots straight south to the Aqueduct racetrack, across Jamaica Bay and down to the Rockaways. The MTA’s A train currently uses the railway to get across Jamaica Bay thus the Queensway (abandoned portion) terminates at Rockaway Boulevard.
The initial section of the Rockaway Beach rail line was built in 1877 and expansion slowly increased until the railway reached it’s final form in the 1920′s. During the 1940′s & 1950′s the rail line was burdened by track fires and high maintenance costs. In 1955 the City of New York acquired the portion which is currently being used by the MTA’s A train, which eventually led to the closure and abandoning of the remaining portion. Several studies have been conducted attempting to restore train service to this branch. the result of these studies have deemed such a transformation to be infeasible for a variety of reasons.
Although the railway can not re-establish it’s original purpose (providing fast access from the Rockaways to Manhattan), it can still be a significant piece of infrastructure on a more local scale. Perhaps the most compelling reason for converting the railway into a park is it will facilitate access into Forest Park. This is a 500+ acre park right in the middle of the QueensWay, which offers a lot more than playgrounds and ball fields. It has many unique activities and features such as a Carousel (recently granted NYC Landmark status), a BandShell, a Golf Course, Horseback riding and heavily wooded hilly terrain for hiking and biking. Unfortunately this park is currently difficult to access because it’s boundaries are constrained by busy vehicular arteries. By creating an easy pedestrian and cycling link, the QueensWay has the potential to significantly increase patronage for the park and provide much needed green space for the neighborhoods to the north and the south.
The tripartite division of the railway established by the park is further enhanced by the fact that the Queensway has three distinct sectional conditions. To the north, the railway is raised above street level via a steep earth embankment. These embankments typically abut the backyards of detached and semi detached homes and are buried in the middle of the blocks. Often the railway is not parallel to the street grid and leaves residual unclaimed triangular spaces. A variety of local community groups like the Forest Hills Little League and Garden of Eden Project have already started to pop up in these spaces and appropriate the embankments. Their existence shows that over time other community groups can easily activate the remaining unclaimed spaces. Considering the gradual grade transition of the embankments ENYA projects that other entities such as the Forest View Crescent Apartments, the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, Forest Park Jewish Center and others are also perfectly positioned to engage the QueensWay in the future.
In the center, the railway cuts through Forest Park via a depressed viaduct. This trough creates a hard edge which contributes to the bifurcation of the park. Considering the amount of space adjacent to it, activation of this portion of the railway should not be too challenging.
To the south the Queensway continues to Liberty Avenue via an elevated viaduct with no transition in ground plane. The underside of the railway is practically fully occupied with businesses that lease out the space resulting in a wall that cuts through the neighborhood. The narrow railway is also isolated between 99th street and 100th street leaving no adjacent spaces for expansion. These physical characteristics are not sympathetic to encouraging community “adoption” of the railway. Additionally the adjacent urban fabric primarily consists of businesses requiring storage facilities such as contracting headquarters, auto body shops and beverage distribution. Although very active, it is not a welcoming urban environment. Despite these hindrances the southern portion of the railway is a critical element of the overall project due to it’s connectivity to the NYC subway system. With two subway stops within a 2 minute walk, this portion of the railway is the gateway to significantly increasing the catchment area of the overall QueensWay and Forest Park.
To truly make good public space, you have to erase the distinctions between architecture, urbanism, landscape, and media design.—Liz Diller
Where to Start
The site selected for this competition is the former Ozone Park Station, abandoned when the Rockaway Beach rail line shut down in the 1950′s. Centrally located in the neighborhood and close to both subway lines, this platform is the only location that provides an increased width. The station is located between 100th and 99th Streets, and 101st and 103rd Avenues in Ozone Park, Queens. The 2 tracks, elevated 15 feet above street level, feature cantilevered extensions on both sides which formerly served as the platforms for passengers awaiting the train. ENYA selected this site, located at the southern end of the proposed QueensWay, to serve not only as gateway to the larger park system but also be a model for what community hubs along the railway can become.
A vast majority of elevated railway conversions have failed to realize the important role of the entry point and simply provide a staircase, elevator or ramp (or combination of the three). ENYA believes the vertical connection is a gateway to the park and it should be celebrated. It is also the location where the park interfaces with the adjacent community. The minimum criteria for this competition is to provide a means of vertical access from the street up to the abandoned Ozone Park station platform. However ENYA challenges entrants to design this connector so it becomes a gathering place for the community. How can circulation space also be a community focal point?
