More Than Just a Competition


Our design competitions are meant to give creatives a chance to showcase what they can do. Each time, we’re blown away by not only the designs, but the heart behind them.

To many, design competitions are not just about winning something. As I traveled to interview the teams of FD19, I found that nearly every team held a higher purpose: they wanted to influence the landscape of their city to better serve its people. Responses to my question about each teams’ intentions for FD19 ranged from inspiring passersby with their bus stop’s aesthetics to shielding riders from pollution. 

CityLab High School’s surprise element was to incorporate plants in their design. Student Saxton Ray found that plants can actually pull harmful particulate matter from the air. Lead design student Alex Jimenez and his classmates created a screen in front of their bus stop to absorb any harmful elements that might reach awaiting passengers. 

From the photograph, you can tell that the intention was to have a plant screen woven into the chain-link fencing. CityLab began its setup short-handed so the plant shield was left to be inferred by the judges. 

Something I will never forget about the competition was what Mary Alice Guidry and her team from Fitzpatrick Architects did after they finished setting up their bus stop. They arrived first, all the way from Tyler, Texas, and were sitting in a cheerful ring of chairs when they noticed teacher Peter Goldstein and his sole assistant, student Decorian Thomas, in a struggle to finish assembling their bus stop on time. Fitzpatrick Architects got up, and immediately started working to help them finish. 

I was awestruck to witness the teamwork of strangers who were both aiming for the same prize. 

Again, the teams were not in it for the glory. The FD19 Bus Stop builders were there for something bigger. Yes, a design competition is a fun project. It can be a great bonding experience, but it’s also something that builds hope toward a better tomorrow for everyone. I think Fitzpatrick could see this vision when they got up to help CityLab and maybe that spirit of altruism contributed to why their design won that night. 

Our next design competition has taken ideas from all around the world to create a unique parklet that caters to multi-modal transportation methods (ie scooters). Five contestants/teams will be chosen to meet in Denver to bring their creations to life. Our new partner, Spin, is funding the supplies and travel for the five finalists who want to be creators of a new parklet with a grand prize of $2,500 for the best design. Check back here July 26 to see the list of finalists!