In February, Blank Space partnered with the City of New York to solicit actionable solutions for a driverless future in one of the most complex cities in the world. Last month, four finalists were announced; and this week, a winner was chosen.

“Public Square,” the award-winning entry by FXFOWLE with Sam Schwartz Engineering, provides New York City a way to rethink its streets and reclaim space for pedestrians. The entry was chosen as the winner of The Driverless Future Challenge by a panel of New York City Commissioners, in front of a live audience of over 600 attendees at NYU Skirball Center.


“We are honored and thrilled to receive this award and we hope that this recognition will help us as we move forward with the design and testing of Public Square.” said Jack Robbins of FXFOWLE. “It has been an extremely collaborative and rewarding process for our team and we look forward to further collaborations with the City and others who can bring their creativity and expertise to our vision.”

Public Square is a plug-and-play system of interlocking unitized squares, roughly 8’x8′ in size, with built-in infrastructure and a wide variety of arrangements, from seating, to retail pop-ups, play equipment, gardens and green space. The transition to driverless vehicles will require incremental change, and Public Square allows the public realm to be responsive to changes in how we drive, however fast or slow those changes happen.

“It’s important for cities to future-proof their infrastructure and policies, rather than wait for these technologies to reshape the city in ways we may not desire” said Michael Replogle, Deputy Commissioner for Policy at the DOT and one of the contest judges in an interview with Crain’s. “Public Square offered a versatile tool kit for the city to reuse space for a variety of public needs.”

The four finalists were selected from a competitive and diverse pool of entries from more than 20 countries. In addition to providing innovative ways to prepare New York City for autonomous vehicles, the finalist’s ideas were actionable, and ready to start changing the city today.

“Autonomous transportation will impact every facet of New York City. The four finalists have crafted wildly unique solutions to a variety of topics: from creating autonomous micro-busses for the MTA that solve the ‘last-mile’ dilemma, and managing curbside use, to creating a platform for regional businesses to sell their goods in NYC without actually driving here,” said Matthew Hoffman and Francesca Giuliani, Co-founders of Blank Space. “This is not the end of the work for these four teams, but more of a beginning. Together with our partners, we will support the four finalists to turn their projects into real companies and products”

Each team will receive access to workspace and state-of-the-art fabrication facilities at New Lab, in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, to make their proposals a reality for the City of New York.

“We are excited to make use of the New Lab facilities to continue design and prototyping work on Public Square.” said Dan Kaplan, Senior Partner at FXFOWLE. “We are in discussions with potential capital, engineering and fabrication partners.”

The ‘Pitch the City’ event at the July New York Tech Meetup was co-hosted by Blank Space and the NY Tech Alliance.