Public Square by FXFOWLE Wins Driverless Future Challenge

Improving New York City–One Square at a Time

Public Square by FXFOWLE, with Sam Schwartz Engineering, won the Driverless Future Challenge, a design competition that invited teams from around the world to create actionable solutions for a driverless future in New York City – one of the most complex cities in the world.

“The Driverless Future Challenge specifically set out to uncover the impact of autonomous vehicle technology as viewed through Mayor de Blasio’s four distinct lenses under the OneNYC initiative: Growth, Equity, Sustainability, and Resilience,” said Matthew Hoffman, co-founder of Blank Space and co-sponsor of the Driverless Future Challenge. “The entries expanded far beyond traditional transportation concerns to find positive impact for all New Yorkers in a myriad of ways.”

“We are honored and thrilled to receive this award,” said Jack Robbins, Principal, “and we hope that this recognition will help us as we move forward with the design and testing of Public Square. It has been an extremely collaborative and rewarding process for our team and we look forward to further collaborations with the City and others who can bring their creativity and expertise to our vision.”

Public Square is a plug-and-play system of interlocking unitized squares, roughly 8’x8′ in size, that provide the platform for a wide variety of surface module programs. With applications ranging from seating to retail stands, to play equipment, to gardens and green space, Public Square can be assembled into endless configurations in order to suit the needs of different neighborhoods, or change incrementally as cities adapt to automated vehicles. The system allows for easy access to utilities, works with existing drainage paths, increases storm water retention, provides bio-filtration, and can embed smart-street technology.

“Public Square is a perfect reflection of FXFOWLE’s commitment to creating innovative, imaginative and environmentally sustainable urban space,” said Dan Kaplan, Senior Partner, FAIA, LEED AP. “We are thrilled to have won this competition and look forward to developing, prototyping and improving our city, one square at a time.”

The transition to driverless vehicles will require incremental change. Public Square gives cities the tool to respond to change, however fast or slow it happens. Regardless what a driverless future looks like, Public Square can help cities shape that future for a livelier, greener, more walkable, and more bike-able public realm.

The future of automated vehicles is coming. While we don’t know exactly what that future will look like, most experts agree that driverless cars and increased car sharing will mean less parking on the streets. This leaves space once used for cars available for something else. Public Square provides New York City, and cities everywhere, with a way to rethink their streets and reclaim parking spaces for pedestrian activity.

The Driverless Future Challenge is sponsored by Blank Space in partnership with the City of New York, New Lab, AIANY, and Fast Company.