Gallaudet University International Design Competition launched

Teams challenged to rethink sensory experience of the campus

Campus In The Fall
© Gallaudet University
  • $60M public realm-focused project is expected to revitalize the historic campus and create a new vibrant, cultural district within Washington, D.C.
  • Gallaudet University is a global center of Deaf Culture and the only bilingual liberal arts university in the world where academic programs for deaf and hard of hearing students are conducted in American Sign Language and English
  • Design teams are challenged to rethink the sensory experience of the campus through the Deaf perspective and create an exemplar development
  • Significant global interest expressed with nearly 700 designers subscribing to the competition’s pre-launch alert
  • Gallaudet’s community is warmly invited to send ideas, sketches and videos through the Shape Gallaudet initiative

Gallaudet University, in Washington, D.C., along with its development partner, The JBG Companies, and London-based competition organizers Malcolm Reading Consultants today [September 2, 2015] launched the Gallaudet University International Design Competition.

The two-stage design competition seeks an outstanding multidisciplinary design team to create a new campus gateway and redefine the University’s urban edge as a vibrant, mixed-use, creative and cultural district.

The $60M public realm-focused project is expected to be delivered in multiple phases. The project will position Gallaudet’s campus and its surrounding community as a focal point for the U.S. capital’s newly emerging creative economy.

Gallaudet University is the only bilingual liberal arts university in the world where academic and research programs for deaf and hard of hearing students are conducted in both American Sign Language (ASL) and English. An internationally-recognized center for Deaf Culture, Gallaudet is at the center of an emerging renaissance known as Deaf Gain: a paradigm shift that switches the emphasis from hearing loss to the cultural, creative and cognitive gains of deaf ways of being in the world.

The historic core of the University’s campus was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (known for New York’s Central Park) in 1866. Gallaudet is immediately adjacent to some of Washington, D.C.’s, fastest-growing and most dynamic mixed-use neighborhoods, and is less than two miles northeast of the U.S. Capitol Building.

As well as reaching out to international designers, the competition will also be asking for ideas, insights and inspirations from the Gallaudet community, and supporters, both stateside and internationally, through the Shape Gallaudet initiative. The best insights will be incorporated in the briefing to shortlisted design teams at the beginning of the competition’s second stage. The competition will be the first time DeafSpace Guidelines, developed at Gallaudet, will be applied to the public realm (see notes to editors).

Fred Weiner, CEO of the Gallaudet University Foundation and Director of the 6th Street Development, said:

‘Gallaudet is a place like no other in the world. We’re witnessing Washington, D.C.’s rapid metamorphosis into one of the most dynamic cities in North America. But we’re also at the heart of the global deaf community, which is why we need an inspired team to create an environment that bridges the deaf and hearing worlds, celebrates human diversity, and has the potential to become a global model.’

Hansel Bauman, Executive Director, Campus Design and Planning, Gallaudet University, said:

‘This is such a rich project, from the regeneration of the site, to engaging the community, to the inspiration that can come from design that is rooted in Deaf experiences. This groundbreaking project represents the first time DeafSpace principles have been used to inspire a public realm designed to heighten sensory experience and cultural exchange for people from all walks of life.
‘It will give the University a gateway, which expresses a more open character, and shifts the focus of the campus back to its much-valued historic heart while also rejuvenating the public realm, making it fully inclusive and inviting.’

Bryan Moll, JBG Senior Vice President, said:

‘This is truly a remarkable and transformational project. We’re very excited to be teaming up with Gallaudet University and look forward to the competition unfolding.’

Malcolm Reading, competition organizer and chairman of Malcolm Reading Consultants, said:

‘The competition has been eagerly anticipated with nearly 700 international architects signaling their interest following our pre-launch announcement in July.
‘Expressing Gallaudet’s culture and heritage through design, and creating a memorable destination within one of the world’s great capital cities is a fascinating brief for architects and quite outside the normal run of projects.’

Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged, Gallaudet and the competition organizers hope to see these include architects, landscape architects and specialists in human behavior, performing and fine arts, communication technology, wayfinding and engineering disciplines, among others.

No design is required at the first stage of the competition; competitors will be assessed on their understanding of the institution and project, team composition and past experience.

The (up-to-five) design teams who reach the second stage will address the design of a new Gateway Plaza, a revitalization of the campus’ historic Olmsted Green, and the creation of a new public realm that will integrate the campus with the vibrant urban fabric of a wider regeneration project within Washington, D.C., including the emerging Florida Avenue Market area.

Teams will need to produce design proposals for a visitors’ pavilion located within the Gateway Plaza, as well as conceptual proposals for a landmark building at the epicenter of the campus, which will command views across a number of strategic routes.

An honorarium of $50,000 U.S. dollars will be awarded to each of the shortlisted teams following selection of the winner.

Full details of the competition and how to enter a Request for Proposal (for design teams) or submit ideas and insights to the Shape Gallaudet initiative (community and supporters) are available on the dedicated website.

Both competitors and Shape Gallaudet contributors have until 12:00 EDT October 1, 2015 to enter stage one of the competition.

The shortlisted teams, Shape Gallaudet contributors, jury and other specialists will take part in a colloquium, or discussion, and charrette (also known as a live design critique) during the fall. A public exhibition of the finalists’ designs will be held in 2015/2016 and the winning team is expected to be announced in February 2016. The jury will be announced in due course.

Both the ensuing project and the parent regeneration initiative will be run by Gallaudet University in partnership with JBG, who are experienced in collaborating with renowned global architects.