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May 2012
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CityLink Seattle

Urban Intervention Winner is ABF

A jury of recognized design professionals and civic leaders declared a winner among three finalists in Urban Intervention:  The Howard S. Wright Design Ideas Competition for Public Space.  First place was awarded to the team of ABF from 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.

 Other finalists were:   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.

The jury decision follows weekend finalist presentations to the public and jury and concludes a multi-month project that seeks 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 23 countries.  From this entrant pool, the jury chose three finalists and granted seven commendations. The finalists were then 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 considered a number of factors in making its decision, finding exceptional merit in several aspects of the ABF proposal. The proposed design demonstrated ABF’s 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 on technology-based solutions. The design works at a human scale that is critical to successful public spaces, and which is important to the future of Seattle Center, envisioning how users will effectively create their own public spaces within a larger framework. The jury members saw the project as highly adaptive, developing over time and to changes in site and program and positively influencing the public space and broader ecology of the entire city. 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 enclosed). 

Urban Intervention, a partnership between Seattle Center and AIA Seattle, was funded by a grant from the Grousement Foundation for The Next Fifty. Members of the public may view an exhibit of the 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 and Next 50, visit www.thenextfifty.org/urbanintervention and http://www.seattlecenter.com/ or call 206 684-7200.

The jury – 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).

 About The Design Competition – In the spirit of the 1962 World’s Fair, Seattle Center and AIA Seattle invited multidisciplinary design teams to compete in an international design ideas competition to re-envision a nine-acre site in the heart of Seattle Center and use it to explore innovation in public space in the coming century. Design ideas are meant to harness Seattle’s history of innovation and civic engagement to inspire the next generation of great public spaces and connect interaction and innovation to meet the challenges of the future. The competition is sponsored by AIA Seattle, Seattle Center and Seattle Center Foundation/ The Next Fifty, and 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.

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