Fisher Brothers sponsored a $30,000 competition for architects and designers in New York to come up with ideas for Park Avenue’s median from 46th to 57th Street. The Fisher Brothers are known for their commercial real estate portfolio including Park Avenue Plaza, 299 Park Avenue, 1345 Avenue of the Americas and 605 Third Avenue in Manhattan.
Although there are seasonal plants and occasional sculptures along the medians, the Fisher Brothers set out to inspire a more utilitarian design for New Yorkers. “The goal of this competition is to foster creativity and challenge participants to think outside the box; to propose exciting ideas that have never been considered possible for the medians; and to reimagine the existing urban landscape. We want ideas that bring Park Avenue into the 21st century.” Architects and designers were told to use Park Avenue’s 200 ft. long and 19’6” wide medians as a “blank canvas”, and that is exactly what they did.
The final 17 competitors (out of over 150) publically displayed their work, and a jury selected a winner to receive $25,000 and the public selected the best design to win $5,000. The jury selected the firm Maison’s Ben Meade, Anthony Stahl, and Alexia Beghi as the winner of the $25,000 for their creation of “Park Park”. On each median, the creators designed elevated platforms with different themes. Features include, a stage, bodega, twisting ramps for pedestrians, gardens, galleries, basketball courts, and even a floating forest.
Park River, created by Local Architects’ Amy Garlock, Drew Cowdrey and Fareez Giga, won the public vote. Their design incorporated an “(un)natural river within the concrete jungle” – a river, shaped in a loop, running along the outer sides of Park Avenue with recreational activities such as kayaking and rafting in the summer and ice skating in the winter. They redesigned the road so that the cars would drive where the median currently stands, with the water surrounding the road.
Other designs included “Mount Manhattan”, an elevated mountain in the center of the median from 46th to 57th Street, featuring an Alpine lodge, caves, a hiking trail, a rope bridge, and a lake connected to waterfalls. The creators of “Park Avenue Fields” designed plans for large steel plant-like sculptures forming a pedestrian friendly and aesthetically pleasing pathway along the medians. Architects for “The Centerline” proposed a plan similar to the Chelsea High Line, where pedestrians could walk along an raised path from 46th to 57th Street, with commercial spaces underneath. Others filled the spaces with sculptures, plants and cafes.
 Beyond the Centerline by Fisher Brothers. “About.” Available at: http://www.fbdesigncom.com/about. Accessed on March 21, 2018.