BNIM Architects Allies with Atlanta Firms to Win the History Channel’s “City of the Future” Regional Competition

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (April 8, 2008)—The vision of Atlanta as a region restored using forests and wetlands is what clinched the regional victory for BNIM and its Atlanta-based partners EDAW, Praxis, and Metcalf & Eddy. The winning model is a finalist in the City of the Future: A Design and Engineering Challenge, celebrating The History Channel series “Cities of the Underworld.” This national contest challenges teams to create models of what some of the nation’s prominent urban centers could look like in 100 years. Contest sponsors include Infiniti and IBM, in partnership with the American Institute of Architects and American Society of Civil Engineers.

“The competition to create a new vision for Atlanta required us to take into account infrastructure, transportation, commerce, housing security and the environment — the same issues facing Kansas City and cities across the country,” said Steve McDowell, FAIA and principal with BNIM. “It is essential to create a long-term vision for how cities can address these issues in a sustainable and holistic manner.”

Like many other U.S. cities, Atlanta faces particularly daunting environmental challenges, including a chronic shortage of potable water. The city maintains more than 1,900 miles of pipes to collect, combine with wastewater, treat and pipe stormwater downstream. Climate change, growth and sprawling impervious surfaces continue to degrade the outmoded, costly system. The vision by EDAW/Praxis/BNIM/Metcalf & Eddy turns Atlanta into a region repopulated with forests, which serve as the city’s lungs, filtering stormwater and purifying the air. The team envisioned the use of wetlands and sewer tunnels to capture, cleanse and store water, making the city drought-resistant.

This year the competition focused on Atlanta, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Eight design firms in each city competed regionally for a $10,000 first prize, including the chance to advance to the national level of the competition. Team EDAW/Praxis/BNIM/Metcalf & Eddy was named the winner in Atlanta, presenting their vision of a “City of the Forest” with massive tree planting, underground streams and tunnel storage to solve water capacity issues. An online competition will determine the national winner, which receives an additional $5,000 and rights to the title of National Champion.

“The regional competition was intense and extremely creative,” added McDowell. “We were asked to develop a design in seven days and assemble the submission in just 3 hours during a public forum, followed by a presentation to an esteemed jury. I am pleased with the talent and imagination of our team members, who put together a remarkable green vision for Atlanta under these challenging circumstances.”

From rural to urban America, BNIM brings its long-standing green vision and planning capabilities to projects across the country, including important sustainability projects in New Orleans, La. and Kansas City, Mo. The firm recently began working on the Kansas City Greater Downtown Area Plan, with the objective of integrating neighborhoods surrounding Downtown's central business district and promoting community connections. The firm is also working with the City of Kansas City, Mo. on the Green Solutions Integration project to integrate green and sustainable stormwater management infrastructure solutions into the policies, procedures and operations of the City.