Freecell Wins Competition to Transform St. Louis Vacant Lot into Cultural Destination


Freecell Architecture has been announced as winner of the urban design-build competition, . Organized by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, challenged US artists, architects and designers to propose a small-scale intervention for a vacant lot in the St. Louis Grand Center cultural district that could possibly spark large-scale urban transformation.

Among 60 candidates and three shortlisted finalists, Freecell’s winning proposal “Lots” was selected for its “innovative design and approach to the space as a gathering catalyst, hosting social and cultural activities to bring focus on activities of people unifying a community.” The project intends on activating audience engagement by hosting a series of concerts, dance performances, community celebrations, film screenings, and art exhibitions.

Read on for more about “Lots”…

© Freecell Architecture

As the winner of PXSTL, Freecell Architecture will receive a $50,000 project budget and a $10,000 honorarium to create the temporary construction composed of a platform, fabric canopy, and adjustable fabric funnels that extend below and above the structure’s frame. The platform will serve as a space for outdoor performances and public education programs. The construction will also be lit at night, activating the space in a distinct manner in the evening hours. Installation will begin in spring 2014 and the project will open to the public in early summer for a span of six months.

© Freecell Architecture

“We see our installation, Lots, as a living diaphragm, one that will shift and change over its lifespan through active occupation and programming,” shares Lauren Crahan, Freecell Architecture. “Conceived as a matrix where the extended St. Louis community can overlap and gather during programmed events, the project also invites individual participants to physically engage with it by adjusting its form to fit their desires.  We hope that this adjustability creates a fun dialogue with the public throughout the summer,” adds John Hartmann, Freecell Architecture.

© Freecell Architecture
© Freecell Architecture

“Our vision for PXSTL is to create a dialogue about urban life and how environment has a profound impact on our day-to-day experience. Architecture, design, and art play an important role in our decisions—how we navigate, where we spend time, and our impressions of the spaces we inhabit,” said Kristina Van Dyke, the Pulitzer’s Director. “Freecell’s focus on community collaborations and participation as well as their interest in exploring atmosphere and spatial dynamics is particularly pertinent to this discussion and is very much in line with the Pulitzer’s own program. We’re excited about the proposal, and to work with the Freecell team to create a new space for our community to convene.”

© Freecell Architecture

Over the course of the next seven months, Freecell Architecture will work with the Pulitzer and the Sam Fox School to fully develop its concept, prototype materials, and fabricate elements for construction. Together, the teams will elaborate on the interactive elements of the project, self-sustaining quality of the structure, and construction schedule.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Freecell Wins Competition to Transform St. Louis Vacant Lot into Cultural Destination" 05 Sep 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • grumples

    There is no way that an ugly pavilion set waaaaaaay back from the street is going to attract much consistent attention and participation. Everything around it is empty unless there is some sort of special event: shows, art shows, etc. People would just, you know, go to those.

    The only plaza that has potential is the Grand Center plaza that is already being used for popular events.

    Another insipid, post-modern vanity project with no real foundation in the fabric of the Saint Louis community.

    (Also, someone tell the architects to get themselves some sort of physicist because I don’t think they understand how light works.)