Another missed opportunity of typical rails to trails projects is they often only have a single program, leisurely park space. This too often results in the parks being used during daytime hours on nice days. Considering the magnitude of the investment that will be needed to achieve this conversion, ENYA believes that the success of the Queensway is dependent upon the intensity of it’s usage. It will benefit from being a space that is useful for all age groups and for all of Queens’ many ethnicities. Thus entrants are encouraged to supplement the vertical connector with program that they believe will make this new Hub an active urban space throughout the year.
Despite NYC’s great efforts to accommodate the bicycle throughout the city, there are moments where being a cyclist is difficult, particularly vertical transitions such as overpasses and abrupt changes in grade. Very often the solution is to require cyclists to use stairs or a series of switchback ramps, which can be a hassle.
Additionally the combination of pedestrians and cyclists on one thoroughfare can be dangerous. The current solution has been to separate the two speeds of travel, either through a painted line or some form of an improvisational physical barrier. Considering that the QueensWay is meant to be used by cyclists and pedestrians, can these requirements be integrated into the design? Can this proposed gateway be a model for how to make a more efficient, safer and pleasant experience for both?
As highlighted earlier, the Ozone Park neighborhood is a very culturally diverse area of New York City. Each culture uses public space differently and has a different notion of what constitutes a park. In order to maximize potential usage of the QueensWay it is critical that the gateway be designed so that it is culturally inclusive. However, projects like “SuperKilen” park in Copenhagen reveal there are greater design opportunities. how does the requirement of being culturally inclusive affect design? How can design facilitate cultural expression?
ENYA has deliberately refrained from suggesting whether this intervention should be an enclosed building or an open air landscape or a combination of both. This is a complex design problem which requires synthesis of architecture, landscape architecture, engineering and public art. Please see our pinterest page for a series of ideas that have inspired this brief. The images shown do not specifically suggest what the jury will be looking for, they are merely inspiration.
Entrants are being specifically asked to design a vertical connection (or a series of them) to the abandoned railway platform above. This competition is about giving importance to the act of vertical transition and arrival. It is not about master planning the entire railway. Any ideas regarding the overall railway conversion will be treated as supporting information.
Entrants are not required to redesign the whole platform. It is okay to only intervene for a small section of the platform. Proposals that go beyond the boundaries of the platform will not be disqualified but they must clearly show the advantage of doing so. There are no height restrictions. The space below the platform can also be used and excavated.
The only restrictive requirement is all proposals must maintain some form of public passage for the full length of the QueensWay.
Proposals will be primarily evaluated for:
- The provision of an effective and welcoming transition between the street and railway for both cyclists and pedestrians.
- The programming of the space and how that will foster community involvement.
Strong consideration will also be given to the following:
- Economical use of the existing infrastructure
- Sensitivity to the displacement of tenants currently using the spaces below the railway.
- Incorporation of ecologically sustainable elements
The borough of Queens in known for it’s cultural diversity but similar to the rest of the city, each race (for the most part) is distributed in homogeneous pockets. The neighborhoods adjacent to the QueensWay, and particularly Ozone Park, are an exception to this overlying trend. It is one of the few places in New York CIty where no particular race or ethnicity holds a majority. Over 100 different nationalities are represented within a 10 minute walk of the railway. ENYA believes this unique quality should be celebrated.
The Queens College Office of Community Studies have produced a report which documents existing demographic and socio-economic diversity in the 22 census tracts along the path of the QueensWay. Download the Summary Report to see how different ethnicity and income levels are geographically distributed along the QueensWay.
The more successfully a city mingles everyday diversity of uses and users in its everyday streets, the more successfully, casually (and economically) its people thereby enliven and support well-located parks that can thus give back grace and delight to their neighborhoods—Jane Jacobs
Awards & Jury
August 22, 2013
Competition Launch Party
Center For Architecture, 536 Laguardia Place
6:00 – 8:00pm
January 6, 2014
Winning and exemplary entries on display until October 2014
- ENYA Prize- $5,000*
- 2nd Prize- $2,500
- 3rd Prize- $1,000
- Student Prize- $1,000
In addition to the 4 prizes outlined above, the jury will also award several honorable mention distinctions, and select a number of submissions for display in The Harlem Edge Exhibition, which will be shown at the Center for Architecture in New York City in July 2014. Further, all entries will be displayed via a virtual gallery on www.enyacompetitions.org. The QueensWay competition will culminate with the publication of selected entries in a catalog, distributed internationally by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter.
