Elevating Erie: An Ideas Competition for the Biodiverse Boulevard

Submission: December 22, 2015
Registration: December 22, 2015
Language: English
Location: Syracuse, USA
Prizes: $3,000 grand, (3) site prizes awarded iPad Pro
Type: Open


Elevating Erie poses a timely, yet multivalent challenge that requires innovative and collaborative thinking across disciplines. As such, this competition is open to everyone with a great idea supported by a defensible position—designers, artists, economists, ecologists, engineers, public health experts, students, professionals.

A qualified entry to the Elevating Erie design competition can be submitted in the form of a drawn design proposal, a policy paper, an essay, or an integrative plan, as long as the proposal addresses the criteria listed below. Winning proposals will be both paradigm-shifting and pragmatic.

This competition challenges entrants to answer these questions:

  • What will the future require from the Erie Boulevard corridor?
  • Is the Erie Boulevard of today obsolete? Can the boulevard of tomorrow be a force that positively catalyzes more than a region’s economy?
  • How can the Erie Canalway Trail help inspire quality of life and community through design?
  • How can the Erie Canalway Trail become an ecological corridor while simultaneously providing social, recreational, transportation, and urban programing along its length? 

Successful submissions will address these questions at one or all of the four sites on various scales–from the urban boulevard, to the typical block, to the specific intervention (more detail below). Submitted ideas may be discreet or robust, including anything from new sidewalk materials, street signage, and innovative urban bike lanes to new roadway configurations and plans for reintroducing rural ecologies into the urban environment. Entrants are encouraged to address not only the boulevard’s built environment, but the natural, cultural, social, and economic environments as well.

Background information about the “corridor” and the proposed sites will be available for download on the competition website so that entrants may familiarize themselves with the specific challenges and the resources available. The intention of the competition is to draw out the most advanced thinking about how transportation infrastructure, environmental systems, and recreation can be leveraged to repair environmental damage, promote economic growth, and bring together communities.


  • Provide a legible extension of the current Erie Canalway Trail terminus on the east toward the western terminus within the project site boundaries.
  • Elevate Erie beyond an automobile-centric landscape to that of a mixed use, multi modal, biodiverse, and recreational corridor. Strategies should encourage urban, social, and ecological connectivity to the existing Canalway Trail and to the community on either side.
  • Prevent negative impacts to the environment. Each proposal must provide at least a brief (approx. 200 words) environmental impact assessment as part of a written description, in order to determine the effects of the project on the natural ecosystems.
  • Consider that over 95% of the habitat in this ecoregion has been lost to suburban development and pollution. Much of the remaining habitat consists of wetlands or abandoned farmlands undergoing reforestation. Other areas continue to be converted to agriculture or are succumbing to urbanization,causing the World Wildlife Foundation to deem the ecoregion containing the Boulevard as critical to endangered.
  • Be well informed by a thorough understanding of history, geography, details of the design site(s) and the broader contexts of Erie Boulevard and the Canal infrastructural system.


  • Sensationalize natural, ecological, and mutualistic systems while integrating them with the infrastructural needs of the Boulevard (bike lanes, driving lanes, multimodal potentials, etc).
  • Employ technology that can be scalable and tested. There is no limit on the type of technology that can be specified.
  • Consider solutions that would encourage a shift from the existing single-story commercial development fronted by large parking lots to that of mixed use, mixed income development with a relationship to the street that encourages pedestrian transit.
  • Propose interventions that creatively address the historical significance of the corridor.


  • Plan at urban scale
  • Plan at site scale
  • Transverse section across sites
  • Perspective(s)
  • Supporting diagrams
  • Labels that identify elements
  • Written statement explaining how the proposal addresses the program
  • SUGGESTED ELEMENTS FOR WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS:• Sections clearly identifying specific responses to the program
    • Ideas should be conceptually legible
    • Submissions must be free of disciplinary jargon and accessible to laymen
    • Ideas must be supported by at least 1 image (sketch, diagram, photo collage, rendering, etc)FORMAT OF SUBMISSIONS

    Teams and individuals are encouraged to submit proposals. All submissions must address the program at the Boulevard-scale as the primary category. Beyond that, entrants may submit to multiple categories, increasing chances of recognition and being selected as a finalist.

    • Categories are judged separately, so it is possible for a single entrant to win multiple categories.
    • Electronic board submissions must be sized at 24”x 36”, oriented vertically. If entrants are submitting a text-heavy proposal then they should be sized at 11” x 17” with supporting images taking up entire pages when possible. Alternatively, text submissions can be at 8.5” x 11” with images submitted separately to ensure high resolution for exhibition printing.

      • Image files should be no larger than 5MB.
      • EACH board submitted MUST include the team name and contact information in the lower right corner.
      • All materials must be submitted through the website under SUBMISSIONS after registration.
      • Winning teams will be required to submit all supporting images as high resolution files separately for use in the exhibition, press releases, presentations, etc.


Four winners will be selected, one from each category. The winning team for the overall connector will be awarded a $3,000 cash prize. Winning teams for the individual sites will each be awarded a $1,500 cash prizenew iPad Pro. The winning team for the overall connector will be awarded a $2,500 cash prize. Up to eight Honorable Mentions will be selected. Finalists will be specifically highlighted in an exhibition opening Spring 2016 at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse Ny, discussed publically by the Jury at a gallery talk, and included in a forthcoming publication on the competition. All admissible entries will be displayed digitally during the exhibit and also displayed in an online gallery on the competition website.

Go to the competition’s website