Posts tagged with "Van Alen Institute":

Van Alen Institute explores how to improve the voting experience

It's election day and The Architect's Newspaper hopes you make (or already made) your trip to your polling place! But as with almost every human activity, design plays a critical role at the ballot box (remember those hanging chads?). In preparation for 58th Presidential election, the Van Alen Institute hosted a competition (dubbed "Open Poll") where interdisciplinary teams explored how to improve the voting experience. Open Poll asked how design could incentivize voting, make it more accessible for all, utilize the streetscape, and bring new energy to the democratic process. The winning team took home $1,000 and the Van Alen Institute will work with them to further refine their proposal. We've included the winning proposal below, along with the two other finalists. For more on the competition, see the Van Alen website. Winning Proposal: Voting at Your Fingertips: A National Celebration of the Democratic Process Team: Racha Daher, Alexandra Gonzalez, and Elena Kapompasopoulou The current voting process is inefficient, strenuous, wasteful, non-inclusive, and prone to human error. This proposal aims to change the way the voting process works, so that it is easier and inclusive, and is accurate, secure and transparent. It aims to change the mindset of the voting experience so that it becomes a national celebration of the democratic process, strengthening social and community ties. To do this, several strategies are to be implemented: 1. Digitalize the voting platform to facilitate the democratic voting experience (multi-step identity verification: SSN number, fingerprints, photo). 2. Increase number of public institutions that serve as polling stations (churches, post offices, libraries, city halls, schools). 3. Change the voting day to Sunday to allow all-day family events. 4. Transform parks and public spaces into event areas, re-engaging in activities, while broadcasting voting results to promote transparency. 5. Utilize street infrastructure for political engagement. 6. Hold national festivities to celebrate the democratic process. Finalist Proposal: In Between the Lines Team: Larissa Begault and Julia Borowicz Most voting in NYC takes place in public schools, which provides an opportunity for civic engagement to occur within these educational institutions. Our proposal offers a curriculum of collective storytelling and cultural archiving. Given the current political rhetoric around national identity we need to reflect on diversity. This curriculum engages parents through excavating their histories while empowering children as the future generation of voters. Students collect their family history, highlighting diverse heritages across the U.S. Once workshopped, the stories become an interactive artifact distributed to voters in line. Showcasing their plurality allows neighbors to find common ground through unexpected conversations around identity and difference. Addressing these themes bridges challenges around belonging and citizenship. This proposal offers an occasion to reflect on what unites us. Finalist Proposal: Re-Thinking Urban Elections Team: Vahhab Aboonour and George Dimos Our proposal examines the importance of public spaces, like parks, plazas or college campuses, as democratic archetypes promoting social interaction and political education. We are re-thinking the poll site, incorporating elements from the ancient Greek agora and the Parisian café scene, as a place where political conversation can spontaneously occur. We propose that Election Day becomes a national holiday that both public and private organizations respect. Voters are therefore given more time to travel to their poll sites and share views with their communities. Furthermore, the private sector can actively participate in the electoral process, with college campuses serving as poll sites, and students working at the polls, getting paid through their workstudy awards. Voting then becomes an educational and celebratory public event.

Van Alen Institute reveals winner of festive Flatiron holiday installation contest

Common decency puts a kibosh on Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but New York's Van Alen Institute wants you to think of the holidays extra early this year: Yesterday the group announced the winner of its annual contest that brings temporary architecture to the people of Manhattan. New York– and Greece–based LOT was one of five firms invited to submit designs for the competition. Their winning installation, Flatiron Sky-Line, is a series of 10 arches fabricated from white powder-coated steel tubes and outfitted with LED lights. Hammocks draped on the arches will allow visitors a leisurely resting spot where they can to take in the city around them. For the past three years, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) and Van Alen have partnered to bring a festive, holiday-themed installation on the North Flatiron Public Plaza, that concrete triangle at the intersection of Broadway, 5th Avenue, and 23rd Street. Last year, SOFTlab had the honor of activating the plaza with their psychedelic installation, Nova. “Flatiron Sky-Line is an engaging installation, creating a social space underneath the illuminated arched outline, a structure to walk within and around, gaze through it towards the skyline, and experience Flatiron’s surroundings through a certain lens,” said LOT co-founding principal Leonidas Trampoukis, in a statement. “The simplicity of the installation’s design will draw in audiences, and, we expect, produce significant feelings as they stand in one of our country’s most recognizable intersections.” LOT's residential and commercial interiors, as well as its sculptural displays, can be seen all over the globe: Recent work includes a boutique hotel overhaul in Mykonos, Greece, and the New York showroom for Paris-based designer Laure de Sagazan. Flatiron Sky-Line will be officially unveiled on November 21.

