Cornell Team Wins 2014 Ed Bacon Competition

Winners of the 2014 Ed Bacon Competition.

IndePENNdense 2076 team members (from left) Kate Benisek, Ashley Pelletier, Ruslan Filipau, and Andrea Haynes accept their award at the Ed Bacon Competition. photo / provided

February 26, 2014

A team of five Cornell CRP and landscape architecture students won the 2014 Ed Bacon Student Urban Design Competition, with their project titled IndePENNdense 2076.

Each year, the competition poses a different Philadelphia-centric urban challenge to entrants. The 2014 contest asked teams to imagine how a driverless automobile would impact the region. The competition brief required competitors to envision "How roadways, sidewalks, intersections, signage, traffic signals, and the relationship between buildings, roadways, pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles will change" with the major advances in driverless technology.

IndePENNdense 2076 (PDF) responded to the challenge with a redesign of the Vine Street corridor in Center City. The project proposed for passengers to use mobile devices to summon various types of transportation on demand, designated pickup and drop-off areas, and a seamless communication system between passengers, vehicles, and the city transportation department.

"Our overall project philosophy was people and city first," says Ruslan Filipau (M.L.A./M.R.P. '14). "We wanted to shift the paradigm from an emphasis on vehicles dictating urban form to planning what a more perfect city would look like, and how driverless car technology could make that happen. "The jury said that IndePENNdense was chosen for first prize because "[the proposal] did the best job of integrating a new technology into an existing urban fabric. It did the best job of getting at how people might interact with the technology, not just the technology in a vacuum, but at how it relates to both people and the city that exists."

Members of the winning Cornell team include Scott Baker (M.L.A. '14), Kate Benisek (M.L.A. '14), Filipau, Andrea Haynes (M.L.A. '14), and Ashley Pelletier (M.L.A. '14). A second Cornell team received a special jury prize for the integration of vehicles into their plan, which was titled Walking the Fast Lane.

The annual competition is dedicated to the vision and legacy of Philadelphia's former city planning director, Edmund N. Bacon (B.Arch. '32). This year's contest drew entries from 15 teams from around the world.

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