“Democracy is messy,” said one former Defense Secretary, rather infamously, a decade or so ago.
That statement still holds true today, of course. But democracy can also be beautiful, and even meaningful. Especially the technology-enabled, globally crowd-sourced kind that Boston’s Arcbazar is graciously hosting right now as part of a fun, international architecture competition to solicit designs for the upcoming Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side.
Co-sponsored by Arcbazar, BuiltWorlds, CannonDesign, AIA Chicago, Dwell on Design, GreenApple Campus, Autodesk, and Forum8, this unique, non-binding competition actually parallels the ongoing real contest now in its own home stretch and administered by the Obama Foundation. That competition drew 140 entries from around the world, and the field was narrowed to seven in December, as we reported here. An official winner is expected to be announced next month, as well.
In the meantime, however, our own event has gathered tremendous online momentum since we first announced it in late January, and the field remains open to new entrants through May 31. All will culminate here in the BuiltWorlds Studios on June 16 when we host our own Obama Presidential Center Competition and Awards Ceremony, as part of BW’s continuing Project Innovation series. The premise of this contest has asked, “What sort of Presidential Center would the people design?”
To date, the international response has been as overwhelming as it is diverse and creative.
Some 425 competitors have submitted ideas from all over the world, vying for $10,000 in total prizes, plus two additional non-cash awards, and the opportunity to be featured and to present at subsequent national design expositions. “To be honest, we have just been blown away by this,” says BW co-founder Matt Abeles. “We knew this would generate considerable interest, but the magnitude of the response to date has just been jaw-dropping.”
“This is, by far, our biggest project to date, so we really have been thrilled by how it has all come together,” adds Arcbazar founder Dr. Imdat As, a Turkish-American architect educated at both M.I.T. and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. (Read our Dec. 2015 profile of Arcbazar here.) The response has also validated Arcbazar’s core credo of “democratizing” public design. “Architecture is a breathing, living medium of documenting our evolution as a society: our challenges, priorities and aspirations,” says As. “[So], it is integral that its creation is not limited to a select few, but is a product of communities coming together to create a small piece of history.”
- To learn how to enter the competition, attend the June 16 event, or watch it ‘live’, click here.
Of note, the two main cash prizes will be our First Prize Award for $4,200, as selected by our jury of respected industry experts, and a $3,000 Voters’ Choice Award, as determined by online voting to be held ‘live’ between June 1 and June 15. (So, all entries will be visible online as of June 1.) On June 16 at BuiltWorlds, our in-person, international panel of six juror practitioners will be:
- Andrew Balster, Executive Director, Archeworks;
- Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, FAIA, Co-design Lead, JAHN Architects;
- Kees Kaan, Founding Principal, KAAN Architecten;
- Juan Moreno, JGMA Founding President;
- Dawn Schuette, FAIA, AIA Chicago Board President;
- Tim Swanson, CannonDesign, Office Practice Leader;
- Dana Teague, VP Design Group, Dwell On Design.
Online, a ‘digital’ panel of 28 juror academics, our “Deans List”, will first narrow the field. They are:
- Nathaniel Quincy Belcher, Professor of Architecture, Penn State University;
- Gail Peter Borden, FAIA, Associate Dean, USC School of Architecture;
- Diogo Burnay, Director, School of Architecture, Dalhousie University;
- Mahesh Daas, Dean, School of Architecture, Design & Planning, University of Kansas;
- A. Jack Davis, Dean, College of Architecture & Urban Studies, Virginia Tech;
- Jeffrey Day, Director, College of Architecture, University of Nebraska;
- James Doerfler, Director of Architecture Programs, Philadelphia University;
- Nan Ellin, Dean, College of Architecture & Planning, University of Texas at Arlington;
- Tom Fisher, Dean, College of Design, University of Minnesota School of Architecture;
- Elie G. Haddad, Dean, School of Architecture & Design, Lebanese American University;
- Jeff Hou, Chair, Dept. of Landscape Architecture, University of Washington;
- Georges Kachaamy, Chair, Dept. of Architecture, American University in Dubai;
- Michael Lykoudis, Dean, School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame;
- Ken McCown, Chair, Dept. of Landscape Architecture, Iowa State University;
- Takehiko Nagakura, Director, Computation Group, MIT Architecture;
- Karen Nelson, Dean, School of Architecture, Boston Architectural College;
- Sergio Palleroni, Director, Center for Public Interest; Portland State School of Architecture;
- Alan Penn, Dean, Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London;
- William Porter, Dean (emeritus), MIT Architecture;
- Brian Rex, Dean, Architecture & Urbanism, South Dakota State University;
- Luis Rico-Gutierrez, Dean, Design Administration, Iowa State University;
- Peter Russell, Dean, School of Architecture, TU Delft University of Technology;
- Linda Samuels, Assoc. Prof. of Urban Design, Washington University (St. Louis);
- James J. Sullivan, Dean, School of Architecture, Marywood University;
- Christine Theodoropoulos, Dean, College of Architecture, CalPoly State University;
- Jim West, Dean, College of Architecture, Art & Design, Mississippi State University;
- Stephen White, Dean, School of Architecture, Roger Williams University;
- Peter Wiederspahn, Interim Director, School of Architecture, Northeastern University.
Still in shadow: Who knows what the winning design will look like? This 2014 concept may even make a comeback.