Winner announced for the “Memorials for the Future” competition

The National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute has announced the winner of the Memorials for the Future ideas competition. Initiated in March this year, the competition has been a six-month process in which participants were encouraged to "reimagine the way we think about, feel, and experience memorials in Washington, D.C., and inspire new memorial approaches around the country." The winning team: Climate Chronograph, comprised Bay Area-based landscape architects Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter. The winning pair imagined "a living observatory for the unfolding global story of climate change." Drawing submissions from more than 300 participants, Climate Chronograph triumphed after four finalists were chosen by a jury who looked for "innovative, distinct approaches." In this last stage, finalists were urged to consider practicality, especially within real "technological limitations" and the "current requirements of the commemoration process." Conceived as an "evolving memorial for future conditions," Climate Chronograph is situated in Hains Point, Washington, D.C. Here, the memorial can transform into a new ecosystem as its site—a grove of cherry trees—floods. The memorial is intended to be experienced over a lifetime. In this timeframe, visitors will witness "a legible demonstration of generation-paced change." In doing so, the site memorializes the future and the effects of climate change that come with it. As a result, the memorial can be interpreted as a site that encourages visitors to combat climate change. Meanwhile, the memorial will still remain as a space for the activities such as fishing, picnics, and sports that take place there. During the competition, the Van Alen Institute has documented some "key findings" they observed. The findings, in their words, present "ideas that best push forward our collective notions of memorialization." They are:
  • Engage The Present And Future As Much As The Past
  • Allow For Changing Narratives
  • Universal Experiences In Addition To Places, People And Events
  • Use Local Settings For National Issues
  • Create Memorials With The Public As Well As For The Public
  • Consider Ephemeral, Mobile, And Temporary Forms
  • Memorials Beyond Physical Space
  • Challenges Our Future Memorials Face
This evening, Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter's work will be on display in the Hall of Nations at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Members of the four finalist teams will be present from 7:00pm to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition, which also showcases the three other finalists' work, will be free and run through October 20, 2016. The teams will also present their proposals at the National Capital Planning Commission meeting at 1:00 p.m. today, which will be live-streamed at www.ncpc.gov/live.
“The National Park Service Centennial challenged us to think about new ways to engage the next generation and tell stories relevant to them. Memorials for the Future challenged us to think about how we will take the imagination displayed in this ideas competition and use it to spark a new generation of national park visitors, supporters and advocates, not to mention artists, architects and philosophers,” National Park Service Regional Director Bob Vogel said in a press release. “We’re committed to continuing this conversation and engaging people in the stories and commemorations that are important to them and to the shared heritage of our nation.”

