A view of the proof-of-concept installation for the Lowline.
Alex Goldmark A view of the proof-of-concept installation for the Lowline.


Each year, during the jury review, there are certain projects that garner a lot of discussion, but for a variety of reasons they do not go on to receive an award. This year, two projects played the roles of design-issue instigators: the Lowline (a daylighting scheme for a proposed park in a reclaimed space under the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side) and the New York City Streetlight (a completely redesigned luminaire and light pole for all five boroughs). This work defied categorization, thus the jury’s difficulty in selecting either for an award.

These two projects, one unbuilt (the Lowline) and one just beginning to see its implementation (the New York City Streetlight), are very specific to their city. And yet, the two projects are also universal in terms of what they represent: the critical role that design research plays, whether that research is spurred by a competition (as in the case of the New York City Streetlight) or it comes from individual investigations that lead to new funding paradigms intended to realize a proof of concept (as in the case of the Lowline). Without exploration, design risks remaining stagnant. While not winners in this program, these two projects dare to imagine something different. For that reason, their contribution to larger design discussions that encompass urbanism, architecture, and lighting deserves mention.

After a decade in the making, the NYC streetlight is scheduled to be phased in throughout the city by 2017, according to a plan announced by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2013.
Frieder Blickle / laif After a decade in the making, the NYC streetlight is scheduled to be phased in throughout the city by 2017, according to a plan announced by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2013.

To see all of the other winners of the 2014 AL Light & Architecture Design Awards, click here.