Reimagine the Canals Competition 1

Reimagine the Canals Competition

design competition, park planning, open space planning
New York State

In January of 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the approval of
$300 million in funding over five years to revitalize the Erie Canal. The announcement 
solidifies initial ideas and efforts begun in 2018 through Reimagine the Canals, a design competition sponsored by the Governor’s office, the New York Power Authority (NYPA), and the New York State Canal Corporation. The competition sought 
implementable concepts and initiatives that would promote the Erie Canal System’s 
functionality and improve the Canal System’s long-term financial sustainability. 

WRT was involved through the competition phase as one of seven shortlisted teams, along with partners Interface Studio (Philadelphia), and Collective Studio (Hong Kong). Our team, Intra-Works, combined different design disciplines to create a series of networked cultural destinations that would help revitalize communities along the NYS Canal System corridor. As an existing but neglected right-of-way that stretches across the state, the Erie Canal, along with its tributary canals, is a vital piece of infrastructure that is well-positioned to attract new audiences and tell new narratives around the region’s cultural heritage.  

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During competition, Intra-Works focused on three sites within the Mohawk Valley: Utica, Little Falls, and Canajoharie. As a gateway to Western New York and an extension of the Hudson Valley region, the Mohawk Valley is poised for reinvestment and global attention.

In Canajoharie, the abandoned Beech-Nut plant was reimagined as a hub for art and public activities. 

In Little Falls, the team created new pedestrian amenities that highlight the dramatic changes in topography and industrial legacy of the town. 

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Beech-Nut Elevation

And in Utica, an existing wildlife refuge was reconnected to the Erie Canal and linked to downtown through new trails and public spaces that span layers of infrastructure, providing opportunities for art and recreation. 

Though not selected as a winning proposal, the team’s ideas and understanding of the Canal System and its communities helped inform the Task Force Report released this month. 

With the Governor’s recent announcement, we look forward to continuing to engage with our project partners in the Mohawk Valley and across Upstate New York. 

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