Next Stop: The 2013 Burnham Prize Competition

Next Stop

The 2013 Burnham Prize Competition

by Stanley Collyer

Winning entry by Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash

The NEXT STOP competition challenged designers worldwide to propose a vision for iconic, functional and sustainable stations for Chicago’s planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. It attracted forty-two entries representing design teams from 14 countries. Each competition entry includeed a station prototype and variations for three neighborhoods—the Loop, Bucktown-Logan Square and Pilsen.




Why Stop

Why Stop


Imagining the South Coast Rail


by Kim Poliquin

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Winning entry by Emer O'Daly

What would make you stop? A glowing greenhouse? A rolling theater? Or how about a super pier? During the summer of 2011 SHIFTboston challenged architects, urban designers, designers and landscape architects — professionals and students — to visualize new destinations along the proposed South Coast Rail extension, a new rail line that will connect Boston to Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River, Massachusetts.




Curbside Action at the New Museum: The IDEAS CITY StreetFest Tenting Competition

Curbside Action at the New Museum

The IDEAS CITY StreetFest Tenting Competition

by Stanley Collyer

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Winning entry by DavidsonRafailidis (photos of completed project courtesy of DavidsonRafailidis)

New York is no stranger to design competitions for smaller projects, especially where the focus is on its streets. Among some of those, either proposed or realized, were the recent Urban Shed competition, protecting pedestrians on the sidewalks from falling debris; and, going back almost two decades, the Urban Outhouse competition. As street fairs are pretty commonplace in New York, it would seem only logical that an ideas competition for a temporary “tent” structure in front of New York’s New Museum would also generate a lot of interest. As part of the IDEAS CITY Festival during the first week in May, this year’s event included one hundred independent project and public events occupying over a square block around the New Museum. Inventors, small business owners, artists, ecologists and activists shared their products and ideas, demonstrating the value of Untapped Capital—the Festival’s current theme.


Transforming the Bridge: 2012 Cleveland Design Competition

Transforming the Bridge

2012 Cleveland Design Competition

by Stanley Collyer


First Place Entry by Archilier Architecture
All images courtesy Cleveland Design Competition

Preservation and re-use of old buildings has long been a major focus of our communities. But until recently, those same communities have regarded yesterday’s infrastructure—our railroad heritage in particular—as something to be either ignored or even erased from the urban fabric. At best, those previous rail beds have been converted into hiking and bike trails. Communities now have begun to recognize that some of these abandoned rail structures can be turned into public amenities. The High Line in New York City is certainly one of the best examples; but other projects, such as the recent conversion of Louisville’s Big Four Bridge to a walkway/bikeway across the Ohio River at Louisville, show how rapidly old perceptions regarding these structures can change.




A Cultural Anchor in Wine Country: The UC Davis Art Museum Competition

A Cultural Anchor in Wine Country

The UC Davis Art Museum Competition

by Larry Gordon

Winning entry by SO-IL (Photos: ©Regents of the University of California, Davis)

The University of California at Davis is a sprawling, well-regarded campus that is probably best known for its contributions to agricultural research that aids the nearby big farms in the Central Valley and growers worldwide. Not as widely known is that UC Davis has a strong arts program and a large art collection, particularly of prints, watercolors and ceramics. For example, contemporary painter Wayne Thiebaud  (creator of those lusciously bright paintings of cakes, lollipops and farm landscapes) taught there and has donated many of his own and others' work to the university. The school also has a trove of Old Masters' prints from the 17th through 19th Century.




The Next Generation Container Port (NGCP) Challenge

The Next Generation Container Port (NGCP) Challenge

by Olha Romaniuk

Winning entry

A former colonial trading hub, and now one of the busiest ports in the world, Singapore’s maritime tradition has always been a focal point of its economic life. But having only 274 square miles to accommodate 5.4 million inhabitants, the country faces a scarcity of land for residential as well as commercial development. If Singapore hopes to compete with other large port facilities in East Asia, most notably those in China and Japan, developing a long-term plan for port expansion had to be a high priority for its government. By establishing the Maritime and Port Authority in 1996, the country took an important first step toward solving this problem.



In Ramallah, the Focus is on Architecture: The Qattan Foundation Cultural Centre Competition

In Ramallah, a Focus on Architecture

The Qattan Foundation Cultural Centre Competition

By Stanley Collyer

Winning entry by Donaire Arquitectos

On 2 July 2012, the A.M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF) launched an invited competition for the design of a new cultural and education center in Ramallah, Palestine. As a U.K.-based non-profit, which has focused on educational issues with emphasis on the Middle East, the Foundation’s Ramallah center has been located in an existing 80-year-old building for the past thirteen years, but feels that future demand for its services will require substantial expansion. By staging a competition for the new structure, AMQF is also seeking to “raise awareness about the role of built fabric design in improving the quality of urban life in social, cultural and economic terms.”


Commentary on Competitions and the Al Jamea Competition in Particular

Commentary on Competitions & the Al Jamea Competition in Particular

by Paul Spreiregen, FAIA

Paul Spreiregen flying paper airplanes at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.

There have been numerous international design competitions in the past. They go back centuries, and for both architecture as well as town planning. This is hardly the first. Yet it demonstrates some characteristics of considerable portent.

It is also a long condition of design in general that design predilections of many strains find their ways from their places of origin to places that are far different. Developing countries have long drawn on the design systems, “styles” if you prefer, of more developed neighbors. Even within the same culture borrowing from a distant past for present needs is hardly new. To borrow the old for use in the new has been a characteristic of architecture. It can be seen as a search for identity and order through architectural form.




Designing for a Moslem Learning Experience: Al Jamea in Nairobi Campus Design Competition

Designing for a Moslem Learning Experience


Al Jamea in Nairobi Campus Design Competition


By Paul Spreiregen


Winning entry by FxFowle/Schwartz/Andropogon/Burhani Design (click to enlarge)

If there are still any doubts about the profession of architecture being a global phenomenon, they are fully dispelled by the recent competition for the Al Jamea campus in Nairobi, Kenya. Sponsored by a Moslem group in India, and managed by a professional adviser in California, this invited campus plan competition involved designers from the U.S., Great Britain, and India.


Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design Competition

A Step Up for an Architecture Program

Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design

By Stanley Collyer


Winning entry by Weiss/Manfredi


Serving the needs of students is one thing. Making a strong architectural statement as a program’s add-on is sure to bring lots of national attention to any educational institution. Chicago’s IIT was in the doldrums before it staged the Student Center competition won by Rem Koolhaas. Once that building was finished, enrollment in the architectural program there rose from 300+ students to 900! As a state university, Kent State would not envision such a dramatic increase in student enrollment, as the competition they recently staged for a new building to house their architecture program has its spatial limitations. However, as a byproduct, one may anticipate that a remarkable new building will undoubtedly result in more competition for those spaces.