To BE or not to BQE

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Download the info packet, see related bibliography and register on our website, the-ipa.orgAbout the residency:As the theme of the IPA’s 2020 Residency, we ask applicants to research and envision what
might replace the BQE along a portion of this anachronistic piece of Moses infrastructure. With
support of the IPA, each team will engage the Community Board(s) and reach out to the
community stakeholders through which their chosen BQE portion passes.
The final projects will be exhibited publicly and published as a volume of the IPA Residency series. Through research and collaboration with City officials, the Fellows are asked not only to develop their individual project but are encouraged to collaborate with each other. To facilitate the collaboration, the IPA will enable the cohort to meet weekly with guest lecturers, share team meals and collectively problem solve. The Residency lasts eight weeks. By providing an intimate setting for our cohort of Fellows with outside practitioners and stakeholders, the IPA provides a rich educational experience. The residency will culminate with a public exhibition of the projects, to be augmented with Fellow presentations, panel discussions, screenings and public forums.About the BQE:Earlier this year, Mayor DeBlasio convened a panel of experts tasked with delivering recommendations on how to repair the deteriorating Brooklyn Queens Expressway. As reported by Curbed, an interesting conclusion was the panel’s call for “a broader vision for the future of the highway,” a comprehensive overhaul of the entirety of the BQE from Staten Island to Queens, “rather than the piecemeal approach that DOT proposed for the triple cantilever section beneath The Promenade”.
That broader vision includes the seeming radical query: What about just tearing the BQE down? This question is resonating within the current NYC political structure. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson included a call for a “fresh look at the BQE problem” in his State of the City address in March, urging the city to study alternatives to the roadway’s reconstruction “including the removal of the BQE in its entirety.”

Other cities have seen highway deconstruction as a means to redress the challenges of climate change, environmental justice, quality of life and urban development in one fell swoop. San Francisco’s Octavia Boulevard, The Harbor Drive Freeway in Portland, Oregon, Boston’s Big Dig, and Rochester’s Inner Loop are precedents in removal and relocation that produced measurable urban benefit.
Our City could use the same means to redress the displacement and segregation intentionally implemented through the BQE as it was authored by Robert Moses.
What could we do with the land if the BQE just wasn’t there? What could we build instead? Restore the stolen parks, build another Eastern Parkway, refill the blocks along Hicks Street, remove the trench through Williamsburg, reconnect Calvary Cemetery, use the right-of-way for a proper AirTrain to LaGuardia, return 3rd Avenue to Sunset Park, create a new gateway to Brooklyn at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge?