Selected Entries Chosen for Visionary Ideas on Transforming the Canal System into Source of New Economic Development and Increased Tourism

For Immediate Release: 4/12/18

Seven Finalists Chosen from 145 Entries from Nine Nations

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that seven finalists have been chosen for the $2.5 million Reimagine the Canals Competition, which seeks innovative ideas to transform the State's Canal System as it begins its second century of operations. The competition, managed by the Canal Corporation and the New York Power Authority, seeks new approaches for how to both use the canals as an engine for economic development and also to become a hub for tourism and recreation.

"This competition to bring new life into the historic Canal System is occurring in the same year as the System's centennial, and it's clear from the creativity in these entries that the future for the next century is very bright," Governor Cuomo said. "With the contributions from these finalists, our canals will continue to serve a transformative role in helping the Upstate economy thrive."

The seven finalists were drawn from a field of 145 entries from nine countries and nine states and were announced today in Syracuse during a celebration at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Each of the teams will receive up to $50,000 to further develop their entries for the next stage.

Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO, which operates the state Canal System as a subsidiary, said, "The response to this competition is amazing and it is clear the judges had some tough choices to make. Picking the final winners will be just as difficult, but we are confident we'll have some great ideas for the Canal System that can be put into action."

Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation Director said, "These entries embrace the passion and pride in the Canal System that is prevalent in the 225 communities it passes through. They honor the heritage of the canals while at the same time offering bold ideas that can make the canals a vital force in the upstate economy and give people more reasons to visit."

Final submissions will be due in early July. The winners, who will receive between $250,000 and $1.5 million to plan and implement their projects, are slated to be announced in the early fall.

The programs and initiatives are intended to promote the Canal System and its trails as a tourist destination and recreational asset for New York residents and visitors; sustainable economic development along the Canal System; the Canal System's heritage; and the long-term financial sustainability of the Canal Corporation. Additionally, the competition sought entries on two separate tracks, one for infrastructure; the other for programs that have the potential to increase recreation use and tourism.

The finalists are:

  • Go the Distance: this initiative will look to develop overnight accommodations for recreational users of the canal system. The team includes the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor from Waterford, NY; Gray Slate Partners from Troy, NY; 2K Design from Clifton Park, NY and Dorgan Architecture & Planning from Storrs, Conn.
  • Canal Winterlocks: seeks to develop winter-time uses for the Erie Canal, potentially including skating, hockey, winter festivals and cross-country skiing. The team includes Clare Lyster Urbanism and Architecture and John Ronan Architects, both from Chicago and Urban Engineers from Philadelphia.
  • Great Erie Canal Race: a multi-day race for many types of watercraft, with a component for bikers and hikers. The team, led by Parks and Trails New York, includes Joe Gustainis from Caledonia, NY and Karthik Namasivayam from Pittsford, NY, as advisors.
  • Intra-Works: installations of art and sculpture to forge a cultural identity that links up the Canal System. The team includes the architecture and planning firms Collective Studio from New York City and WRT and Interface, both from Philadelphia.
  • Pocket Neighborhoods: a model for canal-side neighborhoods that have the Erie Canal as the core of their identity. The team includes the Madison County Planning Department and Stream Collaborative, an architecture firm in Ithaca.
  • Western New York Irrigation: this plan will build off the canal's water infrastructure to expand its irrigation capabilities. The team includes SUNY ESF Professor Stephen Shaw, C&S Companies of Syracuse and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
  • Upstate Archipelago: this team is developing designs for resilient water landscapes that also provide public recreation space and wildlife habitat. The team includes Cornell Design, Ithaca; Cornell Cooperative Extension and H+N+S, a landscape architecture firm based in the Netherlands.

The New York State Canal System, formerly known as the Barge Canal, opened on May 15, 1918. To mark the occasion, the Canal Corporation will waive tolls for the 2018 navigation season, which begins May 15 on the eastern Erie Canal and May 18 on the rest of the 524-mile system.

About the New York State Canal Corporation

New York's canal system includes four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterway links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. The canals form the backbone of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and connect hundreds of unique and historic communities. In 2018, New York is celebrating the bicentennial of the start of the Erie Canal's construction.

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Steven Gosset
Media Relations
(914) 390-8192