In November, the 6 shortlisted firms for the Flinders Street Station competition each received a letter. The letter, written by Major Projects Victoria, a division of the Victoria city government, warned them of a certain act that would not only result in their disqualification, but would also bring the entire competition into “disrepute.”
What potential act could deserve such a warning? Attending an exhibit of the rejected design entries.
On November 22nd, Fitzroy-based architecture firm Edwards Moore organized the “Long-Listers” exhibit to build on the public excitement for the competition, using the momentum to generate more conversation and debate about the project. As architect and organiser Juliet Moore put it: ”We wanted peer collaboration . . . too often these things are done behind closed doors. By the time the designs are revealed [a year later] the moment has passed.”
More after the break…
Major Projects Victoria notes that the competition rules stipulate that contestants must not exhibit their work before a winner is picked. Moreover, a spokesman for Major Projects Victoria said the organization wished to maintain the strictest levels of integrity, and, as reported by The Age, ”having finalists see unsuccessful designs might lead to future wrangling over intellectual property.”
The six shortlisted entrants (Ashton Raggatt McDougall; John Wardle Architects + Grimshaw; HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron; NH Architecture; Eduardo Velasquez + Manuel Pineda + Santiago Medina (Colombia via University of Melbourne); and Zaha Hadid Architecture with BVN Architecture) all took the warning to heart (those planning to go promptly pulled out). After all, there is about $1 million dollars on the line (winners will be announced in July 2013).
While we understand that a competition must maintain neutrality and a certain level of secrecy, we’re sympathetic to Edwards Moore’s motivation; after all, isn’t the point of a public competition to generate public interest and debate? While the short-listers’ proposals will eventually be displayed for public’s choice voting (while the jury convenes to choose the “real” winner), could it really hurt to have those proposals which didn’t make the cut publicly available for scrutiny?
Do you think competitions should allow more transparency? Or is that a recipe for disaster? Let us know in the comments below.