How Three Colleges Brought Modernist Design to the US

Entries to the Chicago Trinbune Competition, such as this one by Gropius and Meyer, may have sparked debate about in the US, but lost to a more traditional design. However, a decade and a half later, competitions for three colleges revived the debate. Image via thecharnelhouse.org

Though modernism was developed in the 1920s, and was popular among many architects by the time the 1930s arrived, in many places it took years for the style to gain favor among clients. In the USA, people often point to the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower Competition as a turning point, the winning entry was actually a neo-gothic design. In this article, which originally appeared on Curbed, Marni Epstein looks at another potential turning point: three high-profile competitions in the late 1930s where modernist designs were (sometimes controversially) successful.

The Great Depression of the 1930s hit everyone, and hard—even architects and draftsmen found themselves out of work as development and construction dried up amid vanishing capital. They found a partial solution in the Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record, two programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration that involved surveying and cataloging the country’s existing infrastructure. These programs, however, were a long way from the prestige, creativity, and financial rewards that came with new architectural commissions. The work available was limited, and what work existed was focused on the architecture of the past, not designs for the future.

Open for Submissions: Unbuilt Visions 2014

2013 Grand Prize: Coastal Caretaker / Ursula Emery McClure, Michael McClure, Kristi Dykema Cheramie, Sarah Young (USA)

Unbuilt Visions promotes critical debate about architecture and design by acknowledging excellence in unbuilt projects. This annual competition provides an opportunity to engage with architecture, urbanism, interiors, and designed objects at the conceptual stage by recognizing work that offers a critical contribution to worldwide architectural discourse.

Final Call for 2015 Bauwelt Award Applicants

Courtesy of Bauwelt

Final Call! All entries for the 2015 Bauwelt Award must be submitted by September 30th. The award (consisting of 5 awards at 5000 Euros each) is applicable for all architects and landscape architects’ “First Works” projects – any work realized by independent responsibility and completed after September 30, 2011. In addition to the prize, award-winners will be published in an exhibition at the BAU 2015 on the Munich fairgrounds starting January. An Advancement Award grant is also available, prized at 5,000 Euros, to fund an interdisciplinary research, exhibition or installation project that has yet to be completed. Visit the official website to learn more about the competition and how to apply.

d3 Housing Tomorrow 2015

First Prize: Aboveground Anomaly / Tiffany Szeto (Hong Kong). Image © d3 Housing Tomorrow 2014

Exploration of contextual, cultural, and life cycle flows offers a critical lens for visualizing new housing strategies for living in the future. The d3 Housing Tomorrow competition invites architects, designers, engineers, and students to collectively explore, document, analyze, transform, and deploy innovative approaches to residential urbanism, architecture, interiors, and designed objects.

RISE Competition Seeks Ideas to Combat Sea Level Rise in Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver. Image Courtesy of SFU

How will affect Metro Vancouver and what can we do about it? Take a look at the #RISEIDEAS competition from SFU Public Square – an with a Grand Prize of $35,000 to find innovative ways to address sea level rise. Form a team of one to four people, submit your idea online, and you could take home the cash, rub shoulders with experts at the October 19 public exhibition day, and win free event tickets. The deadline for competition submissions is October 6, 2014. Check out the website for all the details.

JAHN, LOGUER + ADG Presents Proposal for New Mexico City Airport

Courtesy of

Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, chief designer and president of JAHN, has shared with us his net-zero design proposal for the new International Airport competition. Similar to the Norman Foster and Fernando Romero’s winning design, JAHN’s proposal is a symbiotic blend of sensitive cultural meaning and powerful energy efficiency. As per competition requirements to pair an international firm with a Mexican firm, the project was the result of a collaboration with local architects Francisco Lopez-Guerra of LOGUER and Alonso de Garay of ADG.

“Cloud Citizen” Awarded Joint Top Honors in Shenzhen Bay Super City Competition

Courtesy of Urban Future Organization and CR-Design

Cloud Citizen, a proposal for a new high-rise typology by Urban Future Organization and CR-Design, in collaboration with a team of experts at Chalmers Technical University, has been jointly awarded the highest prize in the Shenzhen Bay Super City Masterplan Competition. Their futuristic design features a singular mega building complex that aims to create a hyper dense urban center that gives back to the environment. Read on after the break to learn more about the proposal.

FuturArc Prize and Green Leadership Award Contest 2015 Now Open

Courtesy of

FuturArc, a bimonthly journal that promotes the enhancement of sustainable architecture in Asia, have launched their annual contest to generate ideas for innovative and sustainable design. The contest is split into two, with the FuturArc Prize and the FuturArc Green Leadership Award rewarding sustainable design in both unbuilt and built projects. Read on after the break to find out more about both .

Combo Competitions: Emphasis On The Idea

Courtesy of Combo Competitions

Combo Competitions, an organisation founded by Swedish, based architect Per Linde, organises international idea competitions for architects, designers and students. With a gentle emphasis on the ideas presented in proposals, rather than aesthetics alone, their main driver is to promote design concepts ”where everything comes together to form a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts.”

With the increasing ease in producing “amazing renderings and images,” underling concepts can often be lost – or hidden by – a seductive final image. Combo Competitions seeks to reverse this trend by rewarding an emphasis on “well advised concepts” alongside appearance and presentation. Their latest competition, entitled Hello , invites participants to explore a way of re-introducing nature into people’s consciousness.

