April 6, 2016
by Benjamin Prosky

On 03.11.16, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) announced its Bus Terminal International Design + Deliverability Competition. Initially, AIANY was pleased to learn that the Port Authority Bus Terminal was slated for improvement and that design ideas would be generated as a result of a public competition.

After thoroughly reviewing the Competition Conditions, however, AIANY, AIA New York State, and AIA New Jersey found that certain requirements were at odds with best practices for design competitions, as outlined in AIA National’s Handbook of Architectural Design Competitions. As a coalition, we drafted a letter to PANYNJ that outlined our concerns. This letter was taken seriously by the PANYNJ officials and resulted in a productive discussion that led to several improvements to the competition brief.

Over the past week, PANYNJ has updated the Competition Conditions (see addenda) to reflect our suggestions and extended the Phase One deadline to 04.28.16. After consultation with AIA National and appropriate counsel, we believe we have made significant improvements to the competition brief that will result in stronger participation in the competition and, ultimately, a better design and results for the public.

PANYNJ addressed our primary concerns in the amended the following requirements:

  • Copyrights: As worded, the original conditions required all participants to give over the rights to their materials to PANYNJ. The updated text clarifies that Phase 1 participants would retain rights but would allow PANYNJ to use the designs for publication, etc. Phase 2 finalists will give rights over to PANYNJ, but those who do not ultimately win the entire competition will have certain rights to use design elements of their submissions.
  • Jury: Previously, jury members were not named. PANYNJ has not named the jury, but they have provided a profile of the jury makeup. The jury will include between 5-8 professionals representing a variety of functional disciplines.
  • Finalists: Originally, the brief did not state how many teams would be asked to submit a Phase 2 design. PANYNJ has now stated that they will announce up to five finalists.
  • Finalist Honoraria: PANYNJ did not initially offer honoraria to finalists. After discussion, they have now agreed to award up to four honorarium of $200,000 to each non-winning finalist who submits a Phase Two submission. The winner of the competition will be awarded $1,000,000.

AIANY believes strongly that design competitions can be beneficial for the participating designers, project sponsors, and surrounding communities. A properly run design competition generates innovative ideas, highlights the work of the sponsor, encourages new talent, attracts public attention to the needs being addressed, and broadens public discourse about design. We assert that competitions must be administered in a way that adequately respects all parties’ interests, including the architects’ processes and talents.

Benjamin Prosky
Executive Director
AIANY / Center for Architecture




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