Gallaudet University Design Competition Results

Winning entry by Hall McKnight

This design competition for the historic core of the Gallaudet campus and adjacent public realm focused on themes of cultural exchange and creative placemaking. It ran from September 2015 to November 2016.

Established in 1864, Gallaudet University is the world’s only liberal arts university in which all programs and services are designed to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students. One of the challenges faced by the competitors was the use of “DeafSpace” in their proposals—design principles based on the knowledge that the built environment, largely constructed by and for hearing individuals, presents a variety of challenges to which deaf people have responded with a particular way of altering their surroundings to fit their unique ways-of-being.  Examples of DeafSpace design elements can be found on the Gallaudet campus in two of its buildings. This project is the first time these design principles will be incorporated into a public space off the Gallaudet campus.


Throughout the competition, the Gallaudet community participated in a number of design events, including the Shape Gallaudet launch, a colloquium or discussion, and a charrette, also known as a live design critique.


The competition featured two parallel initiatives:

Shape Gallaudet invited ideas, inspirations, sketches, images, and videos from students, staff, alumni, local residents, and supporters of Gallaudet, both international and stateside. The finest of these were used to inform the briefing to be given to the design teams shortlisted after the first stage.

A Request for Proposals invited applications from multidisciplinary teams of designers, landscape architects and specialists in human behavior, performing and fine arts, communication technology, wayfinding and engineering disciplines, amongst others. 

The shortlisted teams were:

  • Hall McKnight Architects (London, Belfast) with AECOM, Nomad RDC, Whybrow Wayfinding, L’Observatoire International, Dr Adams-Costa, and Patrick Cullina
  • Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd. (Boston), with Richard Burck Associates, Landscape Architecture Bureau, Bohler Engineering, Small Design Firm, Tillotson Design Associates, Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Inc, Pentagram, Jensen Hughes Associates, Buro Happold, Tarek Atoui and Jacob Shamberg
  • Marvel Architects (New York) with Quennell Rothschild Partners, ARUP, Local Projects, James Lima Planning + Development, Future/City, Jim Conti Light Design, Doyle Partners, Tom Fruin
  • MASS Design Group (Boston) with Jeffrey Mansfield, DLR Group, TENxTEN, Small Stuff, Urban Ingenuity, Integral Group, Wendy Jacobs, Michael Gulliver, Chisato Minamimura and Sarah Pickthall


Following the first stage, four teams were selected to work up concept designs and briefed with materials incorporating the finest suggestions – with contributors credited and thanked – from the Shape Gallaudet initiative. The teams, Shape Gallaudet contributors, jury and other specialists took part in the colloquium and charrette. In addition to representatives from Gallaudet University and Developer JBG, British architect, David Adjaye, and U.S. architect Lisa Findley, professor of architecture at the California College of the Arts, made up the composition of the jury. The competition adviser throughout this project was London-based Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC).


After the final selection process had run its course, Hall McKnight was declared the winner.


Winning Entry
Hall McKnight
Belfast, Northern Ireland

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Marvel Architects
New York

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Mass Design Group

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