The Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis have announced three finalists for the second iteration of the design-build PXSTL competition. The three finalist were culled from a list of 35 artist, architects, and designers, who were solicited by the organizer. The list includes: —Randstad, NL and Istanbul-based architects Merve Bedir and Jason Hilgefort —New York/Houston-based artist Mary Ellen Carroll —Chicago-based architect Amanda Williams and artist/educator Andres L. Hernandez Canopy of the 2014 PXSTL structure. (David Johnson) All of the finalist will travel to St. Louis in mid-February to conduct detailed site analysis and give public presentations on their previous work and interest in PXSTL. The winner will be announced in March. Along with an $80,000 budget to complete the project, the winner will teach an architecture studio as visiting faculty at the Sam Fox Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Planning in Fall 2016 semester. With commentary from community stakeholders, cultural organizers and local artist, the winner will work with their students to develop the project over the semester. PXSTL (an acronym for Pulitzer, Sam FoX School, and ST. Louis) is a competition for a design-build commission to build a temporary structure on an empty lot near the Pulitzer Art Foundation in the Grand Center arts district. The fist iteration of the PXSTL was completed in 2014 by the Brooklyn-based Freecell Architecture. Their project comprises of a large canopy under which dance, music, and community events were held throughout the summer of 2014. This year’s competition will conclude in the pavilion construction in spring of 2017 and community programing through the summer of 2017. The goal of PXSTL is in engage the community with small-scale intervention to encourage urban transformation. As part of this, the public will have a chance to offer feedback in public forums to be held in the fall. “Since its founding, the Pulitzer has been dedicated to creating opportunities for art and culture to have a positive impact on the broader St. Louis community. As PXSTL demonstrates, this means working closely with and listening carefully to both our community and cultural partners.” Remarked Cara Starke, director of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, in a press release.
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St. Louis’ Grand Center neighborhood has gone through a lot of changes. Though it was hit hard by suburban flight during the 1950s, in recent years the historic and predominantly African-American community area has enjoyed an artistic revival bolstered by theaters and cultural institutions like the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. Now a confluence of development corporations and nonprofits want the midtown neighborhood “to become the premiere cultural and entertainment tourist destination in the Midwest.” Part of that plan involves sprucing up the urban fabric. With a Great Streets Projects grant from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, local groups are looking to do some placemaking. Read the full Grand Center Master Plan, named The Growing Grand Plan. On a neighborhood scale, the plan envisions corridors of development along Spring and Theresa streets flanking the “spine & transect” of Grand Boulevard and Washington Avenue. Within that framework, the plan pinpoints several intersections and cross-block connectors that could be activated by public programming to function as “outdoor rooms.” Trees and green infrastructure are meant to alleviate some of St. Louis’ flooding issues by retaining and filtering stormwater. The Great Streets plan even describes a new catchment area for Grand Center. Branding, wayfinding, lighting, and transportation analyses are also a focus of the plan. To help spur discussion, The Creative Exchange Lab of the Center for Architecture is mounting an exhibition on the topic. Titled Great Streets Project: Grand Center, the show kicks off with two presentations on May 22 and May 23 at The Creative Exchange Lab of the Center for Architecture + Design STL, 3307 Washington Ave., from 6-8:30 p.m. both evenings.