Designers offer transportation alternatives for NYC’s impending L train outage

As the specter of the L train's closure has become very real—it could last as long as three years—some alternatives have appeared from disparate sources. They include an East River Skyway cable car and a proposal to make 14th Street in Manhattan car-free. The Van Alen Institute recently hosted an L Train Shutdown Charrette to encourage the generation of further ideas. Proposals had been whittled-down to six finalists. Each proposal was judged on accessibility, potential for economic development, financial feasibility, socioeconomic equity, disaster preparedness, and inventiveness by an audience, who subsequently voted for the winner. The winning team was Dillon Pranger of Kohn Pedersen Fox who worked alongside Youngjin Yi of Happold Engineering; they suggested a water shuttle on Newtown Creek that would connect with the Long Island Railroad freight lines converted for passenger use. Much like what Jim Venturi proposed last month for NYC and NJ rail travel, the pair's idea makes use of infrastructure not currently utilized for public transit. Newton Creek was selected for its proximity to Greenpoint and Williamsburg, both popular stops for L-train commuters. Shuttles would also run from Manhattan to Dekalb Avenue and the North Williamsburg Ferry Pier. As for the other submitted proposals, landscape architects Gonzalo Cruz and Garrett Avery, engineer Xiaofei Shen, and architectural intern Rayana Hossain proposed a 2,400-foot-long floating tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan for cyclists and pedestrians. Submitting for engineering firm AECOM, the team titled their proposal Light at the End of the Tunnel. The tunnel, which could be submerged or float above the water, be features a translucent skin. A "fast cart people-mover commuter system" would transport people through 14th Street and North 7th Street in Brooklyn on land. Another submission, dubbed the Lemonade Line, came from John Tubles of Pei Cobb Freed Architects, Jaime Daroca of Columbia University C-Lab, Nicolas Lee of Hollwich Kushner, and Daniela Leon of Harvard GSD. The line aims to be “a multimodal transportation strategy that provides an all-access pass to seamlessly-linked buses, bikes, car-shares, and ferry lines following the L line above ground.” A mobile app would be developed for the program that could offer various routes depending on traffic.

Memorials for the Future

The National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute are collaborating on Memorials for the Future, an ideas competition to reimagine how we think about, feel, and experience memorials. Memorials for the Future calls for designers, artists, and social scientists to develop new ways to commemorate people and events that are more inclusive and flexible, and that enrich Washington’s landscape while responding to the limitations of traditional commemoration. As the NPS celebrates its centennial in 2016, Memorials for the Future creates new ideas for honoring our diverse histories, heritage, and culture. Three teams will be selected to participate in a research and design process, working closely with the competition partners to develop site-specific designs for memorials in Washington, DC that are adaptive, ephemeral, virtual, event-focused, or interactive. The teams’ proposals will advance a framework for the design of 21st-century memorials and provide future memorial sponsors with fresh approaches to commemorating their subject matter. THE COMPETITION
Memorials enshrine what we as a society want to remember. But the places, people, and stories that we memorialize, and the audiences who engage with them, are in fact constantly changing. A memorial tells its story through subject matter and design. This story is often complex and multi-dimensional as a memorial’s interpretive elements embody ideas of identity, culture, and heritage, and each have intensely personal interpretations for every individual. As a national capital, Washington is a place of collective memory. The wealth of monuments sited throughout the city take on heightened significance as they reflect relationships among nations, of national remembrance, and of many important events and figures in our history. Often the traditional and fixed nature of memorial design does not allow for adaptation and redefinition over time, or encourage more than one interpretation of a given narrative. The traditional approach to developing memorials in Washington has resulted in a commemorative landscape that is thematically similar and increasingly land-intensive, which poses challenges for Washington’s urban park system, and has long-term implications for the potential uses of a memorial's surrounding park setting. The planning and design process is often costly and time consuming, which limits opportunities to groups or individuals with significant resources. Current trends raise a number of questions about the future of Washington’s memorial landscape and the ability to provide space and resources for future commemorative works. Location The competition proposals should be based on specific places or areas in Washington, DC. Proposals may take a physical form or may be virtual. Preference will be given to teams that propose a site or sites outside of the National Mall. The following locations are suggestions reflecting typical opportunity sites for new memorials in Washington: Near the monumental core: The Belvedere Within a residential area: Randle Circle or Tenley Circle Around a natural setting: Hains Point For more information on the types of sites in Washington, DC, and these sites specifically, please visit the project website -http://future.ncpc.gov Provocations The following provocations are meant to fuel and direct the competition submissions. Concepts that address several of these provocations are more likely to meet the competition's goals. Memory • How can we commemorate events or acts with long time frames that are still occurring today? • How can memorials be adaptive or temporal rather than permanent? • How can a memorial’s narrative continue to evolve as new generations evaluate its significance within the larger context of our ongoing national history? Identity • How can memorials advance dialogue around contemporary social, economic, health, or ecological problems that have historical roots? • How can memorials look forward while acknowledging a historical event or person? • How can memorials contribute to a more inclusive and more representative national narrative? • How can memorial designs encourage more, rather than fewer, sponsors? Placemaking • How can we memorialize, while also balancing the need for active public space? • How can memorials engage more diverse audiences, in more flexible and interactive ways around a given narrative? • What unconventional physical or digital forms could memorials take? • How can memorials respond to various neighborhood contexts and scales while also commemorating national events or serving the national interest? The competition partners invite participants to propose additional questions. The goals of the competition are to create new approaches to and forms of memorializing: • That advance a framework for the planning and design of commemorative works in the 21st century. • That demonstrate how temporary, mobile, interactive or adaptive displays can provide powerful and memorable experiences that are cost-efficient. • That develop ways to commemorate that are inclusive of multiple narratives and have the potential to be flexible as perspectives change. • That honor the scale, context and national significance of Washington, DC. The competition results will be displayed online and at an exhibition in Washington, DC, published in an illustrated report, and inform NCPC, NPS, and their partners on future design and policy opportunities.
The deadline for registration and electronic submission of the request for concepts is 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 4, 2016 at the competition website.