*The ENYA Prize winner will also be invited to participate as a jury member for the 6th biennial ENYA ideas competition, launching in 2016.
Upon registering through 123 Sign Up, you will receive an email with two links, One is to access the downloadable content, the other is to upload your submission.
Please upload a zip file (or compressed folder) containing the following submission files to that second upload link:
- Copy of 123 sign up registration confirmation
- main submission file (will be used for judging)
- project description (may not be used for judging)
- 4-5 high resolution images of the proposal (will not be used for judging)
The zip file (or compressed folder) should be named as follows, 123sign up badge number followed by the project name.
Main file should be a pdf. The file Name should be badge number followed by project title followed by the word “main”.
The main file should be (1) 42″ x 30″ PDF (landscape orientation) 300dpi (12,600 pixels x 9,00 pixels). (Max. File Size 6MB). The unique badge/ identification number given to you by 123 SIgn Up should be shown in the lower right hand corner of the page (18 point font). The project name should be in the lower left hand corner of the page (18 point font). Please name sure there are no identifying marks (name, logo, etc.) that could be used to identify the submissions authors.
Project description should be a MS Word file. The file name should be badge number followed by project title followed by the word “description”.
Support images can be PDF or jpeg files. They should be named as follows:
In addition to this upload you must also submit the main file and project description to the following email:
The subject line of the email should be the title of “2014 Competition Submission” followed by the badge number followed by the project title. Example:
Entrants should keep in mind that the jury process takes place over the course of one day. As a result jurors have limited time to evaluate entries in the early stages of the competition. The jury may or may not have time to read all of the project descriptions. Entrants should make sure their proposals are clearly conveyed through the main submission file. The proposals should be easily understood in a short time frame and legible when viewed with a digital projector.
Registrants must conform to the eligibility and submission requirements. Any discrepancies to said requirements will automatically disqualify the submission. All submissions should contain original content. All entries must be submitted without identifying marks, including logos, text, insignia, or images on the display surface that could be used to identify the submission’s authors. Any identifying information will immediately disqualify the entrant.
Participants of the QueensWay Connection competition agree to abide by the competition’s terms and conditions. Winners and exemplary submissions will be contacted in February-March 2014 and required to submit specific enlarged portions at higher resolutions or vector-based image files for printing purposes. Entrants may be asked to produce additional 3-D and/or video materials (subject to budget review). Further details will be revealed in March 2014.
Her office provides direction for special projects and events including the NACTO: Designing Cities Conference in October 2012, and an exhibition at the Municipal Arts Society in conjunction with the launch of Sustainable Streets, the agency’s first strategic plan. Ms. Newman provided design direction for the agency’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) pavilion for the World Congress at the Javits Center in 2008 and for the relocation of DOT’s headquarters to 55 Water Street.
Prior to joining DOT, Ms. Newman was a partner in Marren and Newman Architects, a multidisciplinary architecture and design firm located in New York City. Ms. Newman has taught architecture and design at the New York Institute of Technology, The New School, and New York University. She has lectured on design and served on numerous panels and design juries including Columbia University, Syracuse University, the Center for Architecture, and the Municipal Art Society. Ms. Newman received a BA from Bennington College and a Master of Architecture from Princeton University. She is licensed to practice architecture in New York State, and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
Linearscape engages in exploration, research and collaboration to arise at design solutions that are inspired by the fluidity of movement and the integration of landscape and context with building form, materials and systems. We are committed to work that is socially and environmentally responsible and actively participate in non-profit and research projects. Linearscape believes in the power of design, its impact on the built environment and its potential to serve the greater good.
The founding partners of the studio are all licensed architects and are members of the American Institute of Architects, certified by National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and are LEED accredited.
