A jury of internationally recognized design professionals and Seattle civic leaders have declared a winner among three semi-finalists in Urban Intervention: The Howard S. Wright Design Ideas Competition for Public Space. The winner is ABF, of Paris, France, for its design, In-Closure, which envisions an interactive wall around a forested landscape that is both flexible and dynamic, embracing social life in the city at multiple scales.
About In-Closure, the six-member jury said: "50 years ago, the spirit of Seattle Center was about the future. A common assumption was that the future, and all advancement, is positive. Today, we challenge that assumption. The only guarantee of the future is change. In-Closure addressed the state of constant change by proposing a replicable and organic system that can grow and evolve, that doesn’t equate innovation with solely technology, and recognizes that ecological resilience at its heart comes from the community itself."
In addition, the jury found exceptional merit in several aspects of the ABF proposal:
- The proposed design demonstrated an understanding that the future of sustainable public spaces, and cities, depends on a sustainable social ecology of human interactions, as much if not more than technology-based solutions.
- The design works at a human scale that is critical to successful public spaces and the future of Seattle Center, envisioning how users will effectively create their own public spaces within a larger campus framework.
- The jury saw In-Closure as highly adaptive, developing over time and to changes in site and program, positively influencing public space and the broader ecology of the entire city.
The ABF team consists of Etienne Feher, architect; Paul Azzopardi, urban engineer; and Noé Basch, climate engineer. The exchange between ABF and the jury generated an engaging dialogue about the future of the center and the future of the city and public space (full jury statement upon request).
The jury decision follows semi-finalist presentations over the weekend to both the public and jury and concludes a year-long process that sought compelling design ideas for how to conceive a fresh vision of the future of public space, via a nine-acre site at the heart of Seattle Center. The competition received 107 proposals from 24 countries. From this entrant pool, the jury chose three semi-finalists and granted seven commendations at the end of phase-one in early March. The semi-finalists were invited to Seattle at the beginning of April for a learning visit, and they returned with their final proposals last week. The winner was selected for most effectively responding to the five major themes of the competition.
The six-member jury included August de los Reyes, designer, writer, and educator (Palo Alto, CA); Gene Duvernoy, president of Forterra, formerly Cascade Land Conservancy (Seattle, WA); Tom Leader, principal of award winning landscape architecture firm Tom Leader Studio (Berkeley, CA); Mia Lehrer, founder of landscape architecture firm Mia Lehrer+Associates (Los Angeles, CA); Rick Lowe, celebrated public artist (Houston, TX); and Patricia Patkau, founding partner in the firm of Patkau Architects (Vancouver, B.C., Canada).
Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams in speaking at the public presentation said: “The competition honors long-term civic leader Howard S. Wright. Urban Intervention aligns with the legacy he left. We hope the ideas that emerge from it will spur larger conversations about the potential for creating vital community spaces that truly will serve future generations.”
Other semi-finalists are: KoningEizenberg Architecture + ARUP (Los Angeles, CA) for their design, Park. The design organizes the disparate elements of the Seattle Center site and program into a sustainable and coherent landscape. It offers a mastery of the immediate and physical and programmatic challenges facing Seattle Center; and PRAUD (Boston, MA ) for their design, Seattle Jelly Bean. The design is highly imaginative - and suggests a new kind of icon for the 21st century, an atmospheric and interactive cloud that is tethered both literally and figuratively to the site below.
Urban Intervention, a partnership between Seattle Center and AIA Seattle, was funded by a grant from the Grousemount Foundation for The Next Fifty. The public may view an exhibit of the semi- finalist and commendation award winners and other inspiring entries. The exhibit will run through June 30 in the lobby of the Intiman Playhouse. For information on the Competition, exhibit and Next 50, visit www.thenextfifty.org/urbanintervention and www.seattlecenter.com or call 206 684-7200.
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