The challenge was to choose one of five unused spaces around Cincinnati and come up with an idea to transform the space into something useful. The spaces ranged from empty lots to a space underneath a highway.
The entires were judged by Tamara Harkavy of ArtWorks, Chad Munitz of 3CDC, Leah Spurrier of High Street, William Williams of DAAP and City Council member Wendell Young. Nick Dewald and Chris Rohs, employees at MSA, say all the judges picked ideas realistic and implementable.
"We don't push the judges in any way," Rohs says. "All the judges seemed to be more interested in the ideas that could actually happen, instead of the pie-in-the-sky sort of stuff."
The top prize was split among three entrants:
• SEED, Sustained Employment & Entrepreneurship Developmen,t was a proposal for a small business incubator with short-term lease spaces and start-up support services. It used several of the under-utilized spaces in Over-the-Rhine: vacant lots, empty buildings and alleyways. These stereotypically ‘bad’ spaces are reinterpreted to create a 24-hour mixed-use building that serves as a catalyst for the neighborhood, creating local jobs, promoting a start-up culture, and improving perceptions of safety.
• Loop Cincy took all five sites and connected them with a bike path and to Cincinnati landmarks and attractions to create a more connected city. The five sites were designed into an outdoor gym, a small park and even a small concert space.
• 4Hostel created a hostel on one one of the spaces, which was an empty lot, providing low-cost accommodations for travelers.
MSA plans on hosting the competition each year, but changing the theme.
"We want to keep the theme pretty broad," Dewald says. "Instead of focusing on one building, like many architectural challenges do, we want to focus on improving Cincinnati in a more general way."
By Evan Wallis