LTU professor leads Detroit international design contest

Release Date: December 14, 2012

An international competition for conceptual designs for Hart Plaza, a park on Detroit’s waterfront, was chaired by Associate Professor Joongsub Kim, the director of Lawrence Technological University’s Detroit Studio.

This Riverfront Competition was held by the Urban Priorities Committee of AIA Detroit, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The competition had 400 registrants representing 46 countries and 29 states. There were 167 entries from around the world.

“The riverfront is one of Detroit’s greatest and most underutilized assets.  Creating a dialogue about design and the riverfront was one of our key objectives in hosting the Riverfront Competition,” Kim explained.

The winning entry from Atelier WHY, which has offices in both New York and South Korea, envisions a riverfront forest with many features to bring in people. The second place winner from Matthew Edward Getch of London, England, proposes boardwalks and water features along the city’s waterfront.

The jury panel consisted of Faye Alexander Nelson, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy; Reed Kroloff, director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Museum; California designer Walter Hood; and Toronto architect Lola Sheppard.

There was a wide range of visions for the waterfront. One proposal would extend the river into the city through canals, ponds and lakes, while another proposal would extend the city out into the river with man-made islands.

The jury stated that all the entries can be catalysts for a continued conversation of the possibilities for public interest design, according to Kim.

“Our goal is to look for big ideas that might transform the city and its relationship to the international waterfront. Submissions are intended to create a dialogue and to inspire citizens, community organizations, and lawmakers,” Kim said. “The competition is to challenge people to think creatively about what is possible.”

More than 400 people attended a symposium on the competition that was held at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Dec. 4. As chair, Kim opened and closed the program, which was moderated by John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press.

In his role as director of the Detroit Studio, Kim also leads the Good Deeds, Good Design Group in Detroit [gD]3, a group of volunteer designers who seek to improve the built environment in collaboration with socially responsive design projects. One of the group’s projects is Public Interest Design Practices and Research (PIDPR), which looks for innovative uses of architecture to empower and assist disadvantaged groups around the world.

Recently Kim led the PIDPR international competition, which challenges students and professionals to develop architectural models that expand the traditional boundaries of architecture while engaging both local stakeholders and a worldwide audience.

Bryan Bell, founder and executive director of Design Corps in Raleigh, NC, and a leader of the public interest design movement, was the primary juror. Kim moderated a PIDPR symposium held at LTU on Nov. 28. Joining Bell on the symposium panel were Gina Reichert, co-founder of Design 99 in Detroit, and  Scott Shall, chair of LTU’s Department of Architecture and founding director of the International Design Clinic.


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