New York City leaders have announced the winning prototypes from the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge which launched last December. The jury selection resulted in six finalists in the five award categories, Connectivity, Creativity, Visual Design, Functionality, and Community Impact.
The competition had invited architects, students, urban designers, planners, technologists, and policy experts to create physical and virtual prototypes that imagine the future of NYC’s approximately 11,000 public pay telephones.
The city also worked to promote the design challenge to a wide range of students and faculty in a number of local universities, including:
The challenge received more than 125 submissions aimed at modernizing payphone infrastructure and optimizing the use of public space. Competition judges selected 11 semi-finalists to demo their prototypes from which the top submissions were chosen.
These are the six finalists in their respective award categories:
Connectivity Award: NYfi
Sage and Coombe Architects
“Reinventing the payphone is not only about a sleeker design or a digital display, it is about radically reimagining a public amenity; how it will be used, and what it will provide,” said the NYfi team. “Unlike today’s payphone, the NYfi will be an interactive portal to public information, goods, and services, a hub for free wireless internet access, and an open infrastructure for future applications. Two versions of the NYfi are proposed: a 10-foot model for commercial and manufacturing districts, and a smaller model – with limited functionality beyond Wi-Fi and emergency services – for residential and historic districts where new payphones have not traditionally been permitted.”
Creativity Award: NYC LOOP
“NYC Loop combines a beautiful, contemporary payphone with a uniquely tailored public space that can be chosen to suit New York's diverse communities,” said the NYC LOOP team. “It provides sound harmonizing technology as well as a smart screen for making calls and enhancing personal mobile communication. The Loop also features a responsive projector that creates an ‘information puddle’ on the sidewalk with which any passerby can interact-an amazing opportunity for local artists or as a means of generating revenue from advertising space. The iconic design of NYC Loop and the relationship of its public space units to the city's neighborhoods will become an integral part of New York City's urban identity.”
Visual Design Award: Beacon
“BEACON is New York City’s next generation open communications platform, connecting the city and its services with our communities, businesses, residents, and visitors,” said the Beacon team.
Community Impact Award (Tie): NYC I/O: The Responsive City
Control Group and Titan
“Our submission, the ‘NYC I/O: Responsive City,’ updates the payphone with a modern array of sensors and displays to create a foundational input/output system for an open, urban-scale computing platform, which would allow New York City to respond to and serve the people in a way never done before,” said the NYC I/O team. “Through open access to real-time data and a distribution platform for community, civic, arts, and commercial apps and messaging, we can create a safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable city.”
Community Impact Award (Tie): Windchimes
NYU ITP, Cooper Union, Parsons
“We are a group of students and recent grads from Parsons, NYU-ITP and Cooper Union studying art, engineering, environmental science, and design,” said the Windchimes team. “This competition was a great way to do meaningful work across disciplines that could have a direct impact on the quality of life in NYC and build toward a sustainable future. With Windchimes, we imagined adapting payphones to create a distributed environmental sensor network in service of New York City residents and visitors. The City’s Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge allowed us to build a team around this vision and share it with the rest of the community.”
Functionality Award: Smart Sidewalks
Syracuse University, UC Davis, Parsons, Rama Chorpash Design LLC, Cheng+Snyder
“The Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge was an opportunity to reimagine a piece of outdated city infrastructure in the age of mobile,” said the Smart Sidewalks team. “In Smart Sidewalks we considered the widest range of issues the payphone might address from the changing climate to lowering the digital divide.”
A sixth prize category, “Popular Choice,” will be decided by public vote through the City of New York’s Facebook Page. Voting will run through 5:00 PM on Thursday, March 14, with the winner announced on Friday, March 15.