Van Alen Institute Commences Online Auction of Art + Design Experiences

Available to bid on at Paddle8, proceeds from the auction will go toward further "cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions." “Often, our work deals with serious urban design challenges, but there is a very fun side to design that we celebrate each year with this auction,” said David van der Leer, Van Alen Institute executive director . “How often can someone have the chance to eat a homemade meal at the Libeskind’s, then challenge Philippe Vergne and Gerard O’Brien to a game of doubles, then take in aerial views of Mexico City with Fernando Romero as your guide?” The experiences were put together cultural experts including: Iwan Baan, Hannah Byers (Sotheby’s), Alix Browne (W Magazine), Gonzalo Cruz (AECOM), Victoria Newhouse, Dung Ngo (August Editions), Alex Polier (DNA), and Dan Rubenstein (Departures). Up for grabs are: Brit Brutalism by Bike: Sam Jacob will lead you and four guests on a mobile exploration of London's variety of housing types while giving rich commentary on British Brutalism. A Jaunt Around Madrid: You and a guest will accompany Rafael Moneo for his daily walk around the Spanish capital while absorbing the architect's philosophy on design and materiality. Foot Fetish: Indulge in pedicures with a friend and artist Diana Al-Hadid at a Brooklyn salon. Later, head over to Diana's studio where she'll make a cast of your freshly-pedicured foot to be included in her next project. Prime Your Palette with Richard Rogers: While you and a guest enjoy Ruth Rogers’ spectacular Italian food at London’s Michelin-starred River Cafe, Richard Rogers will join you to dish on design and cuisine. Dinner at the Libeskind’s: Dine with Daniel Libeskind at the Libeskind’s apartment in Tribeca for one of Nina Libeskind's famous home-cooked meals. Game Set Match: Think you've got game? You and a friend will take on Philippe Vergne, Director of MOCA, and Gerard O'Brien, owner of Reform and The Landing galleries, in a USTA 4.0 doubles tennis match at a private court in Los Angeles. Table for Four: Elaine Molinar and Craig Dykers of Snøhetta will join you and a guest for -Michelin star restaurant The French Laundry's famous tasting menu. After the meal, they’ll show you their rm’s recent renovations on the restaurant. FR-EE Flight Over DF: Take in over 2,000 years of Mexico City's extraordinary architecture in an afternoon helicopter ride with Fernando Romero. Go Remote: Unwind and unplug at Fogo Island - an island off an island off the coast of Newfoundland. For two nights, you and a guest will get to go remote here at the award-winning Fogo Island Inn. Food for the Seoul: Visit conceptual artist Kimsooja's new show at the National Museum of Korea, where she will give you a tour of her work and encourage you to make interventions within the space. en, you and ve friends will dine with a who's who of the Korean art world. The ‘Girlfriend’ of Your Dreams: Set sail with architect Greg Lynn on his 42' trimaran named Girlfriend.
Journey to the Blue Planet: Travel the Øresund strait from 3XN's offices in Copenhagen to the Blue Planet, a 3XN-designed aquarium, with rm co- founder and principal Kim Herforth Nielsen on his speedboat. Where’d Amale Get That?: Spend an afternoon at Zero + Maria Cornejo with store designer and dean of Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Amale Andraos and label designer Maria Cornejo for an indulgent personal shopping experience. Inside Persia’s Imperial Past: An old Persian proverb describes Isfahan as half the world, and you'll see why when you join architect Nader Tehrani for a two-day tour of this spectacular Iranian city. Tripping in the Netherlands: You and nine guests will join MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas for a private tour of the wonderfully peculiar Rotterdam Markthal and one of its 228 apartment units. Get Handsy in L.A: At The Haas Brothers studio in Los Angeles, learn how to create a nipple, a hand, and buttocks, all parts celebrated in the brothers' sculptures and paintings. Almuerzo con Bilbao y Barragán: Take an extended lunch break with Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao at Cuadra San Cristobal, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Luis Barragán and built in Atizapán de Zaragoza in 1960. Inside Bon Appetit’s Test Kitchen: Try new recipes with the magazine’s executive editor Christine Muhlke before they hit newstands during one of the staff’s daily tastings. Giorgio Vasari’s Last Supper Exclusive Viewing with Prada: Make an artist's pilgrimage to Florence and feast your eyes upon "The Last Supper", a wood panel painting restored by Prada in collaboration with FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano by 16th-century artist Giorgio Vasari. Marfa y Mezcal: Go south by southwest to Donald Judd's compound in Marfa, Texas. You and a guest will be given a private tour of La Mansana de Chinati/e Block, Judd's home and studio, and get to see works as installed by the artist throughout the compound courtesy of Judd Foundation. Bright Idea Factory: Get to know lighting designer Lindsey Adelman while constructing your own chandelier with her guidance at her Brooklyn workshop.
Going Once, Going Twice: Join Richard Wright, founder and president of Wright, for a behind-the-scenes tour of the storied Chicago auction house. Following the tour, head over to the SoHo House in Chicago's West Loop for cocktails and a conversation with Richard. The Lowline Theory: The Lowline Lab plays host to a number of horticultural experiments fueled by solar energy, and, now, to a private cocktail party for you and your friends. Beijing Past/Present: Architect Ma Yansong of MAD leads you and a friend through the twists and turns of Beijing’s Jingshan Park and the adjacent Forbidden City, where you will explore courtyards and scale the arti cial Jingshan Mountain. The Escape Office: Collaborate with artist and architect Shawn Maximo to create a fantasy office catered to your own needs and secret desires.