It's a matter of balance. Until a few years ago, our streets looked the same as they did fifty years ago. That's not good business, to not update something in fifty years! We're updating our streets to reflect the way people live now. And we're designing a city for people, not a city for vehicles.—Janette Sadik-Khan
The competition is open to all design students and young professionals, including, but not limited to, architects, artists, engineers, landscape architects, urban designers and planners. Entrants are considered eligible if they have completed their education at the undergraduate or graduate level within the past 10 years of the competition announcement (August 22nd, 2013). The participants may be licensed individuals within their respective professions.
Entrants will register through the AIA’s 123 Sign Up online registration system. Once registered, entrants will be sent a confirmation e-mail with instructions on how to upload their submissions and how to access the downloadable content available for this competition. When registering for a team or group, you must add all team members’ names to the confirmation email attached to your submission.
Refer to Submission Requirements for further information.
- Student $35
- Single Entry $65
- Team (2-4 People) $130
- Team (5-10 People) $300
- Academic Lab $35 (includes 1 Student Entry)
AIA, Associate AIA and International Associate AIA membership discount ($5)
*The Academic Lab Fee allows schools and universities to download competition specific material for purposes of academic study and use within design studios. Professors will be eligible to submit one student submission per Academic Lab Fee. Remaining students submitting entries to the QueensWay competition must pay the $35 Student Entry fee.
Terms and Conditions
- Participants of the QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm competition are subject to all regulations and rules set forth by local, state and national agencies.
- Fees are not refundable.
- The railway is closed to the public. It is currently in a state of decay and trespassing on its premises can be dangerous.
- ENYA, the Center for Architecture and the AIA NY chapter are not responsible for any injury or harm caused during the participation in this competition.
- The content on this website is the intellectual property of ENYA and the AIA New York Chapter and you agree to credit the aforementioned parties by name in any subsequent exhibition or publication of materials arising from this content.
- Further, downloading any information from this website, you waive any and all claims against the above parties arising out of the use of this material.
- ENYA reserves the right to use all entry submissions and associated materials.
- ENYA and the AIA New York Chapter do not necessarily endorse, claim implied affiliation, nor are they responsible for, any third-party content that may be accessed through this website.
- Participants must not directly contact any organization associated with the competition, including but not limited to client, sponsors, support
On behalf of the Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) Committee of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter(AIANY), we would like to invite you to consider sponsoring the 2014 ENYA Biennial Design Ideas competition Queensway Connection: Elevating the Public Realm.
Sponsoring this competition is an unique opportunity for companies and individuals to gain exposure to emerging architects around the World and to connect with AIANY’s membership of 5,000 architects as well as individuals from design, construction, and engineering. Previous competitions were so successful that the exhibitions traveled to Korea in 2008 and New Mexico in 2010. This year the exhibit will be on view from July to October 2014 in New York City. The competition is also publicized throughout all major design related digital publications.
We hope you will consider supporting the 2014 ENYA Biennial Design Ideas competition. Feel free to contact us for questions or additional information about this exciting program.
It is the goal of the Emerging New York Architects Committee to encourage membership, participation, and leadership in the AIANY Chapter among intern architects, young architects (licensed 10 years or less), and emerging professionals in the fields of design and construction. The committee engages NYC’s diverse emerging design professionals through lectures, design competitions, and networking opportunities, with a focus on Professional Development, Design Excellence, and Public Outreach.
Founded in 1857, the AIA New York Chapter is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The Chapter’s members include almost 5,000 practicing architects, allied professionals, students, and public members interested in architecture and design. The AIA New York Chapter is dedicated to three goals: design excellence, public outreach, and professional development.
The Center for Architecture is home to the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the Center for Architecture Foundation, vibrant nonprofit organizations that provide resources to both the public and building industry professionals. Through exhibitions, programs, and special events, the Center aims to improve the quality and sustainability of the built environment, foster exchange between the design, construction, and real estate communities, and encourage collaborations across the city and globe.
The Center also celebrates New York’s vibrant architecture, explores its urban fabric, shares community resources, and provides opportunities for scholarship. As the city’s leading cultural institution focusing on architecture, the Center drives positive change through the power of design.
The jury will most likely consist of:
- A principal from one of the firms conducting the actual feasibility study
- A city official of some sort
- A representative of either Friends of the QueensWay or The Trust for Public Land
- One of the 2012 Competition Winners
- 1-3 architects/ landscape architects based in New York City who have some experience working on similar projects