Van Alen Institute launches Ground/Work Competition

The Van Alen Institute in New York has announced the launch of Ground/Work, an international architecture competition seeking innovative designs for a new street-level venue to house the Institute’s work space and public programs.

Ground/Work marks a new chapter in the history of Van Alen Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting innovative thinking about the role of architecture and design in civic life. Since 1982, the Institute has occupied the sixth floor of its building at 30 West 22nd Street in Manhattan, where a diverse program of competitions, curatorial initiatives, and public events has made Van Alen an influential centre for design innovation.

Now, as the Institute refocuses its attention in the coming years to analyze, advise on, and activate designs, public policies, and experiences of the public realm, Ground/Work seeks architectural designs that embody Van Alen’s public-oriented mission and provide a new, more accessible home for the Institute on the ground floor of its Flatiron District building.

Capitalizing on the dynamic street-level presence of Van Alen Books – the Institute’s bookstore and event space launched in 2011 – Ground/Work is an opportunity to reposition the Institute and its projects in a space that is more visible, accessible, and participatory in public life, with a clear connection to the street level and the city at large.

Ground/Work invites emerging designers, up to ten years out of school, to propose bold visions for a light and highly flexible ground-floor space to accommodate public events, exhibitions and installations, office space, and a bookselling platform.

“As the Institute prepares to celebrate its 120th anniversary in 2014, we want to become more visible in the public realm,” said David van der Leer, Executive Director of Van Alen Institute. “We’re calling on the most talented of today’s young designers to help us think critically and creatively about how Van Alen’s street-level space can shape and activate our public mission.”

This two-stage competition seeks portfolio submissions from designers through June 13, 2013. Up to three individual designers or firms will be selected as finalists for the second stage of the competition, receiving a stipend to develop their design proposals over a three-week period. Finalists will reveal their designs on September 4, 2013, and the winner will be announced on September 12, 2013, after which the team will have four months to complete design work. Construction is expected to begin in winter 2013.

Submissions will be evaluated by a jury composed of Stephen Cassell (Architecture Research Office, and Board of Trustees, Van Alen Institute); Winka Dubbeldam (Archi-tectonics, and University of Pennsylvania); Mark Gardner (Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects); David van der Leer (Van Alen Institute); Mark Robbins (International Center of Photography, and Board of Trustees, Van Alen Institute); Ada Tolla (LOT-EK); and Marc Tsurumaki (LTL Architects).

Stephen Cassell, Chair of Van Alen Institute’s Board of Trustees, said, “This competition is a perfect way to embark upon an exciting chapter for the Institute, to recognize emerging international design talent, and to ensure that Van Alen can continue to serve as a dynamic resource and destination for the design community and broader public.”

“Van Alen has been a leading voice in cultivating dialogue about architecture and mobilizing design to create experimental visions for the city,” said Ada Tolla, principal of LOT-EK, which created the distinctive public installation at Van Alen Books. “I and my fellow jury members look forward to the next inventive ideas for the Institute at this transformative moment in its history.”

Ground/Work is produced by Van Alen in collaboration with Kind Aesthetic, a New York–based arts consultancy.

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