SOFTlab’s “Nova” pavilion brightens cold New York nights with psychadelic light

Suburban folk mark the change of seasons with spring peepers, the sound of leaf blowers, and first frosts. City dwellers rely on other environmental cures: pumpkin spice lattes, heat season, and festive public art installations. Last week, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) and the Van Alen Institute welcomed crowds to SOFTlab's Nova, the 2015 winner of the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition. Perched inside North Flatiron Public Plaza at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street, Nova invites passersby into a kaleidoscopic interior to view area landmarks—the Empire State Building, the Flatiron, and the Met Life Tower—on its mirrored surfaces and through its many exposures. When activated by sound, LEDs pulse to intensify the psychedelic visuals. The design has definite antecedents in SOFTlab's pavilion at this year's SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. Here too, the firm partnered with 3M to create a multicolored neon canopy that showcased the company's products. Van Alen and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership invited New York–based architecture and design firms Bureau V, Method Design, Sage and Coombe, Studio KCA, and SOFTlab to submit proposals for the competition. Competition jurors included Van Alen and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership directors and board members; Michael Bierut, partner, Pentagram; Aleksey Lukyanov, partner, Situ Studio; and Wendy Feuer, NYC Department of Transportation's Assistant Commissioner of Design + Art + Wayfinding. "The installation illustrates how interactive public art can change the perception of an environment thereby allowing people to experience it in a new way," Feuer explained in a statement. "We count on organizations like the Partnership to commission these exciting installations making NYC streets ever more inviting." This is the holiday design competition's second year. Last year, INABA won the competition with their installation, New York Light. See the gallery below for more images of Nova.  