Find out more about the competition and hear from Per Linde after the break…

KAMJZ Reveals Proposal for Shenzhen Bay Super City Masterplan

Courtesy of KAMJZ Architects

Already one of the most remarkable examples of China’s urban growth in the last 30 years, Shenzhen will soon also host a bustling new financial district. The Shenzhen Bay Super City Masterplan aims to create a new city center with top headquarter offices for global corporations and related venues for international conferences, exhibitions, and cultural programs. KAMJZ Architects has recently revealed their competition entry with a plan that proposes a more sustainable city center through the design of a radical new typology for office towers. Read on after the break to learn more about the proposed masterplan.

Competition Challenges Architects and Students to Design Zero Net Energy Housing in California

Architecture at Zero Citation Award: NZ + Beyond Net Zero Energy / Drew Adams, Joseph Yau and Mark Alocilja. Image Courtesy of Architecture at Zero

Architecture at Zero, now in its fourth year, is challenging all students, architects and designers worldwide to envision two mixed-use, zero net energy (ZNE) housing proposals for adjacent parcel sites in , . The competition is a response to the ZNE targets set out by the Public Utility Commission (CPUC) which aims for all new residential construction in the state to be ZNE by 2020. Entrants are eligible for winning up to $25,000. Early bird registration ends September 12. All projects must be submitted by October 31 at 1PM PST. Learn more on the competition website and review last year’s winners.

4 Visions Released for D.C.’s First Elevated Park

© OLIN / OMA

OMA, Höweler + Yoon, NEXT Architects, and , Robertson & Partners are amongst four interdisciplinary teams competing to design ’s first elevated public park. As part of a six month nationwide competition, the shortlisted teams have just released their preliminary design proposals for what will be known as the 11th Street Bridge Park.

Suspended over the Anacostia River, the multi-use park aims to re-connect two disparate city districts and re-engage residents with the riverfront by offering a 21st century civic “playscape.” Education and performance spaces, as well as a cafe and water sport areas will all be included in the masterplan.

A preview of the four shortlisted schemes, after the break…

‘Olympicopolis’ Design Contest Officially Open

The Olympicopolis site is to the South-East of the Olympic Park, near to Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre. Image © Flickr CC User Leo Reynolds

The competition to design a cultural complex at London‘s new ‘Olympicopolis’ site formally opened today, seeking to attract “an exceptional team” of architects, masterplanners, engineers and landscape designers to transform the site next to ’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Organizers Malcolm Reading Associates say that the competition has already registered over 960 expressions of interest from firms worldwide before the details were even announced, thanks to their early announcement seeking interested parties in July.

The complex will house outposts for the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, Sadler’s Wells and University of the Arts London. The designs for the complex will also respond to proposals for a new campus for University College London which is planned for an adjacent site, making it “one of the most exciting international developments in arts and culture,” according to Director of the V&A Martin Roth.

Read on after the break for more details of the competition

Artists Seek Alternatives to Proposed Guggenheim Helsinki

South Harbor. Image © City of

As the first phase of the Guggenheim Helsinki design competition concludes, a group of independent arts organizations have launched a search for “alternative” proposals: The Next Helsinki. The counter-competition calls on architects, urbanists, landscape architects, artists, and “all others who love cities to suggest ways in which Helsinki and its South Harbor can be transformed for the maximum benefit of the city.” More information, after the break.

Final Design Concepts Unveiled for Arizona’s Mesa City Center

Design by + West 8 + Weddle Gilmore. Aerial Context Future Growth. Image Courtesy of West 8

The final design concepts for the redesign of ’s Mesa City Center have been unveiled by the competition’s three finalist design teams: Colwell Shelor + West 8 + Weddle Gilmore; Woods Bagot + Surface Design; and Otak + Mayer Reed.

The Mesa City Center redesign project aims to develop an 18 acre site in the city’s downtown and enhance the urbanization of the area. When complete, the city center will be transformed into a public space with both programmed and passive space that can be used for informal gatherings as well as events. “The signature public space will be a key element in the activation of the downtown core and will be a catalyst for high intensity redevelopment surrounding City Center with a variety of uses that activate the public space,” the competition website states.

Read on after the break for descriptions and images from the architects of their design proposals…

London Science Museum Selects Muf Architecture/Art to Design Interactive Gallery

Courtesy of Flickr CC User Science Museum

London’s Science Museum has selected muf architecture/art to design a new permanent interactive gallery. Set to open in 2016, the new gallery will be an expansion of the current Launchpad children’s gallery, creating a larger area to engage visitors in interactive math and science exhibits and live events.

impressed us with their collaborative approach, strong design and bold vision for the new gallery. Above all, their scheme shows a keen awareness of the prime purpose of the gallery – fostering exploration and curiosity in science through intelligent and exciting design,” Karen Livingstone, Director of Masterplan at the Science Museum said.

Broadway Malyan Designs New Urban District in Chengdu

Courtesy of

Broadway Malyan has been awarded a commission to design the initial phase of a new, iconic urban district in Chengdu in Western China. The  Creative Centre will be the first landmark in a larger master plan for a high-tech mixed use and business park, set to be called Tianfu New Town.

Committed to setting a high standard of environmentally conscious and sustainable design for the region, Chengdu Creative Centre and the future Tianfu New Town district aim to cut current energy consumption standards in half. The entire complex will be composed of interconnected office, retail, and public green space anchored by a striking central retail tower, 110 meters tall.

Rome Invites Ideas For Reuse of Europe’s Biggest Landfill Site

A major competition for reuse has just been announced for the Malagrotta Landfill, one of the European Union’s biggest landfill sites. After Malagrotta was closed in August 2013 due to its controversial size and negative impact on the surrounding community, the Municipality of Rome began a process of redevelopment through community engagement. Multi-displinary teams are tasked with a creating a proposal to reinvent the sprawling 240-hectare property while considering its original purpose. The competition is designed to begin a conversation on the long-term vision for the property.