Five finalists have been selected in a Salt Lake City design competition to build a temporary arts structure on the "nasty hole in the ground" next to Capitol Theatre.
After the building that once housed Absolute restaurant was razed to make room for Ballet West's new $32 million dance center, city residents might have been stuck for two years with two bare brick walls looming over a mud lot.
Instead, the Utah chapter of the American Institute of Architects launched the "Fluid Adagio" contest, calling upon young designers to come up with a creative, temporary way to transform the empty lot into a public arts venue. More than 60 entries were submitted from designers in 13 countries. Five, including three from Utah, have made the short list of finalists.
Next week, a jury of six Utah architects, designers and artists will make the final selection to be announced Dec. 17. Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County will draw upon a newly created cultural arts fund to pay the winner $45,000 to fund the temporary installation.
Designs that made the short list of finalists range from "Tabarly," a web of rope that would create a space for dance and theater, to "Sway'd," a field of 10-foot-high, Â¾-inch-thick carbon-steel wands that would sway with the wind, suggesting grass or young aspen trees.
Greg Walker, chair of AIA Utah's Young Architects Forum, pitched the competition as a way to give young designers an opportunity to raise design awareness locally. "This injection of energy is a way of reminding people that we have these young, outrageously talented people in our city," Walker said, before adding: "If you give people the opportunity to see interesting design, they'll pick it every time."
The call for entries was simple: "Make a statement and remind people that this is a cool part of town and creative things are going to be happening here," Walker said.
The motivation for emerging architects and designers, most of whom will probably donate their time and talent to the project, is obvious. "This has the potential to be a big thing and a lot of people are going to come into contact with it," Walker said.
The temporary-design approach could be used to address other empty spaces in the city. "You can look at this as a nasty hole in the ground or an opportunity," Walker said. "If we are open minded, new kinds of things can come together."
Festive night in an empty lot
The winner of the AIA's design competition will be announced during a "Winter Wonderland" event at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 on the empty lot just west of Capitol Theater, 50 West 200 South, Salt Lake City. For more information, visit http://www.aiautah.org/files/2010_12_17_pkvolume3posterone.pdf.
See the final designs
Visit http://www.aiautahyaf.org and click on the Fluid Adagio links at the bottom of page.
Fluid Adagio project finalists
"Sway'd," proposed by Daniel Lyman, a University of Utah student
"Tabarly," proposed by Cesc Massanas van de Ven of London, England
"Everyone is a Performer," proposed by U. student Stephen Stewart
"Litotes," proposed by Jeff Svitak, of Jeff Svitak Architecture, Cardiff, Calif.
"Inversion," proposed by David Brach, AIA, of Brach Design Architecture, Salt Lake City