Aim for the Sky: The Buffalo Skyway Corridor Competition

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s challenge to reimagine the Buffalo Skyway Corridor resulted in a competition to define a clear vision for the City of Buffalo’s waterfront, helping inform the direction for investment in placemaking and economic development opportunities. The winning ideas were announced on Sept. 17, after finalists made their pitches to the competition jury. 

The Skyway, a four-lane limited access expressway, extends four miles along the City’s Lake Erie waterfront, and carries almost 40,000 trips per day of commuter traffic as part of the regional highway system.  Completed in 1955, the Skyway was originally designed to connect truck traffic from multiple large and small factory complexes and the Port of Buffalo to the then-fledgling interstate highway system. 

Yet with the closings of the region’s major steel plants in the 1980s and changing land uses along the corridor from heavy manufacturing to recreation, it has evolved to serve more as commuting corridor to the city’s southern suburbs.

A Competition to Reimagine the Buffalo Skyway Corridor

The process involved a two-part submission:

  • Part 1, now closed, allowed respondents to provide an overview of their idea and how it addresses the main objectives and constraints of the competition.  Submissions were evaluated for responsiveness to the goals of the competition, technical complexity, and feasibility. The deadline for Part 1 submissions was 3 p.m. on Friday, June 28.
  • Respondents who best demonstrated how they met the evaluation factors were invited to provide a Part 2 submission, which opened Monday, July 15, and included a full technical proposal and finished graphics, suitable for gallery presentation. Twenty Part 1 respondents were invited to proceed to Part 2.  Part 2 closed on Friday, August 23 and the state received 16 submissions.

Request for Submissions: The Buffalo Skyway Corridor Competition

View the Top Submissions

Who Applied?

Empire State Development received over 100 submissions from various areas of New York and across the United States, and even some international entries from Canada, Italy, India and China as we sought help determining the future of this waterfront corridor.

Participants were provided with information on the history of the Skyway, past studies, zoning and land use plans and codes, and challenged to share solutions that can be implemented with a degree of affordability, feasibility, and technical achievability.  We were impressed by the creativity and passion that individuals and teams brought to reimagine the waterfront!

The Judging Process

A jury convened by Governor Cuomo reviewed all finalist submissions.  Following ranking of submissions, a number of respondent teams were asked to present their submissions to the jury and the public.  The panel of outside experts heard from finalists in a live pitching event and selected the three prize winners from this group of applicants. 


  • June 28 – Part 1 applications due
  • August 17 – Part 2 submissions due
  • September 4 – Public reveal of top submissions
  • September 16 – Top 9 teams announced
  • September 17 – Live pitches and awards announcement

Challenge Winners

  • Prizes were awarded to the top three submissions in the amounts of $100,000 (top idea), $50,000 (first runner-up), and $25,000 (second runner-up). 
  • Winners of the competition have the opportunity to define the scope of future waterfront development and inform the direction of future state and private investment. 
  • Read about the challenge winners here.