This is by far one of the most challenging and rewarding competitions I have done. This competition occurs annually with the location changing each year. The competition encourages interdisciplinary teams, at least 3 of the 5 team members must come from different fields. Having multiple disciplines is extremely helpful when one looks at the scope of the design challenge.
Each year the challenge is roughly the same. A large portion of the city, something equivalent to a city district, approximately 5-10 blocks, are bundled together for redevelopment. The aim is to reinvigorate that portion of the city as each team sees best. There tends to be an additional requirement, in this year’s case to resolve the serious issue of flooding on site.
The team anitcipated that this competition would be a challenge. We had met soon after being accepted as a team and set a calendar anticipating roughly the kinds of deadlines and work we might need prior to the release of the brief. The last day of my externship the brief was released and from then on the calendar and all planning was challenged.
Only two days later class started and whatever time wasn’t spent in class was spent in competition team meetings or designing. What I really appreciated was having multiple perspectives on this extremely large site. The process itself was iterative. We started with a general meeting for ideas followed by several passes at rhino models and hand drawn plans. From these we jumped to longer work meetings during which critique was immediately translated into models and drawings worked on simultanteously.
My only concern was that the team became indecisive towards the end. There were a few impromptu design revisions, which had impact on the financial spreadsheet, that I deemed untimely. The design decision itself was smart, useful to the story and overall goals but took up time which would have been better spent refining drawings sooner. Overall I found the teams design decision intuitive but pressed for time.
Certainly I look forward to next year having a better sense for the scale of project, timeline, and the skills that various team members will bring to the project.
Interestingly in reviewing the selected finalists I found that many of the proposals looked very similar. Similar parks pulling through the center of the site and connecting on either side along the river. The same array of general building shapes with roof terraces painting a lively extended downtown. The graphics are sharp, clean, and easily read. It’s fascinating how different people can come to similar designs for a place, a place many may not have visited.
Below is our design entry board for comparision in scope and graphics to the selected finalists: