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ACTIVATE! Design Competition


The American city is rooted in its neighborhoods, public spaces, and infrastructure. Transforming the interstitial open spaces that characterize our cities can be a fundamental catalyst for community connectivity and socialization. When neglected or inaccessible, these vacant spaces become detrimental to neighborhood health and vitality. To address the needs of a diverse and changing urban population, space must adapt to the needs of a broader range of ages, physical abilities, and cultural backgrounds. Through small acts we can repurpose public space to be more universally accessible, inclusive, age friendly, and a builder of community.

Design one or more objects that can activate a vacant site, is universally accessible, and fosters multi-generational community interaction. Objects should not be limited to furniture or seating elements such as benches. We consider other structures that make a small space seem inviting, usable, and safe to be street furniture. Including but not limited to: harvest tables, raised planters, play equipment, interactive sculptures. The goal of this installation is to continue the dialogue about open space and how design can be the catalyst for the creation of meaningful and joyful places that facilitate community engagement and are age appropriate for students in grades K-8.

Winning designers will have at least one piece of their proposed activation built in the spring of 2012 as a year-long community installation. After the year, the piece will be considered for permanent installation or relocated to a new vacant site in Chicago.

Durability (one year in Chicago)
Programmatic Flexibility
Ease of construction & deconstruction
Use of readily available or reused materials
Budget: $1,000.00

Team Information & Release Form
Two 11x17 Boards, submitted as a PDF including a plan, section/elevation and design detail. Please list the required materials and describe the build process. Scale of drawings at the discretion of the entrants.

Submit questions, release form and final PDFs to


4400 S Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60609
United States


Project Details

NAME: ACTIVATE! Design Competition
PROJECT LEAD: Katherine Darnstadt
LOCATION: 4400 S Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60609, United States
START DATE: February 01, 2012
CURRENT PHASE: Design development
COST: $1000 USD (Unspecified)
PROJECT TYPE: Landscapes/Parks/Outdoor Spaces


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