Spatial Poetics: Vale of Cashmere – Walking Tour and Writing Workshop

Presented with Prospect Park Alliance Join us for an afternoon at the Vale of Cashmere, an overgrown Beaux-Arts garden on the northeast fringe of Prospect Park that is slated for future restoration. Following a tour of this lush and storied section of the Park withProspect Park Alliance chief landscape architect Christian Zimmerman, engage in a writing workshop and discussion exploring disappearing and reemerging landscapes in the Vale and city beyond, led by Wendy S. Walters, author and New School professor. This event is open to participants at all levels of writing experience.
Wendy S. Walters is the author of a book of essays Multiply/Divide (Sarabande Books, 2015) and two books of poems, most recently Troy, Michigan(Futurepoem Books, 2014).  She was a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Poetry, and her work appears in The Iowa Review, Bookforum, FENCE,Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere.  She has won a Ford Foundation Fellowship, a research fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution.  She is a Contributing Editor at The Iowa Review and Associate Professor of creative writing and literature at the Eugene Lang College of The New School University in the city of New York.
Since 1990, Christian Zimmerman has been the guiding hand for one of the most respected ongoing park restorations in the country. He oversees capital design, construction and landscape management at the Prospect Park Alliance, leading a team of architects, landscape architects, horticulturists, arborists and ecologists. Christian is nationally recognized for his historic preservation work, and has been a consultant to the National Parks Service and other parks around the country. In 2010, he was named a American Society of Landscape Architects Fellow.

Archtober Building of the Day 25> Van Alen Institute

Archtober Building of the Day #25 Van Alen Institute 30 West 22nd Street, New York Collective-LOK Three friends from architecture school, Jon Lott (PARA-Project), William O’Brien Jr. (WOJR), and Michael Kubo (pinkcomma gallery), joined forces to form Collective-LOK in 2013. Together, they entered the Van Alen Institute’s Ground/Work competition to redesign the organization’s office and programming space on West 22nd Street. Their proposal, Screen Play, linked the institute’s headquarters with the surrounding urban realm using screens to bracket the front and back facades: one just beyond the sliding glass door in the back wall, and the other, ultimately unrealized, that would have expanded into the street as part of a Department of Transportation initiative to transform and activate parking spaces. Those who recall the Van Alen Institute’s brief foray into the world of book selling might be disappointed to see this domain relegated to a single bookshelf at the entrance and a mini-library in the smaller of two conference rooms. This was an intentional decision, however, because the retail activity was distracting from the organization’s programmatic mission. Now, books on display at the front are carefully curated, and a book club continues to engage design-oriented bibliophiles. Screens of all types in the interior provide flexible pockets of space within a small footprint. The “bulge,” an enclosed area that houses fixed programs, including bathrooms, a kitchen, and conference rooms, faces a content wall that, when in use, draws passersby into the multipurpose space. This wall, which was given a subtle dado of glossy paint to protect it from the constant activity, will display a continuous projection along its upper matte section. Wiring for this projection is already in place in yet another screen, in this case a ceiling composed of oblique metal coffers that shield, but do not completely mask, the lighting and audio-visual systems. The acoustical insulation above was left in its original, textured state, and will eventually be touched up to blend more seamlessly into its surroundings. Lott mentioned that some items on the punch list are still being resolved. As one visitor remarked, “This is the most beautiful popcorn ceiling I’ve ever seen.” We can’t wait to come back and see the space transformed during the Van Alen’s fall events, when the office desks and chairs will be relegated to the basement to make way for screenings, cocktail hours, and performances. Tomorrow, we’ll visit El Barrio’s Artspace PS109.

