Tuesday, April 3, 2012

FIVE Design Challenge seeks to fill 'underutilized spaces'

What can be done with the City's underutilized spaces?

Finding uses for these spaces is the goal of the second installment of the FIVE Design Challenge, a five-week design competition being conducted by MSA Architects.

The underutilized and vacant lots include W Third Street, underneath the ramps and approaches to the Brent Spence Bridge; the West Fourth Street Historic District; W Court Street, between Elm and Race streets; the 1400 block of Vine Street; and the "front yard" of the Horseshoe Cincinnati Casino on Eggleston Avenue.

The competition is open to people from any discipline.

"We can envision architects, planners, artists, or even people with a business background could truly run wild with this challenge and we hope that creatives from all of these fields will team up and cross-pollinate ideas and ways of thinking to arrive at interesting solutions," said Nick Dewald, project manager for MSA Architects. "The main goal is creative thinking, not a finely detailed product."

Winning ideas will be chosen based upon strength of idea and design, experiential understanding, cultural enrichment, and idea viability. $5,500 in prize money will be awarded, with a $2,500 payout for first place, $1,500 for second place, $750 for third place, $500 for fourth place, and $250 for a fifth place finish.

This year's jury includes Tamara Harkavy, founding director of ArtWorks; Chad Munitz, executive vice president of development and operations for the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC); Leah Spurrier, owner of High Street; William Williams, director and associate professor in the School of Architecture and Interior Design, University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning; and Cincinnati City Councilmember Wendell Young.

According to Dewald, this year's challenge already has more participants than last year's. Last year's challenge – how to convert drivers to riders – brought in nearly 40 entries.

"One really interesting thing is that we have a large amount of international registrants all focusing design ideas on Cincinnati," he said. "So far we have people from Australia, Italy, China, South Korea, Germany, and nationally from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, DC, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and all over Ohio. It will be fantastic to direct the attention of such a varied group on our city."

Registration is $55 and is required by noon on April 20. Submissions are due by noon on April 26, and judging will take place on May 15.