Sunday, July 17, 2005

a architecture non-competition

I've been waiting for this editorial for a while. and this response. the editorial, as well as the launch of this site, has been in the works for a few weeks now, but the timing for the editorial, which had been pushed back a few weeks, could not have been better. with the announcement this week that gehry is designing at least one skyscraper for the grand avenue project, it only reinforces the need for greater public input into the civic spaces downtown. can't wait to see what people come up with.

that said, I still have a few problems with the way the lear center is managing this non-competition. obviously, a true competition is moot, since the lear center and the latimes don't own the land and ultimately, no control over what related decides to do with the park. the latimes certainly has the power to exert influence, and clearly, the lear center is capitalizing on that.

the editorial criticizes related for being a little hazy on the details of the grand ave project. yet the lear center is dipping a very tentative toe into the public debate. there doesn't seem to be a steering committee for the non-competition they're managing. there is no team of judges - ok - that might contradict the democratization of the debate they're championing. but the public doesn't get to "vote" either. I know design by referendum usually makes for bad design, but the idea is to more fully involve the public in the debate. so involve them. let them have a way to make their voice heard.

additionally, there is also no physical space for proposals to be displayed. virtual space has its benefits - its global and its infinite, but it also has its limits, particularly when we're talking about physical design. friends of the highline had both a virtual and physical space for their design competition. the winner is now on display at the moma.

in the spirit of full disclosure, and let's face it, this is a blog not "real" journalism, I talked with the lear center at length about this project before it was launched. I understand their hesitation. but if they are to truly make an impact, then they need to be clearer about what's at stake.


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