The Forgotten Competition
I was recently driving down Lindsay Street in Norman when I my eyes landed upon a structure that invoked a déjà vu moment. I thought to myself “could this be the product of a distant design competition?”
FSB has been known to enter design competitions on occasion. In particular, there was an international design competition that was sponsored by the AIA Central Oklahoma Chapter (AIA/COC) in Oklahoma City. The competition was open to teams of young design professionals not yet licensed. FSB leadership was interested in creating camaraderie within the office and this seemed like a great opportunity.
The AIA/COC established the international design competition as part of the American Institute of America’s 150th Anniversary initiative “Blueprint for America.” The focus was for collaboration on a community service program that addressed a community’s distinct needs. The goal was to promote quality design to improve a community’s livability. The community project AIA/COC chose was to design a bus stop for Oklahoma City that would promote consideration of alternative transportation and raise public awareness of the positive impact that artistic expressions in form as well as function could have throughout communities.
Oklahoma City’s existing bus stops were pretty dismal, nondescript structures. Many bus stops had no protection from the elements consisting of a bench and in many cases only a street sign. A series of the stops consisted of a curved corrugated galvanized metal canopy that was distinctly reminiscent of the WWII Quonset hut. There was a lot of room for improvement.
All FSB interns were invited to a briefing to discuss the design competition and explore the level of interest. FSB would pay the entry fees and make the resources of the office available to interested teams. The teams would work on the project as an extracurricular effort. Interest was high and FSB sponsored 2 teams of 4 young professionals.
Team DSHB: David Brewer/Team Leader, George Dunlap, Jason Holuby and Erin Schier. Gene Brown later joined as structural consultant.
Team EMBOW: Matt Overton/Team Leader, Jim D. Bruza, Shaun Elwood and Lan Wu.
Some of these team member names may be familiar to many of you at FSB and for some all the names will bring back memories of current and former colleagues. The team names seemed to lack creativity so we were hoping for more out of their designs.
The design was to be easily replicated and the winning design would be constructed. The call for entries went out in October 2005. There were over 80 entries from 8 different countries. The competition was to be done electronically through the internet. There were 7 finalists and when the winning design entry was announced in November 2005. The winner was FSB Team DSHB!
Five years had passed and there was no bus stop constructed. Funds had not been forthcoming to build the winning design and in 2010 a renewed effort was put out by the AIA/COC to raise the remaining money. The OKC transit system could not agree on placing it in OKC so Norman agreed to provide a location and the OU College of Architecture pledged student power to help bring it to fruition.
Another 4 years passed and the bus stop quickly became the forgotten design competition with no tangible result. That is until I found myself driving down Lindsay Street in Norman, OK in a déjà vu trance. There it was; the winning design. I jumped out to take photos just to be sure it wasn’t a mirage. It was real enough, however, subsequent inquiries of mine did not uncover the final events and course that brought it into being or perhaps it was that no one wanted to remember.
Apparently one day it just appeared…