AECOM Urban SOS: All Systems Go Competition winners announced

Three graduate design students at the University of Pennsylvania—Daniel Lau, Joseph Rosenberg, and Lindsay Rule—have claimed the top spot in AECOM’s sixth annual Urban SOS competition. Their project, called The THIRD Reserve, is an urban landscape concept that would, in theory, allow Singapore's food production system to become self-sufficient. The team takes home $7,500 in prize money and has access to up to $25,000 to support the project. Encouraging cross-disciplinary thought to deal with contemporary urban issues, the Urban SOS program aims to provide design education and strives to help communities in need.   Co-organized by AECOM, Van Alen Institute, and the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), this year’s “All Systems Go” brief asked students to develop site-specific ideas to solve urban food/water systems in one of the 100 Resilient Cities locations. With juries in twenty offices worldwide, AECOM chose three finalist teams, later ordered by a final jury comprising design leaders from AECOM, Van Alen Institute, 100 RC, and AN's own West Coast Editor Mimi Zeiger. “Making cities more resilient to change is core to what we do at AECOM," Michael S. Burke, AECOM chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “We believe that tomorrow’s cities will require holistic, integrated thinking—like that advanced by UrbanSOS participants in this competition—to prepare for the challenges ahead and to prioritize for the long-term what projects they pursue, develop and fund." In second place, Bennett Lambert and Elizabeth Reed Yarina from MIT took home $5,000 for their scheme, WATERPOWER, in Quito, Ecuador. Third prize went to Michel Liang from Berkeley City College, Pin Udomcharoenchaikit from University of the Aegean, and Sunantana Nuanla-or and Jacky Wah from Louisiana State University. Their proposal for CANAL SOS in Bangkok, earned $2,500. “This year’s entries were particularly strong and deep, coming from universities around the world,” Bill Hanway, competition chair from AECOM, said in a statement. “We commend all of the finalists and all of the entrants for their efforts and innovative thoughts on improving urban communities and their commitment to practice cross-disciplinary design.”  

Van Alen Institute announces winner of National Parks Now competition

After a ten-month competition in which four teams proposed schemes in Northeastern national parks: Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park (Paterson, NJ); Sagamore Hill (Oyster Bay, NY); Steamtown National Historic Site (Scranton, PA); and Weir Farm (Wilton, CT), the Van Alen Institute has finally announced the winner. Each submission, as outlined by the competition, had to focus on attracting new audiences and engaging younger generations with natural landscapes and historical contexts. With funding from the National Parks Service, the teams were able to realize their ideas. The victors, "Team Paterson" who submitted their proposal for Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, presented a plan that connected immigrant communities and their restaurants to Great Falls. The project, called "Great Falls, Great Food, Great Stories," used food as a vehicle to bridge the history and environment of Great Falls with modern day life in Paterson. The project finishes with a tour from park staff, eventually leaving the park and entering local restaurants for a communal meal. Such was the success of the competition that the Van Alen Institute was able to draw "Six Great Ideas for Connecting Parks to New Audiences" using each project. The institute claims that "these ideas can be used by NPS for similar sites across the country as well as municipalities, advocates, and others who are invested in the future of parks, historic sites, managed landscapes, and many other types of landscapes." "We're thrilled with the wide range of proposals for visitor experience strategies that the four teams developed," said Shaun Eyring, Northeast Region Chief of Cultural Resources, National Park Service. "This competition has helped the National Park Service assemble a toolkit of design and programming solutions that can highlight the rich resources all of our parks have to offer in a way that attracts a much broader, more varied audience." "Van Alen Institute competitions explore unconventional ways that people can engage with their environments," said David van der Leer, executive director of Van Alen Institute. "National Parks Now pushed both designers and park staff to break from their traditional understanding of parks and reimagine what types of experiences a park could provide for the visitor of the future."

Hot Tub Design Machine: New York’s Van Alen Institute launches its annual auction of out-of-the-box architectural experiences

If you have ever longed to explore nature with your favorite architect or discuss the built environment in your bikini, now you'll have the chance. Well, for a few bucks, but in the good name of architecture. The Van Alen Institute has launched its online auction of Art + Design Experiences to coincide with its Spring Party, going down this Wednesday in Lower Manhattan. The auction list boasts exclusive and out-of-the-box experiences with top critics, famed architects, and professionals in the arts and design fields. Some of the more compelling items, or activities, to bid on, include: —A Fire Island hot tub roundtable with architect Charles Renfro at his mid-century modern beach house. —Testing the smoke ring generator at Copenhagen’s new waste-to-energy power plant with Bjarke Ingels. —A helicopter ride on Norman Foster's personal helicopter through London’s skyline, including the architect’s own icons. —A bird watching expedition in an iconic urban park with Jeanne Gang. —Joining Sotheby’s chairman Lisa Dennison for her daily salon blowout ritual as she offers tips on building a blue-chip art collection, followed by a personalized tour of MoMA's permanent holdings. Visit the auction site to check out and bid on the offerings. Bidding closes on Wednesday, May 20. Get your digital paddles ready.