The shoreline of Lake Michigan plays an irreplaceable role within the grid of Chicago, and to further illuminate its importance in the fabric of the city, the Chicago Architecture Biennial issued a Lakefront Kiosk Competition. The competition called for an inventive new design of a kiosk that would be installed on Chicago’s lakefront, with the winner receiving a $10,000 honorarium and a $75,000 budget to have design realized.
Viewing this as a unique opportunity to connect the Chicago office to its locale, Design Principal Todd Snapp and Senior Interior Project Designer Julie Michiels hosted an internal kick-off to the competition, inviting all Chicago office employees to attend. Interest and attendance was high, and consisted of interior designers, architects, and graphic designers. Interdisciplinary teams soon assembled, and immediately began designing their kiosks to meet the deadline. As an added wrinkle, Todd and Julie asked if each team – whether they were submitting as an individual or with others – could document their processes from concept to competition. With photography, video, sketches, digital renderings, and more, all Perkins+Will teams thoughtfully obliged, giving way to a dynamic compilation of creative thought captured in this film:
As the teams worked to complete their design, an open critique was scheduled a week prior to the competition deadline to spur collaboration and interaction between employees, and blur the lines between disciplines within the firm. By coming in on a Sunday, Perkins+Will employees – including top design leadership – gathered to listen to the presentations, examine the physical models produced, and provide feedback to every team. The riveting present-and-discuss format allowed for an open dialogue and coming together of minds, all engaged in thinking about a kiosk’s impact on the city of Chicago. It also gave way to mass transparency, giving competition entrants the freedom to articulate an idea to the office and its leadership.
The critique session was forward after the Sunday critique with Chicago practice leaders and principals opening their doors for “office hours” leading up to the deadline where teams could receive invaluable feedback on their in-process submissions. With just hours to spare, twelve Perkins+Will teams submitted to the international competition that in total received over 400 entries from over 40 countries.
The high level of openness, collaboration, and enthusiasm cultivated by the competition showed how valuable it is for a firm to participate in these opportunities. As was discovered, a competition allows people to experiment with an issue or subject matter, and explore ideas that may not be easily addressed using traditional methods during normal business hours. A competition platform accommodates inquisitive and nimble design processes, and creates a dynamic forum for dialogue and visibility.
A big thanks to everyone who contributed to the Lakefront Kiosk Competition experience, including: