Thai Team Wins Queens Plaza Design Contest

Muang Nork (The Thai Overseas Newspaper)

No: 186 December 2001 (monthly)

Two young Thai architects edged out 200 teams from 53 countries to win a US $10,000 (Bt442,000) prize awarded by Van Alen Institute.

The pair, Juthathip Techachumreon, 28, and Surachai Akekapobyotin, 31, used their experience growing up in gridlocked Bangkok, a metropolis infamous for horrendous traffic jams, to develop a more people-friendly design for congested and noisy Queens Plaza in New York City.

Now living and working as architects in New York City, Surachai said that being Bangkokians gave them an advantage in their effort to unravel Queens Plaza. "We're used to seeing bad traffic," he said.

Their design proposes a "media corridor" to connect the subway stations, pedestrian ways and public spaces, and to give users a passageway through which they can enter the plaza at JFK Commuter Triangle. It also includes the concrete median on Queens Plaza North as a wavy footpath flanked by shrubs and trees.

Institute director Ray Gastil said that the design would transform over-crowded Queen Plaza into an attractive complex of merchant spaces, art and greenery. Walking through the corridor would be like touring a tasteful Times Square, Gastil said.

"Queen Plaza, as the gateway between Manhattan and Queens, is the most significant commercial district and central for multicultural activity," Surachai said.

The couple plans to spend their prize money building a dream house back in Bangkok.

(Translated from Thai by Chaleampon Ritthichai)

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