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Urban Intervention contest call for designer entries

Urban Intervention: The Howard S. Wright Design Ideas Competition for Public Space invites designers to conceive a fresh vision of environmental, social, and economic opportunities on and beyond a 9-acre site at the heart of Seattle Center.

How must public space perform in the coming century? Ecologically?  Socially?  Economically? How can public space evolve to better meet the needs of our changing social and natural systems? What kinds of public spaces will be needed in the future and how can activation and use be encouraged and accommodated in new and inventive ways? Can we generate ideas today that will inform a new generation of cultural centers and public places?

Urban Intervention’s call for entries is about bold and creative design ideas. The competition is intended to inspire more broadly applicable solutions for major urban sites around the world, as well as contribute to a global dialogue about public space.

 Why Enter?

The competition seeks complex, multidisciplinary design responses from a broad spectrum of innovative designers. Dialogue and publication of competition entries will be used to promote vigorous discussion about place-based and replicable innovation in public space design, including a public showcase of the most inspiring entries.

The competition is a two-phase process. In Phase 1, the jury will select up to three finalist teams to receive $30,000 to fully develop their ideas. In addition, up to seven projects will be recognized with commendations or merit awards.  A broad range of proposals will be recognized through a variety of awards, programs, exhibits and publications.  In Phase 2, a Grand Prize Winner will be chosen from the finalist entries, for an additional cash prize of $30,000. 

 (Note: a professional design contract will not be awarded on the basis of this competition.)

 Key Dates

Jan 6, 2012:  Early Registration Deadline; Jan 27, 2012:  Registration Closes; Feb 10, 2012:  Phase One Submissions Due; April 27, 2012:  Phase Two (Final) Submissions Due; May 11-12, 2012:   Finalist Presentations, Final Jury; May 15-30, 2012:  Public Programs with Winning Team; May 15-June, 2012:   Exhibit of Most Inspiring Entries


Tom Leader, landscape architect, Tom Leader Studio, Berkeley, CA; Mia Lehrer, landscape architect, Lehrer+Associates, Los Angeles, CA; Rick Lowe, public artist, activist, founder of Project Row Houses, Houston, TX; Patricia Patkau, architect, Patkau Architects, Vancouver, BC; August de los Reyes, designer, strategy consultant, and educator, Artefact, Seattle, WA; Gene Duvernoy, president, Forterra (formerly Cascade Land Conservancy), Seattle, WA

 The Next Fifty – Urban Intervention is part of The Next Fifty, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair (also called Century 21 Exposition). Running April 21 – Oct 21, 2012, the celebration, like the 1962 Exposition, will place the Pacific Northwest in the global spotlight:

“Once again, Seattle Center will serve as an interactive platform to illuminate the world’s challenges as we explore and define our possibilities. From April 21 to October 21, 2012, millions of visitors will come to Seattle, with Seattle Center playing host to luminaries, exhibitions, speaker series and cultural events–to debate and define the future.”


The competition is funded by the Grousemont Foundation. It honors long-term civic leader Howard S. Wright, who took a simple sketch on a napkin and created a landmark building known around the world, the icon of Seattle, the Space Needle.

Urban Intervention aligns with this legacy. It will provide the next generation with a chance to both dream big and ultimately, do big. Once again, our region’s gathering space, Seattle Center, will be transformed through the vision of new leaders, ensuring that it will continue to connect to the dreams and accomplishments of the next fifty years.