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July 10, 2019
by AIA New York
Better Bin NYC prototype by finalists Smart Design and Group Project. Photo: Courtesy of NYC DOT.
Better Bin NYC prototypes by finalists Smart Design and Group Project. Photo: Courtesy of NYC DOT.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Group Project. Photo: Courtesy of Group Project.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Group Project. Photo: Courtesy of Group Project.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Group Project. Photo: Courtesy of Group Project.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Group Project. Photo: Courtesy of Group Project.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Group Project. Photo: Courtesy of Group Project.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Group Project. Photo: Courtesy of Group Project.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Smart Design. Photo: Courtesy of NYC DOT.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Smart Design. Photo: Courtesy of NYC DOT.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Smart Design. Photo: Courtesy of NYC DOT.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Smart Design. Photo: Courtesy of NYC DOT.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Smart Design. Photo: Courtesy of NYC DOT.
Better Bin NYC prototype by Smart Design. Photo: Courtesy of NYC DOT.

The finalists in the BetterBin NYC competition, which offered designers an opportunity to reimagine New York City’s iconic green wire mesh litter basket, are currently being tested as prototypes on the mean streets of New York City. Launched in August 2018, the competition is organized by the NYC Department of Sanitation, the American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY), the Van Alen Institute, and the Industrial Designers Society of America.

This summer, designs by Group Project and Smart Design are being tested for a minimum of 30 days and up to 90 days, depending on their performance, after which the judging panel will select a first-place winner. A third finalist, IONDESIGN GmbH Berlin, was not able to produce the required prototypes in order to move forward in the competition. Once selected, the winning design team will be given the opportunity to continue design development, considering mass production and cost efficiency, and ideally move its product forward into production.

Designers were tasked with creating a new litter basket with a sustainable, environmentally conscious, and ergonomic design that would not only improve the quality of life for New Yorkers, but also better the service experience for sanitation workers. The design of the most widely used wire litter basket, currently servicing over 23,000 locations citywide, dates back to the 1930’s and does not address the current and future waste needs of NYC.

“From the street to the bench and even to the waste bin, AIA New York believes that innovative and excellent urban design at all scales can greatly improve the lives of people who live, work, and visit in NYC,” said Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director, AIA New York Chapter and the Center for Architecture. “We expect the winning design of the BetterBin Competition to contribute to the beauty of our city streets, and to improve functionality by bringing greater ease to the maintenance work of those we rely on to keep our cities clean.”

You can find the Better Bin prototypes currently in testing at three locations: along 9th Ave in Manhattan between 43rd and 45th streets; along Main Street in Queens between Maple and Cherry avenues; on Castle Hill Avene in the Bronx around Newbold and Ellis avenues.

The public is invited to submit their feedback on the prototypes on the Better Bin web site and on social media using #BetterBinNYC. The Department of Sanitation estimates that winners will be determined and announced in the Fall.

About the Prototype Finalists

Group Project (Colin P. Kelly)
Design Team Members: Colin P. Kelly, Brit Kleinman, Brandon Massey, Chris Glaister

Group Project is an interdisciplinary design team passionate about improving the everyday experiences of urban life. With diverse backgrounds in architecture, art, industrial design, and engineering, Group Project reframes problems and derives innovative solutions for a more sustainable future. Group Project is thrilled to partner with DSNY, Van Alen Institute, IDSA and AIANY on developing a litter basket for New York City that will better serve sanitation workers, modernize the streetscape, and change the public’s perceptions and behaviors towards waste—with the goal of achieving zero waste by 2030. The team’s proposal utilizes modularity, complementary materials, and a NYC-inspired aesthetic to achieve a solution that significantly improves the servicing experience, keeps our streets clean and orderly, and symbolizes a new future for the NYC Department of Sanitation.

Smart Design
Design Team Members: Davin Stowell, James Krause, Dan Grossman, Edward Laganis, Meegan Daigler, Albert Kwak, Grayson Hild

Founded in 1980, Smart Design is a strategic design company based in New York and London. Smart Design believes in designing with people, and for people, to create a smarter and more sustainable world. With a rich heritage in humanizing emerging technologies, and unique expertise in bridging the physical and digital, the company’s fundamental goal remains the same: make experiences more intuitive, enjoyable and relevant. From redesigning the New York taxi to launching category-defining products and services for clients such as Ford, PepsiCo, OXO, Sephora and Samsung, our multidisciplinary design experts continue to create solutions to our clients’ toughest challenges.

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