The WALKACROPOLIS project is an initiative of the Gotham Innovation Greenhouse and Jee Won Kim Architect, both of New York, starting in 2014, as an anti-response to the New York City “Vision 42” Request for Proposals; Patrick Bermingham of Atelier Bermingham, joined in late 2017. Patrick brought new energy to the project, proposed a scale model and manifestation at Smart Cities 2018. Rather than the greenway/trolley called for by Vision 42, we proposed phased development of an elevated pedestrian deck along the full length of 42nd Street from the Intrepid Museum to the United Nations, with extensive lighting and media surfaces on its underside, or hull.
WALKACROPOLIS is named to reflect its potential impact on busy city streets, whether for Manhattan or any metropolis whose pedestrian environments and roadways have been compromised over the years by the multiplication of uses (motor vehicle traffic) and density (tall buildings) added since the streets themselves were laid out.
WALKACROPOLIS demonstrates the power of global partnership and collaboration as these three teams came together to take a somewhat dreamlike idea, refine it and present it to the world as a viable option. JWK Architect planted the seed and continued to develop design, Gotham Innovation brought a new level of innovation and Atelier Bermingham coalesced these partners to bring a vision to life.
The elevated deck provides a continuous “smart” pedestrian environment with a rich program mix of autonomous vehicle handling, signage and traffic management addressing the street level, and civic and cultural media experiences entirely separated from the noise, danger, obstruction, and even much of the air quality degradation associated with heavy vehicle traffic. Included in the design is high content digital media, including, smart infrastructure (from lighting to security and traffic management), commercial architectural media (shop signage and digital out-of-home), and outdoor public cultural programming.
WALKACROPOLIS is a practical spectacle which accents its functionality with form and beauty. It is a bold and audacious design with the potential to change the landscape of New York while dramatically improving walkability (without having to wait at stoplights, an average pedestrian could cross the island in half an hour). Conversely, the raising of pedestrian traffic to its own “piano nobile” frees up the roadway at every intersection, for dramatically enhanced efficiency of the